Creating Space for the Family

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After raising their children in this home, and now after weddings and grandchildren, our clients realized the size of their family had exceeded the size of what their kitchen, dining and family room could hold. Due to sheer numbers, family gatherings had become a space issue. Our clients love to cook and entertain, so the design process started in the kitchen with the idea of adding a serving bar. We opened the space, alleviated congestion and enabled the family to gather all at the same time, in the same area. 

What We Did:

  • Renovated the kitchen by installing new appliances and custom cabinetry
  • Opened the family room to the kitchen  
  • Designed and installed a custom serving bar
  • Converted 3 separate rooms into a single living space
  • Created an area large enough to enable the whole family to dine together
  • Maintained the character of the existing home while updating
  • Installed new wood flooring throughout the living area and entryway
  • Designed and installed custom built-ins and a mantel at the fireplace, along with an adjacent TV cabinet


  • Installed can lights into the beam over the serving bar, eliminating the need for “dropped” lighting fixtures
  • Eliminated traffic flow bottlenecks in several areas by increasing the width of the opening from foyer to family living areas and relocating the basement door
  • Installed a touchless sink faucet
  • Increased the kitchen size by capturing unused space behind existing refrigerator and oven

From our client’s vision to reality, we were delighted to exceed their expectations. They have been enjoying the comforts of their newly renovated home, as they share it with family and friends.

Dave Osmond Builders built this beautiful renovation project.

Should you Remodel or Renovate Your Kitchen?

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Why should you remodel or update your kitchen? At RDS, our designers are often asked about kitchens and how we can help our clients make their kitchens more efficient, updated, and current. What should you be thinking about if you are contemplating a remodel of your kitchen?

  • Is It Outdated? 
    Your kitchen may have worked for you in the past, but now it appears to be outdated. It might be in good shape, but not for your life now. Maybe the tiles are cracking or worn, the countertops are out of style, or the cabinets are broken or too small. Are the appliances old and not working for your family’s needs? It might need a new patio door, or skylights to add light to the room.
  • Do You Need to Change the Space or Function? 
    Counter space, cabinet space, and work space are some of the biggest reasons to update your kitchen. Most of us want more room for cooking, storage, and family work or gathering areas. You might want to increase the area so that there can be more than one cook, or to set up a computer work station. An island so that you can have a quick meal together might be a wanted change.
  • Are You Dreaming of a Gourmet Kitchen? 
    You love to cook, read and try recipes, and love state of the art appliances and gadgets. Your main reason for a remodel is to create your dream kitchen so that you can prepare great meals and entertain.
  • Is Storage or Lack of it an Issue? 
    You don’t have room for your appliances, dishes, serving ware, and pantry staples. Increasing your storage space might be the impetus for remodeling. A walk in pantry, bigger cabinets, and reworking your existing storage spaces, are all good reasons to remodel.
  • Do You Need the Kitchen Open to More Rooms in the House? 
    Everyone ends up in the kitchen when entertaining and if the kitchen is closed off, this doesn’t work. You might need to open up the space, build a large island, rework the flow, and create entertaining spaces.

Whatever your reasons are for remodeling your kitchen, RDS, your leader in kitchen designs and renovation plans, is here to answer your questions and work with you to design your perfect space.


Jim's Tips of the Trade…..Plan Distribution

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No one would ever accuse me of being “tech savvy”, but over the past few years, I have learned a few things about PDF plan file sizes, print costs and sharing the files in the cloud. Maybe a few of these ideas could make your daily workload a little lighter.

Up until a few years ago, we printed plans and then had to run them around to subs and tradespeople to get bids and then provide everyone with new sets after the cost-driven changes were made. I know some folks are still doing it that way because “my subs don’t use computers”. They don’t use computers because you haven’t required them to join the computer age.

We find file sizes have continued to grow to the point that Gmail and some of the other servers will not accept the plans without breaking them down into separate sheets. To get around this problem we use DropBox. It is free up to a certain storage size and works like a file folder on your computer desktop. The beautiful thing about it is that you can invite your suns and tradespeople to join the folder. When you add a file to your desktop it appears in theirs. They always have the most up to date file and you don’t have to pay for prints or spend hours running plans everywhere. They’re responsible for printing their own sets for bid meetings or going paperless with an iPad or another device.

Bluebeam is an inexpensive program that PDF plans can be loaded into for use on an Ipad device that allows photographs to be taken on the job site and notes added to them along with adding notes to the PDF plans-no more rolling a set out and trying to write notes in mid-air and trying to read your scribble later. You can also send the file afterwards to everyone who needs it.

Now you’ve found a few additional hours of productive time each week and everyone you work with is instantly up to date with the latest info. Good communication can be a wonderful thing!

