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Office Renovation: The Ultimate Guide for Modern Businesses

So, you have decided to renovate your office, have you?

First, congratulations on taking the first step – making the actual decision!

We would love to tell you that the hard part is now over, but it has just begun.

You have many things to consider before deciding what color to paint the new office, things such as:

  • Deciding what it is you want to achieve from the renovation.
  • The layout that best suits your business’s needs.
  • What modern office design trends are best for your clients, employees, and company goals.
  • What is this renovation going to cost you and how to budget accordingly?
  • Figuring out if there will be any employee downtime and involvement.

Office renovation is a lot more than just aesthetics – how your new office looks is just as important as how it feels to your employees and clients.

If you can impress your clients, make your employees happy, and increase productivity with your ‘office makeover’ without having to break the bank or pause business for too long, then and only then can you say that your office renovation was a true success.

Where to Begin

Before you make your ‘dream’ office you should get some expert advice, or you might end up with a renovation ‘nightmare’.

Where can you get such expert advice?

You can start with this guide to begin your renovation journey.

The guide covers all the major areas you need to consider during the renovation process. It discusses relevant topics such as office layouts, modern design trends, but also downtime management and other specific points that affect the business during office renovations.

The very first question to answer is why you want to renovate.

Deciding What You Want

Do you know why you want to renovate your office?

What is the main driving force behind your undertaking besides the fact that your walls look like they need a fresh coat of paint?

An office renovation is no small task, but when done right, the company and its employees will see many benefits.

Take CBRE, an American real estate services and investment firm, as an example. They have improved its clients’ employee satisfaction rates and attendance through its ‘Workplace 360’ office renovations which provide a high-tech, flexible, and paperless work environment.

Reasons to Renovate the Office

Some common reasons business owners have to renovate the office are:

1. As a Business Grows, So Do the Needs of Its Office Space

The actual reasons for growth matter little – more employees, the higher demand, or a switch in goals – but what matters is that to adapt to these changes, the business has to evolve to meet its current and future growth demand and part of the evolution is renovating the workplace.

Will the renovation be able to serve the business’s future growth needs?

You do not want to constantly be renovating your office space to keep up with growth rates. That will put a dent in your company’s wallet because of constant renovation and employee downtime.

2. Staying Contemporary

You know the old saying, “First impressions are everything!” If the current state of your office looks shabby, run-down, or dated, it gives a horrible impression to your clients.

Even if your products or services are modern and innovative, an outdated office will advertise:

“We are going out of business!”

3. Higher Productivity

Making workspaces more comfortable improves productivity and performance. One study showed that a typical office renovation could increase employee productivity by 12%.

Some ways a redesign can boost employee productivity are as follows:

  • Creating more open space for employees to work in.
  • Fostering cooperation among staff members.
  • Reducing wear and tear and thus bolstering enthusiasm and pride among employees.
  • Promoting ergonomic space and furniture which allows employees to maintain proper circulation and blood flow to the brain.
  • Incorporating positive designs, colors, and natural surroundings to improve your workforce’s emotional states.

4. Increased Profits

Renovating office space can also increase your bottom line when done right.

Reports show that the work environment plays a significant role in employee productivity and client perception – the two key ingredients in increasing profit margins.

Aside from increasing employee productivity, other benefits derived from renovating your office include attracting customers and expanding business operations.

The renovation does not even have to be complex to gain a potential customer or client’s attention.

A fresh coat of paint, simple repairs, and drywall work are minor renovations that can produce a positive perception of your business.

The main idea behind attracting more customers through office renovations is to create the appearance of an organized, efficient and vibrant environment.

5. Eco-Friendliness

Creating a workplace that has a positive and less damaging impact on the environment is another reason to start renovating.

If you have decided a renovation is in order, you might as well think about the impact it can have not only on your company but on the immediate surroundings and globally.

Helping the environment will also help your business.

80% of people respect companies with eco-friendly practices.

An eco-friendly renovation can simultaneously boost your business output and its image at the same time. Going eco-friendly will:

Increase Productivity

Studies have shown that eco-friendly workspaces can boost employee performance.

Natural lighting helps to improve employee sleep patterns and the addition of plants within a working environment helps to increase employee memory retention.

Boost Employee Health

With more and more employees being granted access to more sick days in the past couple of years – 79 million in the private sector alone – companies would do well to try and keep their employees healthy.

Aside from the fact of not having to pay for as many ‘sick days’, companies can also improve their productivity through healthy employees as healthier workers perform better.

Employees who maintain a healthy diet perform 25% better at work than those who don’t.

While your employees’ diets may not reside in your sphere of influence, unless you are deciding to implement a cafeteria as part of your renovation, creating an eco-friendly office can go a long way to improving the state of health of your staff.

Decorating your office with plants can reduce stress, improve air quality, and lower the risk of Sick Building Syndrome (SBS).

Save You Money in the Long Run

Redesigning your office with the environment in mind can save your company a ton of money.

A report from 2012, found that hospitals who lower both their energy consumption and production of waste could save $15 billion over ten years.

Much of a business’s upkeep costs come from energy consumption.

We spend approximately $60 billion on energy each year by small businesses alone!

You can save money through your office renovation if you include energy-efficiency as one of your redesign goals.

Installing programmable thermostats, double-pane windows, and LED light bulbs can reduce energy expenditure within your office and they are quite budget-friendly to boot.

6. Employee Happiness

Without employees, businesses won’t survive, and without happy employees, most businesses can’t thrive.

Customer happiness is in direct correlation to employee happiness!

The above-mentioned reasons for office renovation will automatically increase employee satisfaction, but that does not mean that you should not include your employees in the process – their feedback is mandatory!

Design preferences, renovation goals, and alternate ideas on how to improve the office are valid employee inputs that will help ensure their acceptance of the new office makeover.

Understand that comfort has become a priority for most employees. They are at the office for 8 hours or more, so you want to do your best to keep them positive and motivated as long as possible.

Changing the office around to suit their preferences is a giant leap in that direction.

Something as simple as supplying furniture suited to their needs (and wants) will go a long way in improving their mental outlook and physical health.

According to a Capital One Work Environment Survey from 2017, employees cited natural light, creative imagery, and comfortable furniture as some of the features they preferred from their work environment.

Note that you can have more than one reason to renovate. In that case, make a priority list to see which reason will be your number one priority.

Office Layouts

Office renovation isn’t just about improving the overall look and feel of your office. Quality renovation will also make your office comfortable, motivating, and organized to get the most done in the shortest amount of time possible.

For that, you need a well-planned office layout/design.

office renovation layouts

There are different designs, and each one has something different to offer. All have their advantages and drawbacks.

Learn about all of them before making a final decision. Only then will you be able to come up with an office layout in line with the goals you have set forth for your company’s workspace.

Types of Office Layouts

Below you will find 5 of the most widely used office layouts along with both their pros and cons to give you a better idea of which one will correlate best with your office needs.

1. Open Office Layout

Typically, open office layouts designs enable each worker to have their own space but also share a larger space with a group of fellow employees.

The aim of an open office layout is to encourage professional relationships and collaboration.

This layout seemed very useful for transparency, communication, and collaboration among employees.

open office layout

Do open office layouts improve communication, relationships, and productivity or are they just to ‘open’ to get any work done? Is an open design right for your office needs?

  • Detractors of this layout have condemned it for being too noisy and loud, thus reducing concentration levels and increasing stress and even resentment among employees.
  • Proponents of this layout claim that it increases productivity despite the noiseless environment it offers.

And while there are over 300 papers in 67 journals claiming that open office layouts significantly improve employee productivity, learn about the pros and cons of open office designs to help you get a better idea if this office design is right for your business:

Pros

  • Communication: Limited physical barriers between employees help increase communication, task management, and workflow.
  • Supervision: Open office layouts make it easier to supervise employees as all their workers are ‘out in the open’.
  • Reduced Cost: As there is no need to create separate workspaces for employees in an open-office environment, a company can save on office expenses (e.g., lighting and air-conditioning).

Cons

  • Distractions/Noise: Open offices are a noisier workspace that makes it more difficult for employees to concentrate.
  • Privacy Issues: Some employees find the open-office environment uncomfortable and work better when they have their own private workspace.

2. Cellular Office Layout

A cellular office design, the most common of which are cubicle offices, is perhaps the second most popular office layout because of their ability to enhance productivity among employees.

Cellular offices have either individual rooms or cubicles where employees have enough privacy in which to do their work.

Also, cubicles and rooms can be designed to separate teams into sections thus improving organization and structure and reducing office chaos.

cellular office layout

A recent survey found that 71.4% of employees in an open office environment felt that the open layout improved their productivity, while 44.2% of employees working in cellular offices felt that this environment improved their work levels.

