Monday, June 18, 2018

It's Saturday night. Do you know where your teenagers are?


The increase of additional living space at the lowest cost

Increase your square footage of up to possibly 33%.  It is the best value per sq/ft.  Imagine the resale value of more finished space. Finished basement remodeling brings in the best percentage of return (70%) for any major remodeling activity according to the 2018 Cost/Value report put out by Remodeling magazine. Remodeling a basement is about one quarter to one third the cost of adding an addition of the same size.

Comfortable family space, exercise room, entertainment.

Games, a pool table, foosball for friendly competition, Thursday night card games and even a professional home theater. Children can run around without messing up the upstairs and you can just close the door when guests arrive. Often people want a flex space that can be utilized by different members of the family. Workshops to dog washing stations, the uses are unlimited.

A great space for a guest bedroom suite.

Why use valuable spatial real estate upstairs for a room that is likely only used several times a year. Once relocated, you and your guests will appreciate having complete privacy. You can now use the extra well-lit room upstairs for an office or a yoga studio. With many of today's extended families, an in-law suite with a kitchenette has been very popular with Architecturally Speaking’s clients.

Have your home be the place where the teenagers gather.

It’s great having a space where you can monitor and get to know your kid’s friends better.

Would you rather have your kids and their friends hang out safely at your home . . . or somewhere else?

Contact Architecturally Speaking to discover the potential your basement holds to provide the additional comfortable living space you need.  Call Jim Butz at  (847) 205-9844  for a free consultation.

C O N S T R U C T I O N  &  D E S I G N  C O N S U L T A N T S
Northbrook, Illinois  60062     (847) 205-9844

Ensuring the quality and safety of our client’s built environment since 1991!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

What's My ROI?

Thinking of remodeling your kitchen? Kitchens are king when it comes to return on investment. Remodeling a kitchen is quite an experience with the dust, the noise, and all the workers coming into the house. And of course, you have to live without a kitchen for a few months. But when it is all done it is worth it. People tend to spend most of their time in the kitchen with family and friends.

You can’t do anything until you figure out how much you’re able or willing to spend. That means doing your homework — read magazines, visit showrooms, talk to friends and neighbors who recently remodeled. It takes a lot of time to do all this. But I can tell you, it’s worth the investment.

Pretty much anything you dream up can be executed with the help of a contractor or design professional with a creative eye. Whether your space is large or small, you'll do best if you stick close to the following basic recommendations:

  • Try to keep the work triangle length between the sink, fridge, and cooktop between 12 and 23 feet.

  • Position the sink between the other two appliances, since it's used most often. (The sink's location may depend on pre-existing plumbing lines.)

  • Allow for 36 inches of counter space to the right and 30 inches to the left of the range and sink if at all possible; if not, allow a minimum of 24 inches and 18 inches.

  • It's tempting to place a tall fridge and built-in wall oven next to each other, but try not to; the refrigerator needs its own landing space on both sides of the appliance for safety.

  • Try to include a minimum of 10 linear feet of both base cabinets and upper cabinets.

  • Utilize a lazy susan to make potentially wasted corners fully functional. Blind cabinets are not very functional.

  • Use pull-out drawers rather than reach-in, conventional cabinets for greatest convenience. If you're retro-fitting existing cabinets, have pull-out trays installed.

  • Consider barrier-free design and products. They make life easier for you, your children, pregnant women, and seniors as well as individuals with disabilities. They'll also add to the longevity of your kitchen.
  • Trash, dishwasher, and sink have to be accessible at the same time.

  • Improve lighting – General lighting, task lighting, and accent and ambient lighting should all be used.

  • What are (or will be) your traffic patterns.

  • Child safety consideration: Avoid sharp square corners on countertops, and make sure microwave ovens are installed at the proper height—3 inches below the shoulder of the primary user but not more than 54 inches from the floor.

  • Over powered exhaust fans can cause serious health and safety risks to your family including back drafting of your fireplace snuffing out pilot lights. 300 - 400 cfm is suitable for most decent size kitchens. Over 500 cfm requires a fresh air replacement intake device.

  • Outside access consideration: If you want easy access to areas, such as a deck or patio, factor a new exterior door into your plans.

