How Can You Avoid Construction Horror Stories?

How Can You Avoid Construction Horror Stories? 1

How Can You Avoid Construction Horror Stories?

How can you avoid construction horror stories? You can do it! These are not the typical ghost stories you hear around a campfire. But you may have heard your family and acquaintances talk about construction horror stories at social gatherings.  Exceeing the budget. Not meeting the deadline. Contractors not showing up, or doing lousy work. D-I-Y disasters. In 35 years, I’ve heard and read about, and experienced similar horror stories. What makes me sad is that most of the problems encountered could have been avoided.

Avoidable Horror Story: Wallpaper That Ended Up On the Floor, Not The Wall

I worked for a custom cabinet and remodeling company after finishing design school. It was fall and business had slowed down from the peak summertime projects. A couple in Half Moon Bay, California had been saving for years and hired my employer to remodel their master bathroom. I helped them make all the product decisions which included heavily-textured vinyl wallcovering. The husband worked swing shift at the San Francisco Airport, and normally got home between 1:00 and 2:00 a.m. Knowing that the project was winding down, he went into the bathroom to see what had been done when he got home from work. Later, I found out that he sat on the toilet for over four hours, watching the wallpaper slide down the walls like a slithering snake. When he called me at 6:00 a.m., it was easy to tell that he had a hard time controlling his anger.  What had happened?

I learned later that my boss had sent two of the cabinet manufacturing employees to install the wallcovering. They assumed that it was prepasted, and soaked it in water then applied it to the walls. The only thing that made the wallpaper stick to the wall was the heavy texture that acted like tiny suction cups! My boss had to replace the wallcovering, and hire a professional wallpaper hanger to redo the job that his employees had botched.  The homeowners were satisfied with the results, but not without frustration and hassles. They had done absolutely nothing wrong, assuming that my employer would take care of them in every way.

How to avoid this nightmare: Unfortunately, there’s no way for homeowners to know who a contractor is hiring, unless they ask for a list of everyone who’s going to be working in their home. The important lesson is — whether it’s a contractor or a homeowner — don’t let the lure of saving money cloud an important decision that has a high probability of negative results.

A Ghoulish Tale About Lack of Communication

With my first client after establishing D. P. Design, I learned the importance of communication among the remodeling team members. The homeowners had a general contractor who they wanted to hire. They demanded to hire an independent electrician for their project instead of letting the general use one of his subs.  I didn’t realize until later what a problem it would create. The G.C. and the electrician refused to communicate. Everything seemed to be progressing smoothly, until a heavy storm system rolled through our area. The day before, the electrician was penetrating the roof and running wires into the kitchen and didn’t tell anyone about the holes he’d created. The contractor called me to report that the new custom cabinets were all wet. He demanded that I call the electrician and the homeowners to report what had happened, to let them know that he wasn’t going to clean up the mess.

The homeowners were caught in the middle of a dog fight.  They demanded that the electrician pay the G.C. for cleaning up the jobsite and repairing the roof. Fortunately, the cabinets weren’t damaged.

How to avoid horror stories like this: Ask questions — lots of them! Discover if the contractor you’re hiring has employees and regular subcontractors. More important, talk with the contractor about tradespeople or suppliers you know. Be especially careful about hiring friends or family members to work on your project. These relationships have a high failure rate.

The Root of Most Construction Horror Stories: D-I-Y

In the past 35-plus years, I’ve heard and read about D-I-Y horror stories, and I’ve lived them firsthand. Often, the decision to tackle a project is driven by the need or desire to save money. But homeowners can also be lulled into a false sense of  “I/we can do this!” — especially after watching how easy a project seems to be on TV or videos on the internet.  My husband and I have had our share of construction horror stories. Most of these nightmares happened because we thought we could save money. We didn’t!

I’ve written about D-I-Y remodeling disasters before! Read this blog for more information! I’ve also written about the problems created by remodeling reality shows setting homeowners up for serious problems.

Floors are a BIG Challenge For D-I-Yers!

We had major problems refinishing the wood floors in our first home.  Looking back on it, we can laugh. But at the time, it was not funny. The first disaster was when we were refinishing the floors in a den adjacent to the entry hall that we intended to convert to a dining room. The oak strip floor had been covered with carpeting and needed to be freshened up. My husband did the sanding around the perimeter of the room. I decided to sand the middle of the room with the drum sander we’d rented, while he was at work.  Everything was going fine until I had to change the sandpaper and didn’t pay attention to how the metal plate held the sandpaper in place. When I turned on the machine again and started moving the sander across the floor, I noticed big chunks of the floor were being spewed out. The screws that held the plate in place were digging and carving the floor with every pass! There was nothing to do but pay a flooring company to extend the parquet from the entry hall into the dining room.  It turned out beautiful, but it was an expensive learning lesson.

Did we learn a lesson? Yes, and no. We didn’t make the same mistake when we refinished the floors in my home office, but that project turned into a horror story, too. After we sanded the floor, we decided to work together to apply the urethane. I was on my hands and knees with a wide brush intended for refinishing floors. My husband stood over my shoulder and carefully poured puddles of urethane that I then spread uniformly. So what was the problem? I noticed that no matter how hard I tried, there were millions of “fuzzies” in the finish. My husband was wearing wooly socks! We had to re-sand the floor and vacuum it thoroughly before applying the urethane. This time, my husband was barefoot! We got the results we wanted, but it cost more for extra days for the drum sander rental, plus more urethane. And it nearly tripled the amount of time we’d allotted to do this project.