The following are some pros and cons of a cellular office environment:

Pros

  • Autonomous Work: Employees who are driven and work better on their own thrive in a cellular environment as they can work uninterrupted more often.
  • Privacy/Security: Because of the fully and semi-closed nature of cellular layouts, employees and employers alike can be sure that their workspace will stay organized and safe as no one is allowed to enter or tamper with their documents, papers, and other work material without their permission.
  • Focus/Concentration: Employees who deal with more technical and analytical work prefer the ‘closed-quarters’ of cellular offices as they offer fewer distractions and noise, allowing them to focus more clearly on the task at hand.

Cons

  • Inefficient Space: They require a large space in which to operate – rooms and cubicles must be divided across the entire length and width of the floor and therefore the entire office is dedicated to them.

If you don’t have a lot of room to begin with and do not have the budget to add on to your floor plan, then cellular offices may not be right for you!

  • Lack of Communication: Separating the workspace will diminish the quantity and quality of communication among employees. There are still email, memos, and assistants who can deliver messages, but these are not as effective as actual face-to-face interactions.

3. Coworking Office Layout

Coworking offices are one of the latest trends to hit the business world regarding office layouts.

Millennials especially love them as they are cost-effective, provide economy of space, and allow for great networking opportunities.

Coworking Office Layout

Within a coworking office, employees can either choose their workspace as needed, or an employer can choose a designated area to perform specific jobs and tasks.

Workspaces are not ‘set in stone’. They often change according to the needs of the worker and the specific requirements of the business.

Coworking workspaces are known for their flexible work environments, comfortable surroundings, and social atmosphere, which is why they are so appealing among the younger workforce of today.

Pros

  • Networking: Great for businesses that want to have more social activity and brainstorming sessions among their employees and staff members of other businesses. Many new ideas are shared and often breakthrough discoveries are formed thanks to the free flow of information.
  • Cost-Effective: Startups and young entrepreneurs with very little capital can easily rent out a coworking environment for a small fee. All the necessary office equipment is provided – desks, photocopiers, whiteboards, and Wi-Fi. No startup capital is needed to have one’s own office.
  • Customer/Client Interaction: Businesses who do not have an adequate office space in which to impress their clients with can utilize coworking offices to meet them in, thus branding them as being both professional and trendy at the same time.

Cons

  • No Privacy: There is zero privacy in a coworking office environment. Even when they do include semi-private workspaces, they are often shared by multiple individuals.
  • Little/No Security: This is a real concern, especially for those businesses who keep their client’s personal information and private documents in a cloud server. Having to access public Wi-Fi to upload and retrieve company, customer, and client information leaves it susceptible to hackers.

Takeaway: While renting coworking office spaces may not be considered a typical office renovation, it is a step up from a basement or a garage!

4. Combination Office Layouts

If you would like the benefits of both an open and cellular design, then the combination office layout is right for you.

 Combination Office Layouts

Instead of using doors and windows to shut off cubicles and semi-closed off spaces, you would replace them with natural office surroundings like tables, desks, couches, chairs, and walkways.

This gives an element of privacy to an environment which fosters collaboration.

Pros

  • Productivity: Office staff can focus on their work but also move around easily should the need arise to communicate or collaborate with supervisors and fellow employees. The dual nature of both benefits helps to increase employee productivity.
  • Communication: There are fewer barriers to contend with, so office departments and teams working in a combination office are much more likely to communicate among each other. This makes them more effective and efficient when compared to an open or cellular workspace.

Cons

  • Distractions: Combination office layouts are still susceptible to the occasional interruption. Usually, this would be fine for workers who have more semi-automated and mundane tasks, but it could pose a serious issue for those whose job requires a continuous uninterrupted work environment.
  • Ambiguous Standards: As open offices separate and partition the staff through semi-private cubicles, it becomes more difficult to maintain a set of office standards.

Often, the benefits of open office spaces and cellular offices are not seen in a combination office as employees become confused as to what the proper office protocol is – should they stay put and keep to themselves or walk around and interact.

5. Team Clusters Layouts

A team cluster design is great for high levels of team interactions. Team cluster office layouts mostly consist of open spaces- work stations – spread over the entire floor.

However, they can also include meeting rooms and separate cubicles where teams can gather to focus on their specific tasks without being bothered by other teams within the organization.

Team Clusters Layouts

Advertising agencies and corporate companies have a lot of teams that play different roles but who need to interact with one another constantly to complete their assigned projects, so this layout suits them well.

Pros

  • Collaboration: Work teams can easily share ideas as the entire layout is designed for constant employee communication among employees.
  • Cost-Effective: There is no need to continuously build more rooms and different levels as each team within the organization share a common office space, albeit separated into clusters.
  • Communication: Various teams focused on different roles within the organization can interact easily and quickly with one another as they are all stationed on the same floor.

Cons

  • Distractions: There is a tendency for teams to disturb one another, be it through noise or constant interruptions and interjections.
  • Lack of Privacy: There are usually no assigned desks given to a specific member of any team, and there is also no privacy. Almost everything is out in the open within a team cluster layout, which means members of one’s team or other teams in the office can view or borrow anything within the office as they see fit.

6. Home Offices

Home offices are not traditional office layouts, but they must be addressed by organizations who either have a work-at-home policy or are thinking of getting one.

Two-thirds of U.S. companies have a remote work policy in place.

You might want to consider ensuring your employees’ home office is well designed so that they can maintain some semblance of an office atmosphere while working remotely.

home office setup

That is not to say, however, that a certain amount of autonomy should not be given to them in regard to their home-office setup.

Autonomy is one of the main benefits of remote work!

So, what can you do to assure that your remote workers’ home office setup resembles your company’s work environment but allows autonomy too?

While it is impossible to advise on the exact equipment, materials, and software you should have them use – you will be the best judge of that – we do have some basic guidelines which can be followed to help ‘brand’ the company image into their home.

  • Natural Lighting: Natural lighting helps with increasing productivity levels. All your employee needs to do is have the desk by the window.
  • High-Speed Internet: Having reliable and fast internet access is not a luxury for remote workers but a necessity, so make sure to get a good deal for your remote worker.
  • Desk: There are two basic options: traditional or adjustable. With a traditional desk, your employees will be seated while they work. With the adjustable version, they can either sit or stand.

If your main concern is to keep your employees comfortable and healthy, then we suggest going with the adjustable version.

  • Office Chairs: If your employee chooses a traditional desk, it should be accompanied by a high-quality ergonomic chair. Such a chair supports the body’s natural shape and helps maintain posture while sitting down.
  • Office Space: The ideal home workspace will be far from high-traffic areas and usually has a door to block out noise and distractions. Work-life and home-life should not be mixed.

If your employee needs to meet clients at home, then their home office should be as close to the entrance as possible but still maintain a decent distance from their living area.

  • Go Green: If your office space is eco-friendly, you may want to suggest to your employees that they do the same when it comes to their home office.

Eco-friendly home offices tend to have the following features: digital storage (paperless storage), energy-saving light bulbs, and weather-sealed windows to save on electricity.

Home offices and remote work, in general, should not be overlooked. They can provide companies various benefits like higher productivity levels, lower salaries, and a larger talent pool from which to draw upon.

However, if an employee’s home office is not set up properly all these benefits will never be realized, especially in the area of productivity.

Modern Office Design Trends

Comfort and creativity are the demand of the new workforce!

Companies that offer a creative environment and comfortable surroundings tend to have happy, productive, and motivated employees!

Modern Office Design Trends

With the advent of modern technology and work-life style offices like that of Google Campus, businesses across a variety of industries and sectors have come to realize how important an office atmosphere is to:

  • Employee health
  • Productivity
  • Retention levels

All these are necessary factors in maintaining a competitive advantage over the competition.

Google uses 4 main office features to attract a broad talent pool and encourage creativity: vibrant colors, playful designs, casual seating areas, and in-house cafeterias.

When previewing the following trends, pay close attention to their specific features and what they have to offer:

  • Functionality
  • Collaboration
  • Modern Technology
  • Ergonomics

See if any of these modern designs can give you what you need to achieve what you want out of your office renovation.

Many of the office designs of today are intended to bring a ‘fun and hip’ startup-like vibrancy that attracts younger employees.

Some of them even include both activity-based areas intertwined with ‘fun’ zones to create an optimal work-life balance at the office – a feature that is deemed necessary to appease the newer members of the workforce, specifically Millennials and Generation Y.

