We all talk a lot, in East Nashville, about the changing home landscape here — sometimes enthusiastically, more than a little of the time grumblingly. One thing that’s really woven into the fabric of modern-day East Nashville, though: the process of taking once-beautiful older homes back to their former glory, often beyond. And many of us like that process pretty good.
Inglewood-based renovation and remodeling company Stratton Exteriors does a lot of that former-glory work in the neighborhood — you may remember us mentioning their work on a Lockeland Springs home that became a set on ABC’s Nashville. And since — even with all the new construction — we still have a lot of new homeowners with older houses around who might be pondering the renovation process, we figured we’d reach out and get some inside local-reno insight from Stratton’s Mary Bell.
The East Nashvillian: From your perspective, what are the most important questions for homeowners to ask when they’re considering remodeling/improvement?
Mary Bell: “Initially, homeowners should be asking questions that lead them to the right remodeling company. A great place to start is by asking, ‘Is the company reputable?’ (e.g., ’Is the company accredited with the Better Business Bureau?’) and, ‘Are their customers satisfied?’ (by checking online reviews). Homeowners should also check out the contractor's work. We, for instance, feature a lot of our work on our Facebook page, our Instagram page, and our blog.
"After choosing a contractor, one of the most important questions homeowners should ask is, ‘What renovation project will add the most value to my home?’ And along those same lines, homeowners should be asking where their money will be best spent: ‘Where should I splurge and where can I save money?’ Homeowners should think about and consult with the professionals on whether they'd be better off putting their time and effort into the outside of the home in terms of roofing, siding, and curb appeal, or whether remodeling the interior — kitchen, bathrooms — will be more beneficial. Either Shane [Stratton, Stratton Exteriors’ owner] or Corey [SE project manager] can guide owners through that process.”
If you had to pick some renovation projects that give you the most bang for your buck right now, what would they be?
“Well, for folks thinking of selling their home, curb appeal is always a good investment. The outside of the home is the first thing potential buyers will see. The home's curb appeal can either draw buyers in or turn them off. Two other popular renovation projects right now are kitchen remodels and bath remodels. For folks who want to live in their home for a long time and really enjoy it, and for those who are making some upgrades before putting their house on the market, kitchen and bath remodels are investments that homeowners and potential buyers alike are really excited about right now.”
Since we’re into winter, are there any projects that you think are particularly good to think about getting started now? Is it generally better to wait for warmer months for home renovation projects?
“Some of the bigger interior renovation projects (e.g., bath or kitchen remodels) are more popular in the warmer months, but we're helping a lot of folks right now with exterior renovations.
“One of our most popular winter projects is replacement windows and doors. Especially in a city like Nashville that has a lot of older homes, replacing the windows and/or doors is a simple solution for people who are looking forward to a cozy winter. These replacements increase the energy efficiency of the home as well — so, especially in the colder months when we're all blasting the heat here in Nashville, a simple project like replacing the windows or doors can help keep winter utility bills low. The colder months are also a great time to take on roofing projects, to fix or replace the siding on homes, and to work on carports and garage renovations.”
You’ve done a lot of work here in East Nashville — can you tell us about any of your favorite East Nashville renovations that have really stuck out in your mind?
“I’m still new to Stratton Exteriors … but one of my favorite projects so far is actually Shane's house on Burchwood. My favorite part of this project is the kitchen — it's gorgeous. Everything from the cabinets, to the open feel of the room, to the light fixtures — it's just clear that a lot of love and high-quality materials went into this house.
My other favorite Stratton Exteriors project can be seen [on our blog too]. The homeowners really didn't want to lose this tree because they loved it so much, but they wanted to add a deck to their home. As you can tell from the blog, we not only gave them an absolutely beautiful deck and balcony, but we did it in a way that let them keep the tree they love so much. And the deck is not only aesthetically pleasing, it's practical and has multiple purposes as the homeowners can actually park their cars under the deck.
“I think this is one of my favorite projects because it really shows off some of the creativity we have on our team, the versatility we can bring to a project, and the fact that we're willing to use our imaginations and push boundaries to make people fall in love with their homes all over again.”
Are there any particularly challenging projects that stick out in your mind — unexpected problems, major hidden issues — that you guys worked through?
“One of the more recent challenges was the renovation we did on 17th, the Nashville home. It's located in the conservation historic overlay so we had to play by their rules when it came to the renovation. That being said, we were not going to change much in the exterior, but it was a single-family home originally which was transformed into a duplex in the '70s, from what I understand.
“We were informed that we could not remove the two front doors to take it back to the original single-door entrance since we did not have an original picture of the home. So, we had to change the floor plan a little. Additionally, the original fireplace in the front of the house was a true fire hazard so we had to get that demolition approved through Historic. We moved it to the rear of the home and it is absolutely safe now. We ran into numerous structural issues which were addressed before we started putting the back home together. It turned out beautiful.”
How did it feel to see Stratton handiwork on network TV?
“I’m actually a fan of the show, and I'm always in awe of the houses featured on the show. The fact that so many of those homes are in East Nashville — where I live — is really cool.
“I had two immediate reactions to the news that one of our homes would be featured on Nashville. On the one hand, part of me recognized that it was just a really beautiful home and it made total sense that it would be on the show right alongside all the other homes featured. On the other hand, there's something really exciting about the fact that it was one of Shane's homes. Not a home made by some faceless developer who doesn't even live here; not a home made by some big-time, big-shot looking for a quick way to make money off of Nashville's booming real estate market. But it's a house that was renovated by someone who lives here, who loves Nashville and all the character of the old homes here. And what's really cool is that this was supposed to be Shane and his wife Paige’s home. They did it as they wanted to live in it so the finishes were truly for their taste.
“Shane really cares about showing off the best features in these old homes and bringing them to life again. And I think that's probably what the network people saw too; that this wasn't just a beautiful home, but that it was a home brought back to life with integrity. There's gotta be good karma in that for them, right?”
All photos via Stratton Exteriors.