The Solution To Toilet Roll Hoarding

These are certainly challenging and difficult times. We remain committed to helping our clients and homeowners in the Upper Valley, even if our showroom has closed temporarily. We will continue to monitor guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization as well as state and local agencies to help ensure the safety of our clients, our team members and the public.

We’ve all seen the empty shelves at grocers and other retail establishments. We’ve heard of people hoarding toilet paper, paper towels and other supplies. For many homeowners in the Upper Valley, there may be no better time to consider a bidet than the present. One reason to check out a bidet is that it eliminates or dramatically reduces the need for toilet paper!

Bidets are one of the most misunderstood plumbing fixtures on the market. Most homeowners in the Upper Valley are unfamiliar with bidets or integrated bidet seats. It’s believed

that the bidet originated in France in the early 1700s at a time when people bathed periodically, not as a daily function of life as it is today for most of us. The bidet was created for intimate, personal cleansing between baths, not to be used as a toilet. Another way to view bidets is as sit down washbasins.

Modern plumbing brought the bidet into the bathroom as an integral fixture where it sits alongside the water closet or is integrated into the toilet seat. Bidets have been widely used

in Europe and Asia for many years and are now becoming a more popular fixture in North America.

There are two types of bidets, the first being a free-standing or wall-mounted vitreous china piece designed to resemble a toilet. The second is an integrated bidet, which is either a seat that attaches to almost any toilet, or a toilet with the bidet built right into it. Integrated bidets continue to gain in popularity due to health and environmental benefits, technological advancements and ease of installation and usage.

In addition to providing superior hygiene, bidets are environmentally efficient and eliminate the need for most toilet paper. According to Scientific American magazine, 15 million trees sacrifice their lives annually to make 36.5 billion rolls of toilet paper that Americans use. Four hundred seventy-three billion gallons of water are necessary to make toilet paper each year. It takes 253,000 tons of chlorine to bleach toilet paper, and 17.3 terawatts of electricity are needed for the manufacturing process. The environmental footprint increases when you factor in the cost of shipping. Bidets are definitely appealing to those who care about the environment.

A common misnomer is that bidets are only used by women; however, every family member can use a bidet. Bidets offer a useful and eco-friendly solution for homeowners in the Upper Valley concerned about cleanliness and good health for several reasons:

  • Bidets offer hands-free cleansing and a superior wash in place of using toilet paper
  • Cleansing with toilet tissue can irritate and contribute to some medical conditions, while bidets soothe and refresh with gentle water cleansing
  • Bidets are invaluable to a person who has arm or hand disabilities, or a person who suffers from incontinence, obesity or constipation
  • Bidets can also be used as sitz baths that can ease the pain of hemorrhoids and prostate infections
  • Bidets are extremely useful for women during pregnancy, after childbirth and during the menstrual cycle.

Several manufacturers offer integrated bidets that feature a variety of options, including:

  • Temperature controlled heated seats
  • Front and rear sprays
  • Adjustable water temperature, volume and oscillation options
  • Male, female, child and pre-set user settings
  • Air deodorizer
  • Soft-close seats
  • Blow dryer
  • Automatic open and close lid
  • Remote control
  • Hygienic features including inline water filtration
  • Self-cleaning nozzle
  • Self-cleaning bowls

The bottom line is that bidets are products that deliver a luxury experience superior in every respect to current practice. They not only clean better, but they also make families in the Upper Valley feel better. In fact, once someone has purchased and used a bidet or bidet seat, they usually become converts for life and can’t live without them.

It is time to stop worrying about being able to purchase toilet paper and opt for a more effective and environmentally efficient alternative. If you are interested in learning more about how a bidet can make your life easier and more enjoyable, please give us a call at 603-448-9700, and when it is safe to do so, visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.

How Not To Annoy the Hell Out of Family Members When Confined

Comedian Jimmy Fallon recently joked, after being confined at home, that he really likes his wife. With many states shuttering all nonessential business as a means to stop the spread of COVID-19, and numerous BKBG Shareholders closing their showrooms, there’s a strong possibility that you are spending more time at home than you ever have. How do you remain sane when your kids may be bouncing off the wall, and most of your usual activities have ground to a halt. Without being able to go to the gym, watch March Madness, grab a beer at your favorite watering hole or go to the movies, we find ourselves in limbo. The only person that we interact with daily on an adult level is our spouse, who is also stuck at home. How do you avoid, under confined quarters, annoying the hell out of one another?

