Best Bathroom Details Help to Make Great Decisions

Best bathroom details for a personal retreat

Best Bathroom Details Help To Make Great Decisions

You need the best bathroom details to help you avoid confusion and frustration, to make great decisions for a safe, functional, and relaxing personal retreat! There’s so much that you can include in your new master or guest bathroom, so many details to think about. Do you know that remodeling a master bathroom can be a higher investment per square foot than a kitchen? That’s why it’s important to use these authoritative bathroom details, to make informed decisions about everything, and avoid expensive mistakes!

When homeowners are thinking about remodeling a master (or guest) bathroom, the first inclination is to look at countertop materials and tile immediately. This is okay, but it may lead to confusion and delay other more important decisions, like plumbing and plumbing fittings, and cabinetry. Your first decision for your bathroom remodel is: what style do you want? If you didn’t read my last blog (or listen to my podcast), “Essential Details Are Critical For Your New Kitchen,” I suggest that you read at least the first part, where I list the different styles to choose from.

A standard bathroom includes a toilet, a lavatory sink, cabinetry, a tub and/or shower, plumbing fittings, and fiinishes (countertop/backsplash, floors, walls). What’s the big deal about  bathroom details? Let’s look at each one of these items separately:

TOILET DETAILS:

Yes, you can have a toilet that’s similar to the one you have now, but your new toilet will be equipped with water-saving features which will save you money. Your investment can be less than $200 for a white, two-piece, short-front toilet with exposed P-trap on the side below the bowl. Your investment can grow exponentially if you want a toilet with the following features and benefits:

  • Wall-mount (can be installed at any height; easy to clean underneath);
  • Floor-mount with a skirt that hides the ugly P-trap (easier to clean);
  • Elongated bowl (provides better ergonomics);
  • Dual-flush buttons (extra water saving);
  • Bidet seat (better personal hygiene and healthier than using tissue);
  • High-fashion color;
  • Composting.

Several manufacturers offer a wide range of toilet styles, including models that provide ultimate personal hygiene and luxury:

If you want to be scandalized by really expensive toilets, here’s the article to read: https://moneyinc.com/the-five-most-expensive-toilets-in-the-world/

LAVATORY-SINK DETAILS:

The word “lavatory” is derived from 1325–75 Middle English lavatorie which came from Late Latin lavātōrium washing-place, equivalent to Latin lavā(re) to wash. “Lavatory” in Britain refers to a flushing toilet. Americans use “sink,” whether it’s for a kitchen or a bathroom. Sinks are available in four shapes: (1) Oval; (2) Rectangular; (3) Round; and (4) Square.

There are six specific installation methods:

  • Top-mount (set into the countertop with the rim exposed);
  • Top-mount “vessel” (the entire sink sits on top of the countertop);
  • Under-mount (installed under the countertop; rim must be flat and unfinished);
  • Under-mount with front edge overhang (often referred to as “European”);
  • Integral (manufactured from and part of a solid surface countertop, i.e., Corian);
  • Wall-mount with or without a supporting pedestal or legs.

Vessel Sinks:

Vessel sinks have been very popular for several years. Vessel sinks are wonderful for powder rooms that don’t get used often – and they make a great focal point. There are limitations or requirements to keep in mind if you’re interested in vessel sinks:

  • If the bowl is tall, you’ll need to lower your countertop so the top of the bowl is at the height your countertop would be (more about this in the cabinet  section).
  • They require a taller faucet than normal, or mounting the filler and valves on the wall.
  • Think about how difficult it might be to clean the base of the vessel sink; I recommend that you resist the typical round (or oval) bowl that creates a tight “V” where the sink meets the countertop because you’ll have to use a Q-tip to clean the area.

Sinks can be made from a plethora of materials: Brass, bronze, ceramic, copper, glass, porcelain,  resin,  solid surface (i.e., Corian), stainless steel, stone, and wood. Your investment in a lavatory sink can range from a low of $150 to over $1,000.

CABINETS:

Cabinets can be any style, made of natural wood or painted wood. Homeowners prefer kitchen-height cabinets (36” finished countertop height) over shorter heights (30” – 33” finished countertop height) for two main reasons:

  • Provides more storage (equivalent to one more drawer)
  • Reduces back strain (no cantilevering of the body when bending over the sink)

All-in-one units that include the cabinet, countertop, lavatory sink, and faucet have grown in popularity because the decision-making time can be greatly reduced, and these units are competitively priced. But you may have to forego one or more features (like the countertop material or cabinet color) to get other features. An online search for “lavatory vanity cabinets” yielded 2,380,000 results! Popularity verified!

TUB OR SHOWER:

The majority of homeowners remodeling a master bathroom prefer a large (two-person) shower to a tub-shower combination, unless bathing is a necessity (usually requested by the wife). House Beautiful has an excellent article about this subject. If you have the room for a large shower and a separate tub, that’s great! However, your tub decision is a critical detail to consider. The popularity of free-standing tubs has grown in the past five years. Yes, they’re beautiful, but they’re unsafe because they require the bather to straddle the tub while getting in or out. Think about this: What if the floor or the tub is wet and slippery? The best way to enter and exit a tub is to sit on the edge and swing your legs in or out while you’re holding onto a grab bar. Most free-standing tubs do not support sitting on the edge.

Yes, grab bars are an essential bathroom detail to include. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year about 235,000 people over age 15 visit emergency rooms because of injuries suffered in the bathroom, and almost 14 percent are hospitalized. More than a third of the injuries – about 78,000 – happen while bathing or showering.

PLUMBING FITTINGS:

These include your sink faucet and tub-shower water supply and water controls (valves). Your sink faucet is named by the type of water control:

  • Dual control (valves on both sides)
  • Single control (valve on top or on the side)

Your investment in a sink faucet can range from $300 to over $1,500. It’s popular to have an electronic control in addition to the valve(s) that turns the water on or off when you wave your hand in front of it. Of course, you’ll pay extra for this feature.

