Painted Kitchen Cabinets – The Average and the Awesome!

If your kitchen needs an update, but you’re not ready to tear it down to the studs and start over, painting your existing cabinets can be a great way to create that fresh new look you’re looking for. Gone are the days when kitchen cabinets had to be stained a natural wood colour. The movement towards white cabinets has, in fact, been prevalent, particularly in more modern designs. A modern, white look, however, is far from your only choice if you’ve decided to paint your cabinets. With the right design choices, you’ll find a colour that matches the rest of the décor in your home, and your personal style.

red cabinets

If you’re taking on the project yourself, knowing what you’re getting into and what pitfalls to avoid will help bring your results from average to awesome! Simply plan your project, set aside the appropriate amount of time (and then add a little extra for the unexpected) and bring your kitchen from lifeless to spectacular.


Set Expectations

wood grainYour existing cabinets have certain characteristics that paint alone can not change. If you’re unhappy with design of the doors, for example, including mouldings and/or engravings, you may want to consider other options. The grain of the wood is also something you’re going to have to address. If the wood had visible grain, it will most likely remain visible after the paint has been applied. Your options are to fill the grain with wood putty, which can be a time consuming, laborious process, or embrace the grain; make it part of the design. It won’t be as prominent as before you painted, but it can be toned down so that it adds character without being overpowering.





Remove and Label Doors, Drawers and Hardwareremoving doors

Your kitchen cabinetry includes a number of moving parts and trying to paint everything in place will almost certainly lead to  failure. Anything that moves will start to peel and chip within a short time of you completing the paint job. Instead, remove all the doors. A screwdriver or drill set to reverse are the only tools you will need. Then, remove all the hinges and handles from the doors. Likewise for the drawers, pull them out and remove the drawer pulls. Equally as important, label everything. You’ll have a much easier time reassembling your painted kitchen if you simply affix a piece of masking tape to the back of each piece, write a number on it and a corresponding number on the inside of the cabinet it belongs to.


Sand Every Surface

sanding doorsCarefully inspect your newly disassembled cabinets, including the pieces you removed and sand every surface that will be painted. This is a requirement even if your cabinets are in perfect condition. The purpose is to prep the surface so that the paint will adhere better. You do not need to expose bare wood across the entire surface. Simply use a 120 – 150 grit sandpaper and buff the surface. A hand-held power sander will save time and wear and tear on your arms, but it is not required.




Sanding, while a vital step, also generates a large amount of dust. Just a few dust particles can make an otherwise quality paint job look gritty and bumpy. Vacuum the surfaces to be painted and remove as much dusts as possible from the rest of the room as possible so that stray particles are not flying around while you paint.




Clean the Wood

cleaningYou may think you’re done prepping, but you’re not quite ready for paint yet. You’ll need to clean the wood with a quality degreaser. The point of this step is as much to neutralize the effects of any remaining stain, varnish or paint as it is to clean the surface. Without a degreaser, the new coat of paint will not adhere properly to the surface.




Don’t Skip the Primerprimer

Now that you’ve put so much work into your cabinets, it’s tempting to get your chosen colour on there and see how it looks. A primer coat, however, is vitally important, particularly when painting wood. Without it, your cabinets will look beautiful for a few months, but over time, the knots in the wood will show through and other stains, whether from the natural oils of the wood itself or from the prior coats of stain, varnish or paint, will make themselves known. A high quality stain-blocking primer is well worth the investment of time and money.


Pick the Right Colour

Colour2OK, we’re finally ready to get the colour on the cabinets. It’s an exciting moment. Caution, once again, however, will lead to better, longer-lasting results. Assuming you don’t want to redo this project in a few months, let’s make sure you’re happy with the colour. Purchase a sample of the paint you want to use (most paint stores make them available inexpensively). Side note: Choosing a quality paint is worth it. It will give you a smoother finish and the typical kitchen requires less than two gallons of paint, so the overall expense is not astronomical.

Purchase a sample of the paint you want to use (most paint stores make them available inexpensively). Paint a large piece of poster board.  Hold the poster board up against your countertops, backsplash, flooring and walls. Take a look at the light hits it at various times of day and with different lights in the kitchen turned on and off. Keep in mind that paints are available in different finishes from flat to high gloss. The peace-of-mind you get in taking this step will give you confidence as you apply the actual paint to the cabinets and a higher degree of certainty that you’ll be happy with the results.


Time to Paint!Colour

A paint brush and roller will produce high quality results. If you’re confident with a sprayer, that’s another option. Assuming you’re going with brushes and rollers, paint any recessed or raised areas, such as mouldings, first with a brush. Then, go back and paint the remaining surface with a roller. If you’re using a sprayer, make sure to work in a well-ventilated area, mask off any adjacent areas that you don’t want to paint and apply an even coat across all surfaces. Once all coats have fully cured, reassemble the cabinets, reinstall the knobs and pulls (new ones if you want to change the look even more) and you’ve successfully painted your cabinets!


Want to read more?

