Your newly renovated space is nearly built out. You’re starting to picture how great your furniture is going to look in it and how wonderful it’s going to be to relax in it. But have you given enough consideration to how you’re going to get in and out of the space? Doors can have a huge impact on both the style and functionality of a newly renovated space. What about the closets? Have you thought about what kind of doors you’re going to put there? When you do your research, you may find that there are more options out there than you thought. Working with your contractor to include doors that fit the space as well as your personal preferences will lead to greater satisfaction.



 Sliding Doors

Long used as an entryway to porches, patios, decks and other outdoor spaces, the most basic sliders consist of two glass panels that slide past one another. A common variation consists of four panels with the two center panels sliding apart from each other over the outside panels. Sliders allow for plenty of natural light to enter the space and for people to easily access the outdoor space. Sliding glass doors are made in a variety of styles and fit well into the design of nearly every home, however, given their sliding functionality, they lean more towards the modern and less towards the more traditional designs.


French Doors

FrenchFor a more traditional aesthetic, French doors fit the bill. The French set-up consists of two adjacent hinged doors with the knobs in the middle and the hinges opposite one other. French doors can also be used as entryways to outdoor space, but are commonly used to separate one room from another. Space is an important consideration with French doors, however. If they open by swinging into the room, you will need to allow for that space in your furniture plan. You can choose to have them open outwards, but if you have them swinging out into outdoor space, be sure to equip them with special hardware that prevents the wind from slamming the doors shut.




Stacking DoorsStacking

If your tastes tend more towards the modern, stacking doors, also known as telescoping doors, are a cutting edge variation on the traditional slider that you should consider. Consisting of three or more panels that slide past each other (into a stack), stacking doors can be opened just a little to allow some fresh air in or they can really bring the outside in and nearly eliminate the barrier between the interior and exterior of your home when fully open.




Sliding Barn Doors

sliding-barn-doors-for-the-home-11The name implies a more rustic design, but sliding barn doors are being installed in homes that range from modern to traditional. Sliding barn doors rely on an exposed piece of hardware above the opening that they both hang from and slide along. This configuration allows for many options from doors that blend in with the surrounding walls to doors that truly become the highlight of the room whether they are opened or closed.




Pivot Doorspivot-door

An alternative to hinged and sliding doors, the pivot door, as the name suggests, pivots on a point well inside the edges of the door. This configuration allows the door to swing in, out or both. It also increases the maximum size that a single door can be, allowing designer and architects to create dramatic impact with a single, large panel.






Bifold Doors

stacking_sliding_bi-folding_doors_6You may think of bifold doors as being perfect for closets – and they are – but creative architects have specified them for use as entrances to exterior spaces and many other uses. Because they hinge in the middle and slide on a track much like sliding doors, bifold doors intrude less into the space when open, as compared with traditional French doors and many other door types. A bifold door can be opened just a little bit or opened fully and when placed side-by-side, a series of bifold doors can span a wide area and create an openable wall of glass.




Pocket Doorspocket

Yet another variation on the sliding door, the pocket door slides into a compartment – or pocket – on the adjacent wall when it is fully open. If you have a room that doubles as a common area and sleeping quarters for guests, for example, the pocket door is a perfect solution because when it’s fully open, you can hardly tell the door is there. Pocket doors are also perfect for small spaces because you do not need to accommodate for door swing into either room.





It’s easy to select basic, functional doors for your renovation, however, like many of the choices you will make, the doors are an opportunity to incorporate your own style and make sure that your home suits your lifestyle. Taking the time to fully consider the options will lead to an improved final product and increase your enjoyment of the space.

Want to read more?

Houzz: Find the Right Glass Door for Your Patio



Whether your kitchen is undergoing a gut renovation or you simply want to spruce it up without going through a complete overhaul, you can add lighting that will at once beautify the space and make it more functional from preparing food to eating in the kitchen to cleaning up afterwards. Some lighting improvements may require electrical work be completed, but others can easily be added to your existing space with minimal hassle. The fact is, we spend a lot of time in our kitchens. When guests come over, they often congregate there. The lighting should be adaptable to all of the kitchen’s uses and should fit your style and the style of your home. Consider these tips when designing the lighting for your kitchen.



Chandeliers Aren’t Just for the Dining Room Anymore

kitchen chandelierThe recent design trend to use chandeliers in the kitchen has resulted in a touch of elegance being added to kitchens all over the world. Designers have used them over large kitchen islands. After all, why shouldn’t we enjoy some of the same glamour as we do in our dining rooms while we’re eating in the kitchen? Mini chandeliers can be used in place of pendants to create task lighting. Many kitchens today trend towards the modern, minimalistic and utilitarian, but the use of chandeliers can provide a welcome contrast and soften the look, which is a great way for you to introduce your own personal style into the space. Adding a chandelier to your kitchen may be as simple as replacing an existing fixture, but you’ll want to make sure they are hung at a location and a height that won’t interfere with the kitchen’s functionality, and confirm that they cast the right amount of light onto the right surfaces.


