Four Color Trends to Watch in 2018

 Behr's 2018 Color Trends

Behr's 2018 Color Trends

 

By now, most homeowners know how important color is to the overall look, feel, and style of your home. The predominant colors can impact, soften, and even outright change the mood of the inhabitants of a room.

Fortunately, it’s easy to change or refine your home’s color palette. Paint is relatively inexpensive, and you don’t even need to paint all four walls in a room to inject a new hue into its decor.

Are you planning a paint makeover for a room in your home next year? Consider boosting your home’s on-trend factor by implementing any of these color design trends. We think you’ll be seeing a lot of them next year.

1. Intense Over Soft

Well-known color space company Pantone has picked eight palettes it thinks will dominate home decor in 2018, emphasizing the allure of bold, intense colors.

One of Behr’s chosen trendy palettes also focuses on bold and beautiful tones. From a bright yet deep blue to a nearly saffron yellow, these shades would work beautifully together or on their own, perhaps on a single accent wall to avoid overpowering the room itself.

These shades aren’t for shy, retiring types … or maybe they are! After all, home decor color palettes are a safe, fun way to explore different sides to your personality. Experiment with bold, intense shades on your walls and in accent pieces to see what you think. If it doesn’t work for you, you can always change it later with a minimum of expense and effort.

2. Energizing Yellows and Oranges

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Yellows and oranges help energize and pump up the volume of any room. If you want to feel awake, alive, and alert, sunny yellows and citrusy orange tones can help.

However, these colors can also be a bit overwhelming. You may not want an entire room covered in bright yellow or orange paint. Additionally, they’re not always flattering to every human complexion, or design scheme for that matter.

Instead, try using bright sunny colors like lemon and saffron in more controlled, concentrated ways to add a small pop of color in a room. Use paint to freshen up a piece of wood furniture, or integrate these bright sunny shades in accent pieces such as throw pillows, rugs, and artwork.

3. Bold, Fresh Combinations

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Leave the boring tone-on-tone, “soft grey and white trim” combos in 2017. Step outside your color-wheel comfort zone by pairing hues you wouldn’t otherwise consider.

For example, chocolate brown and a stormy dark grey might strike you as a bad combination initially. But in practice, it can absolutely work, if you choose the right specific shades and use them in an appropriate design scheme. The same is true of navy blue with a pale, grown-up pink.

If you’re not sure whether a specific combo would look good on your walls, buy a flat piece of plywood that’s at least a few feet square and use it as a test canvas. Most paint stores will sell you small quantities of any shade they offer for testing purposes.

4. Go Royal With Regal Purple and Bright Blues

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Pantone’s color of the year for 2018 is Ultra Violet, a deep, inspirational shade of purple that brings to mind the creativity of musician Prince, sumptuous royal robes, and deep twilight skies. In announcing its choice, Pantone had this to say:

Complex and contemplative, Ultra Violet suggests the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead, and the discoveries beyond where we are now. The vast and limitless night sky is symbolic of what is possible and continues to inspire the desire to pursue a world beyond our own.

2018 include notable purples and blues, as well. Shades range from the light and lively to the dark and mystical. Darker blues and purples are beautiful choices to add a touch of the dramatic and mysterious to your walls. On the other hand, lighter shades of blue and purple are perfect when you want to create a more relaxing, restorative environment, such as a bedroom.

Where Will You Use Color in 2018?

Color can change so much about your home -- not just its look, but the mood, vibe, and even the way you use a space.

If you’re ready to recharge and revitalize your home with color in 2018, why not give us a call? We’ll be happy to consult with you on your painting and design projects.

 

4 tips to make your backyard safe for kids and pets

 photo credit:   Unsplash

photo credit: Unsplash

With the end of winter in sight, there’s never been a better time to start preparing for the advent of spring. Packing away your sweaters and planning for days in the park are two things most people think of when it comes to spring prep. However, there’s one consideration that should be at the top of every parent and pet owner’s spring to-do list: making your backyard kid and pet safe. It sounds like a big task, but doing so will give you the peace of mind to enjoy spring.

Here are four tips that will help transform your backyard into a childproof and pet-friendly area this spring.

1. Conduct a plant audit

You wouldn’t think that the plants in your backyard could pose a danger to both your children and pets. However, there are several common backyard plants and weeds that are poisonous, and if ingested could result in a trip to the hospital or vet.

For example, azalea, daffodils and kalanchoe are just a few of the many popular plants that cause vomiting, diarrhea and other side effects in cats and dogs. Rashes, upset stomachs, and even death can result if your child ingests plants like aster, juniper and boster. 

Conduct a plant audit to see if there are any plants that pose a risk to your pets and kids. Don’t forget to include weeds that have naturally popped up in your garden in your audit.