HGTV: Best Way to Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Good Housekeeping: 11 Big Mistakes You Make Painting Kitchen Cabinets


7 Great Storage Solutions to Get Rid of all That Clutter

Clutter. To some degree, we all have it around our house. Seasonal items, coats, extra pairs of shoes, toiletries and kitchenwares are all things that we want to store away, but also access at a moment’s notice. Your home, meanwhile, may not have been built to conveniently store all of that stuff, particularly if it is older. Assuming that moving to a large, newly constructed home with multiple walk-in closets and storage rooms on every floor is not a consideration, you’ll need to retrofit your home to maximise storage. Whether you are planning a major renovation or simply want to find space to stow away a few items, the opportunities to add storage are all around your home if you know where to look.


1. Look Under the Stairs

UnderStairYou’ve probably heard this before: the space under the stairs is an often overlooked storage opportunity. The fact is, however, that under-stair storage does not need to be a simple closet door that has been cut to mirror the angle of the stairs. Custom under-stair storage can be designed to meet your very specific needs. Pull-out storage bins, shoe-racks and drawers can all be incorporated into under-stair storage. Another option is to include a closet that, unlike the other closets in your house, can have an opening the full height of your ceiling, making it ideal for storing ladders or other tall items.  Cleverly designed under-stair storage does not need to be unattractive. It can, in fact, become part of the décor by looking like wainscoting or paneling when closed.





2. Check Under the Bedcarvel-oak-underbed-drawers

Many of us stash things under our beds. Whether or not we make the most of that storage space, however, and how well-organized that space is, is another question. Your organization effort may start with a few low-profile bins purchased from the local discount store. To take it to another level, though, build a bed that has compartmentalized storage built into it. Drawers that pull out from under the bed can store a vast amount of clothes, shoes or whatever items you see fit. If you have high ceilings, consider putting your bed up on a high platform, with built-in steps to access it if necessary, to allow for even more storage space.


3. Go Over and Around the Bed

AroundBed2Storage opportunities in the bedroom go far beyond the space under your bed. Building cabinetry around your headboard not only adds storage, it can add a cozy, comfortable feel to your bed. Moving out from there, you can place storage behind a bed or even on the ceiling above it. Children’s beds are particularly suited to these storage solutions.




4. Climb Under the Eavesunder_eave

The rooms on your top floor, and possibly other floors or your home, are likely to have slanted ceilings. The space under the eaves that is less than a meter high cannot be considered living space, but it can certainly be utilised for storage. As with other storage solutions, under-eave storage can be built to suit your needs. Stash things out of site by building doors that lead to a vast closet, be a little more compartmentalised with a set of built-in drawers, or put books or other items on display with open shelving.



5. Build Out

BuildOutWe tend to think of closets and storage spaces as needing to be tucked into the corners or recesses of our home. That doesn’t always need to be the case. In spacious rooms, stealing a few square feet of space can allow you to create all the storage you need. Full-height and full-width built-ins can be added to blank walls, or you can construct them around a fireplace or even windows. These can take the shape of shelves to house display items or cabinets to stash away items that you want to place out of site. You can even add a built-in desk, bench or reading nook in the space under a window that can function as both storage and work space.





6. Look Up above_door

The space above your head is not functional. Of course, that space is what allows light and airiness to enter any space and you therefore don’t want to fill it with stuff. In certain cases, however, it can accommodate storage without being in the way. Above doors and windows is one place to look. In bathrooms, for example, a shelf placed over the entry door can hold towels and toiletries. In a small bedroom, a similar shelf can hold books. Get creative in the dining room and put shelving over a window to display plates, decorative glasses or other display items.



7. Go Mobile

white-kitchen-with-dark-portable-kitchen-island-on-wheelsIf you’re challenged for space, you may not have room for a permanent, built-in storage structure. If that’s the case, you can, literally, put your storage on wheels. Simple casters mounted to a storage piece can do wonders. Kitchen islands are a desirable feature, for example, but if your kitchen can’t accommodate one, put an island on casters and you can enjoy the functionality of an island while you’re cooking and roll it out of the way when you’re done. In other rooms, a full-height closet can be mounted on casters and moved around in order to divide the space as needed. Mobile units provide not only storage, but flexibility.





Tucking away your clutter can be a challenge, but if you’re creative and resourceful, you can find solutions, even if you live in an older home that was not designed for maximum storage. If you’re considering renovating your home, take the time to design storage into your plan. If you’re working with a home renovation company, ask them to advise on how best to incorporate the storage that suits your needs.  If you need to find storage without undergoing a major renovation project, look around your home for opportunities to add storage. With a little bit of ingenuity, you may very well find that your storage need can be met without having to move or take on a large project.

How to Pick the Best Shower Screen

The shower screen in your bathroom is something that you’re likely to look at, open and close every day. You, or somebody else, will also have to clean it from time to time. This means you should give both its appearance and functionality proper consideration before installing it. Knowing your options in advance, and how they fit your tastes and your lifestyle, will help narrow down your choices when selecting a shower screen.



What Shape is the Shower?

new-angleYour shower screen may be a simple square or rectangular shape. This configuration allows for the most bathing space. If, however, you are looking to save space, you may want to consider placing a neo-angle shower screen in the corner of your bathroom. Neo-angle showers typically contain a single door placed in the centre and installed to open to the left or right depending upon the layout of the bathroom. A curved screen can be installed in a corner in order to save space.







