Why Are Designers’ Fees So Frightening? 5 F-A-Qs Answered

Why are designers' fees so frightening?
 

We Can’t Afford To Pay Designers’ Fees!

Bath and Kitchen Designers’ fees can be frightening. “Sticker shock” is not uncommon for homeowners. So I’ve answered five frequently asked questions about how much a designer may charge you for their services and how they calculate their fee.

 

 

Has This Happened To You?

You call a designer to help you with your kitchen or bathroom remodeling. They tell you their fee is “X” amount per hour, but you don’t know how much you’re going to pay that designer in total. They may tell you that their fee starts at $2,500 and goes up from there. Or they’ll say to you that their fee is a percentage of your investment. It’s confusing and frustrating. If you’re thinking of spending only $10,000 to remodel your bathroom or $20,000 to remodel your kitchen, you don’t know how much you’ll need or want to pay for a designer to help you.
The first question is critical for helping you decide how you want to proceed with your project.

 

Do you need someone to help you design a bathroom or kitchen?#1: “Do I Need Someone To Help Me?”

That’s a great question! You may not need a bath and kitchen designer if you’re:

        • Thinking about freshening up with a new color scheme
        • Painting your existing cabinets
        • Installing a new countertop and backsplash
        • Installing new flooring
A contractor can accomplish these types of projects without a designer. But they cannot advise you about the color and style, other than their personal preferences. So you’re on your own to make these decisions. Or you’ll have to hire a decorator.
The second question is a good follow-up:

 

#2: “Can I Hire A Decorator To Help Me?”do I need a decorator or a bath-kitchen designer

Not necessarily. Unfortunately, most homeowners (and many contractors) don’t understand the difference between:
  • Decorators: People who can help with colors, furniture, window treatments, and accessories. They do not have the education, training, and experience with building systems to draft plans and specifications. They need specific technical knowledge to make the best recommendations for you and your budget.
  • Designers: People who have education, training, and experience. They can draft plans for a project. But they may not have the specific knowledge of products and codes to prepare detailed plans and specifications for your remodeling project.
  • Kitchen-Bath Designers: People who have education, specific training, and experience related to remodeling. They can draft detailed plans and prepare specifications for contractors’ estimates and permits. Some kitchen-bath design specialists have become certified to prove their knowledge and dedication to help you. Get more information about these designers at the National Kitchen & Bath Association website.
  • Architects: People who have the most education but may lack the training and experience to help you with specific details for your kitchen or bathroom remodeling project.

 

Kitchen plan created by a bath-kitchen designer#3: “When Do I Need A Designer?”

You should hire a professional bath and kitchen designer if you want to:
  • Do more than freshen up — new cabinets, new appliances, new plumbing fixtures, etc.
  • Change the layout within the same footprint.
  • Enlarge your bathroom or kitchen.
It’s reasonable to pay a designer to help you if your target budget for a bathroom remodel is $20,000 or more or if your budget for a completely remodeled kitchen is $45,000 or more. Why? You’re going to need someone to:
  • Help you select the right products for your budget and lifestyle.
  • Create detailed plans that follow building codes. Design plans should show all your decisions.
  • Refer you to qualified contractors and suppliers.

The third question will help you refine who to hire.

 

What's a designer going to cost me?#4: “Okay,” you say, “I get it. But what is a kitchen-bathroom designer going to cost me?”

People ask the fourth question most frequently. It’s frustrating because there isn’t much specific information about fees. But keep reading! You will need more information to understand how designers calculate their fees. There are three basic systems that designers use:
  • Hourly rate
  • Flat fee
  • Percentage of the project cost

$ Hourly Rate

Jill Geisdorf of Chic on the Cheap was quoted on houzz.com, “No two projects are the same, and no two designers charge the same.” Bob Vila says, “Most independent kitchen designers charge by the hour with rates that can range from $65 to $250 an hour, and $125 to $150 is typical. If your designer charges by the hour, you’ll want an estimate of how many hours the designer expects your project will require.”

 

$ Flat Fee

This system gives designers the most flexibility because they can charge whatever they want for every project. You must know:

  • When the designer will expect payments.
  • What percentage of the fee they’ll expect you to pay for each interval.

$ Percentage Of The Project Total

The percentage system is a percentage of your total investment. The problem with this fee structure is that it’s in the designer’s best interest to increase your investment. Who’s going to be your advocate? Unfortunately, it will be you.

 

There are hidden gotchas with some designers' feesThere’s A hidden “Gotcha.”

Some decorators, designers, and kitchen-bath designers may charge a lower fee. But they’ll want to sell products to you so they can mark up how much you pay for those products. Also, they may receive referral or finder’s fees from contractors, manufacturers, and suppliers. Selling products and receiving finders’ fees increase their bottom-line income. You have a right to know how much the designer makes on products and referral fees. Of course, you should get a written agreement that states:
                • What services they do include for the fee they charge.
                • What services they don’t include for the fee they charge.
                • A description of how they calculate their fee.
                • Their maximum-not-to-exceed total fee.
                • How they will invoice you for their services.
 
Now, the fifth question:

 

Why are designers so secretive about their fee?#5: “Why Are Designers’ Fees So Secretive?”

I understand your dilemma. Everyone cites a range, but no one wants to be locked into a specific fee — publicly. I hear your frustration. But there are two reasons for the secrecy:
  • Designers do not want their competition to know what they charge homeowners.
  • Months or years after the fee is stated, someone may demand that fee, creating a potential dispute.

You’ll have to call candidates to gather information, including how much they charge, so that you can make an informed decision. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what and how they charge and be able to write it down on a comparison list? I will give you a free chapter from my award-winning book to help you! You can get a copy of the chapter immediately by simply filling out the request form below. Filling out the form will also subscribe you to my informative Newsletter filled with remodeling hints, tips, and special offers.

