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


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.


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

















3 Terrific Kitchen Remodeling Tips For Today

Case Study: Kitchen Remodeling Project During Pandemic

I’ve got 3 Terrific Kitchen Remodeling Tips to help you! 

But first, a question: Why is kitchen remodeling a mystery for most homeowners? There are two logical reasons:

    • Millions of print and online magazines show kitchen remodeling results. But few articles outline how professional designers helped their clients.
    • Kitchen designers use the rules and guidelines we’ve learned. Unfortunately, they’re a boring list of items about Function and Safety for homeowners. But not for us!

The National Kitchen & Bath Association 31 Kitchen Guidelines is essential information for designers. But, is it necessary for you to know? No, especially if you’ve hired a kitchen designer.

Surrounded By Too Much Information

You’re living with pandemic challenges every day. Are you tired of reading and hearing about them — not because you don’t care. Do you feel helpless when the media overwhelms you with sobering statistics?

There’s nothing we can do about product and labor shortages, either. We see pictures of loaded container ships waiting to dock and unload their cargo. Reporters talk about how much more we’re paying for everything compared to 2019. Often, they end the report about how bad it’s going to get in the next year. On and on.

We get it! Until these issues affect us personally, it’s easy to think that the media examples are somewhere else, happening to someone else. So I’ve decided to share what’s happened with a recent client, how the pandemic affects her kitchen remodeling project, and what we’re doing about it.

Terrific Kitchen Remodeling Tips

As you read Mary’s case history, keep these tips in mind:

Tip #1. Plan ahead. Wa-a-a-y ahead. The days of immediate gratification may never return. Answer the following questions:

        • When do you want your kitchen remodeling finished?
        • What are your specific goals?
        • How much do you want to invest?
        • What products do you want to use?
        • What tradeoffs are you willing to make?

Tip #2. Plan and do what’s needed — NOW! :

        • Get your total investment ready;
        • Hire a kitchen design professional and a contractor (or a design-build firm);
        • Make decisions about everything ASAP;
        • Order all products and store them until your contractor is ready for them.

Tip #3. Handle setbacks and challenges with grace and compassion. Remember that we’re all in this pandemic together. Avoid the “blame game,” if possible.

Pandemic Case History

Mary has been living in the same home for 25 years. Before they bought the house, they knew that the 190-square foot kitchen needed remodeling. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the money to update the kitchen immediately.

Instead of moaning and groaning about the circumstances, Mary decided to update the kitchen:

      • First, she painted the dark-brown kitchen cabinets a soft off-white and replaced the old “belly-button” knobs with new pulls.
      • Then she covered the laminate countertops with tile that looked like a professional did the job.
      • Finally, as they could afford it, Mary and her husband bought white appliances.

Original Builder Created 5 Major Problems

Her D-I-Y kitchen began showing its age three years ago. She knew that the original builder created function and safety problems that no one could resolve without completely remodeling the kitchen:

  1. Base corner cabinets that need her to get on her hands and knees to find what she vaguely remembers storing months before;
  2. Wall cabinets adjacent to the windows that have the same problem as #1 above;
  3. Only 3″ of countertop space between her ovens and cooktop (wide enough for a tasting spoon);
  4. Painted wall cabinets on both sides of the 30″ cooktop are scorched and peeling from exposure to heat and moisture because the builder only allowed room for a 30″ wide hood;
  5. Nothing but air between the top of the wall cabinets and the ceiling;
  6. One incandescent fixture in the center of the kitchen;

Do these problems sound familiar? In the 1970s, builders didn’t understand the importance of kitchen function and storage! They didn’t have access to the 31 Guidelines (and if they did, they wouldn’t use them anyway).

Every Kitchen Remodeling Problem Has At Least One Great Solution!

