Frost on Windows

The Why, How, and What to Do About It.

Window Arens

We’ve had a lot of question this winter about failing windows. The temperature drops and clients call us in a panic when brand-new windows end up coated in frost – inside the house! The good news is that your windows are probably working just as they should, and there are things you can to to mitigate the frost. We’ll go over why this happens and when you should worry.

Continue reading

Looking Up – Ceiling Options for 2016

The Fifth Wall – What Opportunities are You Missing?

Geometric Ceiling of St Annes Church, Edinburgh

Amazing Geometric Ceiling of St Annes Church in Edinburgh

Renovation rarely start because of the ceiling. At best, it’s the backdrop for a fabulous chandler, but when have you heard someone bragging excitedly about their ceiling? Ceiling options, new and old, and being brought back into the spotlight as the way to make a space truly fantastic. Read on for our suggestions, then go out and get some bragging rights of your own.

Continue reading

What Is Black Stainless?

Black Stainless Steel – The Latest Question In Appliance Finishes

Appliance Finish Options Refined Renovations Black Stainless

 Since kitchens have become the gathering place for the home, what was once purely functional now must be beautiful as well. Not only are you choosing tile, flooring, countertops, and lighting, but you must consider how your appliance finish will tie it all together. Stainless is the crowd favorite – subtle, clean, and sharp, this brushed silver finish matches with any wood or paint choice. It reflects lights well and is clean and sanitary. GE’s Slate is a fairly recent newcomer and is exhibiting some staying power after four years, but this warm, matte, dark grey choice still lags behind stainless in terms of overall popularity. Miele’s Truffle Brown and Brilliant White are sleek and interesting options that look amazing in the right setting. But if none of these trip your trigger?

Continue reading

Heated Flooring Options, Why It Could be Necessary

Are you considering starting a remodeling project this winter? If you are considering it, a Milwaukee renovation project would not be complete without the addition of heated floors. When remodeling your home, consider heated flooring options for
one or more of the rooms in your house. Radiant floor heating is not just a luxury while you live in your home, but it is also a great selling feature when you are ready to sell. These are just a couple reasons to consider heated flooring options.

Heated Flooring OptionsTwo Kinds of Heated Flooring Options

First things first, you want to learn about the two different options. There are two main kinds of floor heating. Electric installation involves wiring electric cords under your flooring. Hydronic is a system that involves hot water tubing that is graphed under your flooring. These are the two systems that have been implemented the most in homes and they are proven excellent methods for heating your floors.

Heating A Room

There is another fantastic reason to choose heated flooring. The most efficient and effective way to heat a room or a house is with radiant floor heating. Heat rises, so if you have a forced hot air system that has vents, that heat is rising right to the top of the room, leaving the top of your body roasting and your feet and legs cold. With heated floors, the heat starts at the bottom, warming you from bottom to top and keeping you warm since heat does, indeed rise.

Pros and Cons

Of course, there are pros and cons to both heated flooring options. The electric system is easy to install, therefore, less expensive to install. The con to the electric system is the high cost. Electric rates climb every year and not always so slightly. The hydronic system is expensive to install but will save you money over the years since it is inexpensive to run. So you need to decide if you want to heat your entire house or just a room or two. This will determine your long term costs and short-term costs and which heated flooring option you need.

If you are in the area, we can be a superb source for information on heated floors that will best fit your needs for Milwaukee Remodeling at Refined Renovations. We offer a wide array of ideas for your home renovation. From classic hardwoods to Italian marble tiles, the team will be sure that your home remodeling not only heats effectively but also looks impressive as well. There are many facets to turning your Milwaukee Remodeling project into a home that you can love and grow in for years to come.Heated Flooring Options Basement

Why Quartz Countertops?

Thinking of remodeling your kitchen? With so many products on the market, it can be difficult to decide which products fit your needs best. When looking into countertops, consider Quartz. Quartz Countertops have many benefits that suit a wide array of customers’ needs and wants in the kitchen.

What is Quartz?