Jim's Tips - ARB

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One of the critical lessons we have learned over the years is the need to understand the requirements of each Architectural Review Board (ARB) we work with.  If you have a property that requires architectural review we cannot stress how important this is. Each community has distinctly different technical standards, policies, procedures and submittal requisites. 

The first step is to be certain you have the latest design guidelines and submittal requirements and that there are no other documents from other sources you need to reference. Gather this information and read through it carefully. If you have questions, ask the developer, the board or their representative before you begin design work.

There are several key questions you need to be sure you and your builder are aware and have an understanding of when building or remodeling in an ARB community:

1. What are their unique concerns?  Each community has colors, materials and a myriad of standards that must be followed. Realize the unique ones for your area and be sure to cater to those unique differences.

2. What is the impact of this design or addition on your community?  If your property is in a high profile location such at the entry or multiple sides of your home will be highly visible, you may be held to a slightly higher standard; at the very least your design will receive greater scrutiny. Understand this as the design is developed and take this into account.

3. Who is on the ARB? Are they design professionals who can visualize a home easily from 2D plans or do you need to add color or 3D views/renderings to help explain your project? Cater to the people doing the review. 

When working with a builder or remodeler, you’ll want to be sure they know and understand all of the requirements. There may be documents they need to sign also. The better everyone on the team is informed, the smoother your design approval and build process will be.

For more information on how we can help you in your next remodel, plan revision, or new home design, we invite you to connect with one of our creative team members.  We are here to help ensure great success with your project for you and your builder. Let our years of experience work for you!

Closet Organization – Tips and Tricks


Be honest – when you look in your closet, is it as organized as you’d like it to be? Or could it use some help? Our latest Front Porch Friday video, Closet Organization, is full of tips and tricks. We want to help you get organized. We can even design a new closet for you when we design your new bedroom! 

An organized closet can lessen your stress when getting dressed and ready for your day! Recapture time as you easily find just the right outfit for that important meeting or date night. Organizing, whether it’s the kitchen cabinets or your bedroom closet is very personal, so you have to do what works for you. 

What to Do:

Evaluate the Space:

  • You can’t evaluate the space unless you look at it critically with everything in it. Take a photo if you need to so you can compare before and after!
  • Picture your closet with four zones; overhead, eye level, mid level, and floor level. Are you getting the most out of all of these areas?
  • Where do you need more space? Do you hang most of your clothing? Or is most of it folded? Do you have lots of shoes?
  • Take everything out of the closet and do a second evaluation. Do you have dead space where shelves could be added? Is the closet deep enough to hang something from the back of the door? Is it large enough for a built-in or freestanding dresser? 
  • If you’re lucky enough to have a walk-in closet, can it be customized to give you even more space?
  • Sort your clothing into keep, donate, and pitch. Be realistic and honest with yourself. Will you ever wear that dress or shirt again?
  • If you can’t decide on certain clothing items and whether you need them, hang all of your clothes with the hangers facing in the “wrong” direction. Every time you wear something, hang it back with the hanger in the “right” direction. At the end of the season, see what hangers haven’t been turned. Maybe now you’ll see what you can really get rid of. 


There are a huge variety of organizers available for closets. What you choose will depend on your needs. 

  • Hangers come in different sizes and materials. Slim, wide, wooden, non-slip and plastic hangers are all designed to help you make the most of your closet. Plastic hangers come in many colors and styles. These are perfect for t-shirts, casual shirts, and jeans. Non-slip hangers work well for silky material and are designed to keep any clothing from slipping. Wooden hangers that are curved are best for sweaters and jackets. Hangers with clips make hanging pants and skirts easy and wrinkle-free. Slim hangers allow you more space for clothes, especially if you have a smaller closet. 
  • Using hooks, shoe organizers, baskets, shelves, dressers, different sized plastic bins, and towel bars provide you with a plethora of options for organizing. All you need is a closet and some ingenuity to make it work for you. 


You’ve got the organizers; you’ve sorted your clothing, shoes, and accessories. Now how can you best reorganize?

  • Hooks are perfect for hanging bulky items like purses, handbags, bulky sweatshirts, or fleece jackets.
  • Shoe organizers are not only good for shoes but also other items like sweaters or sweatshirts, keeping them from stretching out. Plus, it’s easy to see them since they are separated.
  • In dresser drawers, use drawer organizers to separate belts, ties, socks, underwear, and bras.
  • Roll t-shirts and stand them on end in dresser drawers, baskets, or plastic see-through bins. It takes up less space and you can easily find the one you want. Plus, they don’t wrinkle as much.
  • A basket filled with socks or underwear is easy to pull out from a shelf. 
  • Organize by color, function, style, and use. Keep dressy clothes in one area, exercise and casual clothing front and center, and work clothes where you can easily mix and match. 
  • Towel bars can be hung on a wall. Tie scarves to them or hang up high-heeled shoes. They’re easy to see and doesn’t take up valuable rod or floor space. 
  • Raising the closet bar higher allows you to hang a second bar or add shelving or a dresser underneath it.
  • Shelf dividers allow you to stack sweaters up higher since they will be held in place.
  • Shelf brackets can have a whole new use! Flip over a shelf bracket and sort items by type and hang with curtain clips.

