Author Archives: Ananta Creatives

Making Mid-Century Modern Again

mid-century-modern-designMad for mid-century modern?

You aren’t alone. Mid-century modern design continues to enjoy tremendous popularity, as its functional elements, minimalist sensibilities and seamless integration with nature appeal just as much to eco-conscious millennials as they do to nostalgic boomers.

“People who grew up in the mid-1950s and 1960s, not to mention fans of the TV show Mad Men, which took place during the same time period, quickly visualize mid-century modern architecture and interior design as minimalist and simplistic—and maybe a little fun,” says Bonnie Foster, project manager at Dickson Development. “It’s become a modern classic.”

Characteristics of mid-century modern design include:

  • A contemporary, minimalist look with flat planes and clean lines
  • A focus on function over form
  • Large windows and open floor plans, which connect the home to nature and draw the outside in
  • Use of geometric and abstract forms
  • Blend of industrial and natural materials, such as steel and wood
  • Pops of bold, saturated color integrated with contrasting black, white and gray themes

“Mid-century modern is a flexible, clean style of design that can blend well with others, from traditional to contemporary,” explains Richard Dickson, who has been building and renovating homes since 1972. “Here in New Jersey, we don’t typically design homes with a classic, mid-century modern flat roof, due to the climate. But we do incorporate many other elements of mid-century modern style, such as mixing industrial metals with natural wood or blending indoor with outdoor living spaces. These trends have been popular for years and remain so today.”

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The mid-century modern design movement originated in the 1930s but rose to prominence during the 1950s and 1960s. Germany’s Bauhaus movement of the early 20th century was a primary influence with its stripped-down aesthetic and bold colors.

The style became popular in the United States in the mid-1950s, which was a time when there was a great deal of optimism about the future and Americans were captivated by scientific discovery and space travel, science fiction movies and TV shows like The Jetsons. Mid-century modern design reflected the mood of a nation that equated futuristic design with social change and industrial advancement.

Today it simply works with the way we live. It’s attractive and versatile, and it complements both expansive open floor plans and small urban spaces. Mid-century modern–inspired furniture, lighting and home décor accent pieces are easy to find and available in a wide range of prices. “Like post-century contemporary, with a similar uncluttered look, mid-century modern also serves as a great backdrop to today’s modern homes with smart gadgets and technology,” adds Bonnie.

Mid-Century Moderation

Bonnie cautions against going too mad for the mid-century modern look. “We like to work with select elements so the style doesn’t overwhelm the space or become quickly outdated,” she says. “It’s a really easy style to use, but also to abuse if you aren’t careful. Mix things up for a more balanced look.”

Incorporating mid-century modern into your home:

  • Learn to identify vintage pieces or credible replicas. Sellers tend to overuse the term “mid-century modern,” so the buyer must beware! Vintage pieces originate from Denmark, Yugoslavia, Japan, Italy and the United States.
  • Use restraint when shopping. Focus on stylish touches versus a complete overhaul.
  • Shoot for clean and uncluttered. If you decorate a room in 100 percent mid-century modern style, you may tire of it quickly.
  • Start with one piece that fits with your existing décor. Then build around that piece with complementary colors and textures, including new cabinetry, fixtures and lighting.
  • Take it easy when using bright, saturated colors. They can quickly go out of style, unlike today’s neutrals.
  • Consult with a design or building professional for guidance and planning.

Here to stay?

“I think it’s safe to say that mid-century design will remain popular for the foreseeable future because of its versatility and appeal to a wide range of people,” says Richard. “Finding your own personal style is about how you live as well as what you like.”

To schedule a consultation, email info@dicksondevelopment.com or call Richard Dickson at 609-799-0220.
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Princeton Kitchen Renovation: A Real Knockout

princeton kitchen - Dickson Development

When Frederik and Pallavi bought their 1960s-built Princeton home, they knew a renovation was in their future. The house was very well built, yet it had some quirky angles, a choppy flow and dated features. Like many homes of its era, the upstairs bathrooms were small, and the kitchen was as well.

