Can Home Remodeling Strengthen a Relationship?

Try Googling “Remodeling and Relationships” and you’ll get entry after entry about relationship woes caused by the stress of remodeling. Even, a site dedicated to remodeling and home design, released results of a survey showing that 12 percent of couples consider separation or divorce mid-remodel.

It’s human nature to feel stressed when your home is in a state of upheaval. If your marriage is in a fragileBoston couple home remodeling state already, I’m sure the additional stress may be all it takes to question your choice of mate. In the 30 years that I have been renovating homes, however, I have seen remodeling strengthen relationships more often than strain them. I’ve seen couples collaborate, communicate, and celebrate when the process results in a home that suits their lifestyles.

Houzz recently released the results of a survey with a subhead that says: “Houzz Survey Unveils Happy Ending to the Turmoil as 84 Percent of Couples Spend More Time at Home Post-Remodel”.  It turns out that remodeling really can be good for a relationship!

The release had some interesting points about the importance of collaboration and how to strengthen a relationship during remodeling. Here are a few interesting excerpts:

Conflicting style is a major source of stress as one third of respondents do not like their significant other’s design style. They’re not shy about telling their partner, either, with 76 percent sharing their opinion with their significant other. But honesty doesn’t help get rid of some of their partner’s favorite items. Forty-two percent of respondents reported being stuck with items they hate but aren’t allowed to get rid of – yet one in five has gone ahead and removed a significant other’s item without telling them. Forget knickknacks, the most common item creating clashes is old furniture, followed closely by posters and artwork. Some of the other hated items mentioned were antlers and other hunting trophies, wood paneling and old magazines.

While the majority of respondents describe their process as collaborative, when couples can’t agree, some partners move ahead on their own. One in five respondents have made a significant decision during the remodel process without telling their partner, from tearing down walls and picking paint colors to choosing furniture and appliances.

Despite the stress of remodeling, home really is where the heart is. Four out of five survey respondents reported feeling more relaxed in their home after completing their project. In addition, 42 percent of respondents do more entertaining and 41 percent report an increase in their level of happiness with their significant other.

Here are a few tips for keeping the peace – and even strengthening a relationship – during the remodeling and decorating process:

  • Strike a style balance. Can’t see eye to eye on traditional vs. contemporary? Before you begin a project, browse photos on Houzz, create ideabooks with images you like and have your partner do the same. Then, have a date night to share each other’s ideabooks and look for commonalities that will establish the style for your project.

  • Compromise or downsize. If you insist on tossing his mounted antlers, be prepared to give up something you hold dear. Conversely, if you’re not willing to let something go, be prepared to let him or her keep something you’re not a fan of either.

  • Money matters. Money is already major pain point for many couples. Avoid adding this stress to your remodel by agreeing on a budget up front. Research costs for materials and projects early on and make a list of items that both partners need to approve such as wall color, kitchen appliances and electronics.
The “Remodeling & Relationships Survey” is an online survey of Houzz users conducted July 2013.

Tags: home remodeling, remodeling trends, Boston remodeling

Renovation Trends for 2013

The start of a new year always kicks off predictions from the experts about what we’ll be seeing in the next 12 months. Trend watchers in the home design and remodeling arena predict that the following will be popular in the year ahead:


Open spaces: Open, airy floor plans are in right now. Homeowners with older homes can Open floor plan renovationachieve the flow of an open floor plan by taking down walls. If you want to retain discrete rooms but yearn for a more open look, consider adding interior glass doors and windows to increase natural light.


Multi-generational housing:  New home builders report an increase in buyers for homes specifically designed for multi-generational living. Flexible, first-floor spaces; separate entrances; and larger kitchen and living areas coupled with more intimate private spaces are particularly popular with families blending several generations into one space.


Quartz countertops:  For a while, granite was the “go to” choice for kitchen counters. Now everybody is talking about quartz. The man-made stone is easy to care for, nearly indestructible and comes in a wide range of colors and patterns.


