Are Tubs Going the Way of Horse and Buggy?

For more than a century, almost every master and secondary bathroom in North American homes were outfitted with a drop-in bath tub. That’s not the case as we approach the third decade of the 21st century. Given the frenetic pace of everyday life, who has time to soak in a tub? That’s a question many hotel developers are answering by eliminating tubs altogether. Hilton’s Canopy brand has replaced the tub with a barrier-free, walk-in shower. Marriott also is foregoing tubs for walk-in showers at properties that are part of the brand’s Autograph Collection. Both hoteliers are not eliminating tubs completely, however. They are outfitting their suites with tubs to evoke a more luxurious feel and look to the space.

Do you need or want a tub? That’s a question we almost always ask our clients when they are renovating their bathrooms. Tubs serve multiple purposes and should not be summarily dismissed just because of a busy schedule and lifestyle. When designing a bath, the overall goal is creating a room that offers the greatest amount of enjoyment in the least amount of space. Today’s master bathrooms offer homeowners the opportunity to create a personal refuge, represent a space that can promote health and well-being and provide a few minutes to wash away the stresses of the day.

Tub manufacturers have upped the ante. Today’s free standing tubs resemble works of sculpture that give a room a sense of luxury and good taste. Form is only one of the distinguishing features of today’s tubs. Tubs today can be equipped with spa-like jets and air systems or both that offer warm, circulating water to relax tired muscles, relieve aches and pains from overexertion, improve circulation and remove unhealthy toxins from your body. Additionally, properly designed hydro-massage systems provide a personalized massage that invites repetitive use that enhances your health and well-being. You can outfit your tub with light therapy and aroma therapy that help to recharge your batteries and reduce stress.

Many of our clients believe that they need a tub for resale value and therefore elect to place tubs in secondary baths in their home. There is a large slice of the population that want to see a free-standing or system bath in the master bath as well. Consider a tub in your master or secondary bath as comparable to a dining room or fireplace. They are great to have, but are not necessarily used every day.

When designing a dream bathroom that is a spa-like oasis that offers easy-to-use functionality involves choosing materials and finishes that create a warm feel and comfort to a room. Tubs often contribute to that aura. Do you want or need a tub in your master bath? Give us a call at 208-658-8888 of visit our showroom at 1185 W. Grove St., Boise, ID 83702. and we can help you answer that question and create the bathroom of your dreams.

Common Mistakes Renovating Older Homes

Many owners of older homes mistakenly believe that they can be their own designer, general contractor and trade specialists. HGTV, the DYI network, Houzz.com and other media outlets make the renovation process look effortless. Anyone who has undertaken a significant renovation knows it’s not, even if the project just involves adding a new coat of paint to your kitchen, bath or any other room in the house. If your home was built before 1978, there is a possibility that you have paint layers containing lead. Special care must be used to strip older paint. Simply painting over an existing surface is a relatively easy job, but other cosmetic improvements that require replacing existing finishes, expanding the foot print of the space, reconfiguring electrical, plumbing, heating and ventilation should be left to a professional.

How difficult can it be to replace a faucet in an older bath or kitchen? That depends. If your faucets are older, there’s a chance that the cutouts in the surface for the faucet and knobs were sized for a different era. Today’s faucets may not accommodate those older dimensions. Our showroom knows how to address sizing issues regardless of the age of your fixtures and home, and we’ll direct you to products that meet both the functional and aesthetic requirements of your home.

Another common mistake that we see is efforts to refinish or replace decorative elements such as woodwork with reproductions. Too often, the newer versions are out of place and lack the quality, look, feel and staying power of the originals. Refinishing wood floors is a perfect example. If you have 50, 75 or 100 year or older wood floors, stripping them and bringing them to 21st century looks often results in the loss of character and the floor will appear out of place with the rest of your home.

Window replacement is another job that you will be best served by obtaining professional guidance. Older homes’ windows typically are not energy efficient. Windows can create drafts, so it is only natural to consider a window replacement. It’s easy to gravitate to modern vinyl or aluminum windows. They are plentiful and generally cost-effective, but they may not be the best choice for older homes. Wooden replacements, although costlier, will last longer and perform equally well or better. We have the expertise to evaluate your ability to weatherize what currently exists or to find a replacement that fits with the age of your home.

Taking advantage of smart home devices can be a challenge in older homes. Installation of smart thermostats, lighting, doorbells, security and other systems that require rewiring should be performed by licensed professionals. There are a number of manufacturers that are making smart devices with historic looks. We can help direct you to motif appropriate light fixtures, switch plates, hardware and other components. Plus there is no reason why you have to have an exposed smart thermostat. You can place the thermostat in a closet, pantry or cabinet.