Here are specific solutions for each of the problems listed above:

  1. New base corner cabinets will have accessible swing-out lazy susan units.
  2. Angled wall corner cabinets will make storage and accessibility much more effortless.
  3. The oven cabinet will move towards the patio door, allowing generous room for a pull-out base pantry with a new wall cabinet above. Mary will have about 15″ of usable countertop space between the cooktop and ovens.
  4. A new 36″ wide hood will protect the new wall cabinets.
  5. New wall cabinets and tall cabinets will close the gap and give Mary more usable storage (even if it’s for items used only once a year).
  6. Mary’s new kitchen will have dimmable recessed LED fixtures for general lighting. In addition, there will be dimmable LED strip lighting under the wall cabinets for task and mood lighting.
  7. BONUS! Moving the oven cabinet required the elimination of a bookcase that Mary uses frequently. I’m happy that we came up with a great alternative: install a built-in bookcase in a wall adjacent to the eating area. There’s still room for a narrow phone counter on the side of the oven cabinet!

Quest For A New Kitchen

Mary embarked on her quest for a new kitchen in May 2021, hoping for completion when her son will be visiting for Christmas. He loves to cook and bake and asked to be involved in the kitchen redesign.

She knew that a complete kitchen remodeling would address all the function and safety challenges. But she couldn’t decide between the aesthetic options available:

Should she get a new range and install a microwave-convection oven – OR –
     Get a gas cooktop and install a double oven with a microwave-convection oven at the top?
Should she stay with off-white cabinets and white appliances -OR –
     Opt for wood cabinets and stainless steel appliances?
How would white appliances look with wood cabinets – OR –
     Would stainless steel appliances look better with off-white cabinets?

She visited houzz.com and saved pictures to a project folder. But none of the photos showed the options she needed and wanted to see. Time slipped by. So after she hired me, I created photorealistic renderings of how her kitchen would look with the different options. Here are the options I showed her:

Virtual Reality Renderings showing options

Photorealistic Renderings: White cabinets with varying options of appliances

Photorealistic Renderings of wood cabinets and appliance options

Photorealistic Renderings: Wood cabinets with different options of appliances

Move Ahead, Then Stop. And Wait.

Mary made decisions so we could plan for construction that her contractor scheduled to start in mid-October. But we ran into the snag that the media has been reporting: product delays. The appliances may be available, but freight and delivery charges will be a budget-buster. Cabinets won’t be ready for delivery until the second week of December at the earliest.

Last week, I suggested that she put off starting her kitchen remodel until early 2022. She was disappointed but understood that working in her old kitchen with her son would be better than having everything in total disarray during his visit. So Mary gets gold stars for following Rule #3!

Case Study how homeowner used 3 Terrific Kitchen Remodeling Tips to help

Homeowner is excited about how her remodeled kitchen will function and look!

Collaboration About Function, Safety, And Your Style

The pandemic has forced us to shift our priorities and rethink our lives. The NKBA 31 Guidelines remain the foundation for Function and safety, essential parts of every kitchen. But there’s nothing in the Guidelines about kitchen appearance. That’s when our collaboration gets the results you want, how you want your kitchen to look. When we start with the best kitchen function and safety possible, you can have any style you desire! I’m delighted to use both hemispheres of my brain to help you like I’ve helped Mary and hundreds of other homeowners. 

You’ve read about Mary’s Case Study that’s ongoing. Now read a Case Study about one of my favorite finished projects.

Do you recognize familiar problems that you’re having with your kitchen? Do you have other kitchen remodeling problems? Call me, and let’s chat about the things that are bugging you! In 37 years, I’ve discovered that most challenges have multiple solutions. It’s a matter of finding the right solution for your needs, your budget, and your unique lifestyle.


How To Create An Accessible Bathroom


Ridgefield WA accessible bathroom features Evergreen Fog



Paul is a Baby Boomer with one health issue. He knew that he wanted to transform his existing bathroom into an accessible bathroom for the future and had great ideas, but he didn’t know how to do it. He had set aside money for the project, suspecting that the remodeling project would be expensive. But was it enough money? He knew he needed help. We talked about what he wanted to achieve and his investment range during a long phone conversation. His goals included:
  • A roll-in shower with an inline drain that he’d seen online when he searched for “accessible bathrooms.”
  • An accessible toilet. Paul described the existing narrow toilet room that had a door. He wanted to remove the door to make the toilet accessible from a wheelchair or a walker.
  • Replace the existing linen closet with cabinets for better storage and accessibility.
  • Radiant heating below the bathroom and closet floors.



