5 Stylish New Living Rooms with Personality

A well-designed living room often reflects the people who use it. And design and remodeling pros are good at teasing out homeowner preferences to create a special mix of color, pattern, decor, and architecture that feels full of personality. Here, pros share details about how they did just that in five stylish new living rooms with personality.

living rooms with personality

Amy Pigliacampo Interiors

Midcentury Mood

Designer: Amy Pigliacampo
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Size: 450 square feet (42 square meters); 18 by 25 feet

Homeowners’ request. “The architecture of the space was so special,” designer Amy Pigliacampo says. “It’s a midcentury home designed by Thomas Nixon and Lincoln Jones that incorporates indoor-outdoor spaces with large windows and design elements that continue past the glass. But the homeowners had dark, heavy furniture from their old home that didn’t do the room justice. So the goal was to highlight the beauty of the space by utilizing elements that felt complementary and like a natural extension of the design.”

Main feature. “Every space should tell the story of the people that live there — what’s important to them, how they live their lives, and how they come together to celebrate moments big and small,” Pigliacampo says. “So my aim is always to highlight the key features of the home while optimizing the space based on the realities of their day-to-day.

“This home has so many unique architectural elements, and while we wanted the room to have a curated look, we didn’t want to compete with those strong details,” Pigliacampo says. “The use of indigenous flagstone throughout the home also served as a major inspiration for the palette and design.

“By layering creamy whites with the grays, terra cottas, and pink tones found in the rock, we created a cohesive concept that complemented the original structure. We chose contemporary furniture with clean lines and brought in warmth with soft texture by using natural materials like jute, wool, and clay and a vintage Acrosonic walnut piano.”

Other special features. “The accent chairs are pretty special,” Pigliacampo says. “They were much bolder than anything we initially discussed, but when I showed the client, she loved them immediately — and they really tied everything together in an amazing way.”

Designer tip. “Floating furniture,” Pigliacampo says. “There’s a tendency to want to push furniture up against walls and oftentimes it creates awkward proportions. But you can actually create a much more intimate setting when large pieces ‘float’ in the room. This is also a great way to delineate spaces within a large room, using rugs to anchor the various zones.”

living room with personality

Mark D. Williams Custom Homes

Coastal Character

Designer: Kate Regan of The Sitting Room
Construction: Mark D. Williams Custom Homes
Location: Excelsior, Minnesota
Size: 399 square feet (37 square meters); 19 by 21 feet

Homeowners’ request. “The clients wanted an approachable yet classic-inspired great room that overlooks the lake,” builder Mark D. Williams says. “The intent of this room was to be used and yet also be dressed up and inviting for guests. They also wanted to hide the screen porch and grilling area from the main views.”

Main feature. “The coffered ceiling beams really accent the great room from the rest of the main level,” Williams says. “We also designed the south-facing windows with a hidden remote blind in the bottom of the beam to be used for privacy and to help on sunny summer days. For the flooring, we went with classic 5-inch white oak with an almost clear stain that was really light and played on the natural beauty of the wood.”

Other special features. “The clients wanted to feel very sunny and joyful in their home, so we made sure to incorporate a lot of colors into the furniture selections to play off the neutral tones,” designer Kate Regan says.

CMC Designs Charleston

Pattern Persona

Designer: Catherine Carabello of CMC Designs Charleston
Location: Charleston, South Carolina
Size: 270 square feet (25 square meters); 15 by 18 feet

Homeowners’ request. “The homeowners purchased the home in September and needed a small renovation and a complete face-lift,” designer Catherine Carabello says. “They are a young family and needed a home that they could entertain in but also allow their 2-year-old son the freedom to play and feel comfortable.”

Main feature. “The jumping-off point was definitely the wallpaper,” Carabello says. “We felt it was fun but also classic enough that they would not get tired of looking at it.”

Other special features. Brown Tuxedo-style sofa. Boucle accent chairs. White beadboard wainscoting (Cloud White by Benjamin Moore). “It’s a wonderful color for both traditional and contemporary spaces,” Carabello says. “The natural shades added the softness and texture needed to balance the white wainscoting and the wallpaper.”

Designer tip. “Texture and layering are always needed to complete a design,” Carabello says.

Wallpaper: Thibaut

10 Living Room Features Pros Always Recommend

living rooms with personality

Alison Kandler Interior Design

Cottage Collection

Designer: Alison Kandler Interior Design
Location: Los Angeles
Size: 255 square feet (24 square meters); 15 by 17 feet
Homeowners’ request. Play down the home’s Spanish Colonial Revival architecture with a colorful cottage style. “It’s a fun mesh of styles,” says designer Alison Kandler, who used photos of colorful rooms found on Houzz as inspiration.

Main feature. “The fireplace is symmetrical in the room so everything is designed around that existing, very large fireplace,” Kandler says. “Also, the ceilings are tall — 10 feet — and they had dark-stained beams. To play down the Spanish Colonial Revival style, I painted the beams white and added wallpaper between the beams to make the room feel more playful and cottage-like.”

Other special features. “The white sofas, covered in outdoor fabric, and black furniture pieces are great neutral backdrops to all of the colorful accessories,” Kandler says. “The window coverings are sheer, allowing for privacy and softness but still maximizing the natural light. The colorful vintage rug helps tie the room’s colors together. I always mix in one-of-a-kind vintage pieces so each room feels unique.”

Designer tip. “Adding built-in bookcases at the end of a long room helps shorten the overall look, which makes the room feel cozier,” Kandler says.

“Uh-oh” moment. “My client really wanted a large TV in the living room over the mantel, since there is no separate den in this house, but also wanted the room to feel elegant,” Kandler says. “We agreed on a TV with fine art screen savers so the room would never sit empty with a big black TV on the wall.”

Wallpaper: Quadrille; blue sofa fabric: Jaali in Iznik Blue, Peter Dunham Textiles & Wallpaper

living room with personality

 Moore House Design

Barn Beauty

Designers: Blair Moore and Bromley Moore of Moore House Design
Location: Cutler, Maine

Homeowners’ request. “This was a relatively unconventional and labor-intensive barn overhaul,” designer and homeowner Blair Moore says. “It’s the original barn of an old stick-and-shingle Colonial cottage by the name of Coasters’ Chance that’s been in our family for a few generations. The goal was to extend the livable space of the cottage to turn it into an entertaining paradise. What is now the great room was originally the cottage’s barn and was filled with horse stalls. If you look closely, you’ll see the wide planks on the floor and hints of hydrated lime. We wanted to highlight these hints of the structure’s history throughout the design. Making this space functional, inviting, comfortable and of course beautiful were our top priorities.”

Main feature. “The barn used to be totally limewashed and filled with horses and hay, so we really didn’t want to lose that rustic character,” Moore says. “There was a fair amount of old limewash still covering some of the walls and flooring, so adding plaster walls was a sensible material choice for us that we felt would help blend the old with new.

“After much deliberation with the family and our design team, we made the decision to only bring the plaster halfway up the walls. The original vaulted barn ceiling and beams were simply too wonderful to cover up. They’re the real McCoy that everyone always tries to replicate in new builds — covering them up was a no-go for the family. We also enlarged and rebuilt the windows using traditional techniques and old ripple glass to add more light. The final product is a barn that feels modern but still has ties to its traditional Colonial heritage.”

Other special features. “Since this space was so large, we knew that filling it would be a big undertaking,” Moore says. “Step one was adding a massive, cozy sofa that would almost wrap around the room. We also layered in some of our favorite pieces, like the 1970s Hunter easy chair by Norwegian designer Torbjørn Afdal, a vintage rug and our newly designed Passerine daybed.

“We found this wide-planked table with the most incredible patina and we immediately knew it needed to live in Coasters’ Chance. Obviously, we wanted an equally massive coffee table to go with the sectional, so we added two modern-feeling legs with perfectly placed cutouts so that the table actually slides into them on either end. This gave way to a sleek design without any exposed screws or weird joint plate supports.”

