A Bright New Kitchen For Grandparents

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

The Challenges:

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

The Solutions:

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

Design Advice:

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

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

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

Product Specifications:

APPLIANCES

Convection oven and convection microwave: Bosch

French-door refrigerator: LG

Gas cooktop: Bosch 36”

Hood: Zephyr “Anzio” 42”

Dishwasher: Reinstalled existing that was only 2 years old

CABINETS

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

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

COUNTERTOPS

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

BACKSPLASH

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

LIGHTING

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

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

FLOORING

Existing floors were patched as needed and refinished

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remodeling A 1970s Home For Special Needs

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

Challenges and Solutions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Design And Value Engineering

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

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

A Special Bonus For The Homeowners

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

Design Tips From This Project

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

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

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

Remodeled Home For A Single Man

My client, a retired California contractor, bought this 1970s rental home at the base of Mt. Hood because he loves outdoor activities with his two dogs. His #1 priority was to make the home brighter and more cheerful, while updating everything. What follows is a description of the challenges we encountered and the solutions that make this home unique.

CHALLENGE #1, LIVING ROOM: A long, slender room, aka “the bowling alley,” that was dark even on bright days.

 SOLUTION: Add two “trayed” ceiling coffers so dimmable indirect LED lighting could break up the “bowling alley” look. It provided the right amount of ambiance for reading, watching TV, or enjoying the warmth of the wood-burning stove. Carefully-placed dimmable LED recessed lighting makes use of this room more flexible. A custom bookshelf and storage cabinet was designed to replace a bargain-furniture purchase when the gentleman bought the home.

*DESIGN ADVICE: A solution used to change apparent proportion of odd-sized rectangular rooms is to paint the end walls a darker, warmer color because these colors appear to advance. The contrast doesn’t have to be drastic – one or two shades will make a big difference. It has been popular off and on to choose one wall to be an artificial focal point by painting it a wildly-contrasting color. Be very careful if you’re thinking about doing this in your home, unless you’re prepared to paint your walls frequently. Fortunately, this trend never stays around very long.

 CHALLENGE #2, KITCHEN: The existing kitchen had red laminate countertops, inexpensive appliances, and dark oak “builder” cabinets. The window over the sink faced the side of a neighbor’s home — ugly!

SOLUTIONS: The sink was moved to the new peninsula, which provided a great view of the front garden, and allowed a large countertop for food preparation. The homeowner fell in love with natural birch, a combination of heartwood and sapwood. He selected a Cambria engineered-stone countertop. The backsplash and floors are the same tile, with an accent of natural river rock behind the range. For architectural continuity, the same river rock was used for the entry hall flooring.

CHALLENGE #3, BATHROOMS: Both bathrooms showed years of wear and tear by renters, and desperately needed updating. The guest bathroom was cobbled together by a previous owner, who framed an area for a small one-piece shower using fake paneleing attached directly to the studs, with no drywall. It was no surprise that the project manager ran into a massive amount of dry rot in the guest bathroom.

SOLUTIONS, MASTER BATHROOM: The homeowner selected blue for the master bathroom. His eyes lit up when I showed him a sample of Vetrazzo “Float Blue” glass countertop and a unique blue glass mosaic tile for the backsplash and shower accent. He selected a large rectangular porcelain tile with a soft mixed gray stripe for the shower walls and the floor; the same tile in a 2×2 mosaic was used for the shower floor. A pale blue was used for the walls, and all bathroom fittings are polished chrome. The custom cabinets are natural birch, with two pull-out pantries for personal-care products.

SOLUTIONS, GUEST BATHROOM: The homeowner wanted bright yellow and orange for the color scheme. I suggested a creamy pale yellow for the engineered-stone countertop and the tile used in the shower and on the floors. Bright yellow tile was chosen for the backsplash field tile, with a 1/2” stripe of bright orange tile at the top and bottom of the accent stripe. Custom natural birch cabinets blend with the color scheme beautifully, and polished-chrome plumbing fittings are like jewelry for this stunningly-beautiful bathroom.

The homeowner got everything he asked for: a bright and cheerful new home with custom touches that exemplify his unique personality and taste. There’s no way to tell that this was ever a rental property!

Do you have a hard time visualizing what remodeling results are best for you? Are you paralyzed with fear about selecting the right products for your home and lifestyle? I can help you! Contact me today!

PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS:

KITCHEN

Countertops: Cambria “Buckingham”

Backsplash: Marazzi “Marfil Cream” 3”x6”

Backsplash behind range: Emser “River Pebbles,” 4-color blend

Floor: Marazzi “Marfil Cream” 12”x12”

Cabinets: Custom, Natural Birch

Appliances:

Range: Jenn-Air all electric

Refrigerator: Kitchenaid (french door)

Dishwasher: Kitchenaid

Microwave: Frigidaire (installed below countertop)

 MASTER BATHROOM

Shower walls field tile: Surface Art Blu Stone ”Silver Gray” 12”x24” (horizontal stacked)

Accent tiles and backsplash: Lunada Bay “Umbria” 1”x1” mosaic

Countertop: Vetrazzo “Float Blue”

Floor tile: Surface Art Blu Stone “Silver Gray” 12”x24”

