Choosing appliances for your renovation.
One of the issues that often gets a renovation started, is when older appliances start to fade or stop working completely. At that point it’s a good time to consider the entire kitchen and whether or not it’s time for a full renovation, before trying to just replace that old appliance.
Older appliances that are built into an existing kitchen are sometimes hard to replace with appliances of the same dimensions, years or decades later. So replacing an appliance might not be as easy as just replacing a refrigerator or a built-in oven into an existing spot in your current cabinetry. So before purchasing a new appliance, check those measurements, trying to retrofit a new appliance but making changes to existing cabinetry often is costly and usually never looks quite right. Also, if the flooring was installed in front of and not under your dishwasher, removing that dishwasher might require opening up that flooring.
If you decide that you are going to take a look at doing a full-scale renovation of your kitchen, then looking at the age of the remaining appliances. That brand new freestanding refrigerator might be able to be incorporated into the new kitchen design, but I would hesitate to re-install a 20-year-old wall oven with its older dimensions, into a new custom sized cabinet, only for that appliance to reach its lifespan a few years after the renovation. If you are ready to do a full renovation with new appliances, the selection of those appliances is done very early in the kitchen design process as appliance selections dictate the placement of the appliances in the new layout. There are so many options to choose from when it comes to new appliances for your kitchen.
For cooking, there’s gas, electric, and induction, the selection of what system to go with should be done first and will be determined by many factors.
Do you currently have natural gas or propane in your home? Or are you willing to bring in propane if you really desire a gas range Induction is a newer magnetic technology and performs a lot like gas in that it gives instant heat, this technology might be worth exploring if you like the control of a gas range. We use it often for projects and I enjoy using it in my own home.
Wall ovens, steam or speed ovens, convection ovens, warming drawers, grills, griddles… these are just a few cooking elements that could be purchased as separate units or could be features included in a range. Also, the size of the range should be determined early on in the design process as it dictates the cabinetry layout and the ventilation needed for the range hood as requirements are determined by the range.
There are so many options for refrigeration as well, There is a French door refrigerator with refrigeration on top and a freezer on the bottom, allowing these units to be placed wherever needed in the kitchen. A traditional side-by-side refrigeration and freezer. Also, these elements can be purchased in separate columns freezer and refrigeration and added wherever desired in the layout. There are also drawers that can be integrated for refrigeration and freezer. The size of the space and the configuration of the space will help you determine what appliances look proportioned to your space. Determine what features you are looking for, then depending on the size and layout of the space, keep your mind open to some items that might make better sense for your kitchen design based on suggestions from your kitchen designer.
Appliance styles range from a very industrial commercial look to a super-contemporary sleek look, to a retro looking appliance with today’s modern features. Stainless steel is still the most popular finish in today’s kitchen, experts predict that this will continue. But we are seeing some stainless finished with a brushed look or a tinted look, as fingerprints are a little less visible on these newer stainless finishes.
We are also seeing some manufacturers introduce colored appliances, which visually is a nice change from all the stainless, but is very taste specific. Its impossible to predict what we are actually going to be seeing in appliance 10 years from now, so I advise clients to go with the look that they really love, unless they are getting ready to sell their home, in which case you might want to update a little more generically when it comes to appliance choices. Choosing your appliance is one of the many steps involved in completing a kitchen design and renovation. Be sure to involve a design professional from the beginning of the process to ensure that you are creating a kitchen space that you will enjoy for many years to come.
This space saving, classic kitchen, that we completed 2 years ago, is loaded with traditional charm. It has recently captured the attention of Houzz viewers making it the 6th most popular kitchen on Houzz in 2019. This kitchen has now been published four times, twice as a featured project on Houzz, and it has also been featured on Bob Vila.com as part of a recent article, and again yesterday as a featured article. Since this kitchen seems to be a viewer favorite right now, so I thought I might take you behind the scenes a bit to tell you a little more about this project and the design of this kitchen.
This kitchen lives in a beautiful classic 1800’s home. The current owners, my clients, were not in love with the 1980s remodel that was done by the previous owners of this home as it stripped the kitchen of any of its traditional architecture. It really didn’t blend well with the rest of this beautiful home. So after working with them on numerous other projects throughout the home, these long-time clients turned to me to design and build their new kitchen space.
I created a design plan creating a beautiful large kitchen, expanding the space into the adjacent rooms and opening up to the backyard. My clients loved this design plan, but other projects took precedence, so after a few additional years, my clients were now ready to proceed with the kitchen project. Their overall goals for the property did change since we first looked at this project, and my clients decided that they did not want to enlarge or expand the small kitchen by opening it up to the adjacent rooms, as this would mean losing an adjacent study and bathroom. So, I went back to the drawing board to create a kitchen in the existing kitchen space that fulfilled their new goals and created a beautiful functional space within the existing kitchen area.