The husband and wife team Julie and John Gottman have been studying partners’ conversations for nearly 50 years through their Gottman Institute. The Gottmans found that the most successful marriages and relationships live by constant guidelines. Instead of finding fault, successful couples look at what their partner does correct and “say thank you” dozens of times daily even for the smallest or most routine gestures such as making coffee first thing in the morning. Here’s more of their advice for staying sane and civil when you can’t go out:

Dos and Don’ts

  • Successful couples do look for beauty and positive traits in their partner and call them out.
  • Successful couples don’t make criticism or contempt part of their vocabulary.
  • Successful couples don’t call each other nasty names or roll their eyes and scoff.
  • Successful do express what they need, rather than what they resent.
  • Successful couples do compromise fairly.
  • Successful couples don’t fight about dreams and values that are non-negotiable.
  • Successful couples do cuddle and touch each other often with affection and not just eroticism.

Advice to Consider

At the end of the day before going to sleep, each partner should discuss the highs and lows of the day and what they are worrying about outside of the family dynamic. Those listening should not try to resolve any of the worries they hear. Instead, ask for more details and demonstrate empathy.

The Gottmans claim that there is no such thing being “too needy” or that “solo self-reliance is the ideal.” In these uncertain and scary times, recognize that we need one another more than ever – especially the person you live with. “Let’s cultivate a little more kindness between us.” Here, here!

Working from Home: Tips to Organize Your Kitchen

We understand many homeowners in the Upper Valley are working from home. That’s a compelling reason to make sure that your home’s most important room – the kitchen – looks, operates and feels great. It’s easy to overlook kitchen clutter during the hustle and bustle of the average day when everyone in your family seems pulled in different directions. However, if you are spending most of your waking time at home, reorganizing and refreshing your kitchen not only will make you happier, it’s also likely to make you more productive.

Review and refresh how you use your kitchen. Do you need to take a deep dive into your refrigerator? Has your cutlery drawer become a tangled web of utensils that you rarely, if ever, use? Make a plan of attack to refresh your kitchen to help it function more effectively and simply make it more enjoyable to use and be in the space.

Clean out your fridge. Take everything out of your refrigerator and freezer, shelf by shelf. Throw out anything expired as well as anything that you haven’t used for more than three months. You know what we are talking about – that jar of pickles, jellies, salad dressing, etc.

Clean other appliances. Run your dishwasher with nothing in it. Rinse your waste disposer with white vinegar. Ten minutes later, pour boiling water down the drain. Then run your waste disposer with ice cubes and lemon rinds. Degrease your cooktop. Use the self-cleaning function on your oven. Empty the crumb tray on your toaster. Clean your microwave. Replace the filters on your coffee maker and refrigerator. Run only water through your coffee maker. Clean other countertop appliances used regularly.

Declutter drawers and cabinets. Tackle one drawer and cabinet at a time. Remove everything, and wipe down the drawer and/or shelves. Determine the contents that are used regularly, used rarely or not used at all. For the later, either dispose of those items or donate them to a charity. For rarely used items, e.g., the turkey roaster used only on Thanksgiving or Christmas, consider another location in your home to free up counter or cabinet space. Donate or toss duplicate items – how many peelers and melon ballers do you need? Inventory your knives. Sharpen those that you use frequently, and consider a new home for those that you rarely use.

Tackle the pantry. Pull out each item and ask, “how does this item make me feel?” If the response is not positive, either toss the item in the trash bin or donate it to a food bank. When you restock the pantry, replace items in a logical order. Put all canned goods together. Designate a separate area for baking ingredients, spices, grains, nuts, etc. Reorganizing your pantry by category not only will help you to eat healthier, but it will also save time for meal preparation and cooking. When you empty your pantry, it’s a perfect time to clean shelves and containers.

Take care of your sinks and faucets. Wash your sink and pay attention to joints and seals where grime can accumulate.

Clean countertops and open shelves. Take everything off your open shelves and countertops. Do a thorough curation. For each item, ask if this is something that you want to look at every day. If not, donate or relocate.

Don’t ignore windows, walls and floors. Vacuum your ceiling, walls and the floor. Wipe down walls and cabinet exteriors with dish soap and warm water. Send your window covers to a launderer or dry cleaner, or if they are washable, throw them in your washing machine.

If you would like additional tips and tricks for making your kitchen look, function and feel the best it can be, please give us a call at 603-448-9700.

Taking The Stress Out of Your Kitchen Remodel

You have heard the horror stories from friends and neighbors in the Upper Valley when their kitchen, bath or home remodel spun out of control. Perhaps it took twice as long as expected or it cost considerably more than budgeted. Ugh! More often than not, you can avoid most remodeling problems with proper preparation and realistic expectations. Those are two deliverables you should expect when you work with a professional designer and showroom.

Budget Realistically

Researching costs online and relying on home and garden television are recipes for disaster. While HGTV is a wonderfully useful source of inspiration and ideas, it is horrendously unreliable as a source for timing and budget. Have you ever noticed on home improvement television there’s an initial meeting and then work begins? What’s missing are the many hours needed to develop designs, select, order and quality control products, obtain permits (if required) and schedule labor. HGTV also fails to mention the cost of labor, and that can be more than 50% of the overall expense.

