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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 or call Richard Dickson at 609-799-0220.

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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.”


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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.


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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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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 or call Richard Dickson at 609-799-0220 or cick on the link below..


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What It’s Like To Work with Dickson Development

What it's like to work with Dickson Development

Ask architect John Pazdera what it’s like to work with Richard Dickson, and he’s likely to reminisce about the day they met. The two go back more than a decade to when Dickson Development was building an addition for one of John’s cousins. “I always remember how Richard stopped by the site during construction, and the way he paid attention to every detail. It made a lasting impression,” he says.

A Solid Foundation of Long-term Relationships

Richard Dickson has been on construction sites since he was 10 years old. The son of a builder, he says it’s all he can remember wanting to do. The firm he founded in his name, Dickson Development, has been designing, building and renovating homes in the Princeton area for more than 46 years. That kind of longevity in a relatively small geographic area can be explained in one word: relationships. With clients, trade partners and team members.

John is one of several long-standing trade partners, and an extended member of the Dickson team that includes president and CEO Richard Dickson, project manager Bonnie Foster and office manager Ronnie Rudolph. John provides the architectural design work on a majority of Dickson Development’s design-build projects.

Design-build combines design and construction into one seamless delivery method. “Basically, this means that we integrate architectural design into our construction process, and we become the single source of contact for the client. This can be very convenient and cost-effective for the client,” explains Richard. “Design-build is an alternative to design-bid-build, which separates design and build. Naturally, we are happy to work both ways. If clients bring us their own drawings, we collaborate closely with their architects to complete the project.”


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After completing dozens upon dozens of projects with Dickson Development, John knows exactly what to expect. “There is a respect for details, which I really appreciate as an architect. With Richard, the homeowner always comes first, and finishing on time and on budget is a top priority,” John says. “The process is smooth and as painless as possible. They just have really good clients. It’s an enjoyable experience all around.”

signClients Know What to Expect: Attentive Service

Clients also know what to expect, and this has resulted in a great deal of repeat work and referral business. “We don’t just get repeat business from previous customers,” Dickson says. “We get referrals from generation to generation. We’re working on a project now that was referred to us by the homeowner’s parents, whose home we had renovated many years earlier.”

Both Richard and Bonnie spend a great deal of time up front getting to know the homeowner. What are their goals and vision? What do they want their living space to say about them? How do they live now, and how do they want to live when the project is complete?

Based on these conversations, Dickson collaborates with John and other trade partners to create the ideal solution. A member of the Dickson staff always accompanies the homeowner to choose appliances, flooring, cabinets and other finishes to not only help them make the best decisions, but to make sure everything arrives on time. “It’s always a pleasure when Bonnie comes into our showroom with one of their clients,” says Heather Winn, lighting manager of Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery in Lawrenceville.

Trade Partners Are Valued Extensions of the Dickson Team

They understand how proper lighting can transform a room but also take time to understand each client’s personal style,” Heather notes. “With so many options available today, it can be overwhelming. We partner with the Dickson team to educate homeowners and provide a number of solutions. They’ll come into the showroom with specs and measurements, and visions.”

What happens when a homeowner’s visions need adjustments on-site? Dickson Development rarely takes jobs that are more than 15 minutes from their office to allow someone to be on-site on short notice. “By staying close to Princeton, we can manage and supervise the process, provide quality control, and deliver the kind of customer service homeowners demand when they make a major investment,” says Richard.

Of course, it’s not just proximity to the job site that makes Dickson successful. Dickson works only with trade partners whose expertise, talent and work ethic have been proven time after time. Ultimately, it’s the homeowner who benefits from these relationships.

“I have known Richard Dickson for many, many years and didn’t expect anything less than a stellar experience when we remodeled our entire townhome earlier this year,” says Gail Levitt of Lawrenceville, New Jersey. “There were no surprises, and there was ongoing communication and collaboration. In a matter of days, we picked out almost everything, from the cabinets at Woodhaven Lumber, to the ceramic tiles at Galaxy Tile, to the fixtures at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery. “We got incredible service wherever we went.”

Open, Spacious, Bright Kitchen Remodel in Princeton NJA Stake in the Princeton Market

This is not only a reflection of long-term relationships but also of the strong reputation Dickson has built in the Princeton area. “I’ve been working with the same plumber since I started the business 46 years ago,” Richard says. “His father was my father’s plumber. Because we work with the same trade partners on every project, we know the work will be done to our high standards.”

With hundreds of building and renovation projects complete, all within a seven-mile radius, what’s up next for Dickson Development? Certainly not retirement.

“I’m 72 years old, and I still love going to work,” Richard laughs. “Why would I want to stop?”

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


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