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Inspired Remodels

Home Improvement

General Contractors Guide to the Best Halloween Jack O’Lantern

As general contractors, Inspired Remodels knows a thing or two about designing and building great spaces. We understand physics and design. To celebrate Halloween, we’re putting that knowledge to practical use to help you select, design and carve the best pumpkin ever.

Start with the Right Structure

If you’re going to have the best Halloween Jack O’Lantern, you’ve got to start with the best pumpkin.  Pumpkins are a member of the Cucurbit family of plants. Their cousins are cucumbers, gourds and other squashes. The word pumpkin comes from the Greek word pepon which means large melon. Why is this important? Because what we call “pumpkin” in the US is called winter squash elsewhere. And in the Caribbean they call the squash we know as “calabaza” pumpkin. By the way, did you know that most canned pumpkin is actually butternut squash? See, they can get away with it because pumpkin has no set botanical or scientific meaning.

For the purposes of carving your Jack O’Lantern, you’ll be faced with a choice of two types of pumpkins: hard and sugar. Sugar pumpkins are the small, cute white or orange pumpkins you see. They have a round shape. Sugar pumpkins are fleshy. They have a high sugar and pulp content. Sugar pumpkins make awesome pies. But, they are too fleshy for a good carving structure.

For carving, you want a pumpkin that is hard. The skin must be thin. You want stringy flesh. Autumn Gold and Hobbit are popular here on the West Coast. If you want a monster, find a Gold Rush.

general contractors know the important of structure when it comes to carving

Pick the Best Pumpkin

Now you’ve narrowed down the choices, here’s how to pick a pumpkin that will stand up to carving. As general contractors, we know that structure is important.

Get a hollow pumpkin. Pick the pumpkin up and tap it. It should sound hollow.

Get a flat bottom. If you want your carved creation to sit properly, you need a flat bottom. It’s easier to pick a pumpkin with a flat bottom than to level an uneven pumpkin later.

Get a fresh pumpkin. Inspect the pumpkin carefully to make sure it is fresh. Look for bad spots that indicate it is starting to rot. Touch the surface of the pumpkin. Feel for soft spots. Soft spots are a sign of a rotting pumpkin.

Get it home carefully. Always carry your pumpkin from the bottom. The stem is not a handle. Secure it in the trunk or back of your car so it does not roll. The floorboard is better than the seat.

Get Carving

The internet is loaded with templates and ideas for carving. Here’s a link with over 50 ideas for pumpkin designs. We’re not going to duplicate that information here. What we will do is give you some solid carving tips.

Scrape scrape and scrape again. This is the secret to a long lasting pumpkin. Make sure you get all the seeds, pulp, and flesh out of the pumpkin. When you think you have it scraped clean, scrape it again. There are claws to make this work easier. Spoons do it too.

Use the right tool. Make sure you use the right tool for the right cut. Small double edged saws are great for carving. Make your cuts straight, not on an angle. Angle cuts expose more surface area. More surface area means more area exposed to air. Air leads to rot. Cut straight!

Vent. No, this doesn’t mean complain about the work involved in scraping. You need a little chimney for your pumpkin. When you finish carving, light a candle, place it in the pumpkin, and set the lid on top. Let it burn for 3 to 5 minutes.  Remove lid and blow out candle. The top of the lid should have a small black spot from the candle soot. Take an ice pick or awl and make a vent here.

Bonus tip. Now here’s a bonus tip. When you are through with your pumpkin carving, wipe the inside of the pumpkin with a paper towel. Then rub cinnamon, allspice or ginger on the inside. As the candle burns, it will release a warm, spicy aroma.

kitchen cabinet contractor installs semi-customer cabinets

Inspiration from Inspired General Contractors

We hope this post has inspired you to get out and create the best carved pumpkin ever! Inspired Remodels is the home remodeling contractor that specializes in helping people turn ideas and inspired dreams into reality.

When you’re ready to remodel more than a pumpkin, give us a call at (949) 625-6820.




Orange County Flooring Contractor Talks Flooring Trends 2017

Flooring trends don’t move at the speed of other interior design trends. But flooring does have trends. Inspired Remodels, Orange County’s go-to flooring contractor shares current flooring trends and a peek to the future.