Paul invited me to see his home and bathroom at the end of our conversation. The help he needed is my specialty, creating accessible bathrooms.
Approaching the neighborhood, I observed that Paul lives in a new development, one of many in his area. Young trees are a giveaway. Developers mow down all established trees to make construction easier and faster. While planned communities have the advantage of new construction technology, the homes often lack accessibility for homeowners with health problems or limitations.
Bathroom Before it became an Accessible Bathroom


Paul purchased one of the few one-story homes in the development. A brief tour of his home proved the developer’s lack of knowledge about accessibility. Here are significant problems that I’m showing on the “Before” plan:
  • There was a narrow hallway next to the master bedroom, not enough space for accessibility.
  • The bedroom door was only 30 inches wide; no way to widen the door or use offset hinges.
  • A 36-inch walkway between the king-size bed and the bathroom doorway prevented clear access to the bathroom.
  • The bathroom had a 28-inch wide door, 4 inches too narrow for a wheelchair or walker.
Inside the bathroom, here’s what I observed — major use problems:
  • Although there were 50 inches between the lavatory countertop and the shower, sliding glass doors on top of a curb enclosed the shower, making it inaccessible for a wheelchair or walker.
  • The interior of the shower was 60 inches wide by 32 inches deep.
  • A narrow 28-inch door limited access to the toilet room, which was 64 inches wide by 33-3/8 inches deep.
  • There wasn’t space anywhere in the bathroom for a 5-foot turning radius required for wheelchairs.



Accessible Bathroom in Ridgefield, WAI was happy that Paul hired me to help him transform his bathroom. He asked great questions, weighed all the information, and did a lot of research. However, it took about four months for Paul to make decisions because one feature relates to all other features.
Paul asked if we could add a window in the wall between the shower and the toilet room during the design phase because he wanted more daylight in the bathroom. This wall had the existing showerhead and valve. We discussed the pros and cons, then agreed that the best location for the new showerhead and valve was at the opposite end of the shower, the wall dividing the bathroom from the bedroom. Paul’s decision made the other wall available for a tempered-glass window. But his decision increased the investment in framing and rough plumbing. He realized that the money he’d set aside wasn’t enough. He could forego the new window, or he could add money to the investment. He decided that the new window added value and personal enjoyment to the bathroom. Natural daylight is something we all need, especially in bathrooms and kitchens. 
We went shopping together for countertop material, tile, and flooring. Also, we exchanged emails about plumbing and lighting. I included all decisions in four 24″ x 36″ pages of Paul’s plans. Soon after I completed the plans, Paul interviewed several contractors and decided to hire a local company specializing in building accessible homes. It was a well-considered decision, like every other decision he made. 
Accessible Bathroom plan in Ridgefield, WA



 How did we solve the problems to create Paul’s accessible bathroom?
  • There is no door between the bedroom and the bathroom, and the doorway is wider.
  • There is no glass shower door or glass shower screen, so Paul can move safely and turn a wheelchair around freely. Now there’s enough room for accessible safety and comfort.
  • The new accessible bathroom shower floor has the same tile as the bathroom and the closet.
  • Floors in the bathroom and closet have radiant heating.
  • There is no shower curb — a requirement for accessible bathrooms.
  • There’s an inline drain against the back wall in the shower.
  • There’s a drop-down seat with an adjacent corner grab bar
  • Two corner soap+shampoo shelves are also grab bars.
  • There’s a vertical grab bar next to the shower valve, so Paul can support himself safely when he’s turning on the water.
  • There’s a multi-purpose showerhead and a personal shower. Personal showers are very important for a feeling of independence in accessible bathrooms.
  • We’ve swapped the location of the ADA-height toilet+bidet 180 degrees.
  • We removed the toilet room door and made the doorway as wide as possible for better accessibility.
  • We’ve planned a convenient shelf for personal-care items next to the toilet.
  • The toilet tissue holder is also a grab bar.
There are significant changes to the cabinets, too:
  • There’s an open knee well on the right-hand side for wheelchair and walker accessibility.
  • We’ve placed the faucets on the sides of both lavatories for easier control. NOTE: Faucets at the rear of lavatory sinks make it nearly impossible to reach when someone is sitting in a wheelchair or using a walker.
  • A new pantry cabinet replaces the linen closet. It has three drawers at the bottom and a pair of doors at the top.
  • All cabinets feature soft-close hinges and glides that are easy to operate.





