Tag Archives: Home Remodeling Contractor

Should You Add an Interior Archway to Your Renovation Plans?

Should You Add an Interior Archway to Your Renovation Plans? - home remodeling contractor - Mares Dow

Have you considered archways in your home remodeling plan? If you’re doing big renovations, such as redoing your kitchen or adding a room, why not add an archway while you’re at it? Home remodeling contractors can add archways to your walls, making an alcove to display a window or decor, or build arched doorways between rooms.

Reasons to consider adding an interior archway:

You want to highlight a specific room or area

Every home has a room or communal space that’s the highlight of the layout. If you don’t think you have one, ask yourself what area of your house makes you the most proud. Is it your living room where you enjoy entertaining your family and guests? Is it your kitchen, where your guests are always amazed by your cooking? Or is it an alcove where people can sit and relax during parties?

Wherever your pride is, remodeling general contractors can highlight it with an interior archway. Even without remodeling the room or space, an interior arch can make it appear extra special. This is because an arch can function as a framing device. Now, imagine combining an arch with a remodeling of the interior. Home remodeling contracts can make the arch complement the new layout in a striking way, such as giving the dining room an elegant touch.

Your home is small

An interior arch can make your small home feel less stuffy by expanding the space a regular door would take. A wide arch can open the wall, elongating your square footage and creating an open floor space. Your home can feel even larger if one side of the arch has access to plenty of sunlight, a natural component to shrinking shadows that make spaces feel smaller and cramped.

You want to complement your architectural style

There are four different types of arches, and each one complements a different architectural style. Knowing your home’s architectural style is one of several things you need to consider before remodeling your home. The four arches are semi-circle, soft, gothic, and bell curve.

Semi-Circle Arch

The semi-circle arch has a rounded top with a typically narrow walkway. They’re simple and modern, and look great when framing a window or door. They’re also great ideas for arched hallways.

Soft Arch

The soft arch is like an elongated semi-circle arch, as its entryway is wider and the curve is flatter. These arches are best for larger rooms, such as kitchens, living rooms, and dining rooms.

Gothic Arch

The gothic arch has a pointed center, similar to the dramatic arches seen in churches. They’re not as commonly used in houses, as their design can be a touch too dramatic for most architectural styles. But if you’re looking for added flair, they might interest you.

Bell Curve Arch

The bell curve arch has a rounded top with ends that swoop down and extend to the sides. The gentle swoop of the curve can accentuate rooms that appear rather ordinary, such as a living room with simple decor that doesn’t draw the eye.

Mares & Dow – Home Remodeling Contractors

Contact your local home remodeling contractors at Mares & Dow Construction and Skylights today to turn your interior archway ideas into a plan that fits your budget. We have over 37 years of experience in planning and leading beautiful, long lasting, and energy-efficient home renovation.

The Allure of an Open-Air Kitchen

The Allure of an Open-Air Kitchen - home remodeling contractor - Mares Dow

Your kitchen doesn’t have to be entirely outdoors to be open air. Though many open-air concepts are outdoor kitchens separate from the home’s interior, home remodeling contractors can open your indoor kitchen to the outdoors in a variety of ways to meet your vision and budget.

Not convinced about an open-air kitchen? Read below to learn why other homeowners are opening their kitchens.

Makes your home spacious

A simple trick to make a home feel more spacious is by opening windows and doors. This extends the field of the vision, giving the impression of more space. Large windows can be slid open to extend the view and allow in breezy air. This makes your kitchen feel like a part of the outdoors, and thus larger. In this simple open-air concept, home remodelers can install multi-panel windows that open all the way.

For a more outdoorsy kitchen, a remodeler or general contractor can extend the exterior wall out to create some standing space and a slidable glass door. If you can push the wall out further, you can add a table, chairs, and a retractable awning.

Allows for more natural light

Whether an open-air kitchen is simple or intensive, it greatly increases a home’s light allowance. This makes the smallest kitchens appear larger because light chases away shadows. Even when an open-air kitchen is closed off, its windows or glass doors will let daylight through. Additionally, if your walls, countertops, furniture, and flooring are lighter in color, the extra light will bounce off.

