You love your house, your neighborhood, your location but your home may not meet the needs of your future lifestyle. You could buy or build a new house. But what if you choose to stay and make changes that will suit your future needs?
An increasing number of homeowners are choosing to build their dream, while staying in the location that holds their family’s memories. Many are making renovation decisions now, while keeping possible future limitations in mind. Ageless design is not just for seniors; it is thoughtful and wise to consider the future for yourself, and, if desired, for resale.
Kitchens and baths are the most common areas to be remodeled, so let us examine some simple design ideas to consider that could impact your ability to stay.
In the bathroom, switch to a kitchen-height vanity cabinet and a comfort-height toilet. Create a barrier- free or low profile shower threshold; add strategically placed grab bars and a shower seat.
In the kitchen, choose drawers instead of doors and instead of pullout shelves. The full access and single motion nature of drawers is the most popular current option. A balance of different features is still preferred for flexibility in storage.
The design idea of a kitchen work triangle should be disrupted. Linear prep and cooking is more efficient. A large sink (like the The Galley Workstation) keeps the work contained and accomplishes prep, cooking, and serving in a single location. Designing the cooking surface nearby and linear to the sink, adds to this efficiency and keeps the turning and moving to a minimum. Also, fewer slips and spills should be expected.
Minimize bending and overhead reaching by keeping the microwave at or just below counter height. Microwave drawers are a good option for this very reason. Also consider a pantry cabinet with rollout shelves and perhaps drawers at the bottom. Choose appliances that have easy-to-read controls, soften counter corners to minimize bumps and bruises, and be sure your flooring choice will not be too slick when wet.
Standard kitchen clearances are generally 42 inches. If you have the space, widen your clearances. True universal design requires much more than that, but anything extra, even an inch or two, is an improvement.
If you want to keep your home, your memories, and your lifestyle, while preparing for the next stages of life, remodel using simple ageless kitchen and bath design to meet your goals.
Children’s bathrooms are absolutely fun to design! We focus on the details when we are designing a bathroom, and the kids’ bath is no exception.
Like many who are remodeling, you want this bathroom to last. You don’t want to get down the road a few years only to find your kids have outgrown their bathroom. We have three quick details you may have already considered for your kids’ bath remodel, but are worth mentioning:
Function: While it is fun and fulfilling to create the ultimate bath for the “little one,” design the functional aspects (such as the tub) not just for a small child, but also for the child as he or she grows.
Themes: Fun themes are great, but avoid purchasing permanent themed fixtures. Instead, introduce a theme using towels, floor mats, wall stickers, toilet seats and wall paint color.
Features: Some features that both a child and an older teen would appreciate are ample ledges or shelves in tubs/showers as well as soft-close cabinet doors, drawers, and toilet seats. Also consider conveniently placed small storage compartments for products used daily.
How do you design a bath your kids won’t outgrow? Our top four considerations for a well-designed children’s bathroom are safety, ease-of-use, durability, and longevity of design. Let’s break the bathroom into sections and we’ll share our tips to make your kids’ bathroom functional for all ages.
Opt for a shower with a tub. While tubs are not often used by teens and adults, it is usually a necessity for young children. Plan a tub that is amply sized for teens and adults down the road. Showering in an all-in-one fiberglass tub/shower is the most financially feasible option but can get a little claustrophobic for many. Surrounding a tub with tile or solid surface adds design, character, and a little more elbow room.
Other features to consider in the tub/shower:
strategically placed grab bars to prevent slips and falls
a handheld shower head on a slidebar, or 2-wall holders (one high for the shower, one low for the parent who aids the small child in bathing)
a rod with a shower curtain rather than a glass sliding door allows full access when bathing young children
Some brands offer a toilet seat with an integrated rim that is child-sized. When the child outgrows the necessity for this function, simply replace the seat. Also, the toilet height is usually an important decision. While a standard height toilet provides ease-of-use for a young child, an adult height or “comfort” height is likely best for everyone else. Of course, a toilet can be replaced easily as the child grows or when the kids’ bath will be converted into a guest bath.
Instead of privacy hardware on the entry door, use passage hardware that can’t be locked from inside for younger children. This can be easily changed as the child grows.
The vanity height is often a concern when designing a kids’ bath. The old vanity height of 30” is no longer used except for special circumstances. Often a client will choose a height of 32”-34” so that it helps the child reach the sink and still is useful for teens and adults. Sometimes the adult height of 34½” is chosen for longevity reasons. The thinking here is that the child will have to use a stool for a season either way, so make the height of the vanity efficient for when they are through the stool phase and for when the kids are out of the house and the bathroom is converted to a guest bath.
Water and moisture issues
To keep damage at a minimum, consider using tile flooring and tile baseboard instead of wood. Add plenty of floor mats to help avoid slipping. A suitable ventilation fan is a must to remove humidity from the bathroom. Humidity causes mold/mildew issues which can warp wood-made products and can damage many other products and surfaces.