Lifestyle, interests, and fun activities must be included along with traditional values to suit the needs of Millennials.

The following 3 office design trends promise to increase employee efficiency while at the same time fostering a happy, excited, and comfortable work environment:

1. Flexible Design

Who wants to be stuck in the same place for 8 hours a day?

Most employees don’t, which is exactly why flexible office spaces, where workers can get up and move around to various designated areas, are so popular today.

Flexible Office Design

Some of these designated areas may include:

  • Meeting Rooms
  • Quiet Spaces
  • Recreational Zones

One of the main benefits of having a flexible office is that it can change according to employee tastes.

  • Multiple rooms offer different aspects of working environments to suit various employee tastes, positions, and personalities.
  • Interchangeable furniture and rooms can easily be reconfigured as employees change and grow.
  • Space can be altered as needed with modular furniture and demountable walls to create a work environment that is agreeable to the entire staff.

Flexible office layouts can give your company the ‘flexibility’ it needs to grow as your company grows and changes as your employees change.

2. Biophilic Design

Biophilia refers to the affinity human beings have with the natural world. Therefore, biophilic design refers to the incorporation of natural features within an environment to create beneficial human responses.

As far as employees are concerned, the biophilic design offers the following benefits:

  • Mental Health
  • Physical Health
  • Fitness
  • Well-Being

As over 99% of human history comprises of human beings adapting to the natural world as opposed to artificial and man-made surroundings, the biophilic design encourages the same positive adaptation from within an office setting.

Biophilic offices typically include the following elements:

  • Natural Light
  • Plants
  • Organic Colors
  • Organic Materials
  • Large Windows

Natural elements should not be placed in isolation but throughout the overall setting to connect each employee.

 

All beings are connected and bound by their environment to form highly-functional ecosystems.

Isolating natural surroundings not only disconnects the entire organism, in this case, an office but can also create dissension and other harmful effects among individual employees.

Do not just place an unrelated and isolated object of nature within a man-made office and consider it a biophilic working environment.

If you are looking to create a stress-free, eco-friendly work environment, then bringing the outside in through biophilic design is the way to go.

3. Free-Range Collaborative Design

Most of the traditional and modern office designs have an element of collaboration intertwined into them and for good reason too – employees work better when they work together!

99% of employees wish to work in offices where they can identify with other employees and discuss relevant issues out in the open.

Now, the collaboration design we are talking about here should not be confused with the traditional co-working spaces where multiple companies come under one roof to perform their jobs.

Free-Range Collaborative Design

Today’s collaboration designs go a step further.

They remove all barriers between companies within the shared office environment so that they do not only share the same space but also the same resources and even sometimes the same talent.

Open Collaboration Office designs will usually include at least one of the following:

  • Multi-Use Meeting Areas
  • Technology Resource Spaces
  • Creative Spaces
  • Plants (Greenery)
  • Glass (Large Windows)
  • Portable Wall Dividers
  • No Cubicles (Large Portable Desk and Desk Spaces)
  • Cafeterias and Coffee/Espresso Bars

Another common feature of the new ‘free-range’ collaboration offices is the insertion of collaborative furniture that can be moved anywhere within the office space to meet current demands.

Some examples of collaborative furniture are as follows:

  • Collaborative Work Desks
  • Acoustic Pods
  • Free-Standing Media Units
  • Upholstered Booths

Tech companies and startups often adopt this workspace type but lately established businesses in other industries besides technology have gravitated towards such workspaces.

Many businesses have decided to give open collaboration offices a try because of the success Google has had with its fun and creative collaborative offices.

This is not to say that just because it works for Google, it will automatically work for your business.

However, if you are looking to attract Millennials and the next generation of workers after them (Gen Z), then providing a work environment that encourages collaboration, flexibility, and innovative thinking is a surefire way to achieve this goal.

In other words, think of utilizing (i.e., renting) a free-range work environment or redesign your current office setting to mimic one.

Alternative Approach: Minor Design Changes

Modern office trends are not limited to major renovations. You do not have to change your entire office setup to take advantage of what some of the modern trends have to offer.

Sometimes just adding a few items or moving things around is enough to make your workspace vibrant and alive.

Technology Integration

Talking about the relevance and impact of technology within a business environment today is pointless as you are most likely utilizing at least some form of digital device and software within your organization – you wouldn’t be in business if you didn’t at least have a computer!

However, ramping up your office technology and integrating it with your current office setting to help your employees work smarter, better, and faster should be discussed.

Workers today are more productive than they have ever been due to technology.

The modern technological trend in offices is to use more laptops and other moveable digital devices as the work has become more portable due to remote working policies and free-range office collaboration setups.

The ‘portable offices’ of today usually include one or more of the following features:

  • Power Outlets
  • Wireless Charging Stations
  • Video Conferencing Technology
  • Smart Boards
  • Data Ports
  • Portable Presentation Screens

Do not misunderstand what a ‘technological-integrated’ office means though – you do not have to get rid of all the items that made your office an appealing place to work and visit for your employees, customers, and clients.

All you have to do is be sure to add in a few ‘extras’, like the items listed above, to give your office a modern touch that will make it more compatible with the portable nature of work today.

Comfort and Recreation Zones

While recreation and comfort zones are usually part of a big renovation gig, you can set them up without extensive renovations too.

Something as simple as adding a home-style couch in an unused area of your office is enough to give your workers a much-needed break from their monotonous routines and tasks.

This goes for recreational zones as well.

ping pong table

Think of ping pong tables, pool tables, or an arcade station which you can incorporate into an open area inside of your office to give it a ‘hip’ startup feel and attract new lifeblood into your organization.

Activity-Based Zones

While work goes on in an office, the exact location where it takes place and how it takes place would define it as activity-based or not.

The actual definition of an activity-based workspace (ABW) falls somewhere between a cubicle office and communal work areas.

Simply stated, activity-based workspaces are areas designed for different tasks giving employees more workspace options.

In the past, employees had a set of standard tasks which they needed to perform on a day-to-day basis. Their daily tasks didn’t change much.

Today’s business environment demands that most employees be dynamic and flexible when it comes to their job requirements.

activity zone office

Open-office plans were a step in the right direction in providing a flexible and dynamic atmosphere which coincided with such requirements.

However, many employees were distracted by the constant noise and movement within these open areas and so the ABW was born.

Activity-based offices keep the collaboration aspect intact but allow employees to maintain some quiet time with themselves or with their team members to focus on their specific projects and tasks.

Did you know: Employees tend to be more engaged when they have more control over their work environment.

If you have a meeting room and some open areas, you could set some desks there along with all the other comfortable and portable office items previously discussed above, so that employees and project team members can all come together and collaborate when needed but also shut the meeting room when they prefer to work alone or collaborate in private with their immediate team members.

Budget Planning

How much is the renovation going to cost?

This greatly depends on what you want to achieve from your office renovation, so specifics can vary greatly.

renovation budget planning

The overall average cost can be broken down into three separate costs, primarily:

  1. Square Footage
  2. Professional Contractor Hourly Rates

If you plan on redesigning your office from top to bottom, then it would be a good idea to hire a professional to help you plan and complete your project.

In this case, a contractor would be ideal as they will find the right people for the job, prioritize workload, and provide the materials needed.

  1. Cost of Materials

This is where a contractor is invaluable – they can arrange the best deals for you when it comes to materials.

materials for renovation

Determine the Needs and Wants

You need to take a close look at what you need vs. what you want and focus only on those necessary designs, touch-ups, and items that will help you complete the renovation goals while staying in line with your planned budget.

Always include your core needs within your budget (e.g., items and designs that are necessary to help you complete your renovation goals).

Distinguish your needs from your wants – anything above and beyond what is needed – to reduce renovation costs.

You can put your wants into a ‘wishlist’ and later decide if they can further advance your office goals but only after the basic requirements have been met.

Choose value over price. Quality materials that hold up over time, as well as technological devices that help your office staff work more productively and efficiently are far better investments than cheap and low-quality materials that need to continuously be replaced and outdated hardware and software that no longer suits today’s current business standards.

The value may cost more upfront but will save you a lot of money, time, and energy later down the road.

Set aside at least 10% of your expected renovation costs for unexpected expenditures.

Once you have a goal, a chosen office design to accomplish that goal, and a contractor to come up with a realistic estimated overall cost for the project, you can head back and look at any ‘extras’ that might fit into the budget.

For example, if you need an open office but also want an aesthetically pleasing design to go with it, go with the basic office space redesign first and later down the road decide if the aesthetic touch-ups are needed to further enhance your business goals.

It is all about balancing your vision and your budget and seeing how they both coincide with the actual office space you are choosing to renovate.