While you’re at it, take the time to clean up debris and hazards like old pieces of wood or brush piles. Mowing your lawn regularly is also a good idea to prevent any nasty weeds from cropping up and pest infestations.

2. Add fencing and alarms to your pool

Make necessary additions or modifications to ensure your pool area is safe. The unfortunate reality is that drowning is one of the leading causes of injury death in the US, and its children aged 14 and under who account for two of the 10 people who die every day from drowning. In fact, most drownings involving children occur in the pool when in the care of one or both parents at home at the same time.

The good news is that there are simple and proven measures you can take that will help prevent any accidents from occurring. In addition to constant adult supervision, you should install a pool fence that is at least 4 feet tall, has self-closing and self-latching gates with latches that are out of reach of children and should separate the pool from the house.

Another addition is to attach alarms to the pool door and side of the pool. Alarms are highly effective in alerting parents to any unusual activity in the pool area. These measures also protect your pets from pool incidents.

3. Safely secure, build, and maintain play structures

Taking the time to secure any play structures is a crucial step to make your backyard secure. One of the simplest ways to reduce injuries is to place play structures on a proper playground surface that is durable to soften the impact of a child's fall. Other considerations include choosing an area that is flat and free of hazards including water, rocks and debris.

When it comes to building play structures, always follow instructions to a tee. Don’t try to cut corners or rewrite the book – the specific instructions which come with each structure are tested to uphold safety standards so making any alterations will compromise them. 

You should also regularly inspect and conduct maintenance of all play structures in your backyard. Be sure to look out for any loose screws, broken or cracked areas, or unstable structures and immediately repair, replace, or stow away any unfit for play.

4. Store away dangerous objects

When you look at the gardening and entertainment items you keep stored in your backyard, most may seem innocuous. But through the eyes of a curious child or pet eager to explore, even the most harmless items can pose a danger. Stow all electrical equipment such as lawnmowers and pruning tools in a locked shed. Barbecues also pose a risk of burning or electrocution, so be sure to pack them away from any little ones’ reach once you’re done entertaining. The same goes for non-electrical items such as hedge trimmers, rakes and brooms.

With children and pets in tow, it’s always good to follow the mantra, “Better safe than sorry.” Always looking at your garden through a child or pet’s perspective will give you insight that will help you transform your backyard into a kid and pet-friendly environment.

Make Over Your Home with These Five Interior Design Trends for 2018

 Embrace the comfort

Embrace the comfort

Are you interested in sprucing up your home’s interior in 2018? Consider utilizing one or more of the trends in interior design that we’ve identified below.

We think these five trends will dominate the decor field throughout next year. In combination or alone, they can radically alter and enhance the aesthetic and personal value you perceive in your home’s rooms.

Whether you try one, a combination, or all five, these trends can be easily tailored and customized to express your own design principles and preferences.

Design, both in 2018 and beyond, should always be more about creating an interior space that is a more perfect expression of your tastes, needs, and preferences -- a place that both comforts and energizes you and your family. Use these trends to enhance and refine your own home space.

1. Embrace the Comfort

Cozy, comfy … the words we associate with home will receive special emphasis next year. With the high conflict and sociopolitical drama of 2017 hopefully behind us -- but also even if it continues (maybe especially then) -- homeowners will crave a safe, comfortable space that feels like a physical embrace.

The worldwide embrace of the Danish concept of hygge is one example of this continuing trend.

Reading nooks

Carving up larger spaces into smaller ones using furniture groupings, color, and textiles to create more intimate areas based on use

2. Experiment with Warm Materials and Colors

Color trends for 2018 include utilizing bold, bright hues to create drama and interest in a cost-effective, easily-managed way. You can also use colors as well as materials to create a warmer, cozier environment for your home.

Consider the difference between stainless steel and bronze. Immediately, one feels cooler, more industrial, more logical, and less emotional, while the other conjures up images of a farm kitchen, a warm “hearth and home” feeling. Other useful, warmer materials include cork and wood.

This extends to fabrics as well. Swap out textured choices such as burlap and pure cotton for more sophisticated choices. Breathable, natural textiles will create a cozier look and feel in most rooms.

3. Simple, Clean, Modern Lines

On the other hand, you’ll also see a return to simpler lines and construction when it comes to furniture and furnishings. Geometrically oriented designs and shapes will prevail over more ornate, rococo, and Baroque stylistic approaches.

You can experiment with this look in an interesting way by mixing it with the trend towards comfort and warmth, if you’d like to keep it from becoming too industrial in tone.

4. Upcycling and Recycling

Make the most of what you’ve already got by using recycled material wherever possible.