Variable Remodeling cost factorsVariables That Will Drive Up Your Investment

There’s one part of any remodeling project that will increase designers’ fees and the overall investment. It’s the complexity of the project. Here are some examples:

  • Non-standard cabinets loaded with storage accessories
  • Imported appliances, plumbing fixtures, and tile
  • Custom backsplashes and tile layouts
  • Changing your mind after the designer has finalized your plans

Up-front, honest communication about expectations is the best way to prevent problems. For example, if a designer has quoted a maximum fee based on what you’ve told them, you may have to re-negotiate their price if your project becomes more complex during the design phase.

Ethics, Honesty, IntegrityYou Ask For Total Honesty and Transparency. Here It Is!

Now I’m going to share my information with you. You deserve it! Here are the guarantees you get when I work with you:

  • I never sell products. Never! My responsibility is to help you find the best value for the products you buy. 
  • I have never received nor paid referral fees and never will. You’ll get the results you want for the lowest possible investment. I am transparent about what you’re paying for my services and provide a detailed written proposal immediately after a meeting with you.
  • I’ll help you select all the products for your remodeling project.
  • I’ll recommend contractors, manufacturers, and suppliers to you who I know are honest and ethical.
  • I’ll be available to you every day during the process! Yes, from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m., I’ll be available to answer questions and reassure you. Yes, we always answer the phone — unless we both happen to be in the middle of a call already.
  • I’ll reply to email within a 24-hour period.
  • I’ll provide detailed plans that include all of your decisions.
  • I’ll create Virtual-reality “photographs” of your finished project starting early in the design process, so you can make informed decisions about how it looks, feels, and functions.
 
Here is how I calculate my fee: After seeing your home and talking with you, my total fee is calculated compared to other similar projects I’ve had recently at my hourly rate of $135 multiplied by the number of hours I estimate your project will require. Here are two projects that are great examples:

 

A Master Bathroom that was 168 square feet (11′ x 14′), with the following features:

Designer Fee for Master Bathroom in Vancouver was $3,645

  • Minor changes to the layout
  • A private toilet room
  • Two sinks
  • Storage for all personal-care items and linens
  • A whirlpool tub
  • A large, separate tiled shower with fixed and personal showerheads, a shampoo niche, and a bench
  • Dimmable LED lighting
  • Powerful, quiet exhaust fans
I devoted about 27 hours to that and similar projects. At $135 an hour, my total fee for all my professional services was $3,645.
 

A Kitchen that was 250 square feet (15.5′ x 16′) with the following features:

Why are designers' fees so frightening?
  • Minor changes to the layout
  • New appliances (range, hood, refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave oven)
  • Quality plumbing fixtures
  • New custom cabinets
  • Stone countertops and custom backsplashes
  • Dimmable LED lighting
  • Ventilation that complies with current codes
  • Wood flooring
I devoted about 39 hours to that and similar projects. So my total maximum-not-to-exceed fee for all my professional services was $5,265 at $135 an hour.
 
I send invoices at least once a month. I calculate my fee to the nearest 15 minutes. You’ll pay only for the time I devote to your project. My total price remains the same unless you request more services or the scope of your project changes. My goal is to help you achieve your goals. Get information about my creative design process.
I hope that what I’ve written in this article answers your questions. Call me today if you still have questions or want to talk with me about your project.

 

In Conclusion

How much you pay a professional designer will be an essential part of your total investment. Their fee is only one aspect of your decision about who to hire. Your relationship with your designer will last from the day you meet until after finishing your project. Therefore, it should include:

  • Mutual trust and understanding.
  • A common goal.
  • Stellar communication.

You can call other designers and ask questions about how they work and how they charge for their services. Will you get honest information? Maybe and maybe not. Do they understand (and care) about your situation? Maybe and maybe not. Will they have similar guarantees to reassure you that you’re getting the best value? Maybe and maybe not. So why take a chance? Call me today and discover the positive influence I will have in your home and in your life!

Free download How to find and hire a professional designerGet a FREE Book Excerpt About Designers

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Photo of Diane Plesset, Bath-Kitchen DesignerDiane Plesset, CMKBD, CAPS, NCIDQ is a Homeowner Advocate specializing in helping homeowners with remodeling and addition projects. She has been the principal of D. P. Design since April 1984. Diane wrote the award-winning book “THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling” and has won many design awards.

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Tired of Frustration? 5+5 Outstanding Tips To Help You Plan For Your Home Remodeling

Frustration!

Are you tired of feeling frustrated during the pandemic? Are you feeling “pandemic overwhelm?”Frustration and Fear About Remodeling during the pandemic

Are you frustrated about how your home looks and works for you now? Is your home:

  • Cluttered, hard to organize and keep clean?
    • Is the pantry overflowing because you’re fixing at least three meals a day?
    • Are you buying and storing more snack foods?
    • Are there computers on the dining table with wires everywhere?
    • Is the entire family crowded around computers on the dining room table, leaving no place to eat?
    • Are school supplies and hobby paraphernalia everywhere except where they’re supposed to be?
  • Showing its age?
    • Have you been noticing all the deferred maintenance that you need to do?
    • Paint chipping and stained?
    • Appliances working poorly?
    • Old countertops and flooring showing years of wear?
    • Broken hinges and permanent stains on your dark wood cabinets?

Here you are, wanting or needing to freshen up your home. But you don’t know what to do or how to do it. Frustration has got you stuck! Maybe you were thinking about remodeling your kitchen, but the pandemic stopped you. Now you have to wait for the pandemic to end, right? Maybe and maybe not. More about that later.

First, I want to talk about what frustration is.

Exactly What Is Frustration?

Here’s a great definition: “The feeling of being upset or annoyed, because of an inability to change or achieve something. It’s the prevention of the progress, success, or fulfillment of something we want.”

We always have options, but we don’t see them.

