Seven Stylish Bathroom Remodel Considerations

Seven Stylish Bathroom Remodel Considerations

A bathroom remodel comes second to a kitchen remodeling in adding value to your home. Aside from its economic thrust, it brings in a fresher look and ambience to your sanctuary. More so, it can be a great way to pamper yourself as you start the day or after a long day’s work.

Start with your renovation plans today and check out these eight remodeling ideas.

Vanity

Today, almost every bathroom improvement includes a vanity. The vanity’s use is typically threefold: it holds your sink in place, hides the plumbing, and provides storage. It can be mounted or free-standing, and is celebrated for its functionality and aesthetic value.

Your vanity can be made of stone or wood or both. Most contemporary vanities use stone materials like granite for the countertop and wood for the cabinetry.

Sink

Common sink choices include vessels, pedestal, floating, and under-mounted sinks. The most preferred sink today is the undermount known for its sleek look and ease of cleaning. Vessel sinks remain an option for a dramatic flair.

Storage

Storage is always at a premium in a bathroom. When designing, it is a good idea to list everything that you want to store in the bathroom and design according to those needs. Most storage is provided by cabinetry including vanities, linen cabinets.

As you crease your inventory list, indicate where in the bathroom each item goes down to the drawer. This will ensure that you end up with enough storage space and a countertop that is less cluttered.

Decorative and Functional Windows

A major decision for your remodel is windows. They provide natural light, ventilation, visual appeal, and connection to the outdoors.

Connection to the outdoors can be tricky, as the bathroom is typically considered the most private room in the home. Privacy strategies include shutters, obscure glass or glass blocks, and even private gardens. But it is worth every effort because you just can’t beat natural light.

One element that we discourage in our hot humid climate is a skylight. Though they have a great appeal, most people will not find that appeal worth the cost when monthly utility bills are considered. 80% of a home’s energy is lost, or in our climate gained, through the roof. Skylights provide a significant amount of heat gain in our climate.

Tile

Re-tiling your floor is another point of consideration when remodeling your bathrooms. There are infinite options when mixing and matching accents and trims.

Tile is a common choice for floors, tub surrounds, showers, and backsplashes. It allows for color, texture, and size considerations. For the floor, we recommend either small tiles, especially in the shower, or textured to provide a slip resistant surface.

Schematic Colors

Contemporary trends use minimalist colors with the omnipresent white and complementary light, solid colors. Light colors work well for highly polished finishes as well as natural materials, and provide a cleaner feel. Neutral colors work well for small spaces and can easily be accented with accessories like towels.

Learn 5 Key Reasons Why You Need a Remodeling General Contractor!

The Shower

The most common request we get in bathroom remodels these days is to remove a tub and enlarge or add a shower. Gone are the days when the major consideration was reselling value. After years of insisting that every bathroom had to have a bath and a shower, the real estate industry has realized that most people shower.

Many are taking all tubs of their home while some maintain at least one tub for bathing children. While there are few things as relaxing as soaking in a warm tub, few have the time and those who do often opt for an outdoor hot tub.

Toilets

Toilets have revolutionized in recent years. Largely motivated by water conservation, we now have more styles and options than ever before. But, engineering has not always kept up with design.

The number one complaint for toilets these days is the restricted functionality. The restriction to 1.6 gallons per flush is great for water conservation, but not always so great for getting the job done.

Functionality varies from brand to brand. Most brands have typical functions while there others that work better. In our experience, every Toto toilet works well.

4 Simple Tips For Preparing Your Home For A Kitchen Remodel

4 Simple Tips For Preparing Your Home For A Kitchen Remodel

Some homeowners think that preparing for a kitchen remodel simply refers to securing the new appliances, counters, cabinets, flooring, wall covers, and other construction supplies for the new kitchen. However, remodeling the kitchen basically renders it inaccessible and unusable for the duration of the project.

Ergo, there are steps you need to take to make sure you can still have meals without depending solely on takeout and eliminating potential risks to mitigate dangerous accidents.