There are hundreds of different styles of plumbing fittings available, from ultra contemporary to ultra traditional and everything in between. The available finishes are also part of your decision, especially if you want all of your bathroom fittings to match. Not all manufacturers have the finish you like in the style that appeals to you, so you may end up buying all of your plumbing fittings from one manufacturer. Here’s a list of finishes to consider:

  • Brass (antique, burnished, polished, satin); should have a “lifetime protective finish” to prevent tarnishing
  • Bronze (the finish may be affected by exposure to hard water)
  • Chrome (brushed, polished, satin)
  • Copper (the finish may be affected by exposure to hard water)
  • Nickel (antique, black, brushed, polished)
  • Powder coated (black, red, white, and other colors)
  • Stainless steel

Shower Fittings:

If your bathroom will include a new shower, you have many options available that can be confusing. Understanding the Different Types of Tub & Shower Valves is an excellent article to explain what valves are and how they work. There are also diverter valves that can switch different water supplies on and off for maximum control. Diverters can be a separate valve or they may be included with the temperature and pressure valve that turns the water on and off. Then there are choices for water distribution:

  • Fixed shower heads with multiple types of spray
    • “Standard” wall mount
    • Rainhead wall mount
    • Rainhead ceiling mount
  • Adjustable shower heads
  • Personal shower heads on a slide bar
  • Body sprays

Here’s a list of bathroom plumbing manufacturers that I recommend to my clients:

BATHROOM FINISHES – COUNTERTOP:

Confusion creeps in when you think about all of your available choices and patterns for your bathroom countertop. You have to think about your color scheme, whether you want your countertop to blend or contrast. Of course, you must consider your investment, too, because your decision has to fit into your target budget. Several years ago, I wrote a blog entitled “Bathroom and Kitchen) Countertops – An Overview” that had three follow-up sections that detailed the pros and cons of the different types of countertops: 1/3, 2/3, and 3/3.

BATHROOM FINISHES – BACKSPLASH, FLOOR, WALLS:

Your bathroom finishes can be anything you want them to be. For inspiration, visit the Houzz website, where you can see inspirational pictures. A certified bathroom designer knows about the best materials for your lifestyle and budget. You can find a certified bathroom designer at the National Kitchen and Bath Association website.

SAFETY AND ACCESSIBILITY:

Bathroom safety should be your highest priority, followed by function and appearance. Your bathroom flooring should have a texture for safety. Shiny tile or polished stone will become slippery like ice when wet. Matte or honed finishes can also be dangerous, as I discovered two weeks ago when I fell in our bathroom because there was a wet spot on the floor. A previous blog talks about why bathroom safety is so important. Curbless showers with linear drains are being requested by many homeowners. A recent project converted a powder room into a fully-accessible bathroom. Click on the link to see details.

IN CONCLUSION:

In this blog, I’ve covered the best bathroom details to help you. Remodeling a bathroom can be confusing and frustrating, if you don’t have access to an experienced, certified bathroom designer.  A qualified designer has education, training and experience to personally guide you through all of the important decisions, and to prepare detailed plans reflecting all of your decisions.  I hope my podcasts and blogs help you make informed decisions about all of the important details for your remodeling and building projects, to reduce stress, limit confusion and frustration. My goal is to help you achieve a personal haven of tranquility and safety that reflects your lifestyle and priorities within a reasonable budget.

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST: BEST BATHROOM DETAILS HELP TO MAKE GREAT DECISIONS


As a Certified Master Kitchen-Bath Designer, I can (and will) help you make all layout and product decisions for your remodeled bathroom. Read more about me, then call 503-632-8801 so we can talk about your remodeling needs.

Essential Details Are Crucial For Your New Kitchen

Essential Details Are Crucial For Your New Kitchen

Many essential details  are crucial to achieve your ideal kitchen.  What details are necessary to consider when you’re thinking about remodeling your kitchen? The first is style.

Fundamental Detail #1: What style appeals to you?

  • Asian: Emphasis on natural materials, strong horizontal lines and a mix of textures. The color scheme can be monochromatic (aka “shibui”) or high contrast.
  • Beach: Crisp white or aged driftwood cabinets with sand-colored countertops . Aqua blue and turquoise accent colors.
  • Contemporary: Clean and uncluttered, practical. European-style cabinets made of wood or high-gloss solid colors, or a combination. Backsplash accented with geometric shapes.
  • Craftsman: Simple straight lines, quality construction and minimal ornamentation. Emphasis on natural materials. This style originated with the Arts and Crafts movement, often confused with the Shaker style.
  • Eclectic: These kitchens have a mixture of textures, time periods, trends, and colors. Keep in mind that there shouldn’t be too many focal points.
  • Farmhouse: Rough-hewn beams and old-world appearance is the appeal of a farmhouse kitchen. Cabinets are simple style, often distressed; some cabinets may look like old repurposed furniture. Wood floors are popular for this style.
  • Industrial: Characterized by high ceilings, large windows, wide open space. Exposed brick and concrete, piping and structural supports.
  • Mediterranean: There’s nothing shy about a Mediterranean kitchen; it’s full of saturated colors, strong lines and ornate details. Often includes rough-hewn beams and dark wood cabinets.
  • Modern: Features flat surfaces, geometric forms, and little or no ornamentation or adornments. Cabinets are flat panels, made of wood or laminate with solid-color countertops.
  • Traditional: Embellished cabinets have raised-panel doors and drawers with heavy moldings; mix cabinet finishes and counter depths for a custom, furniture-style look.

The style of your kitchen is important. However, it’s more important — especially if you have an open floor plan — for your kitchen to blend with your home’s style and color scheme. You can see examples of these kitchen styles at Houzz.com. It’s the best resource to see examples and find information. The great thing about this site is the ability to save and send pictures to others. It’s a great communication tool! You can also find professionals in your area, and select products from the Houzz extensive catalogs.

