Music: Profound, Powerful Influence In Our Lives

Music: Profound, Powerful Influence In Our Lives

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

Podcast Discussion With Jay Plesset

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

Paul McCartney Music

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

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

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

Mannheim Steamroller Music

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

Music’s Inspirational Influence

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

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

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

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

Parts Express

Meniscus Audio

Madisound Portal

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

Music is the greatest gift we have!

Listen Now!

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

 

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

The Exciting World of Color Revealed

The Exciting World Of Color Revealed

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

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

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

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

Color Theory

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

Color WheelThe Color Wheel and Color Harmonies

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

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

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

Munsell Color TreeProfessional Tools To Create The Exciting World Of Color

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

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

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

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

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

Colorful Paint CansColor Names Are For Consumers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you remember the:

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

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

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

Color In Your Home

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

Dominant color = 60%

Secondary color = 30%

Accent color = 10%

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

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

How color changes visual spaceAccent Walls Change How A Room Looks

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

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

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

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

Color Psychology ChartPsychology: Expanding Our Understanding And Use Of Color

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

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

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

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

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

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

Podcast: The Exciting World of Color Revealed!

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

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. www.modernflames.com

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.bebrilli.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!

Great Home Products!

GREAT HOME PRODUCTS!

(#1 of 2)

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

UNIQUE BATHROOM INVENTION (#1)

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

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

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

FANTASTIC HOME LIGHTING DEVICE (#3)

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

DIFFERENT HOME TREND REFINEMENT (#4)

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

BEST HOME INSULATION PRODUCT(#5)

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

STUPENDOUS HOME LAUNDRY EQUIPMENT (#6)

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

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

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

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

MARVELOUS BATHROOM MIRROR UPDATE (#7)

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

DESIRABLE TUB AND SHOWER DOOR ADVANCEMENT (#8)

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

 UNIQUE HOME CONCEALED DOOR (#9)

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

FANTASTIC CUTTING-EDGE GROUT (#10)

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

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

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

LUXURY FOLDING DOORS AND WINDOWS BRING OUTSIDE IN

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

TO SUMMARIZE: GREAT HOME PRODUCTS ENHANCE OUR LIVES

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

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

 

Remember, I’m available to:

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

Contact me today!

Home Trends, In and Out

Kitchen with latest trends

HOME TRENDS, IN and OUT

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

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

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

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

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

SMALLER HOMES WITH MORE DETAIL

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

URBAN LIVING

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

BUILDING SYSTEMS THAT SAVE NATURAL RESOURCES

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRENDS FOR YOUR KITCHEN:

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

TRENDS FOR YOUR BATHROOMS:

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

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

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

TRENDS: OTHER ROOMS IN YOUR HOME

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

DEAD AND DYING TRENDS

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

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

Tile countertops

Over-the-range microwaves

Eclectic clutter

Shag carpet

Wood paneling

Tiffany lamps

Word art

Futons

Fast furniture

Nautical motifs

Edison bulbs

Tufted headboards

Tuscan kitchens

Damask

Wallpaper borders

Window valances

 

Mason jar mania

Wicker furniture (inside)

Dusty pastels

Hollywood mirror lights

Avocado green

Harvest gold

Ferns everywhere

Plaid

Pine furniture

Vertical blinds

Bean bag chairs

Giant silk plants

Fake fruit

Sponge-painted walls

Glass blocks

Popcorn ceiling

Ruffled bedskirts

Heavy headboards

Floral everything

Lace tablecloths and doilies

Cherry cabinets

White quartz countertops.

Gendered rooms

Cool grays

Terazzo tile

Fiber art

Overdone brass

Accent walls

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

LOVE YOUR HOME AND BELONGINGS

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

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

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

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

“Be yourself; everyone else is taken.”

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

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

Whole-House Remodeling Project

Homeowners’ Wishes Become My Goals

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

Homeowners’ Wish List:

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

Challenges to Prevent The Whole-House Remodeling

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

◊ Preliminary plans of the proposed addition and deck;

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

It’s human to go ahead and assume that everything will be okay. But in this case, it wasn’t. The 760 square-foot addition came too close to the floodplain. The planning official said that he definitely needed to see a soil report. The homeowners weren’t happy with the situation, but they hired a soil engineer. The engineer drilled several holes down to 50 feet in the proposed addition area and discovered that the “soil” was mostly sand. The homeowners were devastated. They had bought a home, thinking it would be everything they always wanted. They had two choices: To resell the home, find another home, stay in this home, and make the best of it.

Challenges Overcome!

The Whole-House Remodeling Project Forged Ahead!

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

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

Whole-House Remodeling Project Details Room By Room:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Success!

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

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

See all of the virtual-reality renderings I prepared for the project.

“See the Possibilities. Create a Positive Difference.”

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

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.

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