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Design & Remodel

Small projects can have big impacts

Most people have a mental list of “if money weren’t an issue” renovations they would tackle throughout their homes. However, just because most of us are not winning the lottery any time soon doesn’t mean we can’t do any improvements to make our homes more customized for our living. 

Many times, small projects on small budgets can make a huge impact and will make your house feel more your home. If you don’t personally have the skills to do some of these small home improvement projects yourself, consider hiring a handyman to cross some of these items off of your “Honey-Do” List. The following are five small projects that can be accomplished in a few days with, or some without, the help of a handyman:
 
1. Paint: Few projects can transform a house as dramatically and inexpensively as paint.  Whether you paint your front door or the trim in your entire house, the change can be dramatic. Even if you’re considering selling your home, paint is one of the top recommendations to freshen up your space and give you a good return on investment. In addition, the right color of paint can really make your space look larger and spacious, smaller and cozier, or even give the illusion of a flawless interior/exterior without having to break down walls or rearrange furniture. Although painting is a relatively simple task, for those tall, two-story entryways or second floor exterior work, it may be safer to hire a handyman with proper insurance.
 
2. Trim & Moulding: Although it looks like a simple task, installing trim and moulding is very tedious and takes a lot of precision to do well. If you want to add a little bit of flair to your dining room, consider adding a chair rail or wainscoting. Crown moulding often adds height to rooms.  Beadboard in master bathrooms or half baths can add charm and texture. If you aren’t a perfectionist with lots of patience – you definitely want to leave the installation to a pro.
 
3. Flooring: A new floor can lend a fresh vitality to any room.  For the bathroom specifically, using today’s cost-effective resilient luxury vinyl plank or vinyl tile offers an attractive option for a high-end appearance, but without the high-end price tag. It comes with the latest styles and patterns in a wide array of colors, designs, and textures. For other areas of the house, hardwood floors could be a good solution, adding warmth and comfort with the benefit of easy cleaning and the option to refinish in the future. If you have any irregularly shaped rooms, it might be better to hire a handyman. Uneven or improperly installed flooring can not only detract from your home’s value but can also be a safety hazard.
 
4. Lighting & Ceiling Fans: Lighting is an integral part of the general layout and character of your home and should be used as an extension of the overall style of your home. Ceiling fan/light combos are great for bedrooms or living areas to get a little extra circulation going to keep your air conditioning bills lower. Recessed, or can, lights are a great way to brighten up a space with a low profile, simple look. Installing both options can be tricky for the average DIYer, because often times both electrical and drywall work is involved, so it’s best to leave these tasks to a professional.
 
5. Green Features: In addition to the above projects, services that improve the “green” aspect of your home will also make a huge impact on its value and on your wallet.  For example, some easy-to-install, energy efficient faucets feature a flow-optimized, water-saving aerator, which uses 30 percent less water, without sacrificing performance. Dual flush toilets are also popular as a water saving feature.  Switching to energy-efficient appliances can also cut down significantly on energy usage, as well as switching to LED bulbs in light fixtures.
 
When it comes to remodeling, your project does not have to involve huge budgets and whole-home transformations. Instead, simple upgrades and installations can revitalize any room in your home without stress and without going into debt. Although these smaller projects may seem minor, the impact that they have on your household is significant.  Regardless of the types of remodeling projects you want to implement, it is important to carefully consider your situation, time frame, skills, and budget before you dive in. In many cases, you can still get huge benefits from doing minor upgrades until you have the time and budget for that major overhaul you dream of. 


Sara Bagwell is a designer for Tracy Tesmer Design/Remodeling in Gainesville.








June 2020 column

 

Expand your living space with an outdoor kitchen & bar

With most of us having spent more time at home over the past several months due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve likely thought a lot about getting out of the house. And not that any of us want to see another pandemic in our lifetimes, but this situation also has more people thinking about opportunities for “getting out” of the house while staying home.
 