How much should you expect to spend on a kids’ bath remodel? A coat of paint and some new hardware can easily make the space appealing and will cost very little. A full remodel will cost much more. Often, the desired scope of work is not in sync with the desired budget of a kids’ bath. Since there are many factors to consider, the best thing to do is to meet with a design professional to help develop a budget. Remember, a bathroom may be small, but there is no other room that is packed with as much product and labor per square foot of space. So meet with a professional to see if your thoughts for your budget will allow you to accomplish your project.
Designing a bath your kids won’t outgrow is possible! If you take these tips for longevity with you when you meet with your professional bath designer, you will be better prepared to fill your bathroom with products that will last. And remember, you will always be able to change the shower curtain, rugs, towels and accessories to accommodate their evolving style.
While most of our clients don’t ever struggle with this question, there are a few who, before hiring us, asked themselves: “Should I take on this remodeling project myself or should I pull in a professional?” The main concern of those who consider remodeling their kitchen or bathroom DIY is to save money: “Will it save me enough money to make it worth doing the work myself?”
To help you decide between hiring a pro or DIY, here are four questions to ask yourself.
1. Am I redecorating or remodeling?
If the space layout is remaining the same and you want to update your look, you are more likely redecorating. But, if you are willing to “demo” your space and redesign your layout, you are remodeling. This is a simplification but an easy way to understand the scope of your project.
2. Am I willing to take on all the risk?
There is risk involved with the technical implementation of a remodeling project. Mistakes can be costly. Plumbing, electrical, ventilation and structural knowledge are essential. Are you familiar with the local building codes? What if an inspection fails? Will you be able to manage the correction? Will you know if a subcontractor is cutting corners? If you don’t hire a professional kitchen designer and remodeler, the risk is entirely on you.
3. Do I have the ability to design a layout that will address all the possibilities?
Hiring a kitchen designer and remodeler most certainly will open your mind to new possibilities. With their training and experience, they may suggest a space layout and design you hadn’t thought of. In a kitchen, appliance size, location and placement are crucial. In a bathroom, with its often tight space, door swing and plumbing locations are a priority. A trained professional will give careful attention to detail in order to ensure high quality design and functionality.
4. Do I have the resources to implement the design?
You will need to purchase new products: flooring, backsplash, cabinets, countertops, appliances and more. You will need to have the time to visit these suppliers, make final selections, order the product and arrange storage of the product until you are ready to start. Keep in mind, you will be the general contractor. That means you will need to manage and schedule all aspects of the project from conception to completion and manage the costs to stay within your budget.
With so much advice out there for DIYers, why should you choose to hire a kitchen or bath designer? They offer resources you may not have, mitigate risk you can’t afford, and share ideas you didn’t think were possible. A professional kitchen designer with experience in renovations will help you save personal time, avoid mistakes, budget wisely, and schedule the project realistically. Hiring a professional can do so much toward ensuring a successful project.
When homeowners walk into our cabinet showroom, we invite them to test the cabinet doors and drawers. Open, close, open, close – this helps you “feel” the quality. New cabinets will be the foundation of your design whether you are building or remodeling a kitchen or bath in your home. If you are asking the question how do I know if a cabinet is good quality, we are happy to provide the basic elements of beautiful, quality cabinetry.
But when it comes to cabinet construction itself, what are you looking for? Not all cabinets are created equal. How do you know if a cabinet is good quality? Here are 5 elements that should be on your radar when shopping for quality cabinetry for your kitchen or bath.
1. How are the cabinets constructed?
This is usually the boring part of the research process. But it’s actually just as important to know about construction, joints, and bracing of cabinets as it is what kind of materials the box is made from. Glue is often used as part of constructing cabinet boxes, so don’t be alarmed if you see a touch of dried glue on the inside corners. However, the process is more than just gluing pieces of wood together. When a deep groove meets a matching joint, this joint is strong and the glue has more surface to adhere to for extra strength. (This is what we call a “dado joint.”) The “bracing” of the cabinet box is also extremely important for strength and durability. Wood or engineered I-Beams let into the sides, front, and back are preferred for base cabinet construction. Thick cabinet backs let-into the cabinet sides is preferred for wall cabinets. Whether framed or frameless construction, joints, bracing and material thickness keep a cabinet from falling apart and help keep it square.
2. What is the difference between traditional wood cabinet boxes and frameless cabinet boxes?
A traditional wood cabinet box has a face frame (usually 1 ½ inches wide) where the door closes onto the cabinet. If you’re considering a traditional, framed cabinet, and have already confirmed solid construction, good joinery, sturdy bracing, and an all-wood frame, then you’d be making a classic choice. However, if you’re impressed with more accessibility and more useable space inside the cabinet, then frameless (also called “European-style” or “full-access” cabinets) might be the way to go. Frameless describes a process of building a cabinet without the front frame. It doesn’t mean your cabinets will look European because your cabinet door will actually be what determines the style. Cabinet manufacturers offer traditional, transitional or contemporary door styles in both framed and frameless cabinetry. However, the most contemporary kitchens or baths are using frameless cabinetry.
