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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Tips For Designing And Renovating Your Condo

Tips For Designing And Renovating Your Condo

Condos provide a great lifestyle, especially for homeowners that don’t want to worry about exterior maintenance, landscaping, and the many chores of homeownership.

The advantage is that you do own the space, and in most cases, you can treat the inside of your condo however you’d like. However, every condo is different. The beautiful waterfront condo that we renovated in Charlestown Massachusetts had a whole different set of guidelines for interior renovations, then the condos we renovated in Foxborough, or Arlington, Massachusetts.

broken floor tile

 

When renovating, most condos have condo associations or a homeowners group that sets the rules, guidelines, and requirements needed. Every association or group regulates things differently, and so the preparation for a design and renovation project is essential.

Here are some tips and things to consider when thinking about the design and renovation of your condo.

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ONE

Contact the homeowners association or the condo board several months before you’re considering renovating. Sometimes there is a long process to go through to get permission and approvals that might be needed by the association for your renovation. If your particular condo association does require any approvals for interior work, you would much rather know this before starting the design and improvement of the space. Involve your designer/contracting team early on. Doing so will help prepare the proper drawings to present to your association if needed or required.

TWO

When designing an interior space of a condo, think about ways that you can utilize your space wisely when it comes to the storage and flow of your floor plan. Some condos have a very conventional floor plan; others have a unique floor plan. It’s essential to think about how you want to use the space and reconfigure the floor plan so that it works for you. Sometimes the series of small rooms can be opened up to create ample fully functional space, which can be more user-friendly than a lot of small rooms. Sit down with your designer early on to discuss all of the options before you dive into a project. Keep in mind; you might love what your neighbors have done with their similar unit; however, don’t limit yourself to what they have done, explore the possibilities of making your condo a unique design that works for you and your lifestyle.

THREE

Consider the natural light in the space and devise ways to utilize it or enhance it if needed. Some condos come with the benefit of large amounts of natural light; this can be wonderful. Still, it also can be a challenge in the area of privacy or controlling that natural light when needed as no one wants to be fully exposed with a wall full of windows at night, especially if you are in the city. Middle condos may lack in the area of natural light. Light may only be coming in from the front in the back of your condo. Adding additional natural light in your renovation project, opening up space from front to back will not only improve the floor plan and the flow, but it also increases the natural light as it now pours in through the entire space. Because of the lighting in your condo, a particular amount of consideration needs to be placed on color selection, as this can help to enhance and balance whatever lighting issues you are dealing with in your condo.

FOUR

When renovating your condo, depending on how your building is built, contractors, plumbers, and electricians might need access to adjacent units to renovate your space. Renovations should be discussed early on with your team of contractors and, if required, with your neighbors. Has access to wiring, plumbing, etc. might slow down your renovation if you do not have access to adjacent neighbors if needed. Any potential impact to adjacent units if this applies should be discussed in the design phase of the project. Doing so will save you a lot of hassle later on during the time of construction.

FIVE

Find out if there are any working restrictions in your building or complex. Again all condos in associations are different. Some buildings have various requirements for contractors coming in and out and working in the building. For instance, hours that contractors are allowed to work in the building, reserving an elevator for transportation of construction items. Parking, or other construction issues that could be required while working in the building to the building in general. Always try to find out what requirements the building has before your project begins. This will allow you and your contractors to plan accordingly. For instance, in a building in which you must reserve an elevator up to a week’s notice is sometimes required so that the building’s elevator can be covered and padded to avoid damage. This is not something that you want to find out the day that your contractor shows up with your kitchen cabinets, but he is ready to install. Taking the time to find out the rules in your building not only prepares you in the way for the timing of the project tasks, but it also helps you to define the additional costs for your project.

SIX

Enjoy the process of planning your condo and personalize it, add architectural details, and customized finishes or furnishings. Creating a beautiful condo can be a challenge, but with some preparation, with the proper process, you will be sure to have the best design for your home!

 

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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How To Survive A Kitchen Renovation

How to Survive a Kitchen Renovation

Everyone has heard the Horror stories from homeowners that have undertaken a kitchen renovation. This is especially true of homeowners that hire a contractor to renovate with no concrete design plan but especially from homeowners that decide to tackle renovations on their own unaware of what they do not know about the process. In the case of the homeowner going on their own, the time that the project is actually under construction is usually double perhaps triple the duration of a professionally designed, planned, and implemented project. 

However, with any type of renovation, there is the inconvenience of being without a kitchen for the duration of the project and the inconvenience of having craftsmen in your home on a daily basis until the project is complete.

When I am working with a client to prepare them for their kitchen renovation there is a series of steps that I take them through to prepare for the entire project. There are also a series of recommendations and preparation tips that I provide clients on how to prepare for the length of time that they will be without a kitchen. When I am working with a client, I keep them informed as to the best time to execute some of the recommendations based on our project start date. This helps the client to know exactly what steps they can take to be better prepared for the first day of their project, “Demo Day” and how we can help them with this process of getting prepared.

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Here are a few of these recommendations:

PREPARE A TEMPORARY KITCHEN AREA

Make preparations for a temporary cooking area or meal preparation area. Although many clients frequent a variety of takeout options, it really is necessary to prepare for preparing simple meals while awaiting the completion of that dream kitchen. This might involve a simple table out of the construction area for a microwave, coffee maker, and an electric skillet. Or perhaps making preparations to temporarily hook up your old range and refrigerator. A small dorm refrigerator can work well in a temporary kitchen area also.