To help you come up with an ideal trade-off between budget and vision, try doing the following:

Eco-friendly renovations can be inexpensive and can the same productivity and employee motivation as other more expensive office renovation plans.

Sunshine does not cost anything, and plants are relatively inexpensive.

Updating your office space with modern technology can increase your up-front renovation costs but simultaneously add huge benefits to your business such as providing an eco-friendlier environment (e.g., paperless office) and creating a vibrant, forward-looking atmosphere within your organization.

Limiting private areas and spaces to specific job positions like management and accounting can help cut renovation costs.

If possible, try to provide some communal areas with lots of open space for enhanced collaboration.

Using open communal areas near windows are an inexpensive way to increase employee satisfaction and foster collaboration at the same time.

If your budget allows, consult with both an interior designer and contractor to get advice on how you can use inexpensive items in your office like color, seating, and lighting to increase productivity and positivity.

Such items cost much less than creating more rooms, using expensive pieces of furniture, and purchasing high-cost paintings to achieve the same results.

While the above tips will guide you along the path to creating a more cost-effective design plan and budget, you should expect some unanticipated expenses to surface during the renovation process.

Always evaluate your renovation ideas and compare them with your budget to see if you have any ‘wiggle room’ in case some unexpected expenditures should surface.

Downtime and Employee Involvement

Minimizing downtime during an office renovation is key to keeping your employees motivated, happy, and on schedule.

under construction

If you do not plan for downtime during your office renovation, it could end up costing you a lot of money.

In a survey performed by research and consulting firm, ITIC, it was found that the average cost of downtime among 98% of businesses exceeded $100,000.

If you are planning on keeping the office running in full swing during the renovation period, the following tips will help you minimize downtime, maintain productivity levels, and secure employee’s happiness and satisfaction throughout the entire process.

Employee Activity and Involvement

Let your employees know of the upcoming renovation. This will help keep an open and transparent atmosphere within the office and reduce confusion among your workers.

Hold regular staff meetings before the renovation begins discussing both the impact the renovation will have on the work schedule and plans for securing productivity during the entire process.

office meeting

Discussions may include the reasons and benefits of the renovation, the expected start and end date, and office relocation measures if any.

Gather feedback about the upcoming renovation from your employees so that you can work out a plan that is conducive to management, staff, and your renovation team that may be working during office hours.

Remind workers of your renovation goals and how it will positively impact the company’s vision, as share regular updates so they can see the progress of the work for themselves and judge it accordingly.

Postponing the Office Renovation

If there are any time-sensitive projects, deals, or business plans that must be completed during your planned renovation period, either consider postponing them or the renovation itself to a less busy time of the year.

Postponing your office renovation project until you reach a business lull or during a construction off-season will increase the likelihood of getting cheaper labor rates.

However, if you absolutely must begin your renovation during a busy period, then at least consider performing it in phases instead of all at once to decrease the chances of an extended downtime within your company.

Safe and Clean Work Environment

Never put the renovation ahead of employee safety.

Failing to secure a safe and organized environment at work is a surefire way to court accidents and increase the likelihood of downtime due to injuries and low employee morale.

Put up cautionary signs alerting employees, clients, and customers of any potentially hazardous areas.

Talk to your contractor and design team about the importance of maintaining a tidy workspace. Make sure that they have a daily and regular clean-up schedule planned while they are working within your office space.

Office Relocation and Tech Solutions

Relocating employee workspace is often necessary during an office renovation, especially if the work is being done on the current workspace itself.

You do not, however, have to relocate to another office or a coworking office per se if that is not feasible for your budget or specific situation.

coworking space

You can simply move to an open and empty area of the office or another floor within the building that is not currently being used.

While this may not be an ideal situation as it tends to ‘cramp’ everyone’s style and disrupt habitual office tendencies, it may be the only solution if you are on a tight budget.

There are other options you can choose from, however, but they too will depend on your specific situation and relocation goals.

If you already have a remote-work policy set in place, then temporarily allowing office staff to work from home could be an ideal situation. Just be sure that they already have the needed technology to work remotely or that you are to supply them with it without breaking the bank.

Moving to a coworking office space is another option you may want to consider but only if your budget allows for it and you have a group of employees who have a ‘start-up’ mentality and don’t mind cohabitating and collaborating with other workers from other organizations.

If moving out of the office is not a possibility, then consider using move management software as it allows offices undergoing redesigns to unite with other departments through a single server to reduce employee confusion and minimize management workload.

More specifically, the software will allow you to coordinate moves to different floors or locations within your office or building, facilitate team planning, and generate tasks based on current requirements even when teams and individual employees are split up.

Employee Reorientation

Even if your employees seem to be happy with the new renovation, you need to understand that they will require some time to get used to the changes.

This is especially important to keep in mind if any new technology was implemented during the redesign.

The following tips will help you cut down on the stress that usually comes along with changing the status quo.

Often, employees are too scared to come out and express their anxieties and confusion about recent changes at the office. Therefore, try to notice any negative behavior that they may be expressing through their actions while working.

This goes for any positive expressions as well. Encourage them to come to you with any problems they may be facing with the new office environment and assure them that their feedback will be heeded.

You should still try to fix any problems they may be having as quick as possible so that they can gain confidence as to the role they will play within the new work environment.

If any of their problems concerning the new office space are beyond your scope or grasp, then do not promise them a solution unless you are certain you can deliver one.

Create training and tutorials regarding the new office space and new technology based on their feedback.

Doing so will give them a new set of skills that will not only help them become accustomed to the new work environment but also in advancing their careers.

Ask your staff questions regarding the new technology that was implemented as part of the renovation. Help them weigh the benefits brought about by the new tech against their concerns for it so that they become more confident in the possibilities it will offer them down the road.

Don’t just tell your staff about the benefits of the new office technology and what it can do; show them!

Nothing cuts down the technological learning curve like seeing it in action. What is more, your staff will gain confidence in the fact that you and the rest of the management team have the knowledge and expertise to guide them through the reorientation process.

Provide your staff with documents listing guidelines, policies, and a set of best practices regarding the new office environment as well as any new technology therein. This will help to reduce any confusion or ambiguity they may be facing due to these changes.

In the end, gauging the success of your office renovation all comes down to the cost to reward ratio it offers, as well as employee satisfaction.

Using the above guidelines and tips listed out in this section will help you minimize downtime and help your employees quickly become comfortable with the new office space.

Conclusion

Determining the reason behind your wish to renovate your office is the first step in coming up with a design that supports your business goals.

Once you know why the rest of the journey will be clearer. There might be some bumps in the road ahead, but you can overcome those easily with a little bit of extra money on the side for such cases.

We wish you the best of luck with your office renovation and hope that you receive all the wonderful benefits that come along with a new and improved office space.

5 Tips for Selecting Floor Tiles Worthy of Your Home

Tile is a perfect choice for flooring. While ever popular wood floors are making their way into more and more spaces, including kitchens, the strength, durability and beauty of tile ensure that it will always have a place in the home. If you’re installing tile in your home, your choices in materials, colours, texture, size and shape are many. Follow these tips to find floor tiles that suit your tastes and lifestyle.

tile floor

 

1) Durability is key. Not every tile is suitable for use on the floor. Glass mosaics, for example, are very appealing for walls and backsplashes, but will not hold up on the floor in a high traffic area. Porcelain and ceramic, on the other hand, are well suited for floor applications, but it is important to know just how durable the tile you select is. The Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) rates the durability of all glazed porcelain and ceramic tile on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the most durable. For lightly trafficked areas in the home, such as a bathroom, a PEI rating of 2 or higher is acceptable. A rating of Stone tile floor3 or higher will work for moderately trafficked areas like hallways and living rooms, and a rating of 4 or higher is recommended for high traffic areas like kitchens and entryways.

Natural stone is your most durable option. Even if you do manage to chip or break it, it is typically a consistent colour throughout, so the blemish will barley be noticeable. Make sure you understand the maintenance recommendations of the stone you select, however. Some types of stone are naturally porous and, therefore, need to be sealed to prevent them from becoming stained or even from breaking down over time.

 
 

marble-floor2) Texture matters. Polished stone, marble and porcelain offer a high-sheen look that many homeowners findappealing. The downside, however, is that they can be very slippery, particularly when wet. If the look of these smooth, shiny tiles is something you simply can’t live without, go for it, but be aware of the slipping danger. If you’re installing them in a kitchen or bath that is frequently exposed to water, be especially careful. For a safer option, choose a tile that is textures or has a matte finish. Unlike many products for your home, tile is not necessarily something you want to buy online. It’s better to not only see, but to touch and feel the product before making a purchase.

