Its been a long time.


Its been a long time since I was here.  As usual, starting something new is often harder then expected.  I really enjoyed writing my short blog while I was doing it but I have had a hard time finding the time to keep it going.  Hopefully, I will have another project that I can blog about soon.  It is fun to share the great projects that we are doing for the homeowners in Southeastern Wisconsin.

In the meantime I am happy to let everyone know that Urban Herriges & Sons, Inc. received two Gold awards at the recent Wisconsin Remodelers Award Banquet.  There was a gold in the category Whole House Remodels $250,000.-$500,000.00 and a Gold in Residential additions $150,000.00-$250,000.00.


This is the beautiful addition that won a Gold last Friday at the Wisconsin Remodelers Award.


The interior of the addition is a beautiful new kitchen with a large gathering space for entertaining.


The kitchen is the showcase of the Gold Award winning Whole House remodel.


The new powder room used to be part of an existing Den. This Powder room photo has been a real hit on the web site It has received thousands of hits and tons of positive comments.  The magnifies gold counters and onyx vessel sink turn it into a tiny jewel box of a room.

Urban Herriges & Sons is excited to have gotten of to such a great start of the new year. My plan is for this blog to be part of 2014 as well. See you soon.




I totally hate watching HG TV shows about remodeling and waiting, and waiting for the final reveal. All I want to see is the before and after pictures.  So then I kept you waiting for the final blog forever. The actual job was completed a few weeks ago, but in my defense, I was waiting for the final pictures.  Now that I have them it was worth the wait.

We are always very careful to ensure that kitchen and bathroom jobs run as smoothly as possible, but as with most things you never know what is going to happen.  This particular job ran very smoothly.  A little part of me was hoping that something would happen so I could blog about it, but luckily, there was not a hitch. I would say the vast majority of our projects do go this way and when we do run into problems, we have the resources and the expertise to deal with them.  Sometimes we encounter problems that are overcome so quickly the homeowner never even knows about them.

I would like to get on my high horse for just a minute and talk about how important it is to hire a contractor that has the know how to avoid the common pitfalls of remodeling and the resources to handle them in a timely fashion.  I often watch “Holmes on Homes” and  I am as shocked and disgusted as Mike Holmes when I see how some companies or individuals rip off and endanger their customers.  But part of me cannot help but wonder how the homeowner found the person that did the remodeling.  Did they use resources such as NARI (Nations Association of The Remodeling Industry)?  Did they get references and actually call and speak to the homeowners?  Did they make sure the contractor secured the proper permits so the projects were inspected for safety?   Did they get three quotes and then hire the least expensive of the three, or did they hire their friend’s brother who does remodeling on the side?  Sometimes the least expensive company is a great company and sometimes your friend’s brother is a great guy with great skills, but sometimes making decisions like this is a recipe for disaster.  I wish all remodelers had the skill and integrity that we have.  It makes me sad that the industry we have put our heart and soul into has garnered such a bad reputation. So please do your “due diligence”, check references, get permits and make sure whoever you hire has insurance.  These steps will ensure that you get the product and the service you want.

Ok, I am getting off my high horse and moving on the the fun stuff. Before and After photos.


After. Removing the wall between the dining room and back hall area, and the wall next to the dishwasher, opens up the space and allows for more counter.


After. The old table area is now valuable storage and counter space with a jazzy little bookcase.

This is a perspective drawing generated before the project was started.


Another rendering done before the project started.


A rendering of the proposed fireplace.

The completed fireplace.

So there you have it. A typical kitchen remodel from start to finish.  I would like to thank the homeowners for allowing to work with them on the design and then letting me use their project for this blog. They have been truly wonderful to work for.  Every project we do reflects the tastes and needs of individuals, the final results are as much, or more, a product of their imagination as mine.  Bob and Joe enjoyed being at their house and especially enjoyed all the tasty treats the homeowner provided.

I am hoping to continue this blog with more projects as they come up.  Hopefully we will be starting a screen room addition soon that I would like to blog about and this summer we are going to be working on a spectacular kitchen project located near Lake Michigan on the East side of Milwaukee.  I may also fill in, as time allows, with blogs about design, product and other topics that are pertinent to the remodeling industry.


