Meet the Design Psychologist Who Put a Native Stone Bathtub in Her Bedroom

Note from Homework Remodels:  We loved reading this blog from Native Trails!  As you learn more about this designer, she also shares the psychology of design and how a good design in a remodel can create the space that makes you feel good.  We think this information is essential for the pandemic culture we live in today.   If you are thinking of remodeling, let us know how Homework Remodel’s professional designer, Sheila Lanier, can help you create the perfect space!

With a background that spans set styling, home staging, interior design, and visual merchandising, including several years as Nordstrom’s environmental designer, Amber brings to the table not only her impeccable taste but a master’s degree in psychology.

What does psychology have to do with design? More than you might think. “I believe spaces are deeply linked to our emotions and contribute to our wellbeing,” says Amber, who has taught design psychology at Salt Lake Community College since 2010.

Here, she shares some of her tips and tricks for creating spaces that look and feel great.

Let’s start by talking about the renovations to your bedroom—and that bathtub!

Psychology of Design

AD: We moved into the place a year and a half ago when I was seven months pregnant. And after a year of living in our bedroom, we started calling it the torture chamber—and not lovingly. Approaching the remodel, the first thing we decided on was having a bathtub in the bedroom. At first we picked out a more traditional ceramic tub, but when we sat with that for a minute, we knew something wasn’t feeling right. When we started looking into it, we found the Native Trails tub, which looks awesome with the floors. We wanted to keep it simple so we did a limestone wash on the walls and concrete slab flooring, and we have a little garden area just outside the window for when we’re in the tub.

On that note, what’s your take on the bathtub-in-the-bedroom trend? Apparently, you’re a fan.

AD: We had one in our old house, but it didn’t feel cool or on purpose. It just felt like they couldn’t fit the tub in the bathroom. But we loved it and knew we wanted to incorporate that vibe in this house, but in more of a modern way. I love the idea of baths being a ritual and part of self-care that is separate from the bathroom. You know, you get ready in the bathroom. It gets messy.

Yes, it feels more serene to have the tub in the bedroom. Especially because sleep doctors will tell you that the bedroom should only be used for two things: Sleep and sex.

AD: To have a bath is such a sensual thing, so it goes with both of those things.

You studied psychology in college and ultimately bridged that with your creative side. How did those two interests come together?

AD: I got my bachelor’s in psychology and then wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so I went back to school for interior design. Then I stumbled on a single article about design psychology and was hooked. I stalked the author of the article, and she was super nice and said, “You probably need to get higher education in one area or another if you want to do this for a living.” At the time, they didn’t offer anything beyond an associate’s for interior design so I went on to get my master’s in psychology. I did private practice therapy and trauma work with kids for years. That was not happiness for me; it was breaking my heart. I loved what I knew, but I didn’t love being a therapist. So I went back to the college where I went for interior design and asked the director if she had any interest in infusing psychology principles into their courses. She called me back a week later and said, “I love the idea. I want you to teach a class about it in two weeks. It will need to be a 16-week course.”

Generally speaking, what do design and psychology have to do with one another?

AD: When you walk into a space, you immediately have a feeling, whether you recognize the feeling or not. Spaces have power over our psyche and our emotional wellbeing. They can make you feel at ease, they can make you feel anxious. My class basically teaches people how to tap into that—whether it’s their own attachments to space or their history with spaces in their childhood. From zero to five are your really formative years for attaching to another person; that is the blueprint for how you operate, and it colors how you attach to people in your adult life. But you can attach to space in the same way. Some people like to recreate chaotic spaces because they’re familiar with them, even though they know they’re not healthy. Or they want to recreate the smell of something or the way something felt or the view or the layout of a place—all of those things can evoke nostalgic memories that can feel really calming if you recreate them in your adult life. Then we open it up and explore some universal reactions to space and texture and color and materials, and how people respond. Like, I just read an article about how just being around woodgrain can reduce your stress levels.

What are some of the universal design truths that make people feel good?

AD: We tend to feel more calm in monochromatic spaces, especially if they’re neutrals. All-white spaces make us tense; we feel more rigid and like we have to act more formal in them. But when I say monochromatic, I mean ranges of neutrals, maybe woodgrain and taupes and that family of off-whites, whites and creams. We feel really relaxed in those spaces. So even if you pick a single color—let’s say green—and you incorporate a really deep, vegetal green all the way to a chalky, watery green in the same room, we really like being in that versus in super high-contrast colors.

Psychology of Design

So color is probably the most important factor?