Strings of LED Lights Can do Amazing ThingsLED_lighting_kitchen

LED strips are easy to install, come in a variety of colours and can be used in an amazing variety of ways. They’re an easy way to add low-profile, under-cabinet lighting, but that’s just the start. Place them under base cabinets at the toe-kick for a great accent that doubles as nighttime lighting and lets you walk to the fridge for a midnight snack without bumping into anything. Place them behind features like crown moulding or a tray ceiling to draw attention to architectural details. Put them inside your cabinets and drawers to create either task lighting at a detailed level or to highlight the contents of a clear-fronted cabinet. LED lighting can even be installed underneath glass countertops and behind glass backsplashes to create an incredible effect.

Pendant Lights Can Have an Impact

large-pendantsYou may think of pendant lights as sleek, minimalist fixtures that hang down over an island or peninsula. They’re much more than that though and, when done correctly, can have a major impact on the design of your kitchen. They can, indeed, be sleek and minimalist, but they can also be oversized or bold. They can hang in a straight row to create a strong demarcation or they can be hung at varying heights, or in a cluster to create more drama. A single, large pendant may be just the trick to light a specific area of your kitchen, or you might want to use many smaller ones. The opportunities to make an impact with pendants are nearly endless.




Recessed Lighting is for Function, But Not Necessarily Stylekitchen_recessed

Can lights, or recessed lights, have been a kitchen staple for decades. And for good reason. Sleek and functional, they literally tuck right out of the way and, when placed properly, provide just the right task lighting right where you need it. Let’s face it, though, they don’t add much character to the space. That’s not their job. You don’t need to completely eliminate can lights from your kitchen design, but do consider adding some interest by mixing them up with attention-grabbing pendant lights, sconces or other fixtures that fit your style and draw the eye away from more functional, if less interesting light sources. For another option build recessed lights into a soffit to create a unique kitchen feature.


Lighting Can Be Built into Functional Items

range hood lightingLooking for clever and functional? You might want consider a lighting fixture that doubles as a pot rack to not only light your work space but keep many of your tools within an arm’s reach. Depending on where how your cooktop is situated, you may want a range hood that provides ventilation as well as task lighting for the cook surface and surrounding areas. Today’s fixtures are designed to look good, serve a purpose and often to cast light in the right direction.




Non-Lighting Items Impact Lightingreflective

When designing your kitchen and the lighting for it, you need to consider the sheen and finish of cabinets, countertops and flooring. Are they highly reflective? Do they have a matte finish, semi-gloss or glossy? The answer should affect your lighting decisions. Keep in mind how light bounces off these items.




Lighting is an important element of any kitchen design, whether you are starting from scratch or looking to improve the lighting in an existing kitchen. Without it, you couldn’t cook, clean, eat or do any of the other things we do in our kitchens. It’s also an opportunity to add style, drama and a piece of your own personal style to your kitchen. Make sure you carefully consider lighting in your kitchen and dedicate the appropriate amount of time to selecting fixtures and directing light to the right places. You’ll be rewarded with a kitchen that is as beautiful as it is functional.


Want to read more?

Houzz: Kitchen Lighting


Shower heads have come a long way in recent years. If you haven’t shopped for shower fixtures recently, you’ll find a variety of options that you may not have known even existed when visit your favourite web site or home store. What was once a utilitarian fixture is now an opportunity to add a special custom tough your bathroom as well as spa-like features. Handheld shower heads, rain heads and wall-mounted shower panel systems are just a few of the options. Before you select the shower head for your bathroom renovation, make sure you consider all the options and have a conversation with your plumber about what you want. Read on for a breakdown of the options.


Single-Head Spray

Single Head SpraySingle-head shower heads have been common in bathrooms almost since the advent of indoor plumbing. Today’s models contain four or more individual nozzles within them. Many allow you to adjust them so that the water comes out in a pattern that suits your preferences. Gone are the days, however, when single-head shower heads need to be completely stationary. Many are connected to a flexible hose so they can be removed from the wall and held in your hand. Others are mounted to a vertical bar that lets you adjust the height – perfect for a couple or family of varying heights who shares a shower.




Multiple Shower Headsmultihead

A variation of the  single-head, multi-head units contain more than one head within a single fixture. A lever typically directs water from one head to the other or allows water to flow from multiple heads at the same time. Combine a handheld head with a wall-mounted one, place two heads side-by-side or mount one on the wall and one to an adjustable bar. You can even have water falling down on you from the ceiling and from the wall at the same time. The choices are many.



Rain Heads

rain headsRain shower heads are either mounted to the ceiling or attached to an extension arm that comes out from the wall, so that, as the name implies, the water falls from above, like rain. Typically, rain heads are wider than standard heads, creating a truly luxurious, rain-like environment.