Essential Kitchen Details: Homeowner Survey Sample

How To Define And Prioritize The Necessary Details

During the design and layout phase, you’ll be making hundreds of product decisions! To help you define the essential details you want to include in your new kitchen, I’ve created the 15-page Homeowner Kitchen Survey checklist.  It’s easy to download the Kitchen Survey: click the link below and fill out the simple form. The Kitchen Survey includes extensive lists about the following major topics to help you, in an easy-to-use format:

  • Architectural Features (doors, windows, skylights, HVAC, exterior walls, roof)
  • Appliances
  • Plumbing
  • Cabinets
  • Countertops and backsplashes
  • Flooring

The Kitchen Survey has other information to define your lifestyle, color preferences, and ergonomics that may affect the layout. Your new kitchen should meet your needs for a specific style. But it must also be functional and safe. If any of the essential details that define function and safety get overlooked, they could negatively impact your end results.

Most of us use our kitchen differently from the way it was originally designed to be used. This is one of the major motivators for kitchen remodeling. Homeowners typically ask for more and better storage, more countertop area, and appliances that make kitchen chores easier. There is often a request for custom features that fit the occupants’ unique lifestyle.

Appliance Placement Is The Most Important Detail

I ask about the food that the family likes and how they prepare it. I also ask about how meal preparation and cleanup chores are shared. As we chat,  I observe and ask about their dominant hand, because we always move towards our dominant hand. This is important when placing appliances in relationship to countertop landing areas.  Years ago, NKBA did motion studies and determined that someone with a dominant right hand wastes more time when the dishwasher is on the right-hand side of the sink. Why? Here’s what happens:

Right-handers will pick up a glass, dish or utensil with their right hand. Then they transfer it to their left hand, and use their right hand to scrape and rinse the item. Then they put down the scraper or sponge and transfer the item to their right hand to place the item in the dishwasher. Then they repeat the same motions with the next item. That’s many transfers per load! This equates to time wasted doing the dishes! When you’re cleaning up after meals, observe how many times you have to transfer from one hand to the other. Now you have something to think about when you’re layout out your new kitchen!

When I was attending kitchen design classes, I had an “old-school” teacher who emphasized the importance of the working triangle. It’s still a reference used by the NKBA: “. . .  an imaginary straight line drawn from the center of the sink, to the center of the cooktop, to the center of the refrigerator and finally back to the sink. It should be no more than 26′ total.  No single leg of the triangle should be less than 4′ or longer than 9′.”

The working triangle assumes that only one person will be using the kitchen, which doesn’t align with current multiple-user trends.  The original triangle didn’t include a microwave.  A microwave oven is used more often than a cooktop because it’s uses less energy and heats food faster.  A microwave-convection oven is used more often than a standard oven. It cooks food faster and uses less energy because the oven cavity is smaller. Instead of using the work triangle solely, I prefer to use a customized work station layout that is defined by the activity and the family’s lifestyle: 

♦  Main course preparation

♦  Salad and vegetable preparation

♦  Baking preparation

♦  Serving

♦  Cleanup

An Overlooked Essential Detail: Appliance Doors

There is an essential detail to consider when placing appliances: Do the open doors create a conflict with traffic or another appliance? Years ago, I learned a simple step to avert problems: on the floor plan, show all of the appliance doors open, using dotted lines.

Many older homes have ovens that are placed adjacent to a doorway. This is very dangerous, especially if young children live in or visit the home. It’s normal to leave an oven door open after we’ve moved the food to a countertop. When children come dashing into the kitchen full-tilt, they don’t see the open oven door. It’s a catastrophe waiting to happen. This is a good reason to show all appliance doors open on the floor plan.

But appliance placement is just part of your new kitchen. The appliances you choose are affected by your lifestyle. In recent years, I’ve seen increased interest in a single oven with a separate microwave-convection oven.  French-door refrigerators with a bottom freezer drawer generally provide better storage than side-by-side refrigerators. They’re a better option than refrigerators with full-sized doors because the door swing can block an aisleway.

Light Is A Key Detail For Success

Lighting is an essential detail that not only enhances your beautiful new kitchen, but makes it functional and safe. To be effective, lighting must be designed to work in layers. This is achieved by using three or four dimmers. The quantity and quality of light is different for preparation, serving, eating, entertaining and cleanup. We’re lucky to have dimmable LED fixtures to light our kitchen. Lighting falls into four categories:

1.  Ambient or General: It usually refers to natural light, coming through windows etc. It can also mean artificial lights such as recessed fixtures used to light walkways.

2.  Task: Increasing illuminance to accomplish a specific activity. General lighting can be reduced because task lighting provides focused light where needed.

3.  Mood: This is often overlooked. But it’s easy to achieve with dimmers that provide flexibility of use.

4.  Accent: This focuses light on a particular area or object, like a painting on the wall or beautiful accents inside a display cabinet. It can also be the object of interest, like beautiful blown-glass pendant fixtures over an island or peninsula. Accent lighting creates visual interest to a room.

Recap: Essential Details For Your Kitchen

To be successful, your new kitchen requires a lot of thought about all of the essential details, starting with style. Then there are all of the products that will be included in your kitchen. The placement of your appliances determines the layout, how you’ll use your kitchen. Lighting is the final necessary detail in your kitchen. Can you achieve everything on your own? Only a certified professional kitchen designer who has the education, training and experience can help you make all of the decisions ahead. And a professional kitchen designer will  prepare detailed plans for estimates, permits, and construction. You can find certified kitchen designers in your area with a search on the NKBA site.

Get the FREE Homeowner Kitchen Survey!

PODCAST: Essential Details For Your Kitchen


If you’re thinking about remodeling your kitchen, I’d love to help you! Read about me to learn how I’m uniquely qualified. Then call me today (503-632-8801), so I can learn more about what you’d like to achieve in your new kitchen.

Kitchen Remodeling Expectations: Honest, Reliable Input

Kitchen Remodeling Expectations: Honest, Reliable Input

Kitchen remodeling expectations is a subject I talk about with homeowners at every first meeting with them. It’s not uncommon to hear this comment, “We’ve called several contractors about our kitchen, but they’re all busy right now.” The logical follow-up question is, “When do you want to start your project, and when do you want it finished?”