 
 

large-bathroom-tiles-111216-1143-15-800x5603) Size has visual impact. The size of the tile you select becomes a feature of the design that can make your floor stand out or blend into the background. Tile size also plays trick on the eye, making rooms seem larger and more open, or smaller and cozier. Generally speaking, large tiles make a room appear larger, and by minimizing grout lines, they also make the room flow better and appear more open. If the room is too small, however, large tiles can seem overwhelming. Small tiles can work in small space too. By using a mosaic tile in a small bathroom, for example, you minimize the number of cuts required, which, not only makes the installation easier, it results in a more finished look.

 

 

herringbone

4) Shape and layout can change your whole design. Square tiles can be laid side-by-side in a straight line, also known as a straight lay pattern to create a clean, simple look.

Tile floors and Inlays 2-9-2007 7-12-30 PM 720x1089They can also be placed in a staggered layout, also known as a running bond or brick pattern, to create more interest. There’s no rule, however, that floor tiles must be square. Rectangular, or plank tiles can be laid much the way hardwood floors are laid, in a staggered or variable pattern. You can also lay rectangular tiles in a herringbone pattern to really create something very dramatic.

 

There’s also no rule that every tile in a room must be the same size. Use smaller tiles or mosaics to create a border around a larger room and define the space, or create something totally unique with specialty tiles.

 

 
 
 
dark-floor-tiles-15) Colour does more than compliment your décor. You’re going to select a colour you like, one that compliments the other finishes in the room, like countertops and cabinetry, but it’s important to understand the overall affects that tile colour can have. Lighter colours tend to make a space feel larger and more open, while darker colours create warmth and coziness. Dark colours also minimize the appearance of dirt, making them a great choice for anyone who’s not a cleaning fanatic. Neutral colours are less likely to clash with furniture and more likely to appeal to homebuyers than bright colours, a consideration if you have resale in mind. Bright colours, however, can help you create a design that fits your personal style.

 

A floor tile worthy of your home is out there, but you’ll want to choose carefully because one of the features of tile that make it so desirable, durability, also makes it difficult to remove and replace. Combine these tips with your own specific needs and you’ll be pleased with the results every time you see, touch and feel your beautiful tile.

 

Want to read more?

Houzz: House Planning: How to Choose Tile

Accessorize Your Bathroom with Brilliant Results

Many homeowners find that a renovation is an opportunity not only to update the finishes and  fixtures in their bathroom, it’s also an opportunity to get organized and add some stylish and functional accessories. Maybe you’ve just completed a full renovation of your bathroom and you want to get organized before you move back in. Or, maybe you’ve just had enough of the shampoo bottles strewn about your tub ledge, mismatched towels and ragged bath mat in your existing bath. Either way, make a plan to accessorize to make the room complete.

luxury-picture-from-the-gallery-luxury-bathroom-accessories-for-a-cozy-photos-of-fresh-in-minimalist-2017-bathroom-accessories

Start With a Clean Slate

clutterIf you’ve renovated, this won’t be difficult, but a large part of properly accessorizing a bathroom involves organization. Start by getting everything out of your bathroom. (Again, if you’ve completed a renovation, this took place before demolition). Keep only what you need. Many people find shampoos or lotions they forgot that had or haven’t used in months. Throw those out. You won’t miss them and it will make the rest of the process much easier.

 

 

Lose the Clutteruncluttered

It sounds repetitive, but now that you have your toiletries, products and necessities pared down to a minimum, if you simply move everything back into the bathroom, you’ll quickly end up with the same mess you had before.  The advantage to clearing everything out of the bathroom is now you can see exactly what needs to be stored away and you can create storage around your specific needs. This can involve larger solutions like adding shelving or a furniture piece, all the way down to jars specifically intended to hold cue tips.

 

Make Your Towels Part of the Décor

bathroom-towel-storage-ideas-basketsYou may not realize it, but bathroom towels already are part of your décor. Picture clean, plush towels neatly folded, sitting on a shelf or perfectly draped over a towel rack. Now picture drab, old towels in the same position. Which bathroom would you rather walk into? It’s a fact that the towels in a bathroom, from hand towels hung near the sink to extra bath towels hanging on a rack or folded on a shelf can make a bathroom feel like a luxurious spa or a dank, utilitarian space. Towels can be incorporated into your décor and, in some cases, displayed with creative storage solutions.

 

 

 

Choose Your Shower Curtaintraditional-two-tones-shower-curtain-blue-and-white

You probably spent a significant amount of time selecting your bathroom materials, from the size, colour and texture of the tile, to the finish on the fixtures. Now you are about to hang a piece of material approximately 2 meters by 2 meters in front of much of that tile and several of those fixtures. Take the time to find a shower curtain that matches your décor and fits your personal style. The good news is that they are relatively inexpensive and can be replaced on a whim.

 

Complete the Process

spa-bathroom-with-candles-and-flower-vasesNow you’ve got the necessities taken care of. Everything is neatly stored away or displayed appropriately. This is a good opportunity to look around the room for additional opportunities to accessorize. Be careful not to add clutter back into the space, but if you have some unoccupied counter space that you can add accessories to without them being in the way, go for it. Decorative (or functional) soaps can be arranged on a tray next to the sink. Flowers are a nice touch and they look and smell great. Candles are another good idea. Even if you rarely have the time to take a bath, just the thought of lighting a few candles and slipping into the tub gives your bathroom a spa-like feel.

6 Steps for Choosing the Right Appliances for Your Kitchen Renovation

While they may be the last things installed during a kitchen renovation, appliances should be among the first things you think about when designing your new culinary space. A little planning and foresight before you even begin demolition will go a long way towards delivering the kitchen that’s right for you in terms of both style and functionality. If you select your appliances early on, it will also reduce the chances of a delay near the end of your project caused by special order products not arriving on time.

LuxKitchens_Slider

  1. Have a Plan

Apartments Office Architecture The Kitchen Planner New Kitchens intended for Unique Online Kitchen Cabinet PlannerDon’t even begin your kitchen renovation without knowing some basic facts about your appliances. First is location. Your plumber and your electrician will both need to know where your appliances are going so they can install the proper connections. There’s also a cost-saving opportunity here. Planning around existing plumbing, gas and electrical work saves the labor required to relocate pipes and fixtures. Don’t forget to locate your microwave. A microwave that is built-in, either above the range, or elsewhere within the cabinetry has a much more finished look than one that has been haphazardly placed on the countertop.

 

Second is size. Appliances come in standard sizes, but you do have some options. You’ll need to know the size each appliance you plan to install before you plan the surrounding cabinetry and counter space. It’s important to note here that most manufacturers recommend that you leave 2.5 CM of space around a refrigerator to allow for ventilation and for the doors to swing open.

 

  1. Have a Budgetshopping

It’s easy to walk into an appliance store and get caught up in all of the fancy gadgetry that today’s manufacturers offer and wind up spending more than you need to on appliances. It’s also easy to envy your neighbor’s appliances and end up spending too much because you want your kitchen to be like yours. Instead, select the appliances that fit your needs. If you’re always buying fresh, not frozen, food, spend up on the refrigerator. Or, perhaps the microwave is more important to you. That professional quality range looks great, but ask yourself if you’ll really use it to its fullest before you make the purchase. If you have a big family that stacks up tons of dishes after every meal, maybe you want to make sure you have a durable dishwasher. Consider your own specific needs, set your budget early on in your renovation process and stick to it.

 

  1. Know Your Options

Research is key and knowing what’s available will give you a leg up when it comes to selecting the appliances that are right for you. You’ll want to take the time to explore the features that different brands offer, but let’s take a look at the basic options.

sidebysideRefrigerators come in a few different configurations. Top freezers are typically the least expensive alternative and are very common on homes today. Bottom freezers put the food in your refrigerator at eye level, so if you appreciate the ability to grab a midnight snack without bending over, this might be the option for you. Side-by-sides offer yet another option where storage in both the freezer and refrigerator is more vertical and narrow unless you purchase the widest available model. Ice and water dispensers are a convenience that many of us have come to rely on, but their downside is maintenance. Basically, they are one more thing that can break.

 

 

 

 

rangeRanges or cooktops are available in gas and electric models. Many people prefer one or the other, but your choice may depend upon what’s in your home currently. Installing new gas or electrical lines to make the switch may be an expense you don’t want to bear. Gas models are known to be more difficult to clean while electric stoves wipe down very easily but are more prone to damage.