Shower Panelsbody sprayers

Body sprays, or shower panels, consist of multiple heads installed on the walls of the shower that can be arranged to spray water exactly where you want it. Think of them as a car wash for your body, or, to put it in more luxurious terms, a Jacuzzi that you stand up in. Configure these units just how you like and adjust them so they hit just the right spot. Consult with your plumbing contractor early and often if you are considering this option as there are minimum water pressure requirements and the plumbing in the wall will need to match configured correctly.



steamIf you’re after a steam room instead of a Jacuzzi, you can have that too. These systems  include a small generator the creates heat to convert water to steam, along with special piping that pumps the steam into the shower. The most complete systems also include special doors to keep the steam contained inside the shower. This too, is a relatively complex installation requiring that the heating unit be housed in the wall or in a closet or cabinet nearby.




Green OptionsLow_flow_showerhead

All shower heads are built to control flow rate, the amount of water the flows out of them per minute. To step up your environmental conservation efforts, you can select a shower head that is low-flow. There are even units available that let you adjust the flow rate down and then back up again based on your needs. Aerated shower heads mix air with the water that they spray in order to create the sensation of more water pressure even though they actually use less water.


High Tech

shower controlThe wave of high-tech gadgetry that has swept the home construction business has not missed the shower head. You can add adjustable LED lights that illuminate the water and give your shower different mood every day. Everything, from the lighting to the temperature and pressure of the water can even be controlled from a digital control panel.





It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer variety of shower heads that are available. If you’re renovating your bathroom, though, this is your chance to create the shower of your dreams. Consider all the options carefully, consult who are doing the work early in the process, and you’ll end up with the shower you want, whether it be simple and utilitarian or luxurious and spa-like.

Want to read more?

Bob Vila: Shower Heads 101

HGTV: Shower Buying Guide

With the dizzying array of choices, selecting an overall style for your kitchen can become a daunting task. Do you prefer a modern esthetic or a classic country one? Do you and your spouse have same style or are you going to have to find ways to compromise? Are you designing with resale of the home in mind or are you creating a kitchen that you and your family will enjoy for generations? When embarking on a kitchen renovation, many homeowners feel they need to choose distinctly between a modern or a country kitchen. The fact is, however, contemporary design trends allow for elements of both styles to be included in the same kitchen and, for many kitchen renovators, this may be the best choice. Read on for tips on finding the style for your kitchen that works best for you.


The Fully Modern Kitchen


Warning: Contemporary kitchen styles continually change. If fact, every 15 years or so, they complexly evolve. If you opt for a completely modern kitchen, be ready for it to become dated while you still live in the home. That’s OK for some people who don’t mind redoing their kitchen every couple of years, but if you are looking for a kitchen that you can enjoy for decades, or if selling your home is on the horizon, consider tempering the modern esthetic in your kitchen with some more classic, timeless elements.


All in On Country

COUNTRY-hudson-valley-kitchen-island-0515Bead board paneling, a farmhouse sink, gingham curtains…for some people, these and other country elements create a welcoming feeling unlike anything else and are simply must-haves when renovating their kitchen. Today’s country kitchens are actually anything but old-fashioned. They include the same modern appliances and conveniences as any newly built kitchen. As with the modern esthetic, however, be careful about overdoing the country in your kitchen. If you overdo it, you may scare off potential buyers for the home or create a kitchen that you tire of quickly. Consider balancing the rustic feel with some modern elements.


Transitional Design


After a thorough design consultation, many homeowners realize that what they’re really after is a classic kitchen design that will stand the test of time a provide a lifetime of enjoyment to whoever is living in the house, be it the current residents, their children or a new buyer. Here are a couple of ways to create what many designers refer to as transitional style.




A White Colour Scheme

dayton-painted-white-shaker-cabinets-oa-5728-1750x7501-1024x439White really never goes out of style and can be applied to a modern design, a country design or something in between. White cabinetry is a very safe and appealing option and an overall white color scheme can provide the perfect backdrop for you, or the home’s next owner, to add as much or as little detail, in the form of accessories and accents, as you’d like. White does not have to be the only colour in your kitchen, but opting for a neutral color palate and keeping the scheme monochromatic will accomplish the desired effect.


Crisp Lines, But Not Completely Devoid of Detail

Cabinets in a modern kitchen may have completely flat front to create that clean, contemporary look. Cabinets in a country kitchen may have ornate detail and moulding on and around them. Compromise with something that is streamlined, but not completely sleek, like Shaker-style cabinets.





Natural Materials

NaturalWhen selecting materials, opting towards the natural, like wood cabinets and granite or marble countertops, allows you to satisfy the classic side of your design and because they are available in such a wide array of styles and colours, you’ll find something that also appeases the modern side. Here, again, avoid overly ornate details, like scalloped countertop edges and detailed moulding to balance the natural material with a modern design.