If you would like to learn more about the ROI on a project or  if you are interested in exploring projects in your home call Jim Butz with Architecturally Speaking at 847.205.9844 for a free design consultation and make your space your own! Like us on Facebook


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Paint Your House!

We are so excited to partner with Pinot's Palette in The Glen. Come paint your house!  We will be there to join in the fun and offer design and remodeling ideas. Click on link below for full details and to register!

If you’re interested in exploring cabinetry, carpentry and remodeling projects in your home, call Jim Butz with Architecturally Speaking at 847.205.9844 for a free design consultation and make your space your own! Like us on Facebook

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Peace and Productivity for Your Day

Over this past holiday season we all no doubt did a little reflecting on what changes we would like to make in the New Year.  The tough part is actually making those changes. In our day to day lives, most of us have more on our plates than time and energy allow for.  Being mindful of commitment choices, diet, exercise, sleep habits, and using personal calendars can all help to maximize time and energy efficiency.  However, even with these supportive structures in place, we can sometimes feel as if we’ve been through a battle before we’ve stepped out the door.

We asked Traci Groff, from FOR THE HOME, who specializes in home staging, organizing and decorating, to share with us the 5 W’s of how creating a supportive space with positive flow can bring peace and productivity to the home and work environment.

Q: Who is a candidate for hiring a home stager/organizer/decorator?

A: Clients come with varied backgrounds, purposes and lengths.  They could be a student who wants to create a study environment that maximizes efforts and minimizes distractions resulting in increased focus and decreased stress.  They could also be a mom who wants a kitchen to support her as she prepares meals for her family and many times offices out of the same space.   Organizing can bring increased efficiency to meal planning/cooking and added joy to precious family time.  They can also be a family looking to sell their home with needs of depersonalizing the home and creating an inviting flow that allows potential buyers to see themselves in the home and thus resulting in a quicker sale.

Q: What is home staging vs organizing vs decorating?

A: Home staging is really just what it sounds like – it is staging like you would on the set of a play.  You are looking to transport your viewer/audience (in most cases a potential buyer of a home) to a place of imagining themselves as living in your home.  Doing this well comes down to 3 things: Decluttering the space, depersonalizing the space and creating an inviting “vacation like” mind set.  These three areas engage potential buyers on their functional, visual and emotional levels. 

Organizing is taking a given space and rearranging it in such a way that it supports the user.  This is achieved by purging the space of unused or outdated items, ensuring remaining items are in good working condition and arranging the space so that frequently used items are easily reachable. The result is one of higher efficiency. Weather it is getting dressed in the morning, doing the laundry or working in the office – this improved productivity adds peace and ease to daily living.

Decorating is arranging the furnishings and colors of a home or work environment such that they are inviting and pleasing to the eye visually, while providing function of purpose.  Depending on the client, many times this can be achieved with the existing furnishings the homeowner has with possible additions and alterations depending on budget.   This results in a space that provides buoyancy and increased pleasure.

Q: When, Where and Why is a good time to use a stager/organizer/decorator?

A: The best time, place and reason to use a stager/organizer/decorator is whenever there is a desire for increased peace and productivity.  That can be as small a project as a kitchen pantry or as large as an entire house or work environment.  The ease and freedom that comes from living and working in a space that supports us functionally, visually and emotionally will surely increase our productivity, but it is the sense of peace that we gain that is the greater gift.

Q: Where can people go to find out more about FOR THE HOME?

A: Traci Groff can be reached at (847) 251.5080 or for a free consultation.

Thanks for sharing your expertise with us Traci! 

If you’re interested in exploring cabinetry, carpentry and remodeling projects in your home, call Jim Butz with Architecturally Speaking at 847.205.9844 for a free design consultation and make your space your own! Like us on Facebook

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Winter Blues? Six Projects to get done!

The weather is changing and yes you’ll be spending a lot of time indoors. Before you get the winter blues consider some home improvement projects that will increase your property value and put a smile on your face. Here are some simple winter projects you might want to tackle.

1. Repaint
Want to brighten your mood? Try repainting! Go with a bright, cheery color to liven things up.
I always repaint in the winter because that’s when I need the most visual stimulation. A new coat of paint can dramatically lift your mood and the mood of the entire room. I always crack open the windows to let in fresh air while painting and consider eco-friendly, low-VOC paint so I don’t have to worry about breathing in toxic fumes.

