LED Lighting — The Highest Impact on Your Life

LED Lighting -- The Highest Impact on Your Life 1

LED Lighting — The Highest Impact On Your Life

LED lighting has the highest impact on you and your life other than sunlight. I’m going to expose you to facts that you may not know. Are you aware that:

  • Insufficient lighting has been found to contribute to seasonal depression (seasonal affective disorder) and vitamin D deficiencies. Up to 90% of vitamin D comes from exposure to sun – diet alone isn’t a good enough source. Vitamin D, can prevent or slow down the growth of tumours and even boost survival rates for cancer patients.
  • Light, especially blue wave lengths, plays a crucial role in regulating our circadian rhythm, commonly known as our body clock.
  • Health effects associated with poor lighting include: Headache and eyestrain. Neck, back, and shoulder strain; Falling, tripping, slipping.
  • Blue light can increase confidence and boost happiness levels, research suggests.
  • Without the Sun’s heat and light, the Earth would be a lifeless ball of ice-coated rock, like many of the moons around Jupiter and Saturn

LED Lighting Replaces Incandescent Sources

January 1, 2014 marked the official ban for the manufacture of 40-watt and 60-watt incandescent light bulbs, after Congress passed a law in 2007. It took 7 years to teach people that LED lamps were better than the incandescent bulbs invented by Thomas Edison in 1879.

One hundred years later, in 1979, California started tightening its energy laws, requiring that fluorescent lighting must be the dominant source of artificial light in kitchens. To pass final inspection, contractors and homeowners used non-dimmable compact fluorescent lamps in fixtures. As soon as they could no longer see the inspector’s tail lights, they removed the CFL’s and replaced them with dimmable incandescents they’d known and loved all their lives.

Manufacturers made it easy to use small-tube fluorescent fixtures for task lighting under wall cabinets, which made working in the kitchen safer. We all hated the artificial “cool white” and “warm white” colors produced by the early fluorescent lamps that made everything look salmon pink or green. We hated the flickering. There had to be a better alternative! But that didn’t start to happen until 2006, when manufacturers started making LED lamps.

The History of LED Lighting

We think of LEDs as new technology. But the history of LEDs goes way back. In 1907, Henry Round reported light emission from a crystal detector. It took another 20 years until Oleg Losev noted that silicon carbide crystal diodes used in radios glowed when excited by electrical current. And in 1939, two Russian scientists patented a silicon carbide electro-luminescent lighting device that’s probably the predecessor to the LEDs we know today.

In the 1960s, LEDs produced a low-efficiency red light that was used widely as indicators on lab equipment. A partnership between Monsanto and Hewlett Packard formed to make LEDs on a wide scale, but it didn’t work out, so Monsanto continued to develop LEDs until General Instrument bought the business in 1979.

I’m surprised about how long it’s taken for manufacturers to adopt LED technology in the lighting industry. Today’s LED technology is used extensively for commercial, industrial, and residential applications. LEDs’ capabilities have improved across the board: increased lifespan, increased brightness and performance, and increased energy efficiency. Now all LED lamps have warranties. National and state government agencies adopted programs and standards that ultimately led to the demise of incandescent lighting.

What’s The Major Upside to LED Lights?

There are many advantages to LED lighting:

  • LEDs have an extremely long lifespan relative to every other lighting technology. LEDs can last up to 50,000 hours, and they don’t fail in the same way as older technology. The typical lifespan for a halogen bulb, by comparison, is about 1,200 hours, or 1-5% as long, at best.
  • They are extremely energy efficient relative to every other commercially available lighting technology. There are several reasons for this: they waste very little energy in the form of heat, and they emit light directionally. This means that there is no need to redirect or reflect light.
  • LEDs have faster switching with no warm-up or cool-down period.
  • They have very high light quality. Manufacturers have listened to engineers, and have improved the color that LEDs produce, in temperature and wave length.
  • LEDs can generate the entire spectrum of visible light colors without having to use the traditional color filters required by older lighting solutions.
  • They are much smaller than other lights sources.

Is there a Downside to LED Lights?

When I first began touting LEDs in 2006, the major argument against buying and using them was the up-front cost of the bulbs. Yes, they were expensive, for sure! A non-dimmable replacement for a standard “A” lamp was at least $35 each. But the technology of LEDs has followed the pattern established by other technology. As soon as people started buying the bulbs, manufacturers took notice and figured out how to produce the diodes at a considerably lower cost. Consequently, this made the investment in LED bulbs more acceptable.

Now, there’s an unlimited selection of LEDs available to replace all kinds of lamps. A 12-watt LED replacement for a 75-watt “A” lamp is now around $5. Yes, this investment is higher than incandescent bulbs, if you can get your hands on them. The major difference is how long an LED lamp will last compared to a halogen lamp. I just did a calculation that I’d like to share with you. Here’s a simple spreadsheet I prepared that tells the story:

LED Lighting Compared to Halogen Lighting

Light and Color: Why It’s Important

It’s impossible to have color without light! Next week, I’m going to follow this blog with a discussion about color, and color psychology. There are two aspects to the color of the light and how we see colors:

  • Color temperature
  • Color rendering

All of the colors we see are a byproduct of light waves, as they are reflected off or absorbed into an object. An object that reflects back all of the rays of light will appear white. An object that absorbs all of the rays appears black.

Warm, yellowish light, what incandescent lamps typically produced, intensified and enhanced warm colors like red, orange and yellow, and muted cooler hues. Cool, white light, what fluorescent and halogen lamps produce, works best with blues, violets and greens.

Color Temperature

You’ve probably heard and read about color temperature developed by British physicist William Kelvin in the 1800s. He discovered the color change that occurred when he heated a block of carbon. Starting from a dim red, through shades of yellow and up to a bright blue at the hottest temperature. When you buy a package of bulbs, you’ll be able to tell how warm or cool the light is, which will affect all the colors you see by the Kelvin color temperature:

2700K – 3000K is warm light, like a candle or incandescent bulbs
3000K – 4500K is natural light, like direct sunlight
5000K – 10000K is cool light, like a cloudy sky to blue sky, or most “cool white” fluorescent lamps

Color Rendering Index

Another reference you may see is the CRI, or color rendering index. The numbers go from 1 to 100. According to Wikipedia:

“A color rendering index (CRI) is a quantitative measure of the ability of a light source to reveal the colors of various objects faithfully in comparison with an ideal or natural light source.”

What this means to us is the ability to match colors. Hundreds, maybe thousands of times in the past 35 years, I’ve known frustrated homeowners who went shopping in showrooms lit with fluorescent or other light sources. They thought they found a product with the perfect color to match their interior, only to discover that the light in their homes is much different. Of course, the products weren’t what they wanted.

Watts and Lumens

There are two more numbers on light bulb packaging, the watts and lumen output. We’re all familiar with watt reference, the amount of energy that a light source consumes. We’ve associated a certain level of brightness with 60 watts of incandescent light. We can’t do that anymore, because we have LEDs that give us more light with fewer watts. Instead, we need a measurement for visible light energy – lumens. Lumens per watt is a measure of how well a light source converts energy (watts) into light (lumens). Tungsten filament incandescent bulbs produced about 15 lumens/watt. LED technology can produce about 60 lumens per watt. In other words, LEDs are about 4 times more efficient at producing light than incandescent bulbs. This 4-1 ratio is a rough guide of how to calculate what LED bulb to use when replacing an incandescent bulb.