Updating outdoor living spaces has gained popularity in recent years, but these updates vary widely in scope and cost. While expanding and upgrading decks and patios are common home improvement projects, many homeowners are taking it to the next level by building outdoor kitchens and bars.
 
These additions represent a true expansion into outdoor living and entertaining. After all, if you’re constantly having to return inside for another beverage or to prep the burgers for grilling, you’re missing out on time to relax or interact with your guests. 
 
Think beyond the grill
Many homeowners consider a grill – or two – as essential components of any patio or backyard space. If you’ve perused a home improvement store or website, you know there are options for every taste and budget. And while the appliances themselves are important, think bigger. Asking yourself some key questions about layout and materials at the outset should help guide the design process and ensure your space is both beautiful and functional.
 
Outdoor kitchens should be designed with indoor kitchen principles in mind. The main differences between the two are typically the materials used (durability to withstand exposure to elements) and shelter considerations. You still need to consider the location and the preferred/allowable space for your new kitchen (L, U, galley, 1 wall/row), proper flow, where you want to do your prep, which areas will need plumbing and electrical/gas connections as well as your actual cooking and dining locations and components.
 
While retailers do sell outdoor kitchen units that range from a simple bar cart to more elaborate configurations, many homeowners prefer custom-built spaces using brick or stone. When selecting materials for countertops, natural stones or stainless steel are great for outdoor spaces. For flooring, pick materials with a matte or honed finish and some texture to avoid slips. Porcelain tile, stone or brick pavers or even concrete are good options. Teak or stainless steel work well for cabinets/storage areas. 
 
Don’t forget indoor amenities
If you truly want to get the most out of your investment in outdoor living, don’t skimp on the amenities that often keep us inside – lighting, heating/cooling and entertainment options. Many homes incorporate an open floor plan, which means those doing the cooking and meal prep indoors are often interacting with friends and family in the living room. You may want to think of your outdoor space with a similar floor plan in mind.
 
Consider features that protect you from the elements and keep you comfortable most times of the year. Awnings or other overhead coverings can keep you dry during rainy seasons. Ceiling fans, fire pits and propane heaters can help you forget what season it is by regulating the temperature. Just keep in mind proper venting for your cooking/fireplace areas. Cooktops/venting should never be beneath trees.
 
Whether you’re looking for utilitarian options that help you see while you prep and cook, or ambient lighting for your guests, don’t get left in the dark. After all, you’ve invested in your new space, so make sure you can show it off at any time of the day – or night! Just be sure to include wet-rated options – even if much of your new outdoor space is covered, moisture is an inescapable part of life outdoors in the South, especially near the lake.
 
Incorporating speakers and TVs during the design process can save you the hassle of adding those items later, even if they seem like afterthoughts in the beginning. Keep in mind your television will need to be secured, protected from the elements and positioned in a spot that doesn’t prevent it from being seen on a sunny day.
 
Outdoor kitchen & bar checklist
Use our handy checklist to ensure you don’t forget to plan for each component you want/need in your new living space.
 
  • Location – Will your kitchen/bar be attached or detached from the house? Will it be under a covered porch or pergola?
  • Non-cooking spaces – Prep space (including small refrigerator), serving space, eating/sitting space
  • Grilling stations – What type/size grill(s)? Need space for a Big Green Egg? Pizza oven?
  • Storage/cabinets
  • Countertops
  • Sinks/Clean-up areas
  • Beverage cooler/beer taps/ice maker
  • Ceiling Fans 
  • Electrical outlets
  • Fireplace or firepits (wood-burning, gas or infrared)
  • Furniture – Bar seating or tables? Sofas/chairs?
  • TVs, speakers
     
Just like indoor kitchen space, the options for your outdoor kitchen and bar are almost endless. 
 


May 202 column

Home lighting types and trends

One of the most important aspects of interior design, in my opinion, is lighting. Lighting can set the tone, both literally and figuratively, for a room. Lighting can add style and function to your space.
 