“When Do You Want Your Kitchen Remodeling Project Finished?”

Often, I hear this reply, “We want to start immediately, because we want our kitchen finished by the Holidays,” which usually means Thanksgiving. If you’ve just started on the journey to a remodeled kitchen and want your kitchen completed by Thanksgiving 2019, I’m sorry to tell you that it’s too late to be contacting contractors. Why?

How Long Does a Standard Kitchen Remodeling Project Take?

From start to finish, a standard kitchen remodeling project takes about 8 weeks to complete, if there are no structural changes, special features, or unforeseen challenges to overcome. To finish your kitchen the week before Thanksgiving, the contractor has to begin construction no later than October 3. If you’ve hired your design professional and contractor, and start planning today, August 6, you have less than a month to make hundreds of decisions about your kitchen remodeling for your designer to complete the plans before September 3 to allow time for plan check.

Here is a list of what happens before construction:

  1. Decide what you want, how much you want to invest, and when you want your remodeling project completed.
  2. Interview kitchen design professionals to find the best match for your needs.
  3. Make decisions about the scope of work and products that will be included in your kitchen remodeling.
  4. Interview contractors to find the best match for your needs.
  5. Prepare plans for estimates, permits, and construction.
  6. Get permits.

The Value of a Professional Kitchen Designer

Why should you hire a professional kitchen designer first? When you call contractors, they’ll ask if you have plans. Contractors know that you’ll expect an estimate. They also know that plans will help them prepare the estimate with more accuracy. Without plans, all they can give you is a “guesstimate,” a wide range of investment based on their experience, or the “Cost vs. Value” report. A kitchen designer has the training and experience to help you with all of your decisions and prepare the necessary plans, and much more, according to the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). I’ll write and talk more about this in the very near future.

Realistic Time Allowances

Assuming that you’ve already hired a kitchen design professional who’s working on your plans, how long do you think it takes to hire a contractor? The quickest turnaround time I’ve ever experienced is three weeks from the first meeting until my clients hired the contractor who I recommended. We gave him a set of the preliminary plans, then he gave copies of the plans to his electrician, plumber, cabinet maker, and countertop fabricator for reliable numbers. Then he compiled the information into a detailed written estimate. If you’re interviewing multiple contractors, this step could stretch to several months.

It can take as little as one month to finalize the plans for permits and construction, but it can take longer than six months. Why? This relates to the amount of time you need to make decisions about all of the products for your kitchen remodeling project. The final plans should reflect every decision you’ve made. This assures that you’ll get the results you expect from your remodeling team. Here’s a list of your major decisions that should be included in the plans that are submitted for permits and construction:

  • Scope of your project (what you want to achieve, your goals)
  • Windows, doors, and skylights
  • Appliances
  • Cabinets
  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Countertops and backsplash
  • Flooring and other surface finishes
  • Lighting
  • Special details

Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!

Bottom line, you need to make decisions about all of the products, and the products should be ordered as soon as possible. Everything should be at the jobsite the day your contractor arrives with sledgehammer in hand to start demolition.

Everyone makes decisions in their own way. Only you know how easy or difficult it is for you to make decisions. This isn’t going to change. It’s part of your nature, and it’s okay. Do you like to take time to think about and investigate all options before making a decision? Or do you know that you want “Option A” the minute you see it? The amount of time required to make decisions directly impacts how long it takes to finalize your plans.

Allow Time For Plan Check

After your plans are completed, the Building Department has to check the plans so they can issue permits. It takes them about one month to review plans for “standard” projects. If your contractor is going to start construction on October 3, your plans must be submitted to the Building Department before September 3. If you can bear to read/hear this, I highly recommend that you take time to plan ahead for your home remodeling, and really be ready to “rock and roll” after the first of the year, or even into the springtime when the weather will be more cooperative.

Current Kitchen Remodeling Project

I just went through this process with current clients who decided to wait until spring to remodel their kitchen. It’s a good thing they did, because we ran into a challenge that caused delays in their appliance decision. In our first meeting, they expressed the desire for white appliances, including an induction range and a 33” wide french door refrigerator without ice and water in the door. After two weeks of searching and shopping, trying to find a white induction range, they decided to switch to stainless steel appliances. They finalized their decision about the range, hood, dishwasher, and the microwave oven, but the refrigerator became our next hurdle. The wife took on the monumental task of making a detailed spreadsheet of all the refrigerators available in their preferred style and size. Her spreadsheet included:

  • Dimensions
  • Storage area (cubic feet)
  • Fingerprint shield, yes or no
  • Consumer Report rating
  • Number of buyer reviews and overall rating

This is the type of research that I gladly do for my clients, to help them make informed decisions. It’s wonderful when clients take on a proactive task like this, but many homeowners don’t have the time or inclination, and prefer to pay me to do the research.

Kitchen Remodeling Schedule Setbacks

The timelines I’ve used assumes that construction will proceed smoothly. It might, but it might not. There are many unforeseen challenges that can affect a project at any time. Working within such a tight schedule, under pressure, important details can fall through the cracks, especially as we approach the holidays.

My award-winning book, “THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling,” contains a multitude of stories about clients’ remodeling projects. I’m reminded of one kitchen in particular, that was scheduled to be finished before Thanksgiving: Homeowners made decisions about all of the products for their new kitchen. They hired a contractor and ordered all of the products. I finished the plans and the Building Department took only two weeks to issue permits. The contractor started work the week after Labor Day. Everything was going smoothly, until one of the subcontractors came to work although he wasn’t feeling well. He had the flu. Everyone involved with the project, including yours truly and the homeowners, got the bug. Of course, this set the project back about three weeks. The homeowners and their son celebrated Thanksgiving with the husband’s family.

Summary: Kitchen Remodeling Requires Realistic Expectations

In conclusion, it’s very important to plan ahead for your kitchen remodeling project, to follow logical steps I’ve outlined from the day you decide that you want to remodel. Allow yourself valuable time to make all your decisions. If you do this, you’re increasing your chances for successful results without hassles and regrets.