2. Organize
Winter is a great time to work on getting organized. So, devote time to figuring out what is not working for you in your home. Make your home fit your style. Consider adding  built-in bookcases or shelving to get a clean look and give everything a place. Maybe even add a  window seat with storage to get a cozy feel to a room or the ultimate  entertainment center you always wanted.

3. Crown Molding
Give any room a face lift with crown molding. Performing little touch ups around your home like putting up crown molding, refinishing a banister, or wainscoting. A more impressive project to totally transform a room might be to install a coffered ceiling.

All of these projects give your home a fresh, updated look and feel.

4. Look at Your Bathroom
Is your grout gunky with unsightly mildew? Is your sink hopelessly outdated? Are you over the yellow paint you put on the walls three years ago?
Bathrooms make great winter projects because once they’re done; you can appreciate the handiwork every single day. Updates like replacing a faucet, re-grouting tile, or repainting are relatively easy for the do-it-yourselfer. But if you get more ambitious and you would like to reconfigure the space or replace the tile floor, you might want to call in professional help.

5. Basement Remodeling
Have an unfinished basement or one that is outdated?  Winter is the ideal time to install insulation and sheet rock.  Finishing these areas to add value to your home and will give you a nice work area, or refinished game, utility, guest, or family room.

 6. Work on Your Floors
Winter is a wonderful time to re-floor. You can choose from all sorts of materials including stone, terracotta, marble, carpet, tile or wood — the flooring of your home can help shape the look and feel you want. FYI:  The winter air ensures a quicker drying time for any adhesive involved, and new wood flooring tends to insulate better than old, worn flooring.
If you’re interested in exploring some of these projects in your home call Jim Butz with Architecturally Speaking at 847.205.9844 for a free design consultation and make your space your own! Like us on Facebook

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

It is time!

Yep, hate to say it, but it is that time of the year again. Soon, winter will be upon us and we will wonder where did the time go!  Now is an optimal time to winterize your home.  By completing some easy preventative maintenance projects now, you will not only keep your home efficient during the cold weather but also save money from any future and costly repairs.  Smart homeowners know that diligent maintenance adds to the beauty and longevity of their house.
Here are ten tips that will help you prepare your home for winter:

1) Furnace Inspection
•Call an HVAC professional to inspect your furnace, humidifier pads & water heater.
•Stock up on furnace filters. I recommend the pleated paper filters.  They are more efficient and can be replaced every 3 to 6 months depending on style.
•Consider switching out your thermostat for a programmable thermostat.
•If your home is heated by a hot-water radiator, bleed the valves by opening them slightly and when water appears, close them.
•Remove all flammable material from the area surrounding your furnace.

2) Prepare Your Fireplace 
•Cap or screen the top of the chimney to keep out rodents and birds.
•If the chimney hasn't been cleaned for a while, call a chimney sweep to remove soot and creosote. This prevents dangerous and messy chimney fires.
•Buy firewood or chop wood and store in a dry place away from the exterior of your home.
•Inspect the fireplace damper for proper opening and closing.
•Check the mortar between bricks and tuck point, if necessary.

3) Check the Exterior, Doors and Windows 
•Inspect your home exterior for crevice cracks and exposed entry points around pipes. If any cracks or openings are found, seal them.
•Use weather-stripping around doors to prevent cold air from entering the home.  Caulk your windows as well.
•Replace cracked glass in windows and, if you end up replacing the entire window, prime and paint exposed wood.
•If your home has a basement, consider protecting its window wells by covering them with plastic shields. Locate and clean drains of debris.
•Switch out summer screens with glass replacements from storage. If you have storm windows, install them.

4) Inspect Roof, Gutters & Downspouts
•If the temperature dips below 32 degrees in the winter, adding extra insulation to the attic will prevent warm air from creeping to your roof and causing ice dams.
•Check for flashing to ensure water cannot enter the home.
•Replace worn roof shingles or tiles.
•Clean out the gutters and use a hose to spray water down the downspouts to clear away debris.
•Consider installing leaf guards on the gutters or extensions on the downspouts to direct water away to at least five feet away from the home.

5) Service Seasonal Equipment 

•Drain gas from lawnmowers.
•Service or tune-up snow blowers.
•Perform a test-run on your generator at least 2-3 times per year.
•Replace worn rakes and snow shovels.
•Clean, dry and store summer gardening equipment.
•Sharpen ice choppers and buy bags of ice-melt / sand.