Contrast Natural Materials with Man-Made OContrastnes

Using man-made materials to contract with natural ones is a hallmark of any transitional kitchen design. Stainless steel appliances, when combined with wood cabinets and stone tile, make both materials stand out. Wrought iron lighting fixtures against the backdrop of stone, ceramics and wood can help create a kitchen that will appeal to both your modern and country sides.




Tile Layout

grid1A white subway tile backsplash is a can’t miss element that appeals to a broad range of styles. Consider your options though. You may want to select a more traditional or rustic, rough-hewn tile, but stack it in a grid rather than an offset pattern. This brings in a country element in the material while also creating a more streamlined, modern pattern.




Hardwood Flooringgird

Continuing the hardwood flooring from an adjacent room into the kitchen accomplishes two things. It brings a natural material into the kitchen and it ties multiple rooms together for a more open feel, a trademark of modern design. Additionally, modern hardwood flooring stands up well to the high traffic and punishment that most kitchens dish out.




Choosing between a modern and a country-style kitchen is not a cut-and-dry decision. Thankfully, you don’t have to select between fully sleek and modern and completely rustic and country. Combine elements of both to create a kitchen that you and your loved ones will be happy with for years and will make your house the envy of the neighborhood.

“Cozy” is probably not a word you would use to describe your ideal bathroom. “Spa-like” or “palatial” are probably more like it, but many bathrooms have a small footprint within your house and all bathrooms need to accommodate, at a minimum, a sink, toilet and shower or bath. Add in storage for all of your linens and toiletries and making a bathroom look and feel larger becomes a real challenge. There is hope though. Follow these design tips and you’ll be on your way to creating a bathroom with a spacious and comfortable feel.



Consider a Monochrome Colour Scheme

monochromeContrasting colours tend to visually break up your space, while consistent colours tie it all together. To make a bathroom look bigger, match light-coloured floor and shower tiles with light-coloured walls. To take it one step further, paint the ceiling the same colour as the walls. This will minimize any odd angles or shapes on the ceiling and also create a visual effect that makes the space feel large. If  you want some contrast in your design, start with one item, such as the vanity. Make it a darker colour and that will become a focal point without overwhelming the room.



Run the Shower Tile to the Ceilingshower tile

Transitions between materials are another instance that break up a room and make it feel smaller. Even if the walls and tile, for example, are the same colour, the transition between them creates a visual break. You can eliminate one such break by tiling your shower all the way up to the ceiling. This will make the space feel larger vertically and create a pleasing effect to the eye. To take this a step further, consider running the shower tile all the way around the room, minimizing transitions even further.


Select a Clear Glass Shower Door

bathroom design of the corner shower doors glass shower stallsTextured glass shower doors or shower curtains provide privacy, but they also break up the space so that the shower almost appears to be a separate room. Clear glass ties the shower into the room and if you’ve minimized your transitions, as mentioned above, will make the entire room feel like one large space.







Bring in the Natural LightSkylight-allows-you-to-use-color-in-the-small-bathroom-with-ease (1)

There’s no better type of light to make a bathroom look bigger than natural sun light. In the past, many designers have opted for smaller windows or windows that have been somehow blacked out to create privacy, but today’s designers tend towards solutions that welcome natural light while maintaining privacy like translucent shades or stained glass. If you can incorporate a skylight into your design, you will have an ideal way to bring in lots of natural light without sacrificing privacy. Even if your bathroom has crawl space above it, you can bring in natural light through a tubular skylight that uses mirrors to direct light through the crawl space into the bathroom.


Install a Large Mirror

largemirrorInstead of double mirrors over a double vanity, go with one large mirror that extends across the space and, ideally, all the way up to the ceiling. This will, again, minimize the number of transitions in the bathroom and tie the space above your sinks together. You should also carefully consider the positioning of mirrors in the bathroom. Installed with lighting above or in front of them, mirrors will double the effect of that lighting. Better yet, if they can be positioned to reflect natural light, mirrors will double the impact of the best kind of light…the kind that comes from the great outdoors.



Reconsider the Built-In Linen Closet 53818h9_8pbc 823

A closet built-in to your bathroom with framing and drywall creates a custom look, but it also takes up more space than a piece of furniture or cabinetry would. By installing a cabinet to store linens instead of a closet you save 20 – 25 cm of space that the framing and drywall would have occupied. This is also a great opportunity to add a focal point to the room.



Keep Storage Low

cabinetsYou certainly want to maximize storage in your bathroom, but where you position that storage can have a large impact on how large or small the space appears. Storage located below waist-level, in base cabinets or in the vanity tend to have less visual impact than wall cabinets or tall closets, which can make the walls feel like they’re closing in on you.





Pick the Right VanityKohler-Archer-Pedestal-Sink-KOH18125

Vanities are available in 45 and 53 cm depths. 8 cm may not sound like much, but in the bathroom, every centimeter counts. An extra 8 cm can expose an additional row of floor tile, which can have a significant effect on the openness of the room. If your storage needs are met without having to use the vanity, opt for a pedestal sink, which opens up the floor space even more.