Shower floor tile: Surface Art Blu Stone “Silver Gray” 2”x2” mosaic

Cabinets: Custom, Natural Birch (includes 2 base pantry pullouts)

Plumbing Fixtures:

Toilet: Toto “Drake”

Lavatory sink: Kohler “Caxton” undermount

Lavatory faucet and Shower: Delta

 GUEST BATHROOM

Shower walls field tile: Florida Tile “Botticcino” 18”x18”

Countertop: Silestone “Tigris Sand”

Accent tiles: DalTile “Totally Tangerine” 1/2”x4” and “Sunflorwer” 4”x4”

Floor tile: Florida Tile “Botticcino” 18”x18”

Shower floor tile: Florida Tile “Botticcino” 2-1/2”x2-1/2” mosaic

Cabinets: Custom, Natural Birch (includes 1 base pantry pullout)

Plumbing Fixtures:

Toilet: Toto “Drake”

Lavatory sink: Kohler “Caxton” undermount

Lavatory faucet and Shower: Delta

Accessory Dwelling Unit For Parents

Sisters who live in Dundee, Oregon contacted me because I’m a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist, although they didn’t know what I could do for them before our first meeting.

I learned that one of the sisters was willing to dedicate a portion of her home’s property for a new accessory dwelling unit (ADU) for their parents. Their father has been living with Parkinson’s Disease for several years, and his wife can no longer take care of him in their San Diego home. They had explored alternatives and decided that building an ADU would be the best solution, but they didn’t know about anything that might be involved in getting the ADU built.

Fortunately, the City of Dundee was in the process of creating land-use regulations for ADU’s. We hoped that this would speed the permit approval process. I attended Planning Commission and City Council meetings as an advocate for quality-of-life issues and accessibility for elderly and disabled people. If adopted, the regulations would limit the size of an ADU to a maximum of 800 square feet. I provided plans with documentation about the space required for wheelchair mobility, and made a case for increasing the size of ADU’s to 900 square feet, which would allow a small guest bedroom and combination guest bathroom and laundry room.

There was also the issue of separation between existing homes and ADU’s. The concern of building and city officials was that most units would be used for rental, or for family – like students who wanted a feeling of autonomy without paying exorbitant rental fees. City Council members were concerned that the parents’ ADU would have a full kitchen and we were requesting direct access from the home to the unit for convenience and emergency health issues. One of the council members asked if we would be willing to have adjacent exterior walls be special fire walls, with a covered breezeway between the home and the ADU. That suggestion was the key that unlocked the door for our ADU! (I would love more details here -it’s not clear immediately if the ADU was going to be designed with the breezeway in mind.)

So, we proceeded with the plans and my clients engaged a structural engineer to prepare the framing details and required calculations for the new structure. The plans were approved and my clients hired a contractor who prepared a detailed estimate. (Did you recommend the contractor? If not, how did they find him/her? The sisters moved their parents to Dundee so the home in San Diego could be sold and the money could be used to fund the ADU. We are all hoping that their parents’ home will sell. The 897-square-foot ADU is scheduled for construction in 2019.

If you are considering an ADU or wondering how to create an accessory dwelling unit for family use or rental, I can help you. If you want to stay in your home and make it accessible, I can provide you with the information you need to make it livable and safe while maintaining the feel and look of your home. Call me today, so we can chat about your needs!

 

A Professional Designer Is Easy To Find

A Professional Designer Will Help you In Many Ways

A professional designer is easy to find!

The right professional designer knows where to find the products that reflect your personal taste, products that are compatible with your home. He or she can help you fit each product into your budget priorities. Designers like this do make a difference. How do you find the right designer for your project?

The best way to find a professional designer is referrals from family, business associates, friends, and neighbors. The next best way is through professional organizations such as NAHB, NARI, IDS, or NKBA. There may also be local design organizations, or local chapters of the national organizations that you can find in an internet search. Tell them the type of remodeling project you want, and they will provide names and contact information for up to three professional designers.

You can contact the designers by phone or through an email message. Provide detailed information about what you want to achieve, how much you want to invest, and when you want your project completed. Here’s an example: (more…)

A New Basement Bathroom Will Enhance your Life And Your Home’s Value

Improve An Ugly Basement With A Beautiful New Bathroom!

A new basement bathroom adds value and enjoyment

This is a home built in the 1950s, with the living room, formal dining room, kitchen, small bathroom, and bedrooms on the main floor. Only one person could occupy the bathroom at a time. For a family of three, that presented a scheduling problem. There wasn’t enough room to expand the existing bathroom, and the full basement was under-utilized,. The Homeowners wondered if it would be possible to have a new basement bathroom with a two-person shower that looked and felt luxurious. They had an idea, had done some research, and had talked with a couple of contractors, but they were still confused about what to do.

The best location for the new bathroom was below the main-floor bathroom, so plumbing supply, drain, and vent pipes could be extended.The unfinished basement had enough space to comply with ceiling height codes, but there was a large furnace duct that hung below the bottom of the joists. If left like this, it was going to look awkward. An HVAC specialist verified that new wider and shallower ducts would maintain the required air flow. Most pipes and wires wouldn’t be a problem, but the main drain had to be re-routed so it would comply with the slope required by the plumbing code. (more…)