Makes it easy to entertain guests

An open-air kitchen will entertain guests with little effort on your part. Simply open the windows and roll aside the doors. Guests can enjoy the outdoors without worrying about sitting in the sun or getting their feet dirty. For outdoor BBQs and parties, your open-air kitchen can serve as a “take-out” window. It will be easy to hand out dishes and drinks, because you won’t need to go through the backyard door.

Mares & Dow – Home Remodeling Contractors

Contact your local home remodeling contractors at Mares & Dow Construction and Skylights today to turn your ideas into a plan that fits your budget. We have over 37 years of experience in beautiful, long lasting, and energy-efficient home renovation.

How to Make Your Small Home Feel Less Stuffy and More Spacious

How to Make Your Small Home Feel Less Stuffy and More Spacious - home remodeling - Mares Dow

Is there a certain area of your home that feels stuffier than the others? Several factors could be contributing, such as a lack of daylight, the color of your walls and flooring, and bulky furniture. Fixes can range from minor changes, like removing unnecessary furniture, to larger ones likes hiring skylight contractors or home remodelers.

Simplify your furniture to make space

If your home is stuffed corner-to-corner with extra couches, chairs, tables, or an abundance of houseplants, you could benefit from some rearranging. Take inventory of your furniture and decide if any of them are unnecessary or could be replaced with something more compact. 

Overstuffed furniture can take up much needed space, and can block your windows, closing you off to sunlight. Low-lying furniture, like couches with short backrests, can give your home more “air space” as well.

Also make use of vertical space. Add shelves to bare walls, floor to ceiling, to maximize your storage and clear up your home. Cover your bathroom walls with mirrors. Also get creative with your storage options, such as using below bed storage, putting baskets on top of wardrobes or cabinets, and filling empty luggage with out-of-season clothes.

Change your wall paint or flooring to brighten your interior

A common cause of stuffiness is dark decor. From dark furniture to dark walls and flooring, it’s better to have bright colors. If you’re able to work with a home remodeling contractor, consider installing light wooden panels or carpet, or repainting your walls to be brighter. When they reflect light, they’ll give your home a more expansive feel.

If you can’t change your flooring or walls, a quick getaround is to roll out bright rugs, throw blankets, or change your curtains and drapes. You could also hang bright paintings and photos, but don’t go overboard or you’ll crowd out your home. Try to keep it simple.

Increase your home’s access to daylight

If you’re thinking of home remodeling but don’t want to tear out your floors or repaint, you can look skyward. Have skylight contractors recommend the best spots to get optimal sunlight. This will chase away shadows, which is a major culprit of rooms feeling small. If coupled with leaving your windows uncovered, you’ll get a dramatic increase in perceived space.

Mares & Dow are your local skylight contractors

Contact the skylight contractors at Mares & Dow Construction and Skylights today to install the latest VELUX models. With over 37 years of experience, we offer the best in skylight installation.

Does Your Kitchen Feel Too Small? Try These Design Tips

Does Your Kitchen Feel Too Small_ Try These Design Tips - home remodeling contractor - Mares Dow

The largest culprit of kitchens feeling small and congested is styling. The wall paint might be too dark and create the illusion of a shrunken room. There might not be enough lighting—natural or artificial—to chase away the shadows. The reasons can go on and on. Instead of trying to work around them to make your kitchen larger, you attack the problem head-on with the help of home remodeling contractors and the following design tips.

Style your kitchen with white and neutral colors

Dark backsplashes, cabinets, and countertops will make a small kitchen feel claustrophobic. Opt for light colors that seamlessly blend together. White is a go-to for designers and residential general contractors because of its reflective nature. Incorporate different shades and textures of white to give your kitchen a multi-dimensional feel. You can accent the white with soft, natural shades that make for smooth color transitions.

Be careful with strong color contrast because that can emphasize edges and shrink your kitchen. Typically, countertops and cabinets should be of the same color family, while walls and trim are of the same color. One exception is painting one wall a dark color to create the appearance of an alcove or nook.

Increase natural light

One of the most immediate fixes to make a kitchen appear larger is increasing the natural light. You don’t need to install new windows. Instead, keep your blinds open or install shades or window treatments that offer privacy without blocking out light. Natural light can also bounce off surfaces from the windows of adjacent rooms.

If you’re open to window renovation, a trend is to install a single, long skylight above your island counters or the center of the kitchen. Flooding a room with natural light will smooth out shadows and make it appear seamlessly expansive.