A professional designer and showroom is involved in hundreds of kitchen projects a year and knows what a remodel should cost. It would be best if you depended on your showroom professional to develop a realistic budget and timetable for your project. Even the best-laid plans can encounter the unexpected. That’s why we recommend to our clients the Upper Valley to budget a 20% contingency.

The Lowest Bid Rarely is the Lowest Cost

Homeowners in the Upper Valley who believe that the lowest bid and the cheapest products will deliver the best results are the ones who almost always are disappointed with results.

Instead of the lowest cost, you should be looking to obtain the highest value. Value differs for each homeowner. Many of our clients who love to cook, want appliances that provide professional chef functionality. Other clients can’t live without quartz countertops and custom cabinets. In every phase of a kitchen remodel, there are value opportunities. That’s why it is critical to identify the design and product features that are most important to you and your family.  To do so, we recommend clients create idea books on Instagram, Houzz.com and other idea-generating websites.

Design Makes Huge Difference

Your new kitchen or bath should make you smile every time you cross the threshold. A professional designer can convert your vision into reality and provide a finished project that functions as well as it looks. That’s why the planning stage of a project is critical to a project’s success. It’s where we take a deep dive into the details that make all of the difference.

If you would like additional ideas to reduce the stress of your renovation project, please give us a call at 603-448-9700 or visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.

How Do You Want Your New Kitchen to Feel?

We often ask our clients how they want their new kitchen or bath to feel when the project is complete. The question often catches our clients in the Upper Valley off guard. What we are trying to understand is what features of a new kitchen or bath will strike a resounding chord with our clients in the Upper Valley. A well-designed kitchen is not only functional and beautiful, but it also hits the mark emotionally. Outstanding design enables homeowners in the Upper Valley to make a personal statement that resonates with family and friends.

It is almost impossible to create a kitchen that combines superb functionality with beauty and emotional connection if you don’t rely on a kitchen design professional. Contractors may know how to install kitchens but rarely do they bring the same level of design expertise that is offered by a professional kitchen and bath showroom. You’ll know you are dealing with a pro that you can trust by the questions they ask. In our showroom, we want to know about our clients’ lifestyles, those who will be using the kitchen regularly and design preferences. You should feel confident that the designer you select to create the kitchen of your dreams truly understands interior spaces and how those spaces are to look, feel and function.

Homeowners in the Upper Valley frequently ask what type of cabinets best suit their needs, preferences and budgets. The answer almost always depends on the style of the home and the look and feel that the client wants to achieve. Your cabinet style should match your home’s decor. For homes with a modern or transitional style, we will often recommend frameless cabinets. Frameless cabinets are built without a face frame. They will have minimal space between the doors and drawers, which maximizes interior storage and drawer space. Frameless cabinets owe much of their popularity to the fact that they offer 10 to 15% more storage than framed cabinets.

Framed cabinets feature several pieces of wood that are fastened to the forward edge of the cabinet to create a frame literally. The inside part of the frame extends slightly past the inside edges of the box. The frame provides structural support for the cabinet. The doors and hinges of a framed cabinet attach to the face frame, allowing more stability for the box. However, framed cabinets have a smaller opening because the frame reduces the amount of available storage space inside the cabinet box than frameless counterparts.

Another common question related to cabinets is color. Recent industry surveys found that white continues to dominate kitchen cabinet colors, specified for more than 50% of new kitchens. However, we have seen a steady increase in clients who want to introduce color into their kitchens to create an aura and make a personal design statement.

Once cabinets are selected, we typically move onto countertop and backsplash selections. In her new book, The Perfect Kitchen, Barbara Sallick explains, “Cabinets always have tops and bottoms, and the counter is the connector. The process of layering both the countertop and the backsplash, which can be two completely different materials (and I often prefer them to be), is about the way they talk to each other.” Her point is well taken. Countertops and backsplashes need to connect.

We can help you make your kitchen feel like a million dollars. Give us a call at 603-448-9700 or visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH to learn how you can make your dream a reality.

The Return of the Scullery

A scullery is a small kitchen or room at the back of the house used for washing dishes and other dirty household work. Until recently, sculleries were most often associated with the Victorian period and turn of the 20th century in larger homes where the kitchen was not a place to be seen. Think of Downton Abbey. With the popularity of open floor plans and the kitchen as the central gathering place in the home, the desire for a second kitchen was not even remotely popular in the Upper Valley. The times are a-changing. We believe that many homeowners in the Upper Valley would be attracted to a scullery, butler pantry or back kitchen because it provides a space to move the messiest aspects of meal preparation and cleanup to an enclosed out of sightline space.

