By Rebecca Orlov
The kitchen is definitely the heart of the house – playing host to family meals, casual conversations with friends and family, a quiet afternoon tea for one, storage space for décor and accents, art studio for the kids, business center for a burgeoning idea, you name it. In recent years and with the economic shift, many people have downsized and smaller kitchen areas are now a way of life. But don’t fret. There are tons of small space kitchen design ideas and practical solutions to make the most of your kitchen square footage.
Today people are spending valuable time at home and are making it a priority to create comfort spaces that truly suit their lives. Creating a welcome and efficient kitchen space paired with lifestyle comfort that maximizes the entire room is often a priority.
Look and Learn
One great tip to start with when embracing your kitchen space is to simply observe and understand how you and your family really use the space. Some families spend most of their dining and casual time in their kitchen while other families may just eat meals at the kitchen table and use the family room for social gatherings. By evaluating your use of the space, you will get a better idea of how to plan the layout to make the most of the space. Write down your daily kitchen routine for a month. Seeing the day-to-day activities on paper will give you an honest snapshot of how the family uses the kitchen space and how you need it to function – what’s working and what’s not. And while you’re at it, make note of favorite design styles and what makes you feel good when it comes to color, texture and style. These design accents can ultimately add layers to your kitchen space.
Your Kitchen, Your Focal Point
Take a look around your home at the focal points in each room to see how it balances the space. A focal point is the center of the space, the key item that the room works around. For living rooms, it could be the fireplace, for bedrooms it could be a canopy bed. For small kitchens, it’s the typically the entire space. So how do you deal with this – an entire space? Look at your kitchen as one solid unit. Use either a neutral palette or one color throughout your space to keep the eye moving and for the kitchen to feel like one complete unit. One easy solution for creating this look is to make sure your backsplash pattern is uninterrupted and even the outlets fit into the design aesthetic. Make sure they are part of the pattern or color palette and that they fit in rather than stand out and fore the eye to stop on them. Take a look around and make sure the room fits together.
Premiere Kitchen & Bath and American Window Industries
Come see us at booth 634/636
Premiere Kitchen & Bath will be exhibiting once again this year at the 2013 Home & Garden Show at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh. We can be found at Booth 2703.
Please stop by our booth throughout the show for great home improvement ideas and ways to improve your home this Spring and beyond.
2013 Pittsburgh Home & Garden Show – Booth 2703
March 1st – 10th 2013
American Window Industries will be exhibiting once again this year at the 2013 Home & Garden Show at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh. We can be found at Booth 2703.
Over the past 10 years, the Pittsburgh Remodeling Expo has built a reputation for bringing together Pittsburgh’s most active and discerning homeowners and the leading home improvement experts under one roof. For homeowners and leading contractors alike, it’s a can’t-miss event. For three days, the convention center provides an appropriate and spectacular setting for the most innovative and informative home and garden exhibits and experts.
While you can of course hire a professional to help remodel your bathroom, you should still come up with some idea of what you want in a bathroom makeover, according to the HGTV website. Creating and using a checklist can help save you money and time and transform your home’s bathroom into your unique style.
Idea, Estimate and Receipt Folders
An essential part of your bathroom remodeling project is to create and maintain separate folders for your ideas, professional estimates and receipts for all expenditures. HandyAmerican.com suggests using a planner to keep track of notes and ideas.
During the preliminary stages of the bathroom renovation process, you must make sure that your dream bathroom makeover won’t violate any codes of your neighborhood or condominium building. The National Kitchen and Bath Association warns that your bathroom remodeling project must keep any wall switches at least 60 inches from the bathtub or shower; also, any plans you implement must also include anti-scald devices in sinks, bathtubs and showers for maximum safety.
Countertop considerations are an essential part of most bathroom makeover projects, according to the HGTV website. Finding the colors and styles that work best for you isn’t necessarily difficult; choosing one that fits within your budget can present the biggest challenge in this type of remodeling project. You can choose anything from classic tile to granite or quartz. Also, if you’re not satisfied with the existing counter space in your bathroom, be sure to add this task to your checklist.
Most bathroom remodeling projects include new flooring, according to HGTV. But remember that the bathroom is a potentially tricky place to have flooring; it must feel comfortable, have the ability to withstand wear and water and of course look pleasing to the eye. Some professional remodelers prefer ceramic tile, which withstands all of the elements of bathroom use and is available in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors and prices. Bamboo and wood offer an entirely different look but are great options as long as the homeowner is willing to spend the cash on the materials and the extra time necessary to maintain such floors.
