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Feb. 21, 2019
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Design & Remodel

Smart home technology makes living easier

You keep hearing the term everywhere: smart home. But what exactly is a smart home? A smart home, also known as home automation, is a term that describes using internet connected devices to monitor and manage your home.  This includes things like security, lighting, heating and cooling, and appliances. This trend has been gaining in popularity for some time now, especially since home hubs or voice assistants, like Google Home or the Amazon Echo (Alexa), came onto the market. To some, it may feel like something straight out of a sci-fi movie, but we’re seeing this trend taking over as most people are always looking for ways to live more comfortably and efficiently.  There are many ways these products can be incorporated into your home and lifestyle.
Making your home “smart” offers a more convenient, and potentially safer, way to live.  Home security systems are getting smarter. Brands like Ring and Nest make video doorbells so that you can see who is at your door – whether you’re home or not.  When the cameras are connected to wi-fi, you’re able to check the feed from your smart phone wherever you are. You can also set up to get alerts on your phone when someone comes to your door when you’re not home, helping give you peace of mind while you’re away.  These companies also offer indoor and outdoor cameras for added security. This is another way to monitor your home and make sure it stays safe while you’re away.

Nest, along with ecobee, also offers smart thermostats to help control the temperature and comfort of your home. Smart thermostats can learn your habits over time and automatically adjust your home’s temperature based on your schedule. They also connect to wi-fi in your home and integrate with your voice assistant so that you don’t even have to lift a finger to adjust your home’s temperature. These devices can help your home run more efficiently by going to an energy-saving mode when you’re out of town or allowing you to adjust your home’s temperature from an app on your phone no matter where you are.
Smart lighting is a feature that’s really been gaining in popularity recently. Companies like GE and Philips offer light bulbs and dimmer switches that can be controlled from your phone or voice assistant.  Now, you can adjust the ambiance of your room or whole home with minimal effort. The smart bulbs come in different hues and the dimmers allow you to adjust the brightness with just your voice or the tap of a finger. Again, these devices just have to be connected to your home’s wi-fi to communicate. Another benefit of having smart lighting is that you never have to worry if you remembered to turn the lights off after you leave the house. Just open the app and double-check. Speaking of worrying about your home after you leave, you can also get smart garage doors, so you’ll never have to wonder if you closed the door again.
Smart appliances have been around for a little while, but they continue to evolve and improve.  LG and Samsung lead the way when it comes to smart appliances, but other brands, such as Bosch, Frigidaire, GE, and Whirlpool also now offer smart products. Now, you can start your laundry from your smart phone or pre-heat your oven from work so it’s ready when you get home. You can even set your smart refrigerator to keep inventory of what you have and what you’re getting low on. Or set up your Amazon Dash button with your smart dishwasher to automatically order dishwashing detergent when you’re getting low.
There are so many smart home innovations that make living easier, this is just the tip of the iceberg. These innovations are becoming more streamlined and the designs are sleek so that they can easily be integrated into any home design. If you’re nervous or skeptical about going all “smart,” start by incorporating one feature that is most important to you: lighting, security, energy efficiency, smart appliances, etc. If you have an Amazon Echo or Google Home, you’re already one step ahead. Smart home technology is still relatively new, so just be sure to do your research on products before you buy. Look for products that are simple to set up and use, because the whole point of adding these smart products to your life is to make living easier. 