Set Up a Temporary Kitchen

If you have an outdoor kitchen or patio, then you’re in luck. Setting up a temporary kitchen will be as easy as transferring a bulk of your appliances, utensils, and food items outside. If you don’t have one, you can create a temporary kitchen in the dining room, living room, or any spacious, adjacent area.

If new appliances are part of your kitchen remodel, throw out all the old models except for your stove, microwave, and refrigerator for now. Alternatively, if you have portable stoves—such as an electric stove or a camping stove—and mini refrigerators, you can use those. What’s important is that you have a separate room with enough supplies to prepare meals for the next couple days (or weeks, depending on your timeline). 

Pull Out “Loose” Items and Prepare to Pack Them

Loose items refer to all the objects in your kitchen that aren’t bolted down. This means all your utensils, mugs and glasses, cooking and baking paraphernalia, food, decorations, and counter top appliances like microwaves, coffeemakers, blenders, and waffle irons.

You’ll want to sort these into four major categories: food, appliances, everyday use, and pack away.

The food and appliances categories are self-explanatory. The “everyday use” category refers to the plates, utensils, frying pans, cooking pots, spice bottles, drink pitchers, and other loose items that you literally use every day. These will automatically go to your temporary kitchen.

The “pack away” category refers to the same loose items mentioned above that you don’t use too often and can therefore afford to put away until the remodel is complete. For instance? Do you bake every day, or only on special occasions? If it’s the latter, you can toss those rolling pins and cookie cutters into the “pack away” box. When was the last time you used the giant wok you got for Christmas five years ago, or the asparagus cooker you received as a housewarming present?

If you don’t use them on the regular, put them away.

Categorize and Keep Food Accordingly

Canned goods, sauces, spices, cooking oils, and “dry” goods like chips, baking supplies, pastas, and pet food can be packed into boxes and stored in a dry area i.e. guest bedroom, living room, reading room, etc. Food items that need to be frozen or refrigerated, such as fish, milk, chicken, meats, and crisper vegetables and fruits will have to stay in the refrigerator.

As we mentioned earlier, make sure to keep enough food items in your temporary kitchen to last you the length of your kitchen remodel. To lessen the stress of transferring frozen or chilled food, try to consume all your meats and vegetables well before the kitchen remodel starts and avoid buying more. Instead, stock up on dry food items like wheat bread, pastas, granola, and oatmeal.

Read These 9 Ways to Save Money on a Kitchen Remodel!

Disconnect Important Lines from the Kitchen

This step is so important. Before the remodel begins, disconnect the gas, plumbing, and electricity from your kitchen. Eliminate the risk of flooding or leaking during the remodel process by disconnecting the water and drain pipes from the sink, dishwasher, and refrigerator (if necessary) as well.

The last thing you want to experience during your kitchen remodel is a gas leak or a power outage. Ergo, disconnecting the gas from the oven and cutting off the electricity to the whole room is definitely a non-negotiable.

Home Remodeling Tips: Top Kitchen Trends for 2018

Home Remodeling Tips: Top Kitchen Trends for 2018

In terms of kitchen design, a white-and-black color scheme and chrome appliances are practically de rigueur—but that doesn’t mean they’re the only options you have. Indeed, kitchen trends 2018 seem to be all about taking the practical and conventional and modifying them into something new and unusual. There are many, many features of 2018’s trendiest kitchens that don’t seem like they should work—but they do.

If you’re a homeowner who’s all about staying modern and up-to-date, here are three of 2018’s top kitchen trends.

White Isn’t Out Yet, But Darker Colors Might Have an Edge

Who doesn’t love an all-white kitchen? It’s clean, minimalist, and tastefully classy, and it looks great when decorated with pops of color—think jewel tones or soft pastel hues.

Recently, however, other colors have started making appearances in modern kitchens—and homeowners are loving it. Light and dark greys with matte finishes seem to be a solid second for top kitchen shades, with dark colors like black, navy, and forest green tying for a strong third.

But which color scheme is “best”?

It depends on what you want to achieve with your kitchen. As mentioned, an all-white kitchen can look clean and classy. Darker colors such as black can lend a modern, deeply luxurious atmosphere. And greys are perhaps the most versatile—perfect for pairing with accent decorations of any style and texture.