PACK, PURGE, & LABEL

Pack all of the items in your current kitchen. This involves some sorting and purging so I always recommend clients give themselves plenty of time for this. Select a few items that need to be included in your temporary kitchen space, dishes, utensils, a few pieces of cookware, a crock-pot, glasses, and coffee cups. The rest of the items, if they are going to be coming into your new kitchen, should be packed, labeled, and removed from the construction area. Marking these boxes will help you to locate items should you need them before the unpacking begins. Part of this process is purging any unwanted items before packing that way you know that everything that you are packing is coming back into your new kitchen. Many people enjoy updating some of their kitchen items after they renovate their kitchen so think about this before you pack everything.

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DECIDE ON OLD APPLIANCES

If new appliances are part of your new kitchen renovation, many times older appliances are disposed of or donated. We usually remove existing appliances during the demolition of the kitchen and dispose of them but if you are looking to donate your old appliances or give them to a friend or relative, arrange for them to be picked up so they will be out of your way during construction if you are not using them for your temporary kitchen area. Also, remember to remove any dishes or items from inside these appliances before demo day.

EXPECT SOME DUST

When starting construction on a new renovation project, my contractors will do their best to contain the construction area and block off adjacent areas, however, even with the best situation, there will be some dust in your home during a major renovation. Be sure that if you are renovating on your own that you take steps to control and contain the construction areas and that work areas are left as neat and orderly as possible at the end of the day.

COMMUNICATE YOUR QUESTIONS

I find that communication with my clients is important before,  during, and throughout the process of a kitchen renovation. This helps my clients know what to expect during the duration of the project. What time will construction begin in the morning? What time will the construction end for the day? How will inspections building inspections work? If you are doing your own project or working with other contractors don’t be afraid to ask questions. Although construction is not an exact science and sometimes unexpected circumstances come up, you should feel comfortable asking questions and communicating with your contractors throughout the process. If you are hiring a company like mine to design and oversee every aspect of the project be sure that you are comfortable with the communication that you are receiving regarding your project, before, during and throughout the process

Until Next Time,

Gia

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Filling Your Home With Fragrance

Filling Your Home With Fragrance

Truly great design is not just visually impactful. Yes, it must be visually appealing, but It must also be functional and appeal to the other senses. I believe that a truly great design must impact all of our senses.

The sense of touch can be impacted while wrapping yourself in a soft fluffy throw blanket in your living room. The sense of Fragrance is one of the final details that can complete the feel of a room and bring a sense of comfort to your home.

Recently my adult son walked into my home and commented on how the house smelled like he remembered his childhood home smelling. This is a different home than where we lived when he was a child, but the scented candle that I was burning in the living room was a familiar scent that I commonly used in that previous home. For him, it was the scent of home. The sense of smell can be very strong and it really is amazing how a familiar fragrance can bring up memories of space and give you a feeling of comfort.

I certainly believe that scents can be used in the design of a space to touch all of the senses. A few years ago while designing an oceanfront designer show house (click to read the blog), I enhanced the coastal ambiance of that coastal design that I created in that home with coastal scented candles. The scent was a mix of salty water air and fresh cotton which complemented the design for that space. This certainly enhanced the experience for those touring the newly designed home.
At last year’s local holiday house home tour, I decorated a beautiful home for the holidays (click to read the blog) that many people came to tour and enjoy the decorations, it was no coincidence that the home was filled with the scents of pine and gingerbread. I used scents to complement the decor once again. I placed the scent of pine in the main living room and gingerbread in the home’s kitchen, which was decorated with an assortment of Christmas confections.
This is an example of how, as a designer, I use scents to enhance the experience of a space.
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1. Choose a single fragrance that you love.

The fragrance that you choose for your home is a very personal choice.  You might have to experiment to find that fragrance. But when you do then you know you have a place to start. This main fragrance might be the fragrance that you use in your living room or the main spaces of your home.

2. Fragrances can come in many forms.

Scented candles in all varieties, including soy, beeswax, and coconut oil-based candles. You could also use diffusers that disperse essential oils in a mist, these work great, just remember to size the diffuser properly to the size of the space that you will be using it in. The diffuser should tell you the size of the room that it should cover. Reed diffusers, scented room sprays, even fresh mixtures of assorted fruits and spices can be used to scent a room. A pot of water simmering on the stove with a mixture of fresh fruits spices or essential oils can be very fragrant. Experiment to see which form of fragrance you prefer or layer them to experience the same scent in different forms.

3. Don’t mix different scents in the same room.

This can be done, but it can be tricky and it takes some practice. Think of a bouquet of beautifully arranged fresh flowers. The mix of complementary fragrances can be fabulous. But when working with scented candles or scented oils the fragrance can be much more concentrated or it might already be mixed with several other scents so this takes some experimentation.

4. Use different but complementary scents throughout your home.

If you a using a scented candle in your living room, the diffuser in the kitchen can be using a different scent, just make sure it’s appealing when walking from one room into the other.

At the end of a long day when the world seems crazy, adding a little detail like fragrance might not seem important but it does help you to feel good about being in your home. It’s so nice to walk into a space that’s been well thought out for you and your lifestyle, adding the touch of a scent that you love will bring you comfort whenever you walk into your home.

Until next time,

Gia

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