Fear and Frustration Are Connected

First, fear takes over. It’s like a curtain drops in our mind, hiding all our options. We play the “What if?” game in our heads. When this happens to me, I envision the worst possible outcome.

Fear prevents us from making the right decisions about the present and the future. Then frustration enters the picture because we feel stuck and uncertain. I felt uncertain about the future until a friend helped me. “Fear and frustration are like a jumbo loan, with compound interest that accrues daily. This leaves us feeling stuck.

Here and Now

We are in the middle of very uncertain times. The pandemic is controlling everything in our lives. You know how your life has changed, and you don’t like it. You’re frustrated because you can’t have what you want:

  • To go back to work away from home and talk with co-workers in person.
  • To have your children back in school.
  • To go shopping without fear.
  • To fix and renovate your home so you can invite people to be with you in a comfortable environment.

You want everything to get back to the familiar normal. You’re not alone! So do I! But there may be a new normal when the pandemic ends. Not knowing, not being in control, becomes the fuel that feeds our frustration.

Conscious Decisions To Reduce Frustration’s Hold

I decided that fear and frustration weren’t going to control my life when the pandemic became a reality in February. Instead, I decided to take classes. I’m learning how to work on my business rather than working at my company. I’ve read more books in the past nine months than I have in the past several years. All the books have one thing in common. The stories are about people rising above whatever it was that was holding them back. They made conscious decisions to move forward and try new things.

5 Tips About How To Control Frustration (And Other Negative Feelings)

There are many ways that we can control our negative feelings. Here are some helpful tips from experts that will take about five minutes:

  1. Breathe. Take deeper, slower breaths for one or two minutes. I’ve learned to count to four as I inhale, then hold my breath to a count of four before exhaling while counting to four. I also use the phrase “I am at peace” when inhaling and “I let go” when I exhale. Here’s another breathing technique I use. I take in a very deep breath, hold it as long as possible, and then exhale forcefully like I’m blowing out a candle several feet away. During the pandemic, I’ve been breathing a lot!
  2. Take a couple of minutes to stop what you’re doing and look outside. Notice the light and shadow in the trees, or birds flying from branch to branch. Listen to your breath and notice your body relaxing. This has gotten me back to the present and “out of my head,” where frustration lives.
  3. Before you go back to what you were doing before, think of something — anything — that fills you with gratitude. For me, it’s the sky, no matter what the weather is. Nature has a calming influence on me. So do my cats when they’re not asleep in the other room.
  4. Gratitude opens the door to accept or at least acknowledge that the situation (pandemic) will not last forever. Change happens every day, even if we’re not aware of it.
  5. The next step is to say an affirmation in the present tense. What worked for me is: “I choose to transform my [feeling name] into positive action.”

I’ve been lucky to work with clients during this time. One couple is actually planning a new home to help them simplify their lives! The other homeowners want (and need) to remodel their homes. There’s one major similarity between these homeowners. They’re all planning now, so they’ll be ready for construction when the pandemic no longer controls their lives.

The other side of fear and frustration

It’s true! Everything you want is on the other side of Fear — and Frustration!

Here is how they’re preparing. This is something that you can do, too!

Planning For The Future

  • We met virtually, and they told me about their goals. We talked about what they don’t like and want to change and the specific details they want.
  • I asked about their budget for the entire project. I also asked when they’d like to start construction and when they want the project finished.
  • We talked about the options to begin the design process. I asked if they want me to take measurements of the areas they want to remodel. Or do they feel comfortable taking measurements and providing pictures? When I take measurements during the pandemic, I always follow guidelines. CDC and State regulations protect everyone’s health. Only one couple wanted to take their own measurements. They provided electronic copies of the sketch plus photos of the existing conditions.
  • Then I explained how I work. I gave them an estimate of my fee for preliminary plans only. This would allow them to get rough budget estimates from contractors. I also gave them an estimate of my fee for the entire project to end any surprises.
  • After the virtual meeting, I prepared and sent the homeowners a proposal. It included what we had discussed and verified that I had listened to them to remember what they said.

No one wants to remodel their home during the pandemic unless they plan to be living somewhere else. I agree with people’s reluctance about having strangers in their home now. A general contractor and his crew should perform a kitchen or bathroom remodeling. This can take several months. Now isn’t a good time for exposure to the virus.

Everything has proceeded very well with my clients. We’re all looking forward to the end of the pandemic! I’m excited about working with my client who lives in Clark County, Washington. It’s a master bathroom project. I’ve prepared two alternative plans for him and sent links to manufacturers’ websites. He’s selected most of the plumbing already. As soon as plumbing showrooms are open, we’ll make an appointment so he can see and touch when he’s chosen. Then we’ll visit other showrooms to look at countertop options and tile for the shower and floor.

Remodeling projects can be smooth, but there can be unforeseen problems. If homeowners aren’t familiar with the remodeling process, it can cause problems.

Fears and Frustrations During A Home Remodeling ProjectBiggest fears in home renovation graphic

In the past 36 years, I’ve worked with hundreds of homeowners. They’ve had different lifestyles, needs, and budgets. But many of them share two common feelings: fear and frustration.

Here are common fears I’ve observed that were confirmed in a recent online survey:

  • They won’t get their desired results or the products they want.
  • They’ll hire the wrong contractor.
  • They’ll hire the wrong designer.
  • They’ll spend more than they want. Several respondents decided to do the work themselves, D-I-Y. I’m going to check back in several months to ask questions about their projects and the results they got.

Homeowners can feel frustrated about time and money. Frustration happens to everyone, as we discovered earlier, if there are unrealistic expectations. Here’s what I’ve observed:

  • They want everything, including expensive luxury products, but their budget limits them.
  • They want the project to end by a specific date, often for a special occasion. But these tasks take months until completion:
    • Homeowners have to make decisions about the scope of their project and all products.
    • The designer has to get the plans ready.
    • Contractors have to prepare estimates.
    • The plan-check process for permits can take a month or more.
    • Construction from start to finish requires much longer.
  • One mistake can turn a remodeling project upside-down: Homeowners hire the contractor with the lowest estimate. But they’re frustrated by the workmanship that doesn’t meet their standards.