Draw the eye up and out

Open shelves, or shelf uppers, in place of wall cabinets will make your kitchen appear larger by exposing the backsplash. They might not offer the same storage space as traditional 24-inch deep cabinets, but a single wall can make a significant difference. If you need that extra cabinet space, you can remove the cabinet doors or use glass doors to give the impression of open space.

If you want to increase your storage space, you can install wall cabinets that stretch to the ceiling. It has a similar effect to open shelves or doorless cabinets. To maximize the height, use cabinets with hidden hinges, simple designs, minimalistic door pulls, and flat doors. 

Mares & Dow – Home Remodeling Contractors

Contact your local home remodeling contractors at Mares & Dow Construction and Skylights today to turn your ideas into a plan that fits your budget. We have over 37 years of experience in beautiful, long lasting, and energy-efficient home renovation.

What You Need to Consider Before Remodeling Your Home

What You Need to Consider Before Remodeling Your Home - home remodeling contractor - Mares Dow

You already know why you want to remodel your home, whether to expand for a growing family, update a 20-year-old design, or change things up. But before you get quotes from home remodeling contractors, you should consider the following:

Building Codes and Homeowner Association (HOA) Guidelines

Homeowners frequently disregard building codes and guidelines when they brainstorm renovation plans. This often results in wasted time and heartache when their local government or HOA board rejects their proposed project. 

Before setting your mind on specific layouts, look up the codes and regulations for your residential zone—including HOA guidelines if you’re part of an association. Sample restrictions include not having enough property space for a room addition, limits on fence height, and an acceptable range of colors for your siding

Some HOAs have strict rules to preserve the aesthetics of a neighborhood, which could drastically impede your remodeling plans. However, don’t let that discount your interior remodeling. Home remodeling contractors can maintain your exterior’s appearance while completely transforming the inside.

Your Plans for the Future

How long do you plan to live in your home after remodeling? Do you predict your household will grow? If you’re planning for kids, long-term overnight guests like close friends or extended family, or additional pets, your remodeling should speak to it. If your household is thinning out, you could knock down walls to expand your rooms. You could convert an unused bedroom into an office, library, or even a workout room.

Do you expect to lease out or sell your house after enjoying it for a few years? Then consider adding amenities that will appeal to renters and buyers. For example, additional bedrooms and bathrooms will attract families, while a home with fewer but larger rooms might attract older couples.

The Overall Theme or Style

Your style will reflect in the flooring, wall paint, and ceiling pattern you choose, you’ll also need to choose how those materials look and which style suits your home. Home remodeling contractors specialize in structural designs and determining the best layout for your home, but interior designers can help you with the specifics of interior design.

Home remodeling contractors can still help you select materials ranging from decorative to durable to economical. Your remodeling contractor might already have a partnership with an interior designer. If not, you can ask if it’s possible to collaborate with an interior designer before finalizing the remodeling plan.

Your Project Budget

The materials you choose and whether you hire both a remodeling contractor and interior designer will impact your budget. In addition to paying your contractors, you’ll have to cover building materials, permits, and possible conditions that surprise you.

Also consider the after-installation cost, including utility bills. Environmentally-friendly choices, like skylights and large windows, can reduce your electricity bills by increasing your natural light.  Considering getting quotes for green builds, which focus on lowering your home’s carbon footprint.

Mares & Dow – Home Remodeling Contractors

Contact your local home remodeling contractors at Mares & Dow Construction and Skylights today to turn your ideas into a plan that fits your budget. We have over 37 years of experience in beautiful, long lasting, and energy-efficient home renovation.

Three Ways a New Home Office Will Boost Your Business

Three Ways a New Home Office Will Boost Your Business - home remodeling contractor - Mares & Dow

It’s no secret COVID-19 has changed the way modern business looks. If you’re like countless others, you may have ditched the daily commute in exchange for your home office. You may be saving on gas, but is your home office conducive to productive work? 

