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From Imhotep to Fixer Uppers: The History of Renovation

When exactly did the culture of renovation and home makeovers begin? Well, to trace that beginning, we must travel back to a time before Chip and Joanna Gaines ever popped up on our televisions, before the first load-bearing wall was removed, and way before the term “remodeling” was ever used.

Ancient Egypt: Remodeling as an Idea

One of the earliest suggestions of renovation is found in the Step Pyramid of Djoser, which was presumably designed by Imhotep, the vizier to Pharaoh Djoser. This Old Kingdom pyramid, although not a makeover project per se, is known as a drastic departure from the older styles since it appears to be the very first mastaba (a rectangular funerary superstructure) made up of stone (mastabas were previously constructed of mud bricks). This spirit of upgrading culminated in the Great Pyramid of Giza, which was presumably designed by vizier Hemiunu. It was another step toward the advent of remodeling since it was a move toward aesthetic appeal—the Pyramid remained the tallest manmade structure in the world for more than 3,800 years.

The Great Pyramid of Giza.

Ancient Mesopotamia: Remodeling as a Passion Project

The tale of the Tower of Babel, the skyscraper of the distant and perhaps mythical past, is believed by some to be a legend and by others to be a true story. But they can find common ground in Etemenanki, a now-destroyed ziggurat (an ancient Mesopotamian stepped pyramidal temple complex) that once stood sometime between 2200 and 500 BC. After apparently enhancing the Etemenanki by the use of gold, silver, and enameled bricks, the Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar II recorded that the deity Marduk, to whom the ziggurat was dedicated, excited Nebuchadnezzar’s mind “to repair this building.” There is even a cuneiform cylinder confirming the reconstruction.

The Ziggurat of Ur. The Etemenanki would have been three times taller.

Classical Antiquity: Remodeling as a Disgrace

In the ancient Greek world, philosophy and mythology influenced the arts. Philosophers and artists alike sought perfection and divine wisdom. Pythagoras’ golden ratio was incorporated into architecture; amphitheatres and temples stressed mathematical exactness. Loftiness of mind became tied to status, and therefore, renovation—a sign that the original construction was not perfect—appears to have been spurned at times.

One notable work of art that typifies this attitude is the mythical Labyrinth—a maze so complex that the architect himself was barely able to break out of it. Its creator was Daedalus, the genius architect who could fashion any number of things from a lifelike wooden cow to a lifelike statue that Hercules mistook for a living person. The Labyrinth in particular illustrates that a perfect artwork ought not need any renovation.

Another narrative of this era that undermines renovation is that of the hero Perseus. When a prophecy foretells King Acrisius that he will one day be killed by his grandson, he commands that his daughter Danae be locked away. To accomplish this, Acrisius remodels his dungeon, constructs a bronze chamber, and locks her in it. Zeus infiltrates this prison by transforming into a shower of gold and impregnates her with Perseus, rendering the renovation null and void.

The Parthenon is said to typify the Golden Ratio.

Roman Empire: Remodeling as a Culture

When Rome seized Greece, a full-on renovation was in order. The Greek gods were given Roman names and Greek art was appropriated. Enamored with Classical Greece, Romans borrowed the amphitheatre as well as the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders. But they added their own touches too—the now-iconic Roman domus was a combination of the Greek peristyle and the Etruscan atrium.

With the advents of concrete, aqueducts, and domes (as seen in such structures as the Pantheon), the toolkits in the box of renovation grew exponentially.

The dome of the Pantheon.

Byzantine Empire: Remodeling as a Paradigm Shift Declaration

After the Western Roman Empire fell, the Eastern half (Byzantine Empire) took on the mantle of Rome. After Constantine I legalized Christianity and renamed Byzantium as Constantinople, he is said to have commissioned the building of Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom). Through various earthquakes and tumultuous events such as the Nika insurrection, Hagia Sophia was reconstructed and enlarged. Built at the site of a pagan temple, Hagia Sophia toppled the previous paradigm by depicting Christ Pantokrator (“Christ Almighty”) in overwhelming gold.