While their origins are rooted in the past, sculleries, butler pantries or back kitchens address the needs of modern-day families. Think of a scullery as a modern equivalent of a powder room for the kitchen.

When homeowners in the Upper Valley discuss their dream kitchens, they often envision pristine spaces, then reality sets in. When you prepare meals, unload groceries, wash dishes, load the dishwasher, there’s stuff on countertops, on islands and in sinks. A scullery takes those tasks out of view and enables homeowners to maintain the pristine environment of their dreams.

We find that many homeowners in the Upper Valley when renovating their kitchens would gladly replace a wall of ceiling height cabinets with open shelving, windows and/or artwork. Sculleries are great places to house coffee makers, stand mixers, toasters and other countertop appliances. We’ve seen sculleries with refrigerated drawers, a second dishwasher, wine and beverage fridges, microwaves, ice makers, cabinets for dishes and cutlery and shelving, drawers and baskets for dry goods.

Prime candidates for a butler pantry or scullery are working couples with small children who value family time together without having to share that space for storing kitchen contents and meal preparation and clean up. For busy families, a scullery is part pantry, part prep kitchen and part convenience store.

Individuals who love to entertain and do so frequently are also ideal candidates for sculleries. They welcome a hidden space to store dishes, linens, dry goods, small appliances, etc. because they realize that the kitchen is where their guests often congregate and typically is in the sightlines of the dining area.

Is a scullery or butler pantry ideal for your new kitchen renovation? Let’s discuss the possibilities by calling us at 603-448-9700 or visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.

How to Keep Your Renovation From Exceeding Your Budget

Despite the unlimited access to online renovation information, it’s not easy to accurately budget for a new kitchen or bath. For example, if you visited the Houzz.com website to search for farmhouse sinks, your search would deliver more than 77,000 results, with prices ranging from $150 to more than $5,000. How could anyone know which farmhouse sink would be the perfect fit among 77,000+ options? Budgeting is made even more difficult by home improvement television. HGTV, DYI and other networks do not produce documentaries. They are in the entertainment business. As such, many times, the budgets quoted for kitchen, bath and home renovation projects do not include the cost of labor, which can account for more than 50% of the budget, depending on the nature and scope of the project. Home improvement television is an excellent source of inspiration, but an unreliable and inaccurate resource for budgeting and scheduling.

Most homeowners in the Upper Valley renovate their kitchens and bathrooms when they have become outdated, when they want them to function differently, when existing fixtures are either damaged, broken or don’t work effectively and when they have the financial means to do so. The decision to renovate does not occur on the spur of the moment. Almost all of the homeowners in the Upper Valley that we help to create their dream kitchens and baths, spend months performing independent research and making sure they have the financial means to get what they want.

The first step in keeping a project on budget is to develop a budget that is realistic during the planning phase of a project. Here are the keys to developing a realistic budget:

  • Work with professionals who know what they are doing and pick their brains to uncover what will work best for you and your home. Experienced showroom professionals know manufacturer track records for order fulfillment, customization capabilities, customer service and warranty backing.
  • Determine what is most important to you in your new kitchen or bath. Prioritization becomes easier when you consider who will use the space, how often and for what purposes. We have several clients in the Upper Valley who love to cook and entertain and want their kitchen not only to be a showplace but also to have the same functionality as a commercial kitchen.
  • Make sure that a professional measures the space. The dimensions of the room enable experienced designers to recommend specific areas for appliances, countertops, sinks, fixtures, windows, etc. that work in concert with one another. You don’t want cabinet doors hitting countertops or anything else. You don’t want your island to impede the opening of a dishwasher. Accurate measurement of your space also helps showroom professionals recommend storage solutions that make your new kitchen function as well, if not better, as it looks.
  • Develop a comprehensive, tight plan and stick to it. Changing your plans, design and products after construction begins usually causes budgets to blow up.

Determine if you need to reconfigure the space or can use your existing or part of your existing infrastructure as is. Having to move and reconfigure plumbing, electrical, ductwork, ventilation and structural support will dramatically affect a budget. A note of caution: Depending on the age of your home and the scope of your project, some unexpected changes may be required to ensure that your new kitchen or bath meets the requirements of your local building code.

Ask your showroom professional for cost-saving ideas. Tile manufacturers now produce slabs that look and feel like stone and floor coverings that resemble hardwood.

Avoid the temptation to be pennywise and dollar foolish. As tempting as it might be to want to reuse your faucet or sinks, don’t. Older fixtures are environmentally inefficient compared to today’s offerings and won’t provide nearly the same functionality, look or feel. Plus, keeping existing components defeats the purpose of renovating your new kitchen.

What is a realistic budget for your new kitchen or bath? We can help you develop one! Call us at 603-448-9700 or visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.