AD: Yes, and lighting. One of the biggest things with lighting is we like to be under dappled lighting, like the light that would hit through the trees on a sunny day. We like being around that fractured light, which is why a lot of people are doing those basketweave pendants. That’s a really good way to artificially replicate what you would find in nature. We have all kinds of  baked-in preferences from our survival instincts; so if it was a sunny day, you knew that it was safe and you didn’t have to find shelter. We also don’t love being around too much print because it’s harder to spot danger. We scan it in the same way we would scan something on the savanna to see if danger’s approaching. That’s also why too much clutter makes us tense.

Are there certain principles you adhere to when creating kitchens?

AD: With kitchens it’s about reducing the amount of clutter that you see, just because it is anxiety provoking to see a lot of things out. And I always think it’s nice to keep something like fresh and alive, whether that’s a basil plant or some other herbs. It’s also helpful to design kitchens with food colors. Blue is an appetite suppressant, so if you want to promote that in your kitchen, probably design with blue. There are just not a lot of blue foods in nature, but greens and warm tones are all nice to work with because they’re found in food.

How about for bathroom?

AD: In the bathroom I think it’s nice to think about textures. You start your day there and you end your day there usually. So it’s good to keep in mind things like plush towels or cozy rugs, things that hug you know and make you feel cozy.

So do you have any go to bathroom paint colors?

AD: Personally, I like neutrals and colors found in rocks and plants. I feel better around earth tones and materials that feel derived from Earth, like concrete. Especially if you want your bathroom to feel like an escape or spa, I will definitely lean into nature. There’s a theory called shibui that says that nature never makes a mistake. With that, you would look around you to know not only the colors to use, but the distribution. For instance on a hillside, you would normally see browns and different ranges of oatmeals, and then you would maybe see just a little pop of a flower. So you know, smaller doses of color.

What do you put in every space that you design?

AD: Plants. I’m personally drawn to them, and it feels good to have something alive around you. They’re also just super good for creating oxygen in a space. And when we’re around plants we’re more creative, more open to conversation and tend to settle disputes faster.

See more photos and read the remaining blog from Native Trails HERE

All photography courtesy of Amber Dunford.

Questions to Ask Your Contractor’s References

Our recent blogs have focused on topics that will help you choose the right home remodeling professional for your renovation project.  We’ve covered misconceptions, budgeting your costs for your remodel, things to watch out for when hiring your contractor, asking the right questions, and how to ensure a smooth project. (These blogs are full of great information if you haven’t read them yet, you can read them here).  In this blog, we help you with questions to ask your contractor’s references. We know it can seem a bit awkward to talk to a complete stranger about a contractor that has done work on their home but getting their take on how their remodel project went and how they felt about their contractor, will definitely give you confidence in choosing the right contractor for your home renovation! We have found that most people will want to share their experience with you and even show you their remodel!! Remember, too, when asking for references from a potential contractor, ask to see a current project they are working on.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR CONTRACTOR’S REFERENCES

What type of project or projects has the contractor done for you?

Did they do a quality job?

Why did you choose this contractor?

Did you get prices or opinions from other contractors that you feel had comparable specifications and credentials, if not, Why? And if so, how did they compare?

What would you say about the crew members that did your work – were they respectable and clean? Did they seem to know what they were doing?

Was the contractor responsive to you your questions and/or concerns? Could you reach him quickly?

Did the contractor do what he said he would do?

Were there any additional charges and if so, were they handled in such a way that left you feeling satisfied?

On a scale of 1-10 (ten being highest), how would you rate your overall experience with this contractor?

Do you have any reservations about hiring him again?

May I come by to see the work firsthand?

 

FREE CONSUMER AWARENESS GUIDE

Learn more about how to choose the right home remodeling professional with our consumer awareness guide.  Our guide, “10 Things You Must Know Before Hiring a Remodeling Contractor” will help you know what to look for when finding the right contractor so that you can be completely satisfied with your remodeling project.  This booklet was written so that you will be empowered to make the best decision for your home improvement and remodel. You can have the experience you desire for your home improvement project with the right contractor for you by requesting this free e-Book here.

Home Remodeling in the Greater Phoenix Area

Begin your project by calling us at (480) 895-3442 or emailing Steve here to discuss remodeling your home, kitchen, or bathroom.  We offer no-obligation in-home consultations. Our award-winning designers and craftsman are eager to work with you to help you love your home again!

How to Ensure a Smooth Project

In our continuing blog series, “Choosing the Right Home Remodeling Professional for your Renovation Project”, we tackle how to ensure a smooth project. Knowing these guidelines will help you navigate your renovation project and give you confidence in your contractor!