 

 

 

 

stacked_ovenOvens offer a variety of features from the standard bake/roast/broil set up to convection, which circulates air inside the oven with a fan to cook food faster. If you’re a traditionalist who appreciates a slow-cooked roast or a steak seared in a broiler opt for the former, but if you crave convenience, the ladder is for you. If you want the best of both worlds, how about a convection oven stacked over a traditional one? Your oven does not need to live beneath your cooktop if you have the space.

 

 

 

 

dishwasherDishwashers all clean dishes, but some do so better than others. If you don’t want to pre-wash your dishes by hand, choose a dishwasher with a heavy duty or pot-scrubbing setting. The drying process is also important. A   heat dry setting to dry dishes uses more energy than an air dry setting. If saving on our utility bills is important, make sure your dishwasher offers an air dry option. As people spend more and more time in their kitchens and open layouts become more popular, the noise dishwashers makes has become increasingly important. If you’re apt to run your dishwasher while entertaining or just relaxing nearby, make sure it makes minimal noise.

 

built-in_microwaveMicrowaves have gone from newfangled kitchen gadget to mandatory equipment over the last 30 years. When selecting a microwave, consider its size, so that it fits into your kitchen design and so that it will accommodate the food you intend to cook in it and its wattage. Generally speaking the higher the wattage, the faster they cook food, but anything below 700 watts may also cook unevenly.

 

 

  1. Ventilateventhood

An often overlooked aspect of a itchen renovation, proper ventilation will carry the moisture, heat and odors generated by your culinary delights out of the space before that set in and cause any damage. A range hood is also a great opportunity to add style to your space. When it comes to functionality, you’ll need to choose between a vented and a recirculating hood. Vented hoods require a vent to the outside be installed during your renovation if one does not already exist. Recirculating hoods, on the other hand pull air through a filter before distributing it back out into the room. Vented is always preferable, but if you don’t generate steam, smoke and odors in your kitchen often, recirculating is a less expensive option.

 

 

 

  1. Select a Finish

rustic-kitchenWhen choosing a finish for your appliances, be wary of colours that may go out of style. Many homeowners in today’s market opt for stainless steel and, while it’s more expensive than other options it’s a safe bet when it comes to resale value as its popularity seems to have staying power. If you’re a stickler for consistency, you may want to make sure your stainless steel appliances are all the same brand so that their hue matches precisely. If you’re looking for something other than stainless steel, it’s best to stick with neutral colours, unless you’re absolutely sure that you’ll be happy with that red refrigerator 10 or 20 years from now. Anyone who’s removed 70s-era avocado green appliances from a kitchen can attest to that. Another option is to ignore finish altogether and panel your appliances so they blend seamlessly with your cabinetry.

 

  1. Be Energy Efficient

Don’t overlook energy efficiency ratings when choosing appliances. It may not be their most glamorous feature but kitchen appliances can either cost you or save you a bundle over the long term. If you want your kitchen to stand the test of time, find appliances that are highly rated and offer efficient features. You’ll be glad you did.

Blinds or Curtains – How to Select Them and What’s the Difference?

Window treatments are one of the finishing touches on a room that can have a dramatic impact on its final appearance. Not only are they an opportunity inject your own personal style into your home, they also serve several practical purposes. You’ll use them to control the natural light in the room, create privacy and they can even help insulate your home. But, what’s the best way to achieve the look and the function you want? Blinds? Curtains? Both? What’s the difference anyway? And what different types of each are out there?

cool-modern-window-treartments-decor-ideas-with-white-modern-curtain-also-antique-iron-chandelier-and-white-comfortable-laminated-lovely-sofa-plus-round-wood-console-table

Let’s start with the definitions:


horizontal_blindsBlinds
are typically defined as window coverings that can be raised and lowered and have either vertical or horizontal slats that can be adjusted to allow varying amounts of light to enter through them.

 

 

 

shadesA variation on the blind is the shade, which can be raised or lowered, but not adjusted to change the light coming through.

 

 

 

 

curtainsCurtains, on the other hand, are fabric that is hemmed to hang from a rod above the window.  They are typically drawn, or closed, by pulling them across the front of the window.

 

 

 

 

Now let’s delve into the different types of each and how to select the best ones for you.

Vertical Blinds

vertical_blindsCommonly use to cover floor-to-ceiling windows or patio doors, vertical blinds can have a dramatic impact on a room when drawn across the window, yet they become relatively inconspicuous when you want to let the light stream in. Homeowners can control the amount of light that coms through them by opening and closing the slats to different degrees. Vertical blinds allow for complete control of privacy and light and can be made of a variety of materials, with vinyl, fabric-covered plastic and wood or faux wood being the most common.

 

Horizontal Blinds

venetian-blindsWith slats that run across the window, as opposed to up and down, horizontal blinds are commonly used on smaller windows than their vertical counterparts. Also, the width of the slat is typically less than that of vertical blinds. More commonly made from vinyl, wood, faux wood or aluminum than fabric, horizontal blinds tuck discretely out of place when open at the top of the window. With both vertical and horizontal blinds, take maintenance and durability into consideration. Known to collect dust, blinds must be cleaned. Wood, faux, wood, vinyl and aluminum can be wiped down, however, fabric should be vacuumed. In addition, the individual slats and the strings and hardware used to control them can be somewhat delicate.

 

 

 

Roller Shadesroller_blinds

As their name indicates, roller shades are made from a single piece of material, typically fabric or vinyl, that rolls out of the way at the top of the window when open. Roller blinds have come along way since the white vinyl versions in your grandmother’s house. Today, they are made in an array of colours and styles that can either completely block out the sun or let a little light thorough while providing privacy.

 

 

 

Roman Shades

roman_shadesAlso made from a single piece of fabric, Roman shades tuck out of the way by folding along a set of horizontal folds. This folding gives Roman shades a depth and dimension that other, more flat shades do not offer, without occupying the space surrounding the window like a curtain does.

 

 

 

Pleated Shades

pleated_shadesWith more folds than their Roman counterparts, pleated shades are also made of a single piece of fabric, but all the extra folds almost give them the look of slats when they are closed to cover the window. When they are open and tucked out of the way, they take up minimal space.

 

 

 

Cellular Shades

honeycomb_shades1Made from fabric formed into honeycomb-shaped compartments, cellular shades not only look good, but they act just like the insulation in your home, trapping air between the window and the shade. In winter, this keeps cold air from penetrating your home and in the summer, it helps retain cooler air.

 

 

 

Curtains

lined_curtainsWhen it comes to style, there are, literally, hundreds of options in curtains. There’s not only colours, patterns and textures to consider, but what about length? Should my curtains touch the floor or stop at the window sill? Should my curtains cover the edges of my windows when they are open or should I extend the curtain rod past either side of the window so that they can be pushed completely aside? (This will make the window look bigger too!) Should I tie my curtains back or just move them to the side?

Only you can answer these questions, though you might want to enlist the help of designer with these issues. Let’s get you started down the road with a quick look at function though. Your first decision will be lined or unlined curtains.

 

 

 

Lined Curtainslined_curtains3

Only curtains made of a lined material will completely block out the sun and provide total privacy. A thick, lined fabric will also provide a level of insulation and warmth.

 

 

 

 

Unlined Curtains

sheer_curtainsIf however, your curtains are more for style, or simply to provide a level of light filtering rather than a black out or total privacy, then an unlined curtain will work perfectly. Perhaps, you’re planning to pair your curtains with blinds or shades that will provide privacy and light blocking you need. In that case, you can select an unlined or even sheer curtains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whether you opt for blinds, curtains or a combination of the two, your window treatments are an opportunity to control the natural light in your house, create the required privacy and personalize your space. Trust your own sense of style to narrow down the choices and come up with a solution that’s unique to your home.

 

Want to read more?

Real Simple: Your Guide to Curtains and Window Treatments

 

Exhaust Fans – As Important as Soap and Water!

Your bathroom is wet. It’s the only place in your house where water flows freely. Yes, you have a sink in your kitchen, but unless you’re showering in the kitchen, the amount of steam, humidity and moisture produced there is miniscule compared to your bathroom. The bathroom is also one of, if not the smallest room in your house, so moisture can build up quickly. Lastly, let’s face it, odors can also build up in your bathroom.

steamy-bathroom

White Bathroom, ContemporyAll this adds up to one thing: your bathroom requires ventilation. Moisture and odors need somewhere to go. Otherwise, mold and water damage will occur. Building codes, in fact, require that bathrooms have some form of ventilation. In older homes, this is accomplished simply by opening the bathroom window. That works, but it’s not the most comfortable solution when temperatures rise or fall. Modern homes have exhaust fans for this reason.

