Trends in Home Additions


In the 90’s I filled much of our company’s schedule with family room additions. Everyone rushed to attach a room to the back of the home that was bigger than the living room and would be more casual and have a stronger connection to the back yard. That family room extension has morphed over time in towns like Newton and Wellesley, where there is a large stock of housing dating between the 1920’s and 1940’s. These smaller homes with good architecture, but fewer amenities, popularized the family room, kitchen renovation and master suite boom- known in Wellesley, Massachusetts remodeling as “The Wellesley Special”. That trend in home additions continues but it seems that homes without these rooms are targeted by builders looking for teardown opportunities for neo-classic new homes. (There is an official definition for this I found on the web, so funny- but true)

Mc·Man·sion məkˈmanSH(ə)n/ noun: a large modern house that is considered ostentatious and lacking in architectural integrity.

In the last few years, we have spent more design effort on existing space in large and small homes. Often we may add on just enough space to enhance an existing space to accommodate the perfect kitchen, family room or bath. People want their home to work and want it to work for their lifestyle, not necessarily a trend like the family rooms presented in the 90’s. This is seen with clients that share similar demographics with different needs and desires. I am not saying that larger homes are out, we are certainly seeing the economy return to normality and that means we will all have more choices. But I do think that many people have shifted their thinking to “what do I really want”.

A small addition in Newton, just large enough to add a mudroom and get it out of the family room :)



True Cost of Bath Remodeling


Bathroom renovations are more than cosmetic make-overs that include a new counter and a coat of paint.  It is common for folks to ask if I can just replace the tile and fixtures too.  Since make-overs are not my specialty, I can only comment that if you are looking to sell your home soon- that is probably the way to go.  If you need a renovation though- be warned that trying to go halfway will likely result in finding yourself in no-man’s land and you’ll have to fight your way through anyway.


I use the term no man’s land a lot when someone asked to replace tile and fixtures because if you start peeling the bath onion, it will usually involve uncovering all sorts of issues that need to be addressed anyway- and you end up spending more money.  The challenge is that when you remove tile, you remove the substrate, when you remove the substrate, you expose old insulation-wires-framing and discover issues that are supposed to be upgraded due to code regulations.  If you try to install only new wallboard below the old wallboard (where the tile was removed) that will cause a cold joint where you can count on a crack appearing in the near future aided by the warmer board below with new insulation meeting the less malleable board above that still gets the new England winter blowing in from outside. That is why I believe in either finding a make-over specialist for a new top and paint, or doing it properly the first time.


Baths are expensive for 2 primary reasons.  First, you are using more expensive and durable finishes in most of the space.  Second, the project is “small” and requires all the same players, working without economies, and being managed and dust protected as it does if you are building a whole house.  I developed a spreadsheet that won’t identify exactly what you will spend, but it will help you understand the matrix of cost variations as they relate to age of home, quality of finishes and size of project.  Many of the small family bath remodels in Wellesley/Newton from the 40’s require full gut renovations and mechanical upgrades and these baths average $35,000 while the same bath built in the 1980’s will average in the mid to high $20’s.




I hope the chart helps! If you are planning any type of renovation from a small bath to a large addition, call us to set up a site visit and we can help you get started with some great information on your project.


A great renovation idea!

I have a great idea that will allow you to give birthdays to homeless children and have a great time doing it! Why don’t you come to our place on Thursday April 10th where all you have to do is enjoy some great bites cooked on site from Chef Ryan Cyr (he is making a short rib appetizer and a spring soup and one mystery treat right before your eyes). We can add the beer & wine, friends from our community and a little jazz in the background. I’ll even throw in a chance to win an exquisite meal cooked in your home for 6 and another chance to win a convection steam oven generously donated by Yale Alliance and Jenn-Air Appliances.

Why all the fun! We need your help to renovate the offices and storage for the Birthday Wishes headquarters in Newton. This incredible charity provides birthday parties to homeless children. I know this is not a very visible need in our community, but the reality is that there are many children who by no fault of their own may not experience the joy that a birthday should bring every child. We can all help to raise some funds while we enjoy the companionship of our neighbors and friends, talk to Chef Ryan Cyr of Bistro-At-Home who will be here to show some techniques and great appetizer ideas for your next party.