Many owners of older homes come to our showroom wanting to renovate to create an open floor plan kitchen. When we receive an open floor plan request, we evaluate the spatial design and flow and determine whether the original house had a kitchen or if it was added at a later date. If the latter is the case, there are prime opportunities to create an open floor plan that maintains the historic character of the house, but offers all of the modern look, feel and conveniences of the 21st century.

If you own an older home and would like to discuss how to modernize it without losing the original character, please give us a call at 208-658-8888 or visit our showroom at 1185 W. Grove St., Boise, ID 83702.

Ideas to Improve the Efficiency of Your Bathroom

A well designed bathroom is an organized bathroom. Because bathroom space is often limited, there is a greater premium on organizational tools that make using the bath easier and more enjoyable. In master and secondary baths and even powder rooms, the vanity or sink stand often does the heavy lifting for storage, and thanks to recent innovations, storage options have increased significantly.

When storage space is at a premium, vanities with open shelves create storage space for towels and baskets around drains, traps and other plumbing components. Open shelving is an extremely attractive option that can provide a visual focal point.

Shelves and roll out drawers maximize the space under and around plumbing in vanities with doors. Roll out drawers can hold baskets or be equipped with dividers for cosmetics, curling irons, hair dryers, etc. Many vanity manufacturers offer drawers and shelves with notches in them that help to minimize loss of storage space caused by piping that flows through the vanity to the sink and faucets. The vanity also can be wired for electricity or used as a cell phone or tablet charging station.

When it comes to vanity drawers, keep in mind that the depth impacts storage. Shallow drawers help to work around the sink’s plumbing and can be used to store makeup, shaving tools, tweezers, brushes, etc. While shallow drawers may be great for storing small things, they don’t offer the functionality needed for storing larger items. One possible solution is to specify a double drawer to double the depth. The exterior is fitted with two pulls to provide a consistency of look but there is only one drawer.

There are many kitchen storage solutions that can be adapted to the bath. For example, vertical pull outs are commonly used in kitchens for spices and can also be used to effectively store bath items in small slivers of space.

Toe kicks can make space along the floor functional for storing less commonly used items such as back up rolls of toilet tissue. Tip out drawers can be used where the top of the cabinetry meets the countertop. They are created for storing tooth brushes, tooth paste, dental floss and other small items.

Outfitting drawers and storage space with adjustable compartments, reconfigurable bins, vertical dividers, tool slots and trays provide endless opportunities to get the look and functionality that keep your bath looking fresh and functional.

If you would like to discuss the storage options that will best serve your bathrooms, please give us a call at 208-658-8888 or visit our showroom at 1185 W. Grove St., Boise, ID 83702.

What's Trending In Kitchen Design

The most popular kitchen layout among U.S. homeowners undertaking a renovation is L-shaped, according to a recent Houzz.com survey. Nearly 50 percent of homeowners changed or plan to change the layout of the kitchen as part of their remodeling plan. U-shaped kitchens were the second most popular layout followed by a galley layout.

Open floor plan kitchens are another significant trend among homeowners remodeling their kitchens. Many of our clients agree, opening up their kitchen space to other parts of their home is one of the most requested services. The Houzz survey found more than 50 percent of homeowners opting for opening the kitchen to other living areas, while 18 percent choose to open their kitchen space to outdoor spaces.

The average size of a kitchen remodel was 230 square feet. A reported 40 percent of homeowners opted to increase the size of their kitchen as part of their remodel. More significant than size is style. The top priority among homeowners in the survey and among our clientele is to create a kitchen that is both stylish and beautiful. That’s the number one reason why our clients depend on our showroom. We know how to ask the right questions to determine wants, needs and dreams. The most popular style of kitchen renovations was transitional, followed by contemporary and farmhouse.

A well-designed kitchen is an organized kitchen. The greatest source of buyer’s remorse among our clients is overlooking storage and accessories that make the kitchen easier to use and more beautiful. The top built-in and specialty storage amenities specified for American kitchens according to the survey are as follows:

·         Pullout waste or recycling cabinets (67 percent)

·         Cookie sheet/tray organizers (55 percent)

·         Deep drawer organizers (45 percent)

·         Pull/swing out trays/shelves (44 percent)

·         Lazy Susans (44 percent)

·         Spice organizers (42 percent)

·         Cutlery organizers (40 percent)

·         Utensil organizers (35 percent)

·         Pots and pan organizers (34 percent)

·         Small appliance garage/drawers (24 percent)

·         Wine and/or bar cabinets (20 percent)

·         Pull out corner drawers (19 percent)

·         Dish organizers (18 percent)

 

If you'd like ideas for making the kitchen of your dreams become a reality, call us at 208-658-8888 or visit our showroom at 1185 W Grove St., Boise, ID 83702.