Yes, this is a simplified overview, but the similarity is pretty remarkable!

I’ve experienced fears and frustrations myself, so it makes me sad when it happens to other people. I try to help homeowners avoid fears and frustrations with honest communication.

We create our own frustration with unrealistic expectations and how we react to reality.

When we take responsibility for our lives, it reduces the chances of frustration.

Writing about fear and frustration reminds me of a project I had several years ago.

Case History

My client, “Barbara,” had a 1600-square foot home with three bedrooms and one bathroom. During our first appointment, Barbara told me about her kitchen remodeling project. It happened five years before we met. Her voice quivered, and she often paused when she talked about her kitchen remodeling. “The original kitchen didn’t fit my needs. I hired a contractor referred to me by neighbors who were very happy with what he did for them. The contractor said that I didn’t need a designer to help me.”

Her mouth became contorted, and her eyes squinted with anger. “My contractor did an excellent job but didn’t give any advice about details. He sent me to different showrooms to find the products. I was responsible for making all the decisions by myself.”

I asked, “Did you make any changes?”

“Yes,” she said, pounding her fist in the air. “It started when he asked me if I wanted to expand the kitchen into the family room to have an island. If I didn’t do that, he suggested a peninsula. First, I had to choose between a range or a cooktop with separate double ovens.”

Her frown softened, and she looked at me, like a child who’s lost their favorite toy. “I felt so alone, making all those decisions. I was afraid of making a mistake. I didn’t know what the project would cost.”

I knew that she was talking about feeling overwhelmed. Every kitchen remodeling project involves hundreds of choices. Here’s a shortlist of kitchen products that homeowners need to select:

  • Appliances
    • Type?
    • Manufacturer, model, and features?
    • Color (white? black? stainless steel?)
    • Size?
  • Cabinets
    • Wood and finish?
    • Style?
    • Storage?
      • Deep drawers?
      • Rollout shelves?
      • Corner lazy susans?
      • Pantry?
      • Utensil drawers?
  • Flooring
    • Wood?
    • Vinyl?
    • Tile?
    • Color?
    • Pattern?

Barbara said the work proceeded better than she expected. But two product decisions caused her to lose sleep: the countertop and backsplash. “The contractor got frustrated because it took so long for me to decide. He didn’t understand or care how overwhelmed I was. He wanted to get the job finished so he could move to his next project.”

Five years later, she was still enjoying her remodeled kitchen without any regrets. Now she was thinking about converting the smallest bedroom into a master bathroom.

“Are you ready to do this project?” I asked.

She answered with hesitation. “Yes, but I’m nervous about how much it’s going to cost. I’m fed up with my daily routine. I have to cram my skin-care products and makeup into a small drawer. I have to store my dryer, curling iron, brushes, and hairspray in a basket under the sink. I hate taking a shower in my tub. I’ve slipped several times, getting in and out, stepping over the tub.”

I reassured her that I’d be there for her during the bathroom project, beginning to end. I’d help her make all the decisions and communicate with her contractor. I’ll share the rest of Barbara’s story later. I want to lay a good foundation for your home remodeling.

Your Proposed Project and Overcoming Fears

Here you are, during the pandemic, anxious to embark on your home remodeling project. But you’re fearful. Are you ready, or are you still stuck in some ways? I understand and care how you feel. There are several essential questions that I want to ask you to think about:

  • How has the pandemic affected you and your lifestyle?
  • What makes you feel afraid?
  • Is your fear one about making an expensive mistake, or something else that has you stuck, unable to move forward?

Your project is unique. Your needs, lifestyle, and budget are individual, unlike any other homeowner I’ve known. But like I said earlier, there are similarities. I discovered that the best way to end negative feelings like fear is to be proactive.

Break your project into logical steps. Here are five significant steps that will help you. Each step has many phases that will help you achieve remodeling success.

“What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”

Step 1: Do Some Homework About Your Goals

  • Figure out your goals and what you want to achieve.
  • Family members’ input is essential.
  • Buy two or three magazines containing articles and pictures relating to what you want to do. Attach a “post-it” note to pictures and write what appeals to you about the image.
  • Visit the Houzz website (https://www.houzz.com), set up one or more portfolios, and start adding pictures. Contact the designer to ask questions about products, etc.

Step 2: Set A Budget

Figuring out how much to invest in your project is challenging! 87% of homeowners wanting to remodel don’t know what their investment will be. They don’t know how to establish a budget. They don’t have a clue!

  • I recommend the Cost vs. Value Report (https://www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2020/). Remodeling professionals create the report for specific cities all over America. It’s easy to navigate. Don’t be upset because they ask you to register. No one has ever complained about sponsors contacting them.

Step 3: Interview Design Professionals and Hire The Best Candidate

  • Get referrals from neighbors, friends, and business associates. If no one can help you, you can contact the following organizations for referrals:

National Association of Home Builders (https://www.nahb.org)
National Association of the Remodeling Industry (https://www.nari.org)
National Kitchen & Bath Association (https://nkba.org)

  • Interview design professionals.
  • Talk about your expectations and listen to their advice. Communication is the only way to get what you want. Or the way to discover different (or better) results.
  • Ask for and call all references given by the candidates.
  • Hire a design professional who listens to you and understands what you want. S/he should be someone who:
    • Has experience with similar projects to yours.
    • Understands building codes for your area.
    • Offers virtual meetings.
    • Uses Computer-Aided Drafting and creates virtual-reality “pictures” of your project.
    • Will prepare many preliminary plans for labor and materials estimates.
    • Will help you make adjustments to stay within your budget.
    • Will help you define your project’s scope.
    • Will refer you to qualified contractors.
    • Will prepare final plans and specifications for permits and construction.
    • Will communicate and work with everyone.