Marble Remains Elegant, But Quartz Is Closing In

Home Remodeling Tips: Top Kitchen Trends 2018Granite countertops remain popular but have given way to Quartz at the top of the popularity chart. High end granite with dramatic veining is still unbeatable in terms of its ability to create a unique and dazzling flare. Less popular now are the mid-range granites that are out done by quartz. Low-end granites continue to have a place for those more interested in marketing that a kitchen has granite than in the actual positive qualities that some granites provide.

Marble remains a choice for bakers. But due to maintenance and fragility it has never been a big favorite for our clients though among some more attuned to fashion than function, marble can provide a touch of elegance.

Solid surface material such as Corian peaked in the 1990 but, thanks to its durability, strength and elegance it is making somewhat of a comeback.

Wood countertops such as butcher block have always been popular with cooks. Though, seldom are they used throughout the kitchen. Increasingly, wood countertops are being used as a design element to add warmth to the kitchen.

Quartz continue to dominate the market due to their durability and cost. Thanks to improved design when it comes to natural looks such a veining and added design elements such as texturing we can count on quartz not losing ground for quite some time.

>> Read These Nine Ways to Save Money on a Kitchen Remodel

Multipurpose Kitchen Islands

Kitchen islands have become a focal point for most modern kitchens. Rather than using them as merely extra countertop space, the current trend is to transform these centerpieces into multi-purpose, jack-of-all-trades units.

The kitchen islands of old were literally just blocks of extra countertop. Paired with trendy stools and some statement decorations, they did make quite an attractive—and functional—addition to the kitchen. However, they were little more than glorified tables.

Kitchen islands now are both fashionable and ultra-functional. They can be fitted with storage solution cabinets, cutlery drawers, and under-counter appliances like ovens and dishwashers to really save on kitchen space. Having such an island can eliminate the need for tacky overhead cabinets and standalone appliance units. In an open floor plan, kitchen islands can also be used to separate the kitchen from the dining room or living room without erecting walls or columns.

Other kitchen trends 2018 include matte and chrome finishes, smart appliances, and ceramic tile to replace laminate and vinyl flooring. As with previous years’ trends, there’s really no telling how long these trends will last. However, considering the fact that most of them seem to prioritize aesthetic functionality, they’re definitely worth investing in.

As always, our approach to design does not ignore trend but is much more focused on the client’s personality. Trends are market driven and change seasonally. Your personality is relatively constant and connects you to your home.  We believe in Mr. Plumbean. 

Our Cabinet Shop

Our Cabinet Shop

Whether in the kitchen bathroom or elsewhere, cabinets are a focal point of craftsmanship. This is why we maintain our own cabinet shop.  To be totally honest, we are cabinet snobs.  We demand 100% solid wood cabinets, built to exacting specifications, we use the very best hardware to ensure durability and functionality and we build each piece custom fit to its exact location. .

A well-built cabinet is a piece of furniture that will last more than a life time. A poorly built cabinet is a liability that will find its way to the landfill.

The first sign of a quality cabinet is the materials used to build it. A favorite low-cost material for many cabinet manufacturers is Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF.) This material does not hold a fastener well and it swells with minimal moisture contact. Over time MDF got a bad reputation. Rather than giving up on an inferior low-cost material many manufactures simply renamed it “furniture board.”

Another sign of inferior quality is thin plywood. Where ¾” plywood should be used, many manufacturers use 5/8” and even ½” plywood. And locally the most common method of building cabinets is to build them right to the wall without a plywood box. Any movement due to an unstable foundation or changes in humidity will cause the doors and drawers to become misaligned.

Many builders will further cut corners by using plywood face frames. The face frame is the front of the cabinet that the doors and drawers fit to.  Rather than using solid wood which is more expensive plywood is used. Opening the door on a cabinet will reveal if it is plywood or solid wood. You will see the laminated layers of plywood if this has been done. Though some manufacturers will put a thin veneer band on the plywood to mask it. The disadvantage of plywood is that it will delaminate over time and sanding can expose the underlayers of veneer.