A friend of ours had a floor refinishing disaster when he was doing repair and maintenance for his landlord in exchange for a lower rent. He lived in a beautiful Victorian three-story home that had been converted into apartments. Victorian homes are known for rich and ornate woodworking that includes heavily-carved wainscoting and moldings. Everything seemed to be going fine — didn’t we just read this? — until the drum sander stopped working. Dead. Then Ed remembered the age of the building and realized that he’d probably blown a fuse. So he went down to the electrical panel in the basement and verified that he had blown a fuse. Fortunately, there were spare fuses available, so he replaced the bad fuse with a good one. Immediately after the last turn of the fuse, he heard the drum sander come to life over his head. Although he immediately ran up the stairs, he was too late to stop the mess that the sander had created. It had bounced off the walls, tearing up all the beautiful woodwork, and dug a trench in the floor.

“Let’s Take Out This Wall” D-I-Y Near-Disaster

Homeowners called me to help them solve a problem they’d created. Empty-nesters with a five-bedroom home, they decided to convert a bedroom that was adjacent to their master bedroom into a sitting room. They bought or borrowed a sledge hammer, and on a Saturday morning, the husband started swinging the massive tool of destruction at the wall between the two rooms. After removing several studs, he heard the ceiling and roof creaking and groaning, and he could see the ceiling sagging. He realized that he was taking out a bearing wall! He immediately grabbed a hammer and nails and reinstalled the studs to stabilize the structure. When I met with the couple, we talked about what needed to be done: hire a structural engineer and a contractor so they could have the master suite they desired. It was relatively easy, and the end results were wonderful. They didn’t know what they didn’t know, and they hadn’t thought about everything before they started removing the bearing wall. They ended up replacing the carpeting in both rooms, because they didn’t realize that there would be a gap where the wall had been.

Hints, How-To, and Tips for D-I-Yers

How To Avoid D-I-Y Disasters: Yes, it’s difficult. But not impossible! Before tackling  any D-I-Y project, we need to research the logical steps involved and the tools required. We also need to read about other people’s experience with a similar project. The biggest challenge to overcome is our mindset.  What’s really driving the need to do the work instead of hiring a professional? There are many reasons why homeowners get trapped by D-I-Y projects, but the most obvious one is money, or the lack of funds to hire a professional. Before doing the work, think about how much you have for the project, and how much you think you’re going to save. Statistics verify that most D-I-Y projects end up being a higher investment than the budget allotted. Often, the actual investment exceeds what homeowners would pay a professional to do the work. Additionally, it usually takes three to four times as long for homeowners to achieve the results they think they want.

One of my first instructors in design school frequently said, “There are only two ways to pay for anything. You can take it out of your bank account, or take it out of your hide.”  Not all D-I-Y projects are disasters. The successful projects are most often done by people who know their strengths and weaknesses. My husband is an excellent tile setter. Slow, yes. But he takes his time to do it right, and gets  consistently straight grout joints. And he’s a master with a spray gun, whether it’s applying paint to a room or lacquer to cabinets. But I don’t let him lay his hands on rollers and brushes!  He’s also very knowledgeable about anything electrical or electronic. Because of his talents, we’ve saved a bundle of money over the years.

I’m going to be brutally honest. As a D-I-Yer, you’re not likely to achieve the same results that a professional would, in the amount of time it would take a professional to do the job. What is your time worth? Are you willing to live with a daily reminder of a botched job? My husband says this often, mostly in reply to a “honey do” request: “If you want a professional job, hire a professional.” Here’s one of my favorite quotes that applies to virtually all construction horror stories:

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

In Conclusion

What I shared with you is a very small sampling of construction nightmares that I’ve heard and read about. To satisfy  curiosity before writing this blog, I did an internet search for “construction horror stories” which yielded millions of results. But reviewing the past 35 years in this business, the number of successes that my colleagues and I have achieved exceeds horror stories by a ten-to-one ratio.  To be perfectly honest, I believe that there are very few absolute successes and absolute failures.  The desire, the hope for success is what keeps us all moving forward.

Listen To The Podcast: Construction Horror Stories

I can and will help you with your home building or remodeling project! I truly care about helping you stay within a reasonable budget, and achieve the best results possible. Contact me today! Let’s talk about your goals.

Recent Topics: An Astounding Mashup!

Recent Topics: An Astounding Mashup! 2

Recent Topics: An Astounding Mashup For Homeowners!

Recent Topic #1: Appliances

Recent Topics: Whirlpool Appliance, New ColorRecent topics are being revisited in this blog, starting with appliances. I was excited to visit the largest appliance store in Oregon, Standard TV & Appliance, to see the new Whirlpool “Sunset Bronze” appliances. They are elegant! The brushed finish is a warm gray, like nickel. I love the handles, which are a cool stainless steel color, blending the two metals perfectly! For my listeners in the greater Portland area, the Beaverton showroom at  3600 S.W. Hall Boulevard, is selling the floor models of the “Sunset Bronze” appliances at a fantastic price! The suite includes a french-door refrigerator, dual-fuel range and a microwave-hood. It’s difficult to hold my frustration at bay, though.   I really wish manufacturers would listen to professional kitchen designers and discontinue making microwave-hood combinations. They’re not safe, and they don’t provide good suction! Safety has to be the #1 priority in all home remodeling!

While I was there, my new dedicated salesperson, Christi, showed me the Dacor “Modernist” display with clean no-nonsense lines. Oh, it’s gorgeous! Their full line of products is available in black stainless steel or stainless steel. One of the many things I love about the new Dacor products is their Wifi integration. Christi showed me how the hood automatically turns on when she turned on the range. This is a wonderful safety feature!

Exhaust Hoods: Safety Features and Code Requirements

Here are safety tips I share with everyone:

  • Remember to turn on your exhaust before you turn on your cooktop.
  • Your hood should be 6” wider than your cooking surface. This gives you more area to collect steam and grease while you’re cooking, and it protects wall cabinets on both sides of the hood.
  • There should be 30” clear vertical space from the top of your cooking surface to the bottom of the hood.
  • You’ll need make-up air if:
    • You’re interested in a new high-BTU gas cooktop or rangetop
    • If your hood is rated at 400 cfm or more.

