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Prep Your Home for Winter

By Gina Stolowski | October 1, 2018

Winter is upon us - here are a few pointers to make sure you and your home are ready for the colder months ahead.

1. Inspect and replace any damaged weather stripping and caulking around doors and windows. We all want to keep the warm air in and the cold air out! Be sure to also inspect all vents, plumbing, electrical and gas lines, and all other penetrations for leaks or drafts. Don’t forget to check the attic. Majority of heat loss occurs in the attic.

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2. Prune any trees that are near your home. Snow and ice will weigh down the branches and could cause them to break and damage your home, roof or gutters.

3. Install a smart thermostat. We live in the age of technology! Not only is it a great convenience to be able to monitor your thermostat while away, it will also save you a good chunk of change on energy costs.

4. Switch your fan blade rotation in winter to move clockwise. This will help pull cooler air towards the ceiling and push warmer air down. This will allow you to turn your thermostat temperature down one or two degrees.

5. When your fireplace is not in use, keep the flue closed to keep the hot air in.

5. When your fireplace is not in use, keep the flue closed to keep the hot air in.

7. Replace your furnace filter and do a test run to ensure the system is running properly.

Your Basic Guide to Kitchen Cabinetry

By Thomas Salinas | July 12, 2018

Cabinets are essential to every household and often where the bulk of your money is spent while remodeling. Although it’s great to have many options to choose from, all the different styles and wording can be overwhelming. We’ll try to break this down to a beginners guide for you. 

View of Kitchen

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Three Types of Cabinetry

Stock: These are cabinets you’ll see at brand-name stores that offer limited styles, designs and finishes. They will be your cheapest option and the quickest to deliver.

Semi Custom: Semi-Custom cabinets give you a chance to personalize your cabinets and offer more designs, colors and features.

Custom: Gives you a chance to completely have control over your cabinets’ design so you can have the exact look and feel you imagined

Flat White Cabinets

Base Cabinets

Sometimes called lower cabinets, base cabinets are the ones you find under islands or your bathroom sink. They provide a sturdy base for heavy countertops, and offer plenty of storage space or unique features such as pull out trash bins.

Tall Cabinets

Otherwise known as pantry cabinets, these long, vertical storage spaces provide plenty of room for spices and large items such as mops or brooms.

Bright Bathroom

Wall Cabinets

As the name describes, these cabinets are hung on the wall rather than resting on the floor.

Some Cabinetry Terms

Stile: Vertical pieces of frames, such as face frames and door frames.
Dovetail Joint: Type of interlocking corner of a cabinet drawer.

Remodeled Kitchen

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Meet Davor Jokanovic of Renovators’ Outlet in Albany Park

By Voyage Chicago | June 5, 2018

Today we’d like to introduce you to Davor Jokanovic.

Davor, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
After starting Areté Renovators (our sister company that specializes in kitchen and bathroom remodeling), we were looking to open a construction office in Chicago. We were looking for space in a building we could buy or renovate...

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A Kitchen Works Better After It Gets Smaller

By Eric Carlyle | July 11, 2018

Before she renovated, designer Leslie Murchie Cascino of Bonnie Wu Design had an unusual problem with the kitchen in her 1959 home in Ann Arbor, Michigan: It was just too big. She renovated to enhance the kitchen’s everyday functionality, in part by reducing it to a scale that felt more appropriate for the home. In the process, she also made the space more beautiful.

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Dream Kitchen

Three Things to Know Before Starting Your Project

By Thomas Salinas | July 5, 2018

What are your plans?

One of the first things to determine before you start renovating is to think to yourself –- what is my long term goal? There is a big difference between living in your unit for one year versus five years.

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If you are looking to sell within a year, you might want to consider a look and design that buyers want and will easily sell on the market. If this is somewhere you plan on living for five plus years, then feel free to get creative!

Do your research.

Another important item to discuss amongst yourself is an idea of how you want your renovation to look. Do your research on different materials, styles and looks that will satisfy your needs. There are different websites that are easy to navigate, such as that allows you to search all kinds of topics and see pictures for ideas. By going into your project with a solid idea for your unit, everything will go smoother.

Difference between a good contractor and a bad one.

Deciding on a contractor can be a very stressful and difficult process. Remember to look for a contractor that has experience with similar projects you are interested in. Read as many reviews as possible from multiple people. Ask for references you can personally contact. Lastly, choose a contractor that fits your ideas and style. Different contractors offer more services than others, so be sure you know what you are getting into.

Sink and CountertopImage credit to

Choosing the Right Countertop

By Thomas Salinas, Marketing Assistant for Areté Renovators | July 3, 2018

Here are some popular options we suggest that have either long dominated the countertop scene or have recently gained popularity. When choosing your countertop material, it’s important to remember to find the style that best fits your needs. Countertops are often the centerpiece of the room, so ensure you take the time and do your research before making a decision!

