Thompson Remodeling Named NARI 2013 Regional Contractor of the Year

IMG_7546 Grand Rapids, MI, February 6, 2014The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) named Thompson Remodeling, in Grand Rapids, 2014 East Central Regional Contractor of the Year (CotY) in the Residential Kitchen $40,000 to  $80,000 category of its annual awards competition.

“We were very excited to hear that we won this award and couldn’t wait to share the news with the homeowners,” said Ben Thompson, President of Thompson Remodeling. “Our clients wanted to create a kitchen that would become the center of their entertaining areas, allowing guests to socialize with them while preparing meals. Our team at Thompson created a great space to do just that!”

Contractors from seven regions around the country vie for CotY Awards on an annual basis. National winners will be announced and honored at NARI’s Evening of ExcellenceSM reception on Friday, March 28, 2014, at the New Orleans Marriott, in New Orleans. National winners will be announced via Webcast the evening of March 28, and the Webcast will be available for viewing for 30 days afterward on

All projects submitted for judging were an improvement or an addition to an existing structure, with the exception of one category, “Residential Exterior Specialty.”  Otherwise, new construction projects were not eligible.

Thompson Remodeling’s winning kitchen project is in a 1970’s waterfront ranch. The kitchen was dark and closed in by walls separating all the entertaining areas. It was starved for natural light and had no view of the gorgeous lake right behind the house. The new design makes the kitchen the hub of the home.  By removing four walls, the entire first floor opened up and allowed the creation of the perfect kitchen for the social chef.  Guests can flow in and out while taking in a great view of the lake. The kitchen has been used nearly every weekend since it was completed.  In fact, the homeowners hosted a wedding reception for 100 guests and said that the space worked perfectly.

IMG_7465_6_7_tonemapped Competing projects were completed between July 1, 2012, and November 30, 2013, and were not submitted in previous NARI National contests. An impartial panel of judges, experts within the remodeling industry and associated fields, selected winners based on each entrant’s binders, which include “before and after” photography and project descriptions. Judging focused on problem solving, functionality, aesthetics, craftsmanship, innovation and degree of difficulty.

To be considered for a CotY Award, a company must be a NARI member in good standing. The entries of this year’s competition totaled more than $72 million worth of remodeling projects. NARI members represent an elite group of the approximately 800,000 companies and individuals in the U.S. identifying themselves as remodelers.

About Thompson Remodeling:

Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan – Thompson Remodeling is a design/build residential remodeling firm that has been serving Grand Rapids and the surrounding area for 33 years. Our award-winning firm is recognized as an industry leader on the national, regional, and local levels.

Thompson Remodeling partners with you to discover your style and vision for your home. We create a custom design to meet your specific needs that is uniquely yours. Our process ensures that there are no surprises – your custom project will be built on time, on budget, and to your approved project plans. We want to help you Love Where You Live.  For more information visit or call 616.942.1866.


About NARI: The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) is the only trade association dedicated solely to the remodeling industry.  The Association, which represents member companies nationwide—comprised of 63,000 remodeling contractors— is “The Voice of the Remodeling Industry.”™ To learn more about membership, visit or contact national headquarters, based in Des Plaines, Ill., at (847) 298-9200.

Homeowners are estimated to spend a total of $150 billion on home improvements in the U.S. through 2014, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies.

NARI is a professional association whose members voluntarily subscribe to a strict code of ethics. According to results from the 2012 Member Profile Study, NARI members outpace the industry norm in sales, production and employees, when compared to professionals represented in the Home Improvement Research Institute’s (HIRI) 2011 Remodeling Professional Study.

Consumers may wish to search to find a qualified professional who is a member of NARI or call NARI National at (847) 298-9200 and request a free copy of NARI’s brochure, “How to Select a Remodeling Professional.”

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Choosing the Perfect Cabinetry For Your Kitchen


Investing in new cabinetry not only enhances your kitchens appearance it can add value to your home and improve the functionality of your kitchen. Understanding the many factors involved in purchasing cabinetry is the key to making your final decision with the confidence that the cabinets you have purchased are the best fit for the style and needs of your family.



