Country Estate -Master Suite-Part 1 -Master Bath Project

Country Estate Master Suite - Bath Renovation

I am so excited to share the transformation of one of our completed master bath projects this week. A complete design and renovation project and was part of a more extensive home renovation that we did for these lovely clients. I’ll be sharing more of this beautiful home with you soon.

broken floor tile

The master bath renovation was an absolute priority for this client.  Its dated fixtures, strangely angled walls, and tiny shower called out for a complete transformation.

Although this was a reasonably large room, this older home, formerly renovated by a previous homeowner in the late 1980’s, contained numerous angled walls creating strange angles, dead spaces, and lots of wasted space. Visually the room’s odd proportions were confusing and not pleasing to the eye. Changing the configuration was something I knew would make a dramatic difference in the space.

The small closet off the bathroom was in dire need of enlargement as it served as the master closet in this home and was very small and angled.

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After viewing this property and discussing the needs of the homeowner, I got right to work designing this bathroom.

My first step was to reconfigure the space changing the shape of the room. I eliminated the false angled walls, squared off the room, eliminated the dead spaces, re-located doorways, and enlarged the window, which opened up space and allowed me to design a beautiful enlarged bathroom. Complete with a freestanding soaking tub, two vanities, and a large custom, tiled steam shower complete with chroma-color, aromatherapy, rain head, and it’s own sound system—a far cry from the small shower stall in the original bathroom. Now my homeowner can enjoy their luxurious steam shower equivalent to the finest spa, right in the comfort of their home. The new toilet area no longer houses a bidet but added custom cabinets for additional storage. We eliminated a small hallway to nowhere behind the existing small closet and the space added to a new large custom master closet.

The design details, material selections, color scheme, and classic architectural details were selected to create a quiet, soothing environment, complement the architecture of this historical 1700 era home, and not overpower the beautiful ever-changing lush views from every direction from this New England country estate. All of the modern conveniences of an updated renovated space with classic details that my clients love.

I can’t wait to show you more of this project, including the master bedroom coming up next week.

 

Until next time,
Gia

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Working From Home During Your Renovation

Working From Home During Your Renovation

You might have been planning your home renovation project for some time. If you have hired a design and build company like mine, you have a designer/project manager overseeing your project from start to completion.

You knew this was the right choice since you need to keep focused on work and certainly don’t have the time or desire to be learning how to be a designer and a renovation manager at the same time. You also know that you want professional-level results, and you value the skills and experience of professionals. Now you can concentrate on your job and career knowing the project is in good hands.

There is one thing you might not have anticipated…that you might be working from home during the renovation process. 

broken floor tile

Working from home is now the new normal, and homeowners everywhere are settling into their new working environment. Most people are enjoying the new freedom of working in their home environments. No long commute, all the comforts of home, and increased productivity. (see my previous blog article, pro tips for working from home)

Now that your project start date is approaching, and with the recent construction and renovation boom, you are delighted that you have booked this project in advance and with a firm that has you on their schedule.  So, of course, you are ready to start and see the results of your thoroughly planned project. But now, how are you going to handle having a house filled with construction while you are working from home and having daily zoom calls?

Here are some tips for working from home during your renovation:

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ONE

Discuss any additional projects as soon as possible with your designer/project manager. For example, you may have decided that you want to set up a work area in a bedroom away from the renovation activity. You may need a desk, additional electrical outlets, a comfortable desk chair, or further assistance moving furnishings into a place where you can work comfortably. We would be glad to assist our clients with these things, and often we do. The sooner we know this, the better we can help you with getting settled. Your designer can source out the additional furniture items that you might need and will be familiar with the new projected lead time of different vendors and companies.

TWO 

Discuss the renovation process as far as what areas of the house will need to be cleared out or inaccessible during construction. Sometimes homeowners are unaware of how much space will be affected during renovation or construction. We try to prepare our clients for this. For instance, if we are working on a bedroom renovation, we will need to clear out everything in the bedroom until the project is complete to have access to walls, ceiling, flooring, and to have space to bring in the necessary tools to work on the project. This could affect the question of where is the best place to set up that temporary working space.

