House Calls Fine Interiors

Wake Up Your Style!

Building or Remodeling? March 31, 2009

Filed under: Interior Design news — Teri Larsen, ASID @ 12:40 pm
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Are you considering a remodeling project?  Or, maybe building a new home?  Now is a great time to take on a project like these, since interest rates are low, and contractors are looking for work!  How do you go about selecting a builder to work with?

The most important thing is to find a contractor or builder that you feel comfortable with.  You need to have a level of trust with this person, as you will be seeing them a LOT!  Research their process, and how you will be charged.  For example, does the builder have an interior designer on staff to help you with selections?  Do they charge you to design the home or addition?  Will they work with plans designed by an architect?  By meeting with several builders, you will find answers to your questions, and will see who you are comfortable working with. 

Visit for one great remodeling or building contractor in the St. Croix River Valley area.  As an added bonus, you get ME!  I work with all of Landsted’s building and remodeling clients, to make sure all the interior and exterior selections come together. 

I also work with other builders; don’t hesitate to contact me for design consultations on your new home or remodeling project.  I’m happy to help you get the look you desire – the first time!


Granite or Quartz? March 24, 2009

Filed under: Interior Design news — Teri Larsen, ASID @ 11:32 am
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So, you want to upgrade your countertops.  What to choose:  granite or quartz?  I find that clients tend to gravitate toward one product or the other – with few people willing to go either way!  What are the differences between these products?

Granite, as most people are aware, is mined from the earth.  Granite consists mostly of quartz, which is the second-hardest mineral on earth – second only to diamonds.  The fact that granite is a “found” product means that no two pieces of granite are the same.  It also means that you may find wild variations in color, grain, and pattern, depending on when your particular piece was pulled from the quarry.  To someone who wants his/her home to be especially unique, these wild variations are what draws them to granite!  They like knowing that no one else in the world has the exact same piece of stone that they have.  They like the random swirls and dips that make up their particular granite color – some of them get pretty crazy!

Granite does require some maintenance, however.  Because granite is a natural stone, it does have pores.  These pores will suck in moisture – whether that moisture is in the form of water, red wine or electric blue soft drinks.  Because of this feature, granite has the possibility to stain; stains can often be removed, but it does take some work to do so.  If you have granite countertops and keep them wiped up on a regular basis, you will more than likely be fine; don’t leave spaghetti sauce sitting on the counter for three days, or you may have a staining problem!  Granite can be sealed to prevent staining, and this sealer should be reapplied every year or so.  Some granites are now even claiming to be “stain-free”, since they have been impregnated with a permanent sealer.  I have no experience with these products, but I am always a little skeptical when someone claims stone is stain-free.

Quartz products, on the other hand, are very different from granite.  Products such as Silestone, Cambria and Zodiac, are made from 93% quartz – the basic component of granite.  However, because of the chemical make-up of the quartz products, they tend to be even stronger than granite.  Granite has naturally-occuring fissures, which can be weak points in the stone.

The very best feature of the quartz countertops is that they are maintenance-free!  They are non-porous, so they are impervious to staining.  No sealing is required – just install and live with it!  For this reason alone, we do install a lot of quartz countertops.

Style is another reason some clients prefer quartz over granite.  Some clients are scared of what granite offers – that one-of-a-kind nature of natural stone brings with it the unknowns of exactly what their piece will look like.  They like the control of knowing that the color sample they saw at the showroom will be very close to their actual countertop.  Color can also be a significant selling point.  Nature simply doesn’t produce every color combination in granite; if a client is looking for something in particular, quartz may have a better color option for them.

Quartz countertops have their benefits; however, they will never achieve the same look that nature provides with granite.  My clients tend to have a clear inclination toward one choice over the other.  The key is to educate yourself on the benefits and negatives of each product, so you can make the best choice for your home and lifestyle.

For more information on granite and other stone countertops, check out

For more information on quartz products, visit or

Or, visit our showroom to see all the latest colors in Cambria and Silestone, along with many of the most popular granite colors.


Remodeling Industry Expected to Rise February 20, 2009

Filed under: Interior Design news — Teri Larsen, ASID @ 10:36 am
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As one could expect, more people are staying put during this economy, instead of purchasing new homes.  However, the home improvement industry is banking on the fact that homeowners will still want to make improvements, so they can enjoy their homes even more.  Energy efficient upgrades, such as new windows, furnaces and cooling systems, are expected to be the most popular, since they will offer the most return on investment immediately.  However, I have also noticed that people are interested in upgrading kitchens and baths – they will add value to their homes over the long term, and will be enjoyed in the interim.  

Do-it-yourself projects will also be popular for those looking to save money.  Do-it-yourselfers can enjoy the benefits of using an interior designer to help them make decisions on color, materials and products, which will help them save even more money in the long run – no more repainting those walls when you don’t like the color!  And who wants to fight with reinstalling tile when you find it doesn’t work in your bathroom?

How about you?  What home improvements are you looking to tackle in the next 6 months?


Virtual Showrooms February 17, 2009

No longer do you need to spend days wandering from store to store, showroom to showroom to find the products you need for your design or remodeling project!  Virtual Showrooms are a fantastic way to narrow your choices with the help of your designer.  You can make selections, save them to your Wish List and email them to me.  I am happy to help you with final selections, or to find a showroom where you can view your choices in person.  With over 500,000 products featured, from lighting to plumbing, hardware to rugs, you are sure to find something perfect for that master bath or kitchen update!

Click on the Virtual Showroom link at the right (under Interior Design Products and Sources for access to the House Calls Virtual Showroom.  Pricing is listed right on the site, and orders can be placed by contacting me at or 715/386.3221. 

You can also gain exclusive access to our Virtual Selection Center, by emailing me with your contact information.  I will then send you your log-in information so you can start shopping!  Again, pricing will be listed, and all orders can be placed through House Calls.  Happy shopping!


Kitchen Remodel February 13, 2009

Filed under: Our Latest Projects — Teri Larsen, ASID @ 5:53 pm
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Check out our latest kitchen remodel project – what a dramatic change!

The new kitchen - twice as large, and almost complete!
The new kitchen – twice as large, and almost complete!

This is our "Before" pic of the kitchen.