Frame or Frameless?Framed-shower-enclosure

A framed shower screen utilises a metal outer frame to hold up thin glass and secure it to the adjacent wall. The colour and finish of the metal frame can match the finish of the hardware in the rest of the bathroom. Where the frame meets the glass, however, can be a place for soap scum and hard water residue to collect, creating a cleaning concern.
Frameless-Pivot-Glass-Shower-DoorsFrameless shower screens do not require the support of a frame because they are made of thicker glass. They are secured to the wall by small but sturdy metal wall mounts. The resulting product offers a sleeker, more modern look than a framed enclosure, as well as a surface that is more easily cleaned. Additionally, frameless shower screens can be customized to meet specific dimensions or shapes. Frameless shower screens, however, are typically more expensive than framed versions.






What About the Doors?

curved shower doorYour shower screen door can open into your bathroom or into the shower area. If neither is an option, consider sliding doors, where two doors slide past each other on a track and require no additional space.

How do the doors open? If not sliding doors, you can use traditional hinges where the shower doors open like most of the other doors in your house.

The pivot hinge is a more modern option that, when mounted on the left- or right-hand side of the door allows it to pivot 180 degrees into the shower or out into the bathroom. A centre mounted pivot hinge enables the door to pivot 360 degrees.





What Type of Glass is Best?Glass-Shower-Enclosure-etched-glass-design

Depending on the level of privacy you are looking for in your shower and the style you are after, you can select
clear, etched or frosted glass. It can also be textured or patterned to add interest. You may not want glass at all. Acrylic shower screens are available in a variety of colours, including clear. These are not as durable as glass, however, and require special cleaners so that they don’t discolour.





etched_glass_shower_doors_bonita_springsWhether you have taken on a full gut renovation of your bathroom or are simply looking to quickly freshen up its look, the right shower screen will add style and functionality to the space. Take the time to find the one that fits your personal taste and your lifestyle requirements and you will be happy you did every time you shower.

Bringing Wallpaper into the 21st Century!

You may think wallpaper is a dated concept. You may have spent hours and hours scraping it off the walls of your home. Before you jump to any conclusions, however, you may want to take a look at what manufacturers and designers are dong with wallpaper today. It’s being installed in homes that range from the most traditional to the ultramodern. It can be used not only to add colour and patterns to otherwise plain walls, but it can also bring texture into a home. You can even make it part of your lighting plan with wallpaper that has LED lights embedded into it!


The style of wallpaper you choose is only part of the story. How and where you use it will go a long way towards determining the impact wallpaper can have on your home design. The options go far beyond simply covering all four walls of a room in paper.

Accent Wall

bedroom-wallpaper-accent-wall-1-designsCreating an accent wall is a time-honored technique used by designers to draw the eye to a certain part of a room, highlight an architectural feature or add some drama to an otherwise drab space. Wallpaper opens up a world of options for accent walls that simply can not be achieved with paint alone. If you find a pattern that you love, but can’t picture it throughout the entire room, put it on only one wall. Still too much? Choose a wall that’s out-of-the-way or one that you don’t look at as often like the one behind your bed’s headboard.




Framed Wallpaperframeddining

The patterns on some wallpapers are so beautiful and intricate, they are, literally works of art. Why not treat them that way and frame out sections of wallpaper with moulding. Think outside the box here. You can use a beautifully patterned wallpaper, but maps of the places you’ve visited, whether historic or modern make very attractive wallpaper, as do the pages of your favorite book.




Faux-Wainscoting-WallpaperWallpaper installed on the bottom third of a wall can create a dramatic wainscoting. Patterned wallpaper can be especially useful here. You can choose to add colour as well as texture or texture alone with a white wallpaper and white walls. Run a strip of chair rail moulding along the top of the wallpaper an you’ll create a beautiful effect much more easily than you could by installing wood wainscoting.





Shelving Accentwpshelving

Adding a dramatic backdrop behind shelving, whether built-in or freestanding is a great way to draw attention the items stored on those shelves. You could opt to simply use a contrasting paint colour here, but wallpaper, once again, opens up a world of options. It’s a great opportunity to experiment with wallpaper without making the big commitment of covering an entire wall.



Transitional Spaces

modern-staircaseWallpaper can be particularly impactful in transitional spaces like stairwells and hallways. In many cases, the stairwell is the most vertically visible space in the home. This creates an opportunity to add drama with bold patterns and colours. In long hallways with vast, uninterrupted spaces, large, bold patterns add drama. In smaller hallways where the wall space is broken up by a series of close-together doors, a smaller, repeating pattern can add beauty and interest.





The ceilings in our homes are often overlooked, but they can be a great opportunity to add interest. Wallpaper on the ceiling can create a dramatic contrast with the adjacent walls. It can also help to highlight a beautiful chandelier or other lighting fixture. When done right, a wallpapered ceiling can draw the eye upward and make a room seem either larger or more cozy depending on your preference.