Moore House Design

“Uh-oh” moment. “Our team began by pulling up the gorgeous old wide-plank flooring only to reveal a foundation in worse shape than we had expected,” Moore says. “The foundation was cracked to bits and most of the beams under the floorboards had a significant amount of rot due to a large amount of water. This meant we were going to have to put the barn up on jacks.

“When a structure this old has to be put up on jacks, there is always a possibility that it will collapse on itself. This was super stressful for our team, as we were being filmed and needed this to work in order to renovate the space. After the foundation was dug out and the chimney base repaired, we began the delicate process of replacing the beams. Then, much to our relief, we took the barn off the jacks and relaid all those old floorboards. This was a little more than our design team had bargained for amid a three-month, 3,500-square-foot turnaround, but we love learning on the job and were lucky to have some solid, highly experienced contractors to help us through the process.”

Custom furniture and lighting: Moore House Coasters sectional, Passerine daybed, The Sabi coffee table and Steampunk sconce, Moore House Design; plaster: Dillon Construction

By Mitchell Parker, Houzz Editorial Staff. Home design journalist writing about cool spaces, innovative trends, breaking news, industry analysis, and humor.

Premier Home Remodeling in the Greater Phoenix Area

For high-end home design, build, and remodeling in the greater Phoenix area that reflects your vision, Homework Remodels will help you love your home again. Start your project by calling us at (480) 895-3442 or email steve@trilitebuilders.com to discuss your remodeling project.  We offer no-obligation in-home consultation. Our NARI-certified award-winning designers and craftsman are eager to work with you to make your vision for your home a reality!  See our portfolio here.

Find more informative blogs and articles on HOUZZ and on our website www.trilitebuilders.com

5 Stylish New Bathrooms with a Low-Curb Shower

There are many benefits to a low-curb shower. The low barrier creates a safe entry point, helps visually expand a space, and keeps water from draining out. Plus, a low-curb detail is often much easier to construct than a true curbless design. Here, five design pros share how they handled this popular bathroom feature.

Low-Curb Shower

Haven Design and Construction

Geometric Gem

Designer: Jana Valdez of Haven Design and Construction

Location: Omaha, Nebraska

Size: About 60 square feet (5.6 square meters); about 6 by 10 feet

Homeowners’ request. “This bathroom is on the basement level of a new-construction home and belongs to the clients’ teenage son,” says designer Jana Valdez, whose clients found her through Houzz. “His parents requested a modern masculine design that could later be used as a guest bath once he goes away to college.”

Low-curb details. “The clients hired us to design the bathroom after the foundation was already poured for their new home,” Valdez says. “The floor was not initially sloped for a curbless shower when the foundation was poured, so incorporating a low curb versus a curbless shower was much more budget-conscious at that point in the project. Many clients don’t realize that on a new-construction home with a concrete foundation, the decision to go with a curbless shower should be made prior to the foundation being poured.”

Other special features. “Patterned geometric shower tile (Nolita matte porcelain tile, 24 by 24 inches, from Tile Bar) adds personality and a modern vibe to the space,” Valdez says. “The geometric tile is set against a simple white subway tile for contrast. A frameless sliding glass door with matte black hardware is the perfect finishing touch.”

The custom vanity is painted in Onyx by Benjamin Moore. The wood-look tile flooring conceals a radiant heat system.

Designer tip. “We tiled the whole wall next to the vanity to give a more cohesive look and to visually expand the size of the shower,” Valdez says.

Wall and ceiling paint: Swiss Coffee, Benjamin Moore; trim paint: Snowbound, Sherwin-Williams; countertop: London Grey, Caesarstone

Low-Curb Shower

SGDI Sarah Gallop Design Inc.

Aqua Attraction

Designers: Angela Neyman and Joty Randhawa of Sarah Gallop Design

Location: Burnaby, British Columbia

Size: About 50 square feet (4.7 square meters); about 5 by 10 feet

Homeowners’ request. “This was the main-floor bathroom in this home, so it would be frequented by guests,” says designer Angela Neyman, whose clients used Houzz idea books to share inspiring ideas. “It was also partially used by a teenager for the next couple of years before moving out to go to university. With these things in mind, the space had to have good storage, be functional and easy to maintain, but also be aesthetically pleasing and fun for guests.”

Low-curb details. “Wanting to downplay the break in the floor, the curb was wrapped in a coordinating tile to match the shower side walls and shower floor,” Neyman says. “This allowed the curb to blend into the shower flooring, allowing your eye to continue to the feature tile on the back wall.”

The back wall is 5-by-5-inch ceramic zellige-style tile in a glossy aqua finish.

Other special features. Patterned white-and-gray ceramic floor tile in a matte finish. Shaker-style alder vanity with marble-look quartz countertop.

Designer tip. “Easy to maintain was a primary goal, so sticking with man-made products is a great way to achieve this,” Neyman says.

“Uh-oh” moment. “Getting the correct layout and variation for the shower feature wall was a challenge to ensure it didn’t end up splotchy or too dark in some areas and too light in others,” Neyman says. “To ensure the client was happy with the blend, we did a dry lay of the tile prior to installation. After a couple of adjustments, we got the blend just right and the client was quite pleased with the end result.”

Shower accent tile: Tencer Mestizaje zellige wall tile in aqua, 5 by 5 inches, Tierra Sol; lighting: Casoria single sconce in antique brass, 14 inches, Visual Comfort; paint: Intense White (walls) and Distant Gray (ceiling and trim), Benjamin Moore

Low-Curb Shower

Betty Balian Design

Palm Punch

Designer: Betty Balian Design

Location: Glendale, California

Size: 250 square feet (23 square meters)

Homeowners’ request. “The entire layout of the room was reconfigured to include a two-sink vanity, separate washroom area, and a wet room,” designer Betty Balian says. “The garden window was also added to allow in natural light along with a touch of nature.”

Low-curb details. “I used a graphic tile pattern to run the course of the floor and curb to make the transition, dimension and perspective of the space more interesting,” Balian says. “The advantage to having a low-curb shower is that it allows for the water to remain in the wet-room area. While a curbless shower has its own appeal with regards to a seamless transition, it can and tends to have water seep outside the shower door, especially when there are drainage issues.”

Other special features. Natural oak vanity with marble countertop. Ceramic shower wall tiles. Palm print wallpaper (Palm Leaves in gold on charcoal, Cole & Son). “The color palette of this space is black, white and yellow,” Balian says. “It creates a sense of fun and whimsy while feeling like you are exported to a nature-inspired oasis. All these colors have been incorporated into plumbing fixtures, sinks, washroom and cabinetry. The lighting fixtures also add a natural geometric glow that complements the space. The wallpaper ties it all together with its color story and nature-inspired organic pattern.”

Designer tip. “When working with a smaller bathroom, a great way to maximize function and space is to incorporate the tub into the shower area,” Balian says. “I also like to use darker colors in smaller spaces, as they tend to recede in the space, making it feel and look larger.”

10 Bathroom Design Features Pros Always Recommend

Low-Curb Shower Details

Archetype Architecture

Marble Marvel

Designer: Kylie K. Bass of KKB Interiors

Architect: Archetype Architecture

Location: New York City

Homeowner’s request. “Create a timeless oasis with maximum storage capabilities and a makeup counter, as the client is a TV reporter and spends a lot of time in her bathroom getting ready” for on-air appearances, designer Kylie K. Bass says.

Low-curb details. A border of Arabescato Corchia marble frames the low-curb shower entrance and complements the vanity countertop. “A low curb allows for a bath mat to comfortably remain in front of the shower as opposed to a curbless design, where it’s easier for water to get onto the bathroom floor,” Bass says. “And we wanted to be able to fully outline and accent the shower by using the Arabescato Corchia slab as the trim.”

