Reinventing an older home or building a new one is a huge commitment — and expense. Where do you start?

Architects are pros at problem-solving — from maximizing natural light to devising floor plans that flow — and in the end, adding immeasurable value to your home, the biggest investment you’ll make.

On April 19, a panel of architects will share smart remodeling and home design strategies at a residential architecture event, “The Value of Great Design,” sponsored by AIA Minnesota and the Star Tribune.

Here, the architects joining the panel discussion — Michael Roehr, Bryan Anderson, Beth Reader and Gar Hargens — weigh in on how to stretch your renovation dollars, the influence of Houzz, mudroom “suites” and why we’re living like “The Jetsons.”

MICHAEL ROEHR
RoehrSchmitt Architecture •roehrschmitt.com

Hire an architect because …A home designed for a client’s specific needs has more character and soul than a tract house out of a plan book, resulting in a home that fits. “When working with an architect, you have to be ready for a bit of a journey. You spend more time exploring experiences and the kinds of places that make you feel good.”

Smart design: When remodeling, you can transform a room by knocking down walls to open it up, and add windows and color in just the right spots. “We also look around a house and see lots of spaces not being utilized,” he said. If you absolutely need to add on, it’s more effective to reorganize the entire floor plan at the same time, he added. In older homes, “the bones are strong with good hardwood floors but for future energy savings, the systemic guts of the house — the appliances, heating and cooling — should be upgraded.”

Bring the outdoors in: Simple solutions such as adding windows and French doors visually open a house to the outside, making it feel bigger. “You feel like you’re occupying the entire site — instead of just inside a box,” he said. Don’t forget to create transitional zones, such as a front porch or patio, to greet and say goodbye to friends.

Must-have mudroom: “Instead of just a place for the boots, the mudroom has become the mud-suite,” he said. Typical mudrooms encompass extensive storage cubbies and cabinets, charging stations, computer desks and sometimes even a bathroom with a shower. “You end up with a sizable area devoted to coming and going.”

Biggest renovation challenge? In an older home, it’s discovering what’s behind the walls and allocating a big chunk of the budget on updating the old electrical and plumbing systems, he said. “People want to get to the fun stuff, but it has to be done to make the house viable for the long term.”

Mod, mod world: Thanks to endless websites, HGTV and other media, more people are exposed to modern architecture and seeking “openness, clean lines and a style they can relate to better than a traditional bungalow.” Owning a modernist house is no longer considered elite, he said. “We hear a lot of people lamenting that there aren’t enough modern homes to choose from.”