How to Find Extra Storage Space in an Older Home

If you own an older home, chances are good that inefficient or inadequate storage is high on your list of grievances. We have more – and different – possessions than previous generations. The storage provided in a home built 25, 50 or 100 years ago simply doesn’t work for today’s homeowners.

Most old houses have small (or non-existent) closets and garages. Homes from the 18th and early 19th centuries may have fieldstone foundations and dirt cellars, which limit the storage value of a basement.

The solution is to find extra storage space in the nooks and crannies of your home. 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 or unused corners, around doors, under stairs and eaves, and even hidden beneath stair treads. Basements can be dried out and finished to create functional space.

Have an unused chimney? Take it out and use the space for closets. If you have air ducts left from an abandoned heating system, put that wasted space to work for small shelves or cupboards. If your closets are too narrow, considering enlarging them to get the space you need.

The key is to look at space creatively to make every inch count, as we did for these two Boston-area clients:

creative storage space in bedroom storage wall
  A couple in Cambridge added a tremendous amount of storage in the master bedroom by lining the walls with built-in cabinetry.

hallway bookcase 
These built-in bookshelves provided additional storage in a previously unused corner, while adding architectural interest to the hallway.

Interested in more ideas for renovating an older home? Please download How to Breathe New Life into Older Homes ebook or contact us to discuss your needs. 

Tags: Historic Renovations, small space design, renovation ideas, Boston home renovation

Remodeling Credentials Decoded

If you have ever received an email from Paul Morse, you’ve probably noticed that he has an alphabet soup of letters after his name.

Paul Morse, Morse Constructions, Bostonto




Paul Eric Morse




 What do those designations mean? Here’s a quick explanation:

GCP: Green Certified Professional

Paul was the second person in the country and the first in New England to be named a Green Certified Professional (GCP). He went on to facilitate the certification study group for about two years.

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) established the Green Certified Professional (GCP) designation to promote the highest standards of green remodeling through credentialing of remodeling professionals. GCP remodelers have passed an extensive exam to demonstrate a solid understanding of the critical issues related to Green Remodeling.  The exam covers 16 subject areas including Building Science, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Renewable Energy Applications to name a few.  The requirements to sit for the exam are five years in the remodeling industry, 16 hours of Green or Sustainable Remodeling/Building continuing education hours, and agreement to uphold the NARI Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.

CGP: Certified Green Professional

Didn’t we just talk about this? No, this is a different designation from the National Association of Homebuilders (the other one was NARI) that recognizes builders, remodelers and other industry professionals who incorporate green building principles into homes— without driving up the cost of construction. Extensive classwork leading to the designation provides a solid background in strategies for incorporating green building principles into homes using cost-effective and affordable options. To earn your CGP designation, you must pass an exam and complete 12 hours of continuing education every three years from building industry-related educational activities. A minimum of eight hours is required to come from green building industry-related educational activities.

Paul is one of about 50 builders and remodelers in Massachusetts to have received this designation.

CAPS: Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist

The Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) program was created by the NAHB Remodelers of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in collaboration with Home Innovation Research Labs, NAHB 50+ Housing Council, and AARP. The program's goal is to help remodelers meet the needs of mature clients who wish to age-in-place, which means living in your home safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age or ability level.

A CAPS has received advanced training in the unique needs of the older adult population, aging-in-place home modifications, common remodeling projects and solutions to common barriers. As with all of these certifications, participants must pass an exam before becoming a CAPS.

Morse Constructions is also a member of the National Aging in Place Council.

UDCP: Universal Design Certified Professional

NARI developed the Universal Design Certified Professionals (UDCP) designation to promote standards of universal design and remodeling through credentialing of design and remodeling professionals. A Universal Design Certified Professional handles renovations that make the home livable for anyone who wishes to move about his/her house freely, without barrier and without creating an "institutional" look. Families who have members with special needs also benefit from a UDCP. The UDCP designation is granted to individuals who have completed coursework and passed a rigorous exam about universal design principles. 

CR: Certified Remodeler

Paul has been a Certified Remodeler (CR) for about two decades. CR is a NARI designation indicating that the person is a professional remodeler who provides a full range of remodeling services. Certified Remodelers have passed an exam and demonstrated skill and knowledge in a broad range of business management and technical skill areas.

For more information about our certifications, please check out our Certifications & Memberships Web page or give us a call at 617-666-4460.

Tags: Boston renovation, Boston home renovation, Paul Morse, Boston remodeling

Arlington, MA Home Renovation Update: January 2014

This is the third installment in our monthly chronicle of a major historic home renovation and addition project in Arlington, MA. Our goal is to go beyond "Before & After" photos to outline the many steps that go into a major renovation behind-the-scenes. The first installment laid out the scope of the project. If you missed it, you can read it here.

Arlington, MA historic renovationIt’s been a busy month on site, though major changes are less visible to the untrained eye. The interior framing is complete. We passed the engineer’s and Arlington building department inspections with flying colors.

