Category Archives: Design Resources

Let the Light Shine In!

Do you have dark spaces in your home that could use a little extra light. Especially when it is in the middle of the day and the sun is shining bright. It could be that hallway in the middle of your home, or that tiny powder bathroom off the hall, or it could even be in the kitchen over the sink.  I bet there is someplace in your home that could use the benefit of a tubular skylight.

Solatube-in AtticIf you don’t have tubular skylight yet, you probably will soon. Tubular skylights are becoming more and more popular methods of transferring natural day light to the confines of your home. Tubular daylight devices (TDD’s) are effective in transferring daylight from a dome mounted on your roof and reflecting that daylight via a highly reflective tube through the attic and out a diffuser mounted in the ceiling of your home.

Some of the benefits of TDD’s are that they eliminate harmful UV rays that can fade furniture and fabrics. They also eliminate heat gain. They also save energy by eliminating the need for electrical light during daylight hours. TDD’s are typically easy to install in one day and can make dramatic differences. An average install cost with materials is about $500.  Let the light shine in!

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Home Entertainment via Apple TV

-By Marty Morse

Home entertainment systems have come a long ways over the last decade. Many tech junkies have updated their systems with new LED large format monitors that not only have super HD capabilities, but are also energy saving television monitors, compared to the old tube televisions and plasma/LCD monitors. However, there is even a cooler product that has been on the market for some time now, and our production team has been installing for our customers at a very reasonable cost. Apple TV.

Apple TV hardwareI have recently been one of these folks that have enjoyed the in-home entertainment aspect of what apple TV has to offer. Our entire family enjoys viewing our photos and movies captured by our phones and Go-Pro cameras by streaming through our Apple TV.  With the simple click of an apple share button, the high resolution photos and movies are viewable for our family and friends to watch on our smart TV.

The other cool feature of the Apple TV hardware is the ability to stream your favorite shows on television through websites such as Youtube, Hula, and Netflix. Home movies that we have created via i-movie, or multimedia captured and synced to our home mac computer, are also available to view via our home linked network. In a nutshell, you are able to view computer content through your HD television and surround sound system and share with your friends and family through Apple share.

Apple TV ScreenTo see a short clip of an i-movie we recently created, click here. This movie was quickly uploaded to my FB page  from my i-phone. However, we can simply share this video on our home ET system with the click of a button and view it in a large HD format via the Apple TV hardware we have installed. Home sharing at its TV streaming

This system is obviously Apple based, and not linked with PC based systems. However, it is a fantastic home entertainment upgrade and the hardware is priced under $100. A great value to upgrade your system if you are on the apple platform. Enjoy!


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Leviton Introduces In Wall USB Charger

If you are like me, you are constantly trying to find a quick charge for your hand held electronic device. However, it typically is not available to you without a converter plugged into the wall outlet. Those days are over of locating that small electrical device from one outlet to another….

Leviton recently introduced its new USB Charger/Tamper-Resistant Receptacle offering a ground-breaking 2.1A of charging power and a 15A/125V Tamper-Resistant Receptacle. This state-of-the-art device has the capability to charge two USB powered electronic devices utilizing its two USB Ports, leaving the Tamper-Resistant Receptacle free for other uses. Leviton’s USB Charger/Tamper-Resistant Receptacle is designed to charge tablets, smart and mobile phones, gaming devices, e-readers, digital cameras and a host of other electronic devices.

Strategically designed with two vertical USB Ports, the Leviton USB Charger/Tamper-Resistant Receptacle provides additional space for maneuvering of charging cords and reduces stress on the cables while charging. The USB Ports are Type A, 2.0/3.0 and incorporate a smart chip which recognizes and optimizes the charging power of the device plugged in.

The USB charger is engineered to be installed at any existing wall receptacle location and matches the Decora style outlet. It is ideal for installing in kitchens, bedrooms, and home office locations where charging via a USB port is desired.

Homeowners are constantly seeking quick and easy means of charging portable hand held electronic devices. This outlet is a perfect means of obtaining a quick charge by simply plugging in a mail USB cord to the in-wall receptacle.

The Leviton USB Charger/Tamper-Resistant Receptacle is being distributed through many home improvment box stores and Leviton distributors. For more information, visit

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It is quite common for our design team to come across a client that knows the exact style they wish to pursue with their remodeling project, but they have a terrible time trying to explain the “look” they are after.  The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is perfect for this type of situation.  It wasn’t that long ago designers would send our clients home with periodicals for them to scan through and find that look that they could not describe. Those days are gone now…. is a relatively new website that is serves as an online platform for home remodeling and design professionals, as well as homeowners wishing to learn more about design concepts, decorating ideas, and project advice. Morse Remodeling uses this website with our customers to develop inspirational concepts and make sure the communication between the designer and the client are integrating and on the same page.

