What’s Cooking in AMEK Kitchens? – A Conversation with Matt Schmidt

What’s on your wish list for a kitchen? For AMEK’s co-owner Matt Schmidt, the kitchen is a prime space to make clients happy.

“It’s the part of the house that gets intricately used, so functionality and appearance are both key,” Matt says. “We ask a lot of questions about how you use your current space – what works and what is a frustration. Then, we exchange ideas on style preferences and then get down to combining solutions with design.”

We ask a lot of questions about how you use your current space – what works and what is a frustration.

Kitchen islands are versatile which is why homeowners love them – like this one in Edina that has seating on one corner where the homeowners like to enjoy their morning coffee.

Sometimes, the wish list is very specific. For instance, we’ve had clients who use a lot of spices when they cook, so we incorporated several narrow pull-out drawers next to the prep area so it’s easier to find needed spices. For another family who invites large groups to their home for meals, they wanted additional areas to do prep work since they encourage guests to cook with them. Another example is making sure we built in lit display cabinets for the clients’ favorite china pieces. Often it’s a matter of improving traffic flow, adding countertop space, and updating the overall look.

For some clients, shifting or removing walls helps accomplish a more open concept to connect with the living and dining rooms. To make it more cohesive, the flooring is changed so it’s the same throughout the main level rather than the kitchen having a different material like tile.

“We just finished a project in Minnetonka where we moved and eliminated walls plus converted a three-season enclosed porch and open porch into the main level layout,” Matt said. “It makes a big difference now how the space feels and functions.”

Apron sinks, also known as farmhouse style sink, are nostalgic and practical.

Apron sinks also called a farmhouse style have been requested by clients. The overhanging edge of the apron sink eliminates the need for the normal strip of countertop which means it’s a little easier to use without leaning over so far. Some people like them for their nostalgic look while others like the range of sizes and materials it can be made out of.

Islands continue to be one of the most common wishes by our customers. Clients want them to be larger allowing for a prep area or seating for a couple of people. “Islands are multi-purpose – they work for prepping meals, a serving area, unpacking groceries, and doing homework,” Matt notes.

Many of our clients like multiple cabinet finishes which adds a visual interest and a nice touch.

Cabinets choices are shifting with AMEK clients. “Many of our clients like multiple cabinet finishes which adds a visual interest and a nice touch” according to Matt. “We’ve done several projects with painted cabinets rather than stained ones – at least for some of the cabinets.”

Quite often, AMEK installs frameless cabinets which cleans up the lines of the kitchen. Other options clients like are cabinets with glass doors and lights, lift up doors that are like garage doors opening upward, and customized drawers and shelving. Appliances are more likely to be “hidden” by being covered by a matching cabinet door so they blend in or by appliance “garages” that have a door that can be left open for easy everyday accessibility or closed when guests are coming.

Are you ready to share your wish list to see what our AMEK design team can do to improve your kitchen’s functionality and appearance? If so, give us a call and let’s start the discussion!

New Deck Considerations: Installation Techniques & AZEK Benefits

Construction techniques and materials are important considerations when building a new deck according to AMEK Custom Builders’ Co-owner Paul Schmidt. Schmidt was recently featured in the From the Expert section of the April/May 2016 edition of Midwest Home magazine.

Paul SchmidtQ. What should I consider when building a new deck?

A: Having a deck is prime real estate when the weather warms up. If your old deck is deteriorating – or if are you thinking of adding a deck to a new home or remodeling project – make sure your deck is designed correctly and built with quality materials to withstand our sometimes harsh Midwest weather elements.

Fortunately, there are some products on the market now that can endure this climate – plus look great – for years to come. While clients request a range of materials, AMEK regularly uses AZEK, a PVC material that resists stains, scratches, and mold, and is available in a wide array of colors. It looks great and requires minimal maintenance.

If you want a beautiful, durable, well-built deck, do your research and hire a company that understands how your deck needs to integrate with the house. Every year, we are hired to fix defective decks, windows and doors because of poor installations and safety concerns.

AMEK Wins 2016 National CotY!

Texas is known for big things. AMEK won one of the big national awards at the Evening of Excellence April 8 in Austin, TX. Co-owners Paul, Matt and Andrew Schmidt were there to collect the 2016 Contractor of the Year (CotY) award from the National Association of Remodeling Industry in the Exterior Renovations category. NARI presents the awards to recognize peers in the remodeling industry for excellence.2016 CotY NARI National Award

Judging is based on problem solving, craftsmanship and design elements. Located along Minnehaha Creek in Minneapolis, the winning project required extensive remediation repairs to fix construction defects caused by water being trapped within the walls following an improper installation of a second story in the 1980s and from trapped moisture due to a poor ventilation system.