The couple wanted more space, particularly in and around the kitchen, the center of family activity, and an overall better flow and modern feel. “It was important to us that any kind of addition worked well with the rest of the house,” said Frederik. “My wife had an idea to take part of the porch and make it part of the kitchen, so we knew the addition would be within zoning regulations.”

Since the porch was not being used, and its outside wall had fake stone, the wall came down. “As a professor of geoscience, I could not abide the fake stone anyway,” he mused. An addition was built on the front of the house to extend the kitchen. The front porch roof cover was rebuilt and expanded.

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They also widened the opening to the kitchen from the family room, which had been only a pass-through, drastically improving the flow of the house, notes Frederick. “The first floor feels more spacious yet still comfortable,” he says. “It does not feel cavernous, just homey and warm.”

A bright and welcoming space

Princeton Kitchen Expansion“Where we once had five feet of a porch that had no purpose, we now have a bright, modern and welcoming space. Ironically, we got the idea to improve the flow of the house because everyone was crowding in the kitchen, but now that the space is so open, it’s not only where everyone wants to be, it’s where everyone is most comfortable,” says Frederik.

This includes the couple’s three children, ages 14, 12 and 7, who spend a great deal of time at the large kitchen island—doing homework, eating meals and just hanging out together. One place they don’t have to crowd is in the bathroom. Each kid gets their own sink, a unique concept focused on function.

“The kids’ bathroom has one long, marble vanity; it was something we really wanted to do,” he explains. They worked with architects Sara Segal and John DaCruz to turn their ideas into a plan and partnered with the team at Dickson to transform that plan into reality. Together they reconfigured the entire master bedroom/bathroom suite to significantly increase the bathroom.

Whatever the problem, always a solution

Princeton Kitchen Expansion

“We decided on Dickson Development pretty quickly after our initial meeting. We knew of their reputation to get things done, and we felt complete trust in every member of the Dickson team,” Frederik continued. “I can’t say enough about Thom Stout, the foreman, who was very professional but also made the process personal. He could just figure things out; any little problem that would come along, he could solve. This was especially true with some of the odd angles we encountered when we were adding more steps to the stairs leading from the new kitchen opening into the existing family room.”

The installation of the new railing, as well as the custom cabinetry, a cathedral ceiling and other details, was a coordinated effort with few if any setbacks. “The coordination was all essentially seamless, and the whole project was a success,” says Frederik. “Our kitchen was small and crowded, and now we have a bright and open room where the kids can read and do their homework and we can cook and entertain.”

Here’s a look at the front exterior of the home, before and after the kitchen was expanded:

To schedule a consultation, please call 609.799.0220.

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Princeton Porch and Carport Addition

Princeton porch and carport addition

princeton kitchen - Dickson Development

A Sleek, Stylish and Functional Renovation

When Chiara bought her Princeton home in the late 1980s, she didn’t give much thought to its modest façade. But after 30 years, and a complete kitchen and family room renovation, it was time to enhance her home’s street appeal as well. Her plan was to remove an old trellis and build out the front porch without compromising the flow of natural light into the house. She was also considering a carport addition to improve the overall functionality of her home.

Princeton addition and carportShe approached the team at Dickson Development with five distinct goals:

1. Replace an old trellis with an expanded front porch

2. Add a carport to make room for a third car

3. Allow direct access to the mudroom through the porch

4. Reduce the need to use stairs in the multilevel house

5. Create an independent apartment on the garage level of the home

“All that required some serious thinking,” she says. “I was concerned that without the trellis, the house would look long and flat. I wanted the porch addition to create more depth to the house and pull it all together, without taking light away from the windows.”
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Chiara had already worked with Dickson Development on a major kitchen remodel  (Click for details) and was comfortable bringing her ideas to their receptive team. “It’s always exciting to help a client bring their ideas to fruition,” says Richard Dickson.

Princeton Kitchen Expansion

Thanks to their collaboration, what was once a bare trellis among an unremarkable façade with a small, porticoed entryway is now an elegant and expansive porch that is as lovely as it is functional. It connects the front entrance to the house with a contemporary carport that provides direct access to a mudroom and separate apartment. It was important to Chiara that the porch not be covered where there were windows.