Another great trend to watch is upcycling: taking basic shapes and products and turning them into something new and fresh. For example, an old door can become a headboard. An interesting, solidly thrown pottery bowl can be transformed into a sink basin. Or a large tree stump can metamorphose into a beautiful coffee table.

Both upcycling and recycling signal a return to frugality and simplicity, which are themselves cultural and design trends we’ll see more of in the New Year. Simpler, unfussy, uncomplicated -- these are watchwords for interior design in 2018.

5. Luxe Touches

Of course, not everything in 2018 will be austerity and starkness. Experimenting with special touches, albeit in small and controlled ways, is a great way to add a touch of luxury to your home.

One way to do this is to swap out twill or blend fabric throw pillows for pillow covers in materials like velvet and suede. These fabrics convey luxury and richness, while still maintaining a pleasing textural look and feel for visual interest and comfort.

You can also add smaller pieces upholstered in leather, or with leather accents. The same principles apply here: rich, luxurious design values married with a more rustic, warm aesthetic.

Working With Design Trends

As with fashion, working with home design trends can help open up your design horizons, or it can force you to adopt a persona that doesn’t feel authentic. The trick to working with trends, then, is to curate them carefully and adopt them to your tastes and preferences, not the other way around.

And if you’d like some professional guidance on home interior makeovers next year, let us know. We’d love to help you refine and execute your vision.

Fresh Bathroom Caulk

Got brown or cracked caulk around your tub?  This is a sign you have aging caulk, which if not replaced will lead to mildew and if water leaks through; it will ruin your drywall.  Caulk is inexpensive and easy to install.  In about an hour, you’re bathroom will look refreshed.

 Fresh Bathroom Caulk Application

Fresh Bathroom Caulk Application

 

 

The Top 7 Home Renovations for the Money

If you’re going to go to the expense and effort of hiring a contractor, drawing up plans, and embarking on any substantial home improvement project, it’s completely understandable to be concerned about your ROI - that is, your return on investment.

Before we examine the home renovations with the best ROIs, it’s important to realize that there is no “one size fits all” answer to this question. What plays in Peoria -- or earns a great resale value in Virginia City -- may not work that well in another region of the country.

In fact, many factors can affect your resale value and how much of the cost of your project you can expect to recoup when you sell your house: climate and weather, your specific neighborhood, the housing market in general, local events and economic factors, and more.

Additionally, resale value should never be your only consideration when deciding whether to go forward with any kind of home improvement project. If you’re planning to continue living in your home, your future enjoyment of the improvement and your house in general should also be considered.

That being said, it’s definitely a good idea to include your potential return on such a substantial investment in the mix when you’re making home improvement decisions. So let’s take a look at the 7 projects that earn back the most in resale value for savvy homeowners.

1. Fix Up the Attic

 Attic Insulation

Attic Insulation

Surprised? The champion home renovation project where ROI is concerned is fixing up your attic. Whether it’s simply adding fiberglass insulation to your home’s attic (108% of the cost recouped on resale) or converting the entire space to an additional bedroom (93.5%), attic improvements bear great dividends.

And remember, this is just about resale value and cost recoupment. It doesn’t include additional energy savings (in the case of installing insulation) or the significant increase in usable square feet in your home.

2. Mini-Makeover on a Bathroom

 Bathroom Retile

Bathroom Retile

At 102% of its cost recouped on resale, a minor bathroom improvement project can more than earn back the project costs.

Here, we’re talking about smaller projects -- replacing a fixture, for example, or swapping out old, tired flooring for a new set of tiles.

You don’t have to replace the tub to spruce it up, though. Re-caulking and re-glazing for a new finish can also freshen up your bathroom’s look, as can a fresh coat of paint or wallpaper.

3. Improve Your Landscaping

 Home Landscaping

Home Landscaping

Don’t neglect your yard! An overhaul of your home’s landscaping can earn back the full cost of the project at 100%.

With costs ranging anywhere from a few hundred for plants from your local garden center to $3000 or more for a full-blown professional landscape design, there’s a wide range of improving you can do to your great outdoors.

If you’re not the outdoors-y type, and don’t have the budget for a professional designer, start with your favorite big-box garden center or local nursery. They’ll often sponsor free workshops and design services.

4. Improve Your Home’s Exterior

 Exterior Home Painting

Exterior Home Painting

While we’re thinking outside the box, take a look at your home’s facade, as well. Repairing or replacing old, worn-out vinyl siding or chipping paint, updating your porch and outdoor entry space, and freshening up the shingles can all greatly increase your home’s curb appeal

And at an average return on resale of 95.5%, it’s a sound investment in your home.