For those unfamiliar with Quartz, it is an engineered stone that possesses many of the great qualities of natural stone and much more. There is some Quartz stones that are actually man-made and there are some that are natural from the ground. Both are called Quartz.Quartz Countertops 1

For starters, it has a much softer feel than a natural stone like granite. This allows for a little more forgiveness when dropping things on them. Another bonus is that the stone itself will not be damaged as easily when you drop a hard item on it. It is scratch resistant and dent resistant for the best durability. In addition, spills are never a problem. The non porous surface of the countertops does not allow for stains so wine, tomato sauce, and oil will easily wipe away leaving no traces behind. Finally, perhaps the best aspect of Quartz Countertops is the wide variety of colors it comes in. You are not limited by nature as you are with granite. So you are guaranteed to find a product that compliments all aspects of your kitchen renovations.

Who Uses Quartz Countertops?

Many home remodeling companies are familiar with Quartz Countertops and are now displaying it in showrooms and making samples readily available for consumers. If you are in the Milwaukee area and are interested in renovating your kitchen, Refined Renovations has quite a few products to peruse. This Milwaukee Remodeling company can help you choose a flattering color and design for your kitchen countertops. The wide array of quartz products is impressive and helpful when choosing such an important statement piece of your kitchen.

With so many factors to consider in your kitchen remodel, let the professionals help with the counters. With research and experience behind them, specialists can suggest a perfect product that will meet your expectations and all with a hassle-free experience that will never stress you out. Get the kitchen of your dreams without the frustration and discover the products that are right for you and your family.


What Are We Talking About When We Talk About Design?

Design Crop

We’ve walked you through the design phase of our process before, but we still get the question a lot-

“We know what we want, why do we need design?”

We think this comes from a misunderstanding of how professionals use the word “design.” When homeowners think about design, they usually think it means a third party coming in and judging their current window treatments or dictating where exactly to put that couch for optimal feng shui. While decoration assistance is certainly a service we can provide, design is our process of discovery, research, and planning that allows us to know exactly what a project will entail before any ground is broken.

      Design starts with a contract and a conversation. If you’ve decided to move forward with Refined Renovation’s design services, you’ll sign a design agreement. This allows us the freedom to research your needs, wants, and current home to determine how best to proceed. We sit down and delve deeply into how you use the space you have now and how you need it to function after the renovation. We listen to your needs and wants and start to form a rough plan based on what you want and your available working budget.

During this first visit, we will take a lot of pictures. These come in handy during the many subsequent meetings between our architect and your project lead. We’ll bring in our architect to recreate your current home plan before starting on the new plan. Even if you’ve got an existing blueprint, homes settle. To avoid surprises, it helps to have an up-to-date measurement of your existing space. During the weeks before your first design presentation, your lead and your architect meet many times. This time is spent taking your dreams and translating them into realistic possibilities that respect your home, budget, and timeline.

You’ll have progress meetings. Your architect and lead will present a few different rough designs, and your input will dictate which of these moves forward. More meetings of your team will happen behind the scenes as they refine your design, discuss potential pitfalls and solutions, and consider new and exciting ideas. You’ll have more meetings to ensure that everything being thought of is something you want in your home, and you should always feel free to send over anything you want added or changed. Once the general layout is decided, a walk-through meeting will take place with various trades checking out the plan and the site. They’ll present proposals to our team, and the scope of your project takes shape.

The design phase is mostly behind-the-scenes and ultimately, and this leads clients to believe it’s an unnecessary part of the whole project. But a project without design is like a road trip without a map – it might turn out okay and it’ll certainly be an adventure, but flying by the seat of your pants is much more likely to land you in the middle of expensive and time consuming problems. Building requires plans, and the better the plan, the better the project.

While we are working on your designs, you can stay busy too! Making selections like appliance, paint colors, door hardware, and plumbing fixtures all contribute to the final total and save time once construction is underway. The ultimate goal of the design retainer is to allow us to put enough effort into our designs to create a construction-ready plan document and an accurate plan cost. You’ll receive a fully finished plan and cost of job, complete with color renderings so you know exactly what you’re getting and what it’ll take to move forward with construction.

Design Phase

8 Questions to Ask Potential Contractors

What to Learn When Talking to Contractors

This weekend we will be hosting our first-ever invitation-only home tour. These are always a lot of fun- not only do we get to spend time in spaces that we’ve worked hard to create for our clients, but it gives us a chance to connect with new people. We love talking about what we do, answering questions, swapping stories, and just providing answers to anything visitors need.