The bathroom can be the most difficult room in the house in which to create an open, airy feel, but if you give careful consideration to your design, you can maximize even the smallest space. It certainly helps to plan ahead and have a precise idea, down to the centimeter, of where everything, from lighting to tiles to furniture pieces, are going to be placed.


Want to read more:

Carla Aston: 11 Simple Ways to Make a Small Bathroom Look Bigger

Oprah: How to Make Any Bathroom Look Larger

6 Benefits of a Great Paint Job


Whether the paint on your home is peeling and cracking, or you simply want to spruce up or change its look, inside or out, knowing the benefits of a quality paint job will help you decide if and when you want to get it done. Some are obvious and well-known, but there might be some you haven’t considered, and many of them go well beyond the appearance of your home.

On the exterior of your home, the benefits of painting include:

Curb Appeal

Exterior-House-Painting-Services-10-Photo-GalleryPerhaps the number one reason people paint the outside of their house, curb appeal is something that will not only make coming home more pleasant, it will immediately increase the value of your home. Painting just the door is, in fact, one of the most cost effective improvements you can make. Go further, though, and you can change the entire colour palate of your home. Make the moldings and shudders around your windows and doors pop by painting them a contrasting colour to the siding. Make your home stand out in your neighborhood or make sure its appearance keeps up with that of your neighbours.



Extending the Life of Your Siding and Trim

Exterior paint protects building materials from weather and the damage that can be caused by Vancouver-Heritage-Painting-House-Exterior1moisture. Unprotected wood absorbs water and, ultimately, begins to rot. Mold and mildew can also form. Insects like termites are deterred by sealing wood siding with paint. The benefits of painting are not limited to wood, however. The life of vinyl and wood siding can be extended with a quality paint job, and you can change their colour in the process.



On the interior of your home, the benefits of painting include:


interior_houseAs with the outside of your home, painting the inside is one of the least expensive, but most valuable improvements you can make. A fresh coat of paint on walls, ceilings and trim, will erase any blemishes like stains or marks that your walls have endured over the years and bring your home up-to-date in terms of design quicker than any other project. It is also one of the easiest ways to incorporate touches of your own style into the design of your home. Make one wall of a room an accent wall by painting it a different colour than the other walls in the room or explore different techniques like adding stripes, stencils or texture to your walls. Compared to other renovations, painting will be very inexpensive no matter how technical you get.

Air Quality

Using an eco-friendly or low-VOC interior paint can actually improve the air quality inside your antonios-room-on-design-star-via-hgtvhome. This is particularly important if anyone in the home has allergies. Just like on the outside of your home, interior paint keeps moisture out of the walls and prevents mold and mildew.

Improve Your Mood

Science actually shows that mood can be significantly impacted to the colour of a room. Given that, there may be no better way to make yourself happy than by painting the interior of your home!

Posh-boys-bedroom-with-a-beautiful-blue-accent-wall-and-creative-ceilingBlue is calming and has actually been shown to reduce blood pressure. Red adds energy to a room and adds excitement. Yellow is a happy, cheery colour, but too much of it has been shown to create a feeling of anger. Green is known to be restful to the eyes. Keep the impact of colour on mood in mind when you are painting your home.




Make a Room Feel Lager (Or Smaller and More Intimate)

Generally speaking, dark walls make a room feel smaller or more intimate and lighter walls make it feel 2-lightmore spacious. Don’t forget the ceiling, it represents 1/6 of the space in your room. Paint it a light colour and the room will feel higher. Paint it a darker colour and it will feel lower.




Painting both the inside and outside of your home can have tremendous impact on everything from the life of your building materials to the mood of the home’s inhabitants. It’s also one of the easiest, least expensive ways to improve and add value to your home. If you’re looking to improve your home for resale, select neutral colours and painting techniques that will appeal to a broad range of buyers. If you’re planning on staying in your home for a long time, however, painting is one of the easiest ways to add your own unique touches. Use paint to incorporate your own personality into your home and help preserve and improve it in the process.

Want to read more?

Enlighten Me: Top Benefits of Painting Your Home

Angie’s List: 6 Unexpected Benefits of Exterior Painting and Staining

Fresh Home: Room Color and How it Affects Your Mood



Time to make another decision about your remodel. What kind of bathroom vanity do I want? Should it be freestanding or built-in? What kind of materials should I select? Should I forego the vanity altogether and go with a pedestal or wall-mounted sink? The choices may seem endless, but before you throw your hands up and let your contractor or designer decide, you may want to spend some time thinking about it because, unless you want to tear it out in a few months and start over again, you’re going to have to live with your choice for a long time.