LED Lighting Options

As I said earlier, manufacturers have been on board with LEDs since 2008. Here are the nine different kinds of LED bulbs that are available on one of my favorite sites, 1000 Bulbs:

  • Standard Shape A19 – Designed to give the appearance and pattern of a standard incandescent bulb. Standard and A-shape LED bulbs fit the same sockets and fixtures as your current household lights.
  • 3-Way LED – A three-way bulb is a light bulb that has three brightness settings instead of the standard on or off. If your lamp or fixture says it requires a three-way bulb, this is the category for you.
  •  Standard Shape A19 – Designed to give the appearance and pattern of a standard incandescent bulb. Standard and A-shape LED bulbs fit the same sockets and fixtures as your current household lights.
  • 3-Way LED – A three-way bulb is a light bulb that has three brightness settings instead of the standard on or off. If your lamp or fixture says it requires a three-way bulb, this is the category for you.
  • Vintage LED Bulbs – Vintage reproduction bulbs are now available with LED filament. They have a warm orange glow with lower light levels to mimic the style of a vintage bulb on a dimmer as it transitions from yellow to orange. These Edison style and Victorian style bulbs make great collector items. Order yours today to make your own steampunk lighting.
  • Wet Location LED Bulbs – A wet location UL rating means these LED light bulbs can be used in humid indoor areas or outdoors where water may drop or flow against the bulb or fixture.
  • Decorative LED Bulbs – Browse LED globe lights ranging from 3 in. to 1.5 in. diameters or find LED replacement bulbs for your chandelier light bulbs. The long life of LEDs mean less time on the ladder changing burnt out bulbs. Many LED chandelier lights are dimmer switch compatible and come in a range of color temperature so you can still enjoy the ambiance of traditional bulbs but the energy savings of LEDs.
  • LED Tubes – LED tubes are the emerging standard for commercial and household lighting. Ranging in size from T5 to T12 and a variety of color temperatures, these LED tubes are an easy way to upgrade to energy efficient lighting. Some of them work with or without an existing ballast, making the transition to LED lighting easier than ever. These LED tubes emit the same amount of light as fluorescent T8s, while using a fraction of the power and lasting up to three times longer. LED tubes are especially effective in cold areas like refrigeration lockers where fluorescent tubes are less efficient at producing light.
  • LED Tape Lights – For accents, alcove, and backlighting, LED tape light is a fantastic choice. More flexible than rope light and bright enough for accent illumination, a strip of LED tape light can bring any place to life. There are countless uses and applications for this easily installed new light source.
  • Shatter Resistant LED Bulbs – Dipped in a special coating, these bulbs may still break if dropped, but they won’t shatter into pieces and fly across your floor. We recommend not dropping them, but if you do, these make cleanup quite a bit easier.
  • LED Night Lights – Keep the monsters away with LED night lights. Motion activated, and battery powered, these LED bulbs will light the way to the bathroom or give reassurance that nothing is lurking under the bed when your child needs to reach for a dropped retainer or teddy bear. Mounted using tape or screws, light only the area you need without waking sleeping babies.
  • Reflectors – From the powerful flood and spot lights, to home bound recessed or track lights, reflectors find excellent use indoors or out. LED reflector lamps can provide the same brilliance for less energy and will create far less heat than an incandescent or halogen lamp. As a bonus, they have a higher CRI than fluorescent reflectors for better colors. – Vintage reproduction bulbs are now available with LED filament. They have a warm orange glow with lower light levels to mimic the style of a vintage bulb on a dimmer as it transitions from yellow to orange. These Edison style and Victorian style bulbs make great collector items. Order yours today to make your own steampunk lighting.

A Personal Testimonial About LED Lighting

When we built our dream home 11 years ago, I wanted to use dimmable indirect lighting in the main hallway, the dining room, living room, and kitchen. At that time, LED strip lighting was prohibitively expensive, about $40 a foot. So my “techie” husband figured out how to build the strips using individual LEDs on “perf” board. The electrician installed switched outlets in each of the recessed coffers to make installation easy for us. Eleven years and about 35,000 hours later, the lights are still working perfectly. When we decide to replace the LEDs, we’re going to use commercially-available strip lighting that sells for about $2.50 per foot! You can see pictures of our home in my portfolio.

In Conclusion

I hope you’ve learned about the lighting technology that can change your life. Actually, it’s easier than learning how to use a new app on your cell phone or computer. The bottom line: By exchanging all of your existing incandescent , fluorescent, and halogen bulbs to LEDs, you’re getting the following advantages:

  • No mercury, a cleaner alternative to fluorescent and CFL lamps.
  • A lifespan that is 20 times longer than traditional lighting products.
  • Light quality equal or superior to traditional lighting products.
  • Energy consumption that’s lower than any lighting product to date – you save money!

“Today’s Home” Podcast: LED Lighting — The Highest Impact On Your Life

Call me today to talk about remodeling your home that will include upgrading your lighting!

 

 

Kitchen Remodeling Expectations: Honest, Reliable Input

Kitchen Remodeling Expectations: Honest, Reliable Input 2

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.

Conversation: Professional Contractor and Designer

Conversation: Professional Contractor and Designer 3

Conversation: Professional Contractor and Designer

The Conversation Begins

The conversation between Larry Mock, a professional contractor, began over 13 years ago. I met him at a local NKBA meeting where we discovered that our attitude, experience and goals were similar. I knew that there would be opportunities for us to work together in the future.

Parallel Paths Reconnect

Larry and I worked together on projects, then our individual paths led in different directions for several years. Most of my new clients had already hired a contractor, and I did my best to work with them. But a good percentage of the contractors had undesirable business practices that led to problems during construction. I was working with contractors who would promise the earth and the stars, but their follow-through was severly lacking. Additionally, most of the contractors were bad communicators with my clients and me, which made the home remodeling experience frustrating for everyone. I vowed not to refer clients to these contractors. Then the opportunity to reconnect with Larry arose, when I was hired by wonderful homeowners in Hillsboro. I felt they deserved the best, so I contacted Larry. Fortunately, he was available. Our paths again connected.

With confidence, I referred Larry to the homeowners. He gave them  a detailed preliminary estimate based on the plans I provided him, and he prepared a comprehensive schedule for my clients and all of the subcontractors. They told me later that during their first conversation with Larry, he guaranteed transparency. This meant that there would be no surprises during their construction. He promised a lot, and he delivered everything he promised. Our clients were happy with the entire process, and they achieved the home remodeling results they wanted.

Podcast Interview: A Natural Progression of Ongoing Conversation

When I decided to re-launch the “Today’s Home” podcast several months ago, I sent Larry an email asking if he’d be interested in doing an interview. I was excited when he agreed to do it. It has been over four years since the last interview.  I was nervous about the technology involved in recording a phone interview with good sound quality. The conversation with Larry went well, but there’s room for improvement. Fortunately, I have Jay (my business and life partner), who is the best sound and technology resource.  We’ll work together to improve the “Today’s Home” interviews. For me, everything is about improvement, personally and professionally!

Interview Take-aways for Homeowners

This is why Larry and I feel that this interview is important, because it informs homeowners about important

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Summary

During the interview, Larry told us about his career and experience. He’s been a contractor for 45 years, starting out in Morgan Hill as a project manager for a company that built multi-million-dollar homes. He plans to turn his company over to his new employee when he retires, so he’ll have more time to volunteer with the SPCA. One particularly refreshing aspect of Larry’s personality is that he doesn’t let the drama of politics and the negative influences of our world de-focus his commitment to excellence. His professional goals are consistent: Provide the best service to all of his clients. This includes transparency, honesty, and excellent communication. Here is how you can contact Larry:

WEBSITE: Cascade Custom Remodel & Construction

PHONE: 503-473-5253

7/30/19 Podcast: Interview With Larry Mock

 

 

Contact me today, if you’re planning to remodel your home. I promise to provide honest, reliable information about your project, based on 35+ years as a professional designer.