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THREE

Contact your project manager with your questions as they have all of the information on your renovation project. When working with a design and build firm, all contractors and artisans have been well informed by the project manager as to what they are making and all of the details involved. Although now that you are home watching the process, it is hard not to get distracted with questions about the process. Questions are always welcomed and answered quickly and thoroughly by my firm and most reputable professionals. The on-site plumber or electrician might not know all the details of things that don’t pertain to his part of the project. Your project manager will answer your questions quickly so you can have the answers you are looking for, so you can then be able to concentrate on your work.

 

FOUR

Even in the most well planned and prepared renovation, there will be construction noise. Not fun when you are trying to work or make that zoom call to a colleague. When you need some quiet, plan an alternative working space to give yourself a little break. Even as someone who is no stranger to daily construction noise, numerous renovations for clients, as well as my own home, I found myself in this position a few years ago when I had my crew re-finish all of the floors in my home. Although my office was isolated, I got to a point where I couldn’t take another 8 hours of floor sanding noise. I made my escape and spent a few working offsite in a quiet coffee shop. The peace and quiet, and maybe the extra caffeine, allowed me to be more productive in those very focused hours than if I had stuck it out at home. Removing myself allowed my crew to work more efficiently without worrying about clearing a path for me whenever I needed to walk through to the less than accessible bathroom. Just know that we feel your pain. No one enjoys living on a renovation site, much less working on one. Just know that we are doing whatever we can to lessen the impact yet still complete your project with high-quality work, efficiently, and with as little disruption to your work as possible

 

FIVE

Know that the renovation process is only temporary. Once your renovation is complete, and you can enjoy your new space, you will be so glad that you invested the time, money, and a little inconvenience to reap the benefits of your newly designed and renovated space. We also know that working from home can be a bit isolating. Some clients miss all the activity and progress in their home once the renovation is complete, and quickly start planning the next project. We love nothing more than continuing to plan with you for your next project.

 

Until next time,
Gia

 

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The Real Cost of Free Design Advice

The REAL Cost of Free Design Advice.

In the age of having information available everywhere, there is no shortage of free advice in many areas in which we might need assistance.  We can find numerous individuals anywhere with the click of a computer key. We are willing to decide that these search results know as much, or more, than the experts? They are willing to give free advice about an upcoming surgical procedure that you might need, how to do your own electrical work, legal issues or free advice on how you should invest your money. But of course, there is always no lack of free interior design and renovation advice. These well-meaning individuals with a little bit of knowledge can be costing you quite a bit when it comes to advice for designing your home.

broken floor tile

Recently, while doing my weekly Instagram posts, I noticed a popular design blogger doing a video in which she was giving advice to the masses about selecting tile for a bathroom project in her home. In this video she was recommending a tile that was not suitable for use on floors as a great selection for a floor tile. And then outlined her process of making design selections as follows: “First I look at every store I could find until I had seen everything and then I ask everybody I know (family, friends, etc.) for their opinion before I made my selection.” This, for the record, is actually some of the worst design advice that I’ve ever seen in regards to making a design decision. This very lovely, well-meaning person, whose design experience consists of selecting seasonal accessories for her own home, is now giving advice as to how to select the tile for YOUR home. This blogger actually uses an architectural interior design firm for her home, a fact that usually gets omitted when passing out design advice to followers. So for her home, most of her ideas will be filtered and developed by the pros before they are implemented in her home, something that you might not have when taking action on her design advice. This is a sure way to lead your project astray before you even start.

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My point to this is to be careful where you get your advice. Free advice could actually be quite costly in the end. 

How can that be?  

FIRST

Consider where the advice comes from and the level of experience with professional projects. People that don’t have the level of experience working on professional projects oversimplify the things that have to be considered when making selections. Especially for things like tile for construction-based selections because they do not know what they do not know. Just because you want to be an expert in design or have good taste when shopping for things doesn’t make you an expert in design.

In fact, the only thing that makes you a real expert is many years of practical full-time experience working on different homes with different materials for different clients, with different sets of circumstances at each project, day in and day out. Even then you are always continuing to learn when presented with each unique challenge, but you are armed with a developed skill set that will navigate these challenges and that allows you to successfully sail through what could be devastating and expensive problems for the inexperienced designer.

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However harmless it might seem to take a little design advice, a selection of a tile that’s not meant for a floor can cause very expensive problems! First, if you find a tile installer to actually install this tile on the floor after you have purchased it, will probably cost you twice as much because of the time involved, extra labor involved, or overall liability since most likely the tile installer, who might have advised against this installation knows of the problems that will occur.

