Month: June 2011

Making “Home Sweet Home” Sweeter

When the Housing Market Gives Us Lemons - Let's Make Lemonade! Photo credits: Jose Luis Hernandez Zurdo/
When the Housing Market Gives Us Lemons - Let's Make Lemonade! Photo credits: Jose Luis Hernandez Zurdo/

When the Housing Market Gives Us Lemons, Let’s Make Lemonade!

The statistics are staggering and the numbers don’t lie. Whether it’s the sorry state of the housing market or the fact that they just really love their homes, more and more Atlantans are opting to stay in their current residences longer. According to real estate search engine, Trulia – the number of home sales in Atlanta from June 2010 to June 2011 has plummeted sharply by an estimated 80.9% and the number of listings has dropped by nearly 1,000 in the last month alone. While listing prices seem to be slowly creeping their way back up and certain neighborhoods such as North Buckhead and Southwest Atlanta appear to buck the trend at times, it appears we’re still in for a long and bumpy ride for some time to come as the ship struggles to right itself. Shy of the necessity to move for a job relocation or inability to keep up with current mortgage payments, many of us are choosing to stay put and make the best of the home that we loved enough to invest in and call “home sweet home”.

The most important thing you can do is to avoid feeling as though you’re trapped in limbo. Don’t look at it as a house – it’s your home, the place where your children’s laughter rings through the hallways, where meals and memories are shared, and where love and happiness flourishes. Of course, families grow and their needs evolve – so while you may feel tethered to a home you’ve grown a tad weary of, there are some relatively easy ways to spice things up and make that “home sweet home” even sweeter. If you feel as though a move is definitely in your future, you’ll want to invest wisely in any home remodeling projects.  According to the National Association of Realtors’ Cost vs. Value Report for 2010-2011, in Atlanta the top ten remodeling projects that saw the greatest return on investment when it came time to resell included:

  • Creation of an attic bedroom (72.2%)
  • Basement remodel (70%)
  • Deck addition (wood  – 72.8%; composite – 66.2%))
  • Entry door replacement (102.1%)
  • Garage door replacement (83.9%)
  • Major kitchen remodel (68.7%); minor kitchen remodel (72.8%)
  • Siding replacement – vinyl (72.4%)
  • Window replacement (vinyl – 71.6%; wood – 72.4%)
  • Two-story addition (65%)
  • Bathroom remodel (64.1%)

You may find that each of these home improvements can dramatically increase your family’s enjoyment of the home during the time that you remain there, in addition to allowing you to recoup a major portion of the cost when it comes time to move. Replacement of doors, windows and siding can enhance the exterior beauty and curb appeal of the home, while renovations to the kitchen and bathrooms can update the look of the interior. Additions – such as a second story to a one-level home or a deck to the rear of the residence – can add much-needed interior and exterior living space. The same can be accomplished by simply finishing an attic and/or a basement. There’s no need to feel trapped in a home when you can virtually customize it to meet your family’s specific needs and collective personality – while keeping in mind that you are making a smart investment and potentially increasing  your home’s market value.

My company – Highlight Homes, LLC – can help you with every single remodeling project on the list you see above. I’m happy to meet with you for a no-obligation consultation to discuss your family’s needs and develop possible solutions. My team and I can draw up the plans, then make your ideas leap from the paper into your very own reality. We’ve built a solid reputation for completing projects on time, on budget, and well above expectations. I welcome your call at 678.873.9234 or you can e-mail me at What are you waiting for?  Let’s get started!

Finding Inspiration for Your Renovation

The Importance of Creating a Dreambook Before Taking That First Exciting Step Towards Change

Motivation can come from lots of places – a visit to a neighbor’s home, a raise or bonus at work, a growing family, a desire for more storage, a need for an update, or simply that growing, nagging sense that your home is in dire need of a change. While motivation is easy to find, inspiration may be something you need to actively pursue. Once you’ve found it, the best way to communicate that inspiration to others – your family members, an architect, an interior designer, or someone like me, a builder and renovator – is to compile all of your ideas into a Dreambook. Whether you have one room or a whole slew of living spaces of your home that you wish to remodel, a Dreambook is the ideal spot to gather all of your ideas together. As you concentrate your efforts on creating your Dreambook, your vision of the perfect remodel will come into clearer focus.