Your exhaust hood should be powerful enough to clear the air. But in today’s tight homes, you’ll have to add another source to maintain equal pressure balance inside your home. Your investment in make-up air will add $1,000 or more to your project. Make-up air is a code requirement in most states, and there’s no way to avoid it.

Recent Topics #2.1: Behr Paint Colors

Recent Topics: Behr Color Palettes 2020

Two weeks ago, I talked about color and paint. August is when major paint manufacturers start introducing their new colors for the coming year. Behr and Sherwin-Williams have announced their new color trends for 2020, and Miller Paint has introduced new colors, although they avoid the word “trend.”

The paint giant recently released a trend-driven collection of 15 shades they’re predicting will take over interiors in 2020. The collection is named Restore, Worldhood, and Atmospheric. The colors include a range of balanced neutrals and earthy greens to “lavish oranges.” In a recent press release, Behr said, “The new palette sources inspiration from the desire to engage with the world around us and restore balance in our everyday lives.”

Back to Nature delivers the most literal interpretation of the landscape around us. It includes soothing shades of green and blue, to “provide restorative qualities to encourage balance,” says Behr. Because of their calming, de-stressing effects, the shades within the Restore palette are great choices in a bedroom or home office.

If you’re looking for something a bit bolder, Behr’s Worldhood palette is your best bet that includes warm red, yellow, and burnt orange. The palette is reminiscent of electric sunsets and “natural rugged landscapes.” Try it in a room that sees a lot of guests, as the overall warmth of the shades translates to an inviting environment for hosting.

Behr’s Atmospheric palette delivers “new neutrals” in a collection that’s anything but boring. This palette is perfect for every room in your home, and you can choose colors from the other two palettes for accents.

Here’s a link to Behr’s new 2020 color palette: https://freshome.com/behr-2020-color-trends-palettes

Homes are a living example of the family that occupies them. Each family member -– each room — has its own personality, but every one complements the others, to create a unique, unified environment.

Recent Topics #2.2: Sherwin-Williams Paint Colors

Recent Topics: Sherwin-Williams Paint Colors 2020

On August 13, Sherwin-Williams announced its color palettes for 2020. There are five distinct categories for the new colors: Alive, Haven, Heart, Mantra, and Play. Here’s what Sherwin- Williams says: “The new 2020 Colormix Forecast palettes work to create restorative spaces for relaxing, recharging and inviting creativity. This forecast resonates with designers for its warm and nature-inspired palettes. In nature, it’s always right. The new palettes also bring a sense of joy. Whether your happiness comes from people, nature or spirituality, each palette evokes happiness. It’s about the balance of color and the striking shades of blue and the soft pastels throughout the color story.”

“With so much going on in the world, it’s important that we give ourselves space to escape and recharge. Using colors derived from nature provides us the connectedness and restorative powers that we need to tackle our day-to-day lives. This year’s color trend palettes foster focus and balance for mind, body and spirit — something most of the experts agree is needed in the world right now. 2020 is going to be a big year for everyone. We are starting a new decade, and it’s an election year. All of this change affects us, making us crave balance in our lives, so it makes sense that these palettes offer visual balance for our surroundings.”

It’s interesting that Sherwin-Williams created special mandalas for each color group, and defined each with positive influences:

Alive: Optimism, Authenticity, Glocalization*, New Local

Haven: Simplicity, Wabi-Sabi, Conservation, Material Health

Heart: Bauhaus, Bohemian, Fusion, Humanity

Mantra: Minimalism, Serenity, Scandinese*, Sanctuary

Play: Escapism, Humor, Joy, Energy

I love to learn new words! *Glocalization is the practice of conducting business according to both local and global considerations. *Scandinese (or Japandi) is the fusion between Scandinavian and Japanese design that are based on simplicity with a strong reference to nature, first introduced in 2017.

Here is the link where you can see Sherwin-Williams’ new 2020 color forecast: https://www.swcolorforecast.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/SW-Colormix.2020.pdf

Behr and Sherwin-Williams are large companies with big advertising budgets. By contrast, there’s a paint company based in the Northwest that’s my favorite: Miller Paint. The company was formed in 1890 by Ernest Miller, Sr., who purchased a stone mill and began manufacturing his own paint. I just learned that Miller Paint is employee owned. That’s a keystone to their success, and an important element of the company culture that’s both empowering and exciting. Love their logo: “Made here, for here.”

It was interesting to discover that Miller is the only paint company that talks about environmental commitment. They say, “Miller Paint was first in the market to convert our main line of interior products, ‘Acro,’ to a zero VOC product line in 1996. it has received rave reviews for its performance qualities. . . and demonstrate the company’s commitment to being an environmentally responsible manufacturer in the marketplace.” Most recently, Miller Paint started the move to FSC certified recycled content paper for their product literature. In their corporate offices and stores, Miller Paint recycles bottles, paper, cardboard and cans.

Miller Paint currently participates in two utility-based environmental programs: The Green Power program through PGE, which helps to fund renewable energy, and NW Natural’s Smart Energy program – a carbon-offset program that supports projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Miller Paint works directly with Metro, the directly elected regional government that serves more than 1.5 million residents in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties, as well as the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area, to recycle unused or unwanted latex paint. Metro Paint is sold by Miller Paint. There is a great internal program for recycling and re-purposing latex paints into workable products. WOW!!!

Miller does have a palette of 15 new colors, the “Color Now” collection. They also feature a “color of the month” that’s in their ColorEvolution collection. Other paint companies use flowery marketing words and flashy advertising to sell their paint. But for a local gal whose family always used Miller Paint, this is what I recommend if you are thinking about updating your home’s colors. Here’s a link where you can get more information about Miller Paint colors: https://www.millerpaint.com/color-choice.html

New Topics #1: Homeowner Problems (and how to avoid them!)