Walk-In Closets

pink-and-silver-damask-walk-in-closet-wallpaperYour walk-in closet is all yours. Your guests may see it when you give them a tour of your home, but for the most part, it’s your personal space. You start every day by going into it to get dressed. Why not dress it up with a patterned wallpaper that makes you happy? It’s a great opportunity to experiment with style. Who knows? You may discover that you want to add splashes of style elsewhere in your home using wallpaper.


Wallpaper can be bold, it can be intricate or it can be understated. When you’re designing your home, don’t be afraid to experiment with it. Wallpaper lets you create styles that can not be equaled by any painting technique. If you’re working with a designer, don’t be scared off if they want to use wallpaper in their design. If you’re creating your own design, keep wallpaper in mind when you want to add interest to a room or a specific spot within a room.



Want to read more?

Houzz: 13 Creative Ways with Patterned Wallpaper

How to Choose a Great Cabinet Maker

Choosing custom cabinetry over stock cabinets gives homeowners the ability to create a kitchen uniquely suited to their style and the décor of their home. Custom cabinets can be made to blend with the millwork, furniture and other features of your home in a way that off-the-shelf cabinets simply cannot. In addition, custom cabinet makers are not limited by the standard sizes or materials that large-scale cabinet manufacturers offer. This lets them make full use of the storage space in your kitchen and create both an appearance and functionality that is truly one-of-a-kind. Building and installing custom cabinets, however, is a much more complicated process than selecting and installing stock cabinets. You will want to take extra care in selecting your cabinet maker. The task doesn’t end when you’ve made your choice either. You’ll also want to work closely with the contractor you select and clearly communicate what you are looking for so that you are both satisfied at the end of the project.


Start with Your Network

Custom-Kitchen-Cabinets-Cherry-Wood-IslandThere’s no better way to start your search for a custom cabinet maker than with your social network. Ask friends and family who have hired cabinet makers for references. If they had a stellar experience, they’ll be more than happy to refer you to their contractor. Don’t stop there. Ask them about their experience. Was there anything they didn’t like about the process or the end result? Is there anything they would have done differently? The answers to these questions will help in your selection process and beyond.




Check Work Samplescustom-kitchen-cabinets-2

As you begin your selection process, be sure to ask each cabinet maker for samples of their past work. Any quality cabinet contractor will be able to provide photos of their past work, either on their web site or in person. Inquire about work done several years ago. How well has it held up? Have the doors, literally, fallen off the hinges? The further back you can go into your cabinet maker’s past experience, the more comfortable you will be.


Check References

209178993fae09f188de3b0aa974bf49Ask your cabinet maker for at least three references from people they’ve built cabinets for. As with the work samples, if you can check references from projects done several years ago, that will speak to the durability of the work. If possible, make arrangements to go see some of the cabinet maker’s recent projects in person. There’s no match for seeing, touching and feeling actual cabinets. You can also research your cabinet maker online. What type of reviews and comments do you find? Keep in mind that unhappy customers are more likely to post negative comments than happy customers are to post positive ones, but poor reviews are certainly a warning sign.






Ask About Doorscustom-white-kitchen-cabinets-po8vowdow

Many cabinet professionals who label themselves “custom” use off-the-shelf cabinet doors. This reduces the overall quality of the product. The doors are the most functional part of any cabinet. While the rest of the cabinet certainly needs to be solid and stable, it’s the door that actually moves. Your doors, as well as hardware items like hinges, slides and locks, need to be high quality to ensure that your cabinets don’t break down over time. Confirm with your cabinet maker that they build their own doors and use quality hardware.


Be Upfront About Budget

custom-kitchen-cabinets-1You’ll want to know early on how your cabinet maker charges. Do they work on an hourly fee? Do they charge by the linear foot? Or by the project? What about materials? How much do exotic hardwoods cost compared to more common species? What type of construction do you prefer – frameless, inset or face frame – and how does that impact the price? A huge variety of things can impact the price of a custom cabinetry project. Don’t hesitate to ask your cabinet maker to walk you through all the alternatives. A good policy is to clearly communicate your maximum up front. A quality contractor will work within your budget and advise on the best ways to stay within it.



Communicate Often During the Design ProcessKitchen-wood-cabinets-design-rendering

The more you communicate with your cabinet maker during the design process, the happier you will be at the end of the project. Part of your selection process, in fact, should be to find out how much input your supplier is willing to take. Ideally, they’ll be very patient with you and carefully incorporate your input into their design. Ultimately, a picture is worth a thousand words, and many cabinet makers now use specialised software not only to plan and lay out your kitchen, but to create photorealistic renderings of what your kitchen will look like. To take it a step further, touching actual materials is even better than seeing a rendering. You should get samples of the wood as well as all the hardware. Keep in mind that cabinets are not the only element of your kitchen. They will need to tie in with flooring, countertops, backsplash and lighting, among other items. A quality cabinet maker will consider your entire kitchen – not just the cabinets.


Cabinets are, perhaps, the most functional part of a kitchen. They not only store your kitchen wares, they also provide access to them, meaning that they must open and close frequently. Building such important items from scratch is no small feat, but by carefully choosing a cabinet maker, and working with them throughout the design and construction process, you can build a kitchen that suits you perfectly and is, literally, unlike any other kitchen in the world.


