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Zoning Prohibits Adding Space? Go Up!

Creative Home Renovations

When zoning prohibits your expansion plans, there’s no place to go but up.

A Princeton family needed to increase the size of their home as it was no longer big enough for their growing family. Yet adding on to the existing first or second floor was prohibited by Princeton’s zoning regulations.

 After working with an architect to solve the design problem, they approached Dickson Development to do the construction. “We added a new 1,000-square-foot master suite over part of the existing house,” explains Richard Dickson.

Freestanding Bathtub in large bedroom suite additionThe renovation and expansion of this 1960s home has brought the family’s lifestyle to a new level of comfort. The master bedroom suite includes a large, well-lit dressing room and a contemporary bathroom featuring a separate freestanding bathtub, an elegant tile shower with a sleek, frameless shower door and a custom, double-sink vanity with furniture-like cabinets. The third floor also includes a lovely study.

Dickson and his team extended the original stairway using the same oak lumber on the stairs and railing, creating a cohesive transition to the third floor.

We always work with our clients to find creative solutions to make the best use of available space, integrating design, function and lifestyle,” says Richard.

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Watch This Master Bedroom Suite
Go Up in Princeton

Custom Renovation Showcases Homeowner’s Creative Side

Spacious Open Kitchen Design and Remodel

Creative Home Renovations

Erica spent a full year thinking through every possible design element before renovating her home in Princeton Junction, New Jersey. Erica’s attention to detail, discerning eye and personal style are apparent in every aspect of this stunning renovation project.

The project included the remodeling of several rooms in the house, including the kitchen, family room, mudroom, front foyer, second-floor hallway and master bedroom suite. Dickson Development was able to complete the project in less than four months, minimizing the disruption to the family of five.

“Erica knew what she wanted,” says project manager Bonnie Foster of Dickson Development. “We guided her through the process, and together we turned her vision into reality.”

Brand New, Updated Foyer

Foyer Remodel Princeton Home Builder

The Foyer Before Remodel

The four-bedroom home, built in the 1980s, now features a unique blend of contemporary and traditional details, including two custom-built, sliding doors with a rustic barn-door look. “I brought my idea to the team at Dickson Development, and they made it happen,” she says.

“Their crew got right to work, and they were all really nice and very professional. Even though we were basically living in the (finished) basement for a short while, they finished the project on time and made us comfortable throughout.”

The careful planning and attention to detail paid off in countless ways. “It was great to have the client so involved,” says Bonnie. “Erica had a strong vision.”

The success of this renovation was largely due to the partnership established between the client and builder. “Together we were able to create a highly personal, functional and truly one-of-a-kind living experience for the family,” adds Richard Dickson.

Spacious Open Kitchen Design and Remodel

Updated, Spacious Kitchen

Before Photo of Kitchen Remodel in Princeton

Outdated Kitchen Before

A spacious, open-concept kitchen adjoins a comfortable family room with a custom bar. “We didn’t add the bar, but we installed all new cabinetry, as well as a beer tap and new granite countertop,” says Bonnie.

The focal point of the first-floor living space is a 10-foot quartzite kitchen island. “It’s as long as it can be without having a break,” says Bonnie. The family typically gathers around the island to eat and work and socialize. “We used to have a cooktop stove in the island, but it took up too much space. This is the center of our family life. We wanted to open it up.”


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The island also includes a built-in microwave oven and oversized drawers to fit dishes and to hide garbage. “There is a smart use of space throughout the house,” adds Bonnie.

Erica describes herself as the “minimalist in the family,” and the sleek kitchen design reflects her aesthetic. “My goal with this renovation was aesthetic,” she says. Yet, there is no denying the functional elements in the kitchen design.

The large, professional stove includes a pot-filler faucet and is flanked by two slender drawers that serve as spice racks. The backsplash is made of stunning yet understated glass mosaic tile. Built-in ceiling speakers complete the custom touches.

“The kitchen is loaded with conveniences, and there is so much room. We spend a lot of time here,” says Erica. “But the biggest ‘wow’ for me is the master bathroom.”

Remodeled Spacious Bathroom

Before photo of bathroom renovation

Bathroom Before Renovations Began

The master bathroom is part of a comfortable second-floor suite that includes a sitting/gym area, spacious bedroom and dressing room with built-in shelving and vanity, and a modern, sky-lit bathroom. The suite features another barn-door sliding door to unite the first and second floor aesthetic. It also features a shower without a door. “We weren’t so sure about that at first,” says Erica. “But we love this shower. Dickson Development came up with the idea of having the shower controls on the opposite wall from the actual shower heads. It was brilliant.”



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The bathroom also has a heated floor, heated towel rack, stand-alone bathtub and double sinks on an expansive and beautifully appointed vanity. Prior to the renovations, the suite had his and her walk-in closets. The wall in between the two closets was removed, creating one large dressing room. “The bathroom and dressing room come together beautifully,” says Erica.

