Thursday, June 12, 2014

Game On! Ideas for the Ultimate Game Room

If the thought of braving the madding crowd for entertainment this weekend sounds like more than you can stand, not to worry: we have some ideas for how to make your home the ultimate entertainment spot!

While a home theater is often the first thing that comes to mind when you think of dedicating a room solely to entertainment, we’d like to focus on something a little more social: the game room (and, no, watching sports in your home theater doesn’t count).  Depending on your budget and how much space you have to play with (pun intended), options range from “thanks for a nice evening” to “who needs a weekend in Vegas?”

Billiards, anyone? 
Personally, we couldn’t imagine a game room without a pool table.  If you just cringed because the first one that popped into your mind either looks like it belongs in a seedy bar or a Scottish castle, you’ll be happy to learn that there are many options beyond the stereotypes.   We particularly like the Brixton table from Brunswick for its clean lines and furniture-like appearance.  

Brixton, by Brunswick
Perhaps something a little more traditional (but still not reminiscent of a Scottish Castle) is more your style?  Check out the Coventry model from Spencer Marston.   

Coventry, by Spencer Marston

If space is an issue, consider opting for a pool table that moonlights as a dining table.  Or maybe it’s vice versa?  Anyway, Blatt Billiards has just such a product with their fusion tables line.  We particularly like the stainless steel and walnut version.

Fusion Table by Blatt Billiards

Friendly Game of…
We get it: not everyone desires to become a pool shark.  For those of you more interested in entertainment that doesn’t involve equipment that can be brandished (and take out a lighting fixture), consider adding a card table.   The Marin game table by California House is a beautiful piece that comes in sizes to accommodate from four to ten players.   

Marin Game Table by California House


If chess is more your style, the Ithaca Pub Table available from Howard Miller allows you to play a game and stow your fine spirits at the same time.

Ithaca Pub Table, available at Howard Miller

Let’s Talk Turkey
Residential Bowling Alley by Brunswick
For a money’s-no-object kind of game room, add your own bowling alley.  It takes a minimum of 90’ x 11’6” for a two-lane residential alley (based on information from the folks at Brunswick), so space can’t be an issue!   To get a general idea of what your own bowling alley will set you back, Fusion Bowling provides a handy pricing guide on their website, along with a gallery of the amazing projects they’ve completed. 

Game On!
Even if your game room requirements are considerably more modest, please get in touch and tell us what kind of fun you’d like us to build into your home.  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Up, Not Out: Use Your Attic to Expand Your Home
Without an Addition

S-01O from Salter Spiral Stair
In the quest for additional space, it isn’t always feasible to build an addition to your home.  Whether the size of your lot, restrictions from your city planning office, or your budget preclude you from adding on to your home, you can still increase your available space by renovating your attic.

Access is Key
Some attics – even those above your garage – naturally lend themselves to being converted to useable square footage.  Unfinished “bonus rooms” are a prime example, as they were originally designed to be completed at a later date and, most likely, already have access available (think stairs).  But what if you don’t have a bonus room waiting for conversion?  Or what if no staircase was ever built to your bonus room?

If no staircase to the attic exits, it may have still been part of the original design, making it fairly easy for your builder to implement without impacting your floor plan much (if at all).  Even if an attic staircase wasn’t part of your home’s original plan, one can often be built above the staircase that connects the two floors below, maintaining as much of your existing square footage as possible.
Loft Ladders by Alaco Ladder Company

For those homes that – no matter how you arrange things – simply do not have a suitable spot to add a traditional staircase, all is not lost.  There are some unique attic/loft access stair products available, including “library ladders.”  Keep in mind that these small footprint staircases and ladders are generally not code compliant, so any extra space gained by their access will probably be called “storage” and not count towards your square footage if you go to sell your home.  Not to worry, though:  savvy buyers won’t be put-off by this and will have the vision to put the space to good use.