The Basics on Selecting the Best Basin

If you’re renovating or redesigning your bathroom, the basin is very likely front and center in the layout. You want something that represents your style and fits the décor of the room. Basically, it has to look good.  Not only will it be highly visible, it will also be heavily used by everyone who enters the space, whether they be guests, family members, children or adults, so it has to be functional too. This presents yet another decision you need to make during the renovation process, and one that you will have to live with for the long term. A quality home renovation company will make recommendations for you and provide design services, but ultimately, the decision is yours. Fear not… simply keep the following considerations in mind to find the basin that works best for you.





Start with style. The number of basin designs that are available can be staggering. Narrow them down by looking only at basins that match the overall style of your bathroom. Are you going for a classic look with clean, straight lines or perhaps something more minimalist? Maybe you want something more organic with soft, rounded edges and lines. Knowing what style you are generally looking for in advance will cut down on the amount of time required to choose the perfect basin.





Don’t fall for the best looking basin you see without asking yourself a few questions first. Who’s going to be using the bathroom and how? Are children going to be splashing around and, if so, is the basin large enough and deep enough to keep water off the floor? Or maybe your basin is going into a guest bath that is only lightly used by adults. In that case, you might want to go all in on style and select a basin that is an absolute work of art, but may not have the capacity of a larger one. Can you picture yourself comfortably using the basin in your master bath multiple times per day? If so, it’s the right one for you.






Our bathrooms are, almost without exception, the smallest rooms in our homes and they need to hold anywhere between two and five sizeable fixtures – tub, shower, toilet and up to two basins. For that reason alone, size is an important consideration when selecting a basin. You want one that is large enough to perform, but not so large that it prohibits you from moving around the space.

It’s not just the size of the basin that counts either. It might be part of a vanity and not all vanities are created equal. Standard vanities are either 45cm deep or 53cm deep and in a small bathroom that can make a significant difference. In a spacious master bathroom, on the other hand, two basins mounted on one vanity are the norm. Or, there may be no vanity at all. The most space-saving basins are mounted directly to the wall or freestanding.





Speaking of mounting, how your basin is mounted is another important consideration. If it is mounted on a vanity, there are a few different variations. An above-the-counter basin, as the name suggests, sits entirely on top of the vanity and has sides that hold in the water. Taller peopletend to appreciate these as the overall height of the basin is higher. An under-mount basin is secured to the underside of the countertop with a hole cut into the countertop to match the shape of the basin. A self-rimming basin is similar to an under-mount, however, its rim extends to cover a portion of the countertop, which helps to control spills.




While vanities can add a tremendous amount of storage space to a bathroom, wall-mounted basins typically work better in more space-constrained bathrooms or in situations where storage is less of a concern. Wall-mounted basins can sit atop a pedestal, which partially supports the basin and also conceals the plumbing. Or the wall can completely support the basin and a shroud can be used to conceal the plumbing. Freestanding basins, perhaps the most elegant of all, can stand away from the wall with the plumbing coming up through the floor.






Without a tap, your basin simply isn’t functional, and when selecting a basin, you will need to know what type of tapware goes with it. Perhaps your tapware will be mounted to the wall (a great way to save a few cm’s of space) or to the vanity. If that’s the case, your basin won’t require any holes. If, however, the tapware is to be mounted to the sink, you will need one, two, or three holes. One hole will accommodate a basin mixer, which combines the faucet and the hot/cold controls into one fixture. This is a more modern option that allows for control of the water temperature with a single touch. Two holes will accommodate pillar taps, a more traditional option in which hot and cold water flows from separate taps. Three holes will accommodate three-piece tapware – a tap and separate hot and cold controls. Again, it is important to consider not only style here, but the type of tap you can picture yourself using numerous times per day.


Don’t let selecting a basin for your bathroom become yet another daunting decision in your remodel. Start with the basins in your style category and move from there to find the one that’s just right for you. Give the basin ample consideration and you’ll find one that you’re pleased to see and use day after day even years after your renovation is complete.

Let There be Light – 5 Great Lighting Options!

Lighting can have a dramatic impact on your home. The direction in which it is cast, the hue it gives off, its brightness and how it is controlled are all considerations that affect your life, in some small way, every single day. Your mood can be changed, completing tasks can be made simpler and your home can be made more efficient with the right lighting plan. A major home renovation is, among many other things, an opportunity to add lighting to your home that goes beyond being functional. It sets the right mood, highlights your home’s features and, ultimately, becomes part of its character. Today’s homes contain lighting options that we could not have dreamed of just a short time ago.



beautiful-t5-grow-light-fixtures-1-led-light-fixtures-550-x-360Improvements in LED (light-emitting diode) technology have opened up a world of opportunities to lighting designers. The relative small size of LEDs compared to traditional light bulbs have made it so that they can be incorporated into fixtures in more and more interesting ways. In addition, LEDs give off much less heat than incandescent or fluorescent bulbs and can, therefore, be put in places you may not have thought possible. From LED strips to cleverly shaped lamps, we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what can be done. Perhaps, most importantly, the lifespan of LEDs is extremely long and they consume much less energy than traditional bulbs, making them environmentally friendly.