8/6/19 Podcast: Kitchen Remodeling Expectations: Honest, Reliable Input

I’m available to personally walk you through all of the steps of your kitchen remodeling project! Call me today! Let’s chat about what you want, when you want it, and how much you want to invest.

Home Trends, In and Out

Kitchen with latest trends

HOME TRENDS, IN and OUT

“Don’t follow a trend. Follow your heart.” (Krist Novoselic)

Trends are an important part of our life, 24/7/365. It was fun to investigate the history of trends and read expert opinions about how trends change our lives. Research is fun, and gives me an opportunity to learn!

In a previous segment, I talked about wants versus needs. Trends, I believe, turn our wants into needs, because we want to fit in. We may not have the courage to decide for ourselves what to wear, or how to furnish and accessorize our homes. We turn to others who have done it, whatever “it” is. “The trends we’re dying to keep up with were all started by someone somehow. That’s their identity. Not necessarily ours.”

There’s an unlimited number of trends that influence us every waking minute, every day. Some are obvious, like advertising. We use Google, Pinterest, and Houzz to search for trends, or we may discover them while we’re searching for other things. Other influencers may be subtle, like seeing clothing worn by celebrities, or food packaging.

TRENDS: HOME DESIGN (What’s “in” now?)

SMALLER HOMES WITH MORE DETAIL

McMansions are out. Smaller homes are in. But small doesn’t have to mean stripped down. Today’s homeowners, especially millenials, expect detail-packed, optimally-designed homes, where every inch of space is maximized. When you reduce square footage in a home, how can you maintain storage and detailing? Get creative! For example, use storage under staircases and nooks throughout the home. Focus on design elements that reinforce quality and a feeling of space, such as skylights and sliding doors. The smaller the space, the more you want to give it an airy feel.

URBAN LIVING

As interest in smaller homes grows, demand for infill housing in urban living increases. Many homeowners want the convenience and walkability or bikeability of an urban community. As a result, accessory dwelling units, loft-style homes, and pre-fabricated homes are popular for all age groups.

BUILDING SYSTEMS THAT SAVE NATURAL RESOURCES

Despite what some government officials say, global warming and saving natural resources is important to the majority of homeowners. With the focus on energy and conservation, homeowners want features that offer value as well as style. Here are some sustainable design trends that continue to be “in:”

  • Roof solar panels and passive solar design
  • Thermostatically controlled skylights that open when the home reaches a certain temperature
  • Using sustainable building materials, such as restored wood for flooring and products that contain a high percentage of post-consumer waste
  • LED lighting
  • On-demand water heating
  • Radiant heated flooring
  • Rain chains that filter and reuse rainwater
  • Air and water filtration systems

LIFETIME LIVABILITY FEATURES FOR  ALL AGES (NOT JUST SENIORS!)

The country’s demographics are changing. As the baby boomer population gets older, homeowners demand senior-friendly features in their homes. Consequently, universal design will continue to be an important concept when building new homes or remodeling existing homes. Here are four important features for everyone, not just seniors:

Accessibility. Homeowners are looking for features that enhance mobility, such as built-in elevators and one-story floor plans.
Safety. Features that offer convenience and security are popular, including low-level access showers and grab bars.
Caregiver Comfort. Many homeowners want features that offer comfort for caregivers, such as a private space separate from the rest of the home.
Community. Common outdoor areas like gardens and courtyards offer older homeowners a chance to congregate and enjoy companionship.

Now I’ll explore specific trends for your home, starting with your kitchen:

TRENDS FOR YOUR KITCHEN:

  • Abstract island and peninsula shapes. Modifying the shape of an island or peninsula can open up circulation paths,  improving work and storage space. The aisleways around an island should maintain a 42” minimum space between countertops (NKBA guidelines).
  • Backsplash tile feature walls. Including areas behind floating shelves and flanking chimney-style range hoods. It creates a striking feature wall and transforms an okay wall into a focal point.
  • Black.  Black stainless steel appliances are popular, because the finish is fingerprint-resistant, and has an iridescent sheen to enhance the other surfaces.
  • Contrasting island. Darker colors have caught on, becoming a bona fide trend.
  • Cream-colored cabinets. No matter what style, stark white cabinets have been overdone in the past 5-10 years.
  • Great room concept. Homeowners are still opening up their kitchens to adjacent interior spaces.
  • Quartz countertops. Engineered quartz remains a popular countertop material because it’s lower maintenance and stronger than most real stone, available in a plethora of colors and styles.
  • Subway tile. Rectangular 3″ x 6″ subway tile is still popular, but  it’s being installed in a herringbone  or vertical pattern. Alternative rectangular tiles (up to 12″ x 24″) are popular because there are fewer grout joints.
  • Window walls and glass doors. Wider windows and doors provide natural light and views of a garden. It’s important to consider the compass orientation and view year round. Also consider any loss of storage before you demolish your kitchen.
  • Wood. Homeowners are increasingly demanding medium-tone woods, especially in kitchens.

TRENDS FOR YOUR BATHROOMS:

  • Easy-reach shower controls. Being bombarded with icy water is no way to start a shower. The valve should be placed where you can control the water easily from outside and the inside.
  • Freestanding bathtubs. The trendy freestanding tub is still popular, but it has more room around it. Maybe it’s in a room of its own, if you have the space and a great private view. If you lack a view, how about installing an electric fireplace? These tubs, like all other trends, aren’t for everyone, though. People with bad backs, hips, and knees should definitely consider a tub that’s safer to enter and exit. Think about your investment, too, that can easily exceed $15,000. You gotta love bathing!
  • Natural wood “furniture” vanities. Instead of the tried-and-true cabinets, furniture-looking vanities are preferred by many homeowners. They look great, but how much will they store? And, how accessible will all of your personal-care products be?
  • Painted shiplap. Painted shiplap is popular because it adds texture, dimension and character in a room that can often feel sterile.
  • Patterned tile floors. Patterned tile is showing up in areas to resemble area rugs. You get the clean feel of tile with all the color and style of a bold rug. It can be warm as a rug, too, if you install radiant heating under the tile.
  • Wet room. This is a great use of space, where you can shower before and after you use the bathtub. It’s important, though, to select floor tiles that have a rough texture for safety.