After the Ottoman Empire conquered Constantinople and renamed it Istanbul, Sultan Mehmed II remodeled the church into a mosque. The Christian mosaics were whitewashed; minarets (towers that issue the call to prayer), a mihrab (recessed part of a wall that faces Mecca), and arabesques (geometric and sometimes calligraphic patterns) were added to reinforce the Muslim paradigm.

The Hagia Sophia is a museum today.

Middle Ages and Renaissance: Remodeling as a Spiritual Exercise

There were many developments, too many to list here, but here are some honorable mentions: Numerous flying buttresses, basilicas, vaults, stained windows, frescos, naves, clerestories (sections in the wall that have high windows for admitting light), and castles of Gothic and Romanesque persuasions. In the 13th century, the word “renovacyoun”, connoting spiritual rebirth, entered Middle French. “Renaissance” also literally means “rebirth”.

Cologne Cathedral is an example of gothic architecture.

Baroque, Rococo, and Mannerism: Remodeling as a Theatrical Apologetic

Buildings added trompe-l’oeil, or illusionistic art, to their ceilings (e.g. The Palace of Versailles). The Catholic Church fought against the Protestant Reformation by adding to their cathedrals furniture packed with Catholic narrative. Some notable examples are: St. Peter’s Baldachin (featuring shafts with elaborate twists) and altarpieces that employed chiaroscuro (a painting technique that heightens drama via a high contrast between sheen and shadow).

St. Peter’s Baldachin. Forces the viewer’s perspective to gaze upward.

Neoclassicism (Reaction Against Rococo): Remodeling as Decluttering

The Prado Museum. Full of Greek rationality and lacking Rococo froufrou.

Romanticism (Reaction Against Neoclassicism): Remodeling as the Love of Nature

The Houses of Parliament. Shapes have become more organic.

Modernism and Postmodernism: Remodeling as a Coping Mechanism

These phases were an intermingling of many “isms” that came from disillusioned schools of thought: Impressionism, Bauhaus, Cubism, Futurism, Constructivism, de Stijl, Abstract Expressionism, and the like. And in 1789, the word “remodel” entered the vernacular.

 

The Eiffel Tower.

Today: Remodeling as Entertainment

Fixer Uppers, Trading Spaces, and home makeover shows shimmer on our television screens.

Consider a Walk-In Closet Addition

Houses come in all shapes and sizes, and the decision to buy a house has everything to do with it. Some people prefer a cozy home as long as the bathroom has a bathtub for relaxing bubble baths. Some people need extra rooms and bathrooms for guests, requiring more square footage. There are also the additions that exceed the necessity limit like an office, double-door garage, and even a game room. What should never be overlooked is a walk-in closet.

Walk-in closets are not as common to find, almost as if home builders forget that everyone wants one. They probably want to add the illusion of space to the bedroom by reducing the available space for shoe collectors. The thing is that we all wear clothes, and in an area like North Carolina where the weather is constantly changing, we need room for all types of wardrobe. Home builders prefer to give you an excessive amount of cupboard space under your bathroom sink for a variety of lotion selections rather than extra racks in your closet for longer clothing like trousers and dresses.

It’s not too late to change the fact that your house doesn’t have a walk-in closet. Here’s what you can do:

Custom Cabinets

Hire a professional remodeling company to add custom cabinets to your existing closet or a whole new area that you want to transform in your house. Closets are most commonly designed as a small space with a pole rack stretched out for hangers. That’s not enough for all of your apparel, shoes, handbags, or intimates. Where are those supposed to go? Most people result in adding a dresser in the bedroom to place the rest of their wardrobe. Get rid of your dresser and utilize the extra floor space that it will be left because a dresser isn’t necessary when you can get cabinets to place in your closet.

For the narrow closets with sliding doors, the best option is to close up the wall where the doors cover, add an entrance door and utilize it for the cabinets. That makes your closet a walkable room with 4 walls rather than a tiny space that opens up to one wall of clothes.

