Tuesday, January 26, 2010

No Matter What The Size, It Matters

Now, just exactly what does that mean? Well, no matter how "small" you think your design or renovation project may seem, a designer can still be of significant value to the outcome, and sometimes even help you avoid costly mistakes.

Here is a good example. A potential client came to us recently who was about to do a complete demolition and rebuild of the kitchen in his condominium. It is a small space, and the renovation really couldn't extend beyond the confines of the existing kitchen.

But with just a few hours of our design time, many questions were answered, and aesthetically correct--and logical--solutions were found. This was money well-spent by the client, and he could move forward with confidence and the knowledge that he had taken the time to come up with a great kitchen, instead of what might just have been "average".

Don't settle! Spend a little money on the front end, and we can promise you a better outcome.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Solution for all Seasons

You may remember this "problem" fireplace from last week. Well, the plot thickened when the client called to say he had decided he wanted his flat-screen TV at the fireplace. In fact, this made me very happy because though the TV is currently housed in a beautiful antique armoire, which I've always felt was a little too large and heavy in the living room. Moving the TV will mean we can move the armoire to another room in the house, and open up a corner in the living room for a couple of wonderful chairs.

Luckily, the client was okay with completely covering the fireplace. So, I've designed a cabinet treatment that will be built-in to the room, with a new piece of false wall above to accommodate electric for the sconces.
The flat-screen doesn't need a lot of depth to enclose it, so the total cabinet depth won't appear too deep and cumbersome in the room. A deeper portion of cabinet will be built to fit into the fire-box, which will house the cable box, and other electronics, and power outlets will be built right into this box.

This cabinet will be painted to match the new room colors. It will also keep the TV at a comfortable height for viewing, as opposed to being mounted above the mantel. And for "future generations", should someone desire to bring the fireplace back to life, the cabinet can be removed and the fireplace will look just like it does today.

A Solution for all Seasons! (I think I see a new Broadway show in the making!)

Friday, January 15, 2010

What I Wouldn't Give...

For a bathroom this large! A new client called me for consultation on a complete overhaul of their Master Bath. I walked into one of the sunniest, most cheerful bathroom spaces I've been in. The potential is exciting!

This bathroom was probably remodeled in the 70's or 80's, and the finishes and "look" reflect that period...but the layout works well overall. We'll be doing a complete gut, removing a wing-wall, new tile, vanities, toilet, tub...a soup-to-nuts job!

The client came to us with a very specific budget figure to meet. That is actually a great way to approach a project so you don't get mid-way into it and find out you're spending twice what you expected to spend. We created a spread-sheet listing every potential item we would need to purchase, and a line for labor and building materials as well. Then, it's time to shop! In order to keep the budget on track, we found the look we wanted for the vanities and tub, then did some on-line searching to see where we might find them at the best price. I know this seems like it could be risky, but my luck has been good with on-line ordering (so far!).

When we had all costs plugged into the spread-sheet, we realized we needed to find some places to trim, so we re-shopped a few items. A little "shave" (great bathroom-pun, huh?!) is going to bring the job in just over budget, and the client is comfortable with that.

One minor setback; the vanities are going to take 6-8 weeks to deliver. But the good thing is, now we can delay starting the construction until it's close to delivery time, and the whole project won't sit on-hold, 3/4 finished.

The more careful your planning on the front end, the more smoothly you can expect your remodel projects to go. Will give you updates once this project gets started!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tone on Tone

Based on the size and period of the home, we decided to go with a very simple color palette consisting of shades of white, with a very simple black accent. We chose shiny chrome for hardware and lighting to add sparkle, and just a hint of contemporary. And because the bathrooms are back-to-back, I felt it best to repeat all materials and color choices in both bathrooms.

Gone now are the fluorescent tubes aside the old mirrors. The new lighting consists of recessed cans in the ceilings, beautiful new sconces and ceiling lights from Restoration Hardware, and of course they're all on dimmers! The homeowner discovered the cool black"frames", which are actually recessed cabinets with a picture frame on the front. (Think medicine cabinet, but replace the mirror with a picture!)

The first two custom bathroom entry doors were made the wrong size. Another minor setback, but resolved quickly. Start to finish for both bathrooms was about seven weeks. Not bad, actually. That did require a lot of planning and ordering before hand to make sure materials were available when needed. Hey, that's where we come in!

Hope you enjoyed this "Tale of Two Bathrooms"!

Friday, January 8, 2010

When the Dust Settled

We're a little further along in the duo-bathroom redo now. The day that sheet rock goes in is always special. Suddenly, you start to see the shape of the new rooms!

New tub and shower enclosures go in. All of this needed to be done with extra care to keep from damaging the plaster and lathe walls on the other side. For the most part, this was successful. Hey, there are always little mishaps!

Because we needed to be very exact on toilet, sink, mirror and sconce placement, we created a paper template so the plumbing and electric would be right where we wanted it. We did miss the AC vent placement on the first try. Oops...forgot to tell the contractor we were putting in crown moulding. Oh well, only a minor adjustment needed!

How many people does it take to move a floor-to-ceiling cabinet into a room and get it to stand up? Well, when it just barely makes it, apparently three of us. There were a few words exchanged along the way, but it made it...just barely! Whew!!!

Tile beginning to go in. A wonderful faceted subway-tile, with a simple black band to add visual interest.
We're getting close now! Finished pictures next.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Not for the Faint of Heart

Yup, I told you this was going to be a tough one. The double bathroom redo got pretty messy. The homeowners ended up moving into their living room during the construction process...it was like dorm-life all over again! This much demolition was necessary to pull down an original (nonoperational) attic fan. I swear, the propeller on that thing would have powered the Titanic! Also, plumbing fixtures and electric were moved and added to. This afforded the opportunity to delve a little beyond the bathrooms and correct some other problems unearthed, including bad floor joists and wall studs.

This gives "a room with a view" new meaning. The centrally located bathroom literally created a shaft into the attic once the old ceiling was removed.

This view shows some of the old plumbing pipes, and yes, as you probably expected, below those floor joists there is air space, then dirt...and undoubtedly creepy-crawlies!

The rest of the house was sealed off with plastic to avoid a mosquito infestation. Oh this was no walk on the beach!

I promise to show some results next.