Conquering Larsen Syndrome With An Accessible Kitchen

See Emily discussing the challenges of and overcoming her spinal condition in the video below.

After meeting a family affected by Larsen syndrome who expressed a desire for a new kitchen, we learned that a member of the family was wheelchair-bound but had a passion for cooking. As we gained a solid idea of what they were looking for in cabinetry, countertops, appliances, and all the other accessories that would enhance the space, we offered our suggestions and put our plans in motion. The kitchen project would not only be aesthetically pleasing and highly functional, it would also provide for safety and universally accessible throughout.

All the new features added up to making the family extremely happy. Where once it was inconvenient for anyone in a wheelchair to reach appliances, cooktop and counters because they were too high, now every newly installed item was easy to access and there was free range of motion in the kitchen.

Universal Design Kitchen – CAD Proposal of New Kitchen Remodel

The previous kitchen made it impossible to reach into drawers or countertops, find kitchen tools, or remove food from the refrigerator/freezer. Since the completion of the renovation, the family has donned their chefs’ hats many times, and is overjoyed to be cooking together.

Using the new drawers is easy when you can roll right up to them.

Emily, a 19 year-old college student, is thrilled to be spending quality family time with her parents in the kitchen. While a good part of the kitchen design concentrated on meeting her needs, her mother, Ellen, points out that while the new kitchen facilitates Emily, it also helps her out tremendously, as well.

Emily is thrilled to be using their accessible kitchen. Although it’s been nearly a year since it was installed, she explains that it is still new and exciting each time the family works together in the kitchen.

Since the renovation was completed, my own abilities have diminished somewhat and recent bouts with a painful foot condition and acute tendonitis made me thankful that our kitchen is so chair-friendly”, says Ellen. “Even better is that we didn’t have to sacrifice beauty and style for function. Vita and Jerry made sure our kitchen was the most attractive and inviting room of our home.

Utilizing Universal Design standards, we designed a kitchen with quality products and special features that took into consideration the structure and environment that would make our clients feel comfortable, regardless of age, ability or situation.

We enhanced the space by creating a separate accessible section with no barriers between the sink, cooktop, and storage areas. Wheelchair accessible toekicks and a lower-placed wall oven, as well as an induction cooktop, were installed with safety features to prevent injuries. Cabinetry and countertops are steel reinforced and provide five feet of clear space for unobstructed wheelchair access.

Cabinetry and countertops were also installed at a lower height for convenient access. Additional easily-accessible electrical receptacles and switches were placed below the countertops.

New Cooking Skills in A Newly Accessible Kitchen – “I’m so happy to have a place where I can spend quality time with my mother when I come home from college. With her guidance, I’m improving my cooking skills and making food the whole family can enjoy”, says Emily.

DJ’s Home Improvements received a 2012 CotY Regional award as a “Universal Design Project Recognition” from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry for the above-mentioned kitchen renovation using Universal Design principles.

Emily discusses the challenges of and overcoming her spinal condition

* DJ’s Home Improvements is an award winning design and build remodeling company. Vita and Jerry have been staples of the Franklin Square community for 30 years. As homeowners and business owners for over 21 years in Franklin Square, we are also members of the Franklin Square Kiwanis, Chamber of Commerce, Sons of Italy, National Association of the Remodeling Industry, plus the National Kitchen and Bath Association and awarded Big50 in Remodeling. In 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 we have received the Contractor of the Year awards.

If you are interested in having us design and build your home remodel project please call us at #516-775-8696.

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DJ’s Home Repairs & Improvements, Inc.
Nassau Lic. #H18C4240000 – Suffolk Lic. # 46377-H

Tips on Aging In Place

Many of our projects come to fruition to serve the needs of the ever growing and changing family. A household grows or downsizes and incorporates young and old. That’s why remodelers stress the importance of right-sizing your home as well as incorporating Universal Design into your home to accommodate the needs of different age groups residing under one roof.

(below are some notes by Louis Tenenbaum)

What is Aging in Place?

Aging in Place is a housing and care option that integrates design, equipment, and services to provide the opportunity and ability to remain in the home of your choice indefinitely.

The Mechanics of Healing (10)photo © 2008 Nazareth College | more info (via: Wylio)
Aging in Place works best when people prepare their home environments in advance of accidents or injuries using Universal Design to preserve independence and create safe care environments.

Aging in Place relies on a comprehensive and dynamic management system to use human, financial, and medical resources efficiently.

Aging in Place preserves housing stock, fosters community continuity, and strengthens families.

Aging in Place empowers older citizens with Choice and Control, Dignity and Independence – the essentials of happier homes, better lives and more economical housing and care.

What should you do to Age in Place?

  • Take care of yourself FIRST.

