Home Trends, In and Out

Kitchen with latest trends

HOME TRENDS, IN and OUT

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

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

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

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

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

SMALLER HOMES WITH MORE DETAIL

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

URBAN LIVING

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

BUILDING SYSTEMS THAT SAVE NATURAL RESOURCES

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRENDS FOR YOUR KITCHEN:

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

TRENDS FOR YOUR BATHROOMS:

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

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

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

TRENDS: OTHER ROOMS IN YOUR HOME

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

DEAD AND DYING TRENDS

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

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

Tile countertops

Over-the-range microwaves

Eclectic clutter

Shag carpet

Wood paneling

Tiffany lamps

Word art

Futons

Fast furniture

Nautical motifs

Edison bulbs

Tufted headboards

Tuscan kitchens

Damask

Wallpaper borders

Window valances

 

Mason jar mania

Wicker furniture (inside)

Dusty pastels

Hollywood mirror lights

Avocado green

Harvest gold

Ferns everywhere

Plaid

Pine furniture

Vertical blinds

Bean bag chairs

Giant silk plants

Fake fruit

Sponge-painted walls

Glass blocks

Popcorn ceiling

Ruffled bedskirts

Heavy headboards

Floral everything

Lace tablecloths and doilies

Cherry cabinets

White quartz countertops.

Gendered rooms

Cool grays

Terazzo tile

Fiber art

Overdone brass

Accent walls

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

LOVE YOUR HOME AND BELONGINGS

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

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

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

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

“Be yourself; everyone else is taken.”

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

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

HOME, SMART HOME

Smart Home Technology and the Today's Home Mascot

HOME, SMART HOME

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

SMART HOME TECHNOLOGY — HISTORY

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

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

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

“House of the Future” in Disneyland

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

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

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

A SMART HOME WILL HELP YOU NOW

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

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

Additionally, do you want to:

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

SMART HOME FEATURES

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

  • ACCESS

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

  • AUDIO and VIDEO

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

  • CLIMATE

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

  • ENERGY CONSERVATION

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

  • LIGHTING

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

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

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

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

  • WATER CONSERVATION

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

SMART HOME ADVICE

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

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

HOW SMART DEVICES WORK

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

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

IMPORTANCE OF THE “CLOUD”

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

SMART HOME IS STILL STUPID

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

RECAP

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

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

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

Prepare for Home Remodeling

Embrace Change

Prepare for Home Remodeling

Amazing Success IS Possible!!!

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

3 Things Confuse and Overwhelm Homeowners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visualize and Dream Your Amazing Success: Two Simple Steps!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get Ready To Talk With Remodeling Professionals

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

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

Search online resources like:

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

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

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

Questions For Remodeling Professionals

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

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

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

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

“Change” Quotations and Final Words

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Are Your Remodeling Priorities?

Priorities

What Are Your Remodeling Priorities?

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

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

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

A Change In Priorities For Homeowners?

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

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

Only ONE #1 Priority

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

Priorities Can  Be Changed!

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

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

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

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

Communicate About Priorities; They’re Important!

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

Why are remodeling priorities so important? They will:

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

What’s Your #1 Remodeling Priority?

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

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

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

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

Listen to the Podcast:

“Remodel Our Existing Home Or Move To A New Home?”

“Remodel Our Existing Home, or Move To A New Home?”

Stay in Existing vs. New Home Remodel?    –OR–      New?

“Do we stay and remodel our home, or move to a new home?” This question has come up many times in my career, and I’ve lived it personally. The answer is difficult, because it depends on individual circumstances. I’m going to share the same recommendation now as I have in the past: Make lists!

List #1

In 35 years as a professional designer, homeowners have asked so many interesting questions! I love to answer questions! In the coming weeks and months, I’ll share often-asked questions and some of the interesting “back stories” of the homeowners. The questions may be similar, but they require custom answers to fit individualized needs.

Are you a list person? I hope you are, because this is the best way to discover and uncover hidden truths. Get a lined pad and a pencil. The reason I prefer a pad with real paper is that it’s available, even in the middle of the night. You can write notes or add to your lists whenever you think of them.

