Five Must-Haves For A Great Bathroom

The days of a bathroom serving only utilitarian functions have long past. Bathrooms, especially the master bath, can serve as an in-home spa where homeowners in the Upper Valley can spend a few minutes of every day just to themselves, devoid of texts and tweets, to recharge their batteries and wash away the stresses of the day. Functionality, efficiency and beauty are givens in today’s new bathrooms. To create a bathroom that meets your unique needs, consider the following features as must-haves.

Natural Light

Homeowners in the Upper Valley should make windows, skylights or even glass doors requirements for any renovation. Natural light makes a space more welcoming. It also has therapeutic benefits that include boosting vitamin D that helps prevent bone loss and reduces the risk of heart disease, weight gain and various cancers, according to healthline. Plus, natural light puts people in a better mood and improves sleep. That’s why we consider natural light a must for any renovation.

Curbless Shower

Linear drains make curbless showers an accessible option for almost everyone’s home. Curbless showers provide homeowners in the Upper Valley with a blank canvas. The shower space does not need to be enclosed and can help make a smaller space more functional, appear larger and more aesthetically pleasing. Curbless showers do not require a threshold, making shower access easier for those who are mobility-impaired and those who may be aging in place or planning to do so. In curbless showers with linear drains, floor covering only needs to be pitched in one direction. This provides homeowners in the Upper Valley with unlimited options when selecting the size and composition of their floor covering. Another advantage is that linear drains do not limit customers to 4 by 4-inch tile or stone.

Sightlines

A bathroom should not be the first thing you see when you enter a home, walk into a bedroom or leave a kitchen or dining room. If possible, do not position a bathroom in a location with direct sightlines from the kitchen, living room or dining room.

Water Closet Location

The same sightline principle that applies to other rooms in the home applies to the location of the toilet in the bathroom. The water closet should not be the first fixture that you see when entering the bath. Space permitting, we often recommend a separate enclosure for the water closet. Not only does it take the toilet out of a line of sight, but it also provides users with privacy.

Size

You don’t need to have the biggest bath in the neighborhood to have the best performing bath for your family’s needs. You can create an exceptional bath in a relatively small space. We know how to specify products that make smaller spaces appear larger. We know how to create in-home spas with multi-functional shower systems, therapies that can relax tired muscles, rejuvenate skin tone and contribute to your health and wellbeing. Size may be a challenge but never an obstacle to creating the bath of your dreams.

If you would like to discuss how a new bathroom can make your life better and more enjoyable, give us a call at 603-448-9700 or send us an email at zack@thecabinetencounter.com.

 

Helping To Assure Your Safety In Our Showroom

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend social distancing as an effective tool to limit the spread of COVID-19. In order to follow the CDC’s guidelines and protect our customers and team members, we have implemented the following safety protocols.

Limited Traffic

We have implemented appointment-only visits to help us control the number of people in our showroom. This enables homeowners in the Upper Valley to choose their own arrival times and the pace in which they receive guidance from our design professionals.

Personal Protection

We require all customers and staff to wear masks and have placed sanitizing stations throughout the showroom. If you do not have a mask when you arrive, we will gladly provide one for you.

Cleaning Protocols

We understand that a primary reason that homeowners in the Upper Valley come to the showroom is to see, feel and experience products. We have implemented a protocol that includes cleaning and disinfecting displays and boards following each customer visit.

Skinning Cats Differently

While stay-at-home orders were in effect, we learned how to better serve homeowners and builders in the Upper Valley. We have developed procedures to assess spaces withing clients’ homes remotely. We have developed templates that our customers can use to measure their rooms that enable us to prepare preliminary designs and projected budgets. We have used video conferencing to limit the number of face-to-face interactions with our design teams, installers and others without compromising our clients’ ability to create the kitchen or bath of their dreams.

If you are interested in discussing the possibility of creating a new bath, kitchen or laundry room in your home safely, please give us a call at 603-448-9700 or send us an email at zack@thecabinetencounter.com.

 

A Planning Primer for Your Renovation

Our phones have been ringing off the hook! Since our neighbors in the Upper Valley have been spending more time in their homes, they realize that they would like to improve what currently exists. If you are interested in a new kitchen or bath, you can make your life a lot easier by developing a wish list of everything that you want to then create a preliminary budget.

A word of caution about budgeting: don’t rely on home improvement television as a valid source. While HGTV, DIY and other networks and shows are great sources of inspiration, their timetables and budgets do not resemble reality. They often don’t include time for planning, permitting or the cost of labor.

