Best Bathroom Details Help to Make Great Decisions

Best bathroom details for a personal retreat

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

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

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

Toilet Details:

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

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

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

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

Lavatory-Sink Details:

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

There are six specific installation methods:

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

Vessel Sinks:

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

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

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

Cabinets:

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

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

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

Tub or Shower:

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

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

Plumbing Fittings:

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

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

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

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

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

Shower Fittings:

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

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

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

Bathroom Finishes – Countertops:

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

Bathroom Finishes – Floor, Walls, Backsplashes:

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

Safety and Accessibility:

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

In Conclusion:

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

Listen to the Podcast: Best Bathroom Details Help To Make Great Decisions


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

Essential Details Are Crucial For Your New Kitchen

Essential Details Are Crucial For Your New Kitchen

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

Fundamental Detail #1: What style appeals to you?

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

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

Essential Kitchen Details: Homeowner Survey Sample

How To Define And Prioritize The Necessary Details

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

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

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

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

Appliance Placement Is The Most Important Detail

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

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

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

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

♦  Main course preparation

♦  Salad and vegetable preparation

♦  Baking preparation

♦  Serving

♦  Cleanup

An Overlooked Essential Detail: Appliance Doors

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

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

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

Light Is A Key Detail For Success

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

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

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

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

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

Recap: Essential Details For Your Kitchen

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

Get the FREE Homeowner Kitchen Survey!

PODCAST: Essential Details For Your Kitchen


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

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.  Exceeding 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 has hired, 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 job site 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 sledgehammer, 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. 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 apply 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 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.

LED Lighting — The Highest Impact on Your Life

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!

 

 

10 Amazing Products Improve Your Home

Todays Home Logo

 

10 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. I 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. But, we do have is a landline phone in our bathroom — an idea copied from luxury hotels. 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 fantastic 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 Disneyland, Disneyworld, and Universal Studios theme parks.

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 homeowners. 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)

I’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 outdated 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 people to 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 paintbrush 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 the 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 for your home. 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,” which yielded 3,580,000,000 results! That’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 or nervous about your investment? 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!