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

January 2019 column

Design trends coming up for 2019

The holiday season is over, which means it is time to start fresh with a new year. Everyone talks about new year’s resolutions this time of year, which can also include your home. Maybe you’re ready to update your home’s style or maybe you’ve been through a big change this past year and want to change up your home, as well.  There are simple design changes you can make, without having to go for a full-out remodel. Here are some of the design trends that we’ve seen pick up recently and are predicted to take over in 2019.
Natural elements
Concrete has been popular for a while now, but the trend is predicted to continue. This doesn’t mean you have to go all out with concrete countertops – they’re high maintenance and certainly not for everyone. But you can bring in concrete in a subtler way; think concrete planters or concrete-look tile. Stone is also a popular material, whether on fireplaces, in tile form, or on countertops. It is both durable and beautiful. Metal accents, like iron and copper, can be seen in the form of sinks, range hoods, and lighting. The colors add interest, especially when mixed with other metals. Fur (or faux fur) rugs have also been popular for a little while. A lot of people have moved away from carpet and toward hardwood floors, but still want the warmth of a rug. A fur or faux fur rug can work with lots of different styles, from farmhouse to industrial to mid-century modern. All these natural elements help bring the outside in and add texture and dimension to your décor. 
Warm tones
Grays have been popular for years now, but we’ve been seeing warmer tones coming back. If you look on design sites, you’ll see more pops of yellow, gold, or green. Even pantone’s color of the year for 2019 is Living Coral.  That’s not to say grays and cool blues are out, but you’ll likely see them mixed with a complementary warm tone, like gray with yellow accents or blue with coral. If you prefer neutrals to bold colors and don’t want to commit to a green sofa or gold accent wall, that’s OK.  You can bring in bolder color as accents in throws or throw pillows, flowers, or artwork.   
Wallpaper tends to be a polarizing subject; either you love it, or you hate it. But either way, we’ve been seeing wallpaper come back, and the trend is expected to continue. However, wallpaper is not what you picture from decades past.  People are using wallpaper as an accent; either on one wall, in the back of bookcases, or above wainscoting. Florals are expected to make a return, but mostly you see wallpaper with geometric patterns or solid with subtle texture like rice paper or seagrass. Again, these just add dimension or texture to an otherwise flat space. If you’re not thinking about selling your house soon, wallpaper can be fun to experiment with, but keep in mind it still lacks mass appeal.
Mix and match furniture
Gone are the days of matching furniture suites. The trend in furniture now-a-days is to mix and match finishes and materials, so that your space looks carefully curated rather than straight off a showroom floor. If your furniture all matches exactly, it can be boring and give off the impression that you haven’t put your own personality into your space. Look for pieces that coordinate but also have character and style.
Statement lighting
This trend has been around for some time and we see it continuing. Lighting adds so much interest to your home and can help define your style as much as furniture choices or other décor. There are thousands of options available when it comes to lighting. Just keep in mind the style of the rest of your home when choosing lighting; whether it be traditional, farmhouse, industrial, or contemporary. Lighting can really help tie everything together. Just like furniture, if you keep the overall style consistent, it’s also OK to mix and match lighting throughout your home. In fact, mixed metals are popular in lighting right now as well, which makes it even easier to coordinate with your existing lighting.
Although it’s fun to track trends, don’t forget that your home should reflect your personal taste and style. Trendy items and colors should be mixed in with more classic pieces to give your home an updated look, but also stand the test of time. 

December 2018 column

Designing for entertaining

The holidays are officially here and that means it’s hosting and entertaining season. This is the time of year when you really get to see how your home’s layout works and what might need to be changed. When thinking about entertaining in your home, the two most important things to think about are space and function.  
Do you have enough space to host guests and is that space functional? For those that have overnight guests, you of course must think about sleeping arrangements. But, for everyone, the most important areas to think about are the kitchen and living/entertaining spaces. These are the areas where you and your guests will spend most of your time.
When thinking about your space and a possible redesign or remodel, the first question to think about is: what is your entertaining style?  Some people have large gatherings of friends and family, while others prefer more intimate groups. Will your guests stay inside, or do you want to use exterior entertaining space, as well? This, of course, also depends on the weather. 
Do you like to host formal dinner parties for the holidays or are your gatherings more informal?  Will your guests be bringing food for a potluck meal or will you be cooking or having the meal catered? These are all important to ask yourself to determine what type of space you need. The best space for entertaining is a space that matches your style of entertaining.
For those that like to host large, informal gatherings, an open concept plan would make the most sense. An open concept plan is one that has a large, open living space that is open to the kitchen and dining area. This space allows guests more room to freely move around and mingle but also makes sure the host(s) still feel like they are part of the party. This type of plan tends to also lend itself to a kitchen with an island or large peninsula. An island or peninsula is a great area to put out food and drinks or place additional seating. This style opens up the seating options for guests.  

