Morse Constructions Receives Silver CotY Award from EM NARI


EM Nari Coty silver award for website


The Eastern Massachusetts chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (EM-NARI) recognizes outstanding work in the remodeling industry with annual CotY awards. In March 2018, Morse Constructions, Inc. was honored to receive a Silver CotY award in the Residential Interiors category. The award recognized the caliber of our work on a wonderful whole house renovation in Winchester, MA. 

To find out more about the winning project and see before and after  photos of our work on the home, please read our blog post: A Traditional Cape Gets a Contemporary Makeover.


Tags: remodeling awards, Winchester, MA home renovation

2017 Kitchen Renovation Trends

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Do you love gray walls in the kitchen? If so, you're not alone. The 2017 Houzz Kitchen Study tracked trends among renovating homeowners and revealed that contemporary styling and a gray and white color scheme led in popularity.

The entire study is fascinating, but we were particularly interested in the primary goals that homeowners had for their kitchen renovation. More than half wanted to create a space that "is more open to other rooms" and 36% simply wanted a bigger kitchen. Other highlights:

  • Quartz and granite run neck-and-neck as top countertop materials
  • Pantries have a very slight edge over kitchen islands as top built-in features
  • Hardwood and tile remain the leading kitchen floor choices


We've shared an at-a-glance chart of the study highlights below. You can read the full results of the study here: Houzz Kitchen Renovation Study 2017

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Are you thinking of transforming your own kitchen? You may want to take a look at our gallery of kitchen projects for ideas. When you are ready to renovate, we'd love to talk to you about your project!


Get in touch!

Tags: kitchen renovation, Kitchen remodeling, kitchen design trends

Best Use of Space: Adding Living Space Without Adding On



“My kitchen is too small.”
“I don’t have enough storage.”
“It is difficult to entertain in my house.”
“I don’t have a space where my grandchildren can play.”

When our house is not working for us, many of us have a knee-jerk reaction that we need more space. In many cases, however, what we really need is better space – space that supports how we actually live our lives.

It takes more creativity and resourcefulness to make existing space meet new demands, but the results are often dramatic. For example, Morse Constructions worked with a client in Cambridge, MA to renovate an unheated, underused, 4’ x 15’ front porch into a multi-function room. After the renovation, the room is used as a playroom/sewing room/guest room and even as a laundry drying area. Our client wrote: “Part of the reason that the extra 60 square feet from the sunroom feels so amazing is that it is 60 square feet of high-use living space.”

To make the best use of space, consider the following when planning a renovation:

  • Flexibility
    Consider all the different uses that you would like to make of the space before beginning a remodeling project. Do you want to use the kitchen as a place to do homework or pay bills as well? Will the family room also serve as an exercising or entertaining area? Could the space under the stairs also be used for storage or as a reading nook? To squeeze the most living out of a space, make sure that it performs multiple functions.

  • Adaptability
    Children grow up, grandchildren come, we get older or get new hobbies … your spaces should accommodate your ever-changing life. Think about your needs today and a decade or two from now when planning a renovation.

  • Efficiency
    A room should be easy to use. You shouldn’t have to walk around obstacles or get down on the floor to access important storage. There should be easy access into and out of your space.

  • Smart Storage
    With careful planning, it is possible to discover all kinds of untapped storage spaces without expanding a home’s footprint. Storage can be tucked into niches, under staircases, around doors and even hidden beneath stair treads.

A remodeling project should always begin with probing questions to get to the heart of what you need to make a space work for you. At Morse Constructions, we ask exploratory questions that range from what you like and don’t like about your current space, to the hobbies that you enjoy, to your entertaining style, to how you envision your life in the future.

Give us a call to find out how we can help you make the most of your existing space.

Tags: best use of space

Does Your House Have Good Bones?



Tips from Paul Morse...

Over the years, clients and potential homebuyers have turned to us for help determining if a particular house has the potential to meet their needs. They want to know if the house has "good bones". We've all heard the term, but what does it actually mean? 