AMAZING PRODUCTS IMPROVE YOUR HOME

theTodays Home Logo

AMAZING HOME PRODUCTS

Amazing Home Products is the theme for this week’s blog and podcast. Last week, I covered 11 of 21 top home products that got attention at this year’s Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, the International Builders’ Show, and magazines for construction professionals. This week, I’m going to cover the last 10 of the group. It’s been a lot of fun, exploring and discovering these products that I’m sharing with you. Hope that you have found several that are interesting enough to incorporate into your home, or recommend to someone else. The “Today’s Home” logo (and mascot, “Homer”) seemed to be a perfect fit for these two segments. Two thumbs up!

WONDERFUL LED PRODUCT WITHOUT HOUSING (#1)

best home technology for light and soundRecently, a contractor told me about surface-mount LED light fixtures that don’t require a housing. But the fixtures from Kichler, one of my favorite lighting manufacturers, do require a square or octagonal ceiling J-Box to snap into. If you’re remodeling your home, check out these fixtures before you spend a lot of money on recessed cans and trim. They’re UL-approved for wet areas, and because LEDs produce less heat than other types of light sources, you’ll ultimately save money with the snap-in, flush-with-ceiling LED down lights. https://www.kichler.com/tips-guides/indoor-lighting-guide/horizon-led-downlights/

NOVEL BATHROOM TISSUE HOLDER (#2)

novel bathroom tissue holderI must admit that my husband and I aren’t among people who have their cell phones with them everywhere they go. Yes, I guess you could call us fogies, or ludites. When we come home, our phones get attached to the charging station in the back hallway until we leave again. One thing we do have is a landline phone in our bathroom. But for those of you who don’t have landlines, like us, and feel lost without your cell phones, even in the bathroom, I’ve got an amazing product for your home! It’s a toilet tissue holder with glass shelf for your phone, made by Dezi Home. It’s available in polished chrome, polished nickel, satin nickel, old-world bronze, and matte black. https://dezihome.com/harmoni/6-paper-holder-d1-201.html

BEST ENERGY-EFFICIENT FIREPLACE (#3)

Steam fireplaceIf you want the look and feel of a fireplace without burning wood or gas, I’ve got a wonderful product for you that I recently discovered, from Modern Flames. It’s a steam fireplace that complies with the strict California energy laws. This is applying old “steam” technology with new technology for maximum enjoyment of your home.  It’s the “FusionFire” Steam Fireplace that harnesses the power of commercial steam flame technology seen in the likes of Disney and Universal Studio.

The “Fusion Fire” was designed to handle the rigors of everyday use and consumes extremely small amounts of water when running. Because it is safe to touch and uses clean steam energy, no clearance is required for builders or homeowner. Requiring only 120v of electricity, home builders who are struggling to install gas fireplaces to meet the rigid parameters of modern green building codes (the new “Net Zero” requirements) don’t need to look further. The “Fusion Fire” Features the most life-like flame ever developed, and it is the first fireplace on the market that provides homeowners with the best aspects of both gas and electric while saving money on energy bills. https://www.modernflames.com/steam-fireplaces/built-in/fusionfire/

FANTASTIC RECESSED LIGHT THAT ELIMINATES BACTERIA AND GERMS (#4)

AMAZING PRODUCTS IMPROVE YOUR HOME 4I’m really excited about this next product! If you’ve ever fought mold and mildew in your home, especially in your bathroom, there’s a new light fixture that safely eliminates up to 99% of bacteria and over 25 germs while illuminating your room. There is no UV light or chemicals used in the “Ellumi” line of products; it ensures the safety of your family & pets. It’s proven to be effective on strep, staph/mrsa, E. coli, salmonella, and many other bacteria hiding on commonly-used surfaces like countertops, cutting boards, desks, bathtubs and showers.

Safely kill up to 99% of bacteria and inhibit the re-growth of mold and fungi on surfaces with just a flip of a switch, using the patented integrated LED continuous disinfection mode. They have recessed lights for bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, mud rooms, basement family rooms, and home offices. They also make under-cabinet lights for your kitchen, a great way to keep your countertops free from harmful bacteria. https://www.ellumilighting.com/

PHENOMENAL BATHROOM MIRROR (#5)

LED lighted bathroom mirrorSince I discovered bathroom mirrors with integrated LED lighting about a year ago, I’m seeing many more similar products offered by manufacturers. But the one that has the most flexibility and best function is offered by Hafele, a company known for great innovative home products. Here are the features I love about this mirror: It provides task lighting and mood lighting. It has a de-mister to prevent the mirror from steaming up. And it has a sound system!

The Hafele lighted mirror easy to install, and can be mounted vertically or horizontally. The integrated touch switch on the mirror surface makes it easy to clean. Available in 24×36, 36×36 and 36×48 inches. You can select from three different wattages and three different lumen outputs. The only drawback is that the LED lamps are not replaceable, but LED lamps should last at least 35,000 hours. If left on for 8 hours a day 7 days a week, that’s almost 12 years! https://www.hafele.com/us/en/product/lighted-mirror-multifunctional/0000013400016d3b00010023/

DAZZLING MODERN CHANDELIER (#6)

Chime LED lchandelierI’m going to admit that a good portion of today’s segment is about LED lighting. My immediate response when I saw this next product was pure delight, but it’s not for everyone. It’s a contemporary wood and metal chandelier that looks like wind chimes, manufactured by Stickbulb. Each Stickbulb — a solid piece of wood with an embedded LED — can rotate 360 degrees and sway in the breeze thanks to its balljoint connector.

The “Chime” collection is available in reclaimed heart pine and NYC water tower redwood (!), sustainably sourced American walnut and maple, and ebonized oak. Yes, these fixtures are expensive. But if you’re looking for a very unique focal-point light fixture for your home, the Stickbulb “Chime” may be perfect. In the past several years, I’ve seen hundreds of beautiful LED fixtures. The wonderful thing about LEDs is that they can be used anywhere, in any style of fixture. The possibilities are endless! In the very near future, I’m excited to do an entire segment on LED lighting.  https://stickbulb.com/

AMAZINGLY DIFFERENT CUSTOMIZABLE APPLIANCES (#7)

Cafe kitchen appliancesI have clients who want white appliances in their remodeled kitchen. It was disappointing and discouraging when my appliance specialist told me that white is being discontinued by most manufacturers. Yes, I’ve heard and read about the “new” trend in appliances: color. Manufacturers have been trying for years to get trends started for colored appliances, but the trends haven’t lasted because it limits the selection of appliances to one brand if homeowners want coordinating colors in their kitchen. As much as I love the colors, I’m reluctant to spend a lot of my clients’ money on products that may be passe in a year or two.

G.E. is keeping white appliances in its lineup for now — the “Cafe” — but they’re offering different accent colors for the handles, control knobs, and feet: brushed copper, brushed bronze, brushed stainless, and brushed black. The investment is what I consider to be very high: almost $25,000 for a full kitchen of these appliances (range, hood, dishwasher, refrigerator, and microwave oven). They do offer a $1,600 rebate, which will bring the investment down, but the numbers may be out of reach for a lot of peopleto pay for white appliances.  https://www.cafeappliances.com/

FANTASTIC PAINT-ON RUBBER MASKING (#8)

Peel-Tek liquid maskingMy mother taught me how to handle a paint brush at a very early age. Although my hands aren’t as steady as they used to be, I still get great pleasure in “cutting in” paint in corners without masking tape. Not everyone is as crazy as I am, that’s why I’m recommending a product I just discovered: Peel-Tek paint-on masking that peels off easily. Imagine, painting wood against a rough surface like brick, with no paint bleeding and no messy clean-up! The manufacturer says that one container of Peel-Tek will give you the same coverage as four rolls of regular painter’s masking tape. It protects surfaces such as wood, porcelain, stone, ceramic tile, cement, stucco, brick, aluminum, and glass. It adheres easily to both porous and non-porous surfaces while leaving no messy residue. If you’re a D-I-Yer or a crafter, you should check out their website. https://www.peel-tek.com/

BEAUTIFUL FORM AND FUNCTION SHOWERHEADS (#9)

Nebia showerheadThere’s no shortage of beautiful and functional showerheads available from virtually every plumbing manufacturer. But one recently caught my attention: The Moen “Nebia.” I love what they have to say, that it’s an “innovative and artfully designed product that allows you to better enjoy your showering experience and conserve the earth’s most precious resource. Water conservation has never looked or felt so good.”