Mequon Kitchen

It can be daunting to find your perfect remodeling firm, so we’ve put together a list of good questions you can and should be asking any time you’re researching a potential contractor.

How long have you been in the industry/been in business?

Experience is everything in remodeling, so an established history within your community will speak volumes to the trustworthiness of a contractor. Today’s marketplace is competitive, and a company that has survived a decade will have good references and history to back up their work.

Will you provide a list of references I can contact?

A tour will propel you right into their handiwork, but ask for references anyway. Any contractor worth their salt should be able to supply you with a minimum of three references, including names, telephone numbers and addresses. As a follow up to this question, ask how long ago the project was completed and if the contractor can arrange a visit to see the finished job. They might not always be able to get you into these other finished projects, but it’s always worth it to ask.

How do you operate?

In other words, how is your firm organized? Do you have employees or do you hire subcontractors? If you hire subs, how established is that relationship? Many first-time remodelers get nervous when subs are mentioned, but good teams don’t need to be on the same payroll. When representatives from different trades have worked together for decades, there’s a natural teamwork and cohesion.

What is your remodeling process?

This is a good way to gauge the efficient and organization of a contractor or firm. This answer should be clear-cut and decisive. If they waffle on the explanation, they’ll waffle on your project.

Does your company carry worker’s compensation and liability insurance?

Ask for copies of the insurance certificates to verify coverage. Once supplies are delivered to your home, they fall under your insurance. But the people coming in to work should be covered by their own insurance. If something goes wrong, you’ll be grateful you did due diligence.

Are any of your company’s employees licensed and certified?

Some states require licensing and registration to build within their borders. If your state does have construction licensing laws, ask for your contractor’s registration and license, then confirm the license number and expiration date with your local jurisdiction. Trade certifications are also good indicators of continuing education and dedication to the industry.  Check the business card – if their name is followed by CRM, CRPM, CKBR or anything similar, rest assured they are dedicated to staying educated. For a full list of certifications, check out the NARI Website.

How many projects like mine have you completed in the past 12 months?

This will help you determine the contractor’s familiarity with your type of project. You should confirm that a good portion of those completed projects were similar to the type of project you are proposing.

Will we need a permit for this project?

Most jobs will require some kind of permit. If you’ve chosen to general contract for yourself. Failure to obtain the necessary permits or schedule inspections can be illegal. In some cases, if a project violates a zoning law or some other regulations, it may even have to be demolished if there is no way to comply with the law. A qualified remodeling contractor will be conscious of the permit process, and ensure that all permits have been obtained before initiating any work.

Of the many questions you can ask during an interview, the most important question is one you must ask yourself: “Do I trust and feel comfortable with the person I am about to hire?”

Your answer to that last question should make the hiring decision a lot easier.

Neolith, What Is It and How Can It Be Used?

Neolith Hearth

Neolith is a very new product that is quickly growing in popularity for Milwaukee home remodeling and home renovation projects. It is a high-tech compact surface derived from fusing raw clay, feldspar and silica at extremely high temperatures, resulting in a versatile natural product. Extremely durable, Neolith resists high temperatures, is nonporous and highly resistant to staining and scratching.

An eco-friendly option, Neolith is made from all natural materials, using environmentally conscious manufacturing techniques, resulting in a 100% recyclable product. Neolith requires no sealing and minimal maintenance, making it an excellent choice for high traffic areas.

Manufactured in large slab sizes, Neolith is a cost-effective option. The larger slabs require fewer joints and Neolith is lighter weight than natural stone solid surfaces. The coloring and pattern are consistent throughout the slab. The lighter weight makes it easier to handle and no additional structural reinforcement is needed, as is often needed when renovating with a granite or marble surface.

Neolith is available in a virtually endless variety of color options to fit any décor from traditional to ultra-modern. The versatile and durable nature of Neolith lends itself to a wide variety of applications for both the interior and exterior of a home.

Neolith in Countertops

Highly resistant to heat, scratching and almost completely nonporous, Neolith is an ideal option for kitchen and bathroom countertops. The lighter weight of the Neolith slab is a cost effective option and it’s easier to handle and cut than granite or marble. The nonporous nature of Neolith makes it a hygienic and easy to sanitize option.