Step 4: Interview Contractors and Hire The Best Candidate

  • Ask your designer for referrals to contractors. Or get referrals from neighbors, friends, and business associates. You can also contact the professional organizations above.
  • Contractors may be busy, unavailable to help you. You may disqualify them if you sense a disconnect in communication.
  • Interview contractors and communicate about your project and your expectations. Verify that the contractors respect your designer’s role in your project’s success. (Unfortunately, many contractors don’t understand how to work with a designer).
  • Ask about the candidates’ ability and willingness to communicate daily, as needed, and their preferred tool (phone, email,  text, or a combination).
  • Ask for and call all references given to verify the candidates’ qualifications.
  • Verify that the candidate is licensed and bonded for the work they’ll be performing.
  • Hire a contractor who listens to you and understands what you want. Trust your “gut” and avoid hiring someone who guarantees to do your job for less than everyone else.

Step 5: The Design Process

During the design process, you’ll be making important decisions. Your project’s scope and your products need thought and consideration. Here are tips to help you:

  • Stay in touch with how you’re feeling. Be honest and share your feelings with your designer. Your designer should understand and help you.
  • Make timely decisions. Delaying decisions might create artificial anxiety. Products you want may have a long lead-time or have unexpected freight costs.
  • Order your products immediately. Arrange to store them until your contractor is ready for them. Access to installation manuals included with products is essential. The crew needs to read manuals so they can prepare the job site for the products.

The next step is construction. I’ve prepared a separate whitepaper that covers this.

There are many more steps until you achieve a finished remodeling project. With the designer and contractor working as a team, your project should be successful. I’m not going to deny that there may be challenges. Almost every remodeling project has unexpected challenges. To reassure you, I’ve never seen a problem that didn’t have many solutions. But the result has to be right for your circumstances. The goal is to make informed decisions during your remodeling journey.

Now, The Rest Of The Story — A Synopsis

Barbara’s bedroom-to-bathroom conversion project finished on time, within 2% of her target budget. It was a significant undertaking! I helped her select every product for her new bathroom and closet. Then I prepared several preliminary plans showing her the options. Her contractor provided estimates, and she made the right decisions for her budget. Yes, there were challenges, but we resolved them to Barbara’s satisfaction. I’ve attached a copy of the preliminary plans, elevations, and perspectives. You can see that this was a large project.

–o0o–

Now you know a little about how I work. You’ve learned about my philosophy. You’ll learn more when you read my newsletters. When you are ready to remodel, I want to be the design professional for your project. Call me so that we can talk about your goals, your concerns, your anxiety, and fears.

As-built plan eliminates fear and frustrationProposed Plan eliminates fear and frustrationElevation 1 eliminates fear and frustration

Elevation 2 eliminates fear and frustration

Elevation 3 eliminates fear and frustration

Elevation 4 eliminates fear and frustration

Elevation 5 eliminates fewar and frustration

Bathroom remodel eliminates fear and frustration

New master bathroom eliminates fear and frustration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Bathroom Ideas: 9 Fantastic Goals For You

Remodeled Master Bathroom in Vancouver

Follow These Steps For The Best  Bathroom Remodeling Results

Why do you need this information?

To help you:

  1. Avoid confusion and frustration.
  2. Make great decisions.
  3. Create a safe, functional, and beautiful area for you, your family, and/or your guests.
  4. Stay within a reasonable budget.

There’s so much that you can include in your remodeled master or guest bathroom, so many details to think about. It can be confusing and frustrating! Do you know that remodeling a master bathroom can be a higher investment per square foot than remodeling a kitchen? That’s why it’s important to follow my suggestions, so you make informed decisions about everything, and avoid expensive mistakes!

The goals of all remodeling are to improve — your home and your life. You’ve probably been thinking about this project for a long time. The average is 3 – 5 years. During the pandemic, though, it’s possible that you delayed remodeling. You are not alone! When everything settles down and you’re confident about proceeding, I’ve developed these steps to help you finish your project in a reasonable time, within a reasonable budget. Without unwanted hassles and frustrations. You deserve to get what you want and you deserve to be happy during and after your bathroom remodeling.

A standard bathroom is 5 feet by 8 feet and requires many decisions, many opportunities to make mistakes.

What’s the first mistake that homeowners often make?

Homeowners’ first inclination is to look at countertop materials and tile immediately. This is okay, but it may lead to confusion and it may delay other more important decisions like plumbing, cabinetry, and lighting.
Designer talking about a bathroom remodelWhere do you start? Why?

If you want to achieve all of the four goals I listed above, your first and most important decision is to hire a professional specializing in designing bathrooms. The National Kitchen and Bath Association has a great article about the importance of hiring a design specialist. It’s important because s/he will help you make important decisions that a contractor needs to give you a reliable estimate. It’s okay to call contractors, but you’ll probably hear that they need a set of plans and specifications to provide you information about your investment.

Years ago, I was at a plumbing showroom to check on a client’s order. The manager acknowledged me although he was helping another designer and her client. Honestly, I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, but I was close enough to hear the gist of their conversation. They were looking at a sketch that the manager had drawn of the bathroom, and they were talking about the whirlpool tub that the homeowner wanted. There was a long silence after the manager asked, “Where do you intend to put the pump access?” The designer asked, “Where would you recommend it? We don’t want it to get in the way of the front that’s going to be decorative tile.” Later, the manager confided that he’d prefer to work with experienced bath designers any day. I felt sorry for him, and for the homeowner.

