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 Is your sink hopelessly outdated?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Have an unfinished basement or one that is outdated?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

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Best Of Houzz 2014 Award

Architecturally Speaking of Northbrook, Illinois Receives

Best Of Houzz 2014 Award


Annual Survey and Analysis of 16 Million Monthly Users

Reveals Top-Rated Building, Remodeling and Design Professionals


Northbrook, IL February 5, 2014 – Architecturally Speaking of Northbrook, IL has been awarded “Best Of Houzz” by Houzz, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. The multi-disciplinary design and consulting firm was chosen by the more than 16 million monthly users that comprise the Houzz community. Follow Architecturally Speaking on Houzz

“We are so excited and honored to have been awarded “Best of Houzz”. We love helping people create that perfect space and appreciate all of the Houzzers who enjoy what we do!” said Jim Butz, owner of Architecturally Speaking.

“Houzz provides homeowners with the most comprehensive view of a home improvement professional on the Web, empowering them to find and hire the right professional to execute their vision,” said Liza Hausman, vice president of community for Houzz. “We’re delighted to recognize Architecturally Speaking among our “Best Of” professionals for design as judged by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts who are actively remodeling and decorating their homes.” With Houzz, homeowners can identify not only the top-rated professionals like Architecturally Speaking, but also those whose work matches their own aspirations for their home.

About Architecturally Speaking

Architecturally Speaking, also known as (Archispeak) is a multi-disciplinary design and consulting firm specializing in Fine Cabinetry and Design; Home Modifications and Remodeling, concentrating on Aging in Place; and Property Inspections and Construction Consulting. For over two decades, Archispeak has designed, built, transformed and simplified spaces into unique and beautiful dwellings through a keen eye to detail and distinctive woodworking expertise.
Always fascinated by how things are built and a passion for architecture, founder, Jim Butz has successfully blended his woodworking and renovation talents by forming Archispeak. As an architect, Jim has a comprehensive understanding and knowledge of customized design and the highest level of craftsmanship.
Learn how Architecturally Speaking can help you with your next project by calling 847.205.9844 for a free consultation or email Jim at