The nonporous quality of Neolith makes it an excellent choice for flooring, particularly in high traffic areas, such as kitchens and entryways. Its resistance to ultraviolet rays, staining and high temperatures makes it an ideal choice for exterior applications, such as porches, patios and decks.


Neolith is well suited for interior walls in bathrooms and showers. The high heat resistance makes its an ideal choice for fireplace surrounds. The resistance to temperature and ultra violet rays make Neolith a low maintenance option for exterior walls and accents.


The beauty and durability of Neolith makes it an ideal product for use in interior furnishings, such as cabinet facings, tables and shelving. It lends itself well to exterior furnishings as well with its resistance to temperatures and staining.

A highly durable and cost effective option, Neolith provides the beauty of a natural stone product that is easier to handle and install than the heavier solid stone slabs. Neolith is a versatile option for any Milwaukee remodeling or renovation project.

How Do Granite Countertops Compare to Others?

Granite Countertops

Granite is the most popular of the natural stone products used for countertops. With its natural, organic feel, granite makes a refined statement in a kitchen or bathroom. Granite is a highly durable, hard and dense rock containing specks of mica, quartz and feldspar. The unique veining of granite gives it a classic and distinctive look. When considering remodeling or renovating your Milwaukee home, granite countertops can provide a timeless look and can even increase the resale value of your home. Available in an endless variety of color and pattern choices, granite can coordinate with any style or color scheme. Nonporous and scratch resistant, granite countertops will remain beautiful for decades.


Granite used for making countertops is available in a wide variety of different color patterns. Granite has naturally occurring variations in color and pattern. These variations, known as “movement”, give the granite its natural beauty and charm. The veining gives granite its distinctive look. The depth and intensity of the colors can vary within the same slab of granite, depending on the mineral concentrations in each portion of the veining. These color and pattern variations make each slab of granite one-of-a-kind.


The color options for granite are endless. Each individual piece is unique; no two pieces will ever be alike. Colors ranges can be found in every color imaginable, from greens, blues and blacks, to pinks, burgundies, grays, whites and even yellows. The popularity of specific granite colors can be trendy. Although the popularity of color combinations follow currents design trends, a classic combination of colors that has had long term popularity is yellow with combinations of green, black and brown.


Polished granite is reflective and shiny. Polishing granite highlights the depth, color and crystal structure of the stone and makes it easier to clean. A polished finish seals the pores of the stone surface which helps the stone repel moisture and resist stains. A polished finish can withstand high heat. Polished granite requires periodic sealing; lighter colors of granite need sealing more often than darker colors. Polished granite will retain its shine for an extremely long time.

A honed granite surface is smooth, but not reflective. Honed granite is flatter, not glossy, and the depth of color is decreased. Granite with a honed finish is more susceptible to surface staining than a polished finish.

Leathered finishes have become increasingly popular in recent years. The leathered finish gives a sophisticated look to the granite. The leathering process closes the stone pores, making the granite stain resistant. A leathered finish retains the stone’s natural color and hides fingerprints and water spots better than a polished finish.

A variety of other finishes are available, such as antiqued, brushed and flamed.

Our Milwaukee renovation and remodeling experts can assist you in determining the style and finish of granite countertop appropriate for your taste, budget and lifestyle.


Granite countertops will last forever and maintain their value to present a timeless look to a kitchen or bathroom. The variety available means that there is a slab for any look from traditional to modern. Well-sealed and maintained granite countertops are nonporous, scratch-resistant and can withstand heat, though the more care taken, the longer they will last. Granite countertops are easy to clean and require little maintenance beyond the regular re-sealing.


Must be resealed every 1 – 3 years to remain resistant to heat or staining.
Because if its weight, additional structural support may be required.
Since granite is extremely hard, glassware and dishes are easily chipped or broken if dropped or tapped on a granite countertop.


Requiring little care and care and maintenance, granite countertops will last a lifetime. Granite countertops should be periodically resealed with a resealing product and should be polished when the shine starts to dull. Clean granite countertops with mild soap and water. Polish or buff the granite to restore the shine. Do not use any type of abrasive cleaner on granite countertops. Heat and knives will not immediately damage your granite but to keep them looking gorgeous for a long time, use chopping boards and hot pads.

For a beautiful, natural look, granite countertops are an investment that gives your room a distinctive and timeless look as well as increase the value of your home.