Author Archives: Gail Rose

Home Renovations in the COVID-19 Era

renovations for the new work from home environment

The way we live has changed dramatically since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. We spend a lot more time at home, many of us now working alongside our spouses, roommates or parents, not to mention our kids of all ages. Some of us may not be returning to offices away from home anytime soon, if at all. 

“When you are home all day, you start to notice things that need repair or refreshing,” says Richard Dickson, President of Dickson Development. “Or you may want to reconfigure your living spaces to be more flexible and offer more quiet, private areas for work and study. Coronavirus is transforming the way we live right now, which in turn is reshaping home design.”

10 home improvements for the way we live now:

  1. Functional, flexible layouts. More clearly defined areas make it easier for multiple people in a household to seek privacy and separate their home lives from their work lives. And don’t forget, many families have school-aged children at home trying to study, as well as younger children trying to play. Adding partitions and configuring some spaces could provide a solution.
  2. Home offices with work-from-home functionality. Remote work is here to stay. Finding quiet areas to focus is a top priority, but so is proper lighting, adequate acoustics and wi-fi, and ergonomically designed, supportive seating. Pulling up a counter stool to the kitchen counter is not an ideal option if you are on video calls all day, especially if your chldren are taking an online music lesson in the same room.
  3. Guest rooms with private bathrooms. Many extended family members may suddenly be living under the same roof who normally do not, including both older and younger adults. Guest suites also provide an area in the home for family members and visitors who were potentially exposed to the virus to self-quarantine. They are also a good solution for live-in caregivers.
  4. New cubbies for the mudroom. Taking your shoes off when entering the house is an especially good practice right now. And with more people potentially living in a house, it’s optimal to have an more organized mudroom.
  5. Workout and wellness spaces. Even as gyms start to reopen, many people will want to continue to exercise at home. Home gyms, once neglected, are the new centers for wellness in the home, and can double as yoga and meditation studios.
  6. Hands-free and touchless faucets. If there is one thing we have all learned, it’s that simple yet thorough handwashing is our best defense against much disease. New touchless faucets now seem like more than a luxury, especially if you have many people living in your house.
  7. Separate bathrooms. This is especially desirable when some family members work outside the home and others do not. This minimizes potential exposure to the virus and offers additional private spaces.
  8. Additional sink near the family entrance. A simple utility sink is a great addition that can make handwashing a convenient first step to entering the home.
  9. Outdoor living spaces. The warmer seasons afford the chance to have neighbors/friends over in a non-confining space. Physically distanced entertaining can easily and more safely occur in outdoor spaces, such as decks, patios and screened porches. Read more. 
  10. Larger pantries. Less is more in most areas of a well-organized, post COVID-19 era home, but not so much in the pantry. While no one likes to think about future outbreaks, we have learned the value of a well-stocked pantry. 

The team at Dickson Development is offering free virtual design consultations throughout the month of June.

For more information, or to schedule a free consultation, call us at 609-799-0220, email


New Exterior Brings Princeton Home Back to Life

Renovation of a 1958 Colonial Creates More Outdoor Living Space and Major Curb Appeal

Like the rest of us, Judy has been spending a lot more time at home during the coronavirus pandemic. Fortunately, the exterior upgrades she began earlier in the year are now finished – and the envy of her neighborhood!

Schedule a Complimentary Design Consultation

After 18 years, the timing seemed right for an exterior renovation to her 60-year-old house, including a screened-in porch, new garage doors, new siding and a charming front portico with a metal roof. A new chimney with a natural gas fireplace, something she had wanted for years, became the bonus.

“Updating the chimney was a natural extension of the exterior work, since we were replacing the siding anyway. It was the right time,” says Judy.

Timing was everything with this project. When Judy first met with the team at Dickson Development, in July 2019, she never could have imagined how life was about to change as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown. Because the work was well underway and almost entirely on the exterior, the Dickson team was able to finish in time for Judy and her family of five to enjoy while staying in place.

View Our Work

“Since this (the shutdown) started, we’ve spent most of our time in front of the new fireplace or getting fresh air on the screened-in porch,” she says. “I can’t tell you how many people have walked by the past few weeks and said, ‘Your house looks spectacular.’ It’s an older house, and we brought it back to life with this project.”

Scope of Exterior Renovation

  • All the siding on the house was replaced with Hardie plank siding
  • New garage doors were installed
  • A covered front porch was added
  • New roofing was installed over an existing rear deck to create a screened-in porch

A Few Design Details

The homeowners wanted their new garage doors to have a contemporary look that was not out of sync with the rest of the façade. “They are perfect,” says Judy. They also wanted to add a personal touch to the front portico. Instead of plain shingles, they installed a metal roof, providing an interesting accent to the front of the house.