Don’t forget to add fixtures to your bathroom remodeling checklist. Homeowners can go all out and buy brand new toilets, sinks, bathtubs and showers. You also can keep it simple and just replace the faucets and outlet covers. Repainting or repapering the walls and even installing in-floor heating are additional options that you can incorporate depending on your taste and budget.
Flooring- Tile, wood, stone, synthetic, etc… You will want to check with the manufacturer as to warranty as some surfaces such as wood often does not warranty in kitchens and baths. Also, some surfaces are much easier to clean.
Cabinets- Their is a great variance in choices here from IKEA to custom built. This is an important choice as it is often the most expensive part of a kitchen remodel and the finish effects the choices of the rest of the items. It is best to take your kitchen measurements making a note of where you want your kitchen sink, refrigerator, and stove centered. Also take a couple of pictures of the space so your designer can visualize your space. Most cabinet makers/sellers provide a free design service. Take your ideas to them and get some design options and pricing.
Things to Consider when considering cabinet layout:
Where is the microwave going? Integrated into the cabinets, freestanding on countertop, above the range as a microwave/vent combo? This will need to be known during electrical ruff-in as the microwave is generally on its own circuit. The microwave/vent combos are great space savers, but do not vent as well as some of the traditonal hoods. Also, how high do you want it. If it is above the range can your children safely reach it etc…
Lighting- Under cabinet lighting? This should be mentioned to the provider of cabinets as it may effect design and also needs to be wired for during electrical ruff-in.
Refrigerator- Refrigerators come in numerous sizes so you need to choose one so the cabinets can fit around it. Do you want ice and/or water on the door. If yes, these will need to be accomodated during plumbing ruff-in.
Dishwasher- Although most dishwashers are a standard 24″ wide, you should choose your model first to make sure.
Sink- Sinks come in various sizes and shapes. Make sure you choose a sink first so cabinets accomodate it.
Traffic Pattern- How will the kitchen function? Does the refrigerator door open the right way?
Cabinet functions-Where do you want to put your silverware, pots and pans, Do I want a pantry. Today most cabinet manufacturers provide pull out shelves/pantries etc. Give it some thought, get a design, think about it some more. If you don’t think your cabinet designer is giving you good answers, your probably right, go somewhere else. (Your contractor can also assist you in possible designs, but you will still need to sit with a designer/cabinet maker to settle on a final design).
Pulls-What kind of handles or pulls are you going to have on your cabinet doors and drawers. These are usually sold seperately so price them when shopping for cabinets
Door stops and dampers- Do you want door stops/dampers to soften the closing of doors and drawers. If yes they need to be ordered from the manufacturer of the cabinets.
Kitchen entrances and arches- Many homes have small entrances to the kitchen from adjoining rooms and outdoors. Do you want to expand the archway, add french doors? It maybe more feasible then think. Explore all options as you can eliminate them before ending the design process if not appropriate or in the budget.
Counter tops- Stone, synthetic, wood, etc… If you choose a natural product such as wood or granite ask about sealing the product against stains and long term care. Some stone surfaces are stain resistant and very durable, while others stain easily and scratch and chip. Specialty products are generally cut and installed from place of purchase and cordinated throught your general contractor. Do this after you have a cabinet design so you can price the product accordinglly. Stone installers generally do a final measurement after cabinets are installed and then install the fabricated finished product 7 to 10 days later.
Lighting- Where do you want lights? Above the sink, under the cabinets, range vent already has one, dimable? Make sure kitchen is well lighted, but don’t go overboard. You don’t want 6 switches to flick when you walk into the kitchen and think about how the lighting works in your current kitchen.
Range- What do you want? Cooking is one of my favorite past times so I am willing to spend more to get a larger range that provides more cooking surface area. Do you want a traditional free standing oven/range combo, a drop in range with cabinet mounted oven(s), Remember to size your range and vent so they match in size. Also the various choices effect electrical ruff-in so need to be made early.
Windows- Natural lighting is wonderful in a kitchen so consider changing your window(s) to accomodate your layout. Maybe a skylight or solar tube can be added. Remember skylights and solar tubes affect lighting lay0uts so make each decision considering the other.
Dishwasher-Some models are very quite now. You need to choose it before the counter top is fabricated as most models require a vent to be drilled into the surface behind the sink to meet code.