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Pros: Granite has been a popular choice for some time now. There are numerous reasons for its popularity, but mainly it is because the surface is strong, durable and delivers a beautiful high end look that can resonate throughout your kitchen.

Cons: Granite is expensive; you can expect to see countertops starting at $100 per square foot. Although it is one of the most popular household materials, granite requires considerable upkeep. It is porous and must be sealed properly to prevent stains and bacteria from settling into its pores.

Granite and Flowers


Pros: Concrete can be described as extremely durable, hard and tough. It can also withstand a high level of heat and does not scratch easily. Lastly, concrete can be stained or pigmented, creating an imitation look to natural stone.

Cons: Like many other options you’ll read here, concrete will require a significant amount of maintenance. It must be sealed after installment and resealed every 1-3 years to protect against staining.


Pros: Quartz has gained popularity in recent years due to it being low maintenance. Quartz does not require routine sealing. It is naturally durable and some slabs even mimic the look of natural stone at a fraction of the price compared to their natural stone counter-parts. Quartz is also scratch and stain resistant. With modern technology, quartz comes in a variety of options, colors and styles.

Cons: It’s hard to find as many negatives with quartz; however, it can get pricey depending on the style and look you are trying to achieve. Pricing can range from $60-$200 per square foot. In addition, quartz is not as heat resistant compared to other countertops. 

Quartz Countertop


Pros: When you’re talking wood countertops, most will say they chose this option because of its natural organic beauty. Wood countertops offer an appearance that is unrivaled by any other surface.

Cons: If wood is your countertop choice, then you should be ready for consist and diligent upkeep. Wood surfaces must be properly sealed, protected against water damage and over time will need to be refinished.


Pros: Depending on your needs, laminate is often chosen for its affordable prices and array of color offerings. It remains popular for anyone on a tight budget and its easy installation process gives owners an option to self-install.

Cons: On the downside, laminate damages easily and it especially does not do well with heat. Because of the way it is manufactured, the surface can scratch and pieces will often chip away. In addition, new buyers are looking for timeless materials when buying a home. Laminate is a dated material and does not provide the same return on investment as would quartz or natural stone.

Current Hot Trend

Quartz – Because of it’s reasonable price and low maintenance, quartz countertops seem to be everyone’s top choice. With the ability to create numerous colors and looks, it is safe to say quartz is here to stay.

Meet Igor Jokanovic of Areté Renovators in Albany Park

By Voyage Chicago | January 30, 2018

Today we’d like to introduce you to Igor Jokanovic.

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Remodel Chicago

Data Watch: Top Layouts and Styles in Kitchen Renovations

By Houzz Pro Spotlight | January 24,2018

The L-shaped kitchen has nudged aside the U-shaped kitchen to become the most popular layout among U.S. homeowners changing their kitchen layout in a remodel, according to recent Houzz data. And farmhouse style has unseated traditional style for a spot in the top three kitchen design styles among remodelers. Houzz recently surveyed more than 1,700 homeowners in various stages of a kitchen renovation project as part of its 2018 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study. Among other things, the study asked the homeowners about the layouts, storage solutions and design styles they chose for their remodel. The answers offer a look at what’s popular now in American kitchens.

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How to Navigate a Chicago Remodel

By Houzz Pro Spotlight for Areté Renovators | January 3, 2018

Who: Igor Jokanovic of Areté Renovators
Where: Chicago

In his own words: “A lot of people want to increase the value of their property and feel good about their space or sell it. We do a lot of different projects for people.”

Known for its beautiful waterfront, picturesque parks, world-class museums and iconic deep-dish pizza, Chicago has much to offer. “It’s a fun place to live; we have great theaters, bars and restaurants, and a beautiful lakefront for walking and biking,” says Igor Jokanovic, who co-owns Areté Renovators in the city. He and his team help clients in Chicago and beyond remodel their homes so they can stay in the places they love.

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Building a career. Jokanovic got into the construction industry via an unusual path. He studied business management and philosophy at Rockford University and completed an MBA at Loyola University in Chicago. He spent seven years in the finance world before switching to the home remodeling industry.

A family affair. Jokanovic and his brother, Davor Jokanovic, set up Areté Renovators in 2001 to help their father use his carpentry skills. “My father has a passion for woodworking, and we wanted to help him out,” he says. “I enjoy working with my family, and going from nothing to the finished project.” The sons joined the company full time in 2008.

Looking to remodel your home in the Windy City? Read Igor Jokanovic’s tips below.

1. Understand the Lay of the Land
Building in the city comes with its own set of rules, so find a professional who knows them well. Property management firms often require proof of insurance, scope off work, a contract and permits for remodels. You can apply for an Easy Permit to speed the process as long as you aren’t removing walls, Jokanovic says. He also suggests signing up for discounted monthly parking at a nearby garage if your building doesn’t offer construction parking; you’ll avoid pricey daily rates.