The patented technology atomizes water into millions of tiny droplets that create 10-times more surface area of water. This creates a shower experience that is enveloping, relaxing, and also extremely effective at rinsing. The “Nebia” has 2 times the coverage compared to conventional showers. And it’s more powerful. The water droplets come into contact with your skin 3 times faster than standard showerheads. It works well in homes with below-average water pressure (as little as 20 psi) while still providing a great shower experience. The only negative thing about this showerhead is that it’s only available in matte silver and matte black, which requires creatively mixing it with other plumbing and accessories in your bathroom.. https://www.moen.com/nebia

BEST HOME TECHNOLOGY FOR LIGHT AND SOUND (#10)

LED Light fixture plus speakerThe Lithonia LED wireless speaker downlight provides an easy and efficient way to light up a room, and enjoy music for the entire family. Wirelessly stream audio from Bluetooth enabled devices. Pair up to 8 units together for an enhanced sound experience. These fixtures retrofit into most standard 6″ recessed housings or new construction and remodel applications. The diffused lens surrounding the speaker provides even light distribution for general illumination for at least 35,000 hours. It has a wide flood beam angle at 45⁰.

The fixture is dimmable down to 10% with most standard incandescent, magnetic low voltage and electronic low voltage dimmers. A rechargeable lithium ion battery lasts up to 6 hours when the light is off. The battery charges when light is turned on and takes approximately 4 hours to fully charge. This fixture was featured in the Remodeling Pro’s list for new products. I was really excited to see it and share it with my husband, who was in the audio industry for over 20 years. He’s an admitted audiophile — a snob! His rating of the speaker was important, so I can share it with you. Because the speaker is small, 3-7/16” in diameter, my husband advises not to expect top-quality sound, or any bass. This is a great speaker for background sound, but to have a full range of sound, he recommends using it with other speakers when you’re wanting to seriously listen to music. https://www.acuitybrands.com/en/products/detail/766222/lithonia-lighting/6sl-speaker-downlight/6sl-led-6-downlight-with-integrated-speaker

IN CONCLUSION

You’ve read (and heard about) 21 amazing home products. This is just the tip of the iceberg! It was difficult to select only 21 products from several hundred that I found on professional construction magazine websites.  Before choosing a product, I investigated it. I also did a Google search for “best new home building products,” that yielded 3,580,000,000 results! It’s more than a lifetime of blogs and podcasts! If I do nothing but introduce 10 or 11 products a week until December 31, there will be thousands — maybe millions — more products introduced. Feels like painting the Golden Gate Bridge, a never-ending task. But I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t fun, and gratifying to know that my efforts will help homeowners.

I appreciate your support of my blog and podcast. If you have any suggestions about how I can improve either, please email me, or write a comment below. If you have an interesting product that you’d like to share, let me know. Please let everyone you know about this blog and my podcast, which is now on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube.

PODCAST: AMAZING HOME PRODUCTS

 

Are you thinking about remodeling your existing home, or building a new home? Are you overwhelmed with all your choices? I can help you select the right products for your lifestyle and budget, then prepare detailed plans that reflect all of your decisions. Contact me today to get more information!

Great Home Products!

GREAT HOME PRODUCTS!

(#1 of 2)

Great home products is a subject I love to talk and write about.  This week’s blog features 11  of the over 20 great home products I discovered in the past several weeks. Some of them are meant for remodeling and new construction, while others don’t require major changes to your existing home. A couple of the products easily qualify for D-I-Y projects. Of course, I’ll let you know, and I’ll include the suggested retail price if I have it. We’ll complete the journey of product discovery next week.

UNIQUE BATHROOM INVENTION (#1)

Great Home Products Faucet + FountainDo you have a “groaty” glass in your bathroom? Think about all the germs that build up if you don’t sanitize the glass in your dishwasher frequently. Yuck! Have you ever taken a pill only to discover that you can’t find the [BLEEP] glass? Now there’s a great product for you: It’s a bathroom faucet that turns into a water fountain! The Nasoni “Fontain” won the “best of show” award at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show. It’s got graceful, minimalist lines to complement all bathroom styles, and it’s available in brushed nickel or blackl, as well as chrome. A perfect retrofit for your bathroom, whether you have a 4” centerset faucet or an 8” widespread faucet. One thing I really like about this faucet: It has an aerator, preventing water from splashing on your mirror and clothes. https://nasoni.com/

STATE-OF-THE-ART SMART-HOME PRODUCT(#2)

Great Home Products -- Leviton Circuit BoxIf you’re building a new home, remodeling your existing home, or want to make your home smarter, a WIFI-enabled circuit breaker is a great product to include! It’s manufactured by Leviton, one of my favorite brands for outlets and switches. They have many models to choose from. I love the fact that this is a great-looking white circuit box, with a glass door. No more industrial tan, hiding in the garage or mechanical room! View real time energy consumption and trends, including total energy cost per month. Get alerts when a circuit breaker trips, or even trip one remotely. It’s the only residential circuit breaker on the market today that exceeds UL requirements for ground-fault protection. It prevents you from resetting the circuit breaker  if ground-fault protection is lost.  This important safety feature helps protect against electric shock and electrocution for a safer living environment.  Of course, the circuit breaker panel must be installed with appropriate permits by a licensed electrician. https://www.leviton.com/en/products/residential/load-centers

FANTASTIC HOME LIGHTING DEVICE (#3)

Great Home Producst 12x12 LED FixtureI started touting LED lighting way back in 2004, when I was the co-host of a local talk show. It’s come a long way, and prices have dropped significantly, so everyone can afford LED lighting. Tresco Lighting has over 25 years of “Innovation Through Illumination.” The company proudly designs and manufactures a full line of superior quality L.E.D. lighting options that are UL listed. One of their fixtures recently caught my eye for its flexible installation: It’s a 12×12 panel that can be broken into 3×3 pieces. This will help you light dark areas in your home, including pantries, closets, cabinets, storage areas under stairways. You need only 1″ – 2″ separation between the front of the fixture and whatever it’s lighting. The possibilities are unlimited!  The dimmable panels are available in four different color temperatures.  I’ve requested more detailed information and will share it with you when I get it. https://www.trescolighting.com/

DIFFERENT HOME TREND REFINEMENT (#4)

Great Home Products Artis Wall ShiplapHave you fallen for the shiplap trend that Joanna Gaines started? Some experts in remodeling and decorating say that it’s still popular, while others say that the “shiplap trend has sailed.” I’ve not been a fan of this product, but do admit that it has its place. This week, while doing research for the “Today’s Home” podcast, I discovered a very interesting shiplap product. It offers you flexibility of choice, and better installation than gluing old wood to your walls. Artis Wall gathers authentic reclaimed wood from old barns and other structures around the US and crafts them into planks. Their patented installation system allows the planks to be easily installed, removed, and reused in any room. One of the things that I really like about this product is the configuration, like the picture I’ve shown (right), which is from a real installation. There appears to be at least five different woods and colors mixed into a great geometric pattern. Yes, it could enhance even our Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired home!  https://www.artiswall.com/

BEST HOME INSULATION PRODUCT(#5)