The sky’s the limit with your closets! Even a small closet can be better organized. Be creative, use the ideas we’ve suggested, and if you’re ready, contact us to help you design a home (and closets) for you!



Design Don’ts…Could These Hurt Your Home’s Value?


You’re excited, ready and anxious to start on your design of your new dream home or the renovation of the home you already love. At RDS, we understand as our residential designers work with clients every day to help develop their dreams to reality.

Many of the families we work with have built several homes and understand the process thoroughly but we are all inundated with so many media options from Houzz to HGTV that often the inspiration sources provided can have divergent ideas. It is our responsibility to ask you detailed questions about your ideas and work with you in making decisions that will serve you and your family best for the long term.

What you love now, or what you’ve seen on HGTV, might not work for a future buyer, and while we don’t want to think about selling, it all too often can become a reality.

What to Consider:

Investment Level: the homes in your neighborhood have a range of pricing and if you’re not careful you can spend more than you can recover if you would have to relocate unxpectedly. This shouldn’t be the only criteria to make a decision but it is an important one.

Does the design fit the home? How does the design of the home, impact the neighborhood? Creating an ultra-modern look in a traditional neighborhood might not be the best fit, especially in a historic district.

If you need to include Universal design in your existing home due to accessibility issues, then by all means, do it. But if you’re thinking of widening doors and hallways in your renovation plans to add resale value, think again. The costs may far exceed the perceived value.

Depending on where you live, don’t upgrade a kitchen beyond what is typical for the neighborhood. You can easily price yourself right out of the market and never recoup your investment. Work with our design team to find the best options to fit your home and neighborhood, while still achieving the look you want.

Not every kitchen renovation can accommodate an island without adding or repurposing space. Many times the budget limits the extent of the work and a careful redesign of the existing kitchen will provide solutions to address the functional improvements within the space.

Swimming pools…you may dream of having one, but if they’re not common in your neighborhood it may be hard to recover your investment. If you have to sell, a pool could be a deterrent to buyers that might see it as an added cost, more maintenance, or a liability.

Live in a historic charmer that you want to remodel? If you have areas that are beyond repair or can be changed without losing value, then go for it. Be careful about getting rid of all of the original features and historic charm of your home though…it’s historic for a reason!

Your home is listed by the number of bedrooms, so the loss of a bedroom to enlarge an owner's suite or create a new bathroom could backfire on you. Adding bathrooms or expanding a bedroom is a smart choice, but not at the expense of reducing the bedroom count, as it will change your home’s comparables in the neighborhood.

Set on having granite? It’s still a popular choice, but do your research and see what else might be an option. Marble and quartz continue to be strong contenders. Not everyone is excited about granite anymore.

Your home needs a tub, especially with children, but be wary of jetted or spa tubs. These are not what buyers are looking for. Walk in showers and freestanding tubs are design dos!

Love the aquariums you’ve seen on HGTV, and wish you had one? Think twice, built-in aquariums will only appeal to certain people.

All white rooms are out. Texture and color are in. All white cabinets and walls in a kitchen is not trending anymore, but if white is what you want, add pops of color in the backsplash and other areas such as countertops.

As much as you might love barn doors and shiplap, they will, like many hot design trends, date your home eventually and might make it difficult to resell. But if you want it, be creative and original with it.

Wallpaper is making a comeback, but only as an accent. Too much wallpaper might be too much of a good thing. If you do use it, be sure it can be easily removed for potential future buyers.

Hardwood and tile are still the flooring options of choice, with carpeting used in certain spaces. Look at what’s out there, to make an informed choice about flooring.

If doing a remodel, converting a garage to a gym or another type of room is not a smart move. Buyers want garages. A smart remodel would be to redefine the space and add storage. If you really want to convert the garage, do it in such a way that it can be converted back to a garage - don’t remove the garage doors.

Ultimately, it’s your home, and you should include design ideas that you love. Just remember that future buyers might be scared off by your choices that are too personalized. Are there ways to be able to appeal to future buyers even with your design choices and still recoup your investment? Our designers listen to you, help guide you, and present you with the best options available for your home. Get started on your home design ideas with us!