Going green:  More owners are opting for energy-efficient or chemical-free products in their homes.  Adding insulation, sealing air leaks, upgrading HVAC, using low VOC (volatile organic compound) products, low- and dual-flush toilets and energy-efficient LED lighting will be on many homeowners’ To-Do lists this year.


Hardwood:  Hardwood floors never went out of style, but now they are even cropping up in bathrooms, thanks to a growing range of pre-finished or engineered options. Pre-finished woods provide a very durable finish without the mess of on-site sanding. In addition, engineered wood floors work well with under-floor heating systems.


Streamlined bathrooms: With an emphasis on natural materials and lots of light, bathroom design is veering towards the minimalist this year. Simple, clutter-free vanities, wall-mounted toilets, single-basin sinks and simplified fixtures will all spruce up your bathroom in a new, modern way.



Tags: Massachusetts remodeling, remodeling trends

New Materials for Kitchen Counters

First came Formica, then came Corian, then natural stones became all the rage for kitchen counters. Now homeowners can choose from an overwhelming array of materials including concrete, bamboo, glass and -- believe it or not -- paper.

We have not installed a paper countertop, but we are intrigued. A recent article on Houzz, written by Michele Jeresek, states that recycled paper countertops are stout, durable and easy on the environment.

Take a look at the article slide show:

Tags: Kitchen remodeling, kitchen design, remodeling trends, kitchen products

Energy Efficiency and Low Maintenance Top Home Design Trends

We thought this recent news from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) was interesting. See what you think.

As the housing market continues to improve, investments within the home have remained focused on increasing energy efficiency, designing outdoor living environments and adding wireless communications systems as home offices remain the most popular special function room. These findings are from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey for the second quarter of 2012 that focused on emerging home features: systems, technologies and function rooms in the home.

“We are far removed from the days when there was strong demand for home theaters and saunas,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Instead, the last several years have seen consumer priorities based more on practicality, ease, and affordability over luxury.”

AIA Home Design Trends Survey highlights



Home offices



Outdoor living rooms



Mud rooms



Media / home theater



All other rooms



Au pair / in-law suites



Indoor greenhouse






(most popular special function rooms, % of respondents)




Low maintenance






Tank-less water heaters



Water saving



Synthetic materials



Recycled materials



(% respond. report. popularity of products “increasing” minus % report. “decreasing”; Q2:2012)

Systems / technologies






Energy management



Backup power generation



Solar panels



Geothermal heating / cooling



Water reclamation



Electrical docking station



(% reporting popularity of system “increasing” minus % reporting “decreasing”; Q2:2012)

Special home features



Extra insulation



First floor master bedroom



Ramps / elevators



Easy-to-use features



Hurricane resistant design



(% reporting popularity of system “increasing” minus % reporting “decreasing”; Q2:2012)

Housing market business conditions

AIA Home Design Survey Index for Q2 2012 (any score above 50 is positive)

      • Billings: 53
      • Inquiries for new projects: 53

Baker noted, “Led by a robust remodeling market this is the first time there has been consecutive quarters of increasing demand for design services for residential architects since 2007. We haven’t entered an across-the-board recovery phase, but all other housing building sectors have improved remarkably so far this year.”

Specific construction segments



Additions / alterations



Kitchen / bath remodeling



Move up home market:



Custom luxury home market:



First-time buyer / affordable home market:



Townhouse / condo market:



Second home:



(% of respondents reporting sector “improving” minus % reporting “weakening”; Q2)

About the AIA Home Design Trends Survey
The AIA Home Design Trend Survey is conducted quarterly with a panel of over 500 architecture firms that concentrate their practice in the residential sector. Residential architects are design leaders in shaping how homes function, look, and integrate into communities and this survey helps to identify emerging trends in the housing marketplace. Business conditions are also monitored on a quarterly basis. Future surveys will focus on community design trends (December 2012), and kitchen and bath trends (March 2013).

About The American Institute of Architects
For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit

Tags: remodeling trends, architecture