Paul’s favorite color family is warm green. Here are the finishing products he selected:
Evergreen Fog Sherwin-Williams paint for accessible bathroom

After receiving a Sherwin-Williams newsletter with their color of the year, “Evergreen Fog,” I recently recommended it to Paul. I shared two virtual-reality perspectives to show him how it looks. Read more about “Evergreen Fog,” and don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter where I intend to share more information about accessibility, colors, and design.

The design phase was as smooth as butter in warm weather because Paul took (and made) time to make informed decisions about everything for his remodeled accessible bathroom. I’m sure that the actual remodeling will be as smooth. Construction will begin within a month. I can’t wait to see the results!
Accessible bathrooms are an important part of total home accessibility, vital for all ages and all stages of ability. I previously wrote about important features of accessibility. But an accessible bathroom has to be visually and emotionally pleasing, too. To be successful, accessible bathrooms (and accessible kitchens) must look like they belong in your home. They should fit in with your lifestyle and personal preferences. This is why I’d love to help you!
Universal Design is a synonym for accessibility. I prefer accessibility and Universal Design to the term “Aging In Place,” don’t you? Leave a comment about your opinions!

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.
Read about Diane Plesset’s design process.

Do you have specific needs for your master bathroom? I’d love to talk with you about your goals! Send me an email, or call me!

© Copyright 2022 D, P, Design – All Rights Reserved


Is It Absolutely The Right Paint Color Or Not?

Choosing the right paint color is overwhelming


How challenging is it to select the right paint colors for your home? Color is an essential feature in your home. Your walls are the backdrop for your life story as it unfolds. It’s personal, like your fingerprints. But it also tells everyone who you are and what’s important to you. There are so many choices! It’s easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated.
Choosing the right paint color is an overwhelming challenge for most people. You want to use your favorite color — let’s say blue — for your living room walls. You go to the paint store to discover hundreds of blue colors available. You stand there anxiously. You pull a chip out of the bin, look at it for several minutes before you put it back. An employee sees you and approaches. “Can I help you?”  You reply, “No, I’m just trying to find the perfect color. You deal with people like me every day.” He nods and steps away. Finally, you get several samples and paint swatches to help you decide.
Weeks later, when you finish painting and rearranging your room, it looks so different! It takes a while to adjust to the change, but you know you made the best choice.


Many paint companies provide fantastic tools to help you visualize results. Yes, you can buy peel-stick or small-quantity paint color samples. But it’s easier to upload a photo of your room and select the color you want. Then, voila, there it is! We’d love to help you if technology confuses you. We can show you during a Zoom session, and we can consult with you about colors for your home. 
Years ago, I switched from a well-known brand to Sherwin-Williams paint. I discovered it was easier to do touch-ups with Sherwin-Williams. Using the other brand, I’d end up repainting an entire wall. In addition, the texture and color of the paint looked different in the touched-up area even when I used well-known techniques. More about the touch-up methods later.
Sherwin-Williams is now my go-to company for paint. Not only because they have great ads, but their products are top-quality. Low- and no-VOC, anti-microbial for all surfaces.
I recommend Sherwin-Williams to all my clients. I’ve subscribed to their newsletter and gotten regular updates about paint technology and colors since it became my #1 choice. In the past, I’d look at their message about the featured color and think, “That’s nice,” then delete the message.