Hiring A Contractor Without Checking License and References

I’m so grateful to homeowners for providing me with current topics to talk about! Last week, I had a meeting with a homeowner who told me that her husband hired a contractor to build a deck for them and didn’t bother to check the contractor’s license status or check references. You’re way ahead of me! Yes, the project went sideways, and the homeowners don’t have any way to get the deck fixed other than hire another contractor. She didn’t tell me how much money they paid for a lousy deck, but I’m guessing it was thousands of dollars. The bottom line? Always verify a contractor’s license, bonding, and insurance status. Ask for and check references!

Verbal Change Orders

Recent Topics: Change OrderI received an email from a client, telling me that the contractor verbally told her about change orders that amount to over $1,000. Change orders do happen, unfortunately. There’s at least one mystery story behind the walls in every home. Change orders (even small ones!) need to be detailed in writing before the work is done! Change orders should include:

  • Written description of the work to be done
  • Breakdown for materials with a subtotal
  • Breakdown for labor, including the number of hours
  • The markup or margin
  • Total for the change order

There should be a place for you to sign and date the change order. You should get a copy for your records and the contractor should keep a copy.

These incidents were a motivator for me to add more questions to the “Questions For and About Contractors and Designers” that’s available as a free download. Recently, clients confirmed that having and using the questions was a big help. Experience has proven time and again that honest communication and having up-front information will ultimately make your project go smoother, with fewer hassles and cost overruns.

Do you provide detailed written change orders for extra work before it’s done? (For contractors and designers)

Were detailed, written change orders given to you in writing before the work was done? (About contractors and designers)

New Topics #2: Why Hire A Kitchen Designer?

Last week, I received a link to a wonderful article in Better Homes & Gardens, “Why Hire A Kitchen Designer.” The article doesn’t specify, but the same information is true for bathroom design. If you’re thinking about remodeling your home and you’re on the fence about hiring a professional designer, this article will change your mind! I’ve been saying these same things, and more, for years. So good to read it from a reliable, trusted source!

After reading the article, I signed up to receive more information from BH&G, and learned that they have 11 sweepstakes for you to enter. The prizes are significant! For all of the sweepstakes, there are no purchases necessary, but you may get emails from the companies offering the prizes. That’s the way marketing works in today’s world!

In Conclusion:

Doing this “recent topics mashup” was fun! I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and hope that it will help you.  Did you catch the difference in emphasis between Miller Paint and the other two companies?  Behr and Sherwin-Williams use sales-oriented words and phrases in advertising to evoke an emotional response to nature, relaxation and balance. But Miller actively practices all of these concepts with their commitment to make our world a better place, starting with employee owners who really care.

Podcast: Recent Topics — An Astounding Mashup For Homeowners!

Listen now!

 

The topics in this blog are all an important to what I do, to help you achieve a successful building or remodeling project. I’m here to help! Call me today to talk about your goals: 503-632-8801.

Ten Awesome Remodeling Products For 2019

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Ten Awesome Remodeling Products for 2019

Ten awesome remodeling products are featured in this blog. Pro Remodeler recently listed 100 products, but most of them are for people in the construction industry, or products I’ve written about before. Honestly, the selections were disappointing. Maybe it’s the season, maybe it’s a sign of the times. I selected these to help you plan for an upcoming (or future) home improvement project.  There’s everything from appliances to plumbing, exterior products, and flooring.  Every one of these wonderful products will enhance your home and your lifestyle!

Unique Remodeling Product #1: New Color Introduced By Whirlpool Appliances

Whirlpool is touted as the No.1-rated appliance brand and used in three out of four homes, according to independent studies. Whirlpool brands, including Amana, Maytag, KitchenAid, and JennAir, provide a full range of major kitchen appliances. There’s versatility that gives you choice from multiple styles and colors across multiple price points. Many of the products are designed and manufactured to be compatible with other smart home features.

Whirlpool Kitchen Appliances in Sunset BronzeA full suite of Whirlpool kitchen appliances is available in the new Sunset Bronze,  a fingerprint-resistant brushed satin finish with subtle warm undertones that reflect natural light, delivering a soft glow. I hope that this color becomes popular with other manufacturers, just as black stainless steel has. I’m going to visit the local appliance showroom to see how the new Sunset Bronze looks with different woods and colors, and will report my findings to you. Whirlpool has  a wide selection of appliances in  Black Stainless and Stainless Steel, too.

Whirlpool gets an A+ for this new finish, but they get an F for showing a microwave over the cooktop or range. I’ve written about this before; it’s definitely a negative safety and function issue! https://www.whirlpool.com/kitchen.html

 Bosch Oven With Side-opening Door#2: Unusual Side-Opening Oven Improves Accessibility

A complete suite of kitchen appliances from Bosch delivers thoughtful details, such as the Benchmark series’ side-opening oven doors and flush installation. This is perfect for access by people with limited mobility. Various finishes are available for wall ovens, cooktops, refrigerators, and dishwashers, including the popular Black Stainless Steel. Manufacturers have listened to consumers about wanting finishes that guard against scratches and fingerprints. Bosch also offers small-scale appliances for apartments, ADUs, and other tight spaces. https://www.bosch-home.com/us/

Azek Deck Waterproofing ProductsAmazing Product #3: Capture And Use The Space Under A Deck!