 Step #2: Hire a remodeling contractor

Call a contractor to talk about your bathroom remodeling project

If you don’t have a contractor, it’s possible that your designer can refer you to someone who’s worked on her/his projects. There are several resources available to you to find a qualified, experienced local contractor. Local building/remodeling organizations affiliated with national organizations that have excellent websites:

I’ve included a link to an e-book at the bottom of this blog that will help you ask the right questions before hiring a designer or a contractor.
Houzz is a great website to get bathroom remodeling information and ideas

Deciding your style is Step #3

This step helps you answer this question: What style of bathroom do you want? Houzz.com has over 1.5 million pictures! You can select which style appeals to you:

Contemporary   *   Modern   *   Traditional   *   Mid-century Modern   *   Farmhouse   *   Transitional    *   Industrial   *   Scandinavian   *   Coastal

There are other filters, too, besides style:

  • Color
  • Size
  • Vanity color
  • Shower type
  • Shower enclosure
  • Bathtub
  • Wall tile color

The great thing about Houzz is that you can easily share everything with your designer by setting up a project folder on the Houzz website.

It can be confusing and frustrating to set a realistic budget for a bathroom remodeling project

Step #4: Determine a realistic bathroom remodeling budget

With help from your designer and contractor, establish a realistic budget. There’s an excellent resource to help you, the Cost vs. Value Report, where you can obtain up-to-date, local information for a bathroom remodeling project to help you decide how much you want to invest. They list the typical materials used for the size and project investment as a guideline.

Visit a local plumbing showroom to see all of the options for your remodeled bathroom

Step #5: Select ALL your plumbing!

Your designer may send links to plumbing manufacturers’ sites so you can pre-select what appeals to you. Next, visit a local plumbing supply showroom, not a “big box” store* with your designer to see (and feel) everything. There, you’ll see:

  • Toilets
  • Lavatory sinks
  • Tubs and/or shower bases
  • Lavatory faucets
  • Tub/shower plumbing
  • Valves and diverters
    • Showerheads
    • Tub fillers
  • Accessories
  • Towel bars
  • Grab bars (they’re crucial for safety!)
  • Mirrors
  • Vanity lighting
  • Exhaust fans
  • Tub/shower enclosures

Get an estimate for all the plumbing you’ve selected and see how it fits into your budget. You may have to make adjustments to what you’ve selected, but the good news is that you’re making tradeoffs before it becomes an emergency. Your designer and contractor will have recommendations to help you choose good-quality products that won’t break your budget.

*Why not a “big box” store?

♦ The employees may or may not have all the knowledge to really help you; they’re just there to take your order.

♦ The quality and selection of products are more limited than a specialty showroom; they show and sell only what’s most popular and profitable, known for making “deals” with manufacturers to keep the price low and their profit margin high.

A virtual-reality perspective of your remodeled bathroom is helpful for making decisions

Bathroom cabinet decisions: Step #6

Your designer can help you define how you will store all of your personal-care equipment and products, towels, and toiletries. S/he should help you make final decisions about the style and color using Virtual Reality Perspectives.  Your designer and contractor will also help find the right cabinet manufacturer to supply what you want.

Visit a dedicated tile and countertop showroom to see all your bathroom options

​Step #7: Finally (!) select your bathroom surface finishes

Visit a showroom with your designer, not a “big box” store* to select everything that will make your remodeled bathroom special:

  • Wall tile
  • Decorative tile
  • Shampoo/soap niches
  • Backsplash (it may be tile or the same material as your countertop)
  • Floor tile — think about radiant heating as a necessity, not a luxury.
  • Engineered stone countertop**

** If you prefer natural stone, visit a showroom that specializes in this material

Get an estimate for all the products you’ve selected and see how the numbers fit into your established budget. Make adjustments to what you’ve selected, if necessary, keeping your #1 priority items at the top of your “wish list.” It’s human nature to forget low-priority choices. We feel cheated if we have to give up something we really want.A dedicated file keeps all bathroom remodeling ideas, estimates, and information in one place

Step #8: Tie up your remodeling details

The last step before you actually start construction is several steps:

  • Verify all information on the plans that your designer has prepared, especially all of your product decisions
  • Obtain a preliminary-final estimate from the contractor that includes:
    • All products
    • All labor
    • Fees and expenses

Compare the estimate to your budget, and make final adjustments to your choices, as needed, especially if you’ve got a limited budget. Homeowners who use a spreadsheet to help them define and maintain their budget have the greatest chance for success without regrets.

Step #9: Get your remodeling construction started!

You’ve made it this far! In twelve weeks (or less), you’ll be able to enjoy your newly-remodeled bathroom! Congratulations!

There’s much more to bathroom remodeling than most people realize. Hope you haven’t found this blog too boring. Most of us dislike the process, especially when we want to leap ahead to the results. In a normal working relationship with my clients, I walk them through each step without making a big deal about it. When I write articles like this, I’m trying to protect everyone who wants to remodel a bathroom. Yes, that’s unrealistic. But if I help only one person — you — then I’ve been successful! Wishing you the best of luck with your bathroom remodeling project. I’m here, rooting for your success!

Get the FREE e-book (an excerpt from “THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling”):

Questions about your bathroom remodeling project? I will help you! I’m only one phone call or one email message away! Contact me today!

Diane Plesset, CMKBD, C.A.P.S., NCIDQ is a Homeowner Advocate who specializes in helping homeowners with remodeling and addition projects. She has been the principal of D. P. Design since April 1984. Diane is the author of the award-winning book “THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling” and many design awards.

Gratitude for Awesome Awards and Accolades

Top 50 Innovators Award

The phone rang at 7:15 am on October 4, not an unusual time for a client or contractor to call. My husband answered then said, “It’s a lady from Kitchen-Bath Design News.”

I thought, “They probably want to renew my subscription.”

“Hello, this is Diane.”

“Good Morning, Diane, this is Autumn McGarr. I’m an editor with Kitchen-Bath Design News. I’m calling to tell you that you’ve been included in this year’s ‘Top 50 Innovators.’ Congratulations!”