OLEDs (organic light-emitting diodes) take LED technology to an even higher level. Less bright than LEDs, OLEDs are made up of a thin, flexible film of carbon-based material that emits light when electricity is applied to it. Additionally, they do not require the reflectors and diffusers that LEDs do. This, combined with their flexibility, means they can be incorporated into an incredible array of fixtures. When it comes to setting the mood, the light emitted by OLEDs is very soft and diffused compared to most other light sources and is said to be the closest thing to natural light since old-fashioned incandescents.



greenLighting does not need just be white and bright anymore. LEDs and other light sources are now available from lighting manufacturers that give homeowners the ability to cast light in a myriad of different colours. Choose colours that fit your style or match your furnishings. Fixtures are even available that let you change the colour of light based on your mood. Go with simple white while cleaning or completing household tasks, then change to a warmer hue when it’s time to relax or add splashes of colour while you’re hosting a party.







Meet the light bulb speaker, lighting that’s about more than just light. These amazing LED bulbs have Bluetooth speakers built right into them. Control volume, brightness and colour from a smart phone app or a wireless remote. Now, when you’re setting the mood, you can play music that suits the moment from the same device that casts the mood lighting.



High Tech Systems

wink-relayOnce upon a time, lights offered two options; on and off. Then, dimmers were introduced and you could control the brightness of your light. Today’s modern homes are designed with complete lighting systems that adapt to suit the lifestyle of the homeowner. Press “cook” on your programmable wall panel to illuminate the task lighting in your kitchen. Press “bedtime” to have the light in your bedrooms slowly fade to black. Enter “vacation” mode to have lights randomly turn on and off at varying times of day. Want to control it all remotely? Install a smart phone app that syncs up with the system. Then, you can set the lights the way you want while you’re out and come home to a perfectly lit environment.






You may have thought planning the lighting for your home renovation would be a simple process, but spending a little extra time choosing the right fixtures and technology will dramatically improve the final results and increase your enjoyment of your home. The home lighting industry has evolved rapidly in recent years, creating some very exiting options for homeowners. Smart home renovators will choose the options that suit their lifestyle perfectly.


Want to read more?

House Logic: How to Enhance Your Life and Home with Lighting

OLED Lighting: Introduction and Market Status


A Quick Guide to Engineered, Solid and Bamboo Timber Flooring

You’ve decided to install timber flooring. Excellent choice. Nothing adds a touch of warmth quite like hardwood. It’s durable and even when it does become scratched or worn, many types of timber flooring can be refinished and restored to their original beauty. For those reasons, it has become the flooring of choice for homeowners all over the world.


Now it’s time to select a timber floor product. Flooring is milled from a wide variety of species, each of which look slightly different and offer varying degrees of hardness and durability. In addition, there are a variety of ways to manufacture timber flooring. Basically, they all fit into one of two categories; engineered or solid. Let’s start there and break down the differences between the engineered and solid timber flooring options that are out there.



engineered_profileEngineered flooring consists of multiple layers of wood adhered together. The interior layers are typically plywood and the top layer is a veneer that provides the desired appearance. Many people presume solid flooring is superior to engineered flooring, but it actually offers both advantages and disadvantages compared to solid flooring.

It’s more resistant to moisture. No wood floor will stand up to being completely soaked with water, but in damp or humid environments, engineered flooring is the best choice. It was, in fact, invented so that homeowners could install timber flooring over concrete slabs, which give off more moisture than other subfloors. Over the years, as manufacturers have created more and more varieties, engineered flooring has found its way into many parts of the home.

installIt’s often easier to install. Most solid flooring is installed with a tongue-and-groove process, which hides the nails and requires specialized equipment if not a professional installer. Some engineered floors, on the other hand, are glued down. Others utilize a “floating” system that enables them to be interlocked with each other with no gluing or nailing required. Additionally, because it is available in a variety of thicknesses, it is often easier to manage transitions with other flooring types in adjacent rooms.

It can be refinished (sometimes). The thickness of an engineered floor will determine whether or not it can be refinished. The veneer layer on better quality floors is typically between 2mm and 6mm. Those can be refinished at least once. Thinner veneers can not.

bolivian_rosewood_RSIt’s environmentally friendly. While the toxicity of the adhesives used to manufacture engineered flooring are something you should pay attention to when selecting a product, engineered floors typically have a smaller impact on the environment than solid timber flooring, particularly when it comes to exotic species. It takes fewer Bolivian Rosewood trees, for example, to make a 2mm veneer than it does a 2cm solid plank.

It’s less expensive. What ultimately becomes the bottom line for homeowners looking for the look and feel of wood, engineered flooring is almost always cheaper than solid alternatives.



solid_profileNo matter how far engineered timber flooring technology advances, some homeowners just have to have solid wood underfoot. If it’s a quality product and it’s installed correctly, you can’t go wrong. It can be refinished multiple times, if necessary, and it can last, literally, hundreds of years. There are a few things you should know, however.