Great Spray Foam InsulationDo you have old insulation, or no insulation in your home? Another product I discovered  has received accolades from the International Builders’ Show for best spray foam insulation: Demilec. Its branding is really catchy, “No Status Quo,” and they mean it. You can insulate with an air barrier in one application.  The foam fills all cracks, gaps, and voids. With insulation, you save money on energy. This foam contains no chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), formaldehyde, or fibrous materials. We’ve heard about  radon, how dangerous it is and how it can get into our homes. Heatlok HFO High Lift and Heatlok Pro are produced in the U.S. from 12.5% post-consumer recycled products. To date, Demilec has recycled more than 360 million large plastic bottles. The installation of this insulation generates no waste, no jobsite trash. There is no packaging. The product is sold in liquid form in returnable recycled containers. It’s recognized by the National Association of Home Builders as a green product. If you’re building a home or remodeling your existing home, tell your contractor about Demilec spray foam products. https://nostatusquo.info/ Demilec

STUPENDOUS HOME LAUNDRY EQUIPMENT (#6)

Great Laundry EquipmentAre you thinking about replacing your washer and dryer? I was pleasantly surprised, being a relatively new fan of Samsung appliances, to learn about the Samsung Flex-wash and Flex-dry laundry equipment. FlexWash combines a 5 cu.ft. lower with a 1 cu.ft. upper washer. The “super speed” cycle can power through laundry in just 30 minutes. You can use the power of steam to remove stains without pre-treating. Innovative design reduces vibration, so heavy loads stay balanced and quiet even at high speeds.

The FlexDry is also two dryers in one, letting you dry delicates and everyday garments at the same time, or independently. It uses the power of steam to freshen and sanitize garments, reduce odors and static, and relax wrinkles, so you spend less time ironing. Sensor dry automatically optimizes the time and temperature of the drying cycle so clothes are always thoroughly dry without being damaged, and you avoid excessive energy use.

You can remotely control your Samsung washer and dryer from anywhere using your mobile devices. You can monitor the remaining cycle time, receive alerts when the cycle is complete, and schedule cycles. Eco-friendly and energy-efficient, the washer and dryer meet the strict EPA standards for EnergyStar® certification. https://www.samsung.com/us/explore/flex-wash/   

https://www.samsung.com/us/explore/flex-dry/

MARVELOUS BATHROOM MIRROR UPDATE (#7)

Great Bathroom Mirror FramesOver the years, I’ve talked with homeowners who want to do a quick facelift to an existing bathroom. One of the problems is their outdated, plain-Jane bathroom mirrors. One company, Precision Frameworks, has come up with an elegant solution, frames that you can attach to the face of your mirror to update your bathroom. There are 28 different frame styles from which to choose, available in a plethora of different colors and finishes. Updating your bathroom mirror will probably lead to updating the over-mirror light fixture, but the good news is that there is a great selection of these fixtures.  Precision Frameworks offers more than instant frames for bathroom mirrors, including custom framed mirrors and mirrors that have integrated LED lighting. Check out their website to learn more. https://www.precisionframeworks.com/

DESIRABLE TUB AND SHOWER DOOR ADVANCEMENT (#8)

Magnetic Gliding Shower DoorThis next product caught my attention! We’ve been living with shower curtains for almost 11 years, and I’m really tired of it! If you’re in the same position, check out the products from Maglev Glide. Imagine, no more ugly tub and shower door tracks that are hard to clean! No more tracks that prevent you from sitting on the edge of your tub to get in, or leaning on the edge of your tub while you bathe your children!  Here are some of the features and benefits of the MagLev Gliding shower doors: The gliding (not sliding!) door floats in the air without supporting rollers or hinges. There’s no friction, no noise, no moving or mechanical parts. It’s no surprise that this product got top honors in the International Builders’ Show. https://maglevglide.com/

 UNIQUE HOME CONCEALED DOOR (#9)

Concealed DoorSeveral months ago, I had clients who wanted to hide the door to their “safe” room where they keep their guns, ammunition, valuables, and important papers. I designed a custom bookcase on concealed casters that attached to the outside of the solid-core door, but the estimate from the cabinet maker was more than my clients were willing to pay. Too bad that I didn’t know about the Murphy Door Company, which has doors that are disguised. The doors can look like decorative shelving, bookcases, cabinets with drawers, a cue rack, a wine rack, a shoe rack, or a pantry! It’s a big investment, a higher price than a regular 6-panel solid wood door. It gives you a feeling of security, knowing that your possessions are hidden from everyone’s view, yet there’s something great to look at that functions beautifully. They make units for single doors, french doors, and bifold doors, in a wide variety of woods and finishes. They even provide kits for D-I-Yers!  https://murphydoor.com/

FANTASTIC CUTTING-EDGE GROUT (#10)

Grout that glows in the darkTwo grout manufacturers have introduced translucent grout that picks up the color of the tile. Over the years, my clients have labored over the decision about grout colors. From here on, I’m going to recommend the translucent epoxy-based grout that is stain- and mold-resistant. It’s a definite advantage for showers and tubs, and kitchen backsplashes. It is not a D-I-Y product, because the amount of time you have to work with it is limited. Additionally, it must be installed within a specific temperature range. I’ve seen many botched tile installations that homeowners attempted. It takes a lot of skill to learn how to apply grout successfully. But once epoxy-based grout is installed, you’ll never have to get down on your hands and knees, or lean on your countertops, to clean your grout with a toothbrush! I’m particularly intrigued with the grout from Laticrete that offers grout that can glow in the dark, or sparkle! The only requirement is that the tile setter must add the proprietary product, “Dazzle” to the grout before applying it to the joints. Translucent grout: https://www.flooranddecor.com/site-articles/mapei-flexcolor-cq-innovative-new-grout-product.html

Translucent grout: https://cdn.laticrete.com/en/tile-and-stone-installation/grouts/epoxy-grouts/spectralock-pro-premium-translucent-grout

Addative that makes grout sparkle or glow in the dark: https://cdn.laticrete.com/en/tile-and-stone-installation/grouts/epoxy-grouts/spectralock-dazzle

LUXURY FOLDING DOORS AND WINDOWS BRING OUTSIDE IN

Doors-Windows Opening ViewThe next product is in the very expensive category, approximately $1,300 per linear foot for the folding doors. But if you’re interested in a totally open, uninterrupted feeling of inside-out in your home, I recommend the folding doors and windows from Nana Wall. They have a new product that’s particularly interesting.  It creates a pass-through from your kitchen countertops to an adjacent deck or patio, in addition to opening up the space between the inside and outside. Transform fixed walls into flexible openings that invite the outside in and remove visual and physical barriers. Enjoy the expanded sense of space, yet stay comfortable with a transparent barrier that protects you no matter what the climate or seasonal extreme. I believe that they hit a home run with the new product. Check out their website to see details! https://www.nanawall.com/home-owners

TO SUMMARIZE: GREAT HOME PRODUCTS ENHANCE OUR LIVES

I believe that it’s human nature in all capitalist societies like ours to want the best and to be the best, however each of us defines “best.” It’s  my quest, to do my best in some way, every day. When deciding whether or not to re-launch my podcast and create this series of correlating blogs, my objective was — and is — to bring the best, most honest and relevant home remodeling information to my audience. Researching all of these products was a labor of love, and I hope you’ve discovered at least one great home product that will enhance your life for years. Thank you for your support and encouragement. Thank you for listening to my podcasts and reading my blogs, for recommending both to everyone you know. Next week, our journey of discovery will continue. For now, enjoy your week!

THE “TODAY’S HOME” PODCAST: GREAT HOME PRODUCTS

 

 

Remember, I’m available to:

  • Help you find the best products for your home building or remodeling projects.
  • Work with you to achieve the living environment that fits your lifestyle and your budget.
  • Prepare detailed plans that are the building and remodeling GPS from the beginning to the end of your project.