Perhaps the most appreciated upgrade was the addition of an 8’ x 12’ screened-in porch. By utilizing the existing deck structure, they were able to add desirable living space without adding extraneous expense.

Just Like Old Times

It’s been 12 years, and a handful of projects, since Judy first worked with the team at Dickson Development. “It was like talking to old friends,” she says of those initial planning meetings with Richard Dickson and project manager Bonnie Foster. “They guide the process with helpful suggestions, but allow the homeowner to achieve their own vision, all the while staying on budget,” she explains.

“Richard likes to say, ‘Once you are a client, you are a client for life,’ and that is absolutely true for us,” says Judy.

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

Schedule a Consultation

Time for a Home Exterior Refresh?

Enjoy More Time Outdoors in Your Own Yard

Now that the weather is getting warmer, housebound Americans who have been updating the interior of their homes and dreaming of renovations are shifting their focus to exterior repairs and enhancements. In this COVID era, many are also looking for more ways to enjoy the outdoors at their own homes. At the same time they are wishing for better outdoor living spaces, they may also be noticing repairs that should be made. It’s a great time to share your ideas with the team at Dickson Development.

Dickson Development is offering complimentary design consultations through the end of Summer 2020.

“There are many ways to freshen up the exterior of your home,” says Richard Dickson, President of Dickson Development. Here are some of Richard’s top tips:

Start with a fresh coat of paint

  • Freshen up your front entry and old shutters. Paint your front door and existing shutters or replace them with new ones. A new color can give your house a whole new look.
  • Paint the windows and window trim. You may even want to try a new color. Black is popular right now. Remember: Windows do not have to be white.
  • Paint the garage doors and trim. It will give your house a new look!

Prioritize exterior replacements

  • Replace old garage doors. There are literally hundreds of styles and materials from which to choose.
  • Replace old siding and add insulation under it. It’s the kind of project that pays off in both looks and energy efficiency. Consider the trim as well for an updated look.
  • Install new gutters and gutter guards. Doing so may mean you won’t need to go up a ladder to clean them out.

Portray a welcoming presence

  • Repair an aging front porch. Are your treads and platform cracked and broken? You may want to consider a new material. Bluestone is an excellent option.
  • Add a covered roof over your front entry. It can add function as well as beautify your entrance.

Upgrade your outdoor spaces

  • Replace or update your rear deck. Inspect your current deck. Is it too small for your needs? Are the materials in poor condition? These are clear signs it may be time to do some work.
  • Add an outdoor kitchen. Spending more time cooking? Craving fresh air? Looking forward to entertaining again, with plenty of room for people to spread out? These are all great reasons to consider an outdoor kitchen.
  • Build a screened porch or three-season room. These functional spaces are making a comeback, whether entirely new or an enhancement to a current deck.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

For more information, or to schedule a free consultation, call us at 609.799-0220, email or click on the link below.


Dickson Development Puts the Finishing Touches on a Country Estate

When you pull up to the 10,000-square-foot country estate in Hopewell, New Jersey, you immediately get a sense of calm and wonder. The grounds are spectacular and meticulously maintained, with a serene reflecting pool in front of the home’s commanding façade. When the new owners of this dignified, quiet retreat engaged Dickson Development to renovate its interior, they were prepared to strip and restore a multitude of unique finishes throughout the house. Despite the grand scale of this whole-home renovation, its beauty lies in the details.

The owners hired an architect and then brought in Dickson Development to orchestrate an extensive renovation that involved opening up the space in the kitchen and family room area and reconfiguring other rooms to give the home a better, more contemporary flow. “We approached this project by starting with the interior and stripping it of almost all of the finishes,” adds Richard Dickson. “From there, we opened up spaces and remodeled rooms with one overarching goal in mind: to make every detail count, every finish stand out, and every room evoke a positive emotion.”


View Our Work

Dickson Development removed the wall between the family room and breakfast room and raised the beam separating the kitchen from the breakfast room, creating a wider opening. This and other work throughout the house required that new steel beams be installed. Many of the rooms needed to be reframed as well, most notably the front foyer.

“We completely remodeled the front foyer to create space for a large ceiling dome and highly intricate wrought-iron railing,” adds Dickson.

A Grand Entrance Sets the Stage

The attention to detail found in the front foyer creates an ambience that conveys the feeling of quality and elegance. The room is lit in natural light as well as by a unique 9-foot ceiling dome that is illuminated from behind. The room was completely reframed to make space for a new staircase and front door, as well as hidden closets and arch openings. “The foyer was completely remodeled. We removed the original stairs and moved the new stairs back to create a grand space,” says Dickson.