Azek’s under-deck water management system definitely qualifies for a marvelously unique product! It’s available in white to help brighten under-deck areas. Ideal for second-story decks, the system channels water under the deck boards to a gutter and downspout. It’s a great idea! The “DrySpace” system can be used with Azek and TimberTech decking. Using it with natural wood decking or other brands of manufactured decking may negate any warranties. It’s best to check with the manufacturer before committing to use this product. Kits are available for 12-inch on-center spans in 12-foot lengths and for 16-inch on-center spans in 12- and 16-foot lengths. https://www.azek.com/

Cabinet-Tronix Exterior TV Lift

Stunning Product #4: Fantastic Exterior TV Lift System

With so many outdoor living spaces being created, it makes sense to have a TV as part of the ambiance.  A patio cover to protect the TV may not be possible, so what do homeowners do? Here’s a wonderfully unique system: a TV lift cabinet that’s meant for ourdoor use! Cabinet Tronix has introduced 10 handmade outdoor TV lift cabinet designs. There are multiple weatherproof material options for both the cabinet top and bottom, to seamlessly incorp­orate into a homeowner’s outdoor space. Materials include porcelain tile that mimics the look of wood, and Honey Natural Stacked Stone. Each cabinet is fitted with a TV lift system and backed by a 10-year warranty. The company also makes lift systems for interior use.  https://www.cabinet-tronix.com/

Strong-Tie Outdoor Accents

Extraordinary Product #5: Enhance A Pergola With Wonderful Accents

A pergola or pavilion can create an outdoor room while it enhances your garden. But the structural connectors have to look good as well as provide the long-lasting strength you need for safety. Simpson Strong-Tie, a longtime leader in structural connectors for contractors and engineers, has developed the “Outdoor Accents” system to provide both beauty and strength for outdoor projects using nominal and rough lumber sizes. The line features an innovative screw and washer combination that has the look of a traditional bolt but doesn’t require pre-drilling to ease installatio. The connectors also meet building codes for high-wind and seismic conditions. Available in a black powder-coated finish. https://www.strongtie.com/products/go/connectors/outdooraccents

Delta Magnificent Product #6: “Tesla” Plumbing

Delta’s “Tesla” Collection is a full line of bath (and kitchen) faucets that draws inspiration from organic forms found in nature. These marvelously unique products have a soft yet modern look that fits users’ hands for maximum control. They incorporate innovations that result in easier installation and better performance. Diamond Seal Technology reduces leak points and lasts twice as long as the industry standard for leak-free operation for the life of the faucet. The “Tesla” collection is available in chrome, polished nickel and stainless steel. https://www.deltafaucet.com/search-results?searchTerm=tesla&searchType=Delta_Products#resultPage=1&offset=0

Kohler Continuous-Clean ToiletsWonderful Product #7: Continuous-Cleaning Toilet Minimizes Your Effort

A housecleaning chore that everyone dislikes is scrubbing the toilet. Kohler has released its ContinuousClean technology, a system housed directly in the toilet tank. It automatically dispenses a consistent amount of toilet bowl cleaner with each flush. A three-step process keeps it simple: (1) Insert two puck-style toilet bowl cleaning tablets; (2) set the dial to the desired dispensing level; and (3) monitor the blue LED indicator light on the back of the tank to ensure the system is working. The light will turn red when it’s time for new tablets. The system houses the tablets in a reservoir separate from other toilet components to ensure that toilet performance is not affected. It operates on two AAA batteries, so no access to outlets is necessary. https://www.us.kohler.com/us/s?Ntt=continuous+clean&Ns=onSale%7C1%7C%7CP_is_AddToCart%7C1%7C%7Cnew_product_s%7C1

Cali Bamboo FlooringSpectacular Product #8: Fantastic Herringbone Bamboo Flooring

Cali Bamboo launched several new bamboo floors, including two—Riverwood (shown) and Outer Banks—made for herringbone-style installations. The other new floors are Savanna, Bordeaux, Bourbon Barrel, and Treehouse. All feature solid Fossilized bamboo construction, Cali’s proprietary manufacturing technique, which the firm says is the world’s hardest floors. Herringbone wood flooring is ideal for formal living rooms and dining rooms. The flooring is backed by a 50-year residential warranty and a 15-year commercial warranty. https://www.calibamboo.com/bamboo-flooring.html

California Faucets Hot-Cold DispenserImpressive Product #9: Cold-Hot Water Dispenser

California Faucets has added the Combination Hot and Cold Water Dispenser to its Kitchen Collection. It sports a single-handle design for a streamlined look. Homeowners may select a traditional or modern faucet body, and choose a handle from nearly a dozen options, ranging from traditional-style Porcelain Lever to contemporary Black Blade and Stick designs. Over 30 artisan finishes are available, one reason why California Faucets has always been a favorite manufacturer for my clients. Dispensers are solid brass and hand-finished at the firm’s U.S. factory. http://www.calfaucets.com/product/traditional-style-single-handle-combo-hot-and-cold-water-dispenser-9623-k10-xx

Elkay Farmhouse SinkImposing Product #10: Farmhouse Sink With Flexible Design

Elkay has unveiled the awesome Crosstown Stainless Steel Farmhouse Sink with Interchangeable Apron (shown). Homeowners may choose from a mix of seven different materials and colors, enabling them to change the apron in minutes for a new look to match the season or their own personal style. The company has also introduced its Quartz Luxe Single and Double Bowl Sink, available in metallic-flecked Silvermist or deep Jubilee colors to enliven any kitchen. http://www.elkay.com/farmhouse

In Conclusion:

I hope these ten awesome remodeling products inspire  and help you as you make product choices for your  home.  If you see any products that you’d like to share, please let me know with a comment (below). You can also send me an email: diane@dp-design.com.

“Today’s Home” Podcast: Ten Awesome Remodeling Products for 2019

Product research is one of the many things I love, to help you make informed decisions. Contact me today! Let’s talk about what you want to achieve!

Music: Profound, Powerful Influence In Our Lives

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Music: Profound, Powerful Influence In Our Lives

Music is the best solutionMusic is a profound and powerful influence in our lives. From birth until death, music is there at every stage to comfort, inspire, motivate us in the most personal expression of who we are.  Music has been the most important part of my life. I started taking piano lessons when I was 8. My first teacher was my godmother, Mama Chinn. She taught me the basics of technique and timing. Her greatest gift, though, was a love of music that has endured. That’s what music is all about. It touches us in ways that nothing else can. It’s a universal language that everyone understands. It’s the loom upon which our individual fibers are woven into the miraculous, colorful tapestry that blankets our precious earth.