When remodeling the Gold Coast condo seen here, Jokanovic ordered materials four weeks in advance to stay on schedule and keep within the building’s strict construction hours. “I typically recommend ordering materials three to four weeks in advance unless you’re going with special ones [which take longer],” he says. See More of This Project

2. Build for the Climate
Weather plays a huge role when remodeling in the Chicago area. “The best time to build is April through October, especially when you’re doing outside work, like framing,” Jokanovic says. He recommends using triple-pane windows, cement siding and spray insulation in exterior walls and between floors to lock in heat. Radiant heating in the three-story addition and garage of the historic Lincoln park home seen here keeps things toasty. The team started work in the fall and used gas heaters to warm up the site when the snow came. “We were able to work through the winter, and did the roof early to close the space,” Jokanovic says. See More of This Project

3. Maximize Your Space
Whether you’re in a quaint historic home or a contemporary condo, having enough space is crucial. “Now people are opening up their kitchen and adding a breakfast bar or an island, which creates living space between their kitchen and living room,” Jokanovic says. You can eat at the island and replace your kitchen table with more cabinetry.

The team at Areté Renovators added a breakfast bar for clients in Albany Park. They also bumped out the small enclosed kitchen to provide more room; the result is seen here. Now the homeowners can enjoy a casual dinner at the island and have plenty of storage. See More of This Project


Living Room


Kitchen Area

Living Room
(Image Credit to Pinterest)

What's Trending in Interior Design: Boho + Luxury

By Nina Rajkovic, Interior Designer for Renovator’s Outlet | November 8, 2017

The Boho trend has returned to the big doors in fashion and also interior design. The combination of ethical detail and luxury is one of the greatest trends, and it is easiest to achieve the look through minimalist spaces decorated with boho details. Exploring Instagram, it becomes clear that elements of geometry are present, especially in flooring, as accents on luxurious chandeliers, shelves filled with books, and as emerald green and royal blue geometric tones. If you are thinking about rearranging your home take into account your favorite current trends when finalizing the details and purchasing decor. Continue reading below for what's currently trending.

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Chandeliers - What's old is new! Grab your old chandelier out of the basement, give it a new shine, and reuse it.

Shelves - No longer just a place to store books, shelves are a way to show your creativity! Fill them with small decorative objects in natural materials mixed with over-sized books.

Teal - This vibrant color is a prime example of how color can induce calming effects. Paint a whole room or use it as an accent color.

Moroccan rugs - If you have a love for all things exotic, incorporating Moroccan rugs into your design will create an eclectic style that showcases a love of traveling.

Cactus - Cacti accents are everywhere. You can find cactus accents as mini plants on shelves, patterns on decorative objects, and even the cactus color translated into paint colors.

Freestanding bath tubs - Freestanding bath tubs bring a touch of elegance and luxury into your bathroom.

Exposed Brick - Unfinished walls are having a big moment in interior design.

Colored leather - Both comfortable and contemporary, a leather couch in a bright color will be your favorite spot to relax.

Geometry - Modern tiles in simple shapes and parallel lines. Geometry is trending in markets around the world. Incorporate simple geometric patterns as modern tiles with simple shapes and parallel lines into your design.


(Image Credit

Top 5 Remodeling Mistakes to Avoid

By Areté Renovators | September 27,2017

While there is definite satisfaction in tearing down a wall and seeing your remodeling vision start to take shape, a DIY remodeling project can result in costly mistakes. YouTube is a great place to learn how to do small handyman projects such as refinishing wood furniture, but remodels and renovations should be left to the professionals. In addition, a home is the single largest investment a person makes in their lifetime. A remodel project will have a lasting effect on the value of your home. Don't cut corners, and be ready to spend the money on a licensed contractor who will protect your investment and get the job done right!

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Set a realistic budget before the demolition process begins. Make sure you include a healthy cushion for unanticipated costs. While the right contractor will always try to make you aware of any potential issues they may encounter, you cannot always predict what your contractor will find once demolition starts. In addition, while you may have created a "dream board" that includes photos from various social media sites and Google searches, the materials you love may not be within your ideal price point. Be open to exploring similar materials that will be more budget friendly without sacrificing your larger vision.

More often than not, the old adage of "you get what you pay for" rings true. Remodels are costly. It is important that homeowners solicit bids from at least three contractors. This allows you to compare and contrast. Make sure the contract you sign includes all of the details (cabinets, hardware, flooring, fixtures, labor costs, permitting fees, installation, warranty information, etc.) The less details

Before choosing a contractor, look into their references by either asking for referrals or conducting a search through Google, Facebook, and the Better Business Bureau. Consumers are not afraid to leave reviews online to recognize a job well done or a remodel disaster. Look further into any negative reviews to see how the contractor resolved them. In addition, ensure you are aware of any warranty offered and that it is put into writing.

Improper measuring can be a very costly mistake. You may fall in love with kitchen cabinets, purchase them, have them installed, and then realize the appliances will not fit. Make sure you compare the specifications for the appliances with those of the cabinets. Oftentimes, this mistake can be avoided when choosing a contractor with an in-house design team who can help guide you through the material selection process.