As your circumstances change, so do your needs. What once was a dining room may have been repurposed into a work space, or perhaps you’ve had no choice but to stick a desk in your bedroom and call it an “office”. As you navigate these changes, you may be considering home renovations. It’s normal to wonder where to begin, and this requires an experienced home remodeling contractor

How remodeling a home office will boost your business:

  1. Increased Productivity: Designating a space specifically for work can reduce distractions and increase productivity. Adjusting to working from home can be just that, an adjustment. Add pets or children to the equation, and it can feel downright impossible. But many of those challenges can be offset if you organize your space properly. Check out these productivity tips from Forbes. A key takeaway: a designated space promotes focus. Skip the couch, and opt for an office chair. 
  2. Ultra-Convenient: Less time commuting means increased availability and time to grind. Skip the traffic and take a walk to your office; lucky for you, coffee no longer requires a trip to Starbucks or the community kitchen. Just remember to get dressed (at least from the waist up, for the sake of other Zoom attendees)!
  3. Happiness: Odds are, you spend around 40 hours a week at work. It’s important to have a space you feel comfortable in. After all, it’s your home away from home (or in this case, within, your home). Little things- such as lighting and decor, can make a stark difference in your workspace. Designing a personalized office area will let your creativity flow and allow you to get more done! 

The main benefit of a designated home office is organization and minimized distractions. Remodeling is a great option worth exploring if you’re in need of extra living space or a home addition

If you’re considering building a new home office, a trusted home remodeling contractor is key. Contact Mares & Dow Construction & Skylights today to turn your ideas into reality!

What to Consider When Planning for a Home Addition

What to Consider When Planning for a Home Addition - home remodeling contractor - Mares Dow

Are you looking to add more square footage to your home? If so, you may be considering a room addition. Adding living space provides more options for your family and adds value to your property. Before you begin your project, you may want to discuss several considerations with your home remodeling contractor.

For instance, you’ll want to pay special attention during the designing and planning phase. Also, you’ll want to consider building codes, zoning regulations, building outward, or adding a second floor, as well as staying within your budget. By working out the details, your home addition project will go more smoothly. Let’s take a closer look at what to consider when planning for a home addition.

The Design Phase

The most critical stage in a home addition project is the design and planning phase. During this stage, you will work with the home remodeling contractor on several items such as:

  • Drawing up floor plans and the overall design scheme
  • Choosing building materials
  • Creating a budget that you can work within
  • Ensuring a seamless transition between the existing house and the added space
  • Establishing timelines and deadlines
  • Preparing your home for demolition and construction

Blending the new addition with the current structure requires extensive planning and precision if the project is going to be successful. Make sure you allocate extra time for planning and design so that the addition is completed to your specifications.

Building Codes and Zoning Regulations

One of the most common mistakes that homeowners make is thinking that they can do whatever they want with the plot of land they own. However, zoning regulations and building codes prevent homeowners from launching specific projects or remodeling their homes in certain ways.

Before you start your project, your contractor can review all local planning and zoning regulations. They can ensure that you have the necessary space on your property for a room addition. Once you understand the zoning regulation, then you’ll have a better idea of your building options.

System and Structural Integration

Your house contains a vast network of systems that provide comfort and security from the outside elements. Your home’s design is engineered for maximum structural integrity, ensuring that it can support the framework, all materials, and all contents inside.

When you add a new room to the house, consider how it will affect the following:

  • Structural framework
  • HVAC/Air conditioning system
  • Electrical wiring and panel
  • Plumbing
  • Load-bearing walls

If you are building upward and adding a second floor, you need to make sure that the existing framework can support the added load. You’ll also need to make sure that all systems can handle the additional floor space. Will you need to add a larger electrical panel? How will the addition affect your water pressure? Is your HVAC large enough to heat or cool the added room?

Setting a Proper Budget

The average room addition project ranges from $21,000 to $69,000. Umbrella costs can include materials, demolition, permits, and labor. Therefore, before you move forward with your project, you need to know what type of financial commitment it will require.

Your home remodeling contractor can help you determine how much you need to budget for with a bottom-line figure that includes materials and labor. Having a budget and knowing what you are paying for will eliminate any problems that could cause your project to come to a halt.

Mares & Dow Construction & Skylights has been serving the Bay Area since 1983.  Our general contractors are home remodeling and siding experts. We enjoy working with homeowners as they start the process with their next project.  Contact us today to get started on your home remodel or siding project!

