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   First of all, let me say how much fun we had at the Kitchen and Bath Show this year! The floor was packed, the booths were buzzing, and the exhibitors were on fire! We spent three days walking the show floor and still didn’t make it to every booth. Our clients are bathroom crazed right now, so I’m going to focus on 5 of the fun and interesting bath trends we saw at KBIS 2014! Are you ready?

Quartz. The material making a buzz in magazines, blogs, and trade shows. It’s an engineered substance made from one of the hardest minerals found in nature. When mixed with a hard drying epoxy it creates a material resembling stone but wears better than any other countertop you can buy. It’s maintenance free, extremely resistant to scratching, etching, staining, and heat. It comes in hundreds of different colors and now it’s even being offered in different finishes.  

“My bathroom is too small’”, we hear it every day from our clients. If you’re like a lot of people you have a small bathroom you want to make feel larger. Unfortunately, a lot of people either don’t have the square footage to use for expansion or their budget doesn’t allow for it. So how do we make that tiny bathroom feel more spacious? I’m glad you asked because I have a few suggestions for you.

    When you start talking about adding color to kitchens people have a tendency to tuck their tail and run! I’ll admit there is definitely a right way and a wrong way to do it. You don’t want your kitchen to look like a box of crayons but you shouldn’t be terrified of color either. So let me throw out a few suggestions for those of you brave enough to add a real punch of color to your kitchen.

 As many of you know, we were in New Orleans last week for the kitchen and bath show. We walked thousands of square feet of show floor where we saw everything from cabinets, counter tops, and flooring to faucets, tubs, and sinks. We had the opportunity to meet some incredible people and see all the latest trends in kitchen and bath. Let’s take a minute and talk about what we saw and what our favorites were.

Today, Pantone announced that the official Color for the Year 2013 is... drumroll please... Emerald! Last year's color was "Tangerine Tango," and the year before that was a bright purple they named "Honeysuckle." This trend of bright color has carried over into the kitchen and bath industry.

When we throw out the idea of painted cabinets to our clients, most automatically assume we are talking about painting them white or off-white. However, the possibilities for cabinet colors are as endless as the paint swatches you'll find at your local paint store! Don't be afraid of bright color on your cabinets. It can be a great way to show off your beautiful kitchen or bath. Here are some examples we wanted to share with you!

 

What makes a good kitchen island? It could be a grand focal point of your kitchen- a way to express your inner-creative-executive-chef self. You can picture it now… a sleek block of perfectly designed cabinetry, housing an ultra modern cooktop, and topped with a glossy-metallic, futuristic-looking hood like a cherry on top of an ice cream sundae.  Or your dream kitchen island may simply be a space to sit in the morning while you drink coffee and read the newspaper. Nothing fancy… just extra countertop that belongs to you and you alone. Or it may serve as extra storage. Some even implement a kitchen island just to take up space in an enormous room. Whatever your reason, chances are if you have an island in your kitchen, you love it!

This week I have been working with several trades on the newest flip house. One of the most frustrating things is the lack of communication when dealing with these men on call backs.

A plumber that I have used at my own home and also on the last flip was no longer with the company, so I was given to “Bill”. Bill did ask me many things about the project, and I repeated that I need to know the pricing for moving the plumbing as there is a 60 year-old cast iron pipe that goes through the new roof. He said he would call back so we could meet at the project……never heard from him again. Then I called another plumber that we have used on a well system. He said “Charles” would be calling me back. Charles and his helper did show up, looked under the house, and said all is attainable and the bid would be ready Monday (he was going out of town that weekend). Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday all went by without a call…..again.

In my last blog I designed a small master bathroom with a total of 45 square feet. As promised, this week I will tackle an even smaller space and show you how to make it look and feel spacious without sacrificing style or function. The total square footage for this project is 42.5.

As seen in the floor plan, this space is not square, which can actually work in your advantage when space planning. In this case, I decided to place the sink vanities into the recessed portion of the right wall. This allowed for an additional 12" of clear space in front of the toilet.

The location of the shower door and it's swing created an obstacle for the doorway into the bathroom. The solution I chose to enforce is a horizontal-sliding "barn" door (you can see the door slab on the exterior of the top wall). This solution may not always work, depending on the layout of the surrounding spaces. But for this plan, we'll assume their is nothing to stand in our way!