Other special features. “We chose black-paneled shower doors because they have a strong yet elegant presence in this small primary shower,” Bass says. “We also loved the combination of pairing them with the clean Bianco Dolomiti marble tiles, broken joint tiles on the shower floor, unlacquered brass Waterworks fixtures and lime-washed walls to create a timeless yet old-world aesthetic.”

Designer tip. “If you’d like to achieve the look of plaster walls without committing to plaster, I highly recommend exploring a limewash wall finish,” Bass says. “It gives the appearance of textured walls for a fraction of the cost.”

“Uh-oh” moment. “Being that this was a prewar renovation, most of the challenges we faced didn’t reveal themselves until demolition,” Bass says. “For instance, we were anticipating somewhat of a narrow space and, sure enough, when we opened up the walls, there were unmovable pipes in strange places. This forced us to close in on the room and drop parts of the ceiling to conceal them.”

Builder: PMN Contracting; custom vanity: GS Woodworking

Low-Curb Shower Details

Lorla Studio

Terrazzo Treasure

Designer: Laura Hur of Lorla Studio

Location: San Francisco

Size: 54 square feet (5 square meters); 6 by 9 feet

Homeowners’ request. “The homeowners asked us for a bathroom that was highly functional and also really unique and playful,” designer Laura Hur says. “They needed more storage and they wanted the bathroom to feel brighter and bigger. At first it seemed like a nearly impossible task to marry the clients’ vastly different sources of inspiration, which included images of colorful, playful and bold, almost retro-like design elements, as well as modern, minimal and very neutral spaces. But we found a way to harmoniously marry the thoughtful, minimal details often seen in Scandinavian design with the clients’ penchant for bold colors and dramatic spaces.”

Low-curb details. The floors, curb, 18-inch baseboard, shower bench and floating shelves are all terrazzo, creating a visually seamless design that helps the space feel larger than it is. Stacked glass shower tiles virtually expand the height of the room. “We primarily achieved the marriage of styles by using bold materials (terrazzo) in a minimal and modern way (clean lines, exaggerated baseboard, floating shelves, etc.),” Hur says. “We drew material and color inspiration from the city of San Francisco, with all of its funky architecture, bold colors, interesting materials and abundance of nature. At the same time, our material application was inspired by the clean lines and minimalist aesthetic found in Scandinavian design.”

Other special features. Brass fixtures and a light wood floating vanity add warmth.

Designer tip. “Streamline your material palette to make a small space feel large,” Hur says.

By Mitchell Parker, Houzz Editorial Staff. Home design journalist writing about cool spaces, innovative trends, breaking news, industry analysis, and humor.

Premier Home Remodeling in the Greater Phoenix Area

For high-end home design, build, and remodeling in the greater Phoenix area that reflects your vision, Homework Remodels will help you love your home again. Start your project by calling us at (480) 895-3442 or email steve@trilitebuilders.com to discuss your remodeling project.  We offer no-obligation in-home consultation. Our NARI-certified award-winning designers and craftsman are eager to work with you to make your vision for your home a reality!  See our portfolio here.

Find more informative blogs and articles on HOUZZ and on our website www.trilitebuilders.com.

6 Ways to Cool Off Without Air Conditioning

Having an air conditioner is a near-must in climates where months-long heat waves are a summer norm. And with that comes an equally scorching energy bill. Even in regions with gentler climates, homeowners can still experience enough hot days in a row to nearly go mad. It doesn’t have to be so hard. Whether you want to save money by running your air conditioner less or brave the heat without one, here are six ways to cool off without air conditioning.

6 Ways to Cool Off Without Air Conditioning

SALA Architects

  1. Block the Sun From Reaching Your Windows  Energy-efficient houses depend on well-designed shading systems because the best way to avoid summer heat is by blocking the sun’s rays from ever reaching the windows. It’s a simple concept that we regularly employ with beach umbrellas to protect our skin and carports to shade our cars. Yet when it comes to houses, for some reason people tend to believe that interior drapes are as effective as exterior shading. It’s simply not true.

6 Ways to Cool Off Without Air Conditioning

The Landing Company

The more shading you can include on the outside, the better. If you can’t afford a new matching set of shutters, consider a simple overhang made with brackets and timber slats to block your windows from the intense summer sun.

6 Ways to Cool Off Without Air Conditioning

Sun Control of Minnesota

Solar-control window films can offer UV protection and reduce the amount of heat gained from solar radiation. Compared with some elaborate shading systems, these could be a less expensive alternative.

6 Ways to Cool Off Without Air Conditioning

CMB Construction

Even simple and very inexpensive bamboo blinds can block a good portion of sunlight without completely sacrificing daylight.

6 Ways to Cool Off Without Air Conditioning
Charles Di Piazza Architecture

I can’t stress enough that the best way to beat the heat is to block the sunlight before it reaches your house. Whether you do that by hanging shades, installing awnings, or even planting trees, the most effective use of the funds in your home-cooling budget is in this first step.

When you’re planting trees for shade (or installing any kind of shading), think about the sun’s path through the sky. It may help you to check out an app called Sun Surveyor (or a similar one) that can help you track the sun’s path and how its rays hit your house.

Sarah Dippold Design

  1. Add Interior Drapes, Blinds, or Shades  Once the heat from the sun’s rays passes through the glass of a window, that heat is in the house and will need to be ventilated to escape. To keep your floors and walls from soaking up that heat from direct rays and emitting it throughout the day, it can help to add another layer of protection between the window and the main thermal mass of your home. Sheer window treatments are a nice way to mitigate direct sun rays to the floor but maintain soft, natural daylight. Plus, white reflects sunlight better than colors.

6 Ways to Cool Off Without Air Conditioning

MSiegel Design

There are a couple of tricks that you can employ with sheer drapes that you can’t pull off with interior blinds or shades.

My favorite thing to do is throw my sheer drapes in with my laundry the night before a really hot day. (They don’t take up much room, because they are super thin, but you could just as easily dunk them in a bucket of water and ring them out.) I set my machine to finish about the time I get up in the morning, and I put four or five drops of tea tree oil in with the load. When I get up in the morning, I take the drapes directly from the washer (still damp) to the rod and clip them in place. The open windows let the morning breeze pass through the drapes, cooling the air before it reaches me and filling it with the fresh smell of tea tree oil.

By the time the drapes have dried out, it’s about time to shut my windows anyway, before the intense heat of the day starts. You could do the same routine in the evening, but I wouldn’t recommend the washing machine version because of the heat it generates (see No. 4).

Allen Construction

  1. Get the Air Circulating  Air will flow only if it is forced (via a fan of some sort) or if there is a large temperature difference with a neighboring body of air. Night cooling is a great way to naturally decrease the temperature in your house and exchange hot interior air for cooler outdoor air. As I mentioned before, I have my windows open only in the early morning, at night, or late in the evening when it is cooler outside than my ideal temperature indoors. You may need to do some testing to see what works best for you, depending on your climate and the orientation of your house toward the sun. For this to work, there needs to be a substantial difference in temperature between the inside of your house and the outside. Once the outdoor air starts to heat up, I close my windows to try and keep as much of that heat out as possible.

6 Ways to Cool Off Without Air Conditioning

Jette Creative

Ceiling fans and standing fans placed near windows at night can help force air movement when there is no breeze and a small temperature difference. During the day the added air movement from fans can help the perception of heat, which is tied to humidity.

Peter Dolkas

The reason everyone loves misters in the summer is not for the humidity of the water in the air, but for the evaporative cooling effect of water being lifted off the skin. In fact, I always keep a couple of plant misters around the house, hidden near the fans, for a quick spritz as I pass by (our dog loves it too).