“It was also important to me that the porch would provide direct access to the mudroom. With the addition of a carport, we could also make room for a third car,” she explains. “These changes were all very useful in eliminating the need to use stairs in our multilevel. There is now a separate in-law or home office suite on the garage level of the home. This is ideal for guests as well.”

With a separate entrance and no stairs to climb from the garage, guests of all ages can feel welcome and comfortable in her home. “The neighbors also keep telling me how much they love the change,” she exclaims.

Here’s a look at the front exterior of the home, before and after the porch was expanded and a carport was added:

To schedule a consultation, please call 609.799.0220 or click on the link below.

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West Windsor Kitchen and Bath Makeover

princeton kitchen - Dickson Development

Move or remodel? That was the question Dale and Rich had been asking themselves for years. The West Windsor couple wanted a more functional kitchen, a more contemporary master bath and an overall fresher look.

Their 1990s Toll Brothers-built home was a little bigger than they needed at their stage of life, yet it still had a nice flow and a comfortable feel. They began to wonder, could their vision for a new home be re-created in their current home? And could it be done without a lot of disruption? Their search for a builder began.

Dale and Richard interviewed many builders before partnering with Dickson Development. They had very specific design goals in mind—and even a photo of a kitchen they wanted to emulate—after years of contemplation. They were also looking for a builder who would offer sound advice and creative collaboration as well as keep the project on time and on budget. “From the start, we were comfortable with Richard Dickson and Bonnie Foster, who helped design the new kitchen and bath. They were professional and patient, and they paid extraordinary attention to their proposal,” says Dale. “That told us a lot about what it could be like to work with them. They listened carefully to our ideas and transformed them into a plan.”

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A Vision Comes to Life

The photo that inspired their new kitchen had a distinctly charming and bright, contemporary bistro look. Dickson Development took it to the next level with custom white cabinetry, soft brushed gold hardware and elegant yet industrial lighting fixtures. The size of the pendants hanging over the island was scaled back slightly so they would not overwhelm the space or distract from its statement piece, a unique, oversized range hood. “We wanted the room to have a focal point, and fell in love with this mixed metal range hood,” Dale explains. “It separates our kitchen from others with its striking brass strips. It is truly a work of art.”

The kitchen’s soft gray and white aesthetic is enhanced with beautiful crown moldings, gray prefinished wood flooring, a large refrigerator built into the cabinetry, quartz countertops and a tile backsplash that extends beyond the sink to the ceiling. “There is no interruption in the line,” notes Richard Dickson. “We also extended the sink by four inches. We popped it out, breaking the line of the counter, to create more interest as well as more room for a larger sink,” he adds. “It was a very cost-effective change.” The kitchen was made more functional by removing the cooktop from the island, adding a microwave to the island and adding task lighting beneath the cabinets.

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All in the Details

The same careful attention to detail and balanced use of mixed metals can be found in the renovation of the master bathroom. “I love the look of brushed gold when paired with silver or antique bronze,” says Dale. The bathroom renovation went beyond these new aesthetic features. “We made the room larger by removing a separate dressing area and sink area just outside the bathroom. By opening up and enlarging the space and removing an oversized jacuzzi tub, they were able to add a freestanding bathtub and new shower,” says Bonnie. While the new tub serves as a centerpiece for the bathroom, it is the new double-sink vanity that showcases the homeowners’ personal taste.

Richard Dickson attributes the finished product to teamwork. “Dale and Richard knew what they wanted and brought that vision to the project. We were able to exceed their expectations, a direct result of the flexibility, input and guidance they offered every step of the way.”

Throughout the process, Dale and Rich kept the future in mind. Should they decide to sell their home in years to come, they wanted to be sure it included many of the features the coveted millennial buyer desires. “We incorporated current trends into the design of the new kitchen and bathroom in a way that is timeless,” notes Richard.

Find out how you can create the perfect kitchen and bath to fit your lifestyle.

To schedule a consultation, please call 609.799.0220 or click on the link below.

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Choosing the Right Lighting for Your Home

The right lighting can make all the difference in the way you experience a room. When choosing lighting for your home, you should consider both form and function. For example, are you trying to create an overall mood for a room, or illuminate a specific space or object? Is energy efficiency your prime goal? Do you want to be able to control the lights when you’re not home? Are you looking to enhance your décor?