Last weekend I was fortunate to actually be at the granite fabricating shop when they were cutting the granite for this counter top.  It was very cool to see the slab as it was being cut.  Making granite counter tops is quite an operation.  In this case the process started months ago in Brazil, when the buyer chose the best quality, most beautiful granite to sell and fabricate. Not all granite counter tops are created equal, and the pricing structure reflects that.  I like to compare the stone to precious gems. Diamonds are rare so they are expensive, garnets are not as rare and cost less, but both are beautiful.  After the shape of the granite counter tops  are cut out, the granite still needs to receive its edge treatment, and be polished and sealed.

When we use solid surface counter tops, such as granite, we generally go with a undermount sink.  Undermount sinks are mounted to the under side of the granite so there is no lip on the sink.  Not only is this a very attractive look, but it makes kitchen clean up easier as you can brush crumbs and water right into the sink.  This kitchen uses a Blanco sink which is a newer man-made material that is non-porous, does not stain and is available in multiple colors. I love it because I am not a fan of Cast Iron, but with sill granite you can get a sink with a darker color.

Blanco Sink 

This particular sink was intended to fit into a 36″ wide sink base, but with smaller kitchens I hate to use large sink bases because they do not offer good storage solutions. After all these years I do know a few tricks of the trade. I always put this sink in to a 33″

Granite installer cutting out a bit of the cabinet to make the sink work.

base. This means the  counter top installer has to cut some of the cabinet out to make the sink fit correctly.  I know 3″ does not seem like much, but in a small kitchen every inch counts.

After the counter was installed, we went ahead and installed the appliances. Now even though we are still waiting for a cabinet and some other cabinet parts the homeowner can enjoy the kitchen.

Granite being carried into the house.

Granite at install

Counter after install, so pretty

Oh, that missing cabinet is starting to upset me.  Luckily it is being delivered this week.

Sink and faucet. There is no granite backsplash because we are installing a Travertine tile splash.

“Joe, get out of the way I wanna see the counter.”  Can you see Lucy, the dog?

Nice wide counter on the Peninsula. Notice how open it is to the back door.

This is the area where we removed the wall so it feels nice and open when you walk in the back door.  The floor was patched, but it turned out perfect.

Today the tile back splash is being installed and I was just informed that the wall cabinet we are waiting for will be in today or tomorrow.  Hopefully, by the end of next week we will be out of the homeowner’s hair.  I cannot wait to show you the kitchen when it is done. You will see how all the details come together. I am also going to post my renderings side by side with the real thing, so we can see how accurate my drawings are.


Cabinets, Yeah!!!  For me, and I think the home owners, this is one of the biggest steps.  Now you can really see the transformation.  This is the time when as the designer I start to sweat.  If anything is wrong with the design or the work completed to this stage, it will all come to light as soon as the installation begins.  In years gone by, I worried a lot on this day. Now, 15 years later, I have a lot more confidence in myself, but with remodeling the day you stop worrying is the day something goes wrong.  Fortunately, and as usual, everything was fine. We are very careful when we order the cabinets to ensure accuracy. We always layout the cabinets full scale (drawing on the floor, or by using tape) on the day of the order. Most companies do not take this extra step, but we feel it really helps prevent time consuming mistakes.

There was 1 cabinet that was not quite right, so we had to place a rush order for a new wall cabinet 3″ larger.  This is one of those instances where, we maybe could have “fudged it” but we would rather get it perfect.  The good news is it did not create a delay.  The most important thing is that the base (lower) cabinets get installed so the counter measure can go ahead.

My brother Joe generally does our cabinet install and finish carpenter work. I can honestly say that his expertise and craftsmanship make all the difference in the world.  Having him on the site also put my mind at ease because, as he likes to remind me, he can make wood dance.  It is not uncommon  for Joe to modify cabinets on the site and they always look perfect when he is done.  I have seen beautiful cabinets installed poorly (not on our job sites) that look like junk.  It breaks my heart to see good money thrown away on a poor install.  A good install is everything!!!

So we are not to the big reveal, but this will give you a taste:

Cabinets before install

One of many tasty treats provided by the homeowner. Our guys love that! Thanks!

Get crack’in Joe, there’s work to be done.

Cabinets installed

Refrigerator wall.  You can see spaces for the fridge and microwave.  The little drawers on the wall cabinet are missing their face, but they will be coming soon.

Until the granite is installed in the kitchen we will be finishing up some electrical and other items. Cabinet hardware, vent/hood install and miscellaneous other things.

The next blog post will be after the granite countertop is installed. We are almost to the finish line.