What’s Hot

Orange County still loves hard surface flooring. It’s perfect for our active lifestyles. So, don’t expect to read about carpet here. But trends in hard flooring are changing.

flooring contractor uses wood-look tiles in bathroomWood Look Floors

First there was tile, then there was wood. The hottest trend in flooring is tile that looks like wood. You get the durability of porcelain and the beauty of wood. Wood look tile is easy care and comes in a wide variety of colors, grains and textures. It’s a favorite of this flooring contractor.

Light Wood Floors

flooring contractor installs wood floor to contrast with shaker cabinetsWhether it is engineered wood or wood-look tile, light colored wood floors are hot. Move over espresso and make way for blonde floors. Red oak and white oak are both light woods with beautiful grain. Hard maple is expensive, but as the name implies it is hard. Maple is a favorite for Scandinavian designs. Birch and ash are both light, but don’t take stain well. These are the best choices if you want a natural poly finish.  These floors are available in wood or tile.

Grey Floors

Grey continues to be the new white. This color is hot because it is calming. Grey flooring is perfectly at home in a traditional or modern room. It’s great for the kitchen or bathroom because it works and plays well with so many accent colors. Grey is chic and grey is clean and we think it is will be a popular trend for the next 10 years and beyond. Wood-look tiles in grey tones are showing up in more and more Orange County bathrooms. That’s because tile is perfect for the bathroom and grey compliments most all cabinetry. Add on the appeal of a wood appearance and you’ve got a winner for bathrooms.


Geometric patterns aren’t just for back splashes anymore. Chevrons and other patterns have moved from walls and trim down to the flooring. This look has the potential to be fabulously inspired or an incredible eyesore. Make sure the design elements work well with the rest of the interior and stick with neutral tones if you dare. Patterns are perfect when perfectly executed. This tile emblem will look just as stunning in 20 years as it does today.

Flooring Contractor Tips for Selecting Your Floor

With so many options it may be hard to pick. Inspired Remodels recommends that you consider 3 main factors when choosing a floor:

Room Use. First think about how the room is used. Usage determines factors such as durability and ease of care. High usage rooms need a surface that stands up well to foot traffic. Kitchens get messy, kitchen floors need to be easy to clean. Formal areas may not require durable surfaces. A room used by pets needs to be resistant to stains.

Room Location.  Entrance rooms need to combine wow factor and durability. Most dirt, mud and moisture gets deposited on the floors next to exterior doors. In addition, entry areas need to make a statement. Whether it is a cheerful “welcome home” or a grand “welcome to my castle”, flooring plays a starring role in staging entry ways.  Also, consider room exposure. Rooms that face south or west receive the most sunlight. This means more damaging UV rays.

Budget. Flooring costs can add up quickly. Factor in the useful life of the flooring material when evaluating costs. A hardwood floor can be expensive upfront, but can be refinished and last over 50 years with proper care.  Laminate flooring may cost less initially, but has a much shorter life. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of padding if you decide to buck the trends and go with carpet.

Get Inspired Flooring

For inspired flooring designs, talk to Inspired Remodels. View our inspired flooring portfolio to see what’s possible and then Contact Us on-line or call (949) 625-6820 and talk to Jason and Joe Mueller.





Educated Decision – The Inspired Remodels Story

Joe Mueller, local home improvement contractor and President, Inspired Remodels, was featured in a recent article in the California Business Journal. 

Joe’s story is inspiring. After college, all Joe wanted to do was change lives through education. When the economy faltered and he lost his job at a local private school, he decided to change lives by changing people’s living spaces.  Homes in Orange County will never be the same.  The article was based on interviews with Joe and some of Joe’s customers. The writer was clearly impressed with what he heard.

Mueller is the essence of a professional who exudes confidence, experience, integrity, professionalism and trust.

Read more about Joe’s inspiring journey from school teacher to the region’s most sought-after remodeling contractor in this article. See photos from a few of his projects and hear from his customers. Whether you are thinking about making changes to your home or changes in your professional life, Joe’s transformational tale will leave you inspired!

home improvement contractor Joe Mueller featured in Cal Biz Journal

If you are ready for a bathroom, kitchen, or whole house transformation, call (949) 625-6820 to schedule a consultation.


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