Contact me today!

Remodeling Questions and Answers

Remodeling Questions and AnswersKitchen After Remodeling

Two important remodeling questions happen  during first meetings with homeowners. They’re great questions! Sometimes I have to do research to answer a remodeling question specifically, but I love to do research because it provides information and builds confidence. For the two important remodeling questions,  I have answers that I’ve already researched and proved to be accurate.

REMODELING QUESTION #1:

“How long will it take to complete our project?”

There are two parts to the answer. The answer to the first part of the “how long will it take?” remodeling question focuses on how long it will take to complete the design phase of a project. There is no pat answer for this question, because it depends totally on the following four reasons:

Reason #1: How long it takes for homeowners to make decisions.

I’ve had clients who made decisions at lightning speed, and other clients who needed to think about every aspect of a decision. It’s totally personal. If you’re the type of person who needs all available information before you make a decision, then the design process will take longer, which will ultimately affect the start and finish dates for construction.

Reason #2: Meeting schedules.

In the perfect world, homeowners and their design professional should have regular meetings to stay on track. I like to meet with my clients weekly, but sometimes it’s not possible. I remember one couple who had very busy career schedules that involved a lot of travel. We were lucky to have one meeting a month! Unfortunately, a good percentage of the time was spent recapping what we’d discussed at the last meeting before we could proceed talking about other aspects of their project.

Reason #3: Building the “team.”

I like to get a contractor involved in the process as early as possible, so he or she can offer valuable information about the project. Scheduling meetings with contractors can consume a significant amount of time, but it’s necessary to help homeowners select who they’re going to hire.

Reason #4: Financing.

If you need or want to finance your project, start talking with financial institutions as soon as possible. Getting approved for a home equity loan can take a month or more, as current clients are discovering.

Specific Answers to Remodeling Question #1:

How long construction will take depends upon the size of your project. Allow at least:

  • 6 weeks for a guest bathroom or a powder room.
  • 8 weeks (minimum) for a master bathroom.
  • 8 – 10 weeks for a kitchen without an addition.
  • 12- 16 weeks for a kitchen with an addition.
  • 6 – 10 months for a major whole-house remodel with an addition.

Variables That Affect How Long Construction Will Take

Weather conditions

Unseasonable storms can play havoc with a project schedule. Weather in other parts of the country (or world) can affect transport of a particular product.

Product availability

Order all products well in advance of the construction start date and store them at the jobsite or get a definite delivery date for appliances, cabinets, and large plumbing fixtures. This is advice that many homeowners take lightly. Several times in my career, clients delayed their project because they neglected to select and order products. For some reason,  light fixtures cause a lot of anxiety.

When a supplier tells you that a product is “in stock,” it’s important to find out where it’s stocked and how long it will take to get the product to your home.

Unforeseen emergencies

All of the contractor’s employees and subcontractors got the flu. This delayed clients’ project for almost two months. The HVAC contractor caused delay of new home construction when his employee forgot to renew his boiler license.

Unforeseen framing problems

During demolition, discovering things like dry rot, termites, and poor framing can seriously affect the schedule, depending on the severity of the problem.

“While you’re here . . .”

When homeowners change their minds or add to the project scope, it can seriously affect the finish date. Contractors can also delay the project when they make recommendations that they know will increase the homeowners’ investment. Several years ago, my client’s contractor said to him,  “We can easily add a rooftop deck so you can enjoy the sunsets.” Fortunately, I learned about the conversation and asked the contractor to provide a written change order for the additional materials and labor plus an estimate of how much time it would add to the project completion. After seeing the change order, my client decided not to go ahead with the roof deck.

REMODELING QUESTION #2:
“How much will our project cost?”

The second important remodeling question that homeowners ask at the first meeting is, “How much will my project cost?” I recommend a shift in thinking from “cost” to “investment.” You are, after all, making an investment to  improve your home, and improve your lifestyle. That’s a worthwhile investment!

While I’m on the subject of changing your mindset, I’d like to recommend that you think of financial numbers you get from a contractor as an estimate, not a bid. There is a lot of competition among contractors who want you to hire them, but it should never become a bidding war.

Specific Answer to Remodeling Question #2 — A Great Tool

We’re fortunate to have a wonderful tool available to all of us, called the Cost vs. Value Report that’s been produced yearly since around 2001.  Why is it such a valuable tool? It provides:

  • A complete list of different home improvement projects, large and small.
  • Valuable investment and return-on-investment information for every region, and major cities within that region. You can see how your investment compares in your city to other cities in the region, and how your investment compares to national averages.
  • A description of the materials that are included and the square footage of the project. You can then derive a reasonable square footage investment for your project and do some basic math to help you define your budget.

When you click on the link to access the Cost vs. Value Report, after you select the city, the website will divert you to a page that requests demographic information. In all the years I’ve been using this report and referring it to hundreds of homeowners, no one has ever complained about ending up in  a “sales cycle” by sponsors of the report. If you do get unwanted sales contacts from any of the advertisers, please let me know and I’ll intercede on your behalf.

Remodeling Questions and Answers: A True Story

What follows is a true story about one project that was as good as it can get from beginning to end.

I met with homeowners in early April two years ago. They’d been thinking about and talking about remodeling their 1970s kitchen for several years and were prepared to get started immediately. After telling me how they wanted their new kitchen to function and look, they asked the two important remodeling questions that I’m accustomed to hearing.

When the wife asked remodeling question #1, “How long is it going to take to remodel our kitchen?” I had to preface my answer with a warning. Most contractors I knew were already scheduling projects to start in the fall and later, so they may not achieve their new kitchen until the following year. Their facial expressions clearly showed their disappointment, but the husband’s follow-up comment was optimistic, “I’m sure the right contractor is out there.” This motivated me to work hard and find the right contractor for them. Because their project also included updating the rest of  their home, I told them that their project would probably take three to four months instead of the normal eight to ten weeks. We agreed that it would be great to find an available contractor who was also a good project manager.

Then the husband asked remodeling question #2, “How much will we pay for all of this?,”  I shared what I knew from the “Cost vs. Value” report, that their kitchen remodeling project would be around $70,000, but the investment in the additional updating would bring the total to $130,000 or more. They were surprised that the number was so high, but took this information graciously. Honestly, at the end of the meeting, I wasn’t sure whether they would proceed with their project or not, but I really wanted to help them.

For the next several days, I contacted every contractor who had worked with me on projects in the past ten years, except the ones who I vowed to never work with again. You may know the type; they don’t:

  • Provide accurate investment estimates.
  • Know how to schedule a project and keep it on track.
  • Have good communication skills.
  • Have employees or subs that work on all their projects.
  • Follow the details in design plans.
  • Respect homeowners’ property.

Yes, it’s true that I’ve worked with the best and the worst. The best will take the most challenging project and turn it into a dream-come-true. The worst will take any project they touch into a nightmare.

Found: A Great Contractor!

One of the contractors I contacted, Larry Mock, the principal of Cascade Custom Remodeling, had a large project fall through at the last minute because his clients got transferred to Southern California. He was available! Not only that, but I rediscovered what a professional he is. I was so excited, I called the homeowners. The wife answered and immediately said, “I was just about to call you and schedule our next appointment so you can take measurements of our home!” Talk about pieces of a puzzle falling together!

Larry met with the homeowners three weeks later, after I finished the preliminary plan, elevations, and perspectives. He prepared a detailed eight-page breakdown of their investment, and gave them a preliminary schedule.