Designing the Space
1m2 Staircase by Eestairs
If your attic space doesn’t yield a full-height room, be creative.  Tuck built-in bookcases and storage cupboards into areas where the ceiling height is most restricted.  Create sleeping nooks or fun play areas to free-up space in family rooms or bedrooms that are overrun with toys.  Maybe you just need a quiet space to work?  Add a built-in desk and suddenly your attic could be where you come up with your next great idea.  

You’d be surprised just how much you can squeeze into a small attic space  – the possibilities are endless!

Convert Your Attic Now
If you’re ready to convert your attic to a new living area, let us know.  We can work with you to design the perfect balance of function and value. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

We’d Like to Float This Idea By You: Wooden Bathtubs

When you think of unique, luxurious materials for your sinks and bathtubs, you probably don’t think of wood.  After all, wood and water just don’t mix, right?  Happily, we can dispel that myth – just don’t expect these products to be inexpensive or available at your local home improvement store.

If you’ve ever pined away for teak patio furniture, you know that teak is one wood that is inherently resistant to water, making it a natural (pun intended) choice for this gorgeous bathtub available from Box Art Shop.  The site is in Italian (and the price tag is not for the faint of heart), but even if you don’t use Google Translate, the pictures are worth a look. 
  
Vasca da bagno ovale in Teak - Box Art Shop

Maybe importing a teak bathtub from Italy sounds a bit too extravagant?  If so, you’ll be happy to note that WS Bath Collections is located state-side and has tubs available in various woods, with either a matte or a mirror finish.  We love the simple elegance of their Laguna Basic 02 model shown here. 

Laguna Basic 02 by WS Bath Collections

Haven’t seen EXACTLY the wooden tub of your dreams yet?  Another US-based company – Bath in Wood of Maine – offers custom-built wooden tubs that allow you to get as creative as you and your designer see fit.  Their portfolio showcases a number of beautiful tubs, but we particularly like this one that has ADA-compliant grab bars artistically integrated into the design.  “Safe” doesn’t have to be boring!

Easy Access Ofuro by Bath in Wood of Maine


Regardless of which materials you choose for your bathroom, we can help you design and build your perfect retreat.  Get in touch and let’s get started!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Get Lit This Weekend With Inspired Lighting

Regardless of your social plans the weekend, your home wants to get properly lit.

Ava by Tech Lighting
Lighting is an important aspect of interior design and has a huge impact on how a space works and feels. Think of the fluorescent lighting above your desk at the office and how it affects you.  If its harsh, unflattering rays make you want to bolt for a glass of vino at 5pm, here are some ideas to get relief (at least when you’re at home).

Ambient Lighting
When you flip the light switch as you enter your home tonight (crossing the threshold like it’s the finish line to a week-long marathon), take note of the light that greets you.  If it’s not welcoming or providing just the right amount of light to illuminate the room without either burning out your retinas or requiring a flashlight, it’s time for an update to your ambient lighting.  And while replacing spent bulbs and ensuring that you have the correct wattage bulb for your fixtures can also help, consider both the style and placement of the lighting, too. 

Aura by Axo Light
Often, builders place a single light fixture in the center of a room’s ceiling which acts a bit like a spotlight, leaving the corners of the room dark.  While this central location is perfect for a statement piece like this one in stunning red Murano glass from Axo Light or this cheerful one from Tech Lighting, ideally, you should have multiple lights strategically placed to evenly disperse light throughout.   Modern can lights (down lights) are a great option as they are small, unobtrusive and last for what seems like forever; they also easily integrate with other “layers” of lighting within the same room.     

But if installing recessed lights isn’t an option, you can still achieve the appropriate level of lighting with track lighting like the monorail line from LBL Lighting. Floor and table lamps can also fill-in ambient light but the trick – particularly if you have a large room – is to not limit them to placement against a wall.   