Remodel your home to preserve independence and create a caregiver safe environment. Preparing your home results in reduced falls, allows earlier returns from hospitalizations and rehabs and safer and easier assistance from paid and informal caregivers.  This is all win-win because the benefits you appreciate also save healthcare dollars. Currently you have to make this investment in YOUR future. I hope subsidies and incentives will help out soon. Independent Showerphoto © 2007 Nancy Hugo, CKD | more info (via: Wylio)
Grab bars and railings are modest investments. Removing throw rugs costs nothing. More extensive remodeling also enhances your lifestyle and increases property value when done attractively and well. Maybe I should say win-win win!

Exercise. Wellness – combined cardio, strength and flexibility training is the single most important factor you control about your own future. Exercise is the key to falls prevention and falls steal dreams. The evidence is mounting but there is already enough. If you are not exercising 30 minutes three times a week get started. There is also good, but less clear evidence that brain exercise helps avoid the scourge of dementia.  Most communities help with training, testing and social exercise opportunities to get you started and keep you on.

  • Take a look at Aging in Place 2.0 to see what could lay ahead for us in Universal Design and Aging in Place.

My design and build company, DJ’s Home Improvements, has experience and success in remodeling homes with Universal Design and designing for the aging in place lifestyle.

* You can call DJ’s Home Improvements if you would like a consultation on your home improvement project at 516-775-8696, or visit to see other projects we have completed. DJ’s Home Improvements is a design-build remodeling company licensed in Nassau and Suffolk counties of Long Island New York.

** Are you thinking of how to pay for your remodel? One option is reverse mortgage. Call Layla Corrochano, a Wells Fargo Reverse Mortgage consultant, for more information at (347) 256-9959.

UPDATE: New Video Released of A Completed Bath Remodel in RVC…

Sorry about that…

Correction – Please click on the below link to the NEW Video. It is a BATH remodel in Rockville Centre. Thank you!




New Video Released of A Completed Bath Remodel in RVC , Plus ***New Home Improvement Tips…

Another completed project, a bath remodel, completed by DJ’s Home Improvements on Youtube. Come take a tour in Rockville Centre!

We are very proud to present some footage of our finished bath remodel project in Nassau County’s Rockville Centre.

Hope you enjoy!

We also have many more photos of other projects on our website at

*** NEW – Jerry Burdi Gets Thru the Cold of Winter…
Home Improvement Tips Before the Cold of Winter:


Don’t wait for the white stuff to crank up your snowblower. That way if it doesn’t start now, you can have it fixed before the line at the service counter is around the block.

To get your snowblower ready, change the oil, replace the spark plug, lubricate, check belts for wear, inflate tires, and spray the discharge chute with silicone to keep it from clogging.

You should also fill the tank with gas, but make sure it’s fresh. Anytime you use your blower, the gas should be no more than 30 days old. Otherwise your blower may be difficult to start.

While we’re on the topic of snowblowers, this is a good time to review safety precautions. Always turn off the snowblower when unclogging, and use a long stick rather than your hands. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, never run a snowblower in an enclosed space.


Who doesn’t like sitting by a warm fire on a cold night? Whether you buy firewood or cut it yourself, stock up early to give it time to dry. Stack it off the ground and away from your house to keep termites at bay. Cover the top of the pile to protect the wood from snow and rain, but leave the sides open so the logs can air-dry.

The best firewood us seasoned hardwood, but pine is tops for kindling. Don’t even think about burning treated or painted wood; it can release dangerous fumes.

If you haven’t had your fireplace cleaned and inspected by a professional in the last year, now’s the time.

Always open the damper before starting a fire, use a fireplace screen, and don’t leave the fire unattended. Once the fire is out, make sure the ashes are cold before removing, and close the damper to prevent heat from going up the chimney.

* These are just some simple tips. Always be careful and exercise safety.

** This blog is submitted by Jerome A. Burdi, a Certified Remodeler (CR) and Certified Kitchen and Bath Remodeler (CKBR) of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI).

Please call DJ’s Home Improvements if you would like a consultation on your home improvement project at 516-775-8696, or visit to see some of other projects we have completed. DJ’s Home Improvements is a design-build remodeling company licensed in Nassau and Suffolk counties of Long Island New York.

Please leave a comment if you like this post.

DJ’s Home Improvements Puts New EPA Lead Law Into Action

*Use common sense and safety first.

** This blog is submitted by Jerome A. Burdi, a Certified Remodeler (CR) and Certified Kitchen and Bath Remodeler (CKBR) of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI).

Please call DJ’s Home Improvements if you would like a consultation on your home improvement project at 516-775-8696, or visit to see some of other projects we have completed. DJ’s Home Improvements is a design-build remodeling company licensed in Nassau and Suffolk counties of Long Island New York.

Please leave a comment if you like this post.

