Design Ideasthoughts for inspiration

From Eyesore to Masterpiece

Re-siding a home can spark an exterior transformation. You may not think so, but new home siding can look so good it makes you second-guess whether you’re pulling into the right driveway. There’s just something about fresh James Hardie® siding and trim that turns a drab-colored, worn-out looking home into a clean, updated, bright one. It’s enough to cause a double take.

Why is James Hardie siding the perfect way to enhance your home’s exterior? Here are a few reasons:

Durability: Every James Hardie siding product is engineered to help withstand damage from pests, fire and Midwest weather (such as freezing temperatures, moisture, snowfall, ice, hail, wind and extreme temperature variations).

Lasting color: When you invest in ColorPlus® Technology, you won’t only get gorgeous color—you’ll get color that lasts longer than a typical paint job.

Warranty: James Hardie is so confident in its products that it offers a 30-year non-prorated limited substrate warranty on its siding products and a 15-year non-prorated limited substrate warranty on HardieTrim® boards.

Take a peek at this before-and-after; it may just be enough to get you looking at siding samples:

This Minneapolis home got a hefty boost in curb appeal with fresh home siding and trim and a new front porch and dormer. The Midwest home is now clad in HardiePlank lap siding in Monterey Taupe and HardieTrim boards in Arctic White.

The updated look stays true to the original details, like the porch’s natural wood bead board ceiling and different size lap sidings.  It feels classic and polished with a pop of color.

As a full service exterior remodeler, we are able to take on any size project to turn your home into the pride of the neighborhood.

Contact us for a detailed estimate and design consultation.

Window Composition Defined

Window Composition Defined

One of the confusing aspects of researching potential replacement windows, is what materials windows are made of.  There are three main categories of windows: Aluminum Clad, Fiberglass, and Vinyl.  Each material has different benefits and disadvantages.  When determining which window is best for your home, what the window is made of should be one of the first decisions made.

Fiberglass Windows

Beechworth Product Photo Low Res Double hung prairie SDLs straight exterior

Fiberglass Exterior

Beechworth Product Photo Low Res Double hung interior colonial

Fiberglass Real Wood Interior













Fiberglass windows have been a segment of the window industry that has been growing quickly over the past few years.  The main issue we have had with fiberglass windows is that they were ugly!  That has changed with a company called Beechworth windows.  Beechworth has focused on the remodeling market and has a window that gives you the durability of a fiberglass window with the beauty of natural wood.  Other manufacturers have fiberglass window lines but have been hesistant to make them “too nice”.  The reason for this is that they don’t want to cannibalize their other window lines.  Beechworth doesn’t have any other window lines so they put all of their energy into fiberglass windows.  This is the window that we have found suits most of our homeowner’s needs.


  • Fiberglass is dimensionally stable – Won’t expand and contract
  • Real Wood Interior
  • Very Energy Efficient
  • Stronger than vinyl and aluminum
  • Extremely Hail Resistant


Aluminum Clad Windows


Aluminum Clad Exterior


Aluminum Clad Interior














Aluminum clad windows have been very popular over the years.  Aluminum clad windows tend to be expensive.  Marvin, Pella, and Jeld-Wen all make aluminum clad windows.  While being energy efficient, these windows are susceptible to hail damage.  These are the windows that we have previously installed the most of.


Vinyl Windows


Interior of a Vinyl Window


Exterior of a Vinyl Window












Vinyl windows are the most popular window right now for one reason – price!!  Vinyl windows are quite energy efficient.  One of the main disavantages of vinyl windows is the look.  While some manufacturers do have a “faux” wood finish, it doesn’t look very good most of the time.  So if you don’t want white or beige on the inside of your home, vinyl probably isn’t for you.  Another drawback to vinyl is that it is not as strong as fiberglass or aluminum.  In our extreme climate, vinyl is always expanding and contracting, which can lead to problems down the road.

If you would like us to come and take a look at your project, please call 763.276.7465 or fill out the form at our Contact Us page. Along with your windows, we also install James Hardie Siding, GAF roofing, and Azek decking.