Our definition is a house that has the basic framework necessary to meet the needs and desire of our clients. After more than  thirty five years of renovating and adding on to homes, I have found houses with “good bones” have these key features:

Quality construction - A house with good bones is well-built. I "walk" a building looking for fundamental structural problems. How does it feel? Does it bounce or list, or does it "feel" solid? I look for cracks above doorways or in stairways. Are things tight? When I go to the basement, I look along the bottoms of the floor joists. Do they seem to be in a flat plane or do they sag in the middle of their span? Are the joists notched into the sill or resting on their full depth? Can you see cracks between the ends and the sill or are they still tight? When looking down along the foundation wall, does it look plumb or is it listing outward? When outside the building and stepping back looking at it, do the walls have bows or are they straight? Does the house lean to one side or the other? Does the roof of the front porch sag? Are there sways to the roof or is it in one plane?

Solid infrastructure - It's relatively simple to replace aging roofing shingles or update plumbing fixtures, but it is far more complicated if the basic infrastructure of the home is lacking. If the foundation, roof, heating, plumbing and electrical systems are in good shape, renovations become much easier.

Good floor plan – Is there good flow between frequently used rooms? Are rooms arranged logically?  Look at how traffic travels through the house as a whole. You can renovate to make particular rooms more livable, but it is far more costly and complex to make fundamental changes because the entire home’s floor plan just does not work.
If a floor plan feels awkward, try to envision the space with walls moved or taken down entirely. We recently worked on a center entrance colonial in which the small dining room and kitchen made the entire first floor feel disjointed and tiny. By removing the walls between the dining room and kitchen, and the dining room and hallway, we created a sense of spaciousness without changing the footprint of the house.

Well-proportioned rooms – Are the home’s rooms a useful size and shape, or can they be easily changed? Many older homes have small rooms that are unsuited to modern lifestyles. It is often possible, however, to move walls and open up spaces relatively easily. Removing walls, adding a beam and creating an open a floor plan can make a separate kitchen, dining room and living room a great entertainment area or family space. On the other hand, sometimes there are fundamental problems that are not easy to correct. When I recently toured a newly renovated condo, I was surprised that I had to duck at the last step when entering the third floor master suite. The walls sloped so steeply that the “walk in closet” had almost no useable space. The room’s underlying structure was so limiting that it would have been very expensive to create space that worked better for the homeowners.

Character -- Houses with good bones have a personality. They don’t look like they were stamped out by a developer with a cookie-cutter. Sometimes even the quirkiest architectural detail can be used to advantage to create a fascinating focal point. In one Cambridge home, we took a steep attic stairway and added a skylight and delightful handrailing to create an eye-catching, artistic feature that doubled as a  welcoming entrance to a nanny’s bedroom and owner’s office.

Natural light – A sunny, airy home feels happier and more spacious, but don’t automatically give up on a house because it is dark. Consider small changes that could bring in more light. We’ve added skylights, transom windows and even cut openings in walls and floors to help light spread throughout a home.

Does your house have good bones? We can help you decide whether renovating or adding on to your home makes sense. Contact us to arrange an appointment!

Tags: Renovating, Boston area renovation, older homes

5 Essentials for a Successful Renovation

Belmont MA Attic Renovation by Morse Constructions


A home renovation is a big undertaking, but it doesn't have to be stressful if you take key steps before construction begins. 


1. Assemble your design and building team upfront 
Whether you are working with a design/build renovation company or a separate architect and contractor, assemble your team early so members collaborate to deliver the design you want at a price you can afford. The team shares information and brainstorms solutions that are both aesthetically pleasing and cost-effective. Spare yourself the anguish of falling in love with a design only to discover the building cost for that design exceeds your budget.

 2. Build in planning time 
To be meaningful, budgets and timelines must incorporate every detail of your project. As a first step, a good design/build team asks questions about your design preferences, lifestyle, likes and dislikes, and priorities. Then they work with you to specify features and products to meet your design criteria. As details are identified, the contractor prepares an accurate proposal that provides realistic budget and scheduling information. Expect the planning process to take from six to ten weeks.

 3. Develop a master plan for the whole house
If you envision making changes to your home in stages, be sure to discuss possible additional renovations with your design/build team. Future plans may affect current placement of plumbing lines, electrical wires, heating units or special design features. A good team saves you money by planning the current project in a way to reduce the cost of renovations down the road.