Sherwin-Williams Featured paint color Evergreen FogSomething happened when I got the January S-W newsletter. It featured a color called “Evergreen Fog.” A thought hit me like a giant snowball. What if I created virtual-reality perspectives to show the color in clients’ projects? I’ve been creating virtual-reality renderings for clients to help them select products and paint colors for many years. The blog and newsletter idea is a perfect extension to show possibilities. Subscribe to my blog and sign up to receive my newsletter below. Also, please leave comments about the featured projects.
“Evergreen Fog” is a soft, warm green with a touch of gray paint color to make it universally appealing, even for me. I wrote about the effects of warm colors before. I’ve always preferred pure “jewel” tones. But I chose “greige” for most of our walls — a wonderful mix of grey and beige that complements all colors. My husband and I have loved this color for over 11 years. “Evergreen Fog” is great for every room in your home. I’ve chosen to show it in a kitchen and a bathroom that I completed this year.


First, the kitchen, located in Lake Oswego:
Lake Oswego Kitchen with Evergreen Fog paint color
The homeowner selected:

Lake Oswego Kitchen VR features Sherwin-Williams Evergreen Fog paint color

Do you agree or disagree that Sherwin-Williams’ “Evergreen Fog” enhances the kitchen? Please leave us a comment below!
The project in Ridgefield, WA., transforms a standard bathroom into a fully-accessible bathroom. It’s perfect for “Evergreen Fog” because it’s the homeowner’s favorite color family.
Ridgefield WA accessible bathroom features Evergreen Fog paint color
The homeowner selected:

Ridgefield WA accessible bathroom features Sherwin-Williams Evergreen Fog paint color

How do you feel about these colors? Does the “Evergreen Fog” paint color appeal to you? Please leave a comment below!
The Professional Painting Contractors has interesting information on their website about the Sherwin-Williams “Evergreen Fog” paint and other paint-related subjects.


Now for the three touch-up tips I promised. I hope you have some paint left over to touch up areas that have gotten dinged or smudged. Here are the steps to Tip #1:
  • Thoroughly mix the paint to dip a slight amount into a small plastic container.
  • Dampen a paper towel and dip it gently into the paint, then daub it onto the area lightly, feathering out from the center
  • After it’s dry, check to see if you were successful. If not, try the same technique again using a fresh paper towel.
I’ve discovered that two light coats are better than one heavy coat that may leave harsh demarcation lines. The trick is to be as light-handed as possible.
Tip #2: Use a small paintbrush. The paint must be almost dry on the brush, or the results will be “globby.”
The third technique that works is to use a sea sponge. But if you don’t have one, don’t substitute a regular sponge because it’s too dense and hard to control. It will leave hard edges.
And I have a bonus tip for you, directly from a professional painter years ago. After you’ve painted your room, put the paint chip — with the name and color — inside the cover plate of the light switch. You’ll never have to guess which paint you used! Never again! It also helps to write the room on the label with a permanent marker after you’ve painted the room.


Sign up to receive my newsletter today to receive next month’s featured color plus more helpful hints and tips.


Don’t forget to leave a comment about this blog post!

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.
Read about Diane Plesset’s design process.

Do you have specific needs for your kitchen master bathroom? I’d love to hear about your goals! Send me an email, or call me!

© Copyright 2022 D, P, Design – All Rights Reserved



LED Lighting = $avings!

LED Lighting $aves Our Environment While $aving You Money!

Remodeled Vancouver kitchen with LED lighting

LED Lighting in Remodeled Kitchen

LED lighting technology was in its infancy eleven years ago. It wasn’t available when I was working in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1980s until 2000. California passed laws to help energy conservation, but it was a heavy-handed approach. We did have incandescent filament lamps, but we were forced to use fluorescent lighting as the main source of light in kitchens and bathrooms.

Homeowners objected to this limitation, so we worked around the laws making fluorescent under-cabinet fixtures the main light source in kitchens. The fixtures were controlled by the switch closest to the kitchen door. These fluorescent lamps were small in diameter so the fixtures were short. There were varying lengths of the fluorescent lamps, but we were limited by which lengths were available in either warm white or cool white.  I made the mistake of mixing the lamps on my first project. Warm white looked reddish-orange and cool white looked blue-green. The backsplash in my clients’ kitchen looked like Christmas!