It can warp. – Solid timber is more susceptible to the effects of moisture and contraction and expansion than engineered products. For that reason, most companies do not mill solid planks wider than 15cm. Additionally, professional installers will leave space for expansion underneath the baseboard moulding.

It can’t go everywhere. Most manufacturers recommend that the home’s relative humidity remain between 45% and 65% in order to prevent warping. Additionally, it should only be installed above grade and it requires a wood subfloor.

installation-hardwood-floorInstallation can be tricky. Solid timber flooring is attached to the subfloor with a tongue-and-groove system. The tongue of each board holds the nails, which are driven in at an angle, and the groove of the next board covers the tongue so that the nails are hidden. The process requires a specialized flooring nailer. A confident do-it-yourselfer can successfully complete an installation, however, make sure you have the right equipment and are ready for the job.





bamboo-flooring-cost1Bamboo flooring has become an increasingly popular choice in recent years. Flooring companies have manufactured beautiful flooring from this renewable resource and consumers have responded by adding it to their homes. The process consists of adhering strands of bamboo together under high pressure. The end result is a quality product, but as with other types of flooring, there are a few things to be aware of.


It’s more water resistant than solid timber. Bamboo does not warp as easily as solid hardwood, but it is not quite as stable as engineered flooring.

bamboo planksIt’s softer than hardwood. Bamboo is inherently softer than other flooring materials. Depending on the manufacturing process, however, it can be made more or less durable. Natural, uncarbonized bamboo is typically stronger than carbonized bamboo. The carbonization both makes the bamboo darker and weakens it structurally.

It can be refinished. Like solid timber, bamboo flooring can be sanded and refinished. The thicker the plank, the more times it can be refinished.

Environmentally friendly. As with engineered flooring, buyers should be aware of the adhesives used during the manufacturing process and their toxicity levels. In terms of carbon footprint, however, bamboo stands out because it is made from a raw material that has been known to group up to 10cm within 24 hours.

Whether you choose engineered flooring, solid timber or bamboo, you can have a beautiful floor that will stay that way for decades, if not longer. With all three product types, choose a quality product, install it properly and the results will thrill you.

Want to read more?

Houzz: When to use Engineered Flooring The Benefits and Drawbacks of Bamboo Floors

Cabinet Doors and Why Some Are More Expensive

When you’re renovating a kitchen, it can feel like the price tag creeps up with every decision you make.  From countertops to flooring to cabinets, it’s easy to fall in love with a style or material that doesn’t necessarily fit into your budget. In this article, we’ll take a look at one element in particular that’s often overlooked – cabinet doors and drawers.

Brown Kitchen Cabs


solid wood



How cabinet doors are made, and what they’re made of, impacts price. Solid wood is preferred by many homeowners, and for good reason. It’s durable and attractive. Before you spring for the solid wood doors, though, it’s important to know your options.





MDF, or medium density fibreboard, is considered by many to be even more durable than solid wood. It wears well and creates an alternative worth considering. You won’t get the wood grain that you get with solid wood or other products, but it’s less expensive and if you’re painting your cabinets white or another colour, MDF is a great solution.

plywoodPlywood doors provide great stability along with the wood grain sought after in more traditional kitchens. It can also be used in combination with solid wood to reduce costs while maintaining the durability and appearance of solid wood.






Veneer doors consist of a substrate made of plywood, particle board or another material with a thin layer of wood or other material pressure glued to its surface. Depending on what exactly that substrate is made of, veneer doors can be less stable and they are typically less durable because if the veneer is punctured, the substrate is exposed. The upside is reduced cost. Choose a wood veneer and you can often achieve a better, more consistent grain pattern than you can with solid wood. Veneer will also bring more species of wood into your budget range than solid wood. You can also choose a melamine veneer in either a smooth or textured finish.



Inset vs. Overlay

Remington-Inset-beauty-lgAn inset door fits within the cabinet box so that surface of the door is flush with the surface of the cabinet. When cabinets were handcrafted, this is how it was done. Today, in order to get that level of precision, you’re going to pay a little more. This type of door may not be what you want, however. The hinges are exposed when the door is closed, a downside for anyone looking for a cleaner look. Also, inset doors result in slightly less space inside the cabinet or drawer.




partial overlay

Overlay cabinet doors are mounted on the face of the cabinet box so that they completely cover the cabinet opening and overlap onto the face frame of the cabinet. This allows the hardware to be completely hidden when the doors are closed. Variations on overlay doors include partial overlays, which overlap the cabinet box, but leave part of it exposed. This can result in a less contiguous appearance than either inset doors or the other overlay option, the full overlay.



full-overlay-cabinet-doors-2565-custom-kitchen-cabinet-design-part-1-408-x-244With a full overlay, the cabinet doors and drawers completely overlap the face frame. This allows for the maximum amount of space inside the cabinet. Like the inset doors, however, a high degree of precision, and hence an increased cost, is required in both in the manufacturing and installation of this type of cabinet. The smallest miscalculation will cause the doors to collide with each other or not completely cover cabinet face.