A Different Take on Countertop

Most clients are familiar with common countertop materials such as marble, granite or quartz. However, those popular options by no means limit a palate or choices. Other popular countertop materials include;

Laminate (Formica, Wilsonart, Devmar and others): Laminate is cost effective, comes in hundreds of colors and patterns and is easy to clean and maintain.

Wood (Butcher Block): Wood is a living product that will change over time. Wood will show wear and tear, nicks and scratches; it is not heat resistant and needs to be sealed regularly. The attractiveness of wood is its ability to add character and warmth to a kitchen. Another advantage of wood is the range of available thicknesses and edges. Wood countertops should be viewed and used as a piece of fine furniture as opposed to a high-performance kitchen top solution. Designers often pair wood with other countertop materials.

Stainless Steel: Professional chefs gravitate to stainless steel, in part, because it is impervious to bacteria and heat. Stainless steel requires more maintenance than most other surfaces because of its propensity to scratch and show water spots and fingerprints. Stainless steel is often selected to create an industrial look or for those who want the look and feel of a commercial kitchen.

Recycled Glass: This green material is easy to clean and maintain, stain resistant, heat resistant, durable and strong. Each glass countertop is unique, providing a custom look. Recycled glass, despite its strength, can crack if not properly installed. Also, some designs easily show fingerprints and water spots.

Concrete: Concrete is extremely durable and is often custom formed in the kitchen or bath to fit any size, shape, texture or color desired. Concrete countertops need to be regularly sealed to prevent staining. Additionally, concrete tops can scratch and chip.

Solid Surface (Corian and Swanstone, among others): Solid surfaces are made from acrylic, generally less expensive than stone or quartz and easy to clean and maintain. They come in rainbows of colors and the material is unique in that the seams can be invisible. Solid surface countertops can be damaged by heat and are susceptible to scratching.

Tile: Common countertop tiles are made from ceramic, glass, granite and porcelain. Tiles come in an endless array of styles, colors, shapes and textures and can be sized to fit any motif. Tile countertops tend to be labor intensive for installation and need to be sealed regularly to prevent damage to the grout. If you are interested in granite, marble, glass, porcelain or another type of natural stone, a way to reduce material cost is to select tile instead of slabs, but doing so will increase your installation and maintenance costs. While there may be cost saving advantages to go with tile over slabs, there are also huge performance differences. Slabs do not require grouting or feature grout lines. Plus, stone, quartz, marble and glass slabs last longer than tile alternatives.

Porcelain: Porcelain countertops are available in an endless array of colors, patterns and textures; they are easy to clean and heat resistant. Porcelain is also stronger than granite and lighter. Porcelain slabs are extremely durable but there is the potential for chipping and cracking.

Seeing Is Believing

What countertop would fit perfectly in your new kitchen? Give us a call at 208-658-8888 or visit our showroom at 1185 W. Grove St., Boise, ID 83702 to see and experience firsthand the right countertops for your home.

The Keys to a Great Kitchen

Everybody wants a fabulous kitchen. And rightfully so. Not only is the kitchen the epicenter of your home, the place where you spend the most quality time with family and friends, it is also the room that creates the most value if or when you sell your home. Regrettably, home improvement and design television have created completely unrealistic expectations among consumers because those shows rarely include the cost of labor in their price estimates and they often feature timetables that are even more unrealistic than the budgets. If you want to create a realistic budget for your new kitchen, a good rule of thumb is to allocate 10 to 20 percent of the value of your home, with the spread being determined based on the size of the space, scope of the renovation and quality of materials selected.

Not all parts of your kitchen are created equally. The materials that make biggest impact are cabinets, countertops and appliances. These items set the tone for the remainder of the space and help to provide direction for other materials such as backsplash, lighting, paint, flooring, and wall coverings.