Just plan carefully before you begin, and explore new materials for even better results. For example, wrought-iron railings make for a more attractive entryway than boring old wood supports.

5. Tweak Your Kitchen

 New Kitchen Backsplash

New Kitchen Backsplash

Great news: if you want to give your kitchen a new look, but aren’t interested in a complete overhaul, even a minor tweak to the busiest room in your house can earn you up to 98% on resale.

New countertops, re-facing for your old cabinets, and swapping out old, clunky appliances for more energy-efficient models will all help you recoup the cost of improvement, and perhaps even save you additional money in electricity costs going forward.

You can also give your kitchen a budget-friendly makeover with new flooring and improved lighting fixtures.

6. Overhaul a Bathroom

 Bathroom Remodel

Bathroom Remodel

If your bathroom needs more than a simple spruce-up job, a major renovation can earn you 93% on resale.

Relocate or replace your major fixtures, or swap out an open or curbless shower for an old-fashioned tub. Upgrade to a ceramic tile floor and replace the exhaust fan.  Swap out old counters for a cleaner one to give your old vanity a whole new, more contemporary look.

7. Swap Out Front Door for Steel

 Steel Double Doors

Steel Double Doors

For a low-cost improvement with a high-sale recoupment percentage of almost 91%, consider swapping out your old, existing door for a steel model, perhaps with decorative window panels at the top for added visual appeal.

Doors like this will cost around $1000-1500, and earn back about $900-1200 on average, so they almost pay for themselves.

Bonus: This is a simple job that won’t take a lot of time to accomplish, and if you select the right color, it can add an eye-catching visual element to your home’s exterior as well.

Ready … Set … Renovate!

If you’d like to spruce up your home, but aren’t sure which project to start with, why not consult with a qualified, experienced home contractor in your area today?

Home Inspections Help You Keep Your New Home Safe

While a home inspection will usually cost a prospective buyer several hundred dollars, it’s an investment that you should definitely make.

Here’s why. Once your realtor has helped you locate a home you’re interested in purchasing and after you’ve made an offer which the owner has accepted, you’ll sign a contract that should include a contingency clause.

This clause simply provides that if inspection reveals a serious problem within a specified period of time, you can cancel or void your purchase contract without having to pay any penalty. However, inspections will also point out the areas that might not be quite that serious, but still need to be addressed to make your new home safe for you and your family.

While the idea of a home inspection might seem to associated with older homes, you should also plan to have a thorough inspection of newly built homes before purchase. Even recently completed construction can reveal design and construction defects, which might result in serious damage and pose health risks for years.

Home Inspections for New Home Purchases

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The quality of your inspection will depend in large part on the inspector you select.

You’ll undoubtedly find a wide range of levels of experience, skill, and attention to detail in your area’s inspectors so it pays to get recommendations from people who have recently purchased similar types of property in your area. If you can find an inspector who has reviewed homes in your specific neighborhood, so much the better!

Once your inspector concludes the inspection, they’ll prepare a written report outlining the results.

A helpful inspection report should specify whether the issue noted is a safety issue or a major defect, as opposed to a minor one. It should also distinguish between items that need to be replaced versus items that can be safely repaired instead. Ideally, it will also note any items that may be acceptable for the immediate future, but which should be monitored over time.

Plumbing, Leaks, and Mold

A primary area of concern for new home buyers is the potential for home water damage and resulting mold. You might be able to see external water damage fairly easily -- water spots on the ceiling, for example, or pooling water near exterior walls or the foundation.

But moisture can also cause damage in places that aren’t so easy to see, such as inside your walls. And if that’s not spotted and properly cleaned up in short order, the result will be dangerous mold. Mold resistant drywall can help reduce this risk but an inspector will be able to spot problems, using tools like infrared cameras when necessary.

Another spot that can signal current or future damage is the gutter and spout system for your home. If these aren’t channeling water freely and smoothly away from your roof, walls, and foundation, the result will be a damaged foundation or leaky roof. Loose or missing roof shingles can mean that water intrusion has occurred underneath.

Finally, the home’s plumbing system should be checked thoroughly for any sign of leaks or water pressure problems. If your home is “of a certain age” and so are the pipes, your inspector might recommend a more detailed review to estimate if replacement needs to take place and how soon. Specific points of investigation include visible lines, faucets, showers/tubs and their drains, and toilets.

Electrical Wiring, Appliances, and Other Fire Risks

Another potential health hazard in a house is the risk of fire from improper wiring, malfunctioning appliances or old panels. Depending on the age of the home and whether the wiring has been upgraded since construction, that could add a significant cost to your overall investment if you move forward with the purchase -- but you definitely don’t want to ignore problems in this area.