Another evaporative cooling tip, borrowed from history, is to set a big chunk of ice (or ice packs) in front of a fan with a tray underneath to catch the water as it melts. It makes for a really cheap and fairly effective DIY air conditioner for small rooms. I recommend closing off the space as much as possible, so you don’t lose that great cool air.

6 Ways to Cool Off Without Air Conditioning

Adams + Beasley Associates

  1. Turn Off Major Appliances During the Day  To help maintain those cooler temperatures during the day, reduce anything that generates heat in your house or apartment. For example, don’t use the dryer or oven and try not to open the fridge too often. The more you open it, the more the motor has to work to cool it down again, and the heat generated from that work will be released back into your apartment.

6 Ways to Cool Off Without Air Conditioning

Steve Masley Consulting and Design

Try fresh summer salads to avoid using your oven and stovetop.

6 Ways to Cool Off Without Air Conditioning

Kasha Paris

  1. Transition Your Bed Into Summer Mode  I don’t know about you, but I feel summer heat the most when I’m trying to sleep. Reduce the amount of bedding you have and stick to natural fabrics like linen or 100 percent cotton. Synthetic blends don’t breathe enough to release all the heat we generate during the night.

6 Ways to Cool Off Without Air Conditioning

Michael McKinley and Associates, LLC

Sleep on the porch or balcony. “Outdoor sleeping has come to stay, so let us recognize the fact and build our houses accordingly.” This declaration appeared in the magazine Decorative Homes of Moderate Costs in 1921, responding to the widespread fad of sleeping on screened porches. Sleeping al fresco was considered, in the time of diseases like tuberculosis, to be a reasonable health measure. As such, for many years, sleeping porches were an integral part of home designs.

Depending on your home or apartment and security concerns, you may have a little exterior screened-in space that can be used like a sleeping porch. You could have a little daybed with light linens for nights when it’s comfortable enough to sleep in the open air.

6 Ways to Cool Off Without Air Conditioning

Phi Builders + Architects

Or, hey, forgo the linens altogether and sleep in a hammock for the summer!

Beckwith Interiors

  1. Stay Hydrated  Everyone knows that staying hydrated in summer is extremely important. But did you know that drinking water also helps regulate your body temperature?

by Mariana Pickering  July 27, 2022, Houzz Contributor; Owner/CEO of Emu Building Science; LEED AP BD+C. After spending many years as an architectural designer in the high-efficiency residential Italian market, I now run a company that specializes in advanced construction science and Passive House design. We are located in Denver, Colorado, and Northern Italy, and we work internationally with builders, designers, and manufacturers of high-performance projects and products.

Premier Home Remodeling in the Greater Phoenix Area

For high-end home design, build, and remodeling in the greater Phoenix area that reflects your vision, Homework Remodels will help you love your home again. Start your project by calling us at (480) 895-3442 or email steve@trilitebuilders.com to discuss your remodeling project.  We offer no-obligation in-home consultation. Our NARI-certified award-winning designers and craftsman are eager to work with you to make your vision for your home a reality!  See our portfolio here.

Find more informative blogs and articles on HOUZZ and on our website www.trilitebuilders.com

Pros Share 6 Must-Have Kitchen Design Features

Design and remodeling pros recommend focusing on these must-have kitchen design features to create a functional and stylish kitchen

Countless decisions go into designing a beautiful and functional kitchen — so many that it’s hard to know what to focus on. We asked several design and remodeling professionals what they consider the must-have kitchen design features, and the following elements came up again and again. Give these areas adequate attention when planning a kitchen and you’re almost guaranteed to end up with a space that makes you happy.

must-have kitchen design features

Stonington Cabinetry and Designs

1. The Right Storage

Your kitchen cabinets make up the bulk of what you see in your kitchen, so your choice of cabinet color and style is a major, consequential decision. But the components inside your cabinets are equally important, if not more.

Your storage solutions determine how functional your kitchen is. When you’re at the peak of cooking a large meal, you care less about the look of your cabinets and more about the ease of grabbing the right tools, spices, pots, and other supplies.

A kitchen designer will often take an inventory of all the utensils, dishes, small appliances, and pantry items in your kitchen to figure out the right storage components for you. Pullouts, rollouts, and swing-outs will efficiently organize your stuff and make things easier to find and grab.

“When budget allows, we always, always recommend drawers or pullout shelves on the lower cabinet level,” designer Lisa Janzen of KC Interior Design says. “There is nothing worse than having to get on your hands and knees to see what is shoved to the back on your bottom shelves. Drawers make it so much easier to access and more efficient use of space.”

The New York kitchen shown here by Stonington Cabinetry & Designs is a good example of how hard your kitchen cabinets can work for you.

must-have kitchen design features

Yancy Interiors + Home, LLC

“I always recommend custom cabinetry with pullouts, built-in cutting boards, etc. to keep the jumble of everyday life to a minimum,” designer Yancy Dearinger Bonner of Yancy Interiors + Home says. She included a pullout cutting board next to the range in the kitchen shown here.

must-have kitchen design features

Innovative Construction, Inc.

must-have kitchen design features

BSW Design

2.  Hardworking Sink

Designers often recommend giving extra consideration to elements that you interact with the most. In a kitchen, that can be a lot of things, but the kitchen sink is one area that always sees a lot of action. So it makes sense to put a little more effort into designing the sink area and choosing components. These days, many sink manufacturers offer designs called workstations, which feature add-ons such as cutting boards, strainers, and prep bowls. “I always recommend a sink with gadgets,” designer Brittany Steptoe-Wright of BSW Design says. “For example, the sink in this project [shown here] is a single, large under-mount sink, but it has a colander, cutting board, and drying rack that sit inside on a small lip and provide so much function. It’s a game changer.”

must-have kitchen design features

Kitchen Design Gallery

The Galley Workstation shown here is a popular hardworking sink that includes several inserts for prepping and cleaning.

must-have kitchen design features

KE Interior Solutions

3.  Layered Lighting

Different tasks in a kitchen call for different kinds of lighting. Cooking at the stove, chopping vegetables, washing dishes, chatting with friends, doing homework, displaying collectibles — these all require a specific light source. “I recommend layers of lighting and multiple fixtures to cover every area,” designer Debbie Turner of Debbie Cahill Turner Design says. This might include recessed ceiling lights for ambient light, spotlights to illuminate important work areas like the sink and range, pendant lights to light an island or peninsula, and windows to let in natural light during the day. Designer Donna McMahon of KE Interior Solutions used a layered lighting approach in her own kitchen in Denver, shown here. Several recessed ceiling lights provide overall lighting, while undercabinet lights help with cooking tasks. McMahon even installed light strips below the base cabinets to create ambient lighting at night.

must-have kitchen design features

Ourso Designs

This New Orleans kitchen by Ourso Designs is another example of good lighting design. There are recessed ceiling cans, a pendant over the sink, pendants over the island, under cabinet lighting, and sconces over the floating shelves flanking the range hood.

must-have kitchen design features

Stonington Cabinetry & Designs

Of course, you shouldn’t forget to factor in natural lighting whenever possible. Architect Chris Dorman of Dorman Associates recommends that homeowners consider reducing the number of upper cabinets if needed to allow room for more windows to bring in natural light. “The kitchen is a place where people can spend hours, so maximizing natural light is key,” he says.

must-have kitchen design features

Wills Design Associates

4.  Island   

Perhaps no design feature in recent memory has changed kitchen design more than the island. Indeed, it’s hard to deny the benefit of a kitchen island. It adds an extra countertop surface and storage and creates a spot for conversation, homework, and meals. It can be a location for a cooktop, a dishwasher, or a prep sink, and it often provides that crucial touch point that completes an efficient work triangle. An island is a must-have kitchen feature for builder Kenneth Keating of Camlin Custom Homes. “A large kitchen island is a fantastic gathering place in any open-plan kitchen and gives the homeowner a flexible space to use for dining, entertaining, or cooking,” he says.

must-have kitchen design features

SV Design

An island is also a favorite feature for designer Tina Rodda of Eyder Curated Kitchens. “My must-have amenity is a workstation on the island for food prep and serving and a large butcher block at the end for carving and serving fabulous roasts,” she says.