Task Lighting
In areas such as the kitchen and bathroom, task lighting is critical.  No one wants to chop vegetables with a razor-sharp knife or shave when they can’t see!  For this reason, task lighting is brighter than ambient lighting and is directed to the specific area where the task is performed.  In the kitchen, under cabinet lights provide great task lighting and low-profile versions like these from Legrande Adorne are available that won’t intrude on your design.  

Our favorite way to provide task lighting in the bathroom is through backlit mirrors like the Elite model from Electric Mirror.  Suspended from the ceiling in a stainless steel frame, it adds as much visual interest as it does light.

Elite by Electric Mirror

Another consideration: if you place your lighting on dimmer switches, you can easily adjust task lighting down to ambient lighting (and vice versa).

Accent Lighting
Don’t forget that lighting is instrumental to showcasing art and other focal pieces in your room.  Using accent lights like these swivel puck lights from LBL Lighting help to bring attention to your treasured belongings without being distracting.  Accent lighting can also be used outdoors on sculpture or landscaping features, making for an elegant nighttime setting.

Ready to Get Lit?

Our interior designer Lynne Dillon can work with you to develop a lighting plan for your home that is easy and comfortable to live with.  Get in touch and get started!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Take-Off with These Aviation-Inspired Design Ideas

As a company headquartered in the land of Boeing (just outside Seattle), we find aviation design inspiration just about everywhere. And whether your taste leans towards jet-like sleekness, or the warmth and nostalgia of vintage design, there is something aeronautical for everyone.

Propelling Design
It’s no surprise that ceiling fans are a natural fit for aeronautical design – after all, how many other household products are specifically designed to move like propellers?  This chrome and translucent fan, called Artemis, from G Squared Art beautifully mimics the look of a jet engine without the roar: it’s silent (too bad actual jets aren’t).  But if your aviation style is less Bill Lear and more Red Baron, the Ariel 68" 2 Blade Ceiling Fan from Savoy House and the Aviation 60” Ceiling Fan from Minka Aire both have a more traditional wood propeller shape (even if their lines are still elegantly modern). 

Are airplanes a bit too plain-jane for you? More the maverick who’d prefer to go for a spin?  This fun helicopter design from Raffaele Ionnello would be the perfect addition to your home’s man cave – hovering right in front of a monster big-screen TV hooked-up to every possible video game console. 


Landing Lights
In the search for lighting, none fits the aviation theme quite as well as LED Illuminated lighting from LBL Lighting.  Why?  It reminds us of the nighttime cabin lighting from our last trans-Atlantic flight (minus the FASTEN SEATBELT sign, of course).  Check out the rest of their website, too, as they offer a range of gorgeous options (that aren’t necessarily appropriate for the cockpit). 

If you have a large room to light and want a fixture the equivalent of a B-52, opt for the the D2V2 designed by Danny Venlet for Dark Belgium. (Chocolate, anyone?)  Seriously, though, with its tubular shape and propeller-like internal fittings, this light is the bomb.   

Carnegie Collection: Jump Seat Chair by Four Hands
From Legroom to Tray Tables
Even if you didn’t go to flight school, time will fly by as you work at your desk from the Carnegie Collection Jump Seat Chair by Four Hands.  We love its sculptural shape and riveting detail.  Rather than scoot it up to a standard desk, why not pair it with the Table B (Steel) from Barcelona Design?  The table’s graceful top is reminiscent of an airplane wing, making it the perfect complement.  

What about storage?  Yes, we know that using a table in lieu of a desk means that your hoard of sticky note pads has nowhere to live.  We thought it would be a lot more fun to use an airline trolley cart to hold all your office unmentionables.  This patriotic one from Skypak is made from stainless steel, has rollers and will probably outlast all of us.

Once your workday is over, you can always retire to the pilot’s lounge (or family room, as the case may be) and have dinner on a tray table like this inexpensive Fuselage Table from World Market. Or, eat dinner at a proper aircraft-inspired dinner table like this turbine table from Art Aircraft. With a number of aviation-themed tables available, we actually had a tough time picking a favorite.