 

 

Here is a real-life application of the door:

If you look back at the floor plan above, you'll notice that there are no windows in this bathroom. I intentionally chose a plan without windows to show you how you can create a space without them that won't end up being nicknamed "the dungeon." (I once had an office space with no windows that I nicknamed "the dungeon!")

One obvious solution to combat a dark room is to pump up the light! But don't go overboard or your small bathroom ceiling may start to resemble the bottom of a spaceship (there are building codes for this issue as well). A good rule of thumb is to put a light where you know you'll need it. I know that seems like common sense, but you'd be surprised how many brand new homes I see that have one weasly little light smack in the center of the room. Take some time and think about the placement of your light fixtures. It will make the difference.

Another solution I have applied to help "spread the light" is the use of mirrors. I mounted smaller, framed, round mirrors on top of a larger, square, unframed mirror above the sinks. I also mounted a reflective surface into the recessed panel of the vanity cabinet door. The idea is not only to reflect light in order to make the bathroom brighter, but mirrors also give the illusion of unending space.

Speaking of unending space, there simply is not much of that here. So I created a "cubby" that recesses into the wall. In my design, the cubby is 11" deep, and projects 6" into the adjoining room to the right of the bathroom. Like I mentioned earlier concerning the barn door, this may or may not be a storage solution you can apply. It all depends on the layout of the surrounding areas.

So even if you are working with a small space that lacks the advantage of having a window or two, you can use these tricks to brighten up the room and get the most use out of your square footage.

 

 

This week I decided I would start a blog series on small bathrooms. I wanted not only to write about how to make a small space function, but I also wanted to show you through images I will create in Google Sketchup (one of our 3-dimensional software programs we use at Kitchen Expressions). Each week for the next four weeks I will take an increasingly smaller space and create a well-designed bathroom, highlighting the solutions I have incorporated.

Tiny bathrooms can prove to be frustrating. I know this from experience! My bathroom at our home is so tiny that my expanding belly (I'm currently 6 months pregnant) leaves me worried that I will soon get wedged between the vanity and shower door! I live in an older home, and I know I am not alone when I say I have made the most of what little bathroom space I have.

This week I designed a small master bathroom. The room dimensions are 9' x 5'.

Currently, my kitchen is home to my graduation present from my parents… a beautiful, dark wood drafting table. It sits in the corner of the kitchen where normal people would put a table and chairs. But since my husband and I (on the rare occasion I decide to cook dinner) eat in the living room, it was the only space we weren’t using that I could give up for this massive piece of furniture. Plus, it’s nice to be so close to the fridge late at night when I’m up working! But with my first child due in four months, my needs for my kitchen have already begun to change. The idea of spooning “mushed” carrots and peas into an already slobbery, but adorable, little mouth while sitting on my living room furniture terrifies me. So the drafting table is moving out of the kitchen to make space for an actual table and chairs where we can eat together as a family.

It’s no big secret to any of you “interior design nerds” like me that the color grey has been a major trend in home design. Grey is the new black. But for those of us who imagine our homes as cozy, inviting spaces to welcome our family and friends, the thought of monochromatic shades of grey can seem a bit “institutional” and cold.

But it’s quite the contrary! Grey can be just as warm and exciting of a neutral color as the taupe walls many of us naturally are drawn to! (And I am seriously guilty of loving taupe!)

How can I work with such a seemingly modern color scheme, you ask? Well, let’s look at a couple of examples:

So you’re thinking of remodeling your home? Ladies, if you’re like me, mentioning a home remodel to your husband gets you this response… “That’s a great idea! I’ve always wanted a detached garage! You know, somewhere that I can ‘work’…”  While most of us women were thinking more along the lines of remodeling our out-dated bathrooms into five-star-quality spas, complete with massage therapists (hey, a girl’s gotta dream!), the reality is that most homeowners dive into home improvements without considering the return on investment, or ROI, of their project. In today’s economy, it is especially important to get the most “bang for your buck.” So let’s count down the top 10 home improvements that add value to your home. And don’t worry ladies, you may actually get your spa!

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