Molding and trim- What do you plan to trim the room with and do you want crown molding on your cabinets. This is important so your contractor can ensure the framing can accomodate it. If you want crown molding your ceiling may need to be leveled first. Many homes have settled over the years and if you want perfect trim and molding, let your contractor know so he can make sure all surfaces are level and plumb. Also, what kind of finish do you want on your trim? Paint or stain?
Paint and finish surfaces- Do you want a tile, stone or painted backsplash. Do you want textured or smooth walls and ceilings? Choose your paint colors before cabinet istallation if possible so a base coat can be put down before installation.
General: We provide this list to get clients to thinking about what they want. You don’t need to have all the answers, but at least when you meet your contractor/ designer you will have some ideas and they can grasp your vision. This is an important part of choosing your contractor/designer. Ask all the questions you need to and if you don’t feel your getting the answers you want, maybe you need to interview another qualified contractor/designer. Remodeling your kitchen can be a wonderful experience as long as you choose the appropriate team. Does this check list help? Let us know so we can improve upon it.
It’s all in writing, but you have to read the fine print.
American Window Industries only uses quality windows by Pella and all come with the nation’s best available warranties…
By: Clayton DeKorne
So much about selecting a good window comes down to the warranty,” says Chris Mathis, of MC Squared, a building-science consulting company based in Asheville, N.C. Mathis focuses on windows, doors, and skylights, serves on the ASHRAE and ASTM code committees as well as the International Energy Conservation Code Committee of the ICC, and was a founding board member and the former director of the National Fenestration Rating Council. He insists that regardless of window materials and features, the warranty should be one of the first window-selection criteria to consider. “If a window fails in a few years, it doesn’t matter how good or strong or energy efficient it started out to be,” Mathis says. “About 30% of the replacement windows installed are replacing windows that are only about seven years old. This speaks to how poor many of the units out there are.”
The most common window failure is the seal on an insulated glass unit. Once the seal blows, the window fogs up between the panes. This can cause a drastic reduction in window R-value and may oxidize the low-E coating, turning it into a high-E coating that absorbs heat rather than reflecting it. In the worst cases, the pane actually deforms, bowing inward, as a gas fill, such as argon, escapes.
Mathis recommends choosing a window with a minimum 20-year warranty on the insulated glass, which most of the big window companies offer. “There’s a reason some of the big companies have been in business a long time. They’ve been in it long enough to figure out what works,” Mathis says.
Although the bigger window companies have a known presence, he remarks, they only have 10% to 12% of the market. “There are so many window makers out there,” he says, underscoring that it doesn’t take much to get into the window manufacturing business and capture local markets with cut-rate pricing. But these are the companies, Mathis cautions, that may not be around in three or five or seven years when the glass fails.
Then, we did everything you’re not supposed to when planning construction. We hired a contractor who had previously worked on our apartment building without checking references. We had no idea if he was licensed. We started the project when I was six months pregnant.
Still, despite some setbacks, the project was finished on time. In fact, the living room floors were being varnished when I was in the hospital giving birth. The place looked good, and we even received a baby present from Dave, our contractor.
Dumb luck. And dumb might be the operative word here. As more people are turning to remodeling instead of moving — and with the decline in new construction meaning more eager contractors to chose from — it makes sense to know how to choose a general contractor.
“People shop for cars more carefully than contractors,” said Mario Barbuto, who has been a general contractor for the last 25 years in the New York area.
A remodeling experience gone wrong can make your life hell. Patricia Maier, a retired teacher, signed a contract in July 2008 for an addition to her house in Lexington, Mass., which was built in 1884.
Almost three years later, she is still coping with a job that was supposed to take four months. She hired an architect who was the husband of a colleague and used a general contractor he suggested.
The builder quickly did much of the exterior work, then took a 10-day trip to the Caribbean. Things never got back on track. Newly installed floors warped, were reinstalled and warped again. French doors that had been put in weren’t sealed correctly. Gutters didn’t drain properly. The architect dropped out of the process.
“Things looked good superficially but there were so many problems,” she said. Now Ms. Maier is seeking redress through various state offices.
“Never hire a friend,” she said, referring to the architect. “It will always backfire.”
Do you even need to hire a general contractor?
No, said David M. Dillon, a general contractor based in Dallas. Any competent person can oversee construction, he said. But if several subcontractors are involved, a lot of time will be spent by a homeowner managing details and personalities.
Should you decide you want a general contractor to run your project, how do you find one?
Word of mouth is always a good option, as is contacting your local government’s public works and building departments.