Over and Out
Now that you are ready to install landing lights along your driveway to usher your guests to your door in style (is this even legal?), contact us. We can work together to get your home flight-ready and have fun, too!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ways to Escape Without Ever Leaving Home

There are good days and then there are the get-me-outta-here-NOW days.   If you’re approaching the point where escape not only sounds good, it sounds like the only way to refrain from screaming and scaring the hell out of your coworkers, we have some home product ideas to help you relax and reset.  (Of course, if your coworkers are the source of your angst, you might want to seek alternate employment.  Life is just way too short for that.)  And, while these aren’t immediate fixes (after all, they do take time to implement), maybe just thinking of them will help in the meantime. 

Whirlpool/Air Bath from Aquatic
Hydrotherapy

We’re a big fan of hydrotherapy and we think that the combination whirlpool/air baths from Aquatic are just what the doctor ordered.  Want your back massaged by shiatsu jets?  Consider it done.  Need a barrage of tiny air bubbles to work their calming magic?  These tubs have that, too, as well as an inline heater to keep your water nice and toasty.  With options for pulsating neck pillows and chromatherapy LED lighting (check out our earlier post that features other chromatherapy products), you’re well on your way to creating the perfect relaxation environment.   

Since you’re already updating your bathroom to install the whirlpool/air bath, add a gas fireplace for additional warmth and ambience.  We like this small, contemporary gas fireplace from Regency.  Why not add a bathroom audio system to pipe in some mood enhancing tunes while you’re at it?  These SoundTile speakers from Kohler integrate with any audio system to provide you with the exacting performance and quality your bathroom haven requires.

Built-in CocktailPro Station courtesy of Lynx
Get Out (Literally)

Need to escape further than your bathroom?  How about escaping to your backyard instead? 


Create the perfect oasis for chilling and grilling with an outdoor kitchen.  Fancy yourself a barbecue master?  You need this charcoal smoker from Viking to prove once and for all that you really should be on BBQ Pitmasters.  More of a beverage genius?  We think this built-in cocktail bar from Lynx could have you serving up the perfect martini in no time.  With your newfound bartending skills, you're going to need an outdoor ice machine, too.  Good thing Sub-Zero makes one that fits under the counter and holds up to 26 lbs of ice. 

So, turn off your phone, relax and enjoy your downtime.  And if you need help with getting your home outfitted with resort-like amenities, get in touch

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Architects Cost Less Than You Think (And Far Less Than Design Mistakes)

Perhaps one of the greatest misconceptions homeowners have regarding residential construction projects is that hiring an architect or building designer is too costly.  Instead, as a cost savings, homeowners rely on their builder or remodeler to talk them through what the end result is going to look like. 

Before (Actual Photo)
If you have no imagination, this is difficult.  If you have lots of imagination and can visualize your finished project with ease, this is even more difficult: you may find that what you visualize isn’t the same as what your builder visualizes.  No one wants that disappointment. 

Maybe that specialty window you have your heart set on won’t look the way you think.  Maybe you need to remove an interior wall if you really want a kitchen island.  Not only can your architect tell you this, he can show you – and he can show you other options that might be a better fit.  Take a look at the “before” photo and proposed “after” rendering (yes, that’s really a rendering) for a project we’re currently working on.  It’s a lot easier to decide what to keep, what to change when you can see how it all works together.    

Proposed After (Rendering)
In our office, we like to joke that architects are artists who are really good at math.  They make sure your project is viable, functional and beautiful.  But what hiring an architect really affords you is a glimpse into the future – into what your finished project will actually look like before construction even begins.   For a small 
percentage of the total cost of the project, you get peace of mind: a great design and no mystery.   

If getting exactly what you want is important to you, make sure you design, then build.   Contact us:  our on-staff design team can help you make your project look just the way you want.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Selecting Surfaces: Zen and the Art of Countertop Maintenance

Before you set off to specify which countertops you want in your new kitchen or bathroom, make sure you know the basics about maintenance. Knowing your tolerance for upkeep may refocus your options. But, once maintenance is addressed, it’s time to find your inner artist. Here, we have selected the three surfaces we most commonly install along with slab samples inspired by some of our favorite artists.