Good Communication

It is essential that you have an excellent flow of communication with your contractor. Do they return calls promptly? Do they listen intently to your likes and dislikes? Do they take notes? Can you reach them when needed? This will be even more important once your project begins.

Right Fit

You’ll most likely be spending a good bit of time with your contractor, so it is important that you feel comfortable with them. You should also have a good sense as to whether the same holds true regarding the members of their staff. Like any good relationship, a strong rapport and close communication with your contractor will help any job go more smoothly.

Scheduling

The scheduling of your project is something that should be discussed upfront. A responsible and reputable contractor will do their best to keep you informed both in the initial stages and as your project progresses.

A Clear, Well Written Proposal/Contract

Getting it in writing is essential! Nothing is worse than a disagreement because the terms weren’t written down. Frequently, one person remembers something differently. Every part of the job from the general conditions and demolition to the final trim and clean up should be clearly described. General terms like “install windows and doors” are too vague and should be clearly spelled out indicating exactly what window, what door, including make, model, size, features, location, color, style, etc. A detailed contract should include:

  • A visual representation such as a blueprint, floor plan, drawings, sketches, that clearly shows what work is being done and where.
  • The timetable in which the project is expected to be completed, including approximate start and end dates.
  • The price, along with payment terms and schedule.
  • Detailed specifications for all products and materials.
  • A list of work and/or things not included.
  • Insurance information.
  • Permit information (e.g., whether it’s required and who will get it)
  • Procedure for handling change orders.
  • Notice of your right under the FTC’s rule to cancel the contract within three business days if it was signed in a place other than the contractor’s place of business.

Details, Details, and More Details

There are several things that should be discussed prior to starting your project. What time will work start and end each day? Where will materials be stored? What special circumstances need to be taken into consideration? Discussing details like these upfront saves a lot of aggravation and eliminates misunderstandings.

Flexibility

Remodeling can be disruptive to your normal lifestyle. Remember to be as flexible as possible.

Change Orders

Changes are inevitable when it comes to home remodeling. There are often changes made to the design, the materials, and the scope of work once work begins.

It’s a good idea to set aside an additional 10% or more beyond the contract amount to cover these changes.

The bottom line is: Almost all changes will affect the budget and the schedule. Make sure all changes are in writing and are kept current to avoid any surprises in the end.

Written Lien Waivers

Often your remodeling professional will work with other tradesmen or subcontractors who specialize in certain aspects of your project. It is your contractor’s responsibility to make sure these people, as well as material suppliers, are paid for services and materials related to your project.

Make sure your contractor is willing to provide you with a written lien waiver at the end of your project in trade for the final payment. This is a document that proves that you have paid for the project in full, thereby eliminating the chances of the contractor’s subcontractors or suppliers placing a lien on your property due to not being paid by your contractor for the work performed on your home.

Establishing good communication and walking through each of these topics with your contractor will ensure a smooth project!

FREE CONSUMER AWARENESS GUIDE

Learn more about how to choose the right home remodeling professional with our consumer awareness guide.  Our guide, “10 Things You Must Know Before Hiring a Remodeling Contractor” will help you know what to look for when finding the right contractor so that you can be completely satisfied with your remodeling project.  This booklet was written so that you will be empowered to make the best decision for your home improvement and remodel. You can have the experience you desire for your home improvement project with the right contractor for you by requesting this free e-Book here.

Home Remodeling in the Greater Phoenix Area

Begin your project by calling us at (480) 895-3442 or emailing steve@trilitebuilders.com to discuss remodeling your home, kitchen, or bathroom.  We offer no-obligation in-home consultations. Our award-winning designers and craftsman are eager to work with you to help you love your home again!

Twenty-one Questions You should Ask to Choose the Right Contractor

Our recent blogs have focused on topics that will help you choose the right home remodeling professional for your renovation project.  We’ve covered misconceptions, project costs beyond labor, and what to look for when hiring your contractor.  In this blog, we give you the essential questions to ask so that you can confidently navigate choosing the right contractor for your remodeling project.

Choose the Right Contractor

Any reputable remodeling contractor should be able to answer all the following questions positively.  If they cannot, it would be wise to continue your search!