6) Check Foundations
•Remove all debris and edible vegetation from your home’s foundation.
•Seal up entry points to keep small animals from burrowing under your house.
•Tuck-point or seal foundation cracks. Mice can slip through spaces as thin as a pencil.
•Inspect sill plates for dry rot or pest infestation.
•Secure crawlspace entrances.
7) Install Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
•Smoke detectors are recommended in every sleeping room, on every level and near heating equipment.
•Buy extra smoke detector batteries and change them when the time changes in your area.
•Install a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace and / or water heater, in the same room as a fireplace and on your sleeping level.
•Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they work. Replace every seven years or   when plastic has yellowed.
•Buy fire extinguishers or replace an extinguisher older than 7 years. 

8) Prevent Plumbing Freezes
•Locate your water main in the event you need to shut it off in an emergency.
•Drain and disconnect all garden hoses.
•Insulate exposed plumbing pipes.
•If you go on vacation, leave the heat on, set to at least 55 degrees. 

9) Prepare Landscaping & Outdoor Surfaces
•Trim trees if branches hang too close to the house or any electrical wires.
•Ask a gardener when your trees should be pruned to prevent winter injury and prosper next spring.
•Plant spring flower bulbs and remove those that cannot sustain the winter.  
•Seal driveways, brick patios and wood decks.
•Don't remove all dead vegetation from gardens as some provide attractive scenery in an otherwise dreary, snow-covered yard.
•Move sensitive potted plants indoors or to a sheltered area. 

10) Prepare an Emergency Kit
•Buy indoor candles and matches or a lighter for use during a power shortage.
· Never use a generator in an enclosed space or near an open window to your home due to carbon monoxide.
•Find the phone numbers for your utility companies and put them in a prominent place where you can find them or put them in your cell phone contacts or inside the phone book.
•Buy a battery back-up to protect your computer and other sensitive electronic equipment.
•Store extra bottled water and non-perishable food supplies (including pet food, if you have a pet), blankets and a first-aid kit in a dry and easy-access location.
•Prepare an evacuation plan in the event of an emergency. 
Now sit back and enjoy a hot chocolate beside the fire place. Enjoy winter!


Learn how we can help you with your next project by calling Jim Butz at 847.205.9844 for a free consultation or email

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Can we finally say summer is here?  The weather in the Midwest has been all over the board but if you are like me I am really enjoying the outdoors.  With summer here and school fast approaching, now is the time to start thinking about expanding your living space outdoors.  According to the American Institute of Architects, 63% of its members reported increasing customer interest in outdoor living spaces in 2013. Expanding family space to enjoy the open air is of great interest to many, especially when cooped up all winter.

There is no reason at all to sacrifice your indoor comforts when expanding your outdoor space. Here are some things to consider to creating your outdoor space:

·         Decide if you want to add a three season room or just create an outdoor space by establishing boundaries for example with potted plants or a laying down flooring such as decking or stone to identify the space.  Having a screened in porch allows you to enjoy the outdoors longer without mosquitos and bugs. This decision actually adds value to your home and can add much enjoyment for you and your family for many years.

·         Achieving harmony flowing from indoors to out. It is important to retain the look, feel and architectural style of your home with your outdoor space. You want it to flow naturally to the eye.

·         Accessibility to your space is key. Depending on how your home is situated you can extend your living space off of your kitchen or living area. I expanded my outdoor space with a three season room off of my dining room.  I added porch flooring to make the feel of the room more like an extension of the house vs decking underneath.  If you have too far to go get food and drink chances are it will be a burden to enjoy.

·         Consider the elements and how your space will work with the sun and rain. All of your planning and hard work can be ruined if you do not consider what the weather may bring.

·         The big rage is having an “outdoor kitchen”. It depends on you and how you want the space to function. Having all the necessities outdoors can be ideal but it also comes with maintenance and a cost. For me, having the grill nearby is all I need.

·         Remember to make it your own! This is a space for you to enjoy family and friends. Take your time planning this space so when you walk into it you are happy.  Adding special features and interesting architectural features can really enhance the way you feel. 
Learn how Architecturally Speaking can help you with your next project by calling 847.205.984 for a free consultation or email Jim at