There are three main categories of lighting when it comes to home design: ambient, task, and accent lighting. Ambient lighting refers to soft, natural lighting that allows you to see in a room but is not quite enough for tasks that require extra focus or precision. Ambient lighting is also known as “mood lighting.” Task lighting is more focused, bright lighting that is used in areas where more attention is required, like a kitchen. Accent lighting is used in a space to help illuminate corners or otherwise shadowed areas or accent specific features in a home; because it doesn’t offer a lot of natural or task lighting, accent lighting can also sometimes be used purely for design or decoration.
 
Ambient lighting can be used in areas all throughout your home, and offers a warmer, more natural light. Chandeliers, pendant lighting, recessed lighting, ceiling and wall-mounted lights can all be considered sources of ambient lighting. Dimmers are often added to these fixtures so that the ambience of the room can be adjusted, as needed. Think about your kitchen for a moment. The ambient lighting would include the pendants over your island, a center ceiling fixture, or even recessed/can lighting.  Although these fixtures help add a design element and natural light to the space, they are not ideal for reading a recipe or food labels.
 
Task lighting, on the other hand, does give you the light you need to read those nutrition labels or Blue Apron instructions. Task lighting is bright light that really illuminates your space, allowing you to read and work easily. Task lighting can include recessed lighting, under-cabinet lighting, vanity lights, swing lamps, and track lighting.  Swing lamps and track lighting can be angled to brighten a specific area in which you are working, and under-cabinet lighting adds visibility to your countertop work area.
 
Accent lighting is more focused light that draws your eye to a particular area of a room or wall. Accent lighting is the type of lighting used in museums to highlight display cases or artwork. In your home, accent lighting can be used the same way, in bookcases or cabinets, over wall art, or in a reading nook. Accent lights include lamps, wall sconces or spotlights, recessed lighting and track lighting. Accent lighting, as mentioned previously, can also be used as decoration or to enhance your home’s style. That may include a handblown glass ceiling fixture that’s more of a piece of art or a unique floor or desk lamp that helps give your room a unique focal point.
 
Lighting plays one of the most important roles in the design of each room of your home. While it’s important to have both ambient and task lighting in areas like a kitchen or bathroom, you primarily will only need ambient and/or accent lighting in your bedrooms and living room where you want to create a feeling of calmness and relaxation. Recessed lighting is one of the most versatile types of lighting, as you can tell since it falls into all categories of lighting. As mentioned before, recessed lighting on a dimmer switch can be turned up to create task lighting or down to create mood lighting. There are also eyeball and small-sized recessed lights for more focused light in accent areas.
 
In design, we see a major trend of clients wanting to add recessed lighting throughout their home for the versatility. Even in bathrooms, a recessed light can add much needed light over a shower or bathtub, or other poorly lit areas.  Recessed lighting in a kitchen gives you more evenly dispersed lights, as opposed to just one centrally located fixture. While recessed lighting is a great addition to nearly any home, it’s also still crucial to balance these out with hanging and wall-mounted fixtures and lamps to bring personal style and design to a space.
 
It’s important to have a plan when placing lighting throughout your home to make sure you are getting the benefit of the best light in the right places. Working with a professional to create a lighting plan for your new home or even to replace old, dated fixtures in your existing home is an important step in a remodel. Lighting can make or break a space, so it’s important to get it just right!


April 2020 column

Integrating smart tech in your home remodel

“Alexa, turn the lights on downstairs."
 
“Google, set the temperature to 68 degrees.”
 
“Hey Siri, is my garage door open?”
 
When it comes to smart technology for the home, options are endless. And while there are plenty of gadgets you can install yourself to add convenience and fun to your home, there are other, more comprehensive upgrades to think about when planning to renovate.
 
Without integration into your HVAC, lighting or home security system, your Amazon Echo can give you the weather, play music and tell you a joke, but it can’t do any of the commands listed above.
We’ve put together a few smart ideas you can add to enhance your home, as well as some bigger picture ideas that can truly revolutionize the way you live.
 