Is storage a consideration?

storageIf your bathroom already has enough storage for all of your towels and toiletries, then feel free to pick a vanity based solely on style.  If, however, you need all the storage you can get, then select a vanity with storage built into it. Think about what you want to store and where. Would drawers at the top with cabinets underneath be best or would you be better off with just a large cabinet? Who’s using the bathroom most frequently? Powder rooms meant to serve guests obviously do not have a big storage need, but master bathrooms probably do. Will the kids be using the bathroom you are redesigning and, if so, can they reach the drawer where their toothpaste is stored? The more thought you put into it during your renovation, the more functional your bathroom will be for the long haul.


Or is space more of a concern?corner sink

If you’re looking to squeeze a powder room into a foyer or cram a bathroom into an attic space, you’re going to need to sacrifice some storage in exchange for space. Manufacturers and designers have come up with many space-saving creations like corner sinks and curved sinks that allow for maximum traffic flow. Pedestal and wall-mounted sinks are also good alternatives here.  If you have more room to work with, however, consider a larger, more luxurious vanity. Once again, think about who is going to be using the bathroom most. Do you and your spouse spend quality time brushing your teeth together? If so, go with a double sink for optimal convenience. If not, go with a single, larger sink.


Freestanding or built-in?

double vanity - freestandingFreestanding vanities typically work best in smaller spaces, though many do have built-in storage. They also offer slightly different style than built-in vanities, which are essentially constructed and installed the same way as kitchen cabinets. In larger bathrooms, freestanding vanities tend to get lost and built-ins might be a better choice depending on your overall plan. In the largest bathrooms, the cabinetry can extend beyond the vanity to include an entire bank of cabinets, drawers and closets.




What about Materials?wood_glass

Solid wood vanities offer the natural look and feel that many homeowners are after, however, they can be expensive. Plywood or particle board covered in laminate are less expensive, but also less durable. MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) is a good middle ground in that it is even more durable than solid wood and less expensive. It can be either covered in laminate or painted. Glass vanities are becoming increasingly popular in bathroom design and many homeowners choose them for their sleek, modern aesthetic. Glass vanities, however, tend to skew towards the smaller size as too much glass in a bathroom can be overwhelming.



And the vanity top?

custom-wood-top-vanityYou may have fallen in love with a vanity-and-top combination at your local home store or on your favorite web site. If so, go with it. If, however, you want something very specific to your style that you simply can’t buy off the shelf, purchase your vanity and top separately just as you would kitchen cabinets and benchtops. There are even more choices in vanity tops than there are in kitchen benchtops. Given that durability and ware is not as much of a concern in the bathroom as it is in the kitchen, your choices include everything from granite and marble to tile, laminate, solid surface, glass and even wood.

By the time you get to choosing a vanity for your bathroom, you have probably already made a tremendous number of decisions regarding your renovation, each of which has impacted your budget, timeline and design. It’s easy to get fatigued, but some careful consideration now will have positive impacts that affect your enjoyment of your home for as long as you’ll live in it. This is particularly true in the bathroom, a space that you use multiple times per day, and even more true of the bathroom vanity, the focal point of that space.

Want to read more:

Lowes: Bathroom Vanity Buying Guide

National Kitchen + Bath Association: Choosing a Bathroom Vanity Top

You’re updating your kitchen and it’s time to choose a material for the benchtop. You’ve wandered the aisles of home improvement stores and stone warehouses. The choices seem endless and the bottom line is that you want to choose something that will stand the test of time. Not only does it need to be durable in order to stand up to all the cooking, chopping and dicing that happens in your kitchen, it needs to have a timeless look that you won’t get tired of while you’re living in the house. Here’s an overview of all of the options out there.


Granite is popular for good reason. Of all the natural stone materials, it is the most durable, requires the least maintenance and it is usually less expensive than other stones. Because it is available in a wide variety of colours, from dark to light, and patterns, from thick veining to minimal veining, you are likely to find a granite that fits your kitchen’s design scheme.granite2

It CAN be expensive though. The cost of granite varies based on the granite you select – if you select a style that’s relatively easy to get, it will be less expensive, but if you fall in love with an exotic slab that needs to be imported, the price will soar. Budget conscious consumers should select a granite that either comes from their home country or is commonly imported.

Granite is not the only natural stone available for your benchtop. The alternatives can, in fact, be dizzying. Marble, soapstone, quartzite, limestone and slate are among the options and they each have their positives and negatives. This opens up an even wider range of design options, from the pure luxury of marble to the clean functionality of soapstone, which you may have seen during your school days on the table tops in your high school chemistry class.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut none of them are as durable as granite. All benchtops, including granite, require maintenance, including being sealed periodically. Many stones like marble, limestone and soapstone are softer than granite. Some stones scratch rather easily, though, in many cases, the scratches can be buffed out. Consider carefully how you will use your benchtop, how much ware they are going to see and how committed you are to maintenance before you select a stone for your kitchen benchtop.