Podcast Discussion With Jay Plesset

I asked my husband, Jay, to join me on this week’s podcast, because he’s the most knowledgeable person I know about this subject. Not just music, but how we listen to music. Music is what brought us together! I met Jay after I moved to San Francisco and had problems with my stereo picking up truck drivers’ CB discussions. He was the only one who was able and willing to help me. The rest, as broadcaster Paul Harvey said, is a wonderful story.

Paul McCartney Music

Music is the voiceLast week, Jay and I were fortunate to tune into a rebroadcast CBS program produced by James Corden that featured Paul McCartney. If you’re a Beatles fan, I know you’ll love it. Everywhere they went – okay, they were in Liverpool! – crowds of people gathered around. Paul was so gracious with everyone. Don’t know how word got out when they visited Paul’s childhood home, but the streets were lined with cheering fans of all ages. Yes! And in the local pub where Paul and his band played shortened versions of many Beatles’ hits, the audience included old and young, and every generation in between. Wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the room had four generations of Beatles’ followers. This is a tiny example of music’s influence.

It’s obvious that Paul McCartney loves music. When he talks about it, when he plays it, his inner light shines. Did you know that he’s composed classical music? His first was the “Liverpool Oratorio,” in 1991, followed by “Standing Stone,” recorded in 2001, and “Behold My Heart” that was recorded in 2007. He has a new composition, commissioned by the New York City Ballet, “Oceans Kingdom.” All of his music has been at the top of different charts.

We are lucky to be surrounded by thousands of composers of all genres. We fall in love with music for the way it touches our soul, whether it’s country, rock, blues, jazz, spiritual, cultural, or classical, or a mashup of them. Many composers and performers cross over from one genre to another, like Paul McCartney has over the past 59 years. As the oldest daughter in an alcoholic family, I could tell Beethoven, Bach, Chopin, Debussy and Rachmaninoff about everything that burdened me. After hours of conversation with them at my old upright piano, I stepped away feeling and knowing that everything would be all right. Have you had similar experiences in your life, where music has helped you get through tough times?

Mannheim Steamroller Music

Jay and I met because of a shared love of music. When we started dating, he introduced me to Mannheim Steamroller. I’ll never forget our drive through the Sequoias National Park in his convertible, listening to “Fresh Aire,” on a hot day in July. The air was heavy with the aroma of the evergreen trees. We have been avid fans of Mannheim Steamroller to this day. When I decided to launch “Today’s Home,” my internet radio program, they allowed me to use “Wolfgang Amadeus Penguin” as the theme song. Every time I hear it, I’m filled with child-like glee, wanting to get up and march around the room.

Music’s Inspirational Influence

Music can change the worldMusic inspires us, motivates us, connects us in ways that nothing else can. I love this quote from Leopold Stokowski, “A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.” Music is a very personal form of creative self-expression, whether we’re listening to it or playing an instrument. Whether we’re in a large auditorium with 30,000 other people, or riding alone in our car on the way to work. Whether we’re “rockin’ out” to the oldies while we clean our home, or centering ourselves with soft meditation music in the middle of the night.

Several years ago, after I learned about Louise Hay’s positive affirmations, I decided to record them to overcome the anxiety that’s plagued me most of my life. The recordings were okay, but became a listening staple after I added soft background music. Last year, when we had a special dinner, we played the same music. I have made a list of this music for you as a personal gift. All of our guests commented about how the music created an unforgettable ambiance. I’m fortunate that Jay knew how to create this ambiance in our home. One of his first jobs after college was making Infinity speakers, before he went to work at Sound Systems in San Francisco. We have speakers in every room (and outside) that can play from anywhere through a small computer, an “Orange Pi.”

Jay is a member of a worldwide group called D-I-Y Audio. He learned about the “Raspberry Pi” from another member who used this small computer – the size of a deck of cards – to access his massive collection of music. We also have a massive collection of cd’s and vinyl records. It’s fantastic to have everything so easily accessible! Jay tells all about it in our podcast discussion; to listen to the podcast, just click on the link below!

When I’m in the mood for loud music like Blue Man Group, Japanese Taiko drum recordings, or the sound track from “Blast,” all I have to do is turn up the volume and sit in the living room. Jay figured out how to turn four non-structural columns into sub-woofer enclosures, with 10-inch Dayton Audio speakers. Right now, we’re using KEF 101’s as the satellites until Jay finishes building new speakers. Can’t wait to hear it! Jay has provided links to sites where he’s purchased audio parts:

Parts Express

Meniscus Audio

Madisound Portal

The true beauty of musicTechnology has made it possible for more of us to enjoy music anywhere without investing a fortune – unless we want to. Not going to bore you with statistics. You know how you love to listen to music, and you know what to listen to, to help you get through the daily challenges that life presents. The absolutely glorious thing about music in our world today is its universality, its ability to touch the spirits of everyone around the world instantaneously, simultaneously. Music doesn’t care what our cultural heritage is, or what political party we belong to. While we’re listening, we’re connected to everyone else who is, has been, or will be listening to the same music.

Music is the greatest gift we have!

Listen Now!

“Today’s Home” Podcast: Music: Profound, Powerful Influence In Our Lives

 

I care about helping you achieve your home improvement dream! Contact me today to talk about your goals.

The Exciting World of Color Revealed

The Exciting World of Color Revealed 5

The Exciting World Of Color Revealed

Color: we’re surrounded by it every waking moment. Sometimes we dream in color. As I sit here, looking out the window, I see hundreds, maybe thousands of different green hues, and a beautiful blue sky with cotton-ball clouds. Color is something we take for granted, unless we lose our sight. The 1965 movie “A Patch of Blue” had a big impact on me in many ways. It’s about a young woman, Selina D’Arcey, who’d tragically lost her eyesight at the age of five and remembered colors, especially the color of the sky. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend that you rent or buy it.

How We See ColorHow Do We See The Exciting World of Color?