  1. Are you properly licensed on both the state and city level?
  2. Do you require all change orders to be in writing to eliminate any misunderstandings and unexpected cost overruns?
  3. Do you carry general liability insurance?
  4. Do you carry worker’s compensation insurance?
  5. Will you provide me with a written lien waiver at the end of the job?
  6. Are you a member of NARI or NAHB? Do you subscribe to their Code of Ethics?
  7. Are you certified as a CR, GCP, CKBR, CGR, or UDCP?
  8. Are you a member of the local Better Business Bureau?
  9. Will you pull any necessary permits?
  10. Do you offer a written warranty on all workmanship?
  11. Who will oversee my job? May I meet this person or persons?
  12. Have you been a party in any construction litigation?
  13. Will you provide me with references?
  14. What percentage of your business is repeat, or referral-based?
  15. How many projects like mine have you completed in the last year or two?
  16. How do you plan to reduce dust and protect the rest of my home from the effects of other work? (Good contractors erect dust barriers and use drop cloths and other protective material to protect your home.)
  17. How is daily and general clean-up handled?
  18. Will you provide means of communication that is checked daily for any questions or concerns you may have thought of after working hours?
  19. Will you provide me with a written contract that clearly spells out exactly what you will do, what your price includes and does not include, and specifies a guaranteed price, payment schedule, and completion date?
  20. Will a professional designer and/or architect design my job? (For projects that warrant this level of service.)
  21. Do you provide realistic renderings, sketches, and perspectives to allow me to clearly visualize my project early in the planning stages? (Again, for projects that warrant this level of service.)

We hope knowing what to ask will help you choose the right contractor who is a professional in remodeling and renovation projects.

FREE CONSUMER AWARENESS GUIDE

Learn more about how to choose the right home remodeling professional with our consumer awareness guide.  Our guide, “10 Things You Must Know Before Hiring a Remodeling Contractor” will help you know what to look for when finding the right contractor so that you can be completely satisfied with your remodeling project.  This booklet was written so that you will be empowered to make the best decision for your home improvement and remodel. You can have the experience you desire for your home improvement project with the right contractor for you by requesting this free e-Book here.

Home Remodeling in the Greater Phoenix Area

Begin your project by calling us at (480) 895-3442 or emailing steve@trilitebuilders.com to discuss remodeling your home, kitchen, or bathroom.  We offer no-obligation in-home consultations. Our award-winning designers and craftsman are eager to work with you to help you love your home again!

 

9 Things to Look for in a Contractor

In this blog, we continue our series of how to choose the right home remodeling professional for your remodeling project, by tackling 9 things to look for in a contractor.  Knowing this information will help you feel more confident as you research the best remodeling contractor for your project.

  1. Accessibility

Your contractor must be easy to reach by phone and email and never make you feel like you are imposing on them by contacting him or her.

  1. Promptness

Does your contractor keep appointments? A contractor’s day can be busy; if they are running behind, they should have the courtesy to call to let you know. Little things count.

  1. Trustworthiness

Honesty and trust are of the utmost importance in any situation, especially when the person has total access to your home. Make sure you feel a high level of trust with your contractor and trust your instinct if you don’t. Not only are you trusting them to be in your home and around your family, but you’re also trusting them with, in many cases, a sizable amount of your money!

  1. Membership in NARI or NAHB

NARI stands for the National Association of the Remodeling Industry; NAHB stands for the National Association of Home Builders. To become a member, the contractor’s background and references are investigated. It’s always a good idea to hire a NARI or NAHB contractor. Membership reflects a contractor’s commitment to professionalism.

  1. Certifications

Both organizations offer industry certification and designations such as Certified Graduate Remodeler™ (CGR), Certified Remodeler™ (CR), Certified Kitchen and Bath Remodeler™ (CKBR) and Green Certified Professional™ (GCP) and Universal Design Certified Professional (UDCP). If a contractor has one or more of these designations, chances are high that you’re dealing with a very reputable professional that is committed to their career as a professional remodeling contractor.

Furthermore, to earn one of these designations a contractor must demonstrate certain levels of skill and knowledge in addition to successfully completing numerous courses on various topics related to the industry.

  1. Ability to design your project

Unless your project is simple, you will want to work with a contractor that will start with a design phase complete with a feasibility study to develop both the remodel and a budget that will work for you. Design/Build contractors will work with you to develop space planning and floor plans. They will lead you through the multitude of choices that must be made. Most importantly they will work with you to balance the choices with the ultimate budget for your project. This planning stage prior to moving forward with your remodel will ensure that all the details have been addressed and that the possibility of unexpected extra expenses will be minimized.

  1. Knowledge of Green Remodeling Technology

In today’s world of high energy prices and limited resources, it is critical that your contractor is up to date regarding incorporating eco-friendly green techniques and features into every project. The common misconception is that green remodeling will cost more. The reality is that extremes in anything will cost more, and a well-balanced plan will respect your budget.