Window Replacement Confusion???

ConfusedHomeownerStarting the process of replacing your existing windows can be a confusing proposition. With so many manufacturers, product lines, materials, and glass packages, it can even be confusing to us contractors. As a home improvement contractor that has helped many homeowners make these decisions, we don’t come into a home pushing a certain product. Many contractors get perks, rebates, or rewards for selling a certain window. We have learned over the years that each home and homeowner is different, and one window doesn’t fit all situations. We work closely with major window manufacturers such as: Beechworth, Pella, Marvin, Andersen, and Richlin. When we come out to look at your window needs, we assess what the current situation is and recommend a couple of options based on your needs and budget. This open approach allows us to work with you in finding the best solution for your project. Over the next few weeks I will be writing about the different window options that are available to Minneapolis and St. Paul metro area homeowners. If you would like us to come and take a look at your project, please call 763.276.7465 or fill out the form at our Contact Us page. Along with your windows, we also install James Hardie Siding, GAF roofing, and Azek decking.

Storm Damage Advice

It’s important to watch out for storm-chasing contractors, who move city to city to find storm-damaged homes and offer poor service after the sale. They usually descend on an affected like locust on a crop field, within hours or days after a storm event.
These contractors pray on a homeowner’s first instinct, which is to restore their property as quickly as possible after a devastating storm.

These contractors know that homeowners are in tough spot and will make emotional decisions that they wouldn’t normally make without doing more research.

One of the tactics that these storm-chasing contractors are using is going door to door in affected neighborhoods, promising homeowners everything under the sun in order to get them to sign a contingency form. Once you sign that form you are locked into using that contractor.

We are not saying that everyone knocking on your door, offering storm restoration assistance is always a marauder. In fact many reputable estimators will stop by if they have an estimate next door to see if they are in need of assistance as well.

Things to remember if you have storm damage:
-Always ask for local references within the last 12 months. (Even if they have local plates and a local license number) This will help you confirm if they are indeed a local contractor or not.
-Asking for identification from the company representative is a reasonable request, if they are from out of state that is a red flag.
-Do not sign anything until you have fully vetted the contractor.
-Ask to see their insurance certificates

Contractors recommended by your insurance company.
As a homeowner, you have the right to choose the contractor that performs your insurance restoration work. Some insurance companies have preferred service providers that they strongly recommend, and in some cases, they will even guarantee to back their work if it’s performed incorrectly.

This sounds great on paper until you realize that it is to that contractor’s benefit to perform minimal work as cheaply as possible so that the insurance company continues to send them work. Protect yourself by doing your own homework and not going with the first person that knocks on your door.

Contractors who offer pay your deductible.
In the state of Minnesota, it is illegal for a contractor to pay your insurance deductible. Additionally, the Minnesota Department of Labor prohibits the discounting of any insurance restoration work on your home.
Kickbacks or rebates from a contractor are also not permissible. Anyone who offers to do any of this should be reported to the Better Business Bureau or your local department of labor.

In the end remember if you have storm damage, slow down and take your time choosing a contractor as you would any remodeling project. A reputable company will have no issues providing references and any other requested documentation.

Structural Design Elements


One of the things most contractors and homeowners overlook when updating their home’s exterior is adding a portico, porch, or other minor construction.  It is easy to get caught up in selecting colors, styles, textures, and all of the other decisions that a remodeling project can entail.  The addition or alteration of existing porticos, porches, eyebrows, and gables can be a great “bang for the buck.”  When done correctly these design accents can turn a ho-hum siding job into a neighborhood favorite.


By adding a portico with stone columns to this St. Louis Park home, these homeowners created a welcoming feel to their front entry.


With the addition of a gable and some PermaCast fiberglass columns, these Eden Prairie homeowners added some architecture to break up their 70 foot long rambler.


This was a fun one!  We added the gables above the upper windows, as well as the garage gable to break up this big space.  With the standing seam metal roof on the bay and porch, these homeowners are the talk of the neighborhood.  On your next project, don’t forget that a little bit of construction can turn your siding project into an exterior tranformation!