Other specific area of concerns include checking to make sure the laundry room is well ventilated, since a blocked exhaust on your dryer can present a significant risk of fire.

Your inspector will also inspect an attached garage, if there is one, as well as testing the house’s smoke detectors to make sure they’re functional.

HVAC and Asbestos

Your home inspector should also take a close look at your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. The report should note how old the furnace and other HVAC elements are, whether they function properly, and to what extent any repairs or maintenance are needed or warranted.

Your inspector should also take a look at the ductwork and insulation in your home. Looking at these elements can help reveal whether there’s any asbestos that needs to be removed or whether there are any leaks that must be addressed.

What to Do After Your Inspection Report is Delivered

While an inspection might cost you more money, it’s money very well spent. If your report shows serious problems, you can walk away (assuming you have a contingency clause in your contract).

Alternatively, you can get quotes from qualified home contractors to fix the problems.

Whichever option you choose, a good home inspector is a smart investment to make in your future home’s safety!

How the Color of Your Home’s Walls Impacts Your Mood

Have you ever walked into a room with orange walls or accents and suddenly felt hungry?

Or into a room painted with soft blue tones and immediately felt calmer, for some strange reason?

If so, you’ve experienced the often powerful impact of color on moods.

You may remember the color wheel from elementary school science class. You may even know that warm colors make things feel smaller and cozier, while cooler colors make things seem larger and airier. Light colors appear to bring things closer, while darker shades make things seem to recede.

But specific colors can also have individual effects on the way people feel, especially when they’re surrounded by four walls in that shade.

How Does Color Work on Mood?

Color psychology as a field of study has been around for hundreds of years. Ever since Isaac Newton discovered the color wheel’s properties and organization in the late 17th century, we humans have noticed the various ways different colors trigger different emotional states.

Sometimes, these effects are based in personal experience, much like certain smells can evoke feelings and memories. You may feel nostalgic about a specific shade of green, for example,  because it was the color of your grandmother’s favorite dress. Or a certain shade of blue makes you feel nervous because it reminds you of the color of the walls in your high school principal’s office.

But colors also affect people in general ways, and there’s some scientific research that indicates some colors have the same effect on mood in most people.

Let’s look at some of those effects and the colors that trigger them.

Red: Passion & Intensity

 Red Wall with Faux effect

Red Wall with Faux effect

Red walls can instantly make a room’s occupants feel more energetic and intense. If you plan to use a specific room for social gatherings and entertainment, especially in the evening, it’s a great choice. You can also use red anywhere you’d like to draw people out of their shells and into group conversation.

For the same reason, you’ll want to keep red out of most bedrooms, where cooler tones are generally preferable.

Red paint tones are best utilized in social rooms that will see a lot of traffic. Living rooms, dining rooms, and other rooms in which folks will gather in groups are great choices for red walls.

Blue: Peace & Tranquility

 Blue Wall with Ralph Lauren Paint

Blue Wall with Ralph Lauren Paint

If you want to calm folks down and imbue a room with a sense of serenity and peace, you can’t go wrong with most shade of blue -- if you’re cautious about the exact tone. It’s also a great color for bathrooms.

Some blues, especially on the more pastel end of the spectrum, can look a little cold and icy on the walls in large chunks, especially if the room doesn’t get a lot of quality light. One way to counteract that effect is to add small accents in warmed complementary tones -- for example, in throw pillows or grouped collectibles.

The darker the blue, the less peaceful the room will feel. That might be a good thing if you’re painting a room where serious business or study will take place. In libraries and offices, a deep blue might be a great choice.

Orange: Appetite & Energy

 Orange dining room wall

Orange dining room wall

If you want to stoke appetites and create more energy in a room -- say, a kitchen or dining area -- look at shades of orange such as saffron and salmon.

Orange arouses excitement, hunger, and enthusiasm. It might be too intense for a living room, and for the same reason isn’t a great choice as a leading shade for your bedroom’s color scheme. But for dining rooms, kitchens, home gyms, and other more physical and active places, orange can be a great choice.

Yellow: Happiness & Socialization

 Yellow paint in Entryway

Yellow paint in Entryway

Is there any happier hue than the color of sunshine? Well, in actuality, there could be a lot of them! As it turns out, yellow is a great example of how sometimes, the effect of a color on mood can actually be counterintuitive.

To most people, yellow evokes feelings of warmth, compassion, joy, and goodwill. It’s a cheery color, which is perhaps why a lot of people choose it as a gender-neutral tone for nurseries. However, this might be self-defeating, since some studies suggest babies actually cry more in yellow rooms. Adults also aren’t necessarily immune from that feeling, since many folks report feeling angrier in yellow rooms. 

