• Bathroom Design Ideas - Adding Storage

    We are all so used to filling up every possible space with cabinets. What about those times where there is a unique space or client need that requires more creative bathroom design ideas? An unexpected opening may be a great surprise and great convenience to a client.

    Whether for storage or a more popular nook for pets, opening up the space not only creates convenience, it can also make any space feel bigger than it is. In this bathroom, the client was looking for storage as well as a finished space that would give his pet some room in the bathroom. Both were important to them! Storage was incorporated above and a small nook was left below for the family pet to easily and comfortably access.

    In bathroom design or any design, you are often times only limited by the questions you don’t ask. Put your requests out there. We hear a lot of requests and usually when we put our ideas together with the clients, great results are achieved.

    By Jim Grace

  • Late night talk show or a kitchen remodel?

    And now for my top 10 list of kitchen remodeling ideas…

    The big entertainment news last week was that David Letterman would be retiring after over 30 years of being on television. But did you know that the real reason was just so he could remodel his kitchen? Think about it. At the very least, we know Letterman has always had an interest in food, mostly by dropping it off tall buildings and seeing what happened.

    But think about what’s happened to kitchens and how much they have changed in 30 years? Crazy colored appliances have been replaced by much more attractive looking and smarter options. Ovens that can take over the cooking process, dishwashers that can sense debris level and adjust accordingly in cycle, refrigerators that can scan products. Cabinets are more than just white or dark oak, with countless shades, glazes and colors in between. And countertops come in more shapes, sizes, colors and materials than ever before. Bye bye laminate.

    I won’t even mention smart design and staying-in-place. In the ‘80’s, smart design was including a small kitchen island for a new work and prep space. Today we can do so much more with a kitchen – from adding roll out trays and appliance drawers to changing countertop heights, adding light, opening up walkways and so much more. When you think about it, it’s hard to believe that Letterman waited so long.

    So we congratulate Mr. Letterman on the closing of this chapter in his brilliant career and will just wait for the call to come up and help him remodel his kitchen. It’s a little north of us but we are ready.

    Of course a bigger question looms with the announcement that Stephen Colbert will take over for Letterman. Assuming he has a similar run of 30+ years, will we be talking about a Jetsons kitchen for him? We will be close to 2062…

    By Jim Grace

  • Over or Under...which was does your toilet paper roll

    A quick search of the internet tells you that this is no ordinary topic. Over 83 million results in Google. Wikipedia discussions that more than double the discussion length of far more newsworthy events and topics. Endless visual images and data. With studies that show we use approximately 15 billion rolls of toilet paper a year in the U.S. alone, we could wrap the Earth 40 times (now that’s getting tee-peed!).

    So once you’ve designed and completed your bathroom remodel….or you’ve just run out of toilet paper, recognize that a big decision looms…will you take the over or the under with the placement of your toilet paper roll?

    The arguments come from top and bottom. The “over” crowd cites a more natural flow that is easier to find and tear off the end. The “under” crowd will talk of a cleaner appearance and fewer chances that a small child, a cat or other pet may easily unravel.

    Let’s not even take a (s)wipe at vertical styles or more custom solutions. Whether it is your next bathroom remodel or just your next roll of toilet paper, will you take the over or the under? Let the betting begin!

    By Jim Grace

  • Kitchen Focal Point - Adding Glass Doors

    Glass lets you see in…and in some cases, see through!

    A good kitchen focal point will draw anyone into a kitchen’s space, from family and friends to yourself, making everyone feel comfortable, content and even a little curious as they focus on certain spots, trying to figure out the “story” of the kitchen. There are plenty of great kitchen design ideas that can help you create the perfect kitchen focal point. Here are 3 ideas to consider when creating your own kitchen focal point:

    Harmony over “look at me, look at me” – while we want our kitchen focal point to make a statement, we also want it to fit in with the entire look and feel of the kitchen. We don’t want to our focal point to be the kid with his hand up screaming “look at me, look at me!”. A good kitchen focal point will stimulate interest not just for it’s uniqueness but also for how seamlessly it blends into the entire space.

    Every side must be your “good side” – a good kitchen focal point will be visible and offer looks from multiple perspectives in the kitchen. Whether it is a decorative hood with detailing on all 3 sides or a thoughtfully designed kitchen island with multiple heights, decorative panels and storage, you will appreciate it from many different angles and views.

    Sometimes you can just “see right through” things – using glass will invite you and others to take a look beyond the surface and into the beauty inside the space. The inside could mean many things, from special personal items to a different colored interior or even a look through a second set of glass doors into the beauty of the outdoors or other setting.

    In some cases it is possible to combine all of these kitchen focal point ideas into a kitchen depending on its size and shape. But often times just having one is enough. Consider each of these keys when you look to create your own kitchen focal point.

    By Jim Grace

  • Many of us unknowingly already have many elements of universal design in our homes already. Whether it helps in the kitchen, the bathroom or throughout the entire home, filling our homes with smart universal design features will provide convenience and comfort to every user in the home regardless of age, stature or need.

    Here are 22 universal design ideas for your home – see what you have, see what you need and see what you want to make things in your kitchen, your bathroom and your home, more efficient and user-friendly today and for years to come:

    1. Add knee space between lower base cabinets or under countertops in the kitchen.

    2. Consider side-opening ovens for more friendly access.

    3. Add a pull-out shelf under an oven.

    4. Widen a doorway or hallway.

    5. Install more lighting – LED better and far cooler than halogen or xenon. Go moisture proof over tubs and showers.

    6. Place microwaves at or just below counter height on a shelf (think no more lowering hot dishes from above!).

    7. Use a honed or matte finish on granite to lower glare from countertop.

    8. Build appliance into drawers for easier access – refrigeration, warming drawers and dishwashers.

    9. Consider Induction cooktops – no open flames or hot surface temperatures offer safety and energy efficiency.

    10. Create a lower or adjustable height countertop and/or sink area for easier use.

    11. Add Roll out shelves and pull out cabinets to see and access dishes, pans and other kitchen items.

    12. Install lever handles on all door locks.

    13. Replace bathroom tubs with curbless, zero threshold walk-in showers.

    14. Relocate shower valves near the shower entry point of your shower instead of under the showerhead.

    15. Install at least 1 grab bar (so many nice ones to choose from these days!) where user steps into the tub or shower.

    16. Add a hand held shower in addition to main showerhead…and include a trickle control device to manage water flow.

    17. Make sure shower and tub valves have temperature and pressure balancing AND anti-scald devices in them (with <114 F max temp).

    18. Include shampoo niches or shower benches in wet areas


    19. Add slip-resistant, textured floors to bathroom to protect all ages of children and adults from slipping or other accidents.

    20. If bathtub is a must, add a ledge or seating area to aid young children who require supervision or to provide easier access for an adult who needs assistance.

    21. Lower light switches and thermostats to 48” above floor and raise outlets to 15” above finished floor.

    22. Create at least one no step entry into the house.

    Get started by deciding which universal design ideas would be easy to add with little or no assistance. Then discuss these and other options with a professional to help you make the right decisions for your home today and many tomorrows!

    By Jim Grace

    This post was created using content from the article “Actionable Ideas for Universal Design” by Dan Bawden, Qualified Remodeler, June 2013.