I’m not going to belabor the physics of color. We’ve got a lot of information to cover! As I said during last week’s podcast, it’s impossible to see color without light. In a technical paper, Pantone says, “Light receptors within the eye transmit messages to the brain, which produces the familiar sensations of color. Newton observed that color is not inherent in objects. Rather, the surface of an object reflects some colors and absorbs all the others. We perceive only the reflected colors.” Statistically, 1 in 8 men and 1 in 200 women has color vision deficiency. My husband is red-green deficient, which means he should never try to pick ripe strawberries or raspberries, and I have to help him read the colors on resistors when he’s building electronics.

Experts say that we can see about 1000 levels of light-dark, 100 levels of red-green, and 100 levels of yellow-blue for a single viewing condition in a laboratory. This means that the total number of colors we can see is about 1000 x 100 x 100 = 10,000,000 (10 million).

Color Theory

Amazon lists over 50,000 books about color for all ages plus 25 professions that rely on color. Color theory is the art and science of using color. It includes how colors mix, match, and contrast, as well as what each particular hue communicates. Color is really about perception, and how it’s interpreted by our minds. Most of us have fascination about color, how it can affect us physically and psychologically. We can see a single color and react to it, but it’s different colors and their relationship to each other, color harmonies and the color wheel, that affect us most. Color theory is the basis to find the ideal combinations.

Color WheelThe Color Wheel and Color Harmonies

The color wheel dates back to 1666, when Isaac Newton mapped the color spectrum into a circle. This color wheel is the basis for understanding the relationships between colors.

When colors complement each other well, they are said to be in harmony. Using the rules of color combination, captivating harmonies are established. There are several color combinations that professionals use to create and enhance our built environment, including:

Complementary: Matching two colors on opposites sides of the color wheel for high contrast, allowing each color to seem brighter when used together; red-green, blue-orange, yellow-purple. These combinations are often seen at holidays.
Split Complementary: Matching a color with colors on either side of the complementary color: yellow with red-purple and blue purple.
Monochromatic: Different values of the same color, light to dark.
Analogous: Colors that are side by side on the color wheel; for the best combinations, it’s best to use one dominant color with at least two accents
Triadic: hues evenly spaced on the color wheel for high contrast, but not as intense as complementary; yellow with blue and red, green with purple and orange.
Tetradic: using four shades evenly spaced on the color wheel; again, for the best combinations, choose one dominant and three accents. Example: yellow-orange with red-violet, blue-violet, and yellow-green

Munsell Color TreeProfessional Tools To Create The Exciting World Of Color

The color system I’ve used for over 35 years was developed by Professor Albert H. Munsell in 1912. It’s based on a three-dimensional model depicted in the Munsell color tree. Each color has three qualities or attributes:

Hue – the color name such as red, orange, yellow, etc.
Value – the lightness (tint) or darkness (shade) of a color
Chroma – the saturation or brilliance of a color . When complementary colors are mixed in equal amounts, the resulting color is gray.

An alternative color system is Pantone. I’ve used their graphic system for printed material and my website that cross-reference colors with red-green-blue or hex codes. And I’ve used their fashion system for home interiors, although the selection of pastel and very light colors is severely limited. Fortunately, I can find the Pantone color in a manufacturer’s fan deck that has the darkest shade to the lightest tint of that color.

Every year, Pantone selects one color to be the “color of the year.” For 2019, they chose “Living Coral,” which they describe with superior marketing words so consumers cannot live without its deliciousness. Professionally, I don’t care what color name is given to a color. What really matters is helping my clients find the right colors for their environment.

When I was attending design school, I learned about the Ameritone “Color Key” system that was popular in the 1980s and 1990s. Unfortunately, the company was bought out and the system was discontinued. But it made a lot of sense at the time. Color Key 1 colors were blue-based. The fan deck contained every color possible except orange. Color Key 2 colors were yellow-based. The fan deck contained every color possible except pink. I still have the fan decks and the paraphernalia, in case anyone ever brings back the Color Key system. They’re now 39 years old!

Colorful Paint CansColor Names Are For Consumers

Picking a paint color to roll onto the walls of your home can be tough—so many hues to choose from! And it’s not just about the color. A paint color’s name matters, too. Years ago, a client asked me, “Can my new master bathroom be painted ‘pongee’?” She knew what she was thinking about, a silk that can vary from almost white to tan with a hint of gray. At that time, none of the paint manufacturers had “pongee” as a specific color. I replied, “Sure, I can come up with colors that blend with ‘pongee,’ but you’ll have to provide me with a sample.” She did, and we found countertops, tile, and wall paint that she loved; it was a monochromatic color scheme.

I’ve always imagined people sitting around a big conference table, looking at paint chips and tossing out the first name that comes to mind. But a lot of thought and deliberation goes into picking the right name to describe each hue. It’s serious business. Paint companies employ color specialists, and review studies and test group results to craft not only the colors they make, but also the names they give to each.

Color names play with our emotions, because these feelings get us to purchase the paint. I try to hide the names on the back of color chips, but my clients always turn the chips over to see the name. I’ve had many clients change their mind, even when I knew a color was perfect for their home, because the name had negative connotations for them. “If you love a color and you connect with the name, then that’s a bonus,” says Dee Schlotter, Pittsburg Paint’s senior color marketing manager.

Color experts are bringing up color associations we all have to things in the world, which trigger a mood. Sales of paint totals an estimated $30 billion annually. Because there are dozens of paint lines to choose from, you can understand how competitive the industry is and why naming paint colors is serious business for manufacturers. “Names can typically be sorted into four descriptive categories: visual, geographical, emotional, and experiential,” says Diana Olvera, Behr’s color marketing manager.

70s Earth Tones Color SchemeThe Exciting World of Color: Trends

We all succumb to the influence of trends, but the most obvious one is color. You can paint your walls with Pantone’s “Living Coral” this year, and Pantone’s new color of the year next year, and so on. Paint is one of the least expensive and most dramatic ways to change your home, inside and out. Choosing the right color is a big challenge for homeowners, because there are thousands of choices from each of the ten major paint manufacturers. This is probably why we give in to color trends, because it makes our decision a little easier.