The type, or species of wood you choose will determine much of the color, grain, and style of your cabinetry.

Alder/Rustic Alder


Alder is a soft hardwood with a fine straight grain. It is light brown with yellow or reddish tinge. The color of alder will remain unchanged with exposure to light or heat and takes well to stains and finishes. Small tight knots can sometimes be found in this species. Being the softest of hardwoods Alder requires care in preventing damage. With rustic alder character” spots (knot, burl, blemish, etc.) are common and can impact the placement of hardware.

Cherry/Rustic Cherry


Cherry has a distinctive grain pattern with warm color shadings that can range from white to dark reddish brown. Dark pockets, pin knots, and random streaks are common with this species. Cherry does darken with exposure to light, especially those in lighter stains. With rustic cherry, a wide color variation may occur. “Character” spots are common in rustic cherry as well.

Hickory/Rustic Hickory


The hickory specie is heavy and strong with flowing, vibrant grain patterns and dramatic color variation. You can expect random pecks, burls, and mineral streaks. There is a wide spectrum of color from nearly white to dark brown. It is common for rustic hickory to have “Character” spots.



Maple is a versatile hardwood with a fine and smooth grain. The color of maple can vary from nearly white to slightly reddish brown. Mineral or sugar streaks are visible and varied with each piece and more noticeable in lighter stains.

 Oak/Quarter Sawn Oak


Oak is strong and has a long linear grain that is often displayed in tiny rays. This species can have small pinholes and tight knots. The color variation ranges from golden blond to deeper tones known as flat sawn. Quarter sawn oak is milled at a 60-90-degree angle allowing rays and flecks to be visible. It has a unique character and dimension with a coloration ranging from golden blond to deeper tones.



With a hard, fine grain and rich warm tone the lyptus species embodies a darker finish palette. There is minimal natural color variation with this specie. Lyptus will, however, mellow and darken more than most woods when exposed to light.

 Door Style   

Once you have determined the species of wood for your cabinets, the next step is choosing a door style. StarMark Cabinetry offers a large array of door styles for you to choose from.

CLICK HERE to browse StarMark’s Door Style Gallery


Finish availability varies by door and species. Several different stain options are offered for each wood specie. One thing to remember when considering a finish for your cabinets is that variation is a natural characteristic of wood.

Specialty finishes use techniques to simulate wear and tear through burnished and broken edges, light chain distressing  , spattering and light sanding. Tinted varnishes are done on maple or red oak and give a paint like look. Cabinets with this type of finish are susceptible to wear and tear and will more easily show nicks, dents, and chips.

Drawer Style

When is comes to drawer style you have to choose between slab and 5-Piece Header. The 5-piece header style is detailed to match the door style you have selected. Where as the slab style is smooth and flat. Note: some 5-piece header drawer styles are considered an upgrade.

StarMark’s Cabinetry 101

For most homeowners, kitchen remodeling is the largest investment they will make aside from the home itself. With so many sellers vying for your business, how do you make sure you get what you want at a price that will let you cook in that new kitchen?


To make such a momentous decision, you must first gain a working knowledge of cabinet construction and options. As with most products, you get what you pay for. This means the best-constructed cabinets with increased design flexibility cost more. Remember however, skimping on the basics so you can afford hyped options or finishes is not the way to get value from an investment that should last 20 or more years. Here is some background to help you identify areas of concern and make choices when you’re ready for a new kitchen.

The Box
The box component is more complicated than its simple name suggests. As a general rule, the more real wood used in the construction of a cabinet box, the better. Quality plywood is a good material that holds up the best over time. The face frame should be constructed of premium-quality, solid wood for extra rigidity.