“They’re full of opinions about who is good and who is not. They’re looking at their work every day,” said Mr. Dillon, who has self-published a book this year called, “Homeowners, It’s Time to Think Like a General Contractor.”
Online referral sites are another option to find contractors. Some are free, but Angie’s List, which is one of the better known, charges membership fees. The cost starts at under $10 a month, and opinion online is divided on how good these sites are.
After narrowing down a list, what do you do? Most people would say ask for references and photos of previous work, but that’s just the beginning. References are important, but how do you know they’re genuine customers? Web site photos are nice, but a lot can be hidden.
So it is much more important to ask to physically see work that has withstood the test of time.
“I show jobs that are six or seven years old, because new jobs always look good,” Mr. Barbuto said. And he’s happy to ask former customers if he can do a walk-through for potential clients.
“After all, everything looks pretty in a picture,” he said.
When visiting a completed project, take the time to talk to the owners there and get a sense of how happy they were with their contractor.
Of course, you can do all the right things and still have problems. A friend, who is so embarrassed and angry about her situation that she asked not to be named, was having a house built. She visited six or seven working job sites in various stages of development and talked to numerous project managers.
She chose a contractor with glowing recommendations who had done her best friend’s house.
“We hired them and happily moved forward with a full team,” she said. “We worked very well together, and I looked forward to nearly daily meetings and trips to the job site.”
Against her somewhat better judgment, because her experience had been so positive, she paid the contractor ahead of time for doors and windows, rather than upon delivery.
Then, she received a letter from the contractor announcing bankruptcy.
Now, she said, she knows that “lots of people can build a good house, but not everyone can run a good business.” My friend wishes she had looked into the contractor’s business practices and contacted his subcontractors and providers; some of the contractor’s problems might have become evident.
When hiring someone, homeowners should make sure they understand whether the prices a contractor gives you are hard and fast or guesstimates, Mr. Dillon said.
If the contractor says it will cost $5,000 for the plumber, ask to see the contract between the contractor and plumber, Mr. Dillon said. Otherwise it could turn out to really be $17,000 — and guess who is going to pay that difference?
“Anyone who is aboveboard should be willing to show you the contracts,” he said. And be sure to get multiple bids, and when you do, compare what is priced.
“If one has an electrician bid and one doesn’t — what’s up with that?” he said. “Go through it line by line.”
I asked some friends who had construction experience what advice they would pass on. Here are some hard-won words of wisdom:
¶ Check the number of projects the contractor has going at the same time. Too many at once can add a considerable amount of time to your own.
¶ What margin does your contractor take to provide materials? Perhaps you can save by buying materials yourself. My friend Eliza saved about 20 percent doing that for a remodeling project.
Contractors aren’t always keen on it, though. Mr. Barbuto warns that if you get your own windows, for example, and they’re the wrong size or cracked, the problem is yours to deal with, not his.
¶ Never go on a vacation and leave contractors to work on their own. Even with builders you trust, it’s better to be available. And at worst, it can mean little or no work gets done while you’re relaxing on the beach.
¶ Listen to the ways the contractor and the subcontractors, like the plumbers and electricians, interact. My friend Amy had four different contractors come with their subcontractors to bid on a major renovation.
“Listening to them talk together, I got a sense of how they respected each other and worked together,” she said. “In the end, we didn’t hire the cheapest guy, but the one I thought was the smartest and most creative and got along best with his subcontractors.”
Finally, everyone said to hold some money back until the project was completed. And that means no small unpainted areas or loose tiles or bad grouting. Too often, builders, even good ones, leave small details unfinished once they’ve moved on to their next project.
In fact, Amy suggested that after you’ve unsuccessfully hounded the contractor for weeks to do the last bits and bobs, try this: take that money and hire a handyman.
by: My Home Ideas
Design meets function in today’s bathroom. Not only are the necessities aesthetically pleasing, but elements of comfort and convenience are thoughtfully worked in at every turn. See how these new products can better your bath.
Towel Bar Hooks
A little detail goes a long way when you’re making room for all the necessities in a small space. Whether it’s jewelry, a travel bag, or just another towel, use these hooks to keep your bath neat and clutter free.
Take the guesswork out of choosing faucets and fixtures for your bathroom remodel. This versatile collection offers all the hardware you’ll need, leaving plenty of time to customize the rest of the room.
Give your guests something to talk about when you add a touch of glamour to your powder room. Embellished with Swarovski crystal, this collection is anything but ordinary; think of it as jewelry for your bath.