Everyone doesn’t have to feel crammed into one space and you likely won’t need to bring in many additional chairs, if any, if you have seating in your dining room, kitchen and living room. One thing to keep in mind with an open floor plan is that you will want the lighting style to flow throughout the space, as well as the wall color and flooring. If you have too many styles or colors in an open space, that visually breaks up the space and can make it feel smaller.
For those that like to have smaller, more formal gatherings, like dinner parties, an open concept might not be the best plan for you.  When hosting a formal gathering or dinner party, you likely will want a formal dining area. Having a separate dining area from the kitchen keeps the cooking process out of guests’ sight or allows you to bring in a caterer or private chef, and the dining room stays clean and quiet where guests can talk.  
While the open concept plan is certainly very popular right now, it’s not for everyone. Some people still prefer formal, defined spaces and don’t want everyone to see into their kitchen that can get messy from all the cooking and baking. And just because your kitchen is not open to other areas of your home doesn’t mean you can’t have a beautiful, updated kitchen. You may want to consider updating cabinets, lighting, work surfaces, and storage so that you have a functional space.  
In the South, we’re fortunate enough to be able to be outside a lot of the year. Having a covered deck or screened porch adds to your entertaining square footage and allows guests to utilize space outside. However, if you want a space that truly is for any season or all-weather, then a sunroom is a great option. Adding a sunroom or converting a deck or porch into a sunroom will give you additional space to host guests. Plus, it will give you a space to enjoy and entertain in all year long. 
If this holiday season leaves you feeling cramped and wishing for more space, consider a floor plan or kitchen remodel or even an addition. That way, you’ll be prepared to host a bigger, and even more spectacular party next year.  Merry Christmas and happy entertaining!  

November 2018 column

Aligning your remodel dreams and your budget

Budgets can be a sensitive subject when it comes to remodeling, but it’s one of, if not the most important conversation to have early in the process. Many homeowners that have a budget do not want to disclose their budget to a contractor up-front thinking that if they do, the contractor will automatically come back with an estimate equal to their budget no matter the scope of work. Even if you don’t want to disclose your exact budget, it’s important to at least provide your contractor or designer with a ballpark of what you’re looking to spend. This will help guide the design process and will let you know if you can afford everything you want or if your plans need some fine-tuning.
More often though, I come across homeowners who don’t have enough experience with building or remodeling to know what they should expect to spend on a project. TV shows can be misleading because they rarely show you all the costs associated with the project and, often, materials have been donated for promotional purposes. Also, some shows are centered around “DIY” remodels where the homeowners provide most of the labor, so if you are looking for a turn-key renovation, you can expect to pay a considerable amount more than these shows. 
Another important consideration when looking at remodeling costs is location; material and labor costs vary greatly in different areas of the country. Lastly, the internet is a dangerous place to try to find out what you “should” spend on a remodel. There are a lot of opinions and calculations out there, but unfortunately, there are too many factors involved to go by a simplified equation.
In determining if your budget and dreams are in-line, it’s important to meet with an experienced professional as a first step. This initial consultation should not cost you anything and can give you some guidance as to what you can expect to spend on your remodel project. If the number is higher than you were expecting, then you still have the option to refine your design ideas and talk with your contractor or designer about areas to save.  
After the initial consultation, the next step is the creation of design plans. If you’re planning for a major remodel, as-built drawings will need to be created first. As-built plans are detailed drawings of the existing structure and floor plan. From there, your designer will create design plans for you based on your wants and needs.  Make sure you discuss your must-haves with your architect or designer early so these can be incorporated into the designs. This will also allow your designer to suggest ways to save in other areas, if necessary. If you haven’t yet come up with ideas, don’t worry. Collaborate with your designer by looking on sites like Houzz or Pinterest and save those you like.
Once you’ve agreed upon the best plans, next comes pricing. If you’re working with a design-build firm, the design will be followed by an in-house estimate based on the approved plans. If you are working with an independent designer or architect, you will want to send plans to one or more general contractors to provide an estimate. Just be careful if you go this route; make sure you provide a consistent list of details to each contractor to make sure you are comparing apples-to-apples.
If the pricing comes back in line with what you are willing to spend, then it’s on to a formal agreement and construction. If not, then it is time to revise your plans. Maybe you don’t want to modify that structural wall after all, or maybe you’re willing to look at other material options. Whatever the case, your designer or contractor should be willing to collaborate with you to make sure you are happy with the final plans.  
Here’s the key: talk budgets early with your designer and contractor and be honest. This will guide everything from the design and scope of work to materials and construction. Let them know what you might be willing to negotiate on or if you are willing to do any of the work. Alternatively, make sure you are working with a contractor you trust. Working with a respectable contractor or designer, they will help guide you to what you can afford and come up with the best design solution for you in the end.  
October 2018 column

'Aging in place' becomes more popular

As the population is aging, trends in remodeling and design are adapting. ‘Aging in Place’ design or adaptable design are becoming more and more popular and manufacturers are making products to accommodate. Currently, about 15 percent of the US population is age 65 and older, but that number is predicted to rise to 22 percent by 2050. Here in Hall County, the 65-plus population is predicted to outpace the national average and rise to 30 percent by 2030. We have been seeing many Active Adult or Assisted Living communities pop up in Hall County lately.