Draw a vertical line down the middle of the first page – it doesn’t have to be perfect! If you are compelled to use a ruler, it’s okay.  At the top of the page, on the left, write “Reasons to Stay,” what you love about your home and neighborhood.  On the right-hand side, write “Reasons to move,” what you hate about your home and neighborhood. Don’t edit or over-think your list. No one is going to grade you on your exercise.

List #2

There are things you can do to stay in your home, but they’re not going to be inexpensive, especially if your existing home is too small or needs major renovations. But neither is selling your home and moving to a new home! Answering the question about staying or moving is going to require homework. There’s more homework involved in thinking about your project than you imagined. But I don’t want you to get overwhelmed. Just take it a step at a time – that’s the only way to get from here to there. Give yourself time to think about your list and create it. Include everyone in the immediate family who has a stake in the outcome.

After you’ve got your lists of reasons, you’ll need to gather information to help you make an informed decision. Having information will give you peace of mind – I guarantee it! After your initial list, the next several pages of your notepad will be dedicated to gathering financial information about your existing home. Get ready to create another list!

What do you need to do to your home – deferred maintenance?

  • Roof repair or replacement?
  • Exterior painting?
  • Interior painting?
  • Plumbing leaks?
  • HVAC repair or replacement?

List #3

What do you want to do to your home to make it more liveable? This list is going to be easy, because I’ve done the work for you! You can get a free copy of the new and improved Homeowner Surveys that I originally created for my book, “THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling.” The Homeowner Survey is a total of 27 pages and may take several days to complete. Once you have completed the Homeowner Survey , you can get a preliminary guesstimate from contractors about the range of your investment for what you want to do. If you want more than a guesstimate, here’s what you should do:

  1. Hire a professional designer to create as-built and proposed plans of your home. More details = higher fee. The fee could be as low as $2,500 or more than $6,000. We’ll talk about professional designers’ fees in another segment of “Today’s Home.”
  2. Pay a contractor for an estimate, based on your homeowner survey and the plans.

Homework Required: Buying A New Home

You’ll now have the first half of your question answered, how much you will need to invest to get what you need and want, to stay in your existing home.  The rest is relatively simple math. Here are the logical steps to help you arrive at a complete picture for your investment in a new home. Answer these questions:

  • What is your existing home worth, as is?
  • What’s the balance of your mortgage?
  • How many years before you own your home?
  • What do you pay monthly for your mortgage, taxes and insurance?
  • How much have you spent on fixing and repairing “deferred maintenance” in the past year or two? You can use the previous list about deferred maintenance that you created. If you haven’t spent anything on deferred maintenance, contact the contractor who did the estimate for home remodeling and get estimates for the necessary work.

Lists Complete! What’s Next?

Next, contact a trustworthy real estate agent or look online for comparables from recently-sold homes in your area that will help you answer these questions:

  • What can you reasonably get for your home as is or with minimum repairs?
  • How much will it cost to sell your home? Here’s what to include:
    • Capital gains or losses
    • Real estate fees
    • Closing costs
    • Moving costs
    • Contingencies and unforeseen emergencies

Now you’re ready to gather information about a new home. You can use the same Homeowner Survey to help you find a new home that fulfills your needs and wants. It’s great that there is so much information available online to help you define and decide where you want to move to, and how much you want to pay for a new home. In the greater Portland, Oregon area, I like the John L. Scott website that’s easy to navigate, but you may have a favorite.

Here’s a hint that will help you save information: In the past, what I’ve done to save information is to copy the url of a site and email it to myself with the same subject (i.e., “new home information,” etc.). Most of the real estate sales sites have information about your mortgage payment as it relates to your down payment. There may or may not be information about property taxes and insurance, but you can calculate that using your current mortgage based on the percentages. Write down your estimate for the monthly mortgage, taxes and insurance, then make comparisons:

  • What’s the difference between your new monthly payment and what you’re currently paying? Will your income support the move?
  • What’s the difference between remodeling your existing home and moving to a new home?