Addition

Everyone has that storage room in an unnecessary area of their house. You can fit 20 brooms and an endless supply of cleaning products, or you can transform it into the hallway walk-in closet of your dreams. The ideal dream is to have the closet in your bedroom, but one walk-in closet is better than none. You can utilize it to store the entire family’s collection of coats and boots that take up the most storage in your average-sized closet. You will find that the hallway is a nice and convenient location for your seasonal essentials.

Another area that can get transformed into a walk-in closet is the closet vacated by the water heater. It’s frustrating that the water heater gets its own room, but your clothes have to be packed into a small drawer. Professional contractors can relocate the heater and move it to an area where the exposure of it won’t matter, like the garage. With the extra space that is left, the wall between your bedroom and the heater closet can be connected to make a master walk-in closet.

Conclusion

It is no doubt that with these simple renovation suggestions, you are now set on the consideration of a walk-in closet. Just suggest these home addition tips in your house renovation consultation. It’s now time to hire a home renovating contractor, and go on a shopping spree because your closet will now be spacious!

Choosing the Best Addition for Your Home

When you hear the word ‘home addition,’ what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it a guest house, an added playroom, or even an office? If you thought of any of these responses, then congratulations! You’re correct! Offices, guest rooms, play spaces–they all offer many benefits to homeowners. The just to name4 a few are the square footage and a unique design features that will make your home stand out from the rest.

The beauty of home additions in a nutshell is that your home does not have to remain unchanging throughout the years. As styles and themes evolve, you can add on to your home as your tastes and size need change. If you are thinking of adding space to your home, let us go over the top three choices in this blog so that you can make the best decision possible!

Sunrooms, Prefabs, and Greenhouses

Open sun room with glass ceiling

Probably the most unique type of home addition is a sunroom. Prefabricated sunrooms are great for those who want a sunny area or even a greenhouse in the comfort of their home. There are many advantages to this type of sunroom including decreased construction time, which is cut down to days rather than weeks, and the glass sides and ceilings which allow for each season to come into your home. With this type of home addition, you can put your green thumb to use or enjoy a nice open space without the annoyances of changing temperatures, bugs, and more.

Office Space

Office space for remodeled home

The more popular choice of home additions is adding an office space to your home. Most homes only have additional guest bedrooms that are used as offices, but this can pose an issue when guests do come to visit. No one wants to share their inflatable mattress with a computer screen, and you don’t want to constantly have to move printers and other computer equipment around the area. So, when you are looking at home addition choices, keep in mind that a dedicated office area will help you separate the spaces within your house and keep all of your important documents in one secure place rather than a shared room.

Living Rooms

Home addition with open porch.

Of all the different options, a living room addition is one that adds the sheerest, workable space. This, in theory, is the easiest to construct. You don’t have to worry about a glass ceiling like the sunrooms, nor do you have to find a strong signal location for computer rooms–all you’ll get is sheer space. This is perfect for growing families that need just square footage to live in, which sets up an additional living space or makes a multi-purpose room. The benefit of living room home additions is that they can be minimally designed or increased in grandeur– it all depends on your needs and desires, which offers more creative control.

Conclusion

In summary, remodeling and adding to your home can be done in a simple way:  home addition. There is less stress, time, construction needed, and it adds a special amount of curbside appeal to your home. The overall value of your home rises as well with this rare feature and added square footage! So, no matter which type of addition you choose, you’re guaranteed to have a great, new, usable space.

Top 3 Deck Materials to Consider

Are you considering adding a deck to your home? If so, we encourage you to go for it! Not only will it increase the value of your home, but it’s perfect for parties and creating a lovely aesthetic. But, just any deck won’t do. You’ve got to ensure that you choose the right deck for your lifestyle. Below, we’ve compiled a list of our top choices for deck materials. We hope this offers you some valuable insight!

Exotic Hardwood

Exotic hardwood is enough to make heads turn. If you’re looking to make a great impression, exotic options are a great choice. Though on the expensive side, woods such as Philippine mahogany and Cumaru, make terrific options. These woods will offer your deck a sleek and head-turning look while also providing outstanding resistance to harsh elements and rot.