Your Guide to Stunning Decorative Siding Patterns


Today’s siding gives homeowners more options for sparking their creativity and implementing a design that enhances their home exterior. When working with siding contractors, you can complete nearly any project to your specifications, choosing the pattern that is right for you. Let’s take a closer look at the most popular siding patterns available today.

Horizontal Patterns

The most common type of siding pattern is horizontal. This traditional siding may include styles such as beaded, Dutch lap, or traditional lap siding. 

Traditional Lap

Traditional lap siding offers a straightforward, simple, and effective layout that works in almost any home setting. In a traditional lap, each siding board is layered over the board below. The design offers a water barrier and reduces airflow through the siding. 

Dutch Lap

Dutch siding features a groove cut out of the top of each board. It’s similar to a traditional lap but offers more textured contrast across the facade due to the shadow that each board creates. 


Beaded vinyl is named for the ‘bead’ or added texture at the bottom of each board. Beads come in a variety of shapes and textures, giving you more choices for your home. Beaded siding is ideal if you want to create a more interesting composition on your wall exterior.

Vertical Patterns

Although horizontal patterns are the most common, you may be looking for an alternative to the traditional design. Vertical patterns may your best bet. They work incredibly well with certain home styles and can accent the eaves across your home’s façade. 

Panel Siding

If you took horizontal siding and made it vertical, then you would get panel siding. Panels are placed over each other to create a uniform flush layout. Panel siding comes in a broad range of colors and textures.

Board and Batten

Most board and batten siding is fabricated from natural wood. The vertical boards are installed on the house. Battens are used to cover any cracks so that the home is sealed from moisture and airflow.

Shake Patterns

Shake patterns are traditionally made from wood. However, today’s shakes offer the same patterns, but different materials such as vinyl or cement. There are endless shapes and designs that form patterns, allowing you to customize your siding design.

There are too many shake patterns to name, but some of the most popular include:

  • Square
  • Round
  • Staggered
  • Mitered corner
  • Octagonal & Hexagonal
  • Fish scale
  • Half cove

When using shake patterns, you can combine more than one shape, color, texture, or dimension to create your own layout. Your siding contractors can work with you to complete your design and implement your ideas on your home. 

What to Consider Before Choosing Your Pattern

Before you land on an idea for your siding pattern there are a few things you may want to consider. First, choose high-quality siding products. Quality vinyl siding can last up to 40 years with ongoing care and maintenance. Next, choose a pattern that truly complements your home exterior. Think about how the pattern will look once the project is complete.

Also, make sure that your pattern provides a proper seal and offers the highest level of energy efficiency inside the home. A decorative pattern may look attractive, but cause your energy usage to skyrocket inside. Last, consider your replacement or maintenance costs over the years. Horizontal siding may require less maintenance but replacement of more sections. In a smaller pattern, you may have more maintenance, but you can easily replace smaller pieces. 

Siding Contractors in San Francisco, California

Dow Construction has been serving the Bay Area since 1983.  Our general contractors are home remodeling and commercial skylight experts. Contact us today to get started on your next project or for a consultation!

Mares & Dow Construction & Skylights has been serving the Bay Area since 1983.  Our general contractors are home remodeling and commercial skylight experts. Contact us today to get started on your next project or for a consultation!

5 Ways to Redo Your Bedroom and Increase Your Home’s Value

bedroom-renovation-Mares Dow

Of all the home remodeling projects you can do to increase your home value – whether it’s working with siding contractors to update your home’s exterior or hiring retaining wall contractors to make the most of your landscape and boost curb appeal – redoing your bedroom should have a second and equally important motivation. As you consider your bedroom remodel, its important to not only think of your home’s value but also your comfort. After all, most people spend a good deal of time in their bedroom and creating a space that is warm, inviting, and relaxing should be a key objective. 

When it comes to undertaking a bedroom remodel that prioritizes both increasing your home’s value and maximizing your comfort, there are many options. Here are some ideas for projects that can transform your space while also being a good investment. 

1. Renovating the master bathroom 

A spacious master bathroom with luxe and modern features is both an indulgence and a very practical renovation project. Depending on your home’s layout, you can increase your master bathroom’s square footage by building into an adjoining room or buy constructing a bump-out off the side of your house. After you’ve created more space, you can turn your attention to the fixtures: frameless glass shower enclosures, venting skylights, expansive sink tops, clever and stylish storage. It’s hard to go wrong with a well-appointed master bathroom. 