How to Create a Dreambook

Ideas are everywhere!  Here are just a few places to look to help you get started…

  • Friends, Family & Neighbors – If you step into someone’s house and say “What a lovely home!” (and MEAN it), make mental notes about what it is in their décor or design that speaks to you.  If you happen to have a camera or smartphone on hand, don’t be afraid to ask your hosts if you can take photos. Chances are they’ll be flattered, and the images will help you remember the elements that you liked best about their home. Print them out and add them to your Dreambook.  If you don’t have access to a camera during your visit, jot down a few notes and add them to your book.
  • Magazines, Coffee Table Books, and Catalogs – Do your homework!  Thumb through the pages of home décor and remodeling magazines, coffee table books, and store catalogs (like IKEA, Lowes, Home Depot, Crate & Barrel, etc…) While you certainly won’t want to rip the pages out of a coffee table book, you CAN tear the pages out of magazines and catalogs to enhance your Dreambook. Make copies of the pages of the coffee table books that really resonate with you.
  • Online portfolios at different renovation company websites - such as the one found at Highlight Homes' website - can be jam-packed with inspiration.
    Online portfolios at different renovation company websites - such as the one found at Highlight Homes' website - can be jam-packed with inspiration.

    Home Décor, Interior Design, and Remodeling Websites – If you know which rooms you’d like to focus your attention, type that room into the search bar and see what pops up. From remodelers who specialize in certain areas of the home (such as kitchens and baths), to interior designers who just completed an exciting project, to entire websites devoted to the art and science of home décor – there are a wealth of images out there to inspire you.  The more you view, the more you will understand the styles that draw you in. Highlight Homes’ online portfolio is a great resource! Be sure to print out your favorites and add them to your book.

  • Home Décor, Interior Design, and Remodeling Channels – Tune in to any one of many home improvement shows out there, then curl up with a good NOTEbook.  Take really good notes on all of the great ideas you see that might fit with your vision, even make sketches if that helps you recall what you saw. Don’t forget to add your notes to the Dreambook.  A word of warning: these shows can be highly addictive and may lead you to believe you could go it alone on your own home remodel.  If this is the case, be sure to read one of our most popular blogs – Do it Yourself vs. Hiring a Professional – before you dive right in.

Once you’ve pulled your book together and have a fairly strong idea of the direction you’d like to take, it’s time to look into budget and begin researching renovating companies. Make sure to add Highlight Homes to the list.  My team and I welcome the opportunity to make your ideas leap from the pages of your Dreambook to become a beautiful reality. Visit us online at to learn more about our experience and specialties, then call us at 678.873.9234, e-mail us at, or fill out our helpful online contact form.  We look forward to hearing from you soon and can’t wait to take a peek at your Home Renovation Dreambook!

Keep Your Fingers Crossed, Highlight Homes’ Fans!

The prestigious OBIE Award is one of two awards the friendly folks at Highlight Homes are in the running for.
The prestigious OBIE Award is one of two awards the friendly folks at Highlight Homes are in the running for - we already have TWO OBIE's in our possession from the last time we submitted in 2008.

Atlanta Custom Home Builder and Renovation Design-Build Firm Awaits Judges’ Decisions for Two Prestigious Awards

I know I’ve got my fingers crossed, along with my entire staff – so now it’s up to you and the rest of Highlight Homes’ growing fan base.  I am pleased to announce that we have recently submitted projects for consideration for two prestigious awards – The Remodeling Design Awards sponsored by Hanley Wood’s Remodeling Magazine and The OBIE Awards sponsored by the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association.  Both are designed to recognize excellence within our industry with regard to strength of design ideas, aesthetic and market appeal, sensitivity to existing structure, compatibility with the neighborhood, and functional value of a particular remodel project. We were very proud to submit recent kitchen remodeling projects to both award judges’ panels that we felt best displayed Highlight Homes’ signature quality craftsmanship and attention to detail. The last time we entered the OBIE Awards, we walked away with two!