The Best Way to Waste Your Money on Home Projects Today

8 Most Overrated Home Projects

Senior couple on cycle ridephoto © 2000 Hygiene Matters | more info (via: Wylio)

If you’re considering remodeling your home, it may be best to skip these upgrades.

In these uncertain times, remodels are more about wringing day-to-day enjoyment out of your house than simply boosting its resale value. But not every project delivers on its promise of luxury and enjoyment.

Some delightful-sounding home improvements can be problematic or overly expensive or simply wind up collecting dust while you’re still paying the tab.  And some are destined to become white elephants, in the same kitschy category as that 1970s wet bar, sauna or intercom system.

Here’s a “honey-do” list that’s better left undone.

1. Whirlpool bath
This upgrade, which had become synonymous with luxury in years past, is now on the most endangered list, contractors say.

We’re taking out these bathtubs and making (walk-in) showers out of them.

Indeed, while they became a standard feature in many upscale homes, a hefty percentage of people who have these big whirlpool tubs report never having the time or inclination to soak in them, in part because of the noise and amount of water required to fill them and keep them warm.

What’s your home worth?

“In almost four years, I have never used it,” says one commentator on a home and garden forum.

2. Room additions
These days, the name of the home-improvement game is conversion, or using existing space in a new way.

The biggest thing that’s changed is less room additions. Before, it had to be bigger and more, more, more. Now we are seeing more people taking advantage of attic or bedroom space.

Dining rooms are becoming home offices. Basements are becoming family rooms, and there are a lot more unpermitted (and some legitimate) attic-to-bedroom conversions.

Forking over an average of $82,756 to build a new family room from the ground up —  including foundation, framing, drywall and electric — is more expensive than converting your basement. And the addition recoups only 65% of its value at resale, according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2009-10 Cost vs. Value Report. That basement remodel, on the other hand, costs just $62,067 on average and recoups 75% of its value.

Gray Kitchens_08photo © 2007 Susan Serra, CKD | more info (via: Wylio)

3. ‘Versailles’ kitchens
In contrast with Europe, Americans — with their comparatively shorter history — just love anything that looks old and ornate.

If you look at European design books or websites, you’ll find page after page of simple, streamlined modern looks. Here, our McMansions boast elaborate Tuscan villa-style kitchens with ornate cabinetry, hardware and tile.

Call it the Bellagio effect.

People will go into hock finding themselves surrounded by $150,000 of polished granite and fancy French or English cabinetry.

They’ll wind up saying, ‘I’m still paying on that and what the hell pleasure am I getting out of it?’ Going overboard with any aspect of home remodeling can be a mistake.

Indeed, upscale kitchen remodels carried an average price tag of $111,794 last year, according to Remodeling Magazine, but recouped just $70,641, or 63%, of their value at resale, a decline from the 2008-2009 survey.

4. Marble counters (or other porous surfaces)
Marble is a luxurious material that has been long-favored in kitchen and bath remodels. But it is losing its luster.

Sure, it has a lovely, natural look and a rich history in castles and palaces, but it requires more pampering and attention than a spoiled princess. Marble can scratch more easily than other surfaces, get burned by hot pans and stain easily, just like limestone and other porous materials. That, coupled with a price between $50 and $100 per square foot, should persuade you to leave it to the museum.

Indeed, while much attention has been focused on the drawbacks to granite countertops, contractors say it and other nonporous surfaces such as man-made quartz counters are better long-term picks than marble, limestone or even heavy poured concrete, a trendy surface that can crack as the cabinets underneath shift over time. It’s very dependent on well-built cabinets below it.

5. Deck off the master bedroom

Now here’s a project that seems really luxurious, promising views and fresh air along with your morning coffee. Of course, the coffee maker is downstairs or on the other side of the house, so for most people this winds up being one of the most underutilized living spaces. 90% of folks never go out there.

Yet it’s not an inexpensive project, costing at least $10,000 and requiring regular waterproofing and other maintenance.

6. Elaborate home theaters
Just as McMansions are falling out of favor, so are rooms that serve just one purpose.

With so many nice home-theater packages containing surround-sound speakers, amplifiers, bass modules, media centers and other controls and costing $3,500 or less, you can turn your flat screen in any family room into a home theater, instead of shelling out $20,000 or more for the whole shebang, including cinema seating, tacky red carpeting, projector, Blu-ray player and big screen.

And there’s no guarantee that the next buyer will want the “Metropolitan Opera meets bordello” look of many theater rooms.

Another plus to updating your family room’s acoustics instead: If you work with what you have, you’re not bringing in a lot of new synthetic material and therefore don’t have to deal with all of the outgassing, or release of fumes, from these materials.


Solstice Hot Tub 2009!photo © 2009 Richard Faulder | more info (via: Wylio)








7. Hot tub

This bubbly oasis seems relaxing and luxurious and is certainly much cheaper to install than a swimming pool, but many homeowners find that its upkeep, heavy energy use and repairs become a burden when compared with the time they actually spend using it.