Next, weigh other factors, such as:

  • School location and reputation for quality education
  • Proximity to shopping, places of worship, parks and recreation, and public transportation
  • Your existing neighborhood compared to new neighborhoods

Make Your Decision: Remodel Your Existing Home, or Buy A New Home

After you’ve completed this exercise, you are armed with written information that will help you decide whether you should stay and remodel your existing home or move to a new home. It’s a big decision! The great thing about all of this documentation is that it prevents you from getting confused! Selling and buying homes, and home remodeling, is filled with emotions you never knew you had.

To avoid confusion and unwanted emotions, try your best to maintain a level-headed, logical approach. Don’t let anyone whip you into a frenzy of emotions to get you to do something that isn’t in your best long-term interest. This is the advice of a homeowner advocate with 35 years of experience. I’ve had four clients who decided to stay and remodel, and three who decided to move to a new home. My husband and I have done both: Stayed and remodeled, and moved to a new home. We know all about the emotional roller coaster ride to make an informed decision!

Bottom line: Whatever decision you make, your goal is to improve your life. I’m here to help you!

If you’re confused about whether to remodel your existing home or move to a new home, I can (and will) help you make the decision that’s right for you! Contact me to talk about your future.

Listen to the podcast about this subject!

P.S.: Don’t forget to order your free copy of the Homeowner Survey today!

Kitchen Remodeling Codes

Function and Safety Are #1!

Kitchen Remodeling Codes 1

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

During our first meeting, I was told that the entire extended family enjoys working in the kitchen together. As a designer, I immediately consider what this means when safety, functionality, and overall concept is included. So, in my reply, I cited the aisleway clearances recommended by the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA):

  • The minimum for a one-person access between countertops is 42”;
  • Access increases to a minimum of 48” if multiple people are working in the kitchen simultaneously.

These guidelines allow safe usage of appliances, and unlimited access to everything stored in cabinets.

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

Important Calculation For Island Function & Safety

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

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

– 51” (cabinets and countertops on both sides)

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

-84” (two 42” wide aisleways)

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

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

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

NKBA Guidelines for Kitchen Aisleways

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

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

Citation: Guidelines and Code

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

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

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

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

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

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

Homeowner Tips:

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

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

A Bright New Kitchen For Grandparents

A Bright New Kitchen For Grandparents 2Homeowners, who are grandparents, love to entertain their family and friends. They especially love to take care of their grandchildren. Although the kitchen had an upscale remodeling by previous owners, many things about the kitchen didn’t fit my clients’ needs. Main problem: It was very dark. We created a bright new kitchen for the grandparents! I was pleased to use virtual-reality renderings to help the couple make important decisions, to create an ideal space for family and friends.

The Challenges:

  • Lighting was insufficient, and the dark cherry cabinets and granite countertops soaked up most of the light.
  • A pantry closet dictated the placement of appliances and limited available countertop space for food preparation.
  • The only place for the cooktop was in the island; it was a downdraft with a pot rack above, which created an ongoing cleaning problem from grease that escaped the surface-mount downdraft.
  • There was no place in the kitchen for sorting mail or charging phones and pads.
  • There were very few storage accessories inside the existing cabinets.

The Solutions:

  • Dimmable LED strip lighting was added below and above the wall cabinets to provide great task and indirect light. Dimmable LED recessed fixtures were placed in a 4′ grid, providing aisleway lighting. The same fixtures were installed above the new island.
  • Turning the closet pantry 900 gave more space for the ovens and cooktop, and freed up the island countertop for food preparation.
  • Custom alder cabinets with storage accessories provided what the homeowners needed for storage. A new pantry cabinet with chrome wire pullout shelves provided more storage than the previous closet pantry had. Other cabinet accessories included:
    • Rollouts for small appliances and pots and pans
    • Tray dividers above the ovens
    • Dual-level utensil drawer
    • Deep drawers, as requested by the homeowners for special needs
    • A custom cubbyhole niche for sorting mail and charging electronic devices
    • A wine rack and bookshelf in the back of the island
    • Cabinets around the perimeter were natural alder; the island was stained darker for visual interest.