This Boston kitchen by SV Design shows an example.

must-have kitchen design features

BASCO Builder’s Appliance Supply Company

5. Quality Cooking Appliances 

A kitchen is meant for cooking. And your range — or cooktop and oven — will be the most important component for cooking meals. Think about how often you interact with a range and how its function affects the quality of your meals and the ease with which you create them. That’s why many pros suggest you don’t skimp on quality when it comes to selecting a range and other cooking appliances. Designer Karen Parks of Associate Interiors puts a lot of focus on selecting high-quality ovens and cooktops. Shown here is the GE Cafe series.

must-have kitchen design features

Dorman Associates, Inc.

“I think that having a good stove is critical,” architect Dorman says. He used a Monogram Pro range in this Northern California kitchen.

must-have kitchen design features

Julia Chasman Design

Designer Julia Chasman makes vintage stoves a key component in her kitchen designs. For her own kitchen, shown here, she used a vintage O’Keefe & Merritt stove built in 1952 that provides function and style. “I have often used vintage stoves in homes of different eras,” she says. “They require some extra love and care. This one needed to be converted for use with propane gas as well, but the amount of charm and warmth they provide is incalculable. I also find them to be excellent stoves to cook on — perfect for cooking meat. It’s become one of my signature looks, and when I’m asked to source a vintage stove I know exactly what to look for to find one that will continue to serve its owners well for another 25 or 30 years.”

must-have kitchen design features

Julie Rootes Interiors

6.  Custom Vent Hood 

A ventilation hood removes cooking odors, steam, and grease from the air in your kitchen. But because the appliance sits at or just above eye level, it’s also an important visual element in the space. Many designers take it as an opportunity to create a stylish focal point, and going custom is often the way to go.“I am a big fan of a custom metal hood,” says designer Julie Rootes of Julie Rootes Interiors, who used a custom hood in the San Francisco kitchen shown here. “There are so many details you can pull in. It is one of the most important features of an elevated kitchen design. It’s like the jewelry of the kitchen.”

must-have kitchen design features

Heritage Homes of Jacksonville

Designer Jason Ulm of Heritage Homes of Jacksonville created the custom maple hood shown here in a kitchen in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Arched molding coordinates with the arched mullions on the cabinet doors to create an alluring focal point.

Written by Mitchell Parker, Houzz Editorial Staff. Home design journalist writing about cool spaces, innovative trends, breaking news, industry analysis, and humor.

 

Premier Home Remodeling in the Greater Phoenix Area

For high-end home design, build, and remodeling in the greater Phoenix area that reflects your vision, Homework Remodels will help you love your home again. Start your project by calling us at (480) 895-3442 or email steve@trilitebuilders.com to discuss your remodeling project.  We offer no-obligation in-home consultation. Our NARI-certified award-winning designers and craftsman are eager to work with you to make your vision for your home a reality!  See our portfolio here.

Find more informative blogs and articles on HOUZZ and on our website www.trilitebuilders.com

Where Should You Put the Kitchen Sink?

Where should you put the kitchen sink in your remodel?  Do you put it facing a window or your guests? In a corner or near the dishwasher? Here’s how to find the best place for the kitchen sink.

To find your dream kitchen sink, you will likely spend a good amount of time browsing sink photos and kitchen sinks in the Houzz Shop. But don’t forget to think about where your sink will be located in your kitchen. If you’re remodeling an existing kitchen on a tight budget, you may need to leave it where it is. But if you can, consider where you’ll want to be standing while working at your kitchen sink, as well as what other appliances or elements should be nearby.

Here are 10 considerations to help you figure out the best place for the kitchen sink.

the best place for the kitchen sink

Northland Design and Build

Use Existing Plumbing

If you are undertaking a low-cost renovation or simply looking for areas where you can cut costs so you can splurge on your countertops or backsplash tile, consider reusing your existing plumbing as much as possible. If your kitchen layout is truly dysfunctional, this may not be an option. But I always consider leaving the plumbing alone to save money.

the best place for the kitchen sink

Jenny Martin Design

Give Yourself a View

If your kitchen is part of a new construction project, or you are either unable or disinclined to keep the sink where it is, then do yourself a favor and give yourself a nice view. I am not a fan of washing dishes by hand but would gladly take on the chore if I had this fabulous view to take in.

the best place for the kitchen sink

Bria Hammel Interiors

Think About Lighting

You need plenty of light when working in the kitchen, and that’s especially true while at the sink. Natural light from a big window or skylight above the sink is fantastic during the day, but be sure you also have adequate task lighting above and around the sink at night to safely illuminate the work area.

How to Properly Light Your Kitchen Counters

the best place for the kitchen sink

Design Interiors Ltd.

Center on the Window – or Not

Speaking of windows, if you can place your kitchen sink under a window, try to center the sink on the center line of the window. Sometimes, however, this is just not feasible. For example, in this kitchen there isn’t enough room to center the sink under the window and also squeeze in the dishwasher. I find you can make it work if you center the sink or faucet with a component of the window. Here the sink is centered under one of the windowpanes, a good solution that brings a semblance of symmetry.

the best place for the kitchen sink

BR Nelson Designs LLC

Partner With the Dishwasher

This one is a no-brainer. You want your dishwasher and sink to be next to one another. This will make loading the dishwasher easier and more efficient; you can just scrape or rinse off your plates in the sink before setting them in the dishwasher. It’s also useful when you are emptying the dishwasher and need to dump out any water that has pooled on your dishes.

the best place for the kitchen sink

Jackson Design & Remodeling

This classic setup with the dishwasher on one side of the sink and a pullout cabinet for compost, trash and recycling on the other side makes kitchen cleanup easier. I highly recommend this layout if you can swing it. It does require a pretty long bank of cabinets to make it fit, because you need 24 inches for a standard-size dishwasher and at least 12 inches for the trash pullout. It’s also nice to have a buffer cabinet on the outside edges of the dishwasher and trash cabinet so the doors can open without running into a perpendicular cabinet or wall.

the best place for the kitchen sink

Sunstone Interiors

A Word About Corner Sinks

I generally don’t recommend corner sinks in a kitchen. They can cause traffic jams and make it difficult to access a nearby dishwasher. But if you are forced to work with existing plumbing or the location of the only window in the kitchen, consult with a design professional who can help you figure out the correct size and placement of the sink, and the dishwasher if you install one, to ease the squeeze around the sink area as much as possible.

the best place for the kitchen sink

Huntsmore

Give Yourself Work Zones

If your kitchen layout includes an island, you might find it nice to put either the cooktop or sink in it to create an efficient workspace. I’m personally not a fan of having a hulking vent hood smack dab in the middle of the kitchen, so I prefer seeing the sink there instead.

the best place for the kitchen sink

Jay Reinert Architect, LLC

Keep a Connection

Don’t turn your back on your guests if you don’t have to. If you plan to entertain often and have an open kitchen, this is an ideal layout. It allows the cook to prep in the kitchen while still conversing with guests or keeping an eye on kids.

the best place for the kitchen sink

swa.studio//Sebastian Wiedemann Architektur

For those who want to see their family and friends while cooking and cleaning but don’t necessarily want kitchen messes to be on full display, there are many ways to design the sink area to get the best of both worlds.

the best place for the kitchen sink

Case Design/Remodeling, Inc.