Appliance and cabinet manufacturers have gone out on a limb to introduce new, bolder colors.  This has occurred many times before. Maybe now is the time for the new colors to be accepted into the mainstream. Technology has made it possible for tile manufacturers to produce a wide variety of products in different sizes with interesting textures and a broad selection of colors. Hooray for more choices!

What about other rooms in your home? Here are some current trends:

TRENDS: OTHER ROOMS IN YOUR HOME

  • Big, bold plants. A dragon tree, a rubber tree or a palm tree can make an eye-catching statement. Before spending a lot of money, though, verify whether it’s dangerous if children or pets munch on the leaves.
  • Multi-functional spaces. An office or hobby room that doubles as a guest room is the best example. Murphy beds are preferred over slumpy-looking futons.
  • Bold colors. Navy blue, deep red, and burnt orange to bring some excitement into a room. Pair your bold color with calmer,  neutral hues. Use strong colors sparingly, either as a statement piece or an accent. Please, no accent walls! They’re out!
  • Period-style details. Find ways to inject more character into a room. Successfully paying homage to a certain style is about incorporating small touches of it, rather than trying to copy the look in its entirety.
  • Biophilia. Biophilia emphasizes the relationship and connections between humankind and nature. We are calmed by the sight of greenery in the form of live plants and living walls, the sight and sound of water, access to views of natural settings, and tactile organic materials such as wood and stone.

DEAD AND DYING TRENDS

“Trendy is the last stage before Tacky.” (Karl Lagerfeld)

We’ve all made trendy choices that we regretted – trends that have (or should have) died since the 1970s. Be honest: How many of these outdated trends have made an appearance in your home? Here’s a quick list of 45 dead and dying trends:

Tile countertops

Over-the-range microwaves

Eclectic clutter

Shag carpet

Wood paneling

Tiffany lamps

Word art

Futons

Fast furniture

Nautical motifs

Edison bulbs

Tufted headboards

Tuscan kitchens

Damask

Wallpaper borders

Window valances

 

Mason jar mania

Wicker furniture (inside)

Dusty pastels

Hollywood mirror lights

Avocado green

Harvest gold

Ferns everywhere

Plaid

Pine furniture

Vertical blinds

Bean bag chairs

Giant silk plants

Fake fruit

Sponge-painted walls

Glass blocks

Popcorn ceiling

Ruffled bedskirts

Heavy headboards

Floral everything

Lace tablecloths and doilies

Cherry cabinets

White quartz countertops.

Gendered rooms

Cool grays

Terazzo tile

Fiber art

Overdone brass

Accent walls

Mid-century everything (unless you have an authentic mid-century modern home)

LOVE YOUR HOME AND BELONGINGS

All of us have given in to trends since we were young children. We grew up in homes that were influenced by popular trends chosen by our parents and their parents. There is a certain comfort we can derive from being on the inside of a trend; it helps us feel like we fit in. That’s what advertisers count on. Trends drive our economy. Trends can become dangerous, though, when they’re taken too seriously by consumers who must have the latest and greatest. I believe that trends are merely a snapshot in time; they don’t last. I also believe that trends aren’t for everyone. This is what I ask of myself and of you: Think about every decision you make. Is it something you genuinely want, or is it an artificial need created by an outside influence? What’s the financial impact of your decision? How long must you keep it in order to recoup your investment? Nate Berkus says:

“I believe your home tells a story about who you are and who you aspire to be. We represent ourselves through the things we own. I don’t believe in trends. I believe in collecting things that you connect with. We should surround ourselves with things we care about, that have meaning.”

For the most important rooms in your home, your kitchen and bathrooms, you must make informed decisions to last for years. Falling prey to today’s trend may mean that your home is going to scream “Outdated!” Use a color or style that you love now because you love it, not because it’s a current trend. If you can, project yourself into the future. Visualize your home the way you want it. Get in touch with how you feel about it at a point in the future. I know it’s hard to do, but the time you spend getting in touch with those feelings will help you make an informed decision now. Ask yourself, “How am I going to feel when business associates visit my home in 2024 and say, ‘Oh, you remodeled your kitchen in 2019!’”

These words may be difficult to read (and hear), but my commitment is to help you make informed decisions so you can enjoy your home for years to come. Experience has taught me to listen to the voice inside — my real self, not ego. This quote has been with me for many years, and I share it because I care:

“Be yourself; everyone else is taken.”

Here’s the podcast that’s based on this blog post:

If you are unsure about what to do to update your bathrooms or kitchen, or transform your entire home so it has integrity, I can and will help you!  Contact me today to talk about what we can do together!

Prepare for Home Remodeling

Embrace Change

Prepare for Home Remodeling

Amazing Success IS Possible!!!

There are many things you can do to prepare for home remodeling.. In this blog, I’m going to focus on what you can do before you call contractors and design professionals. As I stated in last week’s segment of “Today’s Home,” most people think about remodeling their home for several years, unless they’ve just bought a home that they intend to remodel immediately. You’re in the majority of homeowners if you’ve been thinking about remodeling for two years or more. You chances for success increase exponentially when you embrace change.

3 Things Confuse and Overwhelm Homeowners

One: Went shopping and got confused by all the choices.

It’s not uncommon for homeowners to go shopping for tile and countertops before they do anything else. I’ve seen homeowners wandering the aisles at big-box stores and showrooms with a glazed look on their face that rivaled the glaze on the tile. The same confusion can happen if you go to appliance, plumbing, or lighting showrooms and see all your choices. It can be a great tool if your goal is to shop for ideas and inspiration, not for final products. The additional stress associated with making final decisions without professional guidance can overwhelm you and make you lose interest in remodeling your home.

Two: Watched home improvement programs that provide very little reliable information.