One way to maximize the happy impact of yellow without triggering that aggravating impulse in those prone to it is to restrict yellow to entryways and smaller rooms that host transitional traffic -- i.e., hallways, cloakrooms, etc.

Green: Restful & Rejuvenating

 Green Wall in Bedroom

Green Wall in Bedroom

Another excellent choice for bedrooms and bathrooms, green is known to evoke feelings of restfulness and relaxation. With its evocation of the wonders of nature, green shades can also paradoxically help rejuvenate your energy.

If you’re using green as the main hue in your room’s color scheme, you can count on a peaceful, comfortable environment. That’s why it’s so perfect for bedrooms, as well as living rooms. Anywhere you need to relieve stress or help others relax, green’s a great choice.

Color Blends and Mood

And what about blended colors? Turquoise, for example, is a blend of blue and green -- does it have the mood impact of both blue and green?

It turns out blended shades have impacts all their own. For example, deep crimson is a deeper shade of red tinged with orange. You’d think it would have a peppy, cheerful impact on you and your visitors in a living room. In fact, in can make some folks downright hostile!

So if your heart is simply set on incorporating some crimson into a room that will see a lot of socialization and company, limit it to accent touches -- pillows, rug, and touches of artwork, for example.

Why Custom Cabinets Are Worth the Expense

 Custom kitchen cabinets built by a local cabinetmaker.

Custom kitchen cabinets built by a local cabinetmaker.

If you’re planning a kitchen remodel any time soon, one decision that’s probably in front of you is whether to get custom kitchen cabinets, or instead go with something a little more pre-packaged.

You might think this is just a simple cost-driven budgetary choice. And it’s true that there are some good, budget-friendly alternatives at a number of price points, most of which involve a stock or “pre-fab” cabinet purchase at some big-box home store.

But for our money, the kitchen cabinets that result in the happiest homeowners are custom cabinets. We’ll tell you why, but first, let’s make sure we define some key terms:

●      Stock (pre-fab, etc.) cabinet are just that - pre-made in assorted standardized configurations and sizes usually in 2” - 3” increments. If you find an acceptable color and material combination in your local home store, you can take them home and install them usually within a few days of purchase, if not the same day. Many homeowners choose them for remodeling because -- usually -- they’re the least expensive option.

●      Custom cabinets at the other end of the spectrum are hand-made to your specifications in almost every respect, including color, hardware, materials, sizes, and shapes. If you have an oddly-shaped space in your kitchen, a stock cabinet might not work in it. Time to installation from the date of your order will vary, as will your cost.

●      Semi-custom cabinets are something of a hybrid. You order them, and then they’re built, but you’ll choose from a predetermined list of sizes and styles. Price, lead time, and customization vary just as they do with custom cabinetry.

For you as the homeowner, the major practical differences between these three options come down to two key factors: cost and degree of customization/control.

In other words, you get what you want more precisely, but you may have to pay extra for that delight.

First, though, let’s put one myth to rest: You won’t get a “handmade look” with custom cabinets. Just because they’re crafted by hand, that doesn’t mean the people making them aren’t highly skilled professionals, using sophisticated equipment and techniques.

Custom cabinets won’t require you to sacrifice consistency of finish or feel, either. Your cabinets should look “of a set” with each other, no matter what type you select.

Another advantage of custom cabinetry over stock or semi-custom options is the maximization of your available space. Professional cabinet makers can craft your cabinets to fit the available space precisely, so your kitchen benefits from greater efficiency and a cleaner aesthetic.

For example, if you need a deeper shelf on one wall, or a slightly wider fit for a specific corner, you might not find what you need in a limited supply of pre-fab cabinets. If you do, you might have to settle for your second or third choice in color and materials.

By far, however, the biggest advantage a custom cabinetry job will yield for your home kitchen project is the degree of control and customization. With stock cabinets, you’re limited to what’s literally “in stock.”

But with custom cabinets you’re in the driver’s seat all the way. You get the exact color and “look” you want, in the material and hardware combination you want, with the specific sizes you need. Your options are much more extensive.

True, you’ll probably pay a little more for that much choice, at least when compared to stock and semi-custom options -- but maybe not nearly as much as you’d think. 

Depending on the size, number, and materials used, you could be looking at a relatively small increase in price for that custom cabinetry. The increase could be a few percentage points, perhaps ten percent or less.

In some cases, though, you might even wind up paying around the same amount as you would for a stock cabinet purchase, depending on the details.

So while you may luck out and find just what you’re looking for in a stock, pre-fab cabinet purchase, if you really want to get the best possible fit, with the look you want and sizing that’s tailored to your home specifically, it’s hard to beat well-made, high-quality custom cabinetry.