Hinges and drawer slides are other places where costs are often cut at the expense of durability and function. A well-made cabinet will close gently and will hold an adequate load over the years. The drawers will slide out far enough to reach everything in them.  The majority of hardware used in today’s homes will not function well and/or endure well. Well-made drawer slides cost more.  This is an unseen cost that can easily be cut without most homebuyers realizing the added cost and frustration over time.

How Much Does it Cost to Remodel a Kitchen?

How Much Does it Cost to Remodel a Kitchen?

According to a study done in 2017, 45% of homeowners spent between $5,000 and $25,000 remodeling their kitchen. 26% spent between $25,000 and $50,000, and a good 21% spent more than $50,000. The prices are understandable, especially if you consider the fact that a good kitchen can raise a house’s market value considerably. However, the price ranges are a little all over the place, which doesn’t really help anyone looking to construct a solid remodeling budget.

How much does it cost to remodel a kitchen, really?

The answer is a little less straightforward than you might like.

The Big Picture: Know What You Want

how much does it cost to remodel a kitchenBefore you can even begin estimating your budget, you need to know your intended result. How much of your kitchen are you planning to remodel? Are you just looking to switch the tile and wallpaper, or are you focusing more on the cabinets and countertops? Did you want a complete kitchen overhaul, or did you just want to switch out the appliances for sleeker, state-of-the-art models?

Design and selections cannot start without a budget, unless money is not a consideration. Unfortunately, we have yet to meet that client.  The possibilities are endless, especially if you are considering reconfiguring space. In most cases the budget is a primary driver of decisions. You do not want to design a $150,000 kitchen if you only have a $50,000 budget. Usually the design process is a slow adjustment of budget to scope of work. 

Budget Breakdown: Are You Doing All These?

It’s also important that you know what you want from your kitchen remodel so you can better adjust your budget to suit the specifics. For instance, the average homeowner who wants a complete kitchen overhaul usually spends 14% of their overall kitchen budget on appliances and only 4% on sinks and faucets. However, if the homeowner is not planning to renovate the whole kitchen, and in fact decides to just replace the appliances and faucets, then the percentages can obviously stand to be higher.

Here’s a breakdown of the average overall kitchen budget, according to the National Kitchen & Bath Association:

29% for cabinetry and hardware
4% for design fees
17% for installation
10% for counters
14% for appliances
4% for plumbing (sinks,faucets,etc.)
5% for electrical (lighting, extra outlets, etc.)
7% for flooring
4% for doors and windows
5% for trim (walls, ceilings, decorations, etc.)
1% for miscellaneous

Again, someone doing a complete kitchen overhaul might follow these percentages closely, whereas someone who’s only doing three or four items can afford to adjust the break down accordingly (e.g. dedicating 35% to cabinetry, for example, or raising the flooring budget to 10%). Ergo, you can get a good idea of your budget and any potential changes to it by knowing which areas are your top priority.

>> Learn Nine Ways to Save Money on a Kitchen Remodel

Additional Cost: Count the Contractor

Some people choose to cut out the cost of the contractor and do it all themselves.. This has two possible positive impacts. It saves money and it can result in a deeper connection to the space. For small-scale projects and homeowners with experience, DIY is a viable option. But beware; we have seen far more projects in which the D stood for disaster. Unfortunately, for the majority of kitchen remodeling projects, a contractor is considered crucial—ergo pretty much non-negotiable.

A good design build firm will eliminate the guesswork regarding the kitchen remodeling cost. Working with a contractor changes the answer of ‘how much does it cost to remodel a kitchen?’ from ‘it depends,’ to ‘the contractor will tell you.’  No matter how skilled of a DIYer you may be, people who do it every day are probably a lot faster and, if you have chosen your contractor well, will be very skilled.  A good contractor can tell you what the schedule will be and maintain it. That seldom happens with a DIY project.

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COUNTERTOPS: THE WORKHORSE OF THE KITCHEN

COUNTERTOPS: THE WORKHORSE OF THE KITCHEN

Countertops may serve as the aesthetic centerpiece or functional workhorse of the kitchen. With the dizzying array of countertops to choose from, deciding if form or function is your first priority can help narrow your options. If a great place to cook is your priority, you may start by considering qualities such as scratch resistance and maintenance requirements. If your kitchen acts as a visual focal point for your home, you may want to start by considering colors and textures.