The alternative, when feasible, is aging in place.  Aging in place design is centered around the idea that a home can be built or modified to accommodate someone who is aging so that they can continue to live comfortably in their own home. This could be as simple as adding ramps and grab bars to more complicated changes like adding an elevator or remodeling a kitchen or bathroom to make it completely accessible for a wheelchair.  
Small changes can make a big difference when it comes to designing for aging in place.  Things that you hadn’t thought about before, like knobs on doors and cabinets, can make it more difficult to access what you need.  Instead, replace knobs with levers or pulls for easier accessibility.  This is also true for faucets or other fixtures, choose options with lever handles versus knobs. Door width is another consideration when you’re looking for better accessibility. Door widths should be 36 inches (both interior and exterior) to allow for a minimum of 32 inches of clearance. Hallways should also be a minimum of 36 inches wide and well lit.
Regarding the exterior and layout of a home designed for aging in place, materials should be low maintenance, including siding materials, windows, doors, and flooring. There should be at least one step-less, covered entry. If a step-less entry is not an option, then at least one of the following should be added: sturdy handrail, ramp or chair lift. When it is an option, the main living areas and master suite should be on the main level. If your home was not originally built this way, that may mean reconfiguring your existing space or building an addition.
Bathrooms are important areas to consider when accommodating for aging in place. In bathrooms, entries should be 36 inches wide, with plenty of clear space to turn in front of sinks, commodes, and showers. Showers should be barrier free, meaning a low curb or curb-less entry, and incorporate grab bars, a built-in or fold-down bench, and a hand-held shower fixture.  The current trend in master bathroom design is to remove large jetted or garden tubs in the master bathroom to create space for a larger, accessible shower. This change makes the space more comfortable and functional for those that do not use a bathtub but is also a way to plan ahead for wheelchair or walker accessibility.

Another standard that we incorporate into all our bathroom remodels are comfort height toilets and comfort height vanities. The comfort height toilets are a few inches above the old standard height and comfort height vanities are 36 inches versus the old 31 inch height. The height difference doesn’t change the look but makes a big difference for comfort.
In kitchens, aging in place design is also very important.  Installing pull-out shelves in a pantry or in base cabinets makes items more accessible and easier to organize; we also recommend incorporating more base cabinets with drawers. A comfortable distance between cabinet areas or between cabinets and appliances is also a necessity, ideally 36-42 inches, or more if you are designing for wheelchair clearance and turnaround.

Along the same lines, it’s important to round corners of countertops so there are no sharp edges to bump into, and you can also incorporate pull out countertops or cutting boards for work space at a more comfortable height for someone in a wheelchair. Also, keeping the main sink close to the stove keeps the distance necessary to carry pots full of water as short as possible. Other things we recommend are counter-depth appliances, non-slip floors options, and good lighting.
When it comes to aging in place design, it’s not just for seniors. It’s important for anyone to make sure their home is comfortable and functional. Your home environment should not be stressful or unsafe, but rather, relaxing and one of the best ways to make it that way is through better design.

