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

Creating a Flexible Dining Room Space

A formal dining room seems to be going the way of the fax machine -- you might need it occasionally, but it is no longer essential.. A quick online search reveals scores of articles along the line of Huffington Post's "Why Dining Rooms are Becoming Extinct" or "Better Ways to Use Your Dining Room" on Houzz.com.

It may be tempting to convert a dining room to a home office or game room, but what do you do if you want to entertain or host extended family for a holiday meal? We feel the solution is to create a flexible space that can quickly adapt for different uses.

For example, we designed this dining room to double as a project space. The handcrafted table is extraordinarily durable and seamlessly performs double duty as a dining and work surface. The tea cart holding the flowers in these photos provides additional serving capabilities when needed, but can easily be relocated. The slim Runtal radiators accommodate different furniture configurations, as you can see from these shots.





For other ideas about how to create a flexible dining area, read on!  (Just click anywhere on the image to go to the full story on Houzz.com)



If you are interested transforming or creating new dining spaces in your own home, please contact us! We can help you both design and build rooms tailored to your needs.

Tags: home design, design trends

Top Renovations to Increase the Value of Your Somerville or Cambridge Home

Maybe you’ve always dreamed of having an intimate dining room with built-ins. Or maybe you’re fine with borrowing space from an expansive bathroom to build a reading nook. If you never plan to move, go right ahead and remodel your home in a uniquely personal way. If you plan to move within five years however, you may want to pay closer attention to what homebuyers want in your area.

What features are “must-haves” for homebuyers? Are there features that are likely to be deal breakers? To find out, we’ll be interviewing realtors throughout greater Boston to get their take on “hot” home features in specific areas. We’re kicking off the series with a conversation with Kelly Bruno, a broker with RE/MAX Leading Edge, to talk about what homebuyers want in Somerville and Cambridge properties.


Q:  If you were going to renovate in Somerville or Cambridge, where would you invest your money to increase your home’s market value?

A: The kitchen is key. Buyers are looking for function, luxury and a great layout for the kitchen. They definitely want an open floor plan with natural light. They also love high ceilings with recessed lighting and are looking for quality in their cabinetry and appliances. Black or white appliances are seen as low end – they want stainless steel.

Bathrooms are the next most important. Bathrooms adjacent to kitchens are very common in older homes in Somerville and Cambridge, but this layout is not desirable for todays' buyers. However, buyers do want a second bath on the main floor.  A master suite with an en-suite bath is the preferred layout. As for bath features, buyers really respond to European fixtures, Italian marble, rainfall shower heads, and radiant heating in the floors. Walk-in showers provide a real “wow” factor.

Q: Are there certain floor plans that resonate best with your buyers?

A: My buyers are looking for flexible floor plans and plenty of closet space. A multifunction living/family room is more important than separate rooms. Buyers also don’t need – or even want – a separate dining room. A kitchen island with stools and an open dining area is popular. Buyers are also looking for at least two bedrooms with a flex room to use for a study, den or home office.

Q: Are there features that older homeowners often overlook but that are very important to current buyers?

A: Smart-home technology! Built-in sound systems, NEST thermostats, and automated lighting systems such as Lutron are all in demand.

Q: Do buyers care about “green” features?

A: Buyers love green features! Materials that are healthier and environmentally sensitive are quite popular. Anything that is easier on the environment and costs less in the long run is desirable. High efficiency heating and cooling, tank-less water heaters and energy star appliances are really important.

Q: Are there any real turn-offs for buyers?

A: Anything that seems really dated. Wood paneling, carpeting, wallpaper, pastel colors, glazed tile in the kitchen, popcorn ceilings, outdated appliances…. many of these are cosmetic but have a big impact.


Home design preferences may come and go, but the importance of up-to-date kitchens, baths and a great floorplan will never diminish. It is no surprise that nearly a third of current projects at Morse Constructions include a kitchen or bath renovation. To find out more, please give us a call at 617-666-4460 or use our online contact form.

Tags: design trends, Cambridge renovation, Somerville renovation, homebuying trends

Dueling Kitchen Design Trends Surveys

What are the top kitchen remodeling trends for 2014? The answer seems to depend upon the audience. Both Houzz and Zillow Digs released results of kitchen remodeling surveys within the past few months. Here’s what the surveys revealed:

Soft and Neutral Color Schemes in Open Kitchens Most Popular

tradition kitchen design

About Houzz:
The leading online platform for home remodeling and design, with more than 2,000,000 uploaded photos. Website: www.houzz.com

About the Survey:
Conducted in October 2013 among more than 7,500 Houzz users who are planning or in the midst of a kitchen remodel

Survey Results:

•    Only a third of those renovating a kitchen are increasing the square footage of their space;

•    Three-quarters are opening up their kitchens;

•    Three in five respondents are incorporating an island;

•    Younger homeowners more likely to describe their future kitchen as contemporary or modern; while those over 55 years old favor a traditional look;

•    The vast majority (94 percent) of respondents plan to change their countertops. Granite and quartz are the top picks (86 percent), and many people mix and match materials for their island;

•    Nearly two thirds of respondents are choosing stainless steel appliances, although many respondents reported combining stainless appliances with appliances integrated into cabinetry for a more subtle look;

•    “Soft and neutral” is the most popular color scheme choice (75 percent). A much smaller group are going “bright and colorful” (14 percent) or “bold and dramatic” (11 percent);

•    More daring colors are closely associated with a preference for contemporary or modern kitchens;

•    Eco-friendly appliances and materials are generally considered important. Those who declared choosing eco-friendly materials and appliances to be “extremely important” are more likely to choose tile flooring, while all other groups favored hardwood.

•    Overwhelmingly, survey respondents are renovating to make their kitchens more beautiful and to please themselves (80 percent). Other reasons include making the kitchen more functional (59 percent), upgrading features or appliances (52 percent) and improving organization and storage (48 percent)


Zillow Digs
Black Counters, Open Shelves or Glass-Front Cabinets & Darker Paint Tones are Hot

Zillow Kitchen Design Survey

About Zillow Digs:
The home design portal of the leading online real estate platform. Homeowners can browse more than 130,000 pictures of interiors and exteriors, organized by space, style, cost and color. Website: www.zillow.com/digs

About the Survey:
The Zillow Digs Home Design Trend Report is based on the most popular kitchen photos on Zillow Digs and includes a survey of members of the Zillow Digs Board of Designers.

Survey Results:

•    Black kitchen counters will be all the rage next year, particularly black granite and quartz. Expect to see black countered-kitchens paired with a lighter counter such as marble or light gray for contrast;

•    Open shelves and glass-front cabinets to display kitchen wares in popular across all kitchen styles;

•    Black, deep brown and dark red and copper tones are some of the most popular kitchen paint colors


What would be in your dream kitchen? If you are making plans to renovate your kitchen, contact us for ideas!

Tags: kitchen design, design trends