Smart doorbells
Smart doorbell cameras like Amazon’s Ring and Google’s Nest Hello, among many others, have made headlines for their usefulness in catching package thieves red-handed. While these devices are relatively easy to set up if you know your way around a smartphone and a drill, you aren’t exactly getting the bang for your buck that you would if the devices were integrated into your home’s smart lighting, locks and more. 
 
That shouldn’t necessarily deter you from getting one. Being able to see who is at your door and even communicate with them from inside is useful for personal safety and entertaining the grandkids. 
Smart thermostats
 
While convenience is king when it comes to many smart home features, the efficiency upgrades they bring shouldn’t be overlooked. Smart thermostats are not only a great way to regulate temperature in your home while you’re there (who wouldn’t like to adjust the temperature in the middle of the night without getting out of bed?) but they are especially handy when you’re gone. 
 
Energy-saving experts will tell you it’s not a good idea to constantly tinker with your temperature settings. Replacing outdated HVAC equipment when you remodel however, combined with a smart thermostat, can pay off more quickly than you think. The added efficiency of the new unit, along with the ability for a few touches on your smartphone to ramp up the AC when you’re on the way back from that summertime beach trip, can’t be beat.
 
Bathroom upgrades
If you are a more adventurous DIYer, you may feel comfortable replacing an old toilet with a newer water-conserving model. That’s a great start! As you think about other ways to upgrade your bathroom, don’t forget about other possibilities that may require professional help to get just right. 
 
An experienced design-build professional can create a plan for your bathroom that incorporates radiant heat into the floors and wiring that enables you to listen to your favorite podcast or playlist while you’re getting ready for work or relaxing after a long day. “Hey Alexa, play Shower Songs!”

Kitchen convenience
The “kitchen is the heart of the home” is a popular cliché because for many families, it’s true. If you’re thinking about a kitchen remodel, plan to integrate technology from the beginning. Smart appliances are an obvious choice when upgrading your home. Leave home without starting the dishwasher full of dirty pots and pans? A couple of clicks on your tablet will ensure they’re clean and dry by the time you get back and need to start dinner. At the grocery store and suddenly can’t remember if you need milk?

Get a live look via an app on your smartphone. And while you don’t have to remodel your kitchen to replace outdated appliances with the newest Wi-Fi enabled models, there are other smart features that a professional contractor can incorporate into any renovation plans. A design-build firm will not only help you select paint colors and materials for countertops or flooring, but it can incorporate wiring and power strips or connections hidden beneath or inside cabinets instead of more visibly placed outlets in the walls or backsplash. 
 
These types of details combine aesthetics and functionality to create spaces that work for you. As you consider renovating your home, ask your contractor how smart technology can make your home more functional, and fun. 


March 2020 column

 

Spring home maintenance tips

Spring is almost here and it’s time to start thinking about getting your home in tip top shape and out of those winter blues. We all know about spring cleaning basics, such as dusting, cleaning carpets, etc., but there are lots of other things you can do to help your home run more efficiently and look better.
 
Declutter and donate
Spring is a great time of year to go through closets and storage spaces to get rid of things you don’t need or want. If the items are still in good shape, consider donating them so that someone else can enjoy them. Even if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of a yard sale, there are many consignment and thrift stores in the area, or you might consider donating to shelters, the Salvation Army, or Goodwill. Especially after the holidays, we tend to accumulate more than we need, so now is also a great time to go through and donate gifts that you may never wear or use so they don’t just end up in the back of a closet.
 
Check gutters, roof and siding
As soon as the air gets a little warmer, it’s a good time to evaluate shingles on your roof to see if any are missing or damaged. If you do find areas that need repair, hire a professional to help out, but make sure you check references. Hire someone you trust. After all of the rain this year, it’s also a good time to check your gutters to make sure they are free of debris and allowing water to flow freely. Check the siding of your home for any areas that may need repair. If everything looks fine, pressure washing your siding will freshen it up and can help make your home look new again.
 