Led by AMEK owner Paul Schmidt and field manager Jim Hansel CRPM, the project involved the removal and reconstruction of rotted areas before the new exterior could be installed. The final results featuring a crisp, modern appearance with warm, wood accents have given the owners a healthy and aesthetically pleasing home to enjoy. For more details, see the case study at the AMEK Exteriors website.

Home Improvement Fair

We are out and about again this weekend! We will be in the south Minneapolis neighborhood Saturday for the Home Improvement Fair sponsored by the Southwest Journal. This free event, being held at Burroughs Community School located at 1601 W. 50th St, runs from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.Southwest Journal Home Improvement Fair

With experience in a range of remodeling projects from kitchens, bathrooms, and basements to additions, exterior renovations, and full-home remodeling – AMEK Custom Builders is ready to partner with homeowners looking to update their house. We are currently working on several homes in the south Minneapolis neighborhood.

In addition, our company recently won a regional Contractor of the Year award for an extensive exterior renovation on a home on Minnehaha Parkway. This is an exciting year for AMEK as we had two full-house remodeling projects on the Remodelers Showcase last weekend and are celebrating 20 years in the construction industry.

We hope to see you at this popular Home Improvement Fair that boasts 40 local vendors and presentations. For more information, go here http://www.southwestjournal.com/homefair/

Spring 2016 Remodelers Showcase

AMEK Custom Builders is proud to have two homes participating in the Spring 2016 Remodelers Showcase. Organized by the Builders Association of the Twin Cities (BATC), this 3-day event provides homeowners an opportunity to tour the latest trends in home design.

March 18, 1:00 – 7:00 p.m. | March 19-20, 12:00 – 6:00 p.m.

For a Wayzata Dream Home, AMEK Custom Builders built four additions to the home to optimize living spaces inside and outside. The other project, a whole-house remodel in Bloomington, entailed moving walls and ceilings to create entirely new look. Both showcase our approach for customized living spaces brought to life with true craftsmanship and exceptional quality products.

Bloomington Whole House - Kitchen

2015 CotY Award Winner

2015 Contractor of the Year (CotY) Winner

Owner Paul Schmidt, Field Manager Jim Hansel, Painter Tony Rodriguez, Owner Matt Schmidt

An exterior renovation project in Minneapolis recently earned a 2015 Contractor of the Year (CotY) award from the National Association of Remodeling Industry – Minnesota Chapter. The CotY recognizes excellence in remodeling projects.

Led by AMEK owner Paul Schmidt and field manager Jim Hansel CRPM, the project began with the challenge of doing extensive remediation work before beginning the exterior makeover. Due to the improper installation of a second story in the 1980s, water was trapped inside the walls which caused large-scale rot and mold. Once the removal and repair work was done, the transformation could begin to create a modern appearance with an accent of warmth.

More pictures & information here.

Countertop Choices:
What’s your Style?

Blue Glass Countertop

This striking blue glass countertop was created for a Deephaven bathroom.

Design and budget are the key factors when selecting kitchen or bath countertops according to Matt Schmidt, co-owner and designer for AMEK. Clients usually appreciate specific characteristics of countertop options. AMEK uses all types of materials – glass, concrete, wood, granite, quartz, laminate, stainless steel, and tile. Each has its strengths and appeal.

Stone – granite, marble, or soapstone – has been used in about two-thirds of our recent projects. “Clients are drawn to stone because it’s natural, they appreciate the unique patterns and colors of each piece, there is a large range of colors available, plus it’s long lasting,” Matt notes. Quartz – manufactured from a blend of natural quartz and resins – is another common choice because of its simplicity, clean uniform finish and low-maintenance features.

Different surfaces, like adding a wood cutting area, can add depth and interest to a kitchen. “The fun part of countertops is that there are so many options from materials to colors and layouts,” said Matt.

White Granite & Quartz Waterfall Countertops

The countertops in this AMEK kitchen feature granite on the left side and quartz on the right. The white quartz also shows off a waterfall design that extends the white countertop from the top down the side.

“We once did a really cool glass countertop with blue color sandblasted underneath to give it depth and texture”.

Schmidt notes that all countertop materials are essentially long-lasting – especially when you consider the lifespan of a kitchen or how long most people live in one home. “Most of us don’t live in the same home for 40 years. If we do, we make changes and upgrades which is why I encourage clients to pick out countertop materials based on what appeals to them and fits their budget.”