While I am excited to learn the results, I feel it’s important to convey that – win or lose – Highlight Homes always puts its best foot forward. We don’t have our eye on the prize when we enter into a relationship with a client – thinking “this could be our next great award-winning remodel”. Instead, our sole focus is on our client and the task at hand.  When all is said and done – if the client isn’t happy, nobody wins.  Based on the smiles (and sometimes even tears of joy) we see on the faces of our clients at the successful conclusion of our renovation projects, we’ve already won.  To our current Highlight Homes’ fan base, I just want to say thank you for trusting us with such an important part of your family’s life – your home. It is both an honor and a pleasure to serve you. We’ll keep you posted as soon as we learn the results from both award presentations, but in the meantime – feel free to help us spread the word about Highlight Homes, our commitment to excellence and our devotion to our clients. We tackle every new project with the same level of excitement – whether there’s an award on the line or not.

If you or someone you know is considering a home renovation, my talented design-build team at Highlight Homes can be reached by phone at 678.873.9234, by e-mail at, or via online contact form. We specialize in kitchen renovations, bathroom remodels, basement finishing, room additions, decks & patios, landscaping and water features, whole home renovations, and so much more. We serve the metro Atlanta area and surrounding suburbs including Buckhead, Roswell, Alpharetta, Sandy Springs, Peachtree City and beyond.

Image credit: Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association

Renovate to Celebrate Dad This Year

What Dad Really Wants for Father's Day This Year is a Grown-up Version of His Boyhood Tree House. Photo Credit: anankkml /
What Dad Really Wants for Father's Day This Year is a Grown-up Version of His Boyhood Tree House. Photo Credit: anankkml /

Say “Happy Father’s Day” With a Man Cave, Home Theater or Backyard Escape

As the proud father of two boys, I consider myself somewhat of an expert when it comes to knowing what dads REALLY want for Father’s Day. Over the years, I’ve received my fair share of ugly ties, hand-molded ashtrays (even though I don’t smoke), and woodshop class projects intended to pay tribute to all of my hard work as a dad. While I will forever cherish each of these well-intended gifts – as all dads do – if asked what I would really love to receive on that one special day each year designed to celebrate fathers everywhere, it would be the gift of peace and quiet. A small part of the home that is solely mine, and I’m not talking about the obligatory fraction of the walk-in closet in the Master Suite – I’m talking about an entire room.  Just as little boys love their clubhouses and tree forts, no matter their age – grown men still desire the same feeling of solitude and exclusivity (minus the sign that reads “no girls allowed”).  Even though I will gladly share this space with the other members of my family from time to time, there’s serenity in the knowledge that I have a place to go when I want some time to myself.

This space may be different for a variety of fathers. For the grizzly bear of a dad, he may find solace in a Man Cave – a space carved from the basement or even garage of the home and filled with his favorite things – where he can while away a weekend afternoon or weekday evening after a hard day at work. If he is a tinkerer, his Man Cave may take on the appearance of a workroom filled with shiny new tools and a big manly workbench.  If he is a social creature, his Man Cave may look more like the set of Cheers – with a big bar lined with stools and a pool table perpetually set up for the next game.  If Dad’s the outdoorsy type, he may prefer a big backyard oasis where he can hang out at the built-in grill of his outdoor kitchen and take pride in his landscaping handy work. If Dad’s a big movie buff and loves all of the big action films, a home theater with big screen TV and surround sound may be his concept of the ideal escape.