Three Fabulous Bathroom Design Trends for 2017

Are you ready to liven up that tired old traditional bathroom in your home? Take advantage of one or more of these emerging bathroom design trends for maximum impact and a truly luxurious experience.

Wet Rooms

 Wet rooms lend a user-friendly, easy-to-clean, stylish and streamlined modernity to your home.

Wet rooms lend a user-friendly, easy-to-clean, stylish and streamlined modernity to your home.

If you’ve never heard of this emerging trend, it might initially strike you as … well, strange. But in fact, getting rid of the separations between showers, baths, toilets, and sinks is one of the hottest bathroom design trends around these days.

When they’re well-designed (and implemented), wet rooms lend a user-friendly, easy-to-clean, stylish and streamlined modernity to your home. Of course, when they’re designed poorly, the result can be more “high-school shower room” than “high-end luxury spa.”

Generally a wet room will include shower nozzles (yes, more than one for that spa-like luxury we crave -- read the section below for more on this), a toilet, and basin. However, there’s no reason you couldn’t also include a freestanding tub, if your space allows. Remember, a crowded, heavily “decorated” feel is antithetical to the wet room aesthetic.

If you want to add a wet room to your home, hire an experienced contractor for the conversion. A wet room must be watertight and well-tiled. After all, it’s not like the moisture will be tightly contained as in more traditional bathroom construction.

Also, invest in the highest quality materials you can afford. The key to making a wet room look and feel like a high-end spa lies in the quality of the wall materials (usually tiles). Mix textures in the same color family for an earthy, glamorous feel.

Spa-Like Shower Heads

 Nothing turns a boring old shower stall into a spa faster than multiple shower heads, especially if at least one provides a drenching rain-like experience!

Nothing turns a boring old shower stall into a spa faster than multiple shower heads, especially if at least one provides a drenching rain-like experience!

Speaking of spa-like bathrooms and showers, the trend of including multiple shower heads in your walk-in or wet room shower also continues to grow in popularity.

And it’s easy to see why. Nothing turns a boring old shower stall into a spa faster than multiple shower heads, especially if at least one provides a drenching rain-like experience!

But you have a number of options to help transform your standard shower stall into something more luxurious. Rain shower heads are generally top-mounted, as opposed to the traditional wall-mount, to provide a more drenching overhead flow.

Or you could add more flexibility with a sliding bar shower mount, which allows the shower head to be re-positioned along a vertical axis. The wall mount stays stationary, and you can adjust the height of the shower head to suit your needs, or pair two mounts on opposite or adjacent walls to create a more luxurious spray.

Another option to consider is the shower panel system. You can design your own, or choose one that’s been pre-assembled, for a standing-Jacuzzi shower experience. Multiple shower flows that you can adjust to suit your individualized preferences for flow type and speed offer the ultimate in customization and a truly indulgent shower experience.

Before you make a purchase, however, double-check to ensure your present water lines and hot water heater can handle the extra workload.  Adding panel systems in particular add a heavier burden to hot water heaters. Additionally, in many locales, multiple showerheads may run afoul of local water use regulations, so check with your municipal authorities before you proceed.

Furniture Pieces as Storage

 Antique and well-made reproduction pieces in particular add originality and elegance to any stylish bathroom.

Antique and well-made reproduction pieces in particular add originality and elegance to any stylish bathroom.

When it comes to adding storage to your bathroom, why not look beyond the usual suspects in the home store bathroom aisles and consider actual built-for-the-rest-of-the-home furniture?

Antique and well-made reproduction pieces in particular add originality and elegance to any stylish bathroom. Vintage styles help you express your creativity, while still providing functional form, and help make the bathroom feel more like a sanctuary than a purely functional space.

Adding re-purposed vintage furniture pieces to a bathroom with a postmodern or contemporary aesthetic also helps you take advantage of another hot design trend: skillfully mixing the old with the new. Too much “antiquery” can create a staid, somber effect. Mixing it up with more contemporary lines and styles helps keep the look lighter and fresher.

One of the easiest and most common ways to incorporate vintage furniture into your bathroom is to turn a substantial piece such as a dresser, dressing table, or bureau into a vanity for your sink. Just make sure that your selected piece is sturdy and well-constructed enough to handle the added weight and stress of the basin, fixtures and pipes.

If you’re unsure about re-purposing a vintage piece of furniture as a vanity or additional storage in the damp atmosphere of your bathroom, explore reproductions offered by modern manufacturers. They’re made expressly for use in the bathroom, so you don’t need to worry about whether an expensive piece will withstand the added moisture and new function.

Alternatively, take a yard-sale or vintage consignment store find -- an armoire that’s seen better days, for example -- and turn it into a freestanding “shabby chic” piece for storing towels and toiletries.

