The trials and successes in remodelling and decorating my house.
Complete with frustrations, how tos, how not tos, and hands on advice to other intrepid homeowners about to remodel, build, or add an addition to their home.
[Photo Credit: Thomas Murphy at bloodandchampagne.com]
If you have an older house, you may have a powder room that once had a completely different purpose originally. Space below the stairs (yes, I've seen a room like this). A former pantry or broom closet. These are tiny areas that have been turned into a bathroom.
But where do you find miniature fixtures for these little rooms.
You hunt. And hunt. And hunt. And then you search some more.
Long-time reader, Natalie Kubitz, found an itty-bitty sink at Home Depot. John was stuck with his sink as there were no pedestal sinks he could find any smaller. But he did want to update the cabinet. He searched. For a long time. He found one and ordered it from Chilton furniture in Scarborough, ME. He also changed the marble top as well as the floor. In addition, he lowered the wainscoting so the walls too feel so looming. It looks wonderful and very authentic to the age of his house (1885). His before and after pictures are included in this post.
[Editor Note: I have received no compensation from any of the retailers mentioned here.]
Original My Home Redux reader and frequent contributor (and dear friend), Tara Foulis, has shared her kitchen makeover. It was a typical scenario: she wanted to change her countertops, which lead to an island discussion, which lead to questions about colors of island, which lead to the merits and de-merits of two-tier islands, which lead to a talk about island heights, and finally planning walking paths in the kitchen.
Here you can see her kitchen BEFORE. Nice, but she wanted granite counters. The island is interesting and room-saving, but limited in it's use for serving snacks to two hungry little girls or extra space for making dinner.
In our discussions, Tara decided she wanted a rectangle island. She measured and determined she had enough walking space around it. (She marked off the size on the floor with red tape.) She didn't want to do a different color cabinetry for the island, and although white panelling on the back side may show scuff marks more easily, she didn't want a second color (although islands are often different colors and sport contrasting tops than the cabinets). She opted out of the two tier island because it raised more questions and required more space.
She kept her existing paint color but took down the border to udpate the kitchen's decor. She even extended the paint color into her dining room. She selected a nice warm brown granite (Tropic Brown). She and her husband did the work. And voila, without breaking the bank, they have totally updated their kitchen as you can see in this AFTER picture.
Looks beautiful and updated. Great job, Tara and Rick.
Frankly, I don't know if this is practical for any of you, but it's a type of construction that's too beautiful not to share. And honestly, this could be become more and more popular as trees become more scarce and we seek energy-saving, renewable materials in our buildings. But the best characteristic of this is the sheer natural beauty of these walls - they look like stone, granite, or marble.
It's called rammed earth. Where literally they take dirt, cement, water and pressure and create a solid, variegated, hardened material that impenetrable to insects and the weather. Considering it's thickness, it's also naturally insulating.
You must read this article to fully see the beauty of this material. It may not be for everyone but it certainly is stunning and fascinating.
[Editor note: The photo is from Terra Firma Builders ]
Clay tile and slate roofs are gorgeous. Expensive but gorgeous. The material, labor, and additional support framing all add up. But what if you could have the same look, at a lower cost, with 50-year warrantee against hail, while at the same time, improving your roof's insulation. And, oh yeah, it's a green, recycled product.
Introducing simulated clay and slate roofing tiles. Made from special sands into a durable, yet lightweight, concrete, infused with a variety of colors that you can mix for your own custom blend, and backed with foam insulation. Amazingly, it weighs slightly less than 2 layers of asphalt shingles which is the load a standard roof is required to bear. So it's less than clay, slate, or even wet shake.
While it's more than asphalt shingles, it compares to cedar shake but with less maintenance and a much longer life. And certainly, it's considerably less expensive than slate or clay tiles. Sounds like a win-win-win. You can also get tiles colored to look like fresh or weathered shake.
The roofing tiles are manufactured in Kansas City. Learn more at www.elagantekc.com.
For those in the Chicago area, see local installer Architectural Roof Solutions who also graciously allowed us the use of the picture above.
A good friend, Tara, wrote for advice on her kitchen. The budget and economy nixed plans to completely redo her kitchen. Instead, they're looking at putting in granite countertops and redesigning their island.
Her biggest concern was the amount of white: white cabinets, white appliances, white floor.
She had questions about:
1) Should the island be different cabinets? Use maple perhaps since their home has some maple trim and the kitchen table is in maple?