A cased opening or raised countertop above the sink can act as a visual barrier to disguise any messes in or around the sink. It provides a nice buffer to the area beyond where kids might be doing homework or guests will be hanging out having a drink and chatting with you while you finish dinner prep.

the best place for the kitchen sink

Studio Steinbomer

Be Social and Enjoy a View

If you are fortunate to have a large open kitchen that looks out onto a nice vista, think about orienting your sink toward the dining area and the pleasing view. Yes, everything is on full display, but this would be a fun kitchen to work in when you’re able to entertain large crowds of friends and family.

the best place for the kitchen sink

Soorikian Architecture

Work With Multiple Sinks

For those with large households or who entertain often, multiple sinks are definitely an ideal setup. Of course, you’ll need the space and budget to accommodate such a design.

Typically, there is one larger main sink placed under a window or facing an adjacent dining room or great room, and the dishwasher is placed next to it for easy cleaning and loading. The second sink may be a smaller prep sink in the island or a peninsula, and it is used more for hand washing and food prep. This configuration allows several people to use the kitchen at once without getting in one another’s way.

 

Jennifer Ott, Blog contributor for Houzz 

San Francisco-based architectural color specialist and design writer. Jennifer’s work has been featured in many print and online publications. Her recently-published book, “1000 Ideas for Color Schemes,” is a beautifully illustrated and easy-to-navigate guide that takes the guesswork out of selecting the perfect color palette for your home or special event. For more information on Jennifer Ott Design, visit http://jenottdesign.com/.

Home Remodeling in the Greater Phoenix Area

For high-end home design, build, and remodeling in the greater Phoenix area that reflects your vision, Homework Remodels will help you love your home again. Start your project by calling us at (480) 895-3442 or email steve@trilitebuilders.com to discuss your remodeling project.  We offer no-obligation in-home consultation. Our NARI-certified award-winning designers and craftsman are eager to work with you to make your vision for your home a reality!  See our portfolio here.

Find more informative blogs and articles on HOUZZ and on our website www.trilitebuilders.com

 

 

 

Single Bowl vs. Double Bowl Kitchen Sinks

Top designers weigh in on the merits of single and double bowl kitchen sinks

Since the invention of the kitchen sink, homeowners and designers have been debating the merits of a single bowl vs. a double bowl. On the one hand, a double basin makes washing dishes a snap. One side serves to hold soapy water and dirty dishes while the other side is reserved to keep them clean. On the other hand, single basins can be real space savers. They often come in a wider range of sizes than their divided counterparts. They can also be roomier for washing pots and pans. We could make endless arguments for both sides but truthfully it comes down to personal preference. Need some inspiration to make your choice? See below for some of our favorite single and double bowl installations and hear what some of our favorite designers have to say about each.

Single Bowl vs. Double Bowl

“I always go for a single bowl sink. I think it feels more modern, and in my personal opinion functions better. We have a lot of large plates and pans that we use in the kitchen, and it’s nice not to have a partition when we have a ton of stuff to wash. A bonus with a deep single sink is if you have dishes in there you do not notice them until you’re standing over it!” Raelyn Woltz, @westend.interiorsDesign by West End Interiors
Featuring Quartet farmhouse kitchen sink in Slate

Single Bowl vs. Double Bowl

“One of the characteristics I love about my oversized double bowl sink is I have the functionality of a large single bowl on the left side, as well as the easy use of the smaller right side to hand wash or soak items. I especially like that the smaller side has the perfect capacity for my use to fill quickly with water.” Jennie Wunderlich, @studio.h2oDesign by Studio H2O
Featuring Cocina Duet Pro in Brushed Nickel

Single Bowl vs. Double Bowl

“Less is more and a streamlined sink, preferably an apron front, is not only the workhorse of the kitchen but a piece to enjoy that is visually appealing.”​Kate Marker, @katemarkerinterirosDesign by Kate Marker Interiors
Photograph by Stoffer Photography
Featuring Farmhouse 3018 in Slate

Single Bowl vs. Double Bowl

“I actually prefer a large single bowl for the versatility of being able to wash large pots, cutting boards, babies and dogs, etc in the sink! This client preferred a double bowl, so we went with it!” Design by Andrea Browning, Model Design
Photograph by Chipper Hatter
Featuring Farmhouse Duet in Brushed Nickel

For more design inspiration check out our Instagram.

From Native Trails Home Blog

Home Remodeling in the Greater Phoenix Area

For high-end home design, build, and remodeling in the greater Phoenix area that reflects your vision, Homework Remodels will help you love your home again. Start your project by calling us at (480) 895-3442 or email steve@trilitebuilders.com to discuss your remodeling project.  We offer no-obligation in-home consultation. Our NARI-certified award-winning designers and craftsman are eager to work with you to make your vision for your home a reality!  See our portfolio here.

A Letter to Your Clients: 10 Ways to be a World-Class Client

By Mark Richardson, Pro-Remodelers (June 16, 2022)

While I have spent most of my last 10 years as an author and advisor to remodeling business owners, I spent the prior 30 years creating joy in the life of homeowners through remodeling homes.  This column is a letter to your clients (and a guide to you) on how they can be a world-class client and, as a result, smile when their project is complete.

After all, what homeowner doesn’t want to be perceived as a great client? Who would not like to be the poster child client? Who would not like to have a remodeler for life because the experience of working together was wonderful?

Here are 10 ways to be a world-class client:

  1. Communicate

Nine times out of 10, issues in the remodeling experience come from miscommunication. Remodeling can be very confusing and counterintuitive. Ask a lot of questions (there are no stupid ones).

  1. Try to get aligned with your partner or spouse on the priorities

The remodeler should be the remodeling expert and authority, not the marriage counselor.

  1. If you are high-tech, then try to communicate/interact with technologies

Most remodelers like technology and appreciate that. If you are more high touch, ensure the remodeler understands that and finds a way to accommodate your wishes.

  1. Allow the remodeler to control the process

You would not go to a doctor’s visit and dictate the steps of the examination. Weekly meetings are a must (not optional). Make these meetings a priority (like going to church). There needs to be an agenda. Let the remodeler facilitate, but make sure you are proactive and engaged.

  1. Do your homework

Homework is not punitive—it is essential to keep the project on track. Make it a priority. Excuses don’t help the project be successful.

  1. Pay on time and when asked

Your remodeler needs to focus on the project and the experience, not cash flow or being a collection agency. The net profit margins in remodeling businesses are generally between 5 and 10%, so try not to nickel-and-dime them.

  1. Try to be mutually transparent

When asked how much you would like to invest in something, you must answer honestly so the remodeler can be a better house doctor for you.

  1. Say thank you

A personal handwritten note or a simple gift is very much appreciated and savored (but not expected). Feedback is also welcome (but don’t overdo it). It is your job to be a great client, not a business advisor to the remodeler. Ask the remodeler how they would like to get feedback and try to be respectful to their wishes.

  1. Focus on the memories, not just the sticks and bricks

Many think remodeling is about the project, but it is really more about the experience. The remodeler is there to be your tour guide in this experience, not just the craftsman or project provider.

  1. Don’t become strangers

Remodeling can be an exhausting process, and in the end, you may want some space from the interaction and relationship. It’s understandable, however, don’t become strangers. The dinner party you promised? Do it. The referrals you said you were going to make? Do it. And most importantly, just keep in touch. Put the remodeler on the Christmas card list too.

In closing, I have never met a client that went into the relationship dishonestly or did not want a good relationship. However, more than 50% of the BBB complaints are from remodeling experiences.

This is in large part based on everyone corrupting the above advice. In the homeowner’s defense, they are not remodeling experts. It is the remodeler’s job to guide and counsel them on how to have a world-class experience and be a great client.

From Pro-Remodeler, author Mark Richardson flips the script, offering insights into what makes a good client and ways remodelers can help.