 4. Ask for visual aids
How will your space look and feel if you move a wall or add a transom window? It's hard to make an informed decision if you can't visualize the solution. A good team will help you "see"your options using computer illustrations, sketches and other tools.We had a client who was nervous about the placement of pendant lights in her kitchen. We hung pinecones to represent the lights and she said that made all the difference. "Steps like that make it so much easier to make the best selections," she comments.

 5. Expect regular communication 
A successful renovation rests on clear and concise communication between you and your team. You've developed your project with in-depth collaboration, creating a renovation plan that fully meets your needs. As the project progresses into the construction phase, you should receive daily updates of tasks completed, decisions that need to be made, and any items that will affect your budget or scheduling. 


For more tips about planning a successful renovation, please download a copy of our 8-page guide, How to Plan a Successful Renovation.

Download Planning a Successful Renovation

If you have questions or are ready to plan a renovation, please contact us to find out how we can help!


Tags: renovation

Kitchen Renovation Priorities

Boston area kitchen renovation

According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, roughly one in 10 households undertook a kitchen remodel or replacement in 2015, with two-thirds of them hiring a professional to do the work. When a home is feeling dated, the kitchen is usually part of the problem.At Morse Constructions, kitchens are almost always a main part of our whole house renovations and top the list of single room makeovers.

Kitchens are hardworking spaces that typically also serve as the hub of the home. We want them to both look and work great, but how they should look and work is often very subjective. Design aesthetics are obviously a matter of personal taste,  but the way we use our kitchens also varies. What is right for one of Morse's clients may not be right for another. For example, we have clients who entertain frequently and need lots of space for food prep and in-kitchen socializing. We also have clients who eat out a lot and really don't need much more than a bare bones kitchen.

When we sit down with new kitchen renovation clients, we ask questions such as:

  • How will you use your kitchen?
  • Do you entertain a lot?
  • What are your "must haves"?
    and so forth. 

Many of these same questions are raised in an excellent article on Houzz called 5 Trade-offs to Consider When Remodeling Your Kitchen. Since even well-to-do homeowners rarely have unlimited budgets, the article addresses how to decide where to make compromises when creating a dream kitchen within a real-life budget. Just click any image in the slideshow below to view the whole article.



Want to Transform Your Space?   Click here to begin!

Tags: kitchen renovation, Kitchen remodeling

Living Large in a Tiny Apartment

Think you don’t have enough space? You might be surprised!  We loved a recent story on Houzz about transforming 225 square feet into a fully functional apartment. The key is a storage wall that serves as a Swiss Army Knife of function. A bed, table, computer screen, wardrobe, audio visual equipment and more simply slide out of the storage wall when in use.

You can see the images in this slide show display. Simply click on any image to view the full story on


 To find out more about maximizing small space, check out some of our previous blog posts:

 We love coming up with creative ways to maximize space. Please contact us if you would like to transform your own home in the Boston metro area!

Tags: small space design, small home renovation, small space

A Traditional Cape Gets a Contemporary Makeover

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When our clients were ready to move their growing family from their Somerville condo, they began looking for the perfect single family home. After two years of searching, they decided to change their thinking. They would buy a house that had potential and transform it into the house they loved.

The couple bought a pre-1930s Cape in Winchester. The small rooms and heavy paneling fit neither their lifestyle nor their design aesthetic, but the yard and location were enticing. Our clients immediately started interviewing contractors and design/build firms. In Spring 2015, they signed with Morse Constructions. Our client says “Paul was the only one who really seemed excited by our vision. We felt we could trust him and he truly listened to what we wanted.”

Our clients envisioned an open, airy, contemporary floorplan with an updated kitchen, additional baths, a master suite, mudroom and first floor laundry – all within the same footprint as the original home. “We have lived in the Boston area for 13 years but our design tastes are definitely not traditional New England,” comments our client.

We brought in architect Tom Downer of Downer Associates in Cambridge to develop a design that met all of our client’s needs within their budget, and without enlarging the existing home. According to Tom, “It’s a very efficient process to work with Morse because we work as a team. Morse estimates construction costs as we go so we know we are proposing designs that are financially feasible.”