50+ Shades of Granite

While it seems that everyone and his neighbor has granite countertops these days, there was a point in the not-so-distant past that granite was ├╝ber-expensive and only came in a limited color palette (so limited, in fact, that you could count the colors on one hand and have fingers leftover). My how things have changed! These days, you can find granite in a mind-blowing number of colors and patterns like the one shown here from Pental Granite & Marble.

Generally durable and heat-resistant, when it comes to maintenance, granite does take some care. Because it’s porous, it requires sealing every one to three years – a process you really don’t want to overlook. Without sealing, the microscopic cracks and fissures inherent to natural stone can absorb stains and become home to bacteria that thrive in their haute new accommodations. Another consideration: make sure your cabinets are sturdy – granite is very heavy and needs extra support. Still, it’s easy to put up with a little bit of pain to live with such beauty!

Beneath the [Solid] Surface

An engineered surface comprised primarily of acrylic, solid surface countertops – unlike granite – do not require sealing. Great at resisting microbial growth due to its lack of cracks and fissures, solid surface can be susceptible to heat and scratches (which can be buffed out) so take care with hot pots and sharp knives if you’re out for a virtually maintenance-free relationship.

In the looks department, solid surface tends to be too uniform to pass for real stone (which, in some cases, is exactly the point). However, if you’re wanting colors not found within the real stone spectrum, like Fiery Red from Hi-Macs or DuPont’s Corian® Azurite, this is the ideal surface for you.  Bold is beautiful!

Delta Quartz

Also – and, perhaps, surprisingly – an engineered product, quartz countertops are formulated with ground quartz, pigments and resins, making them non-porous like solid surface (and a great choice to keep germs at bay). More durable than granite (less likely to crack and chip), quartz never needs to be sealed; this is what you want if you’re looking for a no-maintenance countertop.

As with granite, the early days of quartz didn’t provide many choices but, thankfully, times are changing. We find that Cambria offers a nice selection of colors and textures sure to please most tastes. In fact, we have Cambria’s Bellingham installed on our very own office beverage bar.

Reached Your Zen State?

When you’re ready to design your new kitchen, let us know. We’ll help you pick the countertop that reflects your personality and lifestyle.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

It’s a Beige Alert! The Case for Blue Shag Carpet

If you read enough articles on remodeling and decorating, you’ll see a recurring theme about implementing features and design aesthetics that appeal to the masses: whatever you do, make your home neutral and re-sale ready. That theme – hammered into homeowners, builders and designers alike – is all about Return on Investment. (And at times, even we are guilty of focusing on this concept to the exclusion of others.)

But unless you’re remodeling a rental property or are truly about to sell your home, that doesn’t always make sense.

Here’s why:

We asked a few people to quickly tell us about their favorite room from all the places that they’ve lived or visited. One chose a kitchen at one of his previous homes, describing it as “not very large, but it was laid-out really well and was easy to cook in – and talk to family at the same time. I never felt cut-off from conversations just because I was cooking.”

Another picked the sumptuous hotel room at the resort where she got married. “It was an island resort with lots of exotic hardwoods – the floors, furniture and even the walls were wood – only the white linens and the interesting local artwork broke it up. It was relaxing and exciting at the same time.” (Note: neutral doesn’t have to be boring!)

A third admitted, “I feel a bit like Ray from Ghostbusters when he conjured the Stay Puft marshmallow man – the only thing that pops into my mind is my childhood bedroom with royal blue shag carpet. Shocking, I know! My mother let me pick that carpet when I was four-years-old and, while by today’s standards it was absolutely hideous, it was such a happy, cheerful room. Sure, they swapped it out for beige when they went to sell that house but, for the nine years we lived there, my room was fun and uniquely mine.”