Exhaust fans work by pulling moist, odorous air to the outside of the home so that fresh air can enter the bathroom. This requires two things in addition to the fan itself: electrical power and ductwork.

 

 

 

 

exhaust timer

The wiring for your exhaust fan can either be connected directly to an existing light switch so that when the light is on, the fan is also on, or it can be connected to a separate switch so that the fan can be operated independently. The second option is preferable because it uses less electricity when you want just the light or just the fan to be on. You may also want to consider putting your exhaust fan on a timer so that, after a long shower, you can leave it on to clear out the moisture after you’ve left the bathroom.

 

5-DUCTWORK-RESIDENTIAL-bigThe ductwork attached to your fan delivers the moist foul air to the outdoors. As such, it needs to connect to the outside of the house and not another room or attic space. Otherwise, you are just moving moisture from one part of the house to another. Additionally, the ductwork should take the shortest route possible to the outdoors and have as few bends and turns as possible, so that the fan can perform with optimal efficiency.

 

 

 

 

When selecting the actual fan to install in your bathroom, the most important feature to look at is its power. Generally speaking, the larger your bathroom, the more power your fan will need to have. Measure the cubic area of your bathroom and check with the manufacturer to make sure the fan you select is rated for the amount of space you want to ventilate.

 

The type of fan you select will either be inline, ceiling-mounted or wall-mounted.

 

inlineInline fans are installed to the joists above the drywall of your bathroom ceiling. The only visible portion of the fan is a louvered vent that sits flush with the ceiling. Because the hardworking part of the fan resides in space above your ceiling, inline fans make very little noise and tend to be more powerful than other options.

 

 

Bathroom-Exhaust-Fan-with-Light-Awesome

 

Ceiling-mounted fans are attached directly to your ceiling rather than the joists above it. They function similarly to inline fans in terms of exporting air through adjacent ductwork. They are easier to install and replace, assuming the required ductwork is in place. They also offer a larger variety of options, including combination units with lighting in addition to ventilation.

 

 

 

 

 

wall mounted

Wall-mounted fans are installed and function just like ceiling-mounted fans, but, as the name implies, they are attached to a wall rather than the ceiling. These can be an option where logistics do not allow fan to be installed on the ceiling. Perhaps your bathroom has cathedral ceilings, no attic space above it or the ceilings are occupied by skylights or lighting. When installed on an exterior wall, these models nearly minimize the amount of ductwork required to vent the to the outside. If on an interior wall, however, more ductwork may be required to route the air up the wall, into the space above the bathroom and, ultimately, outside.

 

 

 

If your bathroom is undergoing a complete renovation, ventilation is not something that you want to overlook. Take the time to work an exhaust fan, along with the proper electrical and ductwork, into your renovation plan. If your bathroom does not have a window, it’s an absolute requirement, but even if it does have a window, you’ll be glad to have a fan when hot or cold weather strikes.

 

8 Cool Kitchen Handles – Let’s Get a Handle on That!

You’ve chosen cabinets for your kitchen. You’ve selected a tile for the floor and one for the backsplash. You’ve chosen a one-of-a-kind piece of granite to have your countertops carved from. Your kitchen is going to be gorgeous, but you haven’t made every important decision that you need to make. Or, you’re looking for a quick and easy way to add style to your kitchen without tearing anything down. The hardware for your kitchen cabinets is something that you see, touch and use, every day. It’s also an opportunity to add a complimentary touch of style to your kitchen. If you take your time, consider it carefully, and choose something you love, you’ll appreciate your kitchen even more.

traditional-kitchen
Tubular Bar Pulls

tubularA very popular choice for modern, minimalist or contemporary kitchens, tubular bar pulls, as the name implies, consist of a simple bar secured horizontally to drawers and vertically to cabinets. Tubular bar pulls tend to stand out from the cabinets more than other styles and, essentially, become a feature of the kitchen. They are available in a variety of finishes from brass to black, but stainless steel is a very popular choice and many designers find them to be a great compliment to stainless steel appliances.

Tubular bar pulls are also a very functional choice. Opening a drawer or cabinet with a bar pull is much easier, for children or seniors, for example, than a small knob. When selecting and installing tubular bar pulls, however, be conscious of how prominent you want them to be. Typically, they run two-thirds to three-quarters the width of the drawer, but there’s no rule that says they can’t run the entire length of the drawer. Rely on you personal style to determine how much pull you want on each drawer or cabinet.

 

 

Curved Bar Pullscurved bar pulls

Taking their cue from the Streamline Moderne and Art Deco schools of architecture of the 1930s, curved bar pulls are slimmer and curvier than tubular bar pulls. They offer a sleek, modern look that is slightly more elegant and subtle than the more industrial straight bar pulls.

 

 

 

 

Flat Bar Pulls

flat-bar-pullsAnother more subtle alternative to tubular bar pulls are flat ones. These consist of a flat, rectangular bar that is secured to the cabinet. Flat bar pulls create a more squared off  look that compliments many of today’s modern styles, including shaker cabinets.

 

 

 

Bin PullsBP202-polishedchrome-binpull

Also known as cup pulls, bin pulls are, basically, an upside down cup that you pull from underneath to open the cabinet. These are typically used in more traditional or vintage kitchens, though, they are less ornate than some traditional options. Bin pulls are known to be stable, sturdy and functional while adding a subtle touch of style without dominating the kitchen.

 

 

 

 

Back Plates

back plateBack plate knobs and pulls include a metal piece that sits flat against the cabinet or drawer and a knob that extends out from the plate. It’s the plate that makes these handles fancy. The back plate can be a very simple design or it can be incredibly intricate and offer an opportunity to do something very unique in your kitchen.

 

 

 

Drop Handles

drop-handles-back-plate-bidpro.co_With this type of handle, a pull hangs down, or dangles from a piece mounted to the cabinet. Traditionally, the dangling piece is round, however, other shapes are available to compliment a variety of styles. They are, however, less functional than other types of pulls and handles as you basically have to lift the dangling piece every time you open the cabinet. You may also scratch or damage the cabinet door over time by lifting and dropping the dangling portion of the handle. The upside, however, is a style that gives cabinets the look of furniture and a cozy feel to your kitchen.

 

Recessed Pulls

recessedThe ultimate in streamlining, recessed pulls are built into the cabinet door itself. Ideal for a modern or minimalist kitchen, these handles do not break the visual plane of your cabinets. They also eliminate the possibility of snagging your clothes on a handle, a particularly useful feature in a high-traffic or smaller kitchen. Obviously, some advance planning is required here and you can only add recessed pulls if you are replacing your cabinets or at least the cabinet doors, but if streamlined and modern is what you’re looking for, there’s no better choice.

 

Novelty Handles

creative-idea-for-cozy-diy-handles-for-kitchen-cabinetsIf you’re looking for something unique, artsy or quirky, take a look at the variety of novelty handles that are available. Maybe you want something natural, like a tree branch-shaped pull for your cabin, a seashell-shaped pull for your beach house or fork and knife-shaped pulls to highlight your culinary skills. If you can imagine it, chances are an artisan somewhere has created it.

 

 

 

Whether you play it safe or go bold, don’t overlook your kitchen handles. Don’t get overwhelmed either. The choices are almost infinite, but trust your instincts and find something that fits your style and gives you the functionality you want.

How to Spruce Up Your Old Fireplace

Over the centuries, fireplaces have evolved from functional necessities, required to keep us warm during colder months, to highlights of our homes. We still enjoy cozying up next to a roaring fire, but today’s fireplaces are as much decorative and architectural focal points as they are heat providers. In many older homes, they’re also dated. If that’s the case for your fireplace, consider giving it an update. Many options for brining your fireplace into the 21st century exist. Pick the one that’s right for your budget and your style and customize it to make it all your own.

wood-panels-comfortable-living-room-fireplace-red-stool


Paint

painted_fireplace_finished_3Colour can have a dramatic impact on every part of your home and the fireplace is no exception. First, determine what, exactly, needs a colour update. Is it actually the fireplace itself, or would painting the surrounding wall, trim, moulding and mantle do the trick? Painting most fireplace materials, like brick, is essentially an irreversible process. Taking brick back to its original colour will be an incredibly arduous task for you or any future owner of your home. If you decide to take the plunge, be sure to clean the brick thoroughly before painting. Start with a wire brush to remove any loose dirt or dust. Then, apply a heavy-duty cleaner and allow the brick to dry thoroughly. Apply a stain-blocking primer and, finally, your top coat.