This kitchen design consisted of additional storage and cabinetry, additional countertop space, and a small space to sit and have a cup of coffee in the morning. We added new cabinetry, which now extends to the ceiling removing the old soffits. We worked around 3 existing doorways which were to remain in place, old radiator piping which remained, and we replaced the 2 existing windows with larger windows which were more proportioned to the space and took full advantage of the natural light. Careful planning allowed for additional cabinetry adjacent to the peninsula, which added more storage. A metal pegboard in cobalt blue created a small pot rack on the side of the refrigerator panel, creating more storage.
This new design, like my former design, honored this home’s traditional architecture but added light, and a fresh feel to the space using updated colors and material selections. A custom mix of glass tile created the backsplash, white quartz with the look of classic marble, created a classic but user-friendly countertop. A white porcelain farmer’s sink is a focal point in this kitchen, custom window treatments, maple flooring, and gleaming hardware added to the milky white cabinetry allowed this kitchen to now blend with the classic architecture in the rest of the home. New stainless steel appliances were also added, and really update the way this kitchen looks and functions.
The adjacent pantry area was also renovated, just off the main kitchen, we removed old dark pine cabinetry, added a doorway to the adjacent dining room which created a better traffic flow through the home. We designed and installed beautiful custom navy blue cabinetry with lots of storage and counter top space, which the owner uses for entertaining.
My clients are now loving this newly renovated kitchen space. This new kitchen contains many of the elements of a much larger kitchen and melds beautifully with the rest of the house which we have also designed renovated over the last few years. Finally, my client’s get to enjoy their new kitchen space as much as they enjoy the rest of this beautiful home.
You’ve spent the last few months searching for a new home. You’ve re-calibrated your wish list several times before finally deciding that in order to get into the neighborhood that you like and stay within your budget, you had better consider a fixer-upper. It looks easy enough, so how hard could it be? Besides, it looks like fun. You know that you would like to add or change some of the features in your new home, so how hard could it be? Well, if you are a first-time homeowner or a first-time renovator, stay tuned, this article is for you!
Fixing up an old or run down home has been a way of life for me and my family for as long as I could remember because I grew up with my parents being fixer-upper renovators. As a child coming home from school and walking through the front door, I was sure of one thing, somewhere in my path, there would be wet paint or freshly poured cement with piles of stone ready for stacking, electrical wires hanging from the ceiling, and of course, the furniture would always be in a different place. The perfect environment for this designer in the making.
Years later, I took it to a whole different level. As my children grew up amidst a full-scale major renovation in what was their childhood home, a 200-year-old historical beauty, and a thriving Interior Design and Renovation business operating at full force by their mother, whose first office was in that home. Now that they are adults, I wonder if this must somehow be in the genes as I see my 3-year-old grandson building “staging” as he climbs carefully with his hammer in hand and my 1 1/2-year-old granddaughter standing in her pink tool belt, smiling as I teach her how to retract her tape measure as they help with the next family project. Future renovators in the making, for sure. Needless to say, after 20 years of renovating clients houses and many more years of living in numerous fixer-upper projects, I do have some advice for anyone who has found themselves head over heels for their vision of what this is going to be like.
1 – Be patient and Listen to the house
I know you want to get into the exciting stuff right away. The kitchen, the bathrooms, taking down walls. But allow yourself a little time to access the property close up. Take your time, go through the details of the house slowly. Allow the house to show you what needs your attention first. Believe me, it will! Sometimes new renovators go right at it tearing into everything on their wish list, only to find, a few days or weeks into the project, that house had other more pressing issues that really should be addressed first. Usually, these are the less exciting projects, like the roof, the furnace, electrical, or plumbing issues. And my personal favorite from past experience in 2 of my own homes, water well or main water line issues. Many issues can be brewing that you are unaware of even when you’ve had a thorough home inspection. So be prepared with your budget to address some of these issues, should they come up sooner than anticipated in your renovation project.
2 – Really access your goals for the house.
Are you hoping to be living in the home for a while? Or are you going to be fixing it up and selling in a few years? Both of these scenarios should be approached very differently with regards to how to approach your plan, renovation, and budget. Be clear on your goals before you start. This will keep you from over-investing in design elements that only you think are great and might hinder the sale of your home if that is your intention. If you are here to stay, then you can create a plan of action based on your goal for you and your family.
3 – Have a detailed plan.