A thin veneer-like marble looking tile found in a quick Internet search and chosen because of its looks will not perform well as floor tile. Results can be expected such as cracking, safety issues, durability issues, and poor performance. So, you’ve just wasted thousands of dollars installing something suggested to you under the heading of “free design advice”. Who is going to pay the cost of repairs on this floor when it fails?

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SECOND

When a professional designer or experienced contractor steers you away from using certain items there is usually a good reason. Another design blogger writes about how “20 professionals told her not to use this product in her shower but she did it anyway and it looks great.” Yes, it might look great for a few weeks or months. The reason the professionals steer you toward certain product selections is because they have the knowledge of durability, longevity, quality,and safety. They also know that there are a lot more products out there that have a similar or superior look and perform better than the products that you’re looking at. Just because you came up with a beautiful piece of tile and you use it anyway does not mean that you know more than the pros, it means that you did not ask questions about why they don’t suggest these products. Smart homeowners will listen to professional advice and consider the risks when using a product that the pros think is not necessarily a good idea. Should you choose to proceed with that product at least you know the risks.

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THIRD

Consider how this free advisor is getting paid. Are you getting free advice from a retailer selling products? Their goal is to sell products, not necessarily to do what is best for the client, or suggest products that might be better for their project that might be available elsewhere. Usually, these free designers don’t have the ability to design a complete space through to completion or to see what other existing elements or challenges you might have in your home. Their job is to coordinate several pieces of furniture together to make a bigger sale, or to sell their cabinets. Therefore the design costs are built into product sales. All of this might be fine for a few small things and you might get lucky and find individuals with some level of skill in selecting nice pieces. But these are not the designers to design your home renovation projects. It’s always best, no matter how small or large your project, to choose a designer that has exposure and the ability to source product from many different manufacturers. This allows them to suggest a product that is absolutely right for you, your taste, and your budget.

In the end, the real cost of that “free design advice” is that your project may be even more costly than if you hired a professional, to begin with. But in addition to that cost, the final end results might not be the beautifully well-designed space you had imagined.

 

Until next time, 

Gia

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Preparing For Your First Meeting With A Designer

Why can't a renovation go any faster?

I get many questions about the process of working with a designer. Once I have an initial appointment set with a new client. I typically get asked if there’s something that they need to do to prepare for our first visit, so, I thought I might share a few thoughts about this today.

Congratulations, you’ve booked an appointment with a designer! You’ve done your homework, searched for a designer that specializes in some of the projects that you might want to consider in your home and now you’re on your way. You’ve committed to the process of working with a professional and you will reap the benefits throughout the process. Of course, with the finished results.

10 Ways To Cozy Up Your Home For Fall

Some people feel a little intimidated at first when inviting a designer into their home. Clients want to be sure that their ideas are heard and then, of course, the end product is going to be something that they love. Rest assured, as a designer, I am here to help you reach your goals, certainly not to judge you for your past design decisions or your current furniture. As a professional, my focus is to listen to your thoughts, frustrations, and ideas about your home and to prepare a design that gets you the best results. 

Most professional designers, like myself, have a process that they walk clients through. In the first initial appointment its best to talk about the ideas and to assess the project goals. This also lends help to other areas of the home that might be affected.

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In preparation for this meeting it can be helpful to think about a few things:

Your overall goal for your home, will you stay in the home for a while or will you be preparing the home to sell in a few years?

If you have an overall goal for the property, it is helpful to share these ideas with your designer as well.

Is there an area of your home that you want to focus on in the design process? Are you considering a kitchen or bath renovation or are you looking for a few design suggestions throughout your space?

If you have numerous renovation projects that you would like to tackle, then your designer can help you to develop a phased plan. Considering you might be living in your home at the time of the renovations. Or you might consider a temporary living space so that you can renovate your entire space at once. These are things to discuss with your designer so that you can approach the design and renovation process in the right order for you and the building process.

Think about the overall budget for the project. If you have an idea of what you would be able to spend on the project, this will help the designer to direct you toward a scope of work that is in line with your budget.

Project costs cannot be accurately figured without a detailed design or without a thorough inspection by trade professionals to assess the conditions of the home. However, if your designer has an idea of your budget, they can assist you with containing the scope of work. For instance, working on one room at a time or containing the project in other ways. You might feel like a project should cost a certain amount of money, however, construction cost, material costs, and code issues will dictate the reality of what a project cost will be.