Looking for ideas for your next improvement project? View our portfolio for more photos or call us at 609.799.2020. We would love to hear from you.


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Kitchen and Bathroom Renovation Transforms the Entire House

Bedroom Addition Renovation

Watch a Sneak Preview of One of Our Latest Renovation Projects

When it comes to home renovation projects, the scope of the work can change every step of the way. Yet that doesn’t mean Dickson Development isn’t just as committed to staying on schedule. This kitchen and bathroom renovation is transitioning into an extensive home improvement project.

“The project started as an interior renovation of the kitchen and eating area, the renovation of the laundry and mud room, and the renovation of the two second-floor bathrooms,” explains Richard Dickson.

Once the work began, the homeowners decided they wanted to replace the the siding on the entire house and improve the insulation. At that point, the homeowners decided to build an addition over the mud room and laundry area, which was originally a one-story space between the garage and house.

“By building up, we are able to expand the master bedroom and one of the other bedrooms,” says Richard.

He asserts that being flexible with the planning and work has allowed the job to continue with little to no interruption. “We continued the work that the client initially contracted while designing the new addition,” he says. “This included processing and receiving approvals on the new plans. Once approvals were granted, the crew immediately got on the addition to help bring the project in on schedule.”

Check back for more short videos and stunning photos of this renovation project as it unfolds.

To schedule a consultation, please call 609.799.0220.







Kitchen Remodel Takes a Split-Level to the Next Level

Renovated Split Level - Princeton, NJ Home Builder

Spacious Open Floor Plan Blends Kitchen and Living Space Into One

Kitchen Remodel to Open Floor Plan in Princeton

The enclosed kitchen before renovations began.

Alice remembers the first time she saw her new home in Princeton, NJ. Everything was perfect … except the house. “We loved the wooded property, the neighborhood, the walking distance to school,” she says. Yet, the classic 1960s-style split-level was gloomy and dated.

Fortunately, Alice had the vision to see beyond the dark, closed-in space and shared her ideas with Richard Dickson. “He knew right away that this wasn’t just about renovating a kitchen; it was about taking down walls, putting a beam in the ceiling, updating the HVAC system,” says Alice. “It was about creating a contemporary space that worked with our family’s lifestyle.”

Dickson’s design made the best possible use of a small space, moving the cabinets to one side of the kitchen, and adding an oversized island that blends seamlessly into the living area. “I have three young children and spend half my day in the kitchen,” says Alice. “With a split-level home, I never feel very far from my kids,” she says.

Princeton Kitchen Expansion

The new open floor plan, nearing completion of the project.

This is one reason for the renewed interest in and respect for split-level homes. Dickson made a point to retain the character, charm and efficiency of a split-level floor plan. “The original kitchen didn’t feel very usable to us. It was cramped,” she says. In addition to opening up the entire first floor, Richard suggested adding recessed lighting and a neutral gray color palette.

“The transformation has been nothing less than dramatic,” says Alice.

To schedule a consultation with Richard Dickson, call  609.799.0220.




A Spacious Yet Tranquil Retreat

New Home Construction - Princeton NJ

Australian Family Finds a “Happy Space” in Their New Princeton Home

You don’t make a move from Australia to New Jersey without careful consideration. Carmen and her family lived in Princeton for 18 months before they found their perfect home.

New Home Construction PrincetonTheir brand-new home is a stunning and contemporary Colonial with five bedrooms, four full baths, and a comfortably elegant entry foyer that adjoins a spacious and modern living room and dining room with volume ceilings. The home features a floor plan that is a seamless blend of formal and informal living spaces.

“This house is just beautiful. We love living here,” says Carmen, who has barely finished unpacking but is already making plans to entertain on their large back deck. “We love the high ceilings, the open living spaces and good build. It is surprisingly quiet and tranquil in the house, a tribute to quality construction and excellent design.”

Carmen calls the kitchen her “happy space.” It is a bright, expansive room where her family spends much of their time. She especially likes the island with its Carrara marble top, as well as the large pantry. “Our guests joke that they want to reserve their own shelf, that’s how big the pantry is!” she says.

The kitchen opens up to a large deck that spans the length of the house. “We enjoy spending as much time as we can outside, like we did back in Australia. I like how the deck is connected to two living spaces, which brings the outside in,” she says.

Carmen describes the master bath as “gorgeous,” with its deep bathtub and large shower with three showerheads. “It’s quite lovely and different.”

The “his” and “her” walk-in closets are highly coveted by her two teenaged daughters. “My daughter says it would be a dream to have a wardrobe someday just like mine.”

Everyone in the family enjoys having their own “cubby” or place to leave their things in a pristine mudroom that connects to the garage. “The whole house is so well designed, just full of carefully thought-out details,” Carmen explains. “I found Richard Dickson and his team to be supportive, helpful and very responsive.”

To schedule a consultation with Richard Dickson, call 609.799.0220.