Engineered stone, on the other hand, is virtually foolproof. The beautiful marble floor at your downtown
office building is likely not marble at all, but engineered stone. Many commercial designers select engineered stone for any situation where the stone is going to see heavy traffic and needs to stay looking good. The same technology can be applied to your kitchen benchtop.



engineered_quartz_stone_kitchen_coutertops007And engineered stone is looking better all the time. There was a time when designers shied away from engineered stone because its colour was too uniform and it did not have that natural look that many other benchtop materials do. Times are changing. Manufacturers are getting better and better and mimicking the colours, patterns and veining seen in natural stone. If you love the look of marble or other softer stones, or even something totally different, but you need durability, consider a manufactured stone that mimics the look you’re after.


Concrete is an option too. While you may think its best uses are outside your home as steps or sidewalks, concrete is increasingly finding is way into kitchens. In the past, many concrete benchtops were poured in place, manufacturers and installers are increasingly moving to a pre-cast process. This has enabled the manufacturers to address issues with cracking by forming the concrete in the controlled environment of the factory and using modern reinforcing technology.



Concrete-countertop-rough-edgeAnd it doesn’t have to be gray. Some of the same technologies that have enabled engineered stone manufacturers to mimic the look of natural stone have enabled concrete manufacturers to vary the appearance, finish, feel and edge finish of concrete benchtops. Concrete is, relatively high maintenance, however. It is inherently porous and many manufacturers recommend sealing four times per year.




Solid Surface materials, such as Corian, are not stone. They are actually a manufactured product made of acrylic, minerals resins and pigments. They are available in a virtually endless array of styles and colours. If stone is what you’re after, manufacturers have, again, done an incredible job of mimicking granite, marble and other natural materials.



But they do have advantages. Solid surface benchtops are completely nonporous and durable. If they do become scratched or marked, the marks can be buffed out because, as the name implies, solid surface materials are the some colour throughout. These features have made solid surface benchtops a popular choice for busy kitchens. They also offer the advantage of a seamless installation. Whereas stone and natural materials have their limits in this area, a solid surface benchtop can, essentially, be as long as you need it to be.

If you carefully consider your design aesthetic and the day-to-day requirements of your kitchen, along with budget, you’ll come up with a material that fits the bill for your benchtops. At the end of the day, it’s your kitchen and you should take this information and choose the stone benchtop that’s right for you.

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Let’s face it, renovating your home can be a headache, from staying under budget to meeting tight deadlines to the seemingly endless barrage of decisions to be made. For many homeowners, the biggest question comes very early on: should I stay in my home during the renovation?


Everyone’s circumstances are different. Variables include the size and scope of the renovation, the availability of kitchens and bathrooms, the amount of dust and debris expected to be generated by the work being done and your tolerance for inconvenience. The decision to stay or go should not be taken lightly. Talk to your contractor, make sure you have a clear understanding of what will be going on in your home and consider these insights.


Temporarily relocating obviously has costs associated with it, but may people don’t conWebb-front-4th-progress-sider the costs of staying in their home during a renovation. If your contractor has to spend time at the end of every work day giving the house a thorough cleaning, making sure the plumbing and electrical is fully functional, and generally making sure the house is liveable, the cost of that time can add up during the course of the renovation. The fact is that contractors can work faster and more efficiently when the homeowners are not present and many prefer it that way. Talk honestly with your contractor about this before you decide to stay or go.




Renovation is loud. It simply can’t be avoided. If you’re going to be home during the day while contractors are working, be prepared to endure high noise levels. Your contractor can tell you what tools they’ll be using when and just how noisy they are, so if you are staying at home, you can get out of the house, even if it’s just for a little while, for some peace and quiet.




Hazardous Materialstotal_mess_family_room

Ask your contractor what type of dust, debris and refuse will be created during the project. Generally speaking, most of the dangerous stuff gets kicked up during demolition, particularly if you live in an older home. Lead paint and asbestos are just two of the items homebuilders used to use that have since been shown to be dangerous. While intact, they are generally harmless, but when disturbed during demo, they become hazardous.
hardwood-floor-refinishing-mr-hardwood-atlanta-gaOther phases of construction can also involve hazardous situations. Many wood stains and varnishes used on wood floors, for example, generate dangerous fumes while curing. Joint compound used during the installation of drywall is not hazardous per se, but the process of sanding it generates large quantities of very fine dust. Careful contractors can take steps to minimize proliferation of these items through your house, but you need to understand that renovation is not a spotless process. Ask your contractor what precautions they plan to take and how they plan to contain dust.


Children and Pets

Are your children mature enough to stay away from the construction area or will their curiosity get the better of them? Will the disruption and noise bother them or prevent them from getting their homework done? What about the family pet? Will they be confused by all the new people in the house? Will the constant noise disturb them? These are all questions to carefully consider before your renovation begins.


According to your contractor’s schedule, how long will your kitchen be out of commission? Can they schedule the renovation so that one bathroom is always available? What about heat, cooling, electrical and plumbing? Will there be extended periods of time that the house’s systems will be turned off? These are all questions to ask your contractor before they start swinging a hammer.