 

 

 

 

WhitewashWhitewashed fireplace IMG_6254

Another option is to whitewash your brick fireplace. This creates a more natural look than pure paint by allowing some of the natural colour and variations of the brick to show through. There are a number of techniques for whitewashing brick. Most involve either diluting paint with water or brushing paint on, then wiping the brick down to remove most of the paint. If possible, experiment on extra bricks or an inconspicuous spot. This will allow you to experiment with the paint-to-water ratio, how to wipe the paint off and how many coats to apply.

 

Stain

68_fireplace-after-tintingBrick fireplace surrounds can also be stained. While paint coats the brick and changes its texture, stain soaks into the brick. As with painting or whitewashing, the brick needs to be thoroughly clean before you start. Brick stain is available in a variety of colours. Choose one you like or choose several and stain different bricks different colours for variety. You can choose whether or not you want to stain the mortar in between the bricks.

 

 

 

 

 

Stone VeneerLedgestone-Veneer-fireplace-West-Mtn

Slightly more expensive and complicated than a paint job, but still reasonable, stone veneer installed over an existing surround, completely changes the look and feel of a fireplace without having to demolish it. Stone veneer covers the existing surround with a thin layer of manufactured stone, which mimics the look of real stone. The process requires preparing the surface and cutting the veneer to fit, although, it’s much easier to cut than natural stone. Mortar holds the stone in place and, in some installations, grout is installed between the stones.

 

Tile

Blues__Fireplace__Offset__Tile_600_447_84_intTile is another great way to cover up an old, dated fireplace. Tile allows you to incorporate your own personal style, whether it be subway tiles, more natural-look tile, hand-painted terra cotta or any of the other options available in tile. If you’re tiling over brick or another uneven surface, you’ll want to create a consistent substrate by applying a layer of thinset mortar to the surface. Set the tiles in another layer of mortar and finish by grouting between the tiles.

 

 

 

MantelAuburn shelf

A fireplace’s mantel is its crown. It can add tremendously to the overall impact your fireplace has no your home. In terms of materials, profiles and styles, the options are many. Depending on your style, a rustic, single piece of timber secured to the wall above the fireplace may fit the bill. Then again, an ornately carved wooden mantel that surrounds the top and sides of the fireplace may be a better fit. Not into wood? Stone, concrete or steel may be options for you.

 

 

 

Wall Treatments

559b6408-5e27-4974-9515-c1163740a83f_1000The impact of a fireplace need not end at the surround and mantel. In many stylish homes, the entire wall becomes a focal point with the fireplace at its center. Adjacent built-in shelving or cabinetry can be a great compliment to a fireplace. Paneling, wainscoting and moulding can be carried out from the mantel to expand the focal point. Dimensional wall panels are a modern version of paneling that many designers have utilized in more modern applications. When you’re planning your fireplace redesign, you don’t have to stop where the surround ends.

 

 

 

 

If it’s not already, your fireplace has the potential to be a major focal point in your home. It may not currently fit your personal style, but there are many options for updating it. Take the time to pick the one that’s right for you and bring that fireplace from drab and dated to the epicenter of your home.

 

Want to read more?

HGTV: 15 Ways to Refresh Your Fireplace on Any Budget

Bob Vila: How to: Whitewash Brick

This Old House: How to Tile a Fireplace Surround

 

Read This BEFORE You Buy a Bathtub

In today’s fast-paced world, many homeowners opt for a walk-in shower rather than a bathtub when renovating their bathroom. The fact is, most of us take a quick shower much more frequently than we take a bath. Some of us, however, simply must have the option of a long, luxurious soak, even if we don’t do it that often. Additionally, most real estate experts agree that, for resale purposes, a home should have at least one bathtub. If the plan for your bathroom includes a new bathtub, your options are many, ranging from the inexpensive and easily installed to tubs with special features that require special considerations when installing. Choosing one that fits your style, your budget and your bathing needs is an important step in your renovation.

oceanus-two

MATERIALS

Let’s start with the materials that our bathtub could be made of. How important is durability to your family? What about style and the feel of the material? And, of course, your budget will come into play.

 

Fiberglass

fiberglass-bathtub-1Marketed as fiberglass, these tubs are actually made of a combination of fiberglass and plastic. Fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) is the technical term. During the manufacturing process, layers of fiberglass are formed into the shape of the bathtub and then coated with plastic. The result is an inexpensive, lightweight material that is easy to carry, work with and install. The downside is that it’s not as durable as other materials. Because fiberglass is inherently flexible, it does not have the stable feel that some people prefer in a bathtub. The finish easily fades, cracks and scratches.

 

 

 

Acrylicacrylicbathtub

A step up from FRP, these tubs can either be solid acrylic or they can have a fiberglass core. In either case, the
acrylic makes them more durable than FRP. Solid acrylic is slightly more expensive, but more durable. Because the colour is the same all the way through the product, scratches are less noticeable. Solid acrylic can also be molded into unique shapes with soap dishes, arm rests or other detailing. Like fiberglass, it is lightweight and easy to install.

 


Enameled Steel

enameled_steelIn the manufacturing process for these tubs, a thin sheet of steel is stamped into the shape of the tub. The steel is then coated with a layer of porcelain, resulting in high-end, stone-like feel. Because porcelain is resistant to most chemicals, these tubs can be easily cleaned over and over again while retaining their sheen. Negatives include the fact that the thin, porcelain surface can chip or crack when impacted, they are available in fewer shapes than fiberglass or acrylic and they are heavier and somewhat harder to work with.

 

 

 

 

Cast Ironcast-iron-tub-with-shower-cast-iron-tubs-american-standard-19a4f1c747aa86e3

Many older homes have cast iron tubs and, in most cases, they have not chipped, cracked, dented or faded over the years. That’s what happens when you form molten iron into the shape of a tub, smooth it and coat it with a thick porcelain enamel. Not only are these tubs durable and resistant to most cleaning chemicals, they offer a solid, luxurious feel that can not be matched by other materials and they retain the heat in your bath water better than any other material. The only downsides to cast iron tubs are their relatively high cost when compared to other types of tubs and their extreme weight, which requires not only additional labour, but reinforcement in the bathroom floor.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese are the most common materials for bathtubs, but if you want to look beyond the traditional, you do have other options. Manufacturers have begun making tubs out of solid surface materials, which are commonly used in countertops. Cultured marble tubs are made from crushed limestone finished with a gelcoat, creating a durable finish that is less expensive than cast iron. If you want to get really creative, you can make your tub from ceramic tile, though you’ll need to maintain the grout, or you can custom order a tub made from natural stone or even certain woods like teak.

 

 

 

STYLES

Now, the fun part. It’s time to think about what style of tub you want. Find one that suits your personal aesthetic and also fits the dimensions of your bathroom.

 

Standard Bathtubsstandard tub

Typically built into the bathroom itself with walls or cabinetry surrounding it, standard tubs are rectangular shaped and are available in standard sizes. The most common size is 1.5m x 0.75m, however, other standard sizes are available if your bathroom has special dimensions. When selecting a standard tub, be sure to purchase one that has the drain on the right side and finished face on the right side so that it faces out.

 

 

 

Freestanding

claw footA freestanding tub is not built into the wall or cabinetry. Instead, as he name indicates, it stands on its own and can be a glamorous focal point of any bathroom. These tubs can sit flush against the floor, be raised up on a platform or stand on feet. One popular form of freestanding tub is the claw-foot tub, which offers a traditional look that has been popular through the ages.

 

 

 

Soaking TubsSoaking

Longer, wider and deeper than most tubs, soaking tubs can be a luxurious addition to any bathroom if space allows. Available in most of the materials mentioned above, these huge tubs can hold 200-300 liters of water. All of that water, plus the tub itself, particularly if it’s cast iron can stress floor joist. Make sure they are properly reinforced. Heating all that water can be beyond the capacity of a typical water heater. Consider installing an on-demand water heater if you choose a soaking tub.

 

Whirlpool Tubs

whirlpoolA tub with jets that shoot either recirculated bath water or air to create bubbles takes bathing to another level. Not only are you getting clean, but you’re getting a relaxing massage. Typically, the jets are housed behind the walls next to your tub and special installation is, therefore, required. When selecting a whirlpool tub, look for one with a powerful, but quiet motor and when installing it, allow for access to the internal parts for maintenance purposes.

 

 

 

 

 

If you’ve made the decision to install a tub, you’ll want to make sure it is one that will meet your expectations for durability and comfort. Understanding your options in terms of materials and style will help you do that. If  you’re not sure what type of bathtub you want, take a trip to the home store to touch and feel different kinds and learn as much as you can about each option. Every time you decide to pamper yourself with a nice, long bath, you’ll be glad you did.