The selection process often starts with an exploration of countertop materials. A few common countertop choices are natural stones, metals, and engineered materials.

Natural Stones

Natural stone is a time-honored countertop material. Every countertop is a unique slice of the earth. If you are lucky enough to live in an area that has native stone available, it can be a natural harmonization of the home and its environment. Natural stone has a wide price range. Often it is a little less expensive than engineered stone but it requires a little more maintenance. Few materials hold their value over time as well as natural stone countertops.

Granite – Granite is a classic choice that offers a wide variety of colors and patterns. No two countertops are alike. Prices also range widely. Low-cost granite is generally less distinctive. The most distinctive granites—with vivid colors and dramatic swirls—can get pricey. Granite is a fairly durable material, although it requires annual sealing to protect against staining and scratching.

Marble – Marble is softer than granite and scratches more easily. It also is more porous and therefore easier to stain. Marble can be less expensive than granite but, like all natural stones, it has a wide price range. Marble is preferred by bakers and candy makers because of its ability to keep dough from sticking. In most cases, our recommendation is to only use marble in an isolated countertop section. That said, a well-placed section of marble countertop can add a touch of elegance and functionality for the cook in your home.

Soapstone – Soapstone is a beautiful and interesting metamorphic stone. Soapstone is nonporous and therefore not prone to staining but it is soft so it scratches and dents very easily. These can be appreciated as part of a countertop’s natural look or be buffed out. Soapstone offers a narrow range of colors but staining or oiling bring out its beauty and luster. Soapstone requires more maintenance than other natural stones and tends to be a little pricier.

Quartzite – Quartzite is a natural stone with durability similar to granite. It is hard but requires annual sealing to preserve the surface. Quartzite is a good option if you’re looking for a natural stone countertop that is lighter in color. Quartzite mimics the elegant appearance of marble but, because it is harder and less porous, it requires less maintenance. Like granite, the price of quartzite is variable but tends to be 10% to 50% more expensive than granite.

Metals

Metal countertops have become more popular recently, propelled by a broader trend toward industrial interior designs. But metal countertops have plenty of function to go along with their sleek, modern look. Metal—especially stainless steel—countertops are ubiquitous in restaurants and commercial kitchens due to their durability and value over time. They also are favored by the professionals because they are nonporous and easy to clean. Metal countertops do sell at the upper end of the pricing scale. They also scratch easily, so if you are after a high-polish gleam on your stainless steel, copper or bronze countertops you will want to keep cutting boards handy. Or you may just enjoy the character that is reflected in the scratches of a working metal countertop.

Stainless Steel – Stainless steel is by far the most popular metal for countertops. It has an industrial look that is valued for its simplicity and sleekness. Its reflective surface can reduce the amount of light needed in a kitchen and it can make a small kitchen appear larger. It does not tarnish like copper or bronze so will retain its color long term whether you buff it frequently or not.

Copper – Copper countertops are less common than stainless steel yet they provide all of the functional benefits and a unique look. Polished copper is bright and shiny with a salmon glow. To maintain that appearance, you have to buff it frequently. It is more common to embrace the patina that develops as copper is exposed to a kitchen’s humid air. This very natural look is exceptionally interesting, as each countertop will produce its own patina patterns in colors ranging from turquoise to deep green.

Bronze – Like copper, bronze will develop a patina if not buffed regularly. Bronze is harder than copper and is more golden in hue when polished. The patina does not develop into copper’s deep greens yet it still creates a very distinctive countertop you won’t see replicated in your friends’ homes.

Engineered Materials

The marvel of human-made geology, engineered stone is a mixture of resin and fiber or aggregate. It tends to be pricier than natural stone but requires less maintenance and is often more durable. Engineered materials have a wide range of looks from natural to space age. They are quickly becoming the countertop of choice.