Home Remodeling in the Greater Phoenix Area

For high-end home design, build, and remodeling in the greater Phoenix area that reflects your vision, Homework Remodels will help you love your home again. Start your project by calling us at (480) 895-3442 or email steve@trilitebuilders.com to discuss your remodeling project.  We offer no-obligation in-home consultation. Our NARI-certified award-winning designers and craftsman are eager to work with you to make your vision for your home a reality!  See our portfolio here.

How to Build a Color Palette in 5 Simple Steps

Color palettes are the secret to giving every makeover that tied together look, but how do you build one? We’re sharing some simple steps to help you build a color palette of your own for your next project.

STEP 1: START WITH THE SPACE

Unless you’re doing a floor-to-ceiling overhaul, the first place to start when building a color palette is figuring out what’s staying. You can easily switch up blankets and throw pillows to match your new look, but fixed pieces like floors and countertops need to be worked into your palette if they’re not going anywhere. Paying attention to existing colors and tones in your room will help you create a coordinating color scheme that all flows together.

STEP 2: FIND INSPIRATION TO BUILD YOUR COLOR PALETTE

Inspiration is everywhere, so where do you start? Sometimes you might have a style you already gravitate toward – if that’s the case, the colors and patterns you love are probably already in your home. If you’re starting with a blank slate, you can find inspiration anywhere from artwork and magazines to Pinterest and Instagram. No matter where you look, these sources are the perfect way to get an idea of the colors and styles that speak to you.

Build a Color Palette

A laptop and mobile device showing inspiration images

TIP: Want to pull colors from a picture you love? Our ColorSnap® Visualizer app matches the colors in any photo with a coordinating paint color.

STEP 3: PICK A COLOR SCHEME

You can always lean on classic schemes like monochromatic or complementary, but did you know an emotional side comes into play too? Color is a powerful way to infuse a space with personality, so it’s just as important to think about the mood you want to create. If you love a space that feels dramatic, you can explore a color scheme that’s bold and saturated, but if you’re looking to create a natural color scheme, soft and earthy hues can help you get the look. This simple trick helps narrow down the color families and tones you want to stick with for your palette.

Build a Color Palette

 Colors include Woven Wicker, Urbane Bronze, Shoji White, and Evergreen Fog.

TIP: Check out our guide on Color Theory to learn more about tones and each color family.

STEP 4: CHOOSE YOUR BASE COLOR

The foundation of every palette starts with your base or primary color – aka the color you’ll use the most. Since your base makes up the biggest part of your palette, it’s important to choose something relaxing to the eye. Neutrals offer the most versatility because they go with anything and are easy to build off, but that doesn’t mean you have to go white or gray either. Shades like Evergreen Fog, Urbane Bronze, and Naval all have neutral undertones.

Featured Color: Evergreen Fog SW 9130

Featured Product: Emerald® Interior Acrylic Latex Paint

STEP 5: BUILD YOUR COLOR PALETTE

You’ve planned, prepped, and picked your base color – now it’s time to layer in some more hues. While there’s no hard-and-fast rule on how many colors to use, a great place to start is choosing a secondary and accent color. If you stick with a palette of three colors, keep the 60-30-10 rule in mind – 60% of the space should be your primary color, 30% should be the secondary color and 10% should be your accent color. If you want to add more than three colors, you can build a bigger palette with varying shades of complementary colors to give yourself a few more hues to work with.

Once you have an idea of how many colors you want, the key is to mix and match until you’ve found a combination you love. Color chips are our favorite way to mix and match when you’re building a palette, and you can order them online for FREE!

TIP: A color palette goes beyond the walls by helping you find decor and furniture in similar shades to create a seamlessly styled space.

Ready to try building a color palette? Drop a comment below to share which room you’re making over, and if you need a little extra guidance along the way, you can also request a FREE Virtual Color Consultation to work with one of our Color Experts.

From Tinted: a blog by Sherwin Williams

Home Remodeling in the Greater Phoenix Area

For high-end home design, build, and remodeling in the greater Phoenix area that reflects your vision, Homework Remodels will help you love your home again. Start your project by calling us at (480) 895-3442 or email steve@trilitebuilders.com to discuss your remodeling project.  We offer no-obligation in-home consultation. Our NARI-certified award-winning designers and craftsman are eager to work with you to make your vision for your home a reality!  See our portfolio here.

 

Key Measurements to Help You Design Your Kitchen

Get the ideal kitchen setup by understanding spatial relationships, building dimensions, and work zones

Whether you are moving into an existing kitchen, remodeling the one you have, or building a new one, understanding a few key building measurements and organizational guidelines can help your culinary life run more smoothly.

Kitchens provide storage for your food and cookware, give you room for prep and cleanup, and of course, also provide a place where you can cook and bake. When it’s thoughtfully arranged, these functions operate logically, making working in your kitchen a better experience. Here’s how to get the ideal kitchen setup.

Designing the Three Main Areas of a Kitchen

Ideally, refrigeration and dry goods storage should be located nearest to the kitchen’s entry point. The cooking area should be located toward the dining spaces, and the sink is best positioned between those two functions. This creates what’s called a work triangle. The best work triangle is less than 21 linear feet (6.4 meters). Work triangles that exceed 26 feet (7.9 meters) make moving from one function to another inefficient in most cases.

Everyone has personal preferences for what works best, so consider this a guide and not a rulebook.

ideal kitchen setup

Blu and White

  1. Storage. Designers recommend putting refrigeration and dry-goods storage at the kitchen entry point. Putting your pantry on one side and a countertop that’s 15 to 24 inches (38 to 61 centimeters) on the other is a good idea. This will allow you to easily set down items that have been taken out of the freezer and refrigerator. The pantry can hold dry goods plus brooms and supplies like paper towels. Use drawers in this area to hold plastic bags, foil, and anything that can contain food to be stored. For the cabinets in this area, you will want to have mixing bowls, cake pans, measuring utensils, and any other items that aid in assembling meals.

ideal kitchen setup

Wheelhouse Design

  1. Preparation. Ideally, prep and cleaning space is best located around the sink. Within these areas will be everyday glasses and dishes, along with trash receptacles and the dishwasher. Allow 18 to 36 inches (45 to 92 centimeters) of countertop space on one or both sides of your sink. Preparation areas are best kept clear of other items since you will always be taking out bowls, plates, and utensils there. Allow at least 36 inches (92 centimeters) of uncluttered countertop space for preparation in a small kitchen. Larger kitchens will have much more. This is one reason that islands are so popular. They provide broad and well-lit surfaces on which to perform the majority of kitchen tasks.No room for a built-in island? Add a cart instead

ideal kitchen setup

Diane Waingrow Architect AIA

  1. Cooking. The cooking centers should be arranged around the range, cooktop, and wall ovens. Place pots, frying pans, and baking sheets in the vicinity of your burners and ovens. It is a good idea to place small appliances such as toasters and coffeemakers in this area also, as it will leave your preparation areas unobstructed. Allow 21 to 36 inches (53 to 92 centimeters) of countertop on either side of your cooktop. If possible, place wall ovens with a free countertop immediately next to them so that you can set down hot food immediately. Place seasonings, breadboards, and potholders in nearby drawers and cupboards. Keep serveware toward the dining area.

ideal kitchen setup

Cindy Aplanalp & Chairma Design Group

Other Kitchen Measurement Considerations

The dimensions of all the pieces in your kitchen are important to get right to make the best use of your space.

Refrigerator depth. A common refrigerator width is slightly less than 36 inches (92 centimeters). The problem is often the depth. In recent years some manufacturers have designed them to be much deeper than a 24-inch (61-centimeter) base cabinet. You can still buy shallower freestanding refrigerators, but you have to pay close attention to the dimensions listed in its specifications to be certain. The other option is built-in configurations, but they are significantly more expensive.

Look for a depth of 30 inches (76 centimeters) or less, excluding handles, unless you can design your kitchen space to accept a deeper unit. Another thing to consider is the swing of the refrigerator door. Always examine the swing direction to see if it will meet an obstruction.