Moreover, it gobbles up backyard space that could be used for seating, an outdoor kitchen or garden. And like the movie “Hot Tub Time Machine,” it almost transports your backyard décor back to the 1970s or ’80s.

Some homeowners weighing in on these fiberglass tubs on gardening websites actually wound up using them as raised beds for gardening, rather than forking over the bucks to rip them out or get them working properly.

If you simply must have it, the better option might be to buy a portable unit. That way, you can take it with you or stash it out of sight when marketing your house.

8. Overly complicated home automation
It’s hard to tell people to stay away from something that sounds smart and could save them on their home-energy costs. But it’s easy to go too far with home automation, the centralized control of audio, video, lighting, heat and household appliances, experts say.

You shouldn’t aspire to that without knowing that maintenance for that kind of system might be costly. Obsolescence is a matter of fact.

Indeed, “montalvo”, a homeowner on a home-remodeling forum who spent $100,000 on a system that controlled everything from audio and video to lighting, security and temperature in his 7,100-square-foot California home, said the convenience continued to cost him even after he built his home.

“It entails significant monitoring, maintaining, repair and replacement costs,” he said in a recent post. “For the first two years, the system’s installer was at our house several times a month, doing reprogramming, system upgrades, etc.”

While some simple radio-frequency lighting systems can be installed for about $2,000 to $3,000 the wiring and equipment involved with more comprehensive systems can cost tens of thousands of dollars. And even software-based solutions are not without costs on the back end, as people feel the need to upgrade.

Some companies are now installing wireless systems for audio, video and lighting that are controlled via Apple iPad. But just as many iPod users have traded up to an iPad, so, too, may many homeowners feel the need to upgrade to the next generation of controllers. It”s more about having all the features — the latest and greatest.

The best advice for people without a big budget or the patience to learn the intricacies of a big system is that old acronym KISS: “Keep it simple, stupid.”

*Use common sense and safety first.

** This blog is submitted by Jerome A. Burdi, a Certified Remodeler (CR) and Certified Kitchen and Bath Remodeler (CKBR) of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI).

Please call DJ’s Home Improvements if you would like a consultation on your home improvement project at 516-775-8696, or visit to see some of other projects we have completed. DJ’s Home Improvements is a design-build remodeling company licensed in Nassau and Suffolk counties of Long Island New York.

Please leave a comment if you like this post.

How to Measure Your Space

Tape Measurephoto © 2010 William Warby | more info (via: Wylio)Save Time and Money on Your Project…
Recruit the professionals to measure your space

A great design is only as good as the quality of the final installation – and that hinges on precise measurements.

An expert contractor, like DJ’s Home Improvements, listens to their customers and learns from their experiences. Clients’ challenges become opportunities for the contractor to provide solutions and help customers have a successful installation.  A reoccurring lesson that customers share is the importance of hiring a professional to accurately measure the room before cabinetry and other room elements are laid out and ordered.

The time and cost to fix an inaccurately measured room is one of the primary things that can jeopardize the success of your project. Costs for professional measurement are often inexpensive or may be free. We can’t stress it enough—recruit a professional to accurately measure and record your room’s dimensions.  In a project as important and extensive as this, it is money well spent.

Not only will the installer take precise measurements of the room, but he or she will also note challenges, opportunities and obstacles that are characteristic of your space. This knowledge is helpful for you to discuss with your designer when determining your layout, selecting your cabinetry, and choosing storage solutions.

You don’t have to have all your design decisions made by the time a professional measures your room. In fact, you shouldn’t complete final designs until your room is professionally measured.

To ensure the right outcomes from the measurement, it is a good idea to do the following:

• Plan ahead. Talk to the designer or contractor before the appointment to learn what objects should be removed from the room before the visit.
• On the day of the visit, let the professional have his space. Give the designer/contractor adequate room to quickly move around the area and record dimensions.  Be accessible, but not in the way.
• Provide the designer/contractor with a clean working area. Free the room of accessories such as wall hangings and electrical cords. Empty your sink and clear off your countertops.
• Give the designer/contractor a list of the locations of plumbing, ventilation and heating/cooling lines to use as a reference when he or she begins measuring.

Next Steps: A Visit with the Designer

Take the measurements of your space to your kitchen designer to begin planning and sketching the room’s layout.

When meeting with the designer, take photos of the existing space that show the layout, obstacles, and furniture that will remain in the room so your designer has a good understanding of the space. These photos will also be a great Before and After snapshot for your photo album.

** Please call DJ’s Home Improvements if you would like a professional help you with this project. Call 516-775-8696, or visit to see some of projects we have completed. DJ’s Home Improvements is a design-build remodeling company licensed in Nassau and Suffolk counties of Long Island New York.

Please leave a comment if you like this post.