After accessing the house thoroughly addressing any immediate issues, now it’s time to develop a detailed plan. This is a great time to involve a design professional who knows the ins and outs of transforming your home with a renovation. An experienced designer will be able to review your plan and assist with creating a phased plan of action. This is important because you don’t want to find out later when you finally get to do your bathroom renovation, that the adjacent rooms, which you renovated first, will now be affected in order to run plumbing and electrical for your new bathroom project. You certainly don’t want to spend time and money backtracking because you didn’t do things in a logical order.
4 – Life during a renovation.
If you have the opportunity to do some or all of the work on your fixer-upper before you move in, then great. Plan those projects strategically. It’s much easier to address any floor work before you have a house full of furniture unless this doesn’t make sense for your timeline or project goals. If you are going to be living in your home and fixing it up as you go, really think about ways that you can make our life easier by progressing through the house and thinking out the logistics. This is something that I review with every client before a renovation. Even in the best of circumstances, your projects will cause some stress and logistical issues when your lifestyle is disrupted with a renovation.
5 – Don’t try to be your own contractor
Don’t try to be your own contractor unless you have the additional time and money needed to correct expensive errors that you might make by learning as you go. Pick and choose the projects that you know you can compete and that are within your skill set, if you want the hands-on experience. Remember that a poorly done renovation can cost just as much money as a professional renovation, usually takes much more time, and can actually decrease the value of your home if it doesn’t look great in the end. Hiring the pros will ensure you get the desired results without all the stress, guesswork, and endless hours trying to figure it all out.
Tips for hiring the right interior designer.
Hiring an interior designer isn’t always as simple as just calling the closest interior designer in your town. Interior Designers vary greatly in their range of services and areas of expertise.
Here are a few questions that you can ask to determine if you have the right designer for your project.
What area do you specialize in?
Hire the right type of designer for your project. Some designers specialize in a specific area of design, for instance furniture arrangement and procurement, some designers might focus on just custom draperies, some specialize in producing a specific style or look. Others might be decorators specializing in a quick spruce up, some might specialize in staging houses for the real estate market.
Companies like mine, specialize in designing residential renovation projects, including kitchen and bathroom design and renovation, and some also provide full service options, providing everything down to the furnishings in these renovated spaces if desired.
All are interior designers, all with varying skill sets and interests. So consider the type of project that you are looking to do, and reach out to a designer who specializes in this area.
What type of experience does your designer have?
So, you’ve asked about what the designer specializes in, but now, you should also ask where their experience lies. Be sure a designer designing your master bathroom has actual experience designing bathrooms for clients. Just because someone has learned design principles in school does not mean that they have experience working with clients, or designing and implementing complicated design and construction projects at a professional level.
One of the main benefits to hiring an interior designer is that you will benefit from their experience in the field. Be sure your prospective designer has the experience needed to design your project.
Is the designer you are considering a full time designer who owns a business or a freelance part time designer who only does projects occasionally?
Both could have great design skills, but the full time designer will most likely have more resources and vendor connections to bring to your project and will be able to complete your project more efficiently. Most full time designers will cover a wider service area depending on the geographic location, and many will travel well beyond their area of service to reach clients that need a designer with their area of expertise. Also, just as in any other well run business, a good designer also has processes in place to help the client reach their goals and ensure the outcome of the project. This is very important because clients sometimes armed with more enthusiasm than knowledge sometimes want to skip important steps in the process.
A full time, established designer knows where the common pitfalls are in the design and renovation project and has implemented organized systems and processes in place to avoid these pitfalls and guide the client through the project without jumping around and making mistakes.
This is not always the case with designers who only do projects occasionally, this is also why many contractors shy away from working with part time designers.
How responsive is your designer?
Does the designer get back to you in a timely manner to answer questions? This becomes even more important when you are in the middle of a large project or renovation. Be sure you use a designer who shows professionalism and communicates with clients and contractors efficiently.
You also want to be sure to hire a designer who listens to your initial thoughts and ideas about your project.
Are you being asked about your desires and needs for the project? Is the designer listening and responding to create a design that reflects your personal taste? Or, are they trying to sell you on a hot new trend that they are dying to try out?
Sometimes a client’s initial ideas might need some enhancement or may not be possible due to construction or budget constraints but a good designer definitely listens and hears what the clients goals are, and uses their skills to create a design that is right for the client, communicating throughout the process and creating something that truly reflects the client.
- Invest a little time and money by hiring the designer you are considering to come out to your home for a consultation. Most professional interior designers do charge for this service as they are always providing value with their ideas when they visit your home.
- An onsite design consultation can give you an opportunity to see how the designer works.
- Ask the designer for some general thoughts about the proposed project or about some other design dilemmas that you might have in your home.