While going the exotic route is great, there are a few downsides. Due to the density of most exotic woods, driving a nail or a screw through them is extremely difficult, bordering on impossible. An easy solution to this issue would be adding fasteners or clips into the edge of the boards. These will be hidden, allowing for easy installation and a flawless look!

Composites

Composites are typically composed of wood fibers and recycled plastic. With this, your deck will be weather and stain resistant. In addition, it won’t splinter or rot. This is a great choice if you’re Composite decks are fairly easy to maintain. searching for an amazing look without the hefty price tag.

Though many don’t like the idea of steering away from natural wood, the benefits are numerous. Composite materials are low maintenance so you can feel free to enjoy your deck with very little trouble. However, mold and decay can occur. In the event of this, replacement is highly recommended.

Pressure-Treated Lumber

Pressure treated lumber is the most popular deck material. About 75% of deck construction is done with pressure-treated lumber. This is the most cost-effective and popular choice among deck owners. There’s no wonder as to why with its low price and easy to maintain quality. For starters, pressure-treated lumber is easy to cut and install and is widely available to the masses.

With all this being said, it’s important to keep in mind that this option is not the most stable. This type of material is also known to rot and split with time. In order to increase its shelf life, regular power washing and staining are necessary. Experts recommend doing this every two to three years for the best results.

Conclusion

There’s nothing like adding on a deck to create more space and a great ambiance for you and your guests alike. However, when choosing the material for your deck, it’s important to educate yourself on all of your options. From exotic to economic, the possibilities are endless!

The Foundations of Deck Construction

You fancy yourself a handyman, a master do-it-yourselfer. You’ve handled it all, patching up holes, pulling piping back from the brink of replacement, crafting impressive apparatuses for your yard with nothing to your name aside from your wit, a bevy of tools from Home Depot, and an endless supply of YouTube tutorials. But now the time has come to handle a different beast: the front yard deck. And whether or not you plan on reaching out for professional assistance or dusting off the ol’ reliable tool box that’s seen you through thick and thin, knowing what to expect from the process is an absolute must! And with that in mind, we proudly offer up this blog to those looking to break ground and develop a core understanding of what goes into erecting a proper deck that elevates your home’s exterior. Read on for a quick rundown of the variables you should keep in mind before buying your first piece of material!

Permits

One of the first things you’ll realize a deck needs before any materials or hardware is a permit. That being said, if you plan on working with a professional, ensure their permit and licensing is up to snuff. The last thing you want is a big red tag on your brand spanking new deck!

Before the Project

From there, understandably, we move on to one of the more exciting dimensions of your new project, the materials. It goes without saying that each material comes with its pros and cons, but it would also do you well to understand the different parts and structures you need to keep that deck of yours afloat. Some of these parts will include: concrete, staining supplies, lighting, balusters, and trim pieces, and more. Arguably one of the most important features of your deck will be the actual decking you use to build it. Many will opt for pressure-treated wood since it’s one of the more affordable products considering how durable it is. Composite and tropical hardwood decking are also strong alternatives for their stronger durability and maintenance-free care, though they do cost a bit more. There are tons of different styles and products you can opt for, so be sure to do your homework and pick the perfect decking that meets your criteria and you budget.

Location

We’ve all heard the old adage when it comes to purchasing real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. Well the same can be said about your deck. Your ideal spot might have a roadblock such as plant life or fixtures that need to be worked around. If, for example, a tree stands between your home and your prospective deck, you’ll need to make a little extra room in your budget to either remove the tree altogether, or invest in some more framing that place around it in order to incorporate it into the fixture itself.

If you plan on building on a graded area, however, longer posts are going to be required to level your deck. If you plan on cantilevering the structure instead, you’ll also need a contractor or engineer to sign off on the plans and ensure everything meets proper codes and regulations.

Conclusion

Whether you’re planning on upping your curb appeal or simply want a calming location in which to enjoy a calm and relaxing time with friends and family, a deck can be the perfect ingredient to add to your home’s exterior. The project itself, however, can be incredibly taxing if you don’t prepare and do you due diligence. Keep what we mentioned above in mind and save yourself the extra cost and stress!

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