296-1220103153r2OBYou may also want to consider moving out for only part of the renovation. If you’re willing to live with a small mess for a short time rather than a huge mess for a long time, you may be able to move back in once the drywall is installed and sanded. At this point, work on everything behind the walls like plumbing and electrical will have been completed, and your home won’t be move-in ready, but it will be fully functional and the messiest phase will be over.


Whether you decide to stay or go, understand that unexpected issues may arise. If you’ve moved out, your contractor’s ability to stick to their timeline will impact on whether or not you’ll need to stay out for longer than you thought. If you stay, be prepared for inconveniences like living without a kitchen and never-ceasing dust.  If the mess, noise and chaos simply become too much, it’s a great idea to have a plan B. At a minimum, you should have a place to go for a brief respite. A good contractor will be honest up front about what the living conditions will be during the renovation and they’ll make provisions for you whatever you decide.


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With walk-in showers becoming more and more popular in bathroom design, choosing a shower tray is a task that many homeowners need to face during their renovation. Wet rooms, or showers with a floor area that is completely flush with the adjacent flooring, have become the darling of the design world, but they require special (and expensive) waterproofing. In many cases, a standard-sized shower tray is a more efficient and equally stylish option.


The shower tray exists to prevent shower water from spreading across the bathroom and point it towards the drain, but beyond this functional purpose, shower trays have become available in a wider range of colours and materials, creating  an opportunity to add a touch of style to your bathroom. This can, however, make the selection of a shower tray a somewhat daunting process. It’s best to know what you’re getting into before making a decision on your shower tray.

What should my shower tray be made of?


Acrylic shower trays have become increasingly popular in recent years and for good reason. They are inexpensive and the technology used to manufacture them has improved significantly. Acrylic is a completely sanitary material and unlike many other bathroom materials, is not cold to the touch. Home renovators should shop carefully, however. Be sure not to buy a hollow acrylic shower tray as they are known to crack and split. Solid acrylic shower trays are a far better choice, however, they tend to warp and flex during installation. Consider hiring a professional to handle installation if you choose to go in this direction.

Stone resin shower trays are the next most popular choice. Made from a mixture of crushed stone and polyurethane  prodotti-85218-relb86a6037d4eee4f0f6349c65fc5b219fresin, they are incredibly durable and available in a wide range of colours that closely mimic those of natural stone. While recent advances in technology have enabled manufacturers to reduce their weight, stone resin trays are much heavier than their acrylic counterparts. Many contractors advise installing stone resin on first floors or in bathrooms with a concrete subfloor, while opting for lighter materials such as acrylic for upper floors or in cases where the floor joists can bare less load.

Ceramic shower trays offer another design option that can create consistency in look and feel between the shower floor and the rest of the bathroom floor. Like stone resin, however, they are very durable and easy to clean, but also very heavy, creating some limitations on where they can be installed.


What size and shape should my shower tray be?

37-Bathrooms-With-Walk-In-Showers-2    contemporary-bathroom-doorless-shower-design

While choosing a shower tray over a wet room does limit the options you have in terms of the size and shape of yourV10121077KW+6_Series_Frameless_Pentagonal_Shower_Enclosure_800_x_800mm-bathrooms_com-crop7-rectangle-medium-grey shower, manufacturers offer enough options to fit nearly every renovation project. Most shower trays range in size from 70 x 70 cm to 170 x 170 cm. Readily available shapes include square, rectangular, pentagonal and quadrant. Pentagonal (5-sided for those non-geometry experts) and quadrant (two straight sides and a curved side) work perfectly for corner installations where space is limited. Another option in space-challenged bathrooms is the D-shaped shower, where the flat side sits against a wall. This minimizes the space that the shower occupies and maximizes flow around the shower while creating optimal area inside the shower enclosure.

Also, consider the height of the shower tray. Lower, sleeker shower trays create that wet room look without having toef558d81f6945a783543e8c74e2b80f9 waterproof the shower area, but watch out if the drain backs up. Water can spill out of it. Higher shower trays hold more water, but create a different type of line in your design and require a bit of a step-up when entering the shower. One option that some designers have gravitated towards is recessing the shower tray into the floor, creating that seamless appearance along with the capacity to hold water.

Can I install it myself?

Pre-made shower trays were designed to simplify the process of installing a walk-in shower. Setting a shower tray into place, however, is still a challenge that requires some knowledge of plumbing, waterproofing and general construction. Does the bathroom’s drain need to be moved to match up with the shower tray? Can I carry and position my selected shower tray without bending, warping or otherwise damaging it? Am I confident that I can create the necessary seals to prevent leaking and level the tray for proper drainage? The answer to these questions will tell you whether or not you should take the project on yourself. If you choose to call a contractor, select one who will consult with you on what you’re looking for in the design and functionality of your shower.

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