An Extraordinary Attention to Detail

In addition, new detailed crown moldings, base moldings and casing moldings were installed throughout the house to provide definition for each space—and to create a unifying look and finish. Dickson Development also collaborated with partner Woodhaven Lumber to install new teak floors and teak-stained treads.

“All the floors in the house are darkly stained wide-board teak. They coordinate beautifully with every surface, from the massive stone wall in the family room to the white cabinets in the kitchen to the neutral gray colors used throughout,” notes Dickson.

A Well-Lit Kitchen That Inspires

The kitchen renovation includes extensive new cabinetry for maximum storage and convenience. If you look carefully, the cabinets are lit from top to bottom, to create drama as well as functionality. The room is also lit with a large skylight, cut into a high ceiling, and unique pendant fixtures over the island.

“The lighting in the kitchen as well as throughout the house was completely redone with low-voltage controls,” says Dickson. “We always layer lighting to create a mood and to enhance its effectiveness and efficiency. In this home, we also had an abundance of natural light and an owner with a strong appreciation for the importance of optimal lighting.”

A well-lit kitchen not only improves the cooking experience, but it also creates an inviting atmosphere to gather and eat and socialize. It brings attention to the room’s focal point, which is a large island with a cascading top that extends to the floor.

A Masterful Master Bathroom Renovation

Dickson Development completely renovated two master bedroom suites, both with large spa-like bathrooms. An ultra-luxe second-floor master bedroom has a new deeply coffered ceiling and sweeping views of the pond in front of the house.

The first-floor master bathroom includes both a sauna and a walk-in shower. You will notice that the two spaces appear to blend seamlessly into each other behind the vanity. This is because a glass wall was installed between the two spaces to create a tight barrier that seals in moisture and separates the spaces. Both bathrooms are awash in natural light and include stunning glass partitions that further enhance a feeling of openness.

A Room with a View

This home is full of inspiring views, of both the inside and the outside. A freestanding soaking bathtub in the first-floor master bath sits in front of a floor-to-ceiling window that offers inspiring views of nature. The second-floor foyer overlooks both the entranceway and family room.

As you walk from room to room, you will experience the interior of the house in many ways. At the same time, you will never forget that you are on an absolutely breathtaking property.

“This project tells the story of scale—from the smallest of finishing touches to the grand proportions of its rooms,” says Dickson.  “It all works together to create an environment that is both comfortable and inspiring.”

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


Schedule a Consultation

Prepping Your Home for Nicer Weather

Update your deck for summer - Princeton NJ

With the longer, colder days – hopefully — soon over, now is the time to think about dedicating a sunny weekend day for starting to prep your house for spring and summer.

Some of the best ways to check your home’s post-winter integrity is to grab a pair of binoculars and scan your roof for curling, cracked or missing shingles. Also check for damaged metal flashing around any chimneys, pipes and skylights.

And while you are checking the roof, make sure to scan the rest of your house for any damaged siding, which can be easily fixed. A good scrub brush and sturdy cleanser should eliminate winter dirt and mold on vinyl, aluminum or engineered wood siding. Think about getting your gutters cleaned out, powering washing your siding and checking for any possible winter damage.

Now is also the time to make sure your air conditioning systems are going to be ready. Replace your air conditioner’s filter or have your central air system professionally checked (or maybe think about getting a more energy-efficient system installed). Give us a call for help or referrals for these and other necessary fixes.

Get Your Home Ready for Spring and Summer:

  • Get your deck ready for SummerConsider dedicating a spot in your garage to outdoor sports gear. Sports storage racks – either wall mounted or sitting on the floor — can make the most of your space and keep the complaining down from the kids who can never ever find anything!
  • What about that porch or decking? Summer is the time for outdoor living so make sure to make your outdoor spaces as comfortable as possible with ample seating, fresh cushions and candles. If bugs and mosquitos bother you, consider an overhead fan or have your porch screened in. It may also be time to consider redoing your decking and upgrading to engineered wood.
  • And why not make this the year that you finally invest in the outdoor feature that you and your family have been dreaming about? A fire pit, grilling area, pizza oven, outdoor shower, hot tub … the possibilities are endless and these types of upgrades can add long-term value to your property.

To schedule a consultation, call Richard Dickson at 609-799-0220 or click on the link below.


Schedule a Consultation

Dickson Development - Home Additions - Princeton NJ

Get Inspired!

Sign up for our newsletter for fresh ideas and practical advice on home design and renovations.