Check out the Morse Remodeling Houzz web page by clicking the link below.  From there, you can search for key words such as “traditional bathroom layout” or “glass tile kitchen back splash” and the search will populate photos with those key word tags that have been uploaded to the website. Ultimately, you can create your own ideabook and share those photos with your designer in order to convey that “style” you are after. Happy photo surfing!

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The Client Interview: The First Step to a Successful Remodel

As a design-build firm, Morse Remodeling considers the client interview the most significant component in a successful remodeling project.  This is not a single interview, but a process that occurs throughout the design process wherein the designer learns about the unique tastes and lifestyle needs of the client in order to create a design that is both aesthetically pleasing and fully functional. Morse Remodeling is pleased to welcome Registered Architect Andrea Montalbano to the Morse Remodeling team.  Andrea brings with her a wealth of experience in architectural design, specifically in the Client Interview process.  Below, Andrea shares with us a history of the client interview and why it is so relevant to the work we do.


Andrea Montalbano-Registered Architect, pictured above on the left with Eric Coppola-General Manager & Estimater (center), and Amorette Ramirez-Interior Designer.

The Client Interview

Many clients come to a designer with a detailed description of why they are not happy with a space in their home but they unknowingly omit crucial information. After all, translating ideas about 4 dimensional life into three dimensional space is not a simple task. A professional, practiced in the art of client interview process, understands that there is a plethora of hidden information critical to the success of the project that needs to be uncovered. To insure these details are addressed, the designer needs to dig deeper, asking the right questions to allow for these spaces to function appropriately year round and to allow for the space to be flexible enough to evolve over time. Most of the time small nuisances can be overlooked as the client ploughs through their daily lives but these functional and aesthetic irritations can be brought to the surface and addressed by the skilled interviewer – the cupboard sized guest bathroom that requires a gymnast’s flexibility to navigate, the obstacle course-like kitchen layout that functions okay for most of the year but becomes a nightmare during the holidays, or the narrow entryway that makes a welcoming home feel cramped.

Not long ago, the job of a designer was to design a home from their own ideas of how a family lives, and presented it to the client as a finished product. The client then had to make their lives conform to the home, rather than have the home conform to their lives. Intensive client involvement in the design process evolved slowly, and was influenced by Psychology, Sociology and Anthropology.

One of the earliest pioneers of creating a home uniquely designed for the client was Richard Neutra. Neutra was born in Austria in 1892 and emigrated to the U.S. in 1923 where he designed the so-called “Lovell Health House”.  Completed in 1923, it is a prime example of the design process he pioneered.  Influenced by Sigmund Freud, whom he knew personally, he performed in-depth interviews with and created questionnaires for the future home owners, their children, and their staff of servants. Every detail and idiosyncrasy of the family’s daily life, both their good and bad habits, were recorded by Neutra and added to the design stew. Neutra asked his clients about childhood memories of their homes and associations they had with spaces in the home.  Pleasant memories, such as napping in a sunny window seat, or negative memories, like being trapped in a dark cellar, were recorded as important associations for Neutra to keep in mind when designing the home. He believed that eliciting this information from his clients, digesting it, and creating a house that reinforced all of the positive qualities and avoided the negative ones contributed a healing power to both the independent and communal life of the residents, greatly benefitting his clients.

Although he became an internationally renowned architect, his views on client involvement were not widely regarded, repeated, or copied until much later on. In the 1960’s, many architects, sociologists and city planners, independently and collectively came to the realization that using the tools developed in the Social Sciences, namely, qualitative analysis, could be used as a tool for creating more satisfying spaces – not only in residences but in office buildings, hospitals and schools as well. A whole generation of architects, to varying degrees depending on the school attended, was educated to be aware of this movement, and to be aware of the possibilities afforded by these tools. They were encouraged to take advantage of them in order to create greater end-user satisfaction.

As an architect, it is important to me that the client’s unique needs are addressed during the design process.  I have studied the methods of the client interview process while working on my Master of Science in Architecture degree at one of the Universities that first recognized the importance of the interview; UC Berkeley. I then practiced the art of the in-depth interview for the design of numerous single family residences and even a few institutional clients such as the Crossroads Homeless shelter in Oakland. Working at Morse Remodeling gives me the opportunity to combine my love of the investigation of the client’s unique world (Design) and the physical creation of beautiful, useful objects and spaces (Build). That’s why the Design/Build firm is such a wonderful place for someone like me to work. The designer can see the process all of the way through from concept to fruition, and can be sure the client’s needs and desires are fulfilled all along the way.

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