3. What’s the difference between plywood and particleboard?
Throughout the industry, plywood is considered the better choice. Plywood is usually stronger than particleboard and doesn’t expand as easily in moist environments. Is particleboard always bad? Not always. If your cabinet layout includes cabinet boxes next to each other, and they are constructed properly, then the particleboard sides are “buried” and unseen. However, on end cabinets with sides exposed, have your designer specify a “finished end” with a plywood side, or at least an engineered side which has a veneer of real wood. The worst aspect of a particle board cabinet is to have a paper or “picture” of wood on an exposed end rather than real wood. One final thought: if we’re talking about drawers, thin particleboard drawers with staples for joints would not have the lifespan of their wood counterparts. Some cabinet lines may try to cut corners and use particleboard for drawer boxes. Beware!
4. What about the drawers?
In a traditionally framed cabinet, all-wood drawer boxes are the best. The joinery should be dovetailed with the drawer bottom made of a sufficiently dimensioned plywood. The drawer hardware (glides and soft-close hardware) is critical to the sturdiness. Remember, slamming drawers often happens in the bustle of a kitchen. But with the mechanical advancement of slides and soft-close hardware, you can make slamming drawers a thing of the past! For frameless cabinets, soft-close is a must as well, but the drawer boxes can be wood or metal. And always purchase full-extension glides so that you don’t lose useful space!
5. Is the cabinet warranty essential?
Yes! Here is a typical cabinet warranty example from Medallion’s cabinet warranty. While manufacturer warranties are important, what is most important is the stability and longevity of the company with which you are doing business. Warranties are only valuable if the company is still in business when you need them. Even a good manufacturing company’s warranty is difficult to use if there are no dealers around to service the product. And dealers generally don’t like to service product purchased from a competing dealer. Purchasing any large ticket items should be from a local business that has been around a long time and has a good service reputation.
Because not all cabinets are created equal, you have to do your research on how they are made in order to really assess their quality. To answer your question, how do I know if a cabinet is good quality? In summary, look for dado joints, all-wood frame and drawers, dovetailed drawers, soft-close drawer hardware, and a lifetime warranty. Don’t be fooled, just because a door style is contemporary and the drawer mechanics are soft-close doesn’t mean the cabinetry is of a good quality. Follow the guidelines in the five questions above, and you will be on your way to finding quality cabinetry.
We’d like to offer you the “final four” of our twelve tips for a master bath remodel you’ll love. Our homeowners found it a great help to have our recommendations and lists of things to consider. Just as they did, you need to be informed to make the best decisions and get the most for your money.
In many showers you will find a single fixed head, a hand-held, or both. If you opt for both, be sure to get a 2-in-1 valve that keeps the wet wall uncluttered. Be sure your main shower head offers decent coverage and has an optional function for pressure.
Prior to remodeling consider the items and colors already in your home. Make sure your choices fit your personality. Your style need not be sacrificed for the sake of comfort, convenience and safety. The end result should create a balance of form and function.
No matter which design elements or products you choose, a good design will keep you informed: from labor cost to product cost, know where your money is going.
Simply put, doing it right is more important than doing it fast. Understand somethings cannot be predicted. Give your contractors a little extra buffer in the timeline.
Once you’ve considered all of these “comfort” features, then you can price them out and choose which ones to add to your remodel. Your budget may not be able to include all 12 of our suggestions.
(In case you landed on this page out of order, don’t forget to read Tips for a Master Bath Remodel You’ll Love Part 1 and Part 2 to get more all our tips for remodeling a bathroom.) But these are the master bath features that our clients have truly fallen in love with.
We’re continuing our 3-part series describing what homeowners love about their master bathrooms. But, before you begin remodeling a master bathroom, you will want to consider every option and be aware of the best features in modern bathroom design.
Here are four more bath remodel recommendations from our designers and homeowners:
Warm & Cozy
Tile is cold! Electric warm wire floor heat is less expensive than you may think. You’d be hard pressed to find any real regrets with a heated floor.
Add soft-closing drawer glides for cabinet drawers, soft-closing cushions for the cabinet doors and a slow-closing seat for the water closet. There are even soft-close glides for pocket doors.
Grab bars are far more common today even among the young and healthy. There are designer grab bars that match the finish and style of your faucets. No need to sacrifice aesthetics for safety!
On the Shelf
Shelves can be a nice-looking, functional feature in the shower. Whether it’s a framed out shelf on the back wall or opposite the wet wall, a floating corner shelf, or a niche, a properly designed shelf is the way to go. Floating shelves in other locations can add character and interest.
So what have you chosen to implement in your bath remodel plans so far? What can you not live without? What will make you smile each day and think “I’m so glad we went with _____________.” We’d love to hear your feedback on our Studio 76 Kitchens and Baths Facebook page.