Paint
After pressure washing the exterior of your home, you may realize that it’s time to freshen up your exterior paint. Maybe just the trim needs to be painted, or maybe the whole house. If the whole house needs a coat, and you don’t love the color, now is a great time to change it up and give your home new life with a new color. While thinking about the exterior is important, make sure you don’t neglect the interior. Spring is perfect for updating the interior paint and/or colors in your home, too. If you’re not sure about what colors to use, talk with a designer or local paint professional for some help.
 
Clean up outdoors, landscaping
After all of the heavy rain we’ve been getting this winter, your yard will be in need of some TLC when warmer weather gets here. Check the backfill around your home, make sure landscaping against your home is at the correct height and sloped away from the structure. This will help prevent issues with your foundation, including your basement or crawlspace. If you feel overwhelmed by the amount of work your yard needs, look into hiring a local landscaping business. The hardest part of most jobs is getting started, so they can help take that stress away.  In addition to your yard, be sure to clean up other outdoor living areas, such as patios, decks, and pools.  This will ensure those areas are ready for your use both now and all throughout the summer months.  If you don’t have any outdoor living areas but have always wanted one, call a local design/build firm to help visualize and create the space for you.
 
Service HVAC units
One of the big things we recommend homeowners do in the spring is have their HVAC units serviced.  Not only is changing the filter regularly important, but now is also the time to have a service company come out to evaluate and clean your unit before summer months take their toll. Regular maintenance on both inside and outside units will help them run smoothly and efficiently, which in turn can help extend the lives of the units.
 
If the thought of spring cleaning and home maintenance overwhelms you, use this column as a starting guide. If you aren’t able or don’t have the time to do the work yourself, there are lots of local experts in the area who can help you out. Remember, getting your home is shape now will help you enjoy it longer and will allow you more time to get out and enjoy the warmer weather come summer!


February 2020 column

 

Make the most of living on the lake

When designing for any home remodel or build, there are common elements and trends that are applicable no matter where you live. However, thanks to nearly 700 miles of shoreline, Lake Lanier is the back yard for thousands of residences in northeast Georgia, presenting unique opportunities for home design and features that make the most of such a tremendous location and the magnificent views that come with it. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re considering remodeling or building a lake home:
 
Create an inviting front entry
Almost everyone has heard a variation of the common expression, “You don’t get a second shot at a first impression.” That goes for the front entry of any home but is especially important when your house sits near a locale like Lanier. Create a sense of place and make your home feel like a destination with a functional walkway or path leading to a welcoming front porch. Consider your surroundings when deciding if a natural stone or wooden entry is a fit for your property, or if a pop of color on the door would add a sense of excitement about what lies behind it.
 
Open floor plans for views
You don’t have to be a regular viewer of HGTV to know that open floor plans are all the rage. They also appear here to stay and make sense for many homes. An open floor plan can be especially advantageous in a lakeside residence because it enables you to maximize views from multiple rooms, levels and vantage points within the home. If you live on the lake you’re likely there because you love the water, or at least like looking at it! Why block all that beauty with unnecessary walls?
 
Vault ceilings and expose beams
Want your home to feel as magnificent as the setting? Vaulted ceilings and exposed beams create a dramatic effect and can be adapted to fit your style, whether it’s rustic décor and design you want or a more polished look. Though it may cost more to heat your home during the winter months, advantages such as a feeling of increased space (especially true when coupled with an open floor plan) and additional natural light cannot be understated. Vaulted ceilings also will allow you to take maximum advantage of our next tip – large windows. 
 
Add floor-to-ceiling windows
Though many homeowners may think of their home’s best feature in terms of rooms or components – a spacious, state-of-the-art kitchen or dramatic stone fireplace – lake homeowners understand that what makes their homes truly special is outside the doors. Emphasize one of your property’s greatest features by installing energy efficient floor-to-ceiling windows. Large windows not only add tons of natural light but can make your home feel like an escape to nature, even if you’re a short drive from town. Unique lighting and an eye-catching chandelier can pick up the slack once the sun sets.
 