Most of these programs show you what other people have achieved, but no one tells you how long it took from beginning to end, how much the homeowners invested in this project, and how much of the project was “free.” The programs feature named suppliers and products that financially support the show, but they do not tell you how much the advertisers gave to the project in exchange for being featured. The problem I have with all TV remodeling shows is how much of the project ends up on the editing room floor. We’re shown what the advertisers, directors, and producers want us to see. If we can watch these programs for entertainment, we’ll be much better off. Unfortunately, many of us get hooked and believe everything the programs want us to believe.

Three: Read blogs and magazines about home remodeling that don’t say where to start and how to walk through the logical steps.

Magazine writers and editors are limited by the number of words and images, and they have to appeal to a wide audience to sell their advertisers’ products. Each of the magazines has at least 50 competitors for the commerce. You can easily spend $100 or more on home remodeling and renovation magazines to gather all the information you need to plan and execute your project successfully.

Online searches cost nothing, but you may spend hours searching for the information that will really help you. Using the right search terms is critical not only for you but also people (like me) who want to share knowledge and experience. It doesn’t help us that search engine algorithms change frequently. Paid internet advertising can be as expensive for entrepreneurs as print media – and it’s a crap shoot!

Yes, Lists DO Help You Achieve Amazing Home Remodeling Success!

Confusion happens to all of us when we try to keep everything in our brains. You’re probably tired of me harping about lists, especially if you’re not a list person. In the re-launch segment of “Today’s Home,” I stressed the importance of using the Homeowner Surveys to help you select products. Last week, I talked about remodeling priorities which includes making lists. Here’s a recap of the basic priorities you have when you’re in the “thinking” preparation for home remodeling:

  • What do you want to achieve with your remodeling project?
    • An updated kitchen or bathroom?
    • An addition that includes what rooms?
  • How much do you want to invest in your project?
  • When do you want your project to start and finish?
  • What specific products or features are most important?

It’s hard for me to be honest about whether I really need something or merely want it. Does this happen to you, too? I’ve learned that my wants turn into needs when I’m trying to satisfy my ego. It’s the “wants” that can drive up an investment, because it’s human nature to justify our wants and believe that they’re actually needs.

Visualize and Dream Your Amazing Success: Two Simple Steps!

It’s fun to visualize and dream. Collect pictures of projects or products that are interesting, online or from magazines. Make a note about why the picture excites you, makes you feel all tingly when you think that you can have something similar in your home. Over the years, homeowners have shared their pictures with me. It helps me to understand what they want to achieve. Clients with the most successful remodeling projects have been the ones who found a way to organize the information they gathered so it was easy to find and share. Here are ideas I’ve gotten from them:

1. Get a simple multi-pocket file folder and assign categories to each pocket such as:

  • Pictures (It may be hard for you to tear up magazines. You don’t have to, if you use “sticky notes” on the pages. If you keep the magazine in tact, you’ll have the name of the magazine and publish date for reference)
  • Products
  • Professionals
  • Estimates
  • Correspondence
  • Miscellaneous (this can be like the junk drawer in your kitchen!)

2. Set up a file folder for your project in your email inbox.

You can have one  folder for everything, or you can set up a main folder with multiple sub-folders that are similar to the pockets in Example #1 above. When you see anything interesting on the internet, copy the URL and send it to yourself in an email. The great thing about this system is that you have a subject line as a reminder or a way to search, and you have the body of the email where you can describe what you like. The wonderful thing about using this technology is that you can send anything to anyone at any time. After I learned this trick from a client years ago, this is the system I use for all of my clients’ projects

This sounds like a lot of work, but believe me, it will pay off when you have successfully finished your remodeling project without disappointments and hassles! Homeowners who have used one or both of these systems have proven the validity of the recommendations! They knew more about the details of their project, talked more knowledgeably with everyone, and actually enjoyed their project from beginning to end!

Get Ready To Talk With Remodeling Professionals

After you’ve completed these tasks, you’ll be able to talk with contractors and design professionals. You can actually start getting names and contact information while you’re working on the information-gathering tasks. There are several ways you can find the people who will help you achieve your home remodeling dream. Here are six ways that have been successful for homeowners:

Let family, friends, neighbors – everyone! – know that you’re thinking about remodeling your home. They’ll offer advice and may refer you to the right people! A referral from a satisfied homeowner is platinum for everyone in the remodeling industry. Contact a local remodeling organization like:

Search online resources like:

Angie’s List, Home Advisor, and Houzz are free for you, but they may collect a referral fee or charge for prominent display of a company. There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s an important part of our capitalist economy. It doesn’t mean that the company with a a full-page, full-bleed color ad is any better than the company with a well-done quarter-page ad. Both companies have to establish and maintain an advertising and marketing budget that’s a percentage of their income. Would you rather bring your business to a company with a smaller ad, or would you rather hire a company that can afford a glitzy ad? What’s the real message that each company is saying? Call them to find out!

I hope you won’t be lured by companies that offer (or guarantee) the lowest rates or fees! Only you can decide what’s best for you now, and for years to come. Benjamin Franklin said it best:

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”

Questions For Remodeling Professionals

After you get the names of contractors and designers, your next step is to call them and ask questions that will help you decide if they’re the right person or company to help you achieve your home remodeling project. I’ve developed a list of qualifying questions that you can use in phone or in- person interviews with construction professionals. If you ask the same questions, it will help you make informed decisions. The qualifying questions are a guideline, an aid to help you stay on track with your remodeling goals. Of course, they’re free!

Amazing Home Remodeling Success: It’s All About Love!

Remodeling (or building) your home is one of the most important things you’ll do in your life. It falls in line with choosing a life partner, having children, and buying a home. All of these life experiences revolve around love. You bought the home you’re in because you fell in love with it. It was perfect for you at that time. But things have changed. Change is inevitable. It’s the personification of life. Every decision we make – as many as 35,000 a day! – involves change.

Remember why you fell in love with your home. Do you want to fall in love with it again? You wouldn’t be thinking about remodeling your home if you didn’t want it to fulfill your current and future needs. This is why I’m here to help you with “Today’s Home” podcasts and my blog, because I care.