Design Advice:

  • Stain the crown molding at the top of the cabinets and the light baffle below the wall cabinets to be stained the same color as the island to tie everything together. I showed them two alternatives in virtual-reality renderings.  The homeowners chose not to follow my advice, even after I showed them the difference.
  • Install a prep. sink in the island. During the value engineering by the contractor, we discovered that this feature was more than the homeowners wanted to pay, but they were able to make an informed decision without any regrets.

I give advice to show clients the possibilities and to make informed decisions. I listen to their needs and work with them to achieve what they want within a reasonable budget. I honor all of my clients’ decisions. It’s their home, and their budget. The kitchen was transformed and we created a bright new kitchen for the grandparents!

If you know what you want in and for your new kitchen, but don’t know how to pull it together, I can help you select the right products and offer alternatives, so you won’t have any regrets down the road about your decisions. Call me today, so we can talk about your kitchen!

Product Specifications:

APPLIANCES

Convection oven and convection microwave: Bosch

French-door refrigerator: LG

Gas cooktop: Bosch 36”

Hood: Zephyr “Anzio” 42”

Dishwasher: Reinstalled existing that was only 2 years old

CABINETS

Custom, with special storage and function features, natural alder (around perimeter)

Custom island, with wine rack and bookshelf on back side; rollouts and drawers on front side.

COUNTERTOPS

“Crystal Gold” granite; all outside corners had a 2” radius for safety

BACKSPLASH

Elysium “Inga Gray” glass tiles, 3”x12”

LIGHTING

Dimmable LED self-adhesive strip lighting behind upper and lower crown molding for indirect illumination

Halo 5” dimmable LED recessed fixtures over aisleways and the island (the clients chose not to have the popular pendant fixtures over the island)

FLOORING

Existing floors were patched as needed and refinished

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remodeling A 1970s Home For Special Needs

Remodeling A 1970s Home For Special Needs 3

A family of six lived in a 1970s home that needed major remodeling, Here are the challenges and solutions that would transform the home totally:

Challenges and Solutions

#1: The youngest son has muscular dystrophy and cannot get to the large basement playroom without being carried by the father.

A residential elevator would allow the son to travel easily to and from the main floor to the basement. The best location for the elevator shaft was at the rear of the home, with entries to the elevator in the living room and the play room.

#2: The front had an uninviting stone wall that hid the entry door.

Removing the wall and changing the front of the house would make the home more inviting for guests.

#3: The existing kitchen was too small, especially for entertaining.

The kitchen would be moved to the existing family room, so the existing kitchen could become the dining room, allowing the homeowners to entertain more frequently.

#4: The existing master suite was typical for a 1970s home, with a small shower and a one-person lavatory. Closets were small, with limited storage. The only linen storage was a small closet in the main hallway.

An addition solved all of the problems. The master bedroom is bigger, and there are two large closets with lots of storage. The new bathroom has a two-person shower, a separate toilet room, and large separate lavatories. There’s also a 6-foot wide linen closet.

BONUS: The addition also created a great bedroom for the oldest daughter in the basement area that gave her the privacy she needed; it has a wonderful view of the garden.

#5: The youngest son’s bedroom and the guest bathroom needed to be remodeled to be accessible. The bathroom also needed to look nice for guests.

Transforming a 30” door into a 36” door required borrowing space from the existing small linen closet. The bathroom remodel became part of the master suite addition, making room for a 5-foot wheelchair turnaround, and easy access to the tub/shower and the toilet.

*DESIGN TIP: A “handicap” bathroom doesn’t need to look or feel like a hospital! There are many beautiful products available that blend with a home’s style and the family’s preferences.

The Design And Value Engineering

I worked with the family for about three months to develop the preliminary plans and prepare virtual-reality renderings to show them what their remodeled home could look like. They loved it! Before we got involved with choosing products, I recommended a contractor who could provide a detailed estimate. We call this “value engineering.” This would help the couple know what their investment would be. Estimates this early in the process helps homeowners make important decisions about the scope of their project before they get too excited about their project.