What do these answers have in common?

They picked these rooms because they made them feel something: included, relaxed, happy… We forget the uninspiring spaces that have no emotional affect on us.

So regardless of whether you’re looking for a home that’s a soothing escape from hectic everyday life or a bright and cheerful place that makes you wake up every morning feeling like you could conquer the world, dare to make your home live the way you want. Only worry about making it work for someone else when you know someone else is going to be living there.

Need help finding that perfect look between builder’s white and blue shag? Get in touch!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Bathroom Design That Glows on You

Image Courtesy of Lucedentro
Whether your style is traditional, modern or somewhere in between, there are a surprising number of glow-in-the-dark and illuminated products available to add whimsy or practicality (or both!) to your bathroom.

A simple-but-elegant way to give your bathroom glowing appeal is to utilize photoluminescent tile. When used as an accent around the sink or as a feature on a tub surround such as the one, above (featuring Mosaic Opus One tile by Lucedentro), this type of tile acts as a built-in night-light that doesn’t take-up a precious power outlet. But if the limited color palette of glow-in-the dark tile doesn’t appeal to you, you can always use regular bathroom tile with photoluminescent grout such as Night Vision to achieve a Tron-like effect. (Don’t knock it; it’s actually pretty cool.)

Image Courtesy of Kohler
More of a minimalist when it comes to glowing bathrooms? This toilet seat from Kohler lights the way to the throne with less drama. Regardless of which route you go, fumbling to the bathroom in the middle of the night just got a lot easier.

If mood-enhancing color therapy is more your style than accident-free nocturnal visits to the loo, you have options, as well. With eight colors to sequence or select from and a continuous cascade of water over the sides, the Sok bath from Kohler is the ultimate in chromatherapy.

Image Courtesy of Hudson Reed
But tubs aren’t the only fixture worthy of colored lights: there are a variety of LED shower heads that allow you to control (or randomize) the color under which you bathe. Of course, you could always go for an LED shower head that indicates the water temperature instead (like this one from Hudson Reed). Not surprisingly, blue light indicates that the water temperature is acceptable for polar bears, while red light lets you know it’s rather toasty. Sandwiched between the two is the green light that might be the Goldilocks-zone for some or the not-quite-there-yet indicator for others. We think it makes groggy mornings a little more interesting.

If you’re ready to remodel your bathroom and want to implement these or other clever products, let us know.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Remodeling Versus Moving (There is Math Involved)

Zillow’s recent report on home prices and values indicates that the Seattle Metro area is a very hot real estate market. Values are up 10.3% over last year to a median of $316,000 and the median list price is now approximately $172/SF (note that both of these figures are considerably higher within the City of Seattle).

This is great news if you’re a seller (or thinking of selling your home) but, unless you’re selling and relocating to a part of the country that’s currently a buyer’s market, you’ll most likely find it challenging to find and purchase the home of your dreams without a few disappointments along the way (think bidding wars, finding that the house you want sold on its first day on the market, etc.). Keep in mind, too, that just as you got top dollar on the sale of your house, so will the people you’re buying from.

With that in mind, there are bona fide financial incentives to staying and remodeling.

Besides the obvious fact that remodeling your home has the potential to increase its value, there is no need to pay fees for real estate agents, appraisals, home inspections or movers (or for any other “hidden” fees that you may encounter along the way). While realtors' fees are negotiable, in the Seattle area, 6% is the de facto standard. On a $500,000 home, those agent fees alone are $30,000 — $30,000 you spent, not invested. And did you know that a local move for an average 3-4 bedroom house can cost as much as $5,000 if you also pay the movers to pack your belongings?

Do the math, and it’s surprising just how much moving really costs.

Instead of throwing that money away, invest it in your current home. Perhaps a new kitchen or bathroom will be enough to fall in love with your home all over again…or maybe you’ll want to give it a complete overhaul. Either way, possibilities abound.