2. Expanding closet space

Adding a closet or expanding existing closet space is a very popular bedroom remodel project and one that any homeowner can benefit from. An additional closet can help reduce clutter and open up your room, offering you the peace of mind of a clean, organized space. If you are interested in turning your current closet into a walk-in, there are many smart, space-saving shelving configurations to choose from and additional perks you can include like a storage bench or vanity. On top of that, ample closet space is a great selling point with homebuyers. 

3. Updating windows

If your bedroom is burdened with old windows, you are doing a disservice to your experience of the space and negatively impacting your home’s value. Old windows tend to be leaky and can become filmy and let less natural light into your bedroom. Replace single-pane windows with double or triple-pane options to better regulate the temperature in the room and save on utility costs. Or you can trade out old window frames for casement or picture window styles. With new windows, you won’t have to worry about winter drafts or miss out on cool summer breezes anymore. 

4. Refreshing the paint

A professional paint job can go along way in giving a room a new look. For the bedroom, consider warm and soothing colors that make the most of the natural light in the room and help you to feel relaxed. You can also add crown molding as an elegant detail that instantly elevates the aesthetic of your bedroom. And if you are painting before you sell your home, it’s a good idea to stick to a neutral color palette that allows potential buyers to see the room as a canvas for their dream bedroom. 

5. Refinishing the floors

With all the stylish flooring options available, you won’t have a hard time finding something that suits you and your bedroom. You can trade-in your old carpet for a new, plush carpet in a vibrant color or opt for hardwood, bamboo, ceramic, or stone. Whatever you choose, you can trust that quality flooring does a lot to enhance the look and feel of a bedroom.   

Mares & Dow Construction & Skylights has been serving the Bay Area since 1983. We are experienced home remodeling contractors, commercial skylight experts & siding contractors. We enjoy working with homeowners & businesses to ensure their vision becomes a reality. Contact us today to get started on your next project!

How Long Do Retaining Walls Last?

retaining wall - Mares Dow

Retaining walls, when properly designed, built from durable materials, and maintained appropriately can last quite a long time. Consider the Great Wall of China or the Hoover Dam – while it may seem a stretch to talk about these artifacts of history in the same breath as your local home remodeling contractors, these structures are fundamentally similar to and the monumental ancestors of your common backyard retaining wall. When it comes to building a lasting structure, there are several elements to factor into your project plan. 

Proper design is key

Retaining walls have seven basic components: The wall itself, drainage stone, filter fabric, batter, weep hole, footing, footing drain. How these components are designed to all work together with the unique conditions of the retaining wall site is a big predictor of how long the retaining wall will last. For example, if the batter of the wall, or the backward lean of the wall toward the earth it is retaining, is not sufficient for the wall height, the structure will not last as long as it could. Eventually, the wall will break down under pressures it wasn’t successfully engineered to withstand. Simple miscalculations in the design can have a far reaching impact, which is something retaining wall contractors can help you to avoid. 

Durable materials make walls last a lifetime

As you can imagine, the material you use to construct your retaining wall has a huge influence on the structure’s longevity. Walls made of timber, for example, will not last as long as walls made of masonry. Timber retaining walls can last up to 40 years if the wood is high quality, while masonry walls if properly designed and installed, can last until someone decides to tear them down. Concrete block or poured concrete retaining walls are particularly long-lasting, as concrete is known for its strength and durability. In the end, it is up to you to decide how permanent you want your retaining wall to be. 

Good maintenance covers the rest of your bases

In themselves, retaining walls are fairly low-maintenance structures but doing what little upkeep is required can ensure the structure lasts. It is important to regularly inspect your wall to make sure groundwater is draining properly from the footing drain, weep holes are unobstructed, and the filter fabric isn’t damaged. Additionally, even the best retaining walls can be compromised by harsh changes in environmental conditions, such as soil erosion or extreme seismic or weather events. In these circumstances, you can work with a professional to identify and repair any damage. 

Mares & Dow Construction & Skylights has been serving the Bay Area since 1983.  Our general contractors are home remodeling experts and enjoy working with homeowners as they start the process with their next project.  Contact us today to get started on your home remodel!

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