This couldn’t have come at a better time. I was in the final stages of a kitchen project that had taken a toll on my confidence, working with a difficult contractor. It would soon be over.  I’ve been fortunate in my 36-year career to work with great clients and contractors, to win awards, prizes, and accolades. In the few minutes after the phone call, I re-visited my very first project after establishing D. P. Design.

The trouble with most stories is that there are too many details, so I’m going to lay the foundation quickly.

Brief History — Inspiration To Become A Designer

In 1979, my husband and I bought stereo stores in San Francisco and Palo Alto. I really enjoyed working with our customers, helping them rearrange furniture for the “sweet spot” of realistic stereo effect. We’d developed a satellite+subwoofer system that people loved. They could have great sound in their homes without looking like a professional recording studio. That’s when I decided to take classes at the local college offering interior design. I knew that this would be my future, helping homeowners enjoy their living environments. I loved the architectural drafting and kitchen-bath classes the most.

Then a major recession happened in 1982 that forced us to close both stores. I continued with school and was hired by a local custom cabinet manufacturer. This experience verified that my future would be designing kitchens and bathrooms. I graduated with multiple degrees in interior design, kitchen and bath design, and lighting design. During the last semester, I hired an architect to help me hone my drafting skills because the college professor believed that all interior designers weren’t qualified.

Architectural drafting is one example of what I did to learn what I’d be using for years. For every assignment, I was compelled to work harder and longer to get what I believed to be barely-acceptable results, comparing myself to the other students.  I was continually shocked by high grades and accolades I received for the assignments and tests. In my mind, I really didn’t deserve it.

Interior Design Education, Graduation and First Award

I admired and respected all of the teachers, but there was one in particular that I’ll never forget, Hub McDaniel. I’m grateful for his impact on my professional life. He was an advocate for the Americans with Disabilities Act. He advised us frequently, “Learn everything you can about accessibility and start using it in all of your projects.” His advice stuck with me, one of the major reasons I became a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist. He also said, “Pass the NCIDQ examination. It’s the best way for you to prove a high level of professionalism with education, examination, and experience.” I added the NCIDQ to the Certified Bath Designer and Certified Kitchen Designer examinations and successfully passed all three. Passing tests and earning credentials is a small part of my commitment. Applying what I’ve learned to help Homeowners achieve their goals is 99.9% of my commitment. Learning about and sharing Frank Lloyd Wright’s design philosophy is a major driving force in my career.

Accolades FLW DoghouseIt was Hub’s admission about his passion for Frank Lloyd Wright’s work and philosophy that had an impact on me. He found ways to include examples of Mr. Wright’s genius often during class . The final exam for his class was to design dog houses that showed a knowledge of different types of roof styles. One of my examples had a flat roof with deep eaves. There were banks of side-by-side narrow windows on three sides, and a doorway on the fourth side flanked with two flat bowls on pedestal bases. The “architect” signed the perspective: Frank Lloyd Woof. Hub’s influence on me is the reason that my husband and I are living in our dream home, inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Gordon House” in the Oregon Garden.

Every year, teachers and students in the Interior Design Department selected one person to receive the “Henry Adams Award,” for exemplary skills and talents. There were many students who I felt were top contenders. All of them had way more talent and ability than I did. When they chose me for the award, I was sure they had made a mistake, or I was having a dream. When Clarellen Adams announced the award, she said that the person receiving the award had proven a higher commitment to being a professional interior designer than other students. That’s when it sunk in that attitude and effort guarantee better results. It’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten.

I was lucky to have a few minutes of a private conversation with Mrs. Adams, who had developed the famous Design Center in San Francisco with her late husband, Henry. They were dynamos in the interior design community, and masters of marketing. She gave me advice that I followed immediately, “Send out press releases about your award to all local newspapers and magazines. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.” She was absolutely right!

The Birth of D. P. Design and First Clients

It was hard to believe how many people read the articles and called me to help them redesign a kitchen or bathroom. It was time to quit my job at the cabinet shop and establish D. P. Design. One lady who called reminded me about meeting with her and her husband when I was still employed with the cabinet maker. “I saw the article about you in the Mercury News. We haven’t remodeled our kitchen yet, and we’d like you to help us.”

Accolade kitchen beforeThe original kitchen felt like a dungeon. It had dark stained cabinets, olive-green carpeting, and olive-green tile counters. The only light source was a glaring fluorescent fixture that encircled a large skylight. We worked together to achieve a well-lit kitchen where they could display their collection of Red Skelton clown figurines and plates. The couple also collected original Red Skelton clown paintings which were used as inspiration for colorful accessories.

Accolade kitchen in magazineThe remodeled kitchen included a custom induction cooktop, a commercial wok, a gas cooktop, Sub-Zero refrigerator, and a Thermador micro-thermal oven. Induction cooktops are popular now, but at the time this kitchen was created, there was only one manufacturer of induction cooktops, “Fasar.” The couple hired a local artist to paint the hot water heater door in the walk-in pantry. It was a portrait of the wife, who was pregnant at the time, a golf enthusiast, dressed up like a clown. She’s sitting barefoot on a stool, in front of a window, with a frying pan in one hand and a golf club in the other hand. The bottom of her apron reads, “I’d rather be golfing.”

I was lucky to find a Brunshwig fabric that had a circle of flowers for window treatments in the adjoining eating nook. The same fabric was the inspiration for hand-painted 12×12 “Fasar” tiles and a mural behind the gas cooktop and wok. The same fabric provided inspiration for three-dimensional custom stained-glass doors in the wall and pantry cabinets, created by an artist in San Francisco. He duplicated the flowers and butterflies beautifully! This kitchen was remodeled over 25 years before LED strip lights, so I devised a way to light the stained glass with automobile dome lights.