The Project: On Time, Within A Reasonable Budget

In the three weeks that followed, I worked with the homeowners to select all of the products for their home. It was a real joy working with them! They were always upbeat and optimistic about everything! And they made quick decisions! At the same time, I finalized the design plans that included several virtual-reality perspectives. Here’s one of the perspectives I prepared:

Virtual-Reality Perspective

Larry finalized his estimate. Construction proceeded smoothly. Larry stayed on top of the schedule and communicated with everyone daily. It looked as if the project would be completed on schedule, in late September, until one of the fabricator’s employees dropped the table top. This meant that  the fabricator had to re-make the table top using a new slab. The fabricator squeezed new the table into their schedule and installed the replacement slab in less than a week.

The design phase for this remodeling project took only six weeks from the day I took measurements until I gave the final plans to the homeowners and Larry. Construction started on July 7 and final inspection happened on October 5, three months from beginning to completion. The homeowners’ total investment was $135,350.00.

Remember The Results

It’s gratifying when a project finishes on time within a reasonable budget, and gives homeowners the results they want. I’m happiest when I provide honest, reliable information that helps homeowners make informed decisions. This was one of the projects that I’ll always remember as an achievable goal when all of the stars align. It started with two important remodeling questions about “When?” and “How much?”

–oOo–

See the before and after photos of this project in my Portfolio.

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“Today’s Home” Podcast: Remodeling Questions and Answers

Also remember that I’m available to help you with your project, from beginning to end! Contact me today to talk about your remodeling (or building) project.

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!

HOME, SMART HOME

Smart Home Technology and the Today's Home Mascot

HOME, SMART HOME

Today, I’m writing about smart home technology   where it came from and where it is, according to experts who know.

SMART HOME TECHNOLOGY — HISTORY

Remember when home technology was in its infancy? If you’re my age, you were probably in your infancy. Or maybe you weren’t born yet.

In 1950, inventor Emil Mathias built his “Push Button Manor” in Jackson, Michigan.  It had many of the smart home features we have today, although they were primitive in operation. Mr. Mathias could control his windows and window coverings, and door locks. He and his family felt safe and secure with their burglar alarm. They could control music in their home and turn on specific lights. Their home even had a dinner bell control!

“Push Button Manor” was built 12 years before the Jetsons aired on TV. Rosie, the robot,  did everything with an arrogant attitude for George and Jane, their two children Judy and Elroy, and the family dog, Astro. Today’s voice-controlled smart homes just listen, unless we ask them specific questions. This makes me wonder how we’d feel if “Alexa” or  “Siri” developed an attitude like Rosie had.

“House of the Future” in Disneyland

Between 1957 and 1967, Disneyland featured a smart home called “The House of the Future,” designed by architect Marvin Goody for Monsanto. The floor, ceiling and walls were made entirely of plastic. The famous conversation from the 1967 movie “The Graduate” might have been inspired by “The House of the Future:”

Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word. Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics. There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it.

The “House of the Future” kitchen had a state-of-the-art microwave oven. Refrigerated shelves dropped down from the ceiling.  An ultrasonic-wave dishwasher saved water. It worked because the dishes and drinking vessels were plastic. The plastic ceiling panels could be set to various levels for task or mood lighting. A climate control panel heated or cooled the house. It could provide what we know now as aromatherapy, making the house smell like the seashore or a garden of roses. The built-in TV and HiFi hid from view when not in use, and a push-button speaker phones provided hands-free calls.

A SMART HOME WILL HELP YOU NOW

In the 1950s and ’60s, most homeowners didn’t know or care about home technology, but we’ve become so accustomed to a high-tech world,  we forget that our present was defined and designed over 62 years ago! The “smart home” in Disneyland was perfect for that time and location. It was the only one of its kind. Technology has been and is improving and is becoming affordable so your home can now have features that can be easily controlled by your cell phone, pad, computer, or a simple voice command. Are you:

  • Expecting a delivery at your home but no one is there to receive it?
  • Unsure whether you turned on the security system or closed the garage door before you left?
  • Coming back from vacation and want to reset your HVAC system the day before?
  • Confused about what to fix for dinner with food you have in your refrigerator and pantry?

Additionally, do you want to:

  • Turn on music and lights when you’re on your way home from work?
  • See what’s going on in your home while you’re away, or just have fun with your pets?
  • Be alerted if an appliance fails or your home develops a plumbing leak?

SMART HOME FEATURES

These are all possible with technology that’s readily available. Here’s a description of what smart home features can do to make your life easier and more enjoyable:

  • ACCESS

You can control and monitor access to your home with smart door locks, cameras and intercom systems. A camera picture or email shows up on your cell phone to let you know when your children arrive home from school, or when someone rings your doorbell. You don’t have to answer the door in person.

  • AUDIO and VIDEO

You can distribute music and movies throughout your home and hide all of the equipment in a closet. Family and friends can enjoy different types of AV media in different areas of your home at the same time. You have simple control of complex systems, and save money by reducing the number of cable or satellite boxes at every TV. A movie or TV show can be paused in one room while it continues to play in another room. Digital media stores and catalogs your collection; you can sort or filter thousands of titles with instant access.

  • CLIMATE

Building departments have required automatic setback thermostats for many years. They work with a clock, but you have to tell it what time you want the HVAC system to turn on and off. You may have to adjust the clock for daylight saving time. You don’t have to heat or cool every room in your home, because with occupancy sensors, the room can adjust the temperature for a specific activity or the exterior temperature, to reduce the solar gain or loss and save you money on energy bills.   Skylights can open or close and exhaust fans can turn automatically on based on the temperature and humidity. Window treatments can open and close spontaneously for light and privacy, as well as helping to control solar gain or loss.

  • ENERGY CONSERVATION

With an energy monitor, it’s possible to see how your home is performing, to help you save money while you help the environment. There is a range of smart home devices that will show you energy consumption. The most expensive, of course, will break down which appliances are energy hogs, what time of the day you use the most electricity, etc.. Did you ever watch the “Living With Ed” TV series? It was one of my favorite shows, because it was entertaining while I learned about smart home technology.  Ed Begley, Jr. inspired and motivated my husband and me to incorporate and plan for many of the smart home features he already had. He is one of many celebreties who live conservation every day.

  • LIGHTING

This is the major feature that can enhance every activity in your home at any hour of the day or night. Good lighting can help in five important ways:

  1. Create a safe pathway when you come home, walk from room to room, and navigate in each room.
  2. Adjust with activities. A kitchen must have good task light so you can see what you’re doing, and a family room must have sufficient light to play board games, but you don’t need as much light when you’re eating, entertaining, or watching TV.
  3. Reduce eye strain in your home office caused by too much contrast between your monitor and light fixtures in the room.
  4. Save you money when you use dimmable LEDs. Using dimmer switches instead of regular on-off switches reduces your energy consumption and saves the light bulbs that you’re dimming.
  5. Produce a festive atmosphere in your home for the holidays and other celebrations.

My husband and I attended a holiday housewarming party at clients’ newly-completed whole-house remodeling. “Steve” knows more about smart home technology than anyone I’ve met who isn’t in the business of helping others with their smart homes. The focal point of the living room was the smart LED Christmas tree that could be operated from a cell phone. It could change colors and change the speed of twinkling. It added a festive glow to the party!

There are many manufacturers of lighting control that integrate with smart home technology. I’m a long-time fan of Lutron controls, but they can be at or near the top of your investment. It depends on how sophisticated and integrated you want your lighting controls to be. Knowing the features you want (including integration with other smart home devices) will help you find exactly what’s right for your lifestyle and your home.

  • WATER CONSERVATION

Although water conversation is an important part of green technology, there are smart devices to help you water your garden. We just purchased a landscape irrigation tool that won’t turn on the sprinklers if it’s raining, or will give our precious plants an extra drink of water if we have a heat wave. This device can be operated by cell phone, computer, or voice command.  This is smart home technology at its best. It protects our investment in plants and saves time and energy. My husband loves not having to get up at dawn to turn the sprinklers on manually!