- Ask some of the questions provided in this article and see how comfortable you are with the meeting.
Hiring an interior designer can be the best thing you can do to ensure the success of any design project. We are a profession of passionate, creative, and inspired individuals who aspire to please their clients. I hope some of these ideas will help you to find the right professional for your project and help to clarify that not all designers are in fact created equal.
After a long winter, the first few days of warmer weather bring a glimpse spring. These early spring days are met with excitement and anticipation from everyone who lives in a northern climate.
But these previews of spring remind us that it is definitely time to do a little work on your home’s interior.
Here are a few Design Tips and Ideas for refreshing and updating you home in the Spring.
1. Do a thorough spring cleaning. Add a few tasks to the normal cleaning routine, Washing down baseboards, lighting fixtures, and windows. Professionally clean your area rugs. winter takes it’s toll on the inside of your house as well as the exterior. Doing a complete cleaning will make everything look great. Clean out closets and cabinets, you’ll feel great once everything is cleaned and re-organized.
2. Change out your throw pillows on you sofa or chairs. A new mix of colors and patterns, using vibrant spring colors can really add some energy to the room. These can easily be switched out, so don’t be afraid to try something new. Add a decorative throw to pull the look together.
3. Move your accessories around. As you might be doing a bit of spring cleaning, this is a great time to create some new accessory arrangements. Add a few new pieces or just move the pieces that you have into a new arrangement. Show off some collections that might be hidden away in cabinet, a grouping of colorful vases or glass can freshen up the space.
4. Update your living room room with a few pieces of new furniture and custom window treatments. The options are endless. This will be less costly than a complete renovation but will totally transform your space.
5. Add flowers or greenery. Fresh flowers and greenery are great to incorporate into your spring decor when you can, even a few well chosen faux florals can add a little long awaiting Spring color to your room.
6. Organize your mudroom or entry area. Winter boots and coats can be cleaned, stored and relocated. Update or clean the entry rug. Plan and create some much needed storage with bins or built in cabinetry, so that next winter you will have this area a bit more organized. Change out batteries in all smoke/carbon dioxide detects since they are often located in these areas.
7. Update the master bedroom. Change out the bedding or plan a complete bedroom re-design. With a quick design meeting, we can help you plan and implement this project quickly, creating a luxurious master bedroom. changing or updates your colors in this space can give your bedroom a completely different look.
8. Add a few new decorative lamps, or just change out those old lampshades. This is a great tip to freshen up any space. Replace any light bulbs that might need replacing.
9. Prepare for your next renovation project. Spring and summer is a great time for kitchen and bathroom renovation projects. The warmer months allow for some outdoor grilling and dining while that new kitchen is being constructed. Also, planning that bathroom renovation around you vacation might allow you to avoid some of the inconvenience and coming home to a nearly completed renovated bathroom might be a great way to end your vacation. Meet with design professionals now to start designing that new kitchen or bathroom space!
10. Don’t forget to decorate your front door. A fresh coat of paint a new front door wreath can remind you and your guests that Spring is here. Also, this a a great time to replace the welcome mat, try something fresh and colorful. Show your personality with your selection.
Everyone loves to watch design projects on television, especially the dramatic home renovation transformations. As a designer and renovator who has been in the business for 20 plus years, I’ve observed these shows from their early inception, to what exists today. Design shows have done a great job demystifying the actual role of an interior designer, revealing the true value of using an Interior designer’s services. An industry that once was confusing and mysterious to the client is now a little more understood. However it’s impossible for a television show, created solely for the entertainment of viewers, to fully explain and reveal the actual design and construction process in its entirety. So viewers don’t really get to see the full scope of how things work. Some viewers understand this limitation, but I want to point out a few misconceptions for viewers that might be considering a renovation and have never renovated before. Here are some of the myths that will easily be shattered when doing a project in reality.
On television shows, homeowners are kicked out of their home during renovations, returning well rested to a completed project, and surprise, your home is also fully furnished.
We sometimes have clients that choose to travel while their project is underway, knowing that a full service company like mine can manage everything from start to finish. But most of the time, unless you plan for, and can afford a hotel for 4-6 weeks, depending on the scope of your project, you will be living in your home during most of the renovations and you should plan accordingly. If a kitchen or bathroom is being renovated, make some plans as these rooms will be unavailable during construction. We usually assist our clients in making any plans for a temporary kitchen set up before we begin a kitchen renovation. We will also recommend a progression process that might lessen the inconvenience. Having a realistic idea of how the project will proceed and how you and your family will adjust during construction will definitely help you deal with any inconveniences. Also, we do have those exciting reveals when a client hires us to completely furnish the home as well as renovate it, but on the larger projects, the client is seeing the project as it progresses, so we actually have numerous exciting days instead of one. When we are just furnishing a home, and not renovating, then you can leave for one day and come home to a big reveal.