Our clients moved into their Winchester home a little more than one year after they closed on their purchase. “We couldn’t be happier with our decision to renovate,” says our client. “Throughout the project, Paul and his team kept our priorities in mind. The result reflects our vision and our lifestyle perfectly.”


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 View Project Photo Gallery


Want to transform your own home? Please contact us to discuss your project! We are currently booking for Fall 2017/Winter 2018.

Tags: whole home renovation, design/build, Winchester, MA home renovation

What Transitional Style Really Means and Other Design Styles Decoded

A recent Houzz survey showed that Millennials and Baby Boomers lean toward different styles for their kitchens. Millennial homeowners are more likely to opt for Modern or Farmhouse while Traditional style is nearly twice as popular with Boomers. Contemporary has passed Transitional as the top kitchen style.

So what is Transitional style and how is it different from Contemporary? And what is the difference between Traditional and Farmhouse style?

Here’s a quick overview of the main design styles:

Traditional: Traditional design harkens from classic European interiors. Think wing-backed chairs, claw footed tables, deep wood tones and curved lines. A typical room arrangement includes a symmetrical balance of furniture pairs around a focal point, such as two sofas flanking a fireplace. Antiques or replicas of old pieces are often incorporated.


Modern: Modern style refers to the sleek, pared down architectural and interior design that emerged between the 1920s and 1950s. Ornate carvings and dark woods were replaced with a “less is more” aesthetic that celebrated clean lines, simplicity, chrome, stainless steel and molded plastics in furnishings.


Contemporary: Contemporary style is often confused with modern, but it is actually a medley of styles that originated in the latter half of the 20th century. Furnishings feature softer, more rounded lines than the hard-edged pieces typical of modern design, but it still celebrates uncluttered space and airiness.


Transitional: If you combine the textures and comfort of traditional style with the clean lines and airiness of contemporary, you get transitional. Transitional style blends elements to create a cohesive look that is lighter and less heavy than traditional, but cozier than contemporary.


Cottage: Cottage style exudes comfort with a healthy dose of nostalgia. Flea market finds, repurposed objects, beadboard walls, simple artwork, and lots of baskets all celebrate a simpler time. Cottage style is all about unpretentious comfort and hominess.


Farmhouse: Like Cottage style, Farmhouse style creates the ambiance of a simpler time, but it is more solid, less frilly than its Cottage cousin. Farmhouse style creates an idealized vision of the authentic, down-to-earth comfort of a solidly built, American farmhouse. Think rough-hewn beams, covered porches, hefty sinks, sliding barn doors, light colors and solid, simple, comfortable furnishings.


We love creating wonderful homes in any style. Some of our favorite projects involved transforming a traditional floorplan into open, airy contemporary or transitional spaces. To find out more, please give us a call or use our contact form.

Tags: home design, architectural design, design trends

Morse Constructions Named "Best of Houzz" 2017 for Customer Service

badge_41_7@2x.pngMorse Constructions is honored to receive "Best of Houzz" recognition for the fifth consecutive year. Morse has won "Best of Customer Service 2017" on  Houzz®, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. The recipients of the award were chosen by the more than 40 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among more than one million active home building, remodeling and design industry professionals.

The Best Of Houzz is awarded annually in three categories: Design, Customer Service and Photography. Customer Service honors are based on several factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2016.  “We’re so pleased to award Best of Houzz 2017 to this incredible group of talented and customer-focused professionals, including Morse Constructions,” said Liza Hausman, vice president of Industry Marketing for Houzz. “Each of these businesses was singled out for recognition by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts for helping to turn their home improvement dreams into reality.”

Morse Constructions has been dedicated to transforming Boston area homes with thoughtful renovations since the company was founded in 1976. "We believe a successful renovation or addition is about so much more than the end result. It is also about a collaborative, enjoyable, clear process that features attentive listening, frequent communication, and great care and respect for our clients, our team and the environment. We are grateful that our clients took the time to share their experiences on Houzz and helped us earn the "Best of Houzz" recognition," comments founder Paul Morse. 

Visit Us on Houzz!

Tags:, Best of Houzz Boston, 2017 Best of Houzz