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

How to Read a Floor Plan

Here is a "Before" floor plan and an "After" floor plan from a recent project:





Do you know how to read these plans? If not, Florida architect Bud Dietrich posted a very helpful article on Houzz.com that can help you make sense of architectural plans. We've embedded the slide show of the post below. Just click on the images to go to the full article on Houzz.


If you need plans developed for your renovation project, Morse Constructions can help. We offer complete design/build services to handle your project from initial concept all the way to final walk-though. Please contact usto learn more!

Tags: home design, architecture, floor plan

Can a Bump-Out Deliver the Space You Need?


Do you need just a little more square footage but don't have the space (or maybe the budget) to add to your home's footprint? The solution may be a bump-out. Just as the name suggests, a bump-out extends off the side of the house. Think of it as almost an oversized bay window. Bump-outs usually only add a few square feet to a room, but that may be all you need to make a new design work for a kitchen, bath or other interior space.

The beauty of bump-outs is that they don't require a foundation, so they can be a cost-effective way to gain extra space. For example, this kitchen bump-out gave the homeowner a lovely little eating space.


West Philadelphia Kitchen

Building permits are required for bump-outs and the construction can sometimes be a little tricky. If you have any questions about whether a bump-out would work in your Boston-area home, please contact us! We would be happy to discuss your project.

 If you would like to know more about bump-outs or need a little inspiration, we recommend taking a look at the slide show below from Bud Dietrich, AIA on Houzz.com. Simply click on any of the images in the slide show to go to the full article.


Tags: renovation, Boston renovation, home design

Houzz Survey: Home Decor Preferences

Morse Cambridge 8 06 Dining room resized 600
Houzz issued the results of their survey of decorating trends in late August. While Morse Constructions is not directly involved in decorating, decorating decisions often go hand-in-hand with design and construction. We frequently partner with interior designers and it helps to be up on the latest trends.

A few things jumped out at us in the latest survey:

  • Master bedroom as living room: Three-in-five homeowners are including seating in their master bedroom (60 percent). Nearly one-in-ten are taking bedroom nesting a step further by adding a fireplace or a mini fridge.

  • Dining rooms are still used: Nearly half of homeowners are using their dining room daily (45 percent) and another 26 percent are using it weekly. Rectangular dining tables (62 percent) with dark wood (38 percent) or glass (25 percent) and seating for six are most popular.

  • TV creep: In addition to the usual popular living spaces, televisions are showing up in 16 percent of dining rooms. Homeowners are just as likely to include a TV in their kids’ room as a reading nook (both 35 percent).

We're not so sure about the study's discovery that younger homeowners are more likely to use wallpaper to make bold design statements. We're finding that our empty nester clients are often very adventurous with wall decor, as you can see from these photos.

Wallpaper in powder room, Boston remodelingBosto

Wallpaper in Boston Bathroom

The full study is available at info.houzz.com/rs/houzz/images/HouzzDecoratingStudy.pdf

Please contact us if we may help you realize your design vision for your home.

Tags: home design, Houzz survey, home decor

Home Design: How to Make the Most of Existing Space

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.

To pack lots of living into your existing space, consider the following when planning a renovation:


Think about 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 your space, explore the possibility of having it perform multiple functions.


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


A room must 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 clear paths 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 or unused corners, around doors, and even hidden beneath stair treads.


This Houzz Ideabook highlights 1,000 to 1,500 square foot homes with big personalities. It's a great way to see the potential for lots of living in smaller spaces. Just click any image to go to the Ideabook on Houzz or use the arrows at the bottom of each image to scroll through the slide show.



Please feel free to contact us to discuss how we can help you make the most of existing space.

Tags: home design, small space

Pocket Doors: A Flexible Solution to Balance Openness with Privacy

Boston renovation with pocket doors  Morse Constructions

Pocket doors are not just for small spaces! While they are often used to provide privacy when a traditional swinging door occupies too much floor or wall space, a pocket door is also an ideal solution if you want the ultimate in flexibility.A pocket door slides into the wall when not in use. Without the visual obstruction of a door, spaces flow together. When you want privacy or a more intimate space, simply pull the door closed.

In the Back Bay renovation above, we used pocket doors to provide the best of both worlds -- smooth traffic flow throughout living areas when the doors are open, with an option to close off kitchen clutter from primary entertaining areas when the doors are closed.

The ideal time to install pocket doors is during construction or renovation when the walls are open. It can be significantly more difficult (and expensive) to retroactively install a pocket door into a finished room.

For more examples of pocket doors and good advice about hardware, we are pleased to share this recent Ideabook from Houzz.com.

To view the Ideabook full size on Houzz, simply click on any image or caption.


Tags: home renovation, Boston renovation, home design, doors

Cambridge Renovation Featured on Houzz Story on Color

A few years ago, we completed a colorful renovation for a family who wanted to make the most of the space in their small Cambridge home. You can see photos of the renovation and learn a little more about it in our Small House Transformation gallery.

We were delighted to see a photo from the project featured in an article on Houzz.com entitled "Color Guide: How to Work with Primary Colors." Take a look at this slide show from the story! Just click on a photo caption to go to the full story on Houzz.com and move the slide show forward using the arrow button at the bottom. (Our photo is this one)




Tags: home design, Morse Constructions News, houzz.com, small home renovation