So unless there is a compelling reason to move – such as a lengthy commute to work or that you and your neighbors have become the modern equivalent of the Hatfields and McCoys – consider remodeling as a way to have a “new” home without the expense of moving.

When you’re ready to see just how beautiful your current home can be, get in touch. We’ll be happy to make your vision become reality.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Up for Grabs: Stylish, Practical Ideas for Bathroom Safety Bars

Bathroom safety bars are something most of us don’t think about adding to our homes when we’re picking out all the beautiful finishes to make them look exactly the way we want. In fact, if you’re like most people, the thought of bathroom safety bars makes you inwardly cringe and think of institutional environments like hospitals and convalescent homes: they’re a product of unfortunate necessity.

Image Courtesy of American Standard
Luckily, though, not all bathroom safety bars are created equal.

American Standard recently introduced their Invisia™ Collection of dual-purpose support bars. Integrated into the design of products such as towel bars (pictured), toilet roll holders and soap dishes, these safety bars are modern and aesthetically pleasing: they don’t even look like safety bars. Available in either a polished chrome or satin nickel finish, these structurally-mounted products will make your bathroom safer and more beautiful.

But what if you have an immediate, temporary need for safety bars?

Surprise! You tripped over the dog and broke your ankle, and learned the hard way that it’s not easy to get in and out of the shower with a cast. You’re not ready for permanent bathroom safety bars (no matter how lovely you think the Invisia Collection is) but it’s obvious that you do need something.

Image Courtesy of No Drilling Required
The great thing about the No Drilling Required safety bars from German manufacturer Nie Wieder Bohren (which, in case your German is a bit rusty, literally translates to “no more drilling”) is that you can install these ADA compliant grab bars that support up to 250 lbs. without – you guessed it – any drilling. Their patented installation process allows you to place their attractive safety bars (as well as other bathroom accessories) on natural stone, tile, glass, metal, wood and some plastics, affording you simple, non-damaging installation of bars produced in a wide range of finishes (pictured, right). When that ankle is all healed, an equally simple removal method returns your surface to its previous state. Of course, you still have the dog, so maybe removing those grab bars isn’t such a great idea…

Don’t forget: if you’re in the Seattle area and are planning to remodel a bathroom to be stylishly accessible for aging family members or for someone with limited mobility, please contact us. We can give you more information on these products, as well as help you with a bathroom design that’s right for you.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The ONE Question You Need to Say “Yes” to Before Having Your Kitchen Cabinets Refinished

While budgets often determine the remodeling strategy in most homeowners’ quest for the “perfect” kitchen, we believe there is one question you should address before you establish your budget:

Do you love your kitchen’s layout?

You may think this question is irrelevant if you already “crunched the numbers” and decided that new cabinets are too expensive and that refinishing your existing cabinets is your only choice.

But before you look at your budget, sigh, and go in search of a contractor to repaint or refinish your current cabinets, you should know that Remodeling Magazine reports that, in the Seattle area, you can expect to pay a remodeling contractor approximately $25,000 for a minor kitchen remodel. Included in their calculations are painting/refinishing the existing cabinets, new countertops, new sink and faucet, new cabinet pulls and a fresh coat of paint on the walls and ceiling. An average kitchen remodel with new cabinets is around $58,000, with an upscale kitchen running about $115,000. These figures will vary somewhat depending on the size of your kitchen, age of your home, and the scope and quality of the work you want to have done (but it gives you a general idea).

With these figures in your head, ask yourself, can I be happy with my kitchen layout for $25,000?

Maybe the cost of doing a full remodel suddenly makes your current kitchen layout seem just fine. If that’s the case, refinishing is a great option for updating your kitchen’s look. Done properly, refinished cabinets can be beautiful! The only downside is that your kitchen will continue to flow exactly as it always has.

But what if you really don’t like your kitchen layout and the thought of spending $25,000 to keep the same dysfunctional layout gives you heartburn? What then?