For a while, we could use halogen lamps in recessed and decorative fixtures. They were used because they could be dimmed. But the regulations got Then manufacturers produced fluorescent lamps with standard screw-type bases so they could be used with recessed and decorative fixtures. The EPA told us that CFLs would be the standard to replace incandescent lamps. Reluctantly, the construction industry and homeowners adopted this, but everyone hated the results. Fluorescent lamps were on or off. No dimming. The light was simultaneously flat and harsh.

My, how we’ve come a long way — and the future looks even brighter!

In 2005, LED lighting was available, but there were limitations:

  • Not dimmable.
  • Color was a cool blue-white.
  • Replacement bulbs (lamps) for many fixtures did not exist.
  • Strip and rope lighting was available, but it was very expensive ($40 per foot!).

LED lighting has improved!

To create the indirect lighting for the entry hall and hallway, dining room, living room, master bedroom, and kitchen in our new home in 2006, my husband had to buy 3,000 individual LEDs and wire them together on “perf” board. Then he connected the finished Light-Emitting-Diode (LED) strips to a dimmable transformer and plugged the transformer into a switched outlet that had been installed in the coffers. It was a lot of work for him, but it saved us thousands of dollars. We got the results we wanted and lit all of those areas with only 100 watts of power, which was reflected in our lowered electric bill. To achieve similar results in 2021, any Homeowner can purchase ready-made dimmable LED strip lighting for a multitude of purposes and a multitude of color ranges:

  • Indirect lighting in trayed/coffered ceilings or on crown molding
  • Task and accent lighting under wall cabinets and countertop overhangs in kitchens
  • Accent display lighting in unlimited applications
  • Safety night lighting in bathroom toekicks and stair edges
  • Increased-visibility lighting in pantries and closets

Comparison of LED lighting to other types of lighting

In addition to LED strip lighting, there’s a wide selection of bulbs available, replace discontinued incandescent and outdated CFL bulbs. The colors, brightness, and dimmability have been improved, to enhance all interior environments. The best news for all of us, though, is that the price of LED lighting has dropped like a rock as the technology has improved and the market has become more competitive. Early incandescent lamp replacements were as high as $50 each. In 2021, we can purchase better LED replacement lamps for as low as $5 each! Here is a chart from Earth Easy that graphically shows how cost-efficient LED lighting is:

Comparison chart for LED, CFL, and Incandescent lighting

There is more technical information available at Wikipedia.

LED Lighting has grown in popularity

Lighting designers understood the benefits that LED lighting would have on the environment. They knew that homeowners and businesses would save money on energy bills. They worked with manufacturers to develop better and varied light sources for residential and commercial use. “DOE estimates there are at least 500 million recessed downlights installed in U.S. homes, and more than 20 million are sold each year,” according to a report by energy.gov.

Armed with all of this information, I hope that you’re inspired to switch (pun intended!) your existing lighting to LEDs.

See before and after pictures and a description of the featured kitchen project that successfully used LED lighting.

© 2016 D. P. Design – All Rights Reserved; Revised 2/2022.

Best Kitchen Lighting Combines Art And Science

What Is The Best Kitchen Lighting For All Your Activities?

West Linn Remodeled Kitchen Lighting

The best kitchen lighting (1/2)

. . .  and why should the best kitchen lighting combine art (the human factor) and science (the technical factor)? To achieve maximum enjoyment and function.

Here’s an example: The homeowners loved their home but disliked the dark kitchen.

  • It was large and had many angles.
  • The windows faced east which meant that the kitchen got dark early in the day.
  • They had to turn on recessed incandescent fixtures that wasted energy and increased their electric bill. Their kitchen was still dark.
  • The speculation builder used dark-stained standard cabinets that absorbed most of the light, limited the layout, and wasted space.

Several contractors said the best solution would be to add onto the kitchen. That would solve the problem with angled walls. But it wouldn’t solve lighting problems unless they went with an all-white kitchen. That’s not what they wanted. No one suggested using LED lighting.

The good news, there was only one addition needed. A 3′ by 3′ area was added to the southeast corner of the eating area. This allowed space for a sliding patio door and it created more wall space for a large picture window. This allowed more light into the room, and the homeowners got a great view of Mt. Hood! They soon became fans of LED illumination. More about this later.