Fall Caulking Worth the Effort – IF Done Correctly

Caulking in the fall as part of your winter preparations can protect your home from long-term, internal damage. While caulking isn’t an activity most homeowners look forward to, it can help seal gaps where water and snow can seep in.  Caulking should be deliberate and done within certain temperature ranges.

“A good caulk job is inexpensive, easy to do, and provides valuable results,” according to Paul Schmidt, one of AMEK’s co-owners who specializes in exterior projects.Window Caulking

If you notice rot or discolored areas under windows or doors, there’s a good chance you have a problem with how the exterior cladding system has been integrated together.  If installed properly, the siding, stucco, or stone/brick should work together with windows and doors to shed water and moisture.  Some of this actually occurs behind the siding or stucco and around windows and doors if flashing is done properly.  When, the water gets trapped, it can deteriorate the studs, sill plates, and insulation between your walls, attic and floors causing structural damage and mold which can impact your family’s health.

Because caulking is part of this integrated system, where and how you caulk is important.

“Contrary to what most people think, caulking should not usually be applied over any horizontal plane such as the top of a window or door – if the flashing is placed correctly at that intersection,” said Paul.  “Caulking should be done at the corners and the sides of windows, doors, chimneys etc. to prevent water from going behind those seams.”

Caulking Correctly Omitted

Caulking Correctly Omitted

Ideally, there should be a slight gap between two surfaces for the caulk to “fit into” to help seal.  “It’s important to have this gap filled with caulk because it helps adjust for the varying expansion and contraction rates of the two abutting surfaces (i.e. brick & siding or vinyl & stucco),” Paul noted.

Here’s some information and tips to help guide you.

  1. For outdoor use, select a caulk that is made out of polyurethane or silicone (not paintable) and the color that best matches – white, tan, black, clear – the area you are caulking.  If you don’t have a good caulking gun, purchase a new one.
  2. Optimum temperatures to do exterior caulking is above 50 degrees
  3. Remove old caulk and clean off residue
  4. Use an utility knife to tip at an angle.
  5. Have a damp towel or rag nearby.
  6. Use tape if desired for clean edges
  7. Caulk vertical surfaces from the top down.
  8. Keep caulking gun at a 45-degree angle when possible.
  9. If you mess up, let it dry a bit until it’s tacky and then remove and retry.

If you decide caulking is out of your realm, consider hiring a company who specializes in caulking or someone who is skilled at it.  “Paying someone is a worthwhile investment rather than ignoring it since water intrusion can cause significant damage” said Paul.  “Caulking isn’t a cure-all either if water has penetrated the home’s exterior envelope repeatedly over time.”

If water intrusion is suspected, consider calling AMEK or a moisture testing company to evaluate your home.  The longer homeowners wait to address the issue, the more significant and extensive the damage can be.

“I’ve worked on homes with damage from several thousand dollars to over a $100,000 because there were breakdowns in how the exterior cladding was integrated,” Paul said.

To learn about how your home’s envelope works, check this link out:

https://mn.gov/commerce/energy/izmages/Building-Envelope-Guide.pdf

2015 Professional Remodeler Design Awards

Paul - ProRemodeler Award

Paul Schmidt, Sal Alfano

AMEK Co-owner Paul Schmidt received the Gold Award October 1 in Chicago from Sal Alfano, Director of Content for Professional Remodeler Magazine. AMEK’s award-winning project was a basement remodel in Chaska. Builders from across the United States who earned top honors on their submitted projects are featured in this month’s publication.

“This award recognizes our quality and problem-solving abilities on a national level,” Paul said. “We are proud of our team of architects, designers, and craftspeople who work with us to create beautiful projects that our clients truly enjoy.”

One judge on the panel described the AMEK project as “well thought out and classy.” The basement remodeling project entailed turning the landing of a curved staircase so guests entered in the main entertainment area rather than a back hallway. To achieve this, ductwork and pipes plus a support beam had to be moved into ceiling soffits.

The soffits and custom bar were created to be curved to unify the entertainment room’s three distinct purposes – TV/movie viewing area with stone fireplace, full bar and kitchenette area and game room area. The project also included a guest bedroom, bathroom, workout room, and kids’ hideaway play area under the curved steps. The homeowners wanted an impressive space to entertain their family and friends. The final result showcases a welcoming area highlighted with stone, wood, granite features.

To read more about this award and project, click here.

Remodeling your home allows for personalization as well as better space design. “We are in the middle of several remodeling projects including entire main levels, kitchens, and basements,” Paul noted. “We are also excited about a recently completed exterior renovation and a kitchen makeover. The national recognition is nice, but our true reward is to see our clients admiring what we’ve done for them.”