My design team at Highlight Homes can help you give Dad a gift he will treasure long after the sun sets on Father’s Day 2011. While there’s really no way to complete any of these projects in time for Father’s Day, how cool would it be to hand over the designs to his new “MINE, MINE, MINE” living space or have him cut the ribbon on a room you’ve designated solely for him where HE can decide what that space will become? I welcome the chance to discuss with you what your next steps can be to make Dad’s dream a reality.  Simply give me a call at 678.873.9234, e-mail me at, or fill out an online contact form – and I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can.  Keep in mind – Father’s Day is right around the corner on June 19, so we’ll have to work fast!  To give him a gift that says “Thanks for being a great Dad” every day of the year, call me TODAY.

Turn Your Home Inside Out for Summer

Photo credit:
Photo credit:

A growing trend in homes throughout the nation involves bringing a little bit of that interior charm to the Great Outdoors. Rather than just sticking a picnic table in the yard for family gatherings and hauling out a few extra folding chairs when neighbors pop by to visit, homeowners are beginning to place as much of an effort in the layout and décor of their exterior living spaces as they do with the interior rooms of their home. Large luxurious overstuffed patio furniture reflects the consumers’ desire to infuse a little elegance and creature comfort into their outdoor oasis. These are a few more trends I just happen to love:

  • The Outdoor Kitchen: As a man who loves to grill, this has to be the end-all-be-all for me! Instead of the obligatory black grill stuck on the corner of the patio shrouded in a cover faded by the sun, it’s entirely possible to create a sleek, chic look for your outdoor living space. By incorporating a stainless steel grill paired with outdoor sink, mini-fridge and even a dishwasher all set in a granite countertop surround, complete with lots of storage for your kitchen tools and bar essentials – you suddenly have an outdoor kitchen that could well make your backyard the envy of the neighborhood.
  • Take Cover: Some homeowners may choose to make their outdoor living space either partially enclosed or covered, making it even easier to infuse elements of the interior of the home. A pergola makes it possible to string lights for a festive atmosphere, and hang an exterior ceiling fan for the comfort of your guests on those hot summer days.  A continuous cover adds protection for your furniture against elements like the sun and rain, and may make it possible to incorporate a flat-screen TV that is specially designed to resist harm from dust, bugs and the elements. You can also add dramatic lighting fixtures, an outdoor rug, and lots of throw pillows to really create that exterior living room feel. Imagine watching the Atlanta Braves on the flat-screen from the comfort of your big, overstuffed outdoor sofa while burgers are grilling and the kids are playing nearby. You’ve just increased your home’s living spaces, as well as its curb appeal and value for future homebuyers. By screening this space in, you can still enjoy the Great Outdoors but let the bugs know they are no longer invited to the party.
  • The Outdoor Hearth: Perhaps one of the hottest trends out there (no pun intended), the outdoor hearth offers the ideal focal point for any outdoor living space.  It can be as simple as a firepit surrounded by multi-colored Adirondack chairs – perfect for roasting marshmallows and swapping ghost stories, or as dramatic as a towering stacked stone fireplace with mantle – the showcase piece for the entire backyard. Outdoor hearths not only create atmosphere and add an air of romance to your oasis, they can be practical additions by enhancing the light and warmth of the space – increasing its enjoyment to all four seasons.
  • The Outdoor Aquarium:  Aquariums date all the way back to Ancient Rome. People have long been mesmerized by the gracefully gliding meanderings of fish. There’s something to be said for the undeniably relaxing nature of incorporating water elements into your backyard. If you seek an outdoor sanctuary rather than an exterior entertaining space, the addition of a waterfall or koi pond surrounded by benches could be all you need to achieve your own personal balance.

The best part is, my team at Highlight Homes and I can help you turn your home inside out for summer! Whether you choose to enclose an existing patio, build a deck addition, or create an entirely new living space further back on your property, Highlight Homes has the talent and know-how to not only design it, but to also build it from the ground up. Consider your existing backyard as a blank canvas, then imagine the possibilities! Which elements do you feel could best serve your family, increasing the overall enjoyment of your home? We can help you decide that, too. Getting started is as easy as picking up a phone or sending us an e-mail. My team and I can be reached by calling 678.873.9234, by filling out our convenient online contact form, or by e-mailing us at I look forward to hearing from you soon, and learning how best Highlight Homes can serve you and your family.