The Case for High-Quality Cabinets

We recommend starting product selection with cabinets, because cabinets set the tone for the remainder of the remodel and have the greatest impact on the look and feel of the space. Cabinets are also key to the longevity of your kitchen. It’s relatively easy to replace an appliance. It’s more difficult to change out cabinetry. If you plan to live in your home for more than five years, invest in custom cabinets. Custom cabinets provide the ultimate flexibility to meet your needs and they also can withstand the test of time.

Statement-Making Countertops

Countertops are where almost every kitchen activity begins and ends. Because countertops are one of the first things you see when you enter a kitchen, they naturally serve as a focal point. Countertop color, shape and material options are virtually unlimited, enabling you not only to make countertops the functional workhorse of your new kitchen, but also the ultimate expression of your design and personality.

Investing in high-quality, high-performing, statement-making countertops makes a lot of sense. Not only are countertops relied upon for meal preparation, but they are also used for cooking, eating, entertaining, doing homework, charging electronics, reading, relaxing and spending quality family time together. Countertops serve practical and aesthetic functions that can make or break a new kitchen.

High Tech Appliances

High-tech, smart appliances can make cooking easier, healthier and more enjoyable. On our dream list are:

·         Combination convection steam ovens

·         Commercial-style gas range

·         Dual dishwashers

·         Smart refrigerator

Today’s combination convection steam ovens take convection cooking up to the next level. Using steam to prepare meals retains more moisture and vitamins in your food, making your meal healthier for you and your family.

If you love to cook, you will appreciate a commercial style gas range. If you love to entertain, two dishwashers will become your best friend. Consider combining a traditional dishwasher with a drawer model that can be used daily. Some models can limit cycles to one drawer only, enabling you to save water and avoid the temptation of having dirty dishes sit for days until the appliance is full.

Technology has not bypassed kitchen appliances. Smart refrigerators can help keep track and order groceries, offer customizable temperature settings that can turn an area of fridge into a freezer zone, feature touch screens, cameras that allow you to view contents without opening a door and multiple apps ranging from those that organize recipes to maintaining grocery lists.

There’s no reason why you can’t have your dream kitchen. We can help turn your dreams into a reality. Give us a call at 208-658-8888 or visit our showroom at 1185 W. Grove St., Boise ID 83702.

Light Up Your Kitchen; Light Up Your Life

Lighting sets the tone for a new kitchen. It affects how the room “feels” when you enter and spend time there. In fact, if the kitchen is not properly lit, the entire design can be compromised because your work surfaces, appliances, cabinets, flooring, back splashes, etc. can look drab. As a result, the appearance of your new kitchen will not provide the look you want.

The manner in which light interacts with the form and texture of objects and materials in your kitchen will produce different effects. That’s one reason why light needs to be layered to create a balance and avoid overly bright or dark areas. You can’t layer light relying on a single fixture located in the center of the kitchen ceiling. Layers are created by surrounding the perimeter of your kitchen with recessed lights and employ pendants, suspended lights, chandeliers and fixtures used to perform tasks under cabinets and above the sink and range or cooktop. Accent lights are typically placed in cabinets, drawers or on walls.

Pendants can be statement-making and serve as functional focal points for specific tasks. Pendants are a natural choice over an island. LED lighting technology has not only brought down the cost, it also has provided tremendous flexibility. LED lights last almost forever, use less energy and are friendlier to the environment.

Lighting makes the appearance of the kitchen special. Lighting can help make smaller spaces appear larger by focusing lights to illuminate vertical surfaces. Using ambient light on the ceilings promotes spaciousness and can draw attention to architectural details such as exposed beams or a statement-making range hood.

Lighting controls are essential to change the feel and look of the kitchen. Dimmers and motion sensors add flexibility and wow factors. Other factors that affect the look and feel of a kitchen are color schemes, materials choices, finishes, paint types and the amount of natural light among other factors. Light will bounce off light color schemes more so than darker ones. Smooth shiny materials will reflect more light than textured matte surfaces. Polished marble will reflect more light than honed black slate. More light is required in spaces with dark or textured finishes.

Good lighting does not draw attention to itself but highlights the other design elements and fixtures in the space. Different light layers may be activated depending on purpose or time of day. For example, during the day, pendants over the island may not be needed at all, but when you start to prepare dinner in the evening all the layers providing ambient, task and accent lighting become necessary.

If you would like to know the right lights to make your new kitchen shine, give us a call at 208-658-8888 or visit our showroom at 1185 W. Grove St., Boise, ID 83702.