Extend outside space
While we’ve discussed great ways to emphasize your home’s views and location from the inside, don’t forget outside spaces. Create spaces to enjoy the outdoors by adding decks to one or more levels depending on the size of your home and think beyond the traditional when planning. Composite materials are durable and not only weather outdoor conditions better, but they can mimic natural wood beams and stains better now than ever. Though up-front costs are higher, composite decking is low maintenance and doesn’t require the ongoing care like sanding, staining or painting that natural wood decks need. If you love entertaining and envision lots of dinner parties or guests in your future, consider going one step further by adding outdoor kitchen space. Options these days are endless whether a nice gas grill is all you want or if you prefer the complete chef’s experience with multiple appliances like pizza ovens, refrigerators or a tap for your favorite craft beer.
 
Prepare for guests
Chances are you’re going to have lots of friends and family anxious to visit your beautiful lake home. Be prepared by thinking about basement suites to accommodate additional guests. Bunk beds are a great option to maximize the number of places to sleep. Consider that, as with many homes, gatherings will take place in the kitchen which means space to sit and socialize (such as around a large kitchen island) is recommended, along with walk-in pantries for plenty of food storage that’s out of the way.
 

January 2020 column

Eyeing home design trends for 2020

The new year is upon us, and just as years come and go, so do home design trends. Whether you love to follow them or not, it’s still fun to see what colors and features are expected to be popular in the coming year. In terms of home design, many trends are meant to make a statement; but if bold isn’t your style, that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate trends in a more subtle way, too.
 
Kitchens: In 2020, blue is predicted to be a strong color throughout the home. But when it comes to kitchens, blue cabinets are on the rise. Cabinet manufacturers have been coming out with blue paints and stains throughout 2019 that are expected to be popular in the coming years. Colors with names like Dark Azure, Harbor, Indigo, Surf, and Stardew invoke a sense of sea or sky. Blue is known to be a calming color which is another reason why we might be seeing it on the rise; it can help give you a sense of calm and tranquility in your home.
 
Pops of color: For those that still like a neutral background, you can still add in pops of color as an interesting element. Whether it be in your backsplash tile selection, appliances­ – which can be customized in an array of colors – or furniture. Color can help add some character and personalization to your space. If you don’t think you are ready to commit to blue cabinets, bring in some navy upholstered bar stools, a red range, or light coral backsplash tile. When you bring in elements of colors in this way, they are much easier to change out when you tire of them.
 
Natural wood touches: If you do bring in painted cabinets or elements of color, a great way to help balance the space so it doesn’t look like it came out of a comic book is with natural wood elements. Open wood shelving above colored cabinets, or wood or wood-look floors can help add some warmth to the space, and organic, nature-influenced elements are still very popular in design.
 
Transitional style: This one holds true throughout the home. If you’re not quite ready to go full-on modern or contemporary in your home, transitional style can give you a nice, updated classic look.  In the kitchen, that means quartz countertops, cabinets with a simple, clean door style (think recessed panel vs. a dated raised or arch panel), updated lighting, and neutral wall colors (be gone wallpaper)! If you have traditional pieces in your home that you just can’t part with, you can mix in some modernized elements like wall colors, rugs or curtains, or lighting to help update the space.
 
Statement lighting: Lighting used to be an after-thought when it came to home design. We see it all the time in homes that were built in the ’80s, ’90s, or even early 2000s, and especially spec homes. Maybe you’ve got one overhead fluorescent light in your kitchen or laundry room or a ceiling fan with two or three dim bulbs in your master bedroom or bath. Now is the time to update your lighting. Lighting, just as color, can help not only make your space more functional, but also bring your personality into your home. Pick out a dining light fixture that represents your style and gives better light for family gatherings. If your kitchen needs more lighting, add under-cabinet lighting for a nice ambience, as well as better work light. I also recommend getting rid of fluorescent lighting throughout your home in favor of LED recessed lighting or flush mounts. Other places you can add a statement fixture would be at your bathroom vanities, in your foyer, over your kitchen island, or even in your master bedroom.
 