Can you remember the:

Psychedelic colors of the ’60s?
Earth tones of the ’70s (harvest gold, avocado green and coppertone appliances)?
Southwestern look of the ’80s?
Dirtied colors of Seattle’s “grunge” movement in the early 1990s, or the reactionary lime green and chartreuse in the mid-1990s?
Minimalist movement that began at the end of the 1990s led by “Cerulean Blue”?

The minimalist influence continued into – and past – 2000. Neutral colors, mostly tints and shades of beige, were popular, accented by bright jewel-tone colors. 2010 began the popularity of cool gray that’s still fashionable today. While gray may be with us longer, it’s becoming warmer and more livable as a background color for other more vibrant colors. I’m always concerned when clients choose a trendy color scheme for their kitchens and bathrooms, because trends will change. Gradually, the love they have for their newly-remodeled home will become dissatisfaction, leading to another major renovation. I guess that’s what keeps us in business!

The allure of color has long been a fascination in the home remodeling world. While you may walk into a room and think that the colors were randomly chosen, that’s not the case. Many color choices are made because of personal preference, but when it comes to combining colors, much more thought and care are taken, to align the colors, lighting, and textures with color theory.

Color In Your Home

Color is vital in the design of a space, bringing it to life and telling a story. There are so many opportunities to use color in rooms. While walls offer the most obvious canvas, there are many other ways to demonstrate the power of colors within a space. Color can be added to cabinets, countertops, appliances, fixtures, furniture, accents, and more. Thus, when beginning the design of a space, it’s a good idea to start with a color palette. Most designers agree that starting with three colors is ideal. You can use the 60-30-10 rule to break down how the colors will exist in the space:

Dominant color = 60%

Secondary color = 30%

Accent color = 10%

For contrast and emphasis, consider the blend of both warm and cool hues. For example, choose a warm shade like yellow alongside a cool color like blue, and vice-versa. A good rule of thumb is to use different values of tints and shades, light and dark, balancing the ambiance of a space.

Color has a significant influence on a space and those within it, so choosing just the right colors for a design is critical to its success. Another rule of thumb is to pay attention to the compass direction of a room. Use warm colors sparingly in south- and west-facing rooms, and use cool colors sparingly in north- and east-facing rooms. Adjusting the color for the light conditions is an important part of creating a livable environment.

How color changes visual spaceAccent Walls Change How A Room Looks

From time to time, accent walls return to popularity. This must be done carefully, to achieve the results you want. The apparent proportion of a room can be changed with color, if you keep in mind that warm, dark colors seem to advance while cool, light colors seem to recede. If you have a “bowling alley” room that’s long and slender with a ceiling that’s under 8′, then the end wall could be painted in a warmer, darker color with the side walls painted in a cooler, lighter color. The ceiling should be the lightest, coolest color. To achieve maximum results, indirect up-lighting can make the ceiling feel even taller.

Color Branding and PsychologyColor Is the Top Reason Why People Choose Products

The brain operates rapidly, identifying whether what you see is visually appealing or not within 90 seconds! And in that 90 seconds, much of the focus is based on color. Product and brand designers pay attention to and use colors they know will attract our attention. Yellow and red are the colors you see most often on products that the manufacturers want you to buy now. They’ll also use contrasting complementary colors that seem to vibrate: red and green, orange and blue, yellow and purple.

Think about the brands you know. How does the color of their logo (or packaging) impact you?

Color Psychology ChartPsychology: Expanding Our Understanding And Use Of Color

The subject of color psychology could be a topic for several months of podcasts and blogs! Wikipedia defines color psychology as “the study of hues as a determinant of human behavior. For example, red or orange pills are generally used as stimulants. Color can indeed influence a person. Factors such as gender, age, and culture can influence how an individual perceives color.”

Color psychology is used to understand why we like and select certain colors and dislike or stay away from others. It’s our reaction to a specific hue that’s the goal of research. It can include what I call psychobabble, that delves into colors and personality types made popular by the “Color Me Beautiful” system. At first, I was enamored with this system, because it seemed to be an extension of the Ameritone Color Key system of cool vs. warm colors. In my opinion, though, it went too far, plugging people into personality types of the seasons. This theory puts us at the edge of a very slippery slope. It’s light entertainment that I don’t take seriously, but will never judge someone or argue with their beliefs.

Although I own 7 books about color psychology, I came across a great article online that everyone can understand, from Very Well Mind. It’s long, with lots of information about color psychology and many links. If this is a subject that interests you, I highly recommend that you read the article.

You may know that correctional institutions and inmates’ clothing is pink. Why? it was discovered several years ago that this color, although a tint of red, has a calming effect on officers and inmates. Here’s an article that will explain it why pink is so popular. Also, there’s a reason why doctors and nurses wear light green or blue scrubs. Here’s an article that explains how and why.

Finally, I came across a research paper that demonstrates how colors were chosen for a university student commons in Nicosia, Cypress. It’s not exactly light reading, but fascinating – especially if you’re interested in color psychology.

In this blog and podcast, I’ve shared 35 years of training and experience so that you understand your wonderful world of color and find the courage to experiment. Are there other subjects you’d like me to explore in depth? Please let me know!

Podcast: The Exciting World of Color Revealed!

If you are anxious about selecting colors as an important part of your home addition, bathroom or kitchen remodel, I can help you! Call me today to talk about your goals!

LED Lighting — The Highest Impact on Your Life

LED Lighting -- The Highest Impact on Your Life 6

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 7

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 8

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

Download the FREE Whitepaper - Questions FOR and ABOUT Contractors & Designers

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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

Todays Home Logo

AMAZING PRODUCTS FOR YOUR HOME

Amazing Products For Your Home 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 9I’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  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 PRODUCTS FOR YOUR HOME

 

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!