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Now is the time to bring out that folder or idea board that you have been saving.

If you have ideas and design thoughts that you might like to see in your home, mention them or show them to your designer in that initial meeting. Your designer is gathering information about your likes and dislikes and about how you live. It is best to put all your ideas and thoughts into the conversation. Your designer will help you to keep the ideas that work for your situation and bring additional ideas to you that might suit your likes and home even better. The more information you share the more the design can be tailored to your tastes and needs.

Ask for suggestions, you might not have any idea what to do in your home, that’s why you called in a designer, right?

This is fine, in fact, it allows the designer to really do their best work, suggesting designs and ideas that you might not ever have imagined, keeping an open mind and trusting the process, giving feedback to your designer, these are all things that lead to incredible design results. If you have a designer on board that you can communicate with easily, this process will be very rewarding.

 Until Next Time,

Gia

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Why can’t a renovation go any faster?

Why can't a renovation go any faster?

Here is a question that many people ask during the process of any renovation. Why can’t this process go on my timeline? The answer to this question is very simple… renovation is much more complicated than it appears.

In recent years homeowners have been led to believe that renovating is a quick easy process. When watching a renovation on HGTV or YouTube you were not seeing every aspect of the renovation. Viewers are being marketed to in order to sell products and that is the goal here. Yes, you might pick up a few quick tips along the way, but this does not arm you with all the information needed to manage or conduct a renovation on your own. And this really doesn’t give you an accurate portrayal of what a professional renovation is like.

Yes, you will see massive transformations in a real-life professional renovation, sometimes even more profound than what you see on TV, But what you don’t see is the real process, in real life as professional designers and renovators, our goals are to create a massive transformation but also to create a home that our homeowners love and can function in safely for many years and to produce high-quality work and craftsmanship. 

10 Ways To Cozy Up Your Home For Fall

This requires much more work than a quick conversation about color or counter-top decisions, or a quick trip to a hardware store. From a design perspective, during a professional design and renovation project, much time is spent with the homeowner in the initial design process. Numerous meetings are spent with our clients. This is where I spend time assessing their needs listening to their concerns and wish lists and then, of course, creating an initial detailed design.

This process, if it is done correctly, takes some time. The lead up to your renovation requires time and thorough planning. Any time steps are skipped in this early process results in backtracking during your renovation. This is where most renovations go astray.  Having inadequate preparations or incomplete designs can cost homeowners weeks/months or longer.

The next thing that makes renovations take long is not being prepared with qualified contractors and knowing the process and protocols of working with contractors. If you’re renovating on your own and you’ve decided to demo over the weekend, don’t expect to call a plumber on Monday and have them drop everything to do your rough-in plumbing. All contractors have schedules and book projects in advance (sometimes several months in advance). This is something that can be avoided and will always make your renovation take longer.

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The next thing that makes the renovation take long is not being prepared with product selections. Different products require different preparation. For instance, if you’re doing a tile back-splash, the preparation work that would need to happen if you decide on a glass tile is much different then if you’re doing a porcelain tile or marble. So not knowing what the selection is far enough in advance of the preparation work will cause some backtracking. If your contractor is ready to put in the back-splash and you haven’t started shopping for a back-splash tile yet your project is now on pause and sometimes this forces your contractors to have to move onto another project while they wait for your decisions. Product availability is another thing that takes your project into a longer time period.

The final reason that a renovation project takes long is you might have unrealistic expectations about how long a renovation actually takes. Because you don’t know all of the details that happen, or have to happen, before those kitchen cabinets are installed. You might look at your project and ask “why aren’t the kitchen cabinets going in yet?”. Sometimes there are numerous steps that have to be taken before you start to see a big visual. Example: kitchen cabinets floors must be leveled, walls must be leveled, rough-in plumbing and electrical must be done, insulation and any construction issues addressed when opening up walls, etc. These are things that have to be addressed before the cabinets are installed. Things must be done in the right order. Quality contractors will keep you informed when construction issues are found and explain what is happening. Even so, the amount of time that it takes it’s usually longer than you think it should be because you don’t know all of the steps involved.