September 2018 column

Bathroom design and remodeling trends for 2018

Last month, we looked at kitchen design and remodeling trends, but another popular area to remodel right now are bathrooms; specifically, master bathrooms.  The request I get the most from clients looking to remodel their bathroom is that they want their master bath to feel like a spa.  What does that mean? They want large, luxurious showers, updated fixtures and lighting, transitional or modern style and, most importantly, an open, clean feel. Technology is also being integrated into the master bathroom more and more, and many people are planning ahead and redesigning their bathroom to allow for comfort and aging in place.
First, let’s discuss showers.  Many people are taking their oversized garden tubs or outdated jetted tubs out of the master bath and replacing them with a large, tiled shower. That means gone also are the cultured marble shower units that tend to dull and yellow over time. We’re installing more oversized showers then ever, often with multiple shower heads, hand showers, or body sprays, or even steam ports. Tile showers can really create a statement in the bathroom with hundreds of tile options out there, making your space more personalized. For those that do use a bathtub or want to keep a tub in the master for resale value, I recommend a free-standing tub that is more aesthetically appealing or a drop-in tub with bubble massage instead of jets. These options are more sanitary and look more up-to-date.
When it comes to tile for the master bath (or any bathroom, for that matter), porcelain is number one right now. This is because of its durability against wear and tear and moisture and the amount of options out there. With porcelain tile, you can get an industrial style with concrete-look tile or you can go more traditional with natural stone-look tile, and everything in between. Porcelain tile allows you to get the expensive look of real concrete, travertine, or marble, but without the maintenance. Another trend in tile right now is bold tile, including hand-painted Mediterranean style or 3D. These tiles add a lot of interest but be sure to use them in moderation as an accent so as not to overwhelm. 
As mentioned earlier, technology is being integrated in the home, including the bathroom. Companies are making sensor-activated, self-cleaning toilets. People are also making their master bathroom more comfortable by adding heated floors, heated toilet seats, and heated towel warmers. Even in Georgia, these features get a lot of use on those cold mornings.  We’ve even seen more wireless or Bluetooth speakers in bathrooms and USB ports or docking station for electronic devices. But if you’re looking for the “spa-feeling,” you may want to skip these features.
For those looking to stay in their home as they age, also known as ‘aging in place,’ there are many updates that can be made to make your space more comfortable and accessible. One option is a curb-less, or zero-entry, shower. This creates a barrier-free space that doesn’t have the trip hazard of a curb and allows a walker or wheelchair into the shower. Comfort-height toilets are popular, as well. These are slightly higher than traditional toilets so they’re easier to use. I also recommend comfort-height vanities, which are 4-5” taller than older vanities and require less bending. A well-designed wheelchair-accessible vanity is also an option now and doesn’t have to look commercial or cold. Another feature that be easily integrated, but doesn’t have to look commercial, are grab bars. If you’re not ready for grab bars, then you can still install blocking behind the wall for support for future grab bars, especially in a shower or water closet.
Color trends come and go, but white is a classic when it comes to the bathroom, whether that be white walls, white cabinets, or white tile (but not all three together, unless you’re going ultra-modern). White has a clean, classic feel that never seems to go out of style.  For the master bath, you can create a timeless look with clean lines, simple design, and classic, neutral colors. And don’t be afraid to bring in some warmth with wood or tile accents. Also think about bringing in your personality through towel colors, accessories, or trendy lights and plumbing fixtures, as these items can be changed out easily when you tire of them. Most importantly, if you’re thinking about a master bath remodel, look for an experienced designer or remodeler to help with planning the perfect, personalized space. 