To protect your furniture from moisture damage, apply a coat of deck sealer to wood surfaces. You can also swap out wood surfaces for sturdier materials, such as granite or other types of stone.

Is it Time to Ditch the Tub?

A recent AIA survey (PDF) shows that certain bathroom renovation trends favoring showers over bathtubs are growing in popularity. Curbless walk-in showers, doorless showers, and stall-only showers top the list of the most often requested renovations.

It makes sense to consider replacing a tub with a shower for a number of reasons. Showers use far less water than bathtubs, and save on associated energy and water costs for that reason. They’re also usually quicker to use, and can be fitted with luxury features such as non-slip tiles and benches.

Also, showers are more “user-friendly” for an aging population. Tubs can be difficult for older adults and people with injuries or disabilities to get in and out of, whereas easy-entry shower stalls are much more accessible.  As millions of Baby Boomers reach retirement age, these trends should only continue to rise in popularity.

 Walk-in shower with single glass panel, wall-hung toilet and bidet. Floating vanity and mirror.

Walk-in shower with single glass panel, wall-hung toilet and bidet. Floating vanity and mirror.

Deciding Whether to Go Tub-less

Before you take the plunge and rip out that tub, give this decision some careful consideration.

First, consider use. How much use does your tub really get? If you have small children, tubs are much easier than stalls, of course. If you only have one bathroom available and your kids are under the age of 8, you might want to hold off on the project until they’re older.

Most homeowners are also concerned about resale value before making substantial changes to bathrooms and kitchens, and that’s wise. After all, your home is also an investment, and it’s only prudent to avoid making changes that can lessen its value.

Tubs are just “expected” by some home buyers, and there’s no getting around that. But the lack of a tub might not be a detriment to a later sale. It depends on your market and what buyers are willing to accept. In an area with a high demand for housing and a limited supply, a home that lacks a bathtub will still sell, all other things being equal.

One way to preserve your options in resale value is to keep one tub somewhere in the house. A shower-only house can be a tougher sale down the line. But if you have two or more bathrooms available, by all means exchange one of those tubs for a bigger and more luxurious shower stall.

Finally, look carefully at the cost. The least expensive options -- shower stall kits -- start at $200 but can rise in price dramatically, and that’s before you hire a contractor, adjust your water lines, remove the tub, or modify surrounding flooring.

If you have the budget, we’d strongly encourage you to hire a licensed, experienced contractor, especially if you’re planning to put in a curbless shower (as we discuss below). If you tackle this one on your own, expect to spend at least a full weekend at it.

How Big a Job Is It to Exchange a Tub for a Shower?

Simple one-to-one conversions -- that is, taking out a tub and installing a shower stall in the same space -- are fairly simple if you’re working with a tub in a recessed alcove. Taking out a tub will leave a working space of approximately five feet in length and anywhere from 30 to 34 inches on average deep. That’s more than adequate for a roomy shower stall. The water lines shouldn’t need much adjustment, so the total project won’t be terribly complex.

But if you’ve got a freestanding tub, or one located beneath a window (which isn’t uncommon) you’ll have a slightly tougher -- and more expensive -- job ahead of you. You may need to relocate water supply and main lines, and that could add several hundred dollars to the budget.

Space needs should be reviewed carefully. Modern building codes require a shower floor space, or shower pan, of at least 30 inches square, which should make the removed-tub space sufficient. But some industry standards suggest a minimum of at least 36 inches square, in which case you’ll have some overage if you’re working with a standard tub footprint.

You’ll also need a height clearance of at least 80 inches, and at least 15” (preferably 18”) of space should remain between the side of the toilet and the side of the shower wall. And, of course, if there’s a swinging door entrance into the shower stall, you’ll need to make sure it completely clears any possible obstructions such as cabinetry or fixtures.

What Kind of Shower? 

One of those popular choices among homeowners who are ditching the tub and moving to shower-only baths is the walk-in shower. These designs offer both ease of use -- especially for an aging homeowner -- and a more modern, streamlined aesthetic that conveys a sense of luxury.

Another consideration in choosing to replace a tub with a shower is whether to select a stall with or without a curb.

Many stalls feature a curb -- a “lip” usually constructed out of tile that protects the rest of the room’s flooring by acting as a little dam for the water before it drains through the floor. A curbless shower stall uses a shower pan that’s flush with the rest of the floor of the bathroom, without that lip.

While curbless stalls do look more modern and are definitely trending in popularity these days, they’re also more difficult to install correctly, often requiring adjustments to the existing floor height and adding to the project cost.

So if you think you’d like the curbless option, review your options with your licensed contractor carefully, and seek their input and recommendations.