It would be helpful to learn as much as you can about renovation before you begin. Although, sometimes a little knowledge is dangerous because you don’t know all of the common pitfalls and issues that could arise. Your renovation is best left in the hands of a professional from start to finish. Design and renovation of your home it’s a costly project but it becomes even more costly when experimenting or learning on your home. This is typically the number one reason a renovation project goes beyond your expected time frame. So, if you desire your renovation to go as smoothly and efficiently as possible with professional results, bring in the professionals early in the planning stages of your project. 

Until next time, 

Gia

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A few things to consider when thinking about a bathroom renovation.

A few things to consider when thinking about a bathroom renovation

You were probably thinking about a bathroom renovation for quite a while. You would love to totally redo your bathroom, tear out the old bathtub shower combination, maybe add a freestanding bathtub, and a beautiful custom tile shower. So the first thing you do is start looking at beautiful marble tiles, you might visit a tile showroom or look at bathtubs online. You’re so excited about the possibilities. You might scroll Pinterest to gather ideas of what you’d like to see in your space.

While all of these things are great, they really don’t help you prepare for the reality of a bathroom renovation. Many clients and homeowners have a wish list containing several of the elements listed above. Then they quickly ask themselves why do these bathrooms differ so much in cost, design and in the end result? Each house is uniquely different. Even bathrooms that might have the same square footage are shaped differently, have different architectural elements, or even a different set of circumstances to work around while building. So much work needs to be done before you’re adequately prepared to start your bathroom renovation.

10 Ways To Cozy Up Your Home For Fall

1. Planning

 It’s great to have a wish list of items and elements that you would like to see in your space. But don’t get too specific and begin purchasing products too quickly. This might be really limiting your bathroom design and you might be spending money on elements that really won’t work for your specific bathroom. Create that wish list but don’t limit yourself to only the products that you have seen. And don’t begin purchasing any elements too soon, it’s best to wait until you have a plan that is fully developed.

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2. Design

Having a rough idea of what you want to include in the space is not enough information to begin construction on a project. You need an actual design for your space before you begin. Homeowners sometimes think that a bathroom renovation, because it’s smaller than some of the other spaces in their home, that somehow a bathroom renovation will be easier than a kitchen renovation. While kitchen renovations can be very complicated, bathroom renovations (depending on the situation) could actually be more complicated. You are working in a much smaller space, so things have to be planned so you can work in the space safely and be able to fit everything needed in the room considering all of the special needs required to function. This is much like putting together a jigsaw puzzle if one piece is not laid in properly with a space plan, the rest of the space will not come together. I can’t even tell you how many bathrooms I have designed over the many years of renovating. But I will tell you that no two bathrooms are alike especially when preparing a proper space plan. Some might have similar elements because the wants and needs of my client might be similar, but each bathroom is very different and needs to be planned and designed differently so that everything works and functions correctly. So consider hiring a professional designer before you begin a renovation to walk you through the process and prepare a design that really works well for your space. When meeting with your designer this is the time to bring out those photos of design ideas that you have been dreaming about. Your designer will be able to help you determine which of these design elements work for your particular bathroom and which ideas might not work with your particular circumstances

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3. Project Budget

Think about your budget for the project early on. Many of the things that drive the price of a bathroom renovation involve not only design elements but a modification to existing plumbing, electrical or construction, and building code issues. So, depending on your budget the best way to control costs early on is to have realistic expectations of what the scope of work can be done with your budget. Once you have hired a designer to design your bathroom, and you’ve developed an idea of your budget, share this information with your designer so that they can help you and steer you towards a modified bathroom design if a full-scale renovation is not feasible. Once you have a bathroom design you can then, more accurately, have contractors review the design as well as the condition of your home. Based on circumstances and the condition of your particular home, potential problems or issues could now be identified and changes might now be needed to the scope of work to work within your budget. This process is valuable because changes to the design or your plans are much easier done at this point than after construction gets underway.

4. Timing

Since a bathroom is a very important room in your home, the timing of this project is important to the function of your household. Especially if the bathroom that is getting renovated is the only bath or has the only shower/tub. Planning the timing of your renovation, maybe in the summer while the kids are at camp or during a time that works well for your family. In order to do this, your renovation team needs to be on board and in place many months in advance as contractor schedules will affect project timing and a well-planned renovation will consider scheduling far in advance to be able to make the time that your home is under renovation a little bit easier.

Until Next Time,

Gia

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