2) What height should the island be: bar height, counter height or table height?
3) What about a tiered island?
4) And what do you do with the backsplash once you put in the granite?
So we wrote back and forth and among other gossip, we discussed each question.
1) I told her that her odd-shaped island was actually clever to maximize space and asked if she had enough room to make it a rectangle. She answered that she did. I advised that that would be best, especially since she had mentioned trying to get some seating space at it. I told her she could do the island in maple as that was popular, but she opted to keep it white. The new granite would be used on the island and other tops.
2) For height, I recommended counter height with bar stools. That way it provided consistency throughout her kitchen while the stools would give her seating space. To accomplish that, you put a solid piece on the back side of the cabinets to finish them. You can even get panels that match the doors. Then you have support brackets or corbels to support the overhanging countertop. Your stools then slide beneath when not in use.
3) We discussed a two-tier island. I have seen those a few times, but given the size and the added expense of more granite, more carpentry, and finish work, I suggested she keep it one level and use the stools mentioned above.
4) For the backsplash, she can put a small one up with the granite or a full one from the countertop to underneath the cabinets. However, that much granite is expensive and can be a bit overwhelming. I recommended she use a four inch backsplash and then tile above that to beneath the cabinets. If possible, get tiles of the same granite to make accent pieces in your backsplash design as shown here.
Tara is keeping her paint color (great choice of color) and will likely remove the border. We'll wait for after pictures.
Remember my favorite tip for saving money on granite countertops: get remnant slabs at a big discount, especially for smaller kitchens or islands.
If you have a question of your own or an idea request, just email me or reply in the comments below.
The typical style is regular overlay where the doors overlap the opening but still reveal the cabinet frame. This is the least expensive style. A very popular type now is the full overlay when the door completely covers the frame. A very popular and elegant modern kind of door is an inset door - the door is flush with the frame. A regular inset has a plain edge while a beaded inset has a special molding around the edge of the door fitting in the frame. This is the most expensive style.
Learn more about cabinet door styles, complete with pictures at Cabinetsdelivered.com. (Scroll up to see many types and panel styles.)
This past week, I came upon a very interesting article about geothermal heating and cooling. It was fascinating although primarily about commercial uses. In this process, heat is taken from below the earth's surface and brought into your house in the winter. In the summer, the heat from your house is moved below, displacing cooler air (that's somewhere been trapped in between.) I don't completely follow the cooling part other than the system always has cool and warm air, and it works by bringing the appropriate temperature in with a pump - or reversing the air flow direction. This method offers many advantages:
1) It's energy efficient.
2) It's renewable.
3) It's green - no carbon emissions as well as no carbon monoxide in your house.
4) Operating costs are cheaper than traditional forced air or radiant systems.
5) It can also be used to heat your water as well as a pool, if you have one.
This is still fairly rare. And installation is more expensive, requiring laying a grid several feet deep in your yard or drilling "wells" up to several hundred feet deep on your property. I saw comments that it was 50% more expensive, but frankly, I think that assumes to the actual unit - not the drilling.
So I think this could be very expensive to install initially. However, it's an incredible smart idea and one that offers tremendous benefits long-term. So keep your eye on this. As demand grows, prices will come down, even for the drilling, most likely. If you're building a new home, it may be something to look into. If you are especially environmentally conscious, you'll definitely want to explore this. If you need to replace your furnace, I'd wait before I went this direction.
If you have installed a geothermal heating/cooling system, tell us about. Just leave your story in the comments.
Floor medallions have long been associated with luxury homes and showcase mansions. But now even such hand crafted art has become a mass-luxury item. Seen in foyers, kitchens, and master baths, these medallions are now available to almost anyone.
If you're handy with a wet saw for tile or stone or routers and saws with wood, you could design and install your own. But for hardwoods especially, I'd save this for the professionals. Conversely, in tile, you could likely install a pre-made medallion yourself.
Search online for floor, stone, or hardwood medallions can you can find many ready-made and custom options available. And it gets better ... apparently the slow down in home building has lead the manufacturers of medallions to start offering them for sale. Check out the huge discounts from the Medallion Outlet here.
Or see these beautiful hand-crafted hardwood medallions at Majestic Medallions. Looks like he may have some for sale too.
Either way, check out your better flooring stores and scour the Internet, you just may find a real bargain that will turn your room into a luxury showplace.