The preliminary estimate, with allowances for products and finishes, approached $500,000. Talking with the couple honestly, we all agreed that if they remodeled this home, it would most likely be their final home.  The reason: they wouldn’t be able to get any return of their investment when comparing their home to neighboring properties. They admitted that it was important to go through the initial process like we did, although it involved an investment of about $3,000. But it helped them make the important decision to look for a home that had all of the amenities they needed and wanted. Fortunately, they found a new home in a neighboring community that had everything, including a residential elevator! Their investment in the new home was more than their total investment of the existing remodeled home would have been.  But considering the disruption of their lives during a major remodel, they decided it was worth selling their home and moving to the new home.

A Special Bonus For The Homeowners

What we didn’t realize was that the proposed plans and virtual-reality renderings that I had put into a binder for them would help to sell their home in three days for the full asking price! This was confirmation that it’s hard for most people to visualize the possibilities and see past the existing reality. I’m so grateful to have a career, where my ability to see the possibilities helps people to move forward.

Design Tips From This Project

It’s best to get a contractor involved early in the process, to provide value engineering for the project, and verify that what you want is within your budget. Most contractors charge a fee for this service, but many apply all or part of the fee towards construction of your project. There will be tradeoffs involved, but tit’s important for you to:

* Establish a realistic, reasonable budget.
* Make informed decisions about the scope of your project and all products.
* Be flexible, and be open to the possibilities.

 If you’re thinking about remodeling your home. if your family has special needs,  but you’re confused about the possibilities, call me today! With virtual-reality renderings, I can show you what your home can look like!

Whole-House Remodeling Project

Whole-House Remodeling Project 4

My clients were a couple who bought a new home in the location they wanted. They knew the whole house needed remodeling. Their blended family includes six adult children. They wanted to achieve a large addition for a dining room and to enlarge the kitchen, and possibly enlarge the master suite above the kitchen. Very shortly after they bought the home, they called me to help them design their whole-house remodeling project with major additions.

Homeowners’ Wish List:

  • A smart home, controlled by phones and pads
  • A dining room that would easily seat 16-18 people;
  • A larger kitchen with a dedicated coffee bar and more storage, and more usable countertop space
  • A larger deck for entertaining and a hot tub for the family
  • An updated living room with stacking doors
  • A home office for the wife
  • An updated master bathroom with a two-person shower and a separate makeup area
  • A multi-purpose guest bedroom and bathroom
  • A laundry room that’s accessible by everyone
  • More storage
  • A dedicated play room with a large projector TV and theater seats
  • A storage area above the husband’s workshop in the garage

Challenges to Prevent The Whole-House Remodeling

I learned years ago to check with the building and planning departments before starting to design an addition. The planning official said that this home was close to a floodplain, and he’d need to see two things before giving us the go-ahead with the major additions:

◊ Preliminary plans of the proposed addition and deck;

◊ A positive report from a soils engineer that the proposed addition was okay.

It’s human to just go ahead and assume that everything will be okay — that’s a normal expectation. Unfortunately, the 760 square-foot proposed addition had too many complications on multiple levels. The addition wasn’t feasible. The homeowners had two choices: To resell the home and find another home, or stay in this home and make the best of it.

Challenges Overcome!

The Whole-House Remodeling Project Forged Ahead!

They took several weeks to talk about their alternatives and make a decision. I received an email telling me that they wanted to proceed, but scale back their whole-house remodeling project severely. The first part of the meeting after getting that message was uncomfortable for all of us, like trying to speak and understand a foreign language to build a strong bridge of communication. I felt the anguish they had experienced, and listened to their story to gather information about our direction moving forward. By the end of the meeting, we had achieved a new level of understanding and compassion.

I went back to work to see how we could achieve what they wanted, using the original wish list we had compiled. The smart home and the workshop with a storage mezzanine above wasn’t a problem, but the rest of the list was a challenge.

Whole-House Remodeling Project Details Room By Room:

DINING ROOM: There was no way that the existing dining room would comfortably seat 16-18 people, because it was landlocked. When I asked the homeowners if they would ever seat that many friends at the dining table, they responded that the only reason for needing a large dining room was for family gatherings. I widened the doorway between the adjacent entry hall. If two tables were placed next to each other and extended to the maximum possible into the entry hall, it would seat 18 people. A custom cantilevered cabinet is a beautiful display hutch with a granite countertop.