August 2018 column

Kitchen design trends with staying power

People ask me often what the current trends are in kitchen design, but my response is not always what they are expecting. As a designer, it’s obviously important to follow trends to keep up with what’s new. But, on the other hand the word “trend” makes me think of a time-stamp. Most trends are likely to go out of style in five to 10 years; think wood paneling, gold and avocado green of the ’70s or country blue, dusty rose, and floral wallpaper everywhere in the ’90s. I like to recommend trends that have proven the test of time and become classics, but maybe incorporate a trendy material here and there that can be changed out easily, like lighting or backsplash. There are several current trends in kitchen design that I see as having staying power and won’t require another remodel in 10 years. 
Incorporating technology
While technology in the kitchen obviously isn’t new to 2018, it has been advancing and continuing to go mainstream. People are requesting more docking stations or USB chargers for their devices in the kitchen. This allows them to still be in reach, but you can easily hide the devices and cords away in a drawer for a less cluttered look.
Another innovation introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show this year are wireless appliances. Most people are now familiar with wireless charging for your electronic devices (cell phone, laptop, etc.), but soon you’ll be able to get wireless kitchen appliances, as well. Wireless appliances are run by magnetic power coils installed underneath your countertops that connect with a coil inside the appliance. App powered devices continue to gain in popularity, as well, including smart refrigerators and ovens. The appliances can be controlled by an app on your phone or tablet which can allow you to control temperatures, know when something’s been left on or open, keep up with expiration dates, and more.
Like I already mentioned, colors go in and out of style quickly. But there are some that we’ve seen last the test of time. White is one color that is likely to remain classic.  White for a backsplash, white kitchen cabinets, or white walls seem to maintain popularity. White goes well with stained wood, whether floors or cabinets, and it doesn’t have to be stark white; there are hundreds of shades of white out there, so you can find the one that’s right for you. Gray and greige are becoming classics, as well. These shades work well with most design styles and accent colors, and they can go either cool or warm, depending on preference.  
For countertops, most homeowners continue to go with quartz or granite. Quartz has overtaken granite as the most popular nationwide recently, due to the variety of colors and options available and durability. Granite is still the second most popular countertop material, as many people still prefer the traditional look and character of a natural stone. Ceramic or porcelain tile is the most preferred material for backsplashes. And for floors, the wood look is most popular. That includes real hardwood, wood-look porcelain tile, or engineered wood. Since open concept homes are still very popular, you typically see wood floors carried into the kitchen from the surrounding rooms to create a flowing, cohesive look.
Organization and storage
One thing that I don’t see ever going out of style in the kitchen is organization and functional storage. Everyone I talk with wants to be able to store and find things easily in their kitchen. That’s why we’ve seen specialty storage on the rise. I already mentioned in-drawer charging stations, but we also install a lot of pull-out trash and recycling cabinets, tray and cutting board dividers, spice drawers, and hidden or multi-level utensil storage. Another place where we’ve seen more emphasis on organization is in the kitchen pantry. When your pantry is organized, it’s much easier to keep an inventory of what you have and know when things are going bad to help prevent food waste. Organization and better storage in the kitchen also helps keep away clutter. When you don’t have clutter on your countertops, you can much more easily use and enjoy your space.
Trends come and go, but functionality, ease of use, and beauty in the kitchen will never go out of style. Keep up with trends to know what’s out there, but most importantly, make sure your space is functional and true to your personal style.

July 2018 column

How to prepare for a kitchen remodel

With the economy booming and consumer confidence the highest it’s been in several years, more people are considering renovations to their homes. Among the most popular updates is a kitchen remodel.  
Many people have been thinking about such a remodel for years, and now that they finally have the means, or no more kids at home, they have decided now is the time.  While a kitchen remodel can be stressful and temporarily disruptive, as long as you hire a good designer and contractor, it will be well worth it in the end.
First, the most important part of any remodel is to make sure you have a plan. This will come from you working with a designer and contractor to determine the new layout of the kitchen and how much work will be involved. If you start the project without a plan, things are much more likely to go wrong. Too many times, I’ve gone into a home where an inexperienced contractor or homeowner has started a project with no plan and no design, and ended up causing more work than they wanted in the first place (not to mention, the blown budget). Make sure you have thought about what parts of your current kitchen you like and what you don’t like, look up ideas of colors and design styles on sites like Houzz or Pinterest, and determine your budget. Once you have those in place, make sure you have plans and drawings that show the detail of the new design.  
After the design has been finalized and contractor hired, there are a few other things to consider when preparing for a kitchen remodel. First of all, think about what you may be able to salvage and use elsewhere or donate.  Maybe you would benefit from having some extra storage in your basement or garage, and could repurpose your base cabinets. Or maybe your range is only a few years old, but just doesn’t fit in the new design; consider donating appliances that are still in good shape to a local charity or organization. Contrary to what you see on TV, a good contractor will not come in with a sledgehammer and destroy everything that’s being replaced. That’s just for theatrics on TV, but that method is not practical in real life. Just be sure to let your contractor know at the beginning of the project what you plan to keep or donate.
Secondly, make sure you designate a place in your home away from the area being remodeled for a temporary kitchen. Typically, this will include a few small appliances, such as a microwave, coffee maker, toaster or toaster oven, and a refrigerator. This will allow you space to make simple meals during the remodel and not have to eat out all the time. Some may be lucky enough to have a second kitchen in their basement or a family member nearby who might share a kitchen.
Thirdly, know that there will be dust; however, a good contractor will take extra care in providing ‘dust protection.’ This means that the kitchen will be closed off from the rest of the house, as much as possible, using zippered plastic sheeting. Furniture should also be covered in connected rooms with plastic, and a plastic or paper path put down for workers to walk on from the entry-point to the work area. This helps keep dust contained, but I still typically recommend a good cleaning service come in as soon as the project is complete. That’s especially important in an area like a kitchen, where food will be prepared.
Lastly, if you are able to, plan a short trip or vacation during the remodel. This will help alleviate some of the stress of living in the space while the work is going on.  Some people may not feel comfortable leaving their home with strangers, but if you’ve hired someone with a good reputation and that you can trust, consider leaving your home in their hands for a few days. Just make sure you go over any details they may need like access to the home, alarm systems, lawn care service, etc.  
A remodel can be stressful, but hiring a contractor and/or designer that you trust and respect will help give you peace of mind. While the thought of a kitchen remodel can be daunting, never lose sight of the big picture and the final product: a beautiful, functional kitchen!   