How the wood is joined together is just as important. Does the box include stronger engineered, mechanical joinery using rabbets and dados, or are abutting pieces held together with staples and glue only? Plywood is good for larger surface areas such as sides, tops, bottoms, backs and toe boards. Exposed end panels should be covered with stained wood veneer or melamine that closely matches the exterior finish. On the interior, boxes ideally should be easy to clean and light colored for maximum light reflection and ease of viewing. This is easily achieved through the application of a light-colored (sometimes birch or maple wood grain or white) melamine over the plywood. If your kitchen cabinet designs call for open or glass-door cabinets, make sure the line you choose offers a stained wood veneer interior to match the outer finish.

Better quality cabinetry offers adjustable shelving as a standard feature. It’s worthwhile to ask about this, since some lines offer only fixed shelves. Adjustability gives you more flexible storage options, especially where shelves and roll-out trays are concerned. Extra features, such as a fully enclosed space under the bottom drawer in base cabinets, help to protect cabinet interiors and their contents from dust, bugs and rodents. Seems pretty obvious, but believe it or not, some cabinet boxes are made without a back or enclosed bottom or even a melamine interior.


The Drawer System
The drawer is yet another box to consider when buying cabinetry. Because it is highly visible, it should be made of real wood for the best appearance. The most ideal drawers will use a box that is held together with dovetail joints on all four corners. Interlocking dovetail joints are attractive and stronger than pinned or doweled joints. And since drawers often bear heavy loads, the box should be built to include a captive plywood bottom (surfaced with melamine for easy cleaning).

The drawer “system” includes not only the drawer, but also the glide(s) on which it rolls. Drawers should roll easily and stop automatically so they don’t fall out, while allowing easy access to contents. Full-extension glides allow the drawer to be pulled out completely for access to the back of the drawer. Better drawer glides include a spring-loaded, self-closing feature. And where the glides are mounted, under or on the sides of the drawer box, is really a combination of personal preference and current trend. When the glides are mounted underneath, they allow for a wide drawer box and they don’t catch dirt the way side mount glides do.


Cabinet Line 
When considering a collection of cabinetry, look beyond door styles and finishes to specific cabinet types (SKUs), modifications and flexibility. By choosing a cabinet line, you are dictating the options your designer may use when piecing your kitchen together. Better custom or semi-custom lines offer more upgrades and modifications for a more uniform, appealing design and appearance in the finished product. For example, doors from StarMark are automatically scaled to fit cabinets that have been modified. For cabinet lines without this feature, pre-sized doors are matched as closely as possible to modified cabinets. Less flexibility in this case can result in a reveal of as much as three inches surrounding the undersized door, causing the modified cabinet to stick out like a sore thumb.


Doors, Finish and More 
Having a wide selection of door styles, finishes and wood species from which to choose is great, of course. However, the quality of these ingredients is of the utmost importance to guarantee a lasting investment. Doors of all solid wood are preferable to veneered panels, which may not accept stain the same as solid wood. Be careful not to judge a finish by its sheen or feel. Ask about the finishing process. The best finishing process carefully prepares high-grade wood through hand sanding and staining and is sealed with an oven-cured, catalyzed conversion varnish. The resulting finish is impervious to liquids and stains from everyday use, along with being easy to clean.

Should there be a problem, you’ll want to make sure the manufacturer will stand behind its products with a warranty. Another reliable mark of quality is KCMA Certification. This means cabinets meet at least the minimum standards for quality set by the Kitchen Cabinetry Manufacturers Association. But you’ll still want to find out the warranty offered on each component.


Kitchen Designers
Finally, investing in a kitchen involves a balance of decisions, all made within budgetary limits. You weigh your priorities, then decide on something that will meet your wants, fit your budget and stand the test of time. Here’s where a kitchen designer can help. These are the people who transform your concept into a beautiful reality. Kitchen designers with a good reputation for on-time, quality service are vital for a professional looking installation. Ask the kitchen designers for references and see if their designs and installations stand up to the quality and service you expect. You should trust only experts in kitchen cabinet designs and installation with such a considerable investment.

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