LARGER KITCHEN: The kitchen was expanded to be in the same plane as the garage, approximately five feet. We achieved this by cantilevering the floor joists and creatively framing a new roof over the kitchen, so the ceiling could be extended at the same height. This additional space gave the homeowners what they wanted. They chose custom gray cabinets, granite countertops, and porcelain tile with glass tile accents. A bonus in the kitchen is the heated countertop where they can sit for casual meals.

LARGER DECK: The planning department didn’t balk when we submitted the plans that included a new deck that was three times larger than the original deck, because a structural engineer designed it for stability on unstable soil. The new deck has two sets of stairs: The large main stairway leads to the rear garden, and a side stairway leads to a concrete pad for the family hot tub.

LIVING ROOM: The homeowners found a manufacturer of stacking patio doors that met their requirements. They selected a new fireplace, and we designed the surround, mantel, and recessed AV controls that would be hidden by the flat-screen TV mounted on a heavy-duty swing-arm support.

WIFE’S OFFICE: The original den, adjacent to the entry hall, became the wife’s office. She requested a larger side window so she could see the floodplain and the wildlife.

MASTER BATHROOM: New cabinets, countertops, plumbing and lighting was designed to replace the existing double lavatories. A two-person shower replaced the existing 6-foot whirlpool tub. We replaced the double doors with a single 3-foot wide door that allowed the master shower to be amply deep. The existing window remained, and a new window was installed adjacent to the wife’s new generous makeup area.

WASTED SPACE CONVERTED TO A GUEST BEDROOM AND BATHROOM: This home had a large open area on the second floor, about 170 square feet, that was useless wasted space. The laundry room was adjacent to this room. I designed a wall along the upstairs hallway to enclose the room, and converted the laundry room to a bathroom with a neo-angle shower.

LAUNDRY ROOM: Borrowing about 10 feet from the large room allowed enough space for a laundry room that was accessible from the hallway. It has storage cabinets, a large single sink, a built-in ironing center, and pull-down rods for air drying clothes.

PLAY ROOM: The perfect location for this was a large corner bedroom separated from other bedrooms. A state-of-the-art ceiling projector and built-in speakers are the heart of the environment. We added a platform for two levels of comfy theater seats to watch TV, movies, and play video games on the humongous screen.

MORE STORAGE: One storage area is a cabinet that’s cantilevered into the garage, for bulk purchases. It’s high enough so no one will bump their head. Another storage area was achieved by redesigning the upstairs hallway to allow the addition of two deep closets. The loft above the husband’s garage workshop will also provide a lot of storage for seasonal accessories, luggage, and more.

Success!

We worked on this whole-house remodeling project for 15 months. The plans I prepared totaled 26 pages on 24” x 36” paper. The plans included 40 interior elevations, four exterior elevations, and eight virtual-reality perspectives. The general contractor called me the day he went to the building department. He said with excitement, “The plans were approved with no comments and no red marks!” He told me this is the first time in over 40 years that plans were approved so quickly without requiring additional information or revisions. I was happy to hear this, but this has happened with my plans many times. Details are important!

It was a joy to attend the housewarming party, to see the homeowners enjoying their new home and witness the guests’ reaction to the transformation. One of the guests was the agent who helped the couple find this home. He told us he couldn’t believe that it was the same home. It was a major transformation that the couple will love and enjoy for years. This is what makes me happy, when I know we’ve achieved my clients’ goals.

If you have an existing or new home that you’d like to transform, I can help you! I listen, and give honest feedback. I prepare detailed plans to help everyone involved in your project help you achieve your goals. Call me today to chat about your home remodeling desires!

Remodeled Kitchen For Empty-Nester Foodies

Remodeled Kitchen For Empty-Nester Foodies 5

With their children enjoying successful careers after college, this couple could finally invest money in the remodeled kitchen they’ve wanted for a long time. The wife is a superior cook with a great sense of humor. While we worked together, I’d refer to her as an “Empty-nester Foodie.”