Steven Corley Randel, Architect

Cabinet height. Here you can see how the height of the cabinets plays an important part in the configuration. Upper cabinets are normally positioned at 18 inches (46 centimeters) above the countertop and are 30 to 42 inches (76 to 107 centimeters) in height.

Consider that your average maximum reach over and into an upper cabinet is 70 to 80 inches (178 to 203 centimeters) above the floor. Cabinets set at above 7 feet will likely need to be accessed with a step ladder. Cabinets above 8 feet are not practical for the majority of people; however, they may serve as storage for seasonal or decorative items, to be reached with step stools and ladders.

The standard dimensions for base cabinets are 24 inches (61 centimeters) deep and 36 inches (92 centimeters) high. In general, people are getting taller, so some homeowners are bumping up the counter height to 38 inches (97 centimeters).

Visual Jill Inc.

Distance between cabinets. Another important dimension to consider is the distance between cabinets. Entry points can be as little as 36 inches (92 centimeters) when there is a cabinet on only one side. Stay at least 42 inches (107 centimeters) from the face of a cabinet to the one on the other side; 48 inches (122 centimeters) is even better, but going beyond 60 inches (152 centimeters) is too wide in most cases. However, if it is a U-shaped kitchen, you could get away with up to 96 inches (244 centimeters).

Steven Corley Randel, Architect

Kitchen Layout Ideas

This cutaway plan illustrates arrangements and dimensions for a modest-size kitchen. Note that the preparation area is split between the island with the sink and the corner of the kitchen. The work triangle is compact. There will always be a few tradeoffs in any space.

This blog found on Houzz by Steven Randel, Houzz Contributor

Visit our site on HOUZZ here to learn more about what we offer and all the information you can find on their site

Home Remodeling in the Greater Phoenix Area

For high-end home design, build, and remodeling in the greater Phoenix area that reflects your vision, Homework Remodels will help you love your home again. Start your project by calling us at (480) 895-3442 or email steve@trilitebuilders.com to discuss your remodeling project.  We offer no-obligation in-home consultation. Our NARI-certified award-winning designers and craftsman are eager to work with you to make your vision for your home a reality!  See our portfolio here.

Insulation Basics: What to Know About Spray Foam

Learn what exactly spray foam insulation is, the pros and cons of using it, and why you shouldn’t mess around with installation.

While we all wish there were a single answer for any given problem, oftentimes that’s just not the case. This is true for material options for home spray foam insulation. Despite what the market says is the most popular insulation material or method at any given moment, the truth is that each individual project has its own set of circumstances that call for a recommended set of options. And within those options, the specifications and installation can have a massive impact on the result.

It’s important to understand each material and how it works within your home’s construction and the environment in which you live. In this blog, we’ll take a look at various thermal insulation types and materials to help you figure out which is the best one for your project. We’ll begin with spray polyurethane foam (SPF), which, at least in North America, is fast becoming one of the most popular options.

spray foam insulation

EcoTech Spray Foam

What is SPF? Spray polyurethane foam is a heat-activated polymer that is just what it sounds like, foam insulation that is sprayed into place. It is made by mixing two ingredients on-site using special equipment. The mixture is then sprayed through a heated hose onto the surface that needs to be insulated. As the chemical reaction between the two ingredients takes place and the substance heats up in the hose, the liquid turns foamy, expands, and then eventually hardens in place.

Closed-cell and open-cell spray foam. These are the two kinds of spray-foam insulation. Open-cell SPF is the lighter, less dense option; it is the cheaper of the two but has less insulating power (or a lower R-value). Closed-cell SPF is denser and more expensive, can provide a bit more rigid support to certain structures, and can act as a water vapor barrier, because it is less permeable.

spray foam insulation

WJM Architect

 

Why is SPF so popular in the United States? Spray foam has the potential to tackle air leakages better than many other insulation options. Because it is sprayed into place, the foam can fill up cavities and block any small holes that could compromise your building envelope. It can be applied to vertical or horizontal surfaces to act not only as thermal insulation but also as an air barrier. It’s synthetic and does not attract rodents or insects. When applied properly, spray foam can contribute to a successful energy-efficiency strategy.

As with many aspects of the building market, there are variations in what is considered common around the world. Here in Italy, for example, spray-foam insulation has not taken hold of the market as it has in the U.S., for a variety of reasons outside the scope of this idea book. As a result, it is more difficult to find installers here, although there are versions of SPF available on the European market.

spray foam insulation

Before Photo

GreenEdge Spray Foam Insulation

The relative ease of installation. This makes it a popular choice for contractors (although see my notes on installation difficulties below). Plus, even though it can be expensive, its relatively high R-value per inch makes it a competitive option. It’s particularly interesting for renovation projects where traditional batt or board insulation may be difficult to insert. With spray foam (as with blown-in insulation), it’s possible to inject the insulation into a wall cavity, for example, or apply it to a sloped surface.

spray foam insulation

Apex Building Company

spray foam insulation

Spray Foam Systems LLC

Challenges of installation. As with many building technology solutions, the increasing popularity of a product or method means an increase in misuse and misunderstandings. Unfortunately, nowadays it is quite common to find examples of spray-foam insulation that have been specified or installed incorrectly.

The most common problems with spray-foam applications are:

  • The chemicals were not mixed correctly, and the foam starts to pull away from the neighboring surface
  • The chemicals were not mixed correctly, causing lingering odors and health problems for the occupants
  • The installers rush through the installation, leaving gaps and holes that reduce the efficiency of the product
  • A sufficient thickness either was not specified or was not executed as specified during installation
  • The local climate was not taken into consideration, and the temperatures or humidity levels were outside of the manufacturer’s specifications
  • In cold climates, a vapor barrier was not installed over the spray foam, sometimes causing roof rot

Remember, installation is a key factor with any kind of insulation you chose and can be the difference between insulation that works or causes problems.

spray foam insulation

Wedge Roofing

Be aware of greenwash! Closed-cell spray foam in particular, which uses HFCs with high carbon dioxide content, has a very negative impact on global warming. Some manufacturers are claiming that their spray foam is ecologically friendly because it is based on soy or castor. Don’t be fooled by this marketing gimmick. The percentage of soy legally required for them to be able to make this claim is very low. SPF is still very much a fossil-fuel-based material (as are many other insulation options).

 

spray foam insulation

MJW DryWall & foam Insulation LLC

Consider your climate. There are too many climate-specific considerations for insulation to include in this idea book. With SPF, for example, a vapor retarder layer over drywall may be required when using open-cell spray foam (seen here) in cold climates.

spray foam insulation

Before Photo

Cutting Edge Spray Foam Services, Inc

Potential health risks. Some people have reported health reactions to the lingering odor that can occur with certain mixes of chemicals, and the Environmental Protection Agency has issued information to make consumers aware of potential health risks, particularly during installation. There is still very little known about the off-gassing potential of this relatively new product, but a standard has been developed to start monitoring it.

It is absolutely essential that anyone working on the construction or renovation of a home using SPF follow the recommended health guidelines. Please don’t think that you can install this in your shorts and T-shirt on the weekend. Consult a professional or do your research.

 

spray foam insulation

EcoTech Spray Foam

The good news. Learning the pitfalls is just part of being more aware of the consequences of a certain decision. Each and every insulation material has advantages and disadvantages. SPF is a viable solution for certain homes and can offer substantial energy savings if installed correctly. You just need to be aware that, relative to other materials, the installation can be easier to execute but also easier to rush through. Knowing what questions to ask your installer can go a long way toward obtaining optimal results.

Tips for working with an installer:

  • Hire someone reputable with verified recommendations.
  • Make sure the work is monitored by someone other than the installer.
  • Do a quality control check before issuing the final payment.

Article found on Houzz and written by Mariana Pickering, Houzz Contributor

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