SMART HOME ADVICE

You can hire a company to help you turn your home sweet home into a home smart home, or you can transform your home yourself, if you understand how smart technology works and you’re handy with tools. You can make the task easier by breaking it down into smaller pieces. If you’re at the entry level of a smart home, here are expert recommendations:

  • Start with one or two gadgets and build from there as you become familiar with how the products work.
  • Get products with the widest compatibility.
  • Opt for user-friendly, wallet-friendly gadgets from tech companies like Amazon, Google, and Samsung.
  • Sell “mistakes” on Craig’s List or Ebay if something doesn’t fit in, to recoup some of your investment.

HOW SMART DEVICES WORK

While smart home devices can do a lot, they’re really not as smart as you are! A smart home isn’t just about fancy Wi-Fi devices that you control from your cell phone. Don’t get frustrated if things don’t work as smoothly as you want, or were led to believe. There isn’t a single app that controls everything, and the devices may not intertwine seamlessly. As your smart home gets smarter, you’ll find workarounds to get devices to talk to one another so you can have inter-device automations like “When I unlock the door, turn on the lights in the entry and make a path of light to the kitchen.”

All devices that control your smart home have something in common: a radio. Voice assistants are a great buy early in your smart home journey. They give you the flexibility you may desire. It’s reported that 20 million households in the U.S. have voice-control devices. Your voice command is transmitted to the manufacturer’s server. Without this process, voice assistants don’t understand a word you say. The servers and hubs are the brains of your smart home. That’s where the intelligence is, not in the gadgets and not in the apps or physical remote controllers you use. But there is one thing about voice assistants that nags at me, though – this is a personal opinion – that the devices have to be listening, always. Here’s a link to a news report that I saw on NBC news about the security of voice controls: https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/security/hey-alexa-how-secure-are-voice-activated-assistants-you-n824566. An online search for the subject of “security of voice-activated controls” got over 31,000,000 results.

IMPORTANCE OF THE “CLOUD”

What if you want all of your devices to connect to the internet, communicate, take your commands, and send you information? This isn’t science fiction, or rocket science. The “Internet of Things” (IoT) is a key component of home automation and smart homes, but each additional device in the chain of connection introduces points of failure and chances of lag. A local system will work more quickly than a system that uses the cloud, although not using the cloud may limit what devices you can use. It may prevent voice control which relies on cloud servers to work. Before you start acquiring devices, it’s a good idea to invest valuable time to do research.

SMART HOME IS STILL STUPID

A writer’s personal story about the battle with her smart home might scare you away from technology or verify that this can happen to anyone else but you. Written four years ago by Stacey Higginbotham, the article is still very entertaining and enlightening: “5 Reasons Why The Smart Home is Still Stupid” in the August 15, 2015 issue of Fortune Magazine.

RECAP

Smart homes that were created in the 1950s and ’60s were a dream for a small handful of forward thinkers. We’ve benefitted by the advancements of technology in the past 65-plus years. It’s difficult to think about the future of smart homes in the next 65 years, 2084, just as it was difficult for the Wright brothers to envision that we’d be exploring outer space when they flew their simple airplane in December of 1903. We’ve come a long way, but we have a long journey ahead of us. I hope that technology will be a tool we can use to save and protect our precious home, Earth.

Listen to the 6/25/19 Podcast: “Smart Home Technology”

I can (and will!) help you define your smart home needs and refer you to people who can help you achieve your goals! Contact me today for an initial phone call about your smart home needs.

Prepare For Home Remodeling

Embrace Change

How To Prepare For Home Remodeling

There are many things you can do to prepare for your home remodeling project. 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!

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 about remodeling” phase of your project:

  • 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: 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!

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 enjoy their building and remodeling 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!

What Are Your Remodeling Priorities?

Priorities

What Are Your Remodeling Priorities?

This blog is going to help you understand  your remodeling priorities — what they are, and how to achieve them. No matter what you’re doing every day, your priorities are present,  even if you’re not conscious about them. That’s how we make decisions!

In the last segment of “Today’s Home,” I talked about making lists to help you decide between staying and remodeling your existing home or moving to a new home. I offered a free copy of the Homeowner Surveys, which are focused on helping you select and prioritize your product choices to help you make informed decisions. You can still get a free copy of the 27-page Homeowner Surveys. You can request a copy of the Homeowner Surveys at any time!

I intended write about a different subject for this blog, but a call from a contractor kicked me in a different direction. I’m so grateful for his call! Here’s why he called:

A Change In Priorities For Homeowners?

The cabinet maker for my clients’ kitchen project is running behind schedule, and he probably won’t have the cabinets ready for installation until August instead of early July.  So my clients may get upset. They have the right to be upset, because they signed the contract and paid the deposit thinking that the cabinet maker was agreeing to the schedule. We won’t know what’s going to happen until after the contractor talks with the cabinet maker and sends a message to my clients and me. The contractor and I agreed that all homeowners have three major remodeling priorities. Here’s what they want:

  1. To remodel NOW (although they may have been thinking about their remodeling project for several years)
  2. Results similar to pictures they’ve seen online and exactly what’s shown in their design  plans
  3. Their investment to be as low as possible

Only ONE #1 Priority

These are all important priorities for homeowners. Life, and 35 years of experience in remodeling has taught me that we can have only ONE #1 priority at any time. Other priorities have to fall in line behind the #1 priority.  For this reason, I’m  an advocate for lists! If you make a list first, no matter how long it is, your next step is to assign priority numbers to that list to help you make informed decisions.

Priorities Can  Be Changed!

The contractor and I agreed that if our clients want to remodel their kitchen now, they’ll have to:

  • Pay more money to move to the top of the cabinet maker’s projects, or
  • Find a cabinet maker who’s immediately available

In today’s hot remodeling market, and considering my clients’ budget, neither of these options are possible.  This is why I’m going to talk about contractors and custom products not being available immediately in an upcoming segment of “Today’s Home.” Many homeowners are facing the reality of having to postpone their remodeling projects until sometime in the Spring of 2020 because the great contractors are booked that far in advance..

If my clients are willing to wait a month or two, they’ll get the same results they wanted for the same investment. It’s that simple. All they have to do is to adjust their priorities and move their project start date to later. We’re not talking about asking them to put off their kitchen remodeling project until next year.  If my clients’ kitchen project doesn’t start until August, their new kitchen will be finished by the holidays so they can entertain! Starting their project in August won’t impact their decision to cook meals on their barbecue, but it might impact other activities and events they’ve scheduled.

Communicate About Priorities; They’re Important!

We’ll discover and explore the reality, reasons and ramifications of the project delay in discussions and messages over the next several days. I don’t know their whole story, why they want and need to remodel their kitchen right now. I want to understand so I can help them get through a challenging time. It’s all about Communication: speaking honestly and listening compassionately. Communication is going to be another topic in an upcoming segment of “Today’s Home.”

Why are remodeling priorities so important? They will:

  • Help you set and maintain a realistic budget, a realistic time frame, and realistic expectations
  • Open up conversation with family members who have different priorities
  • Benefit your communication with design professionals and contractors

What’s Your #1 Remodeling Priority?

If you’re planning to remodel your home, think about your priorities. What’s more important:

  • Starting and completing your project on your schedule?
  • Getting the results you want? -or-
  • Staying within your maximum budget?

The bottom line is: You have choices, always! But every choice, every decision has priorities attached. What’s your #1 remodeling priority?

If you’re overwhelmed by your choices, I can help you! Contact me through my website.  I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Houzz. Follow me, and subscribe to my emails about Today’s Home!

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