Category Archives: Design Tips

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


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.


Stay at Home, Dream at Home

stay at home consultation

Home improvement projects, from mudroom makeovers to whole-house renovations, start with a dream, a wish, a vision. For more than 47 years, Dickson Development has been meeting with homeowners in the Princeton area to hear their dreams and transform them into reality. We miss that personal exchange as much as everyone else. However, right now, it’s more important that we all stay home and stay safe to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

But that doesn’t mean you have to stop dreaming! Whether you’re in the middle of a DIY home improvement project or planning a future remodel, we want to hear from you. Send us photos of the rooms you want to transform, and you could win a free consultation.

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.


Schedule a Consultation


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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