In theory, the easiest option is to increase your budget to allow for all the work you want done. If you’re not willing or able to dip into savings or to refinance your home to gain the budget you need, then you need to decide whether it makes sense to wait until your budget is more flexible. If you’re a talented do-it-yourselfer with plenty of time and patience, you can always refinish your cabinets yourself as a stop-gap measure until you can afford your dream kitchen.

When it’s time for your dream kitchen, let us know. We can deliver on that dream.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Coolest Kitchen Products are Hidden

Image Courtesy of S-Box
Whether your kitchen is sleek and ultra-modern or cozy and farmhouse-inspired, having a convenient, yet clutter-free, workspace is most likely high on your list of priorities – particularly if counter space is at a premium.

That’s why our designers are always on the look-out for products that are designed to enhance your kitchen’s workflow without sacrificing aesthetics or space. Two product lines we particularly love are S-Box’s pop-up storage and the under-cabinet lighting system by Legrand Adorne.

The S-Box pop-up storage system enables everyday items to be hidden from view until needed. With a simple touch, S-Box allows you to access your knives, TV/DVD, audio system, key box, spices, or even extra power outlets from one of three countertop mounting options: flush mount, recess mount or undermount (using a matching piece of the countertop for a fully-concealed look).

Image Courtesy of Legrand
Similarly, the Adorne under-cabinet lighting system is well-hidden but unlike S-Box’s integrated countertop solution, Adorne uses a power strip-like configuration to tuck electrical outlets at the juncture of where backsplashes meet upper cabinets. In addition to providing plenty of power outlets, the system’s modular design allows homeowners to strategically position lights, device cradles/chargers, USB outlets, standard outlets, and audio exactly where they are needed. To get a better feel for just how flexible this product line is, check out Adorne’s video.

If your kitchen is over-run with modern conveniences that you’d rather have handy, yet out-of-sight, please get in touch. We can help you reclaim your countertops.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"Senior Living" Options: Remodeling for the Multi-Generational Household

Currently greater than one third of the country’s population is either disabled, chronically ill or over the age of 65. More homes are becoming multi-generational as Baby Boomers bring their aging parents home to live while still raising families of their own. It is now common to have small children and grandparents in the home at the same time; the challenge is to ensure that the home is usable by each member of the family, today and into the future. With some creative remodeling, it is possible to enjoy the richness of life together without the stress and strain of being crowded together in home that is too small or does not function well.

Financial Considerations for a Multi-generational Home

Multi-generational living can make excellent financial sense. The average cost of assisted living in 2012 was $3,550 per month ($42,600 per year) according to a long-term care market survey conducted by MetLife. An average addition with bath and special accommodations might run $120,000 or more, but often can be fully covered by the sale of Grandma’s home. Remodeling not only allows Grandma and Grandpa to be safe and enjoy their comparative freedom, it also improves the value of your home and can represent substantial long-term savings compared to costs of a senior-living facility.

What Kind of Remodeling Makes Sense for Aging Parents?

“Universal Design” is the skill of designing a home that is open to people of all capabilities, whether that includes children, elderly or those inconvenienced by temporary or permanent disability. In-law suites are a great option and usually include a master bedroom and a full bath, but some homeowners also choose to include a sitting room, small kitchen area and even a private entrance. In remodeling for seniors, consider implementing Universal Design features such as wider halls, easy access doors, and features like grab bars, no curb showers, and easy-to-reach shelving. Appropriate lighting is an important consideration for safety and the enjoyment of the space as well. In-law suites are ideally placed on the ground floor so grandparents won’t have to walk up and down too many stairs. If the suite needs to be on an upper level or the basement level, a home elevator can be designed into the plan.

The photos (above, right) are of a mother-in-law apartment that Estate Homes designed and built over an existing garage that connects to the main home by way of a sky bridge. This provides independent living with a private entry, while having a connection with the remainder of the family.

If you’re concerned about a parent who can no longer safely live alone, please contact us. We can help you explore the smart and rewarding “senior living” options you have right at home.