I had an itchy-twitchy feeling about this project, a feeling that I’ve had many times since that often precedes an accolade or award. A well-known architectural photographer took 4×5 pictures of the kitchen. Again, remembering Clarellen Adams’ advice, I sent press releases to local newspapers and magazines. No one was interested. Then I remembered a discussion with the editor of Kitchen & Bath Business magazine at a seminar I’d attended. She said, “We’re always interested in projects. Send us copies of photos and detailed information.”

First Major Accolade

Accolade Kitchen PantryI sent everything about the project to the magazine in April 1986. Five months went by and I was ready to give up until one of the editors called in mid-September. “We’re thinking about including your kitchen project in an upcoming issue. Do you have time to answer a few questions?” That phone call lasted for over an hour. I anxiously anticipated the arrival of the October issue. Nothing about the project. The November issue didn’t include my project either. “Okay,” I thought, “this project wasn’t good enough for such a well-known publication after all.”

In December, the first west-coast Kitchen-Bath Industry Show was being held in Long Beach. The huge convention hall was packed with hundreds of exhibits featuring the latest technology and design elements. Thousands of attendees from all over the country and several foreign countries played “bumper bodies” in the aisles, trying to see the exhibits. Kitchen & Bath Business magazine had a large booth at the center of the exhibits. As we approached, I saw a continuous row of their December issue displayed on every inch of the countertop. Then I saw the cover. There was my kitchen project!

The Impact of Awards, Accolades, Medals, and Prizes

Ever since that wonderful day in December, receiving third-party acknowledgment for a job well done, I know the gratitude that athletes feel when they win gold medals at the Olympics. Or how medical researchers feel when they discover a cure for an insidious disease. The pride and gratitude that Nobel Prize winners feel. How performers feel when they are given a lifetime achievement award. The over-the-moon joy that new parents feel.

This is how I felt when Autumn McGarr called in October. The inclusion in the Top 50 Innovators doesn’t mean that I’m better than anyone else in my profession. It’s an acknowledgment of commitment to excellence in all ways, at all times. An accomplishment, award, prize, or medal for one of us is a major achievement for all of us — inspiration and motivation to be better and do better. And use everything I’ve earned and learned to help my clients achieve their goals. It’s a wonderful upward spiral!

See a pictures of all Awards and Press that D. P. Design has received.  If you want to update your home with a home addition, a remodeled kitchen or bathroom, call today! I’d love to chat with you about your goals!

Diane Plesset, CMKBD, C.A.P.S., NCIDQ is a Homeowner Advocate who specializes in helping homeowners with remodeling and addition projects. She has been the principal of D. P. Design since April 1984. Diane is the author of the award-winning book “THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling” and many design awards.

© Copyright 2019 D. P. Design — All Rights Reserved. Rev. 1/21

Best Bathroom Details Help to Make Great Decisions

Best bathroom details for a personal retreat

Bathroom Details — Who Needs Them, And Why?

You need to know what bathroom details you want to help you avoid confusion and frustration.  So you 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 important 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 fixtures and plumbing fittings, and cabinetry. Your first decision for your bathroom remodel is: what style do you want? If you didn’t read my 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 finishes (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 that will save you money. Your investment can be less than $200 for a white, two-piece, short-front toilet with an 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 that can be installed at any height, and easy to clean underneath;
  • Floor-mount with a skirt that hides the ugly P-trap that’s easier to clean than a non-skirted toilet;
  • An elongated bowl that provides better ergonomics;
  • Dual-flush buttons that provide extra water-saving;
  • Bidet seat that provides better personal hygiene and is 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 that’s set into the countertop with the rim exposed;
  • Top-mount “vessel” that has the entire sink sits on top of the countertop;
  • Under-mount  that’s installed under the countertop (NOTE: the rim must be flat and unfinished;
  • Under-mount with front edge overhang that’s often referred to as “European” style;
  • Integral  that’s 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 the 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, and it requires a dedicated outlet.

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
    • “Standard” wall mount with a removable personal showerhead (held in place with a magnet)
    • Rainhead wall mount
    • Rainhead ceiling mount
  • Adjustable shower heads
  • Personal shower heads on a slide bar; the latest innovation is a two-piece unit that’s held together magnetically
  • Bodysprays

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.

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 the education, training, and experience to personally guide you through all of the important decisions. They will help you avoid all the negative feelings that you would have felt. A professional designer will prepare detailed plans reflecting all of your decisions, making the permit and construction easier.  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.

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

As a Certified Master Kitchen-Bath Designer, I  will help you make all decisions for your remodeled bathroom. My goal is to help you achieve a personal haven of tranquility that reflects your lifestyle and priorities within a reasonable budget. I’d love to talk with you about your bathroom remodeling goals! Call me today!

Diane Plesset, CMKBD, C.A.P.S., NCIDQ is a Homeowner Advocate who specializes in helping homeowners with remodeling and addition projects. She has been the principal of D. P. Design since April 1984. Diane is the author of the award-winning book “THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling” and many design awards.

Essential Details Are Crucial For Your New Kitchen

Award-winning kitchen with many essential details

Many essential details are crucial to achieving 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 a 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. It 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 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 working triangle’s importance. 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 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

Award-winning kitchen and lower family room with many essential detailsLighting 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 are 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 the 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 an object of interest, like beautiful blown-glass pendant fixtures over an island or peninsula. Accent lighting creates visual interest in a room.

Recap: Essential Details For Your Kitchen

Your new kitchen requires a lot of thought about all of the essential details, starting with style to be successful. 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.

PODCAST: Essential Details For Your Kitchen

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Diane Plesset, CMKBD, C.A.P.S., NCIDQ is a Homeowner Advocate who specializes in helping homeowners with remodeling and addition projects. She has been the principal of D. P. Design since April 1984. Diane is the author of the award-winning book “THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling” and many design awards. Contact Diane today, to talk about your kitchen remodeling project.