Door Style

build-beadboard-kitchen-cabinet-doorsGenerally speaking, the more intricate style of door you choose, the more expensive it will be. If your style tends to be more modern, choose a flat panel door, which as the name suggests, consist of a single, flat panel. From there you can add whatever level of intricacy you see fit. Shaker style doors or mission style doors are very popular and can range from the more clean and modern when painted to slightly more traditional when stained. Moving toward the more traditional, beadboard patterns have been around for centuries. Raised panel doors feature slightly more dimension and detail and arched cathedral doors add yet another level of intricacy. This is by no means a complete list. Take the time to find the right cabinet doors that fit both your style and your budget.


Accessories and Hardware


From drawer organizers to wine racks to lazy Susans and beyond, there’s virtually no limit to the number of kitchen storage gadgets on the market. This is a place where you can really add efficiency and functionality to your kitchen, but it’s also a place where your budget can slip away from you. Carefully consider the accessories you’ll get the most use out of. You can also look at soft close hinges, which prevent doors from slamming and an incredibly wide variety of pulls, knobs and bars. The decisions can seem endless at time, but stay true to your style and take the time to carefully consider how everything fits together and these items will add character to your kitchen without breaking the budget.




Cabinet doors are important to any kitchen design. They’re, quite literally, the face of your cabinets and, in many ways, your kitchen. They also need to function properly over the lifespan of your kitchen. Understanding what goes into their construction will help guide you through this part of the decision making process during your kitchen renovation.


Want to read more?

Houzz: Learn the Lingo of Kitchen Cabinet Door Styles Cabinet Door Styles

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Space Saving Toilets – The Way of the Future

The toilet. It’s a necessary fixture in every bathroom, it’s functional, it’s utilitarian, and it’s often large and in your face as soon as you enter the bathroom. But it doesn’t have to be…not anymore. The fact is, the plumbing and inner workings that a toilet requires takes up a certain amount of space, but manufacturers have come up with ingenious ways of minimising that amount of space without sacrificing comfort or functionality. In the process, they’ve created toilets that look different from their predecessors and they’ve given designers an ever-widening array of options and allowed them to create comfort and style in smaller and smaller spaces. Let’s take a look at some of the solutions for space-saving toilets.


Compact Toilets

The first thing to do, in minimising the amount of space that a toilet requires, is to simply compress the dimensions of a traditional toilet. Creative manufacturers have had much success in creating toilets that fit all the elements of a regular commode into smaller and smaller packages. One place they frequently look is the tank. That big, boxy square on the back of many toilets does not necessarily need to be big, boxy or square. It can be rounded around the back of the toilet, thin and more vertical or a combination of both.







Corner ToiletsCorner Toilet

Another great solution for that big, bulky tank is to, literally, stick it in the corner. Designers often struggle with how to best utilise corner spaces in bathrooms and the corner toilet provides a great solution that both minimizes the amount of space that a tank takes up and makes great use of an otherwise under-utilised corner.







Wall-Mounted Toilets

If you still need to save some space in your bathroom layout, how about stashing the tank inside the wall? Wall mounted toilets are tremendous space savers and, as opposed to floor-mounted models, you can mount them at a height that is comfortable for you. While they utilise a similar gravity-fed system as traditional toilets, installation is slightly more complicated. The tank needs to be mounted on a frame inside the wall and requires a different type of sewer line than traditional toilets.




Tankless Toiletstankless

To take it step further, you even have the option of eliminating the tank altogether. Rather than using gravity, like toilets with tanks do, these models rely on an electric pump to initiate the flushing process. With the pump typically concealed inside the wall and a wall-mounted button to operate it, tankless toilets look very little like their traditional counterparts and fit particularly well in modern bathrooms. They are not without their downsides, however. They are far more expensive to purchase, and installation requires electricity to be run to the pump in the wall.  Repair and maintenance can also be more complicated than a standard toilet, and given their reliance on electricity, won’t function when the power is out.




Round Toilet Bowls

The tank is not the only part of a toilet that can be minimised. Round-shaped toilets take up less space – front-to-back – than the standard toilet, which has more of an oval or elongated shape. Round toilets may be less comfortable than elongated ones, however, for a powder room or other bathroom that is not going to see a large amount of consistent use, they offer an opportunity to save valuable space.







Macerating Toiletsfreestanding w macerator

This alternative not only eliminates the tank, it eliminates much of the plumbing required as well. Instead of holding water in a tank, macerating toilets use water from a regular water line for flushing. They also do not require a sewer drain because waste is shredded by an electric motor and liquidated before being pumped out through discharge pipes. While they do require electricity like tankless toilets, the plumbing required is relatively simple. Additionally, macerating toilets can be installed virtually anywhere in the home. They do not require plumbing in the floor, making them ideal for rooms with concrete floors. Downsides include the reliance on electricity and a higher maintenance requirement than most toilets.





Whether you are renovating an existing bathroom or adding a half or full bath where one did not previously exist, do not assume that you need to incorporate a large, traditional toilet into your layout. The options for space saving toilets are many. Taking the time to find the toilet that fits not only your space, but your style, will result in a more comfortable, spacious bathroom that you will enjoy for years and years.


Want to read more?

Toilet Found: Toilets for Small Bathrooms

This Old House: Big Help for Small Bathrooms