Quartz – Like its namesake, quartz contains metamorphic crystals. Unlike natural quartzite, man-made quartz combines the genius of Mother Nature with the ingenuity of engineers. Quartz has become the most popular choice for American countertops because it is almost maintenance free. Most brands of quartz incorporate approximately 93% natural material and 7% resins to create a surface that resists scratches, dents, heat and stains. Quartz fabrication methods have improved dramatically over the last few years, resulting in a more natural look with dramatic swirls and textures.

Solid Surface – Corian, the original solid surface countertop, was developed in the 1960s by chemical company DuPont in conjunction with NASA. Corian is still a great countertop material with an elegance all its own. Corian’s low proportion of natural stone makes it look more artificial than quartz but it has the advantage of appearing seamless. Though it is more prone to stains and scratches than quartz, it is more resistant than many other materials. Most blemishes are easily buffed out. Because Corian reached its peak popularity in the 90s, it can seem dated but we suspect that it will become accepted as a classic style.

Recycled Glass – A favorite of the environmentally-minded or “green” crowd, recycled glass does not live up to its hype. This countertop material is a mix of recycled glass and resins. The size and color of glass coupled with countless resin colors make for a fun, creative selection process and a very customizable look. But the fun stops there. The installed surface is subject to cracking, chipping and other blemishes and none of those imperfections can be repaired.

PaperStone – Although “PaperStone” is a brand name, it is synonymous with a class of material and the company that commands the lion’s share of the market. This is by far the greenest countertop material. It is made with paper fiber and water-based resin. That means it contains no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that release solvents into the air. PaperStone only comes in dark colors and will fade a bit with direct sunlight. Its surface is nonporous, making it safe for food preparation. Although it is recommended that you seal PaperStone against scratching, you can easily buff out blemishes.

Other Materials

There are a number of other countertop materials that don’t fit into a specific category and have widely varying qualities related to countertop form and functionality.

Tile – Those into retro style houses may consider tile countertops. Tile offers a wide range of options in size, color, and layout including choices for grout color and texture. Tile also poses a wide range of problems. Over the years, we have torn out a lot of tile countertops while installing very few. Modern grouts have come a long way from the porous products of the 40s and 50s that crumbled, cracked and discolored. Nevertheless, tile countertops are hard to keep clean and develop more maintenance issues than most other options.

Butcher Block – Many cooks love having a section of butcher block countertop to chop away on at will. Butcher block stain easily but lightly sanding and treating with tongue or another food-safe oil periodically will minimize damage. For most homeowners, the stains and cut marks on butcher block countertops become the priceless mementos of past meals. In addition to the character of an exposed working surface, wood adds warmth to a kitchen. If you prefer a very polished look, however, this is probably not a good choice.

Concrete – Concrete can be stunning. It can be formed into almost any shape and can take on many colors and textures. When done well, concrete can be formed into a striking and unique surface. Take the time to find a gifted craftsman. Concrete is very porous, which can cause concerns about food safety. Concrete also develops stains, scratches, cracks and chips. These countertops need to be treated with care and maintained well.

Laminate – Laminate became the countertop of choice in the 1960s and 1970s. Laminate is a relatively green and definitely frugal choice. Even though it is not as popular as it once was, laminate options have continued to improve and expand. There are two basic types of laminate: Post-form laminate tops are the counters that you can buy in a big box. These are not a good option for anything. This laminate is low quality and the sub-surface swells at the hint of moisture and emits toxic gasses. Laminate cut and placed on site is a much better product and can be a good choice. Most of the laminate countertops we install are in laundry rooms and seldom-used bathrooms. Infrequently used areas of a kitchen can also be good candidates for laminate countertops. Laminate saves money and can provide color choices that are not available in other countertop materials. It also consumes fewer natural resources and can be updated with little disruption to home life.

Installing new kitchen countertops is one of the remodeling projects that brings homeowners a lot of satisfaction. A new kitchen with a one-of-a-kind countertop or a new little section to roll out your favorite cookies can multiply your appreciation for what some call “the heart of the home.” Start your countertop material selection process by considering whether you favor form or function, low maintenance or high finish, and affordability or distinctiveness. A little careful planning can ensure you make your heart sing!