The Design Process

The couple knew it was time to remodel when their appliances died, starting with the refrigerator. The wife fell in love with a black stainless french-door refrigerator made by Samsung. The has a plethora of baking and cooking vessels, as well as numerous small appliances. Meetings at their home have been mouth-watering, hunger-making experiences. There was always something being cooked or baked, and I’ve often left our meeting with a full container of irresistible nibbles.

When the couple was looking for a new refrigerator, two years before they called me, the wife fell in love with black stainless steel, and decided that all of her new appliances would be that finish. These appliances look striking and the manufacturer, Samsung, has figured out how to make the finish impervious to fingerprints.

I helped them with the layout, and suggested installing the cooktop, hood, and below-counter oven on a 45-degree angle across the corner, which gave more room for cabinets and countertops on both sides. I also suggested moving the refrigerator to an opposite wall, so a microwave could be placed next to the refrigerator enclosure panels, to minimize the depth of the microwave cabinet. Here are challenges and solutions that transformed the kitchen:

Challenges and Solutions Exclusively for Empty-Nester Foodies

#1: The existing builder-grade oak cabinets had useless base corners, and the wall cabinets were dropped down from the ceiling 12”. Both features wasted potential storage.

The wife selected natural Forest Service Certified* Lyptus for the cabinets. The new wall cabinets and tall cabinets will go to the ceiling, providing more storage. The custom cabinets have soft-close doors and drawers and include:

◊  A pantry with rollout shelves for food and small appliances

◊  An angled pantry with a special area for key storage and electricity to charge phones and pads

◊  A standard-depth drawer with two layers for multiple sets of utensils

◊  A heavy-duty pop-up shelf for a stand mixer

◊  Dividers for serving trays, cookie sheets, muffin tins, etc.

◊  Rollout shelves in every base cabinet that isn’t a stack of drawers

◊  A swing-glide half lazy susan for accessible corner storage

◊  Two dedicated spice drawers (holding approx. 40 containers each)

#2: The existing countertop was “Pepto-Bismal” pink laminate.

The homeowners chose an off-white quartzite countertop that will allow the kitchen sink to be mounted below the countertop. Quartzite is natural stone that’s harder and more impervious to stains than granite. It’s also more expensive than other natural or man-made stones.

#3: A 42” table with four chairs was always in the way, especially if the wife needed to access small appliances she stored on a bookshelf adjacent to the back of the peninsula.

A built in “table” made of the countertop material was attached to the back of the peninsula, allowing the peninsula to be moved toward existing windows approximately 12” – this gave more area for storage, and more countertops for preparation and cleanup.

#4: Kitchen lighting was one surface-mounted fluorescent strip which led to shadows where the family needed to work on the countertops.

The new kitchen was improved with dimmable LED self-adhesive strip lighting to light the countertops and provide indirect lighting. There are three dimmable LED pendant fixtures over the peninsula, and six dimmable LED recessed fixtures, in addition to a new dimmable LED chandelier in the eating area.

Products Chosen

All the appliances are black stainless steel, except the dishwasher, which will have a custom panel to match the cabinets. Here’s a list of what they selected:

36″ Magnetic Induction Cooktop

42″ Hood

30″ Oven (installed below the cooktop)

Microwave-convection Oven

Dishwasher

Success for a Deserving Couple!

The couple made sacrifices to educate their children. They provided the best meals possible in a dysfunctional, outdated kitchen. It was finally time to do something for themselves, so they can prepare five-star meals for their family and friends without hassles. It’s a unique remodeled kitchen for empty-nester foodies!

*DESIGN TIP: Many wood species, especially exotic imported ones, are grown in controlled forests so they don’t deplete the trees growing in rain forests. If you are interested in using an exotic wood for cabinets and furniture, please verify that it has the authentic Forest Service Certified (FSC) designation, and verification of where the trees are grown.

If you’re finally ready to remodel your kitchen and want to maximize every inch of space, call me today to talk about your project and hear how I can help you!