Spend entire budget in the beginning.
Have a contingency plan beyond your quoted projected cost. On television you see an unexpected problem come up and then the homeowners are asked what they want to eliminate from the original project, the reality is that materials have already been ordered, things have already been started or purchased, so plans that change drastically from the original plan, once construction begins certainly can happen, but often come with a significant cost. Avoid big design changes once construction starts. This is why having a thorough, well planned design is so important, it is easier and much less expensive to make changes on paper before construction begins. You should have a contingency budget to cover unexpected expenses, like unknown issues that might lie within your existing home and additional small projects that you would like to add to your scope of work during construction.
2 minutes after the project is discussed, your project is instantly rendered with flying objects and furnishings, then immediately we are handing sledge hammers to clients and kicking through walls.
A thorough assessment of existing conditions is done, deep design discussions with clients are scheduled, and a thorough design plan which may include drawings or renderings is prepared. All material selections are carefully and thoughtfully prepared by the designer and reviewed with the homeowner. Once quotes and revisions are approved, all materials are ordered, permits are filed, and your project is scheduled. Demolition is done carefully and methodically to insure the safety of you and your home, and for the ease of debris removal, so don’t be surprised if your contractor doesn’t hand you the sledge hammer, and spends more time unscrewing and carefully removing things than he does smashing things. But, for the record, demo day is still extremely exciting as it’s the beginning of your home’s transformation!
Contractors can start your project immediately.
A successful renovation involves proper planning, which includes contacting reputable tradesmen months before your project starts. This also includes discussing the project in detail, providing them with the proper information and specifications needed, then scheduling work well in advance of when you will need them. If you are managing a project yourself and do not plan properly, don’t be surprised when you cannot get a reputable plumber or electrician to drop everything and tend to your project. Managing a construction project involves a lot of moving pieces, and a thorough knowledge of construction protocols, this is best left to the pros as it is costly to learn by making mistakes on your home. This can also extend the amount of time your project take to complete.
You can make material selection as you move through your renovation, with everything being chosen with just a quick shopping trip.
Sourcing the best materials for your project takes time and involves thorough planning. Material selections with my clients involves several appointments to view samples from vendors, some design discussion and possibly a few trips to look at products. Numerous products have long lead times so choosing items in the middle of your project will limit you to items that you can source and obtain quickly. Some products look similar but vary greatly in quality, so you must know where to compromise and what you are compromising while making these decisions.
Budget talks are short and sweet.
It might take a homeowner some time to decide what their budget is for the project, and their scope of work might have to change based on their budget..Construction projects are costly in real life, and there are no sponsors and special pricing from vendors in reality. We take time with our clients talking about a realistic budget for the project that we are discussing, and we prepare a thorough quote for our clients based on exactly what we are building. This process takes a little time but it allows a client to understand project costs from the beginning. This will help them decide on a scope of work that best fits their budget. These careful decisions will ensure that you are making a great investment in your home.
Researching the cost of materials will give me an idea of what my project will cost.
Designers, architects, structural engineers, electricians, plumbers and contractors all charge fees for their services and must be accounted for in the project budget, along will permit fees and any necessary construction documents. These fees are not often discussed on television and often give a homeowner a distorted view of what project costs really involve.
The priority of this renovation is empowering homeowners, creating sponsor sales and good tv. Viewers forget that professionals are actually doing these projects and that they are not seeing all the steps.
Our priority is always our clients. Time is taken to ensure that our spaces are well designed for the clients and their family. Care is taken to explain the process and construction details with the client. Designers must make decisions based on the best interest of their clients wants, needs, and budget. We want our clients to be happy with the process, happy with results, and happy to refer our company to their friends. I am happy when I am invited back into a client’s home later and I can see the finished design really functioning well for the client, and quality workmanship standing the test of time.
The reality is that seeing a transformation of a space in real life is actually much better than what you can capture on camera, in reality you can see the fine details of construction and product quality, and really feel the transformation, as you walk through a completed space. Seeing the excitement of the homeowner as they settle in to their new space, hearing how the renovation has exceeded their expectations of what could be possible for the home when we first met. Helping clients through this process is a joy, helping them avoid and anticipate common and costly problems and pitfalls, and creating huge renovation transformations is what we do best. If you have never experienced a renovation before, a well planned renovation really can be extremely exciting and gratifying. Just not exactly how it is perceived from watching a very well edited and simplified version on tv.