The cost to attend is $50, and for every additional $25 donation, we’ll add one more opportunity ticket to win the dinner for 6 cooked in your own home and our second drawing will be for JennAir Steam convection unit provided by the folks at Yale Appliance! You won’t have to be present to win if you cannot attend so please make a donation!

Please go to: Birthday Wishes Store and purchase a ticket to our event, make a donation- and for all my close friends… BOTH!

What are we going to accomplish?

100% of your donation will go directly to purchase materials, electrical work, painting, floor finishing, furniture and fixtures. The Wiese Company will provide at no cost: all the design work, construction management and carpentry hours required as well as all the expenses of the event April 10th. We need your help to provide an improved environment for the volunteers to work in, and a more productive way to bring a birthday party to a child in need.

BW_logo_2c-jpeg_December 2010.jpg_300 dpi file

Great ideas for entertaining… and special birthdays!

Entertaining is often part of our planning in most home remodeling projects, so here are a few considerations for having a space made for scalable entertaining (the large annual event or the small intimate ones). Think about your guests arrival, if you often have 4-8 couples, you’ll need a large closet nearby, or a place you know the coats can go without interrupting the fun. If you’re the one that has the 20+ guest list often, leave out some of the walls in the planning your new space and create definition of space with furnishings. That will keep the home human sized for your day to day living, and allow you to move a few things an hour before guests arrive. Whether you prep the food  yourself or cater, some extra counter space and a sink next to say- a second refrigerator in the mudroom, walk-in-pantry or basement would be a helpful addition. Entertaining and cooking don’t always go hand in hand… but the following is an idea that I highly recommend. I recently had a birthday party for my significant other, and since she just turned- “a milestone”, I had a private chef come and prepare a surprise meal for 8. What a great night it was to be able to sit at the table in the comfort of home and not miss a beat while Chef Kurt and his trusted server, Meghan, took care of everything! My last suggestion for birthdays is that you ask your guests to show their love by donating to Birthday Wishes, a nonprofit that brings birthdays to homeless children, rather than giving you a gift.

My team and I are excited to announce our 2014 “Impact in our Community” recipient is Birthday Wishes! Each year The Wiese Company, along with our business partners and the community, aid a local charity. Together we can offer repairs and design assistance, along with much needed improvements in the environment where the staff and volunteers perform their good works. Birthday Wishes is a nonprofit located in Newton Centre that provides birthday parties for homeless children.  This terrific organization will bring special joy and acknowledgment of a birthday to 23,000 homeless children this year. We will be in touch with more information about a special evening in April where Chef Kurt will part with some invaluable cooking knowledge  (and food), and you will have a chance to win a perfect gift for your next project from one of our suppliers (prize to be announced soon).

Our ambitious and obtainable goal?

    1. Re work the much needed office space for the staff and volunteers who are currently working in what appears to be the tables found on the side of the road (these people are dedicated).


    1. Move some electrical and network connections so the server doesn’t have to live where the closest cable was located and we can make room for more donations!


    1. Re-organize the space. As often happens, the work of giving back to your community comes before taking care of the space where these folks work. We want to re-plan the storage and work spaces to make life easier getting these birthdays out the door. This will include improved shelving, work spaces for party and goody bag assembly, and to accommodate larger volunteer groups to meet and wrap gifts as well as process re-planning for intake and outgoing items.


    1. Not least…. Remove the dirty smelly carpet and re-finish the floors. This alone will make the environment that much better and healthier- and oh yeah, and a fresh coat of paint!


What’s Trending in Bathroom Tile

What do subway, glass and large formats have in common?  They are the latest trends in tile that have made their way into almost every bathroom we have recently designed.

Glass subway tile with glass and stone accents

Glass subway tile with glass and stone accents

  • The classic look and reasonable price point typically make subway tile a contenderfor many bathroom remodels.
  • Classic tiles accented with a glass border or focal point can easily be adapted to fit a variety of design styles.
  • Large format tiles are great for achieving a clean, sleek look with minimal grout lines.  The variety of colors, sizes, and textures available is sure to appeal to all.

Whatever the trend, our design team is always ready to deliver the look and functionality that’s ideally suited to our client’s needs. Stop by our showroom to learn more.