Warmer wall colors: When it comes to paint colors, cool neutrals are declining as warm neutrals are on the rise. Cool whites, blues, and grays have been popular for a while now, but we’re seeing people gravitating toward warmer gray tones and even earth tones. Color plays a big part in setting the feel and mood of your space.
 
Like I’ve mentioned before, trends can put a time stamp on your home if you try to incorporate too many into one space or incorporate them too literally. Try bringing in trendy elements sparingly so that you don’t tire of them too quickly and they can still easily be changed out. This will help keep your home current without looking too “trendy.”


December 2019 column

Going green in home design

‘Going green’ has been a popular buzz term for several years now, but what exactly does that mean when it comes to home design? Yes, we all know about natural cleaning solutions, natural health and beauty products, and organic foods, but there is so much more you can do in your home to help keep your family and the environment healthy.  
 
Research continues to evolve on the impact of home materials and chemicals on our health, and long gone are the days of using asbestos or formaldehyde in surfaces and glues. Paint and flooring companies are introducing more low-VOC options. VOCs are volatile organic compounds that can affect the air quality in your home and impact your health. Even when it comes to hardwood floors, oil-finished wood is gaining in popularity as an alternative to polyurethane finishes. Other sustainable flooring options include bamboo, cork, reclaimed wood, wool carpet, or recycled glass or stone tile. These options are better for your health when it comes to reducing chemicals in your home and have much less impact on the environment.
 
Another way to go green in your home is with energy efficient fixtures and appliances. A lot of the appliances you see now have energy star ratings; these ratings show impact on the environment in terms of energy the appliance uses. Look for the energy star logo when purchasing appliances so you can select options that keep your energy bill down. 
 
Plumbing fixtures are another area to look for energy efficiency. Low-flow toilets use less water, as do toilets with variable flush settings. Shower fixtures with technology that infuses air to the water coming out of the shower head give the feeling of higher flow, but actually use less water. Delta calls this technology H2Okinetic, and in addition to the droplet size, these fixtures also control the speed and movement of the water to control water usage. Another way to conserve water is to look for shower fixtures that have a pause setting.  This allows you to shut off the water flow while you wash or apply shampoo, cutting back on the amount of water that is wasted.
 
Going green in home design applies just as much to the exterior of your home as it does the interior. One of the best ways to make your home more energy efficient is with quality windows. Look for options that have Low-E glass to help eliminate the effect that outside air temperature has on the interior of your home. This coating also protects the color and finish of surfaces in your home such as curtains, furniture, and flooring which means they won’t have to be replaced as often.
 
Recycled and reclaimed materials have been trending for a while now and utilizing these products in your home is another way to go green. Recycled glass countertops and tile can be used in kitchens and bathrooms. Reclaimed wood can be used as flooring, or as an accent on walls, fireplaces, kitchen islands, etc. If you’re really feeling adventurous, scout out local antique shops or consignment shops to find furniture, accessories or other items that can be repurposed rather than always buying new. Or even when remodeling, consider donating cabinets, countertops or furniture to a local consignment shop or company like Habitat for Humanity or the Salvation Army. This all helps reduce waste in our landfills.
 
One final way to make your home greener is through electricity and lighting. LED lighting has come along way in the past few years, offering different brightness options and color temperatures.  You can even get vintage Edison style bulbs in LED now. LED lighting offers up to a 90% energy savings when compared to traditional incandescent lighting and emits very little heat. Solar energy is common in the West and is finally making its way into the Southeast. Adding solar panels to your home can help use the sun’s radiant heat to power your home and supplement your existing energy source. While this energy source can be expensive to set up, the savings in the long run on your wallet and the environment are well worth it.
 
When it comes to making your home more eco-friendly and energy efficient, there are endless options. You don’t have to go all out all at once, either. Even taking small steps like changing out frequently used plumbing fixtures and light bulbs throughout your home can make an impact. If you’re not sure where to start, just reach out to a local remodeler familiar with green design for some advice.

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