For many people, the answer is “yes” to all of the questions above—and sometimes more. With seemingly endless choices, ever-changing technology and intriguing new design trends, it’s wise to start with the basics and consult with the experts. The team at Dickson Development can help guide you through the process and connect you with the lighting professionals they trust to meet your needs.

Layer Your Lighting for Maximum Impact and Efficiency

“When we meet with clients in our showroom, we suggest they bring photos of their homes. The colors in a room have a tremendous impact on the lighting,” says Heather Winn at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen and Lighting Gallery in Lawrenceville, NJ. Ferguson is Dickson Development’s preferred lighting resource. “Right now, we are seeing a lot of crisp whites and cool grays, which can present quite a bit differently depending on your choice of lighting.”

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The best time to think about lighting is when you start a home improvement project, not when it’s wrapping up. “Lighting is a key element of the design of a room; it should not be an afterthought,” explains Bonnie Foster, Project Manager at Dickson Development. “You need to look at the room as a whole, and then break it down into layers.”

A well-lit room will provide layers of three basic kinds of lighting—ambient, task and accent. When putting them together, consider the scale of the room, such as the height of the ceiling, the color on the walls, any natural lighting sources and, of course, the intended function of the room and its spaces. While some lighting can multitask, none can do it all.

Know Your Lighting Options

Ideally every light in your home will function as part of a team that creates the overall effect. Here are the key players:

Task lighting. As its name implies, task lighting helps you perform everyday tasks. Choose task lighting to illuminate a work space, such as a kitchen counter, or in areas where you will be reading or shaving or doing other tasks that require visual clarity. Examples include table lamps in a living room and under-counter lights in a kitchen.

signAccent lighting. This kind of lighting is useful when you want to spotlight a specific area or object in a room. Examples include recessed or track lighting that can be focused on an object of any size.

Ambient lighting. This provides general, overall lighting. Examples include a wall sconce or a pendant, recessed fixtures that point downward and other gentle sources of light that create a uniform level of light. Dimmer switches create the same effect.

Decorative or aesthetic lighting. You will want to use this kind of lighting alongside other more practical choices to achieve balance and acuity. Think of the fixture itself as an extension of the décor—a lovely piece of art to beautify your home. It cannot stand alone as an optimal source of light.

All the Way with LED?

LED, or “light-emitting diode,” lighting technology has long been considered an extremely long-lasting and energy-efficient though expensive source of light. LED bulbs are better for the environment than incandescent and fluorescent bulbs because they use considerably less energy. They are also available in a growing variety of styles, colors and brightness.

Over time, the up-front cost of LED lighting is offset by its efficiency. You will save both money and power without sacrificing function. While it may not be practical to replace all your lighting at once, it is certainly a good idea to consider when and where to replace your older bulbs with newer technology.

Lighting Your Smart Home

Today’s smart lighting controls allow you to control your lights from smart switches and from your phone or from Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. You can program lighting scenes and timed lighting from these systems.“ It’s amazing the way technology is changing the way we live our lives—and light our homes,” says Heather.

As more people expand their homes outward, and create outdoor living spaces, lighting has gone beyond the basic and functional to the more aesthetic. “You can now use wet location rated chandeliers and pendants for your outdoor living spaces. They are designed in a way that the bulb is protected and enclosed by glass, allowing them to be installed outside,” notes Heather.

Personal Style Still Matters

The science and technology of lighting has opened the door to endless possibilities. Yet, at the end of the day, you want your home to reflect your personal taste and the way you live. Today’s design trends continue to focus on transitional, mid-century modern and industrial looks. These trends are then translated into fixtures throughout an entire home. “Many of the modern styles use an integrated LED light source, which allows the designs to become very creative,” adds Heather.

A well-lit home can improve your quality of life in many ways. Proper lighting not only enhances the overall look of any room, but it also reflects your personal style and taste.

To schedule a consultation, email info@dicksondevelopment.com or call Richard Dickson at 609-799-0220 or cick on the link below..

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