Arlington, MA framing for home renovationton

Arlington, MA framing new stairway to third floor

Arlington, MA master bedroom framing


Rough plumbing is in and inspected, along with the electrical rough installation and inspection. Venting for the exhaust fans and dryer ducting is installed. Both HVAC systems are installed and running, keeping the workers warm during this frigid winter period.

Arlington, MA renovation HVAC system

Final design decisions were made and the tile is on order along with the bath vanities and medicine cabinets. The homeowners have picked the counter slabs and cabinet handles. Lighting placements were tweaked to accommodate framing and the wiring for them is all installed.

Arlington, MA first floor renovation

Arlington, MA bathroom renovation

On Monday, 1/27 we began blowing closed cell foam insulation in all the exterior walls, rafters and in the basement rim joists. We will also insulate bathroom walls and pipes for sound. During these three days, we pull all workers off site to avoid potential dangers during the quick curing period.

Immediately after insulation (and insulation inspection) we will begin hanging blue board and applying a smooth skimcoat plaster finish. We are on schedule to complete the project as planned in April. Stay tuned for the next installment when we discuss interior trim selections and flooring options.

If you have any questions about the renovation process or are planning to update your home, please contact us!

Tags: remodeling project photos, historic renovation, Boston home renovation, Arlington MA home renovation

Project Update: Arlington MA Historic Home Renovation & Addition

This is the second installment in our monthly chronicle of a major historic home renovation and addition project in Arlington, MA. The first installment laid out the scope of the project. If you missed it, you can read it here.

The construction phase of the project began with demolition of the existing one-story addition and deck.

demolition before building addition

old addition demolition

At the same time, we’ve virtually gutted the entire interior of the home, retaining the exterior walls, most of the upstairs floors and some original woodwork. The old heating system has been entirely removed and will be replaced with a high-efficiency alternative.

remodeling historic MA home


We were delighted to find that the 1850 home features post-and-beam construction, which means that force is on the outside walls. This gave us greater flexibility to open up or eliminate interior walls without adding costly additional structural support.



Since the home is on the Arlington Historic Register, exterior changes are limited. The homeowner needs to retain a chimney in its original location, despite the fact that it will no longer be used by the new HVAC systems. Originally, we were going to support the chimney at the third floor level, but eliminate it from the floors below. Instead, we are eliminating the chimney in its entirety and replacing it with a wood and brick veneer substitute that is aesthetically identical, but non-functioning. This solution eliminates the need for chimney support on the third floor.

When completed, the renovation will retain the historic character of the home while opening up the floor plan for living spaces that are more suited to modern lifestyles. The home will feature:

First Floor

  • Spacious open kitchen and dining area
  • Living room
  • Rear hall with 3/4 bath, laundry area, closets and basement access
  • Front porch and reconfigured hallways

Second Floor

  • New master bedroom suite with master bath
  • Two bedrooms with bath
  • Sitting room
  • Reconfigured hallways and new stairway to the attic

Full Basement and Attic
The full basement will be the future home of an exercise room.


Stay tuned for future installments. Feel free to call us with any questions.

And by the way, may we help you with your renovation? Please contact us for more information.

Tags: remodeling project photos, historic renovation, Boston home renovation

Project Spotlight: Renovation & Addition in Historic Arlington Home

Arlington, MA Historic Renovation Before
The best way to explain our renovation process is to share progress updates from a real-life project. Each month, we will provide a project update and photos from a whole house renovation of an historic home in Arlington. Alterations to the 1850 home have received approvals from the Arlington Historic District Commission and we anticipate breaking ground this month.

Project At-A-Glance: October 2013

Arlington home renovation before

  • Removing a one-story kitchen and bath wing on the back of the house
  • Rebuilding the wing with a new, full-basement foundation (for a future exercise room) and two-story addition featuring the kitchen, a ¾ bath, laundry room and mudroom on the first floor and master bedroom suite on the second floor
  • Opening up the existing dining room in the main portion of the house to provide a more modern layout for the kitchen/dining area
  • Renovating the main bath on the second floor
  • Reconfiguring the existing bedrooms to add a full stairway to the third floor


Unique Challenges

  • The house is on the Arlington Historic District Register, which means that changes – particularly to the exterior – are limited
  • The existing chimney must be visible from the street but it will not be used by the two new high efficiency HVAC systems that we are installing
  • We will solve the problem by supporting the chimney at the third floor level but removing it from the floors below

Schedule & Project Team

  • Demolition of existing one-story wing and beginning excavation for new addition on 10/15/13
  • Estimated project completion 3/31/2014
  • Construction- Morse Constructions
  • Design – Morse Constructions with Lisa Wasserman Sivan
  • Civil Engineering -- Sami Kassis


How may we help you with your renovation? Please contact us for more information.

Tags: Historic Renovations, remodeling project photos, Boston home renovation