“Change” Quotations and Final Words

“Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by discomforts.” (Arnold Bennett)

 “Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine.” (Robert C. Gallagher)

In conclusion, I want to share an observation. Everyone who embraces change seems to struggle with life (and decisions) less. I’ve personally experienced the difference that embracing change has made in my life. The homeowners who embrace change and prepare for home remodeling enjoy their projects, and get better results. Remember to take a deep breath and remind yourself that change can be good!

Next week’s program is going to be about a subject that we love or hate, but cannot live without: Technology.

Here is the “Today’s Home” podcast: How To Prepare for Home Remodeling

I can (and will!) help you navigate the often-confusing road to remodeling your home or building a new home. Contact me to talk about your project! Follow me on Facebook (D. P. Design and “Today’s Home”), Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Thank you for recommending the “Today’s Home” podcasts to everyone you know!

Kitchen Remodeling Codes

Function and Safety Are #1!

While working with a young couple, a serious issue arose about code compliance.

During our first meeting, I was told that the entire extended family enjoys working in the kitchen together. As a designer, I immediately consider what this means when safety, functionality, and overall concept is included. So, in my reply, I cited the aisleway clearances recommended by the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) and said that the minimum for a one-person access between countertops is 42” and increases to a minimum of 48” if multiple people are working in the kitchen simultaneously. This allows safe usage of appliances, and unlimited access to everything stored in cabinets.

As part of the design meeting, the homeowners requested a four-foot wide by eight-foot long island. Their kitchen is narrow – only 13′-11” wide, with no room for an addition. Fortunately, the length of the kitchen is generous.

Back in my office, the first thing I did was to calculate the kitchen island size that would be safe and functional as well as beautiful. Here is my math:

167” (width of the total available space in inches)

– 51” (cabinets and countertops on both sides)

116” (space available in the center of the room)

-84” (two 42” wide aisleways)

32”   (2′-8” available space for the island)

I sent an email with these unfortunate results of my calculations. They were not happy, and repeated the desire for a four-foot wide island. I shared information about the appliances which would be on both sides of the kitchen. Each appliance needs space for accessibility, which I took into consideration as I worked out the numbers above. This is actually one of the many aspects where my years of design experience comes in handy as years ago, I learned from Ellen Cheever to show all appliance doors open in my plans, so homeowners can see how much clearance they have between objects. Oven and dishwasher doors can take 24” or more from an aisleway. Refrigerator doors vary from as little as 18” to over 36”, depending on the manufacturer and model.

Although my clients wanted the larger island, we were able to proceed through the logical design steps. With careful planning, I was able to give the homeowners 42” aisleways on both sides of the island by reducing one partial wall of cabinetry to 12” deep for a wine bar and pantry. The double ovens were placed adjacent to the end of the island, showing that someone could access the oven door head-on, which is normal and safe. It is especially important to provide this head-on access so that a homeowner can cook and access something heavy, like a Thanksgiving turkey, or something awkward, like a casserole or a large sheet of cookies. I allowed an aisleway of 4′-10” along the cooktop wall, from the oven to the main sink on the opposite wall, knowing that this area could become seriously congested with more than one user.

I use the guidelines developed by the NKBA as a standard practice in every kitchen (or bathroom) design. I learned them over 25 years ago when preparing for the certification tests, and I still use them because they verify industry standards for safety and function. I have discussed this in articles I’ve written in the past. In “The Kitchen Triangle: A Guideline,” I state that Function and Safety have to be designed into a project from the get-go, that appearance should be determined after everything is deemed to be functional and safe. I later wrote another article, “Kitchen Islands May Not Be Appropriate For Every Home,” in which I share the guidelines for walkways and island design.

Recently, this client requested that I move the island closer to the cooktop, which would eliminate frontal access to the oven, requiring her and other family members to access the oven from the side, tweaking their backs while using the oven..Now, no matter how young and healthy or agile one feels, others using the kitchen (parents, aunts, uncles, etc.) may not have the strength to use the oven without injury if there is no head-on access. Additionally, changing access can affect the resalability of the home, as the kitchen is a huge selling point in any home. So, I was unable to acquiesce to this request. I shared the NKBA Guideline #6 which has graphics to show the intent of the guideline. Here’s the text of this guideline:

Work Aisle – Recommended: The width of a work aisle should be at least 42” for one cook and at least 48” for multiple cooks. Measure between the counter frontage, tall cabinets, and/or appliances.

Access Standard – Recommended: Kitchen Guideline recommendation meets Access Standard recommendation. See Code References for specific applications.

Code Reference: A clear floor space of at least 30” x 48” should be provided at each kitchen appliance. Clear floor spaces can overlap. (ANSI A 117.1 305.3, 804.6.1)

As a Certified Master Kitchen-Bath Designer, I consider myself an extension of the Building Department, to protect the health, safety, and welfare of homeowners. It’s my duty and responsibility to be familiar with and to comply with all codes. I cannot, and will not, turn my back on these duties and responsibilities for any client. But first, I try to help them understand that I’m not a stubborn bureaucrat, that I have their best interests in my mind and heart. Theodore Roosevelt said it best:

“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

Yes, I care — a lot! That’s why I am sharing this story to help you understand that professional designers have to balance creativity and code knowledge, while trying to give their clients what the clients want, often within a limited budget. It sure isn’t an easy career path, but I still love it!

HOMEOWNER TIPS:

  • You’ve hired a professional designer to help you. Listen to them, and take their recommendations seriously, because they have your best interest as a goal.
  • If the design professional gives a recommendation without a valid reason, ask for the reason. A valid reason IS NOT: “This is the way we always do it.” A valid reason IS: “This is the code,” or “This is based on the NKBA Guidelines for function and safety.”
  • Remember that Function and Safety are the #1 priority in all remodeling, especially bathrooms and kitchens. Appearance can be any color or style after function and safety are verified.

If you’re thinking about remodeling your kitchen (or bathroom), please call me! I care about your health, safety, and welfare, and I want to help you achieve your remodeling goals!