A contractor that is focused on the green aspects of remodeling will be more conscious of not wasting materials, recycling the used appliances, fixtures, and reusable building materials. This will save money and give you a tax deduction for donating used materials to charitable organizations. By viewing your home as a system rather than an accumulation of parts, your contractor will commonly incorporate many choices and techniques into every project that will improve your home’s performance and not necessarily cost more than uneducated choices.

  1. High Percentage of Referrals or Repeat Clients

When a significant amount of a contractor’s business is derived from repeat or referred business, it is an indication that their clients are pleased and that they have an outstanding reputation. If your contractor has a long list of happy clients and has an outstanding reputation for doing quality work, chances are high that you will be satisfied as well.

  1. Will Your Home Be Protected?

Simply put, remodeling can be very dusty and dirty. If not adequately controlled, dust will get everywhere, especially if there is a lot of sanding or demolition. Make sure your contractor has plans to take the appropriate measures to control dust and protect your floor finishes.

FREE CONSUMER AWARENESS GUIDE

Learn more about how to choose the right home remodeling professional with our consumer awareness guide.  Our guide, “10 Things You Must Know Before Hiring a Remodeling Contractor” will help you know what to look for when finding the right contractor so that you can be completely satisfied with your remodeling project.  This booklet was written so that you will be empowered to make the best decision for your home improvement and remodel. You can have the experience you desire for your home improvement project with the right contractor for you by requesting this free e-Book here.

Home Remodeling in the Greater Phoenix Area

Begin your project by calling us at (480) 895-3442 or emailing steve@trilitebuilders.com to discuss remodeling your home, kitchen, or bathroom.  We offer no-obligation in-home consultations. Our award-winning designers and craftsman are eager to work with you to help you love your home again!

There is More to a Project’s Cost Than Labor and Materials

From Our Choosing the Right Home Remodeling Professional (Series)

Our recent blogs have focused on topics that will help you choose the right home remodeling professional for your renovation project.  We’ve covered misconceptions and things to watch out for when hiring your contractor.  In this blog, we are talking about expectations of the cost of your project and how your contractor gets to his estimate.  Knowing this information, will help you feel more confident and create trust between you and your contractor.

Each project is different, however, there are always going to be costs that go beyond labor and materials.  Your contractor should break down an estimate and how they reach it, where possible. This adds an element of transparency that you want to see.

In addition to the actual labor, materials, and Sub Contractor prices there are many other expenses every successful contractor must figure into their price to survive.

Cost of Your Project

The following is a list of some of the key elements that make up overhead in every successfully managed remodeling company:

Telephone, cell phones
Office rent
Office supplies
Stationery and printing expenses
Website, hosting, and Internet
Worker’s Compensation & Liability insurance
Health insurance
Paid vacations, holidays
Staff meetings
Payroll expenses
Office administration and management
Time doing free estimates
Material price increases that may not be billable once a job is quoted
Estimating errors and omissions
Warranty repairs
Tools and equipment
Trucks, repairs & maintenance, fuel
Continuing education, training, and industry events
Computers and software
Business loans and interest
Accountant’s fees
Taxes
Production supervision and management
Advertising, marketing, and sales costs

This all adds up to a substantial amount of money. To cover his overhead, a contractor typically must add a percentage to the actual cost of labor and materials required to complete your project. Most professional contractors try to maintain a 7.5% – 20% profit when all is said and done. Without a profit, the contractor will eventually go out of business.

If you receive a price from a contractor that seems too high, they are very likely trying to pay for the very things that allow him to survive and provide a good, reliable service to you and a good environment for his employees.

Do beware of the contractor that tells you his prices are low because he keeps his overhead down. Chances are that could affect the quality of your project.

FREE CONSUMER AWARENESS GUIDE

Learn more about how to choose the right home remodeling professional with our consumer awareness guide.  Our guide, “10 Things You Must Know Before Hiring a Remodeling Contractor” will help you know what to look for when finding the right contractor so that you can be completely satisfied with your remodeling project.  This booklet was written so that you will be empowered to make the best decision for your home improvement and remodel. You can have the experience you desire for your home improvement project with the right contractor for you by requesting this free e-Book here.

Home Remodeling in the Greater Phoenix Area

Begin your project by calling us at (480) 895-3442 or emailing Steve here to discuss remodeling your home, kitchen, or bathroom.  We offer no-obligation in-home consultations. Our award-winning designers and craftsman are eager to work with you to help you love your home again!

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