Accent ideas

Accents are important design elements to consider when designing a great exterior. They are the final details that will make your home interesting, warm and inviting.

If you can dream it, we can likely build it!

Here are a few projects where we added affordable details that made a big difference.


James Hardie custom shutters are a great way to add some extra flare. We make many different styles and designs to choose from.

The colors used on this project are:

Shutters-Khaki brown, Siding-Woodstock, Shakes-Cobblestone

Also on this one, see how the slight staggered shakes give a unique, real cedar look to the gable.



Being creative doesn’t always have to be expensive!

This non-operating decorative louver to the left was made out of the cut of leftovers from the siding installation.

Colors here are:

Trim- Navajo Beige, Siding- Timberbark, Shakes- Heathered Moss




Here is a great example of mixing in metal roofing and shakes to accent this unique architectural feature.

These copper shingles are beautiful, and are always a great choice for bay or bow window applications. We are also seeing that standing seam steel roofing is fast becoming the accent metal roofing of choice.




This garage gable before was plain and undefined. Our client wanted more visual appeal, so we added a window and a tasteful little decorative louver with the cedar corbels to spice it up a little. Then we finished it off with the James Hardie® straight edge shakes.




accimg-5This picture of soffit, fascia and copper gutters is about as complete of a package as one can do. On this South Minneapolis home we installed tongue and groove beaded soffit along with Hardie crown molding. Note the curved composite crown molding over the curved fascia on the upper gable.





Gable build outs like this one are another easy way to add visual appeal to a gable. Here we used James Hardie board & batten along with the James Hardie Heritage shakes.






accimg-7Flower boxes come in many shapes and styles. We build them using Azek PVC trim products so they will never rot.  Another popular material is clear grade natural cedar.

New Color Trends


They say that style will eventually go full circle, and that is definitely the case when it comes to exterior design and home colors. In the last few years we have seen a strong resurgence of the vivid colors that were so popular in 1920′s era. With today’s super sidings like James Hardie fiber cement siding it has become much easier to be adventurous when choosing colors for your home.

Then there are contemporary and modern designs that often look best in monochromatic-single color finish with bronze and deep grays’ being the most popular.  Even on monochromatic exteriors we are seeing that fiber cement siding to be the best as it is stable enough to handle the dark colors.

A good rule of thumb when choosing colors for your home is to go just a little outside of your comfort zone. Choosing the right colors for your home can be a little distressing and overwhelming sometimes. The right choice will be a combination of your own style, the neighborhood you live in and the architecture of your home.

On the average home there are three main color components.

Body color– This would generally be the siding color.

Trim color– Generally your eaves, window trim, corner trim and band trim

Accent color– Shutters, flower boxes, doors, shakes, and gable vents


Here are some tips that we give our clients during the color selection phase.

colorimg-21. Work with larger samples outside.

In order to have the most fun with this you will need to get larger color samples and take them outside under the natural light. As you narrow it down we can bring out whole pieces of siding to help you be confident of your choice.

2. Color to go.

One trick we often utilize is the Sherwin Williams “Color to go” quart samples. For $6 they will mix up  sample quarts of paint for you. Then you can paint the colors you are thinking next to the brick, trim or in view of the roofing color.

3. Complimenting brick and stone

Too often you see body colors that too closely match the stone color when this happens the stone and siding blur together or “wash out”. You want your stone and siding to “pop” or be striking in contrast to each other.

4. Take pictures of the homes that you like.

This can be very helpful for you and your contractor, the more the better. It provides us with valuable insight into your taste and style so we can best recommend design ideas for your home.


5. Consider adding more detail for accent colors

It is all in the details…This is really one of the fun parts of exterior design. Some ideas our clients often consider are crown molding trim, shutters, flower boxes, custom decorative louvers, heavy posts and stained cedar.  These are all possible ideas we can help you contemplate.

6. Design software

As a professional remodeler we utilize the best exterior designer software available, Renoworks. We will take a digital photo of your home and put the colors you are considering on your house.