June 2018 column

Design should be a result of inspiration

Design inspires me. Design inspires me because it is a way of connecting with people and creating functional and organized space.  Design is a mode of solving problems, an art form, and a way of bringing a home together. Some people may be inspired by a color or a style or a piece of furniture or artwork. Whatever your design inspiration may be, it helps make your house a home. Maybe you’re not sure exactly what your style is.  Let’s take a look at some options.
There are an endless number of design styles out there, from traditional to eclectic to contemporary and everything in between.  Finding your style involves an understanding of the differences and understanding what “feel” you want to give your home. Some differences between design styles are subtle, while others are apparent. Traditional, transitional, and contemporary styles tend to be the most popular when it comes to interior design.
Traditional style has its roots in 18th century English, 19th century neoclassic and French country and British colonial revival. The traditional style is still one of the most popular styles today. Traditional style evokes a warm and welcoming feel, with mainly neutral tones in the brown, red, green, and blue families. Warm pastels and tone-on-tone colors can also work with a traditional style. Wood tones on furniture, floors, railing or other accents are popular, along with ornate finishes; i.e. trim, arches, ceiling beams, turned legs, moldings, and detailed mantels. These ornate finishes and trim work help add visual weight and contribute to the feeling of warmth. Patterns in upholstery and drapery, such as plaids, florals, and stripes, are often seen mixed in. Traditional style lighting is often very decorative, and sometimes antique or ornate. Think of chandeliers, unique pendants, or foyer lighting that acts as a focal point or centerpiece.
Another design style that has recently overtaken traditional as the most popular is transitional. Transitional design bridges the gap between traditional and contemporary. This design style typically includes clean lines, simple details and timeless furnishings. In transitional design, you’ll most often see soft neutral colors, whites and ivory, as well as all shades of gray.  To keep the look from feeling too cool, you may also see warm wood tones or wood touches mixed in, such as wood flooring or simple wooden floating shelves. Cabinets in transitional styled kitchens and bathrooms are most often white or gray and typically shaker or another simple recessed panel door style.  The transitional style tends to feel slightly more minimalistic compared to traditional, but you will still see some accessories, decorative lighting, and lighter-weight drapery. Transitional style tends to age well because of classic, timeless lines and neutral colors.
Finally, contemporary is another popular design style, especially on the West Coast or in large cities.  Contemporary design features straight, clean lines, minimal or very subtle detail, and mixed finishes. For example, in a contemporary kitchen, you may see colored slab cabinet doors with a high gloss finish with metal legs and concrete countertops, giving a slight industrial feel. Or you may see wood grain slab cabinets, with leathered or suede quartz countertops. You may also see muted neutrals contrasted with a punch of bold color. But the connecting factor that makes these options contemporary is the minimalism and use of texture and space to define the style. In traditional and transitional design styles, you will see more detail in the furniture and accessories; however, in contemporary design, furniture is often made with basic shapes, simple metal frames and may sit low to the ground. It can feel more informal or even stark, when compared to other design styles.
Although these are the three most common design styles, there are many others to consider: art deco, craftsman, mid century modern, industrial, minimalist, bohemian, shabby chic, glam, coastal, etc.  These subcategories can fall under one of the three most common styles to a degree or can be combined to create a unique style that’s all your own. When choosing or deciding on a design style for your home, just make sure you pick something that matches your personality and lifestyle so that it feels authentic.
So what’s your inspiration?

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