Planning for the Future

Cosentino, a worldwide distributor of surface materials used in kitchens and baths, and its Silestone Institute recently published the results of a worldwide study of kitchen trends that will increase in popularity between now and 2042. The main findings include:

Connectivity will explode. More than 70 percent of retailers surveyed related that connectivity is the most important trend in the kitchen. Consumers will expect appliances to be connected to the Internet of Everything, including smartphones, smart devices and to each other.

Designers expect that technology will be seamlessly woven into almost all aspects of the kitchen to provide information that increases safety and makes cooking easier and more enjoyable. Don’t be surprised if you start to see countertops with screens connected to the Internet that make it easier to access how-to videos, recipes and expert advice. New technology also will also enable more people to cook like professional chefs with techniques such as vacuum cooking and packaging.

Kitchens will become greener. Sixty four percent of respondents reported that they believe consumers will demand appliances that are energy efficient and sustainable. Half of the survey respondents stated that improved waste management will be another dominant trend.

Multigenerational kitchens will grow in popularity. As people continue to live longer and age in place, kitchens will be designed for ease of use in all phases of life. Ninety percent of retailers stated that functionality and practicality were the most prevalent elements in remodeling jobs. In the future, there will be adjustable countertop heights and lighting that automatically changes based on time of day and activities.

Kitchens will continue to serve as the most important room in the home and become more integrated with other living spaces. Ninety two percent of respondents believe that in the future the kitchen will be the room where friends and family congregate most often. Families will gather in the kitchen to socialize, eat, watch television and search the Internet. To accommodate these activities, the kitchen will not be designed as a separate room, but it will be incorporated in the overall layout of the home.

If you would like to design a kitchen that will serve you well in the future, give us a call at 208-658-8888 or visit us at 1185 W. Grove St., Boise, ID 83702.

A Design to Fit Your Style

Creating Space: No-Fail Kitchen Organizing Ideas

When you begin thinking about the kitchen of your dreams, one of the best things to do first is inventory everything already in your cabinets, drawers and pantry, on your countertops and elsewhere in the kitchen. It’s a good idea even if you’re not planning to remodel. Consider your cookware, bakeware, kitchen tools, storage containers, cutlery, knives, utensils, gadgets and countertop appliances and estimate frequency of use. Items that you never use should be tossed or donated. Items that you use infrequently or even as little as once a year (the large roasting pan for Thanksgiving turkey) can be relegated to upper cabinets or to other rooms in your home to open up the most accessible places for the utensils and equipment that you use most frequently.

Inventorying your kitchen every two to three years is a sure bet to make your kitchen more functional and enjoyable to use. Here are some tips that may help:

 

Glassware and Mugs

Do you have too many glasses in your kitchen? How often to you drink champagne – do you really need to store a dozen or half dozen flutes in the kitchen? Apply the same logic to coffee mugs. How many do you have in your kitchen, and how many do you really need?

You can create space by paring down the glassware and mugs that you store in your kitchen to those that you use on a weekly basis. Perhaps you can donate those that you don’t need and then store the others in another room of the house so that you can retrieve them for family affairs, dinner parties and when guests come to visit.

 

Dish Towels and Pot Holders

You need just one set of silicone potholders, and when it comes to dish towels, seven is the magic number. Getting rid of the dish towels and potholders you don’t need will create new space that can be repurposed.

 

Cabinets

Installing pull out drawers in cabinets is not difficult and can improve the functionality of your kitchen significantly by maximizing space for storage containers and food stuffs. It also helps prevent items that are at placed in the back of a drawer from being forgotten. If space is at a premium, consider hanging rails to store commonly used utensils, knives, pots, pans and even potted herbs. Alternatively, determine if your kitchen can accommodate a wall- or ceiling-mounted pot rack. Open shelving can also be a space saver and a venue for pots, pans, small appliances and other kitchen equipment.

 

Pantry and Refrigerator

Create space by using clear plastic containers and large mason jars to store dry goods such as pasta, rice and beans.

 

Drawers

There are great organizational dividers made for almost any type and size of drawer.

 

Countertops

Many kitchens’ effectiveness is compromised by having too many items on the countertop. It may make sense to store small appliances such as toasters and coffee makers on the countertop, but if you have a sandwich press or waffle iron another venue most likely is a better option. If you have limited drawer space, consider storing the utensils you use most often, such as spatulas, slotted and wooden spoons, ladles, etc., vertically in a canister.

 

There are numerous options available to help you better organize and enjoy your kitchen. If you are interested in taking advantage of the best kitchen organizational tools and strategies, give us a call at 208-658-8888 or visit our showroom at 1185 W. Grove St., Boise, ID 83704.