Your wish list and budget need to align. If they don’t, you’re likely to be disappointed. Our showroom professionals help homeowners in the Upper Valley develop realistic expectations and budgets every day.

Here are several factors that can increase budgets:

  • Relocating appliances, sinks and faucets likely will result in having to move existing plumbing, electrical and gas lines and ductwork.
  • Commercial grade appliances are more expensive options.
  • Bluetooth enabled and smart appliances are generally more expensive than conventional appliances.
  • Opening up a kitchen space to another room may require structural improvements.
    Moving walls, gas, water and electrical lines and ductwork often require code upgrades.
  • Adding windows, doors or skylights.
  • Creating new space by extending your kitchen outdoors or into another room.
  • Selecting custom cabinets.
  • Natural stone and engineered quartz countertops have higher price tags than other countertop options.
  • Starting demolition before finalizing plans, drawings and orders.
  • Changing plans after construction begins.

Making a wish list helps to focus and your priorities. We specialize in helping homeowners in the Upper Valley to prioritize their wish lists and offer alternatives if specific wants don’t match available budgets. We also encourage our clients to create idea books on Pinterest and Houzz.com to better understand the look and feel that they want to achieve. Idea boards also help us to identify value-creating opportunities and options to lower costs without compromising look or performance.

If you are interested in renovating your home, please give us a call at 603-448-9700 or send us an email at zack@thecabinetencounter.com to arrange a virtual meeting or appointment in our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.

Mid-Year Design Trends

We’ve entered the second half of 2020 and want to share the design trends that stood out during the first half of the year in the Upper Valley.

Split finishes are in vogue in everything from plumbing fixtures and appliances to door and cabinet hardware. We’ve seen ear-to-ear smiles when we present combination black and gold finishes to our clients in the Upper Valley. Specifying gold refrigerator pulls on a matte black refrigerator creates a dramatic and refined focal point in any kitchen. We also have had an extremely positive reception pairing black and silver tones in all design motifs – traditional, transitional and contemporary.

Mixed materials is another trend in new kitchens and baths in the Upper Valley. Combining metal, stone, wood and glass are on point for many homeowners and builders. Imagine an island that features an engineered stone top contrasted with two-tone wood paneling and a matte black sink with gold-finished faucet. Simply gorgeous.

Similar to mixing materials is specifying contrasting colors. Different colored upper and lower cabinets continue to gain in popularity.

Functional furniture is also making a new home in kitchens and baths. Homeowners in the Upper Valley warmly respond to suggestions for desk space, separate storage cabinetry and pantries, open shelving and other solutions that are more reminiscent of furniture found in other places in the home than traditional kitchen cabinetry.

White kitchen cabinetry continues to rank as the number one preference in the Upper Valley. However, we see white trending in other materials and fixtures beyond cabinetry. White finished appliances, split chrome and white faucetry and split white toned lighting make for a dramatic statement in any kitchen. Other trending colors for finishes in kitchens and baths include champagne, bronze, gray, gold and black.

Smart appliances and fixtures also continue to gain in popularity. Many homeowners in the Upper Valley like having the ability to preheat their ovens from a smartphone app. Smart technology for the kitchen helps make homeowners’ lives easier and more enjoyable. Smart technology also enables homeowners to react to potential maintenance and malfunction issues immediately. For example, a smartphone alert can notify a homeowner that a refrigerator door may have been left open or that the dishwasher is leaking.

The kitchen plays a critical role in connecting it as the most important room in the home with other spaces. That helps to explain the popularity of open floor plan kitchens. Your new kitchen has to look out-of-this-world and serve multiple purposes and functions, spanning from the space where meals are prepared to a central gathering place for family and friends. A well-designed kitchen combines stylish aesthetics with durable and functional finishes and materials.

How can you capitalize on new trends and technology to create the kitchen or bath of your dreams? Give us a call at 603-448-9700 or email zack@thecabinetencounter.com us to make an appointment to visit our showroom.

How to Work With A Professional Designer Remotely

Many homeowners in the Upper Valley have been spending a lot more time in their homes lately than they could have ever imagined. During this time, many of our neighbors have found parts of their homes don’t look as beautiful or function as effectively as they would like. They see the need for change, but might not be comfortable making an appointment to visit a showroom. If you fall into that group, don’t worry. You are not alone, and you don’t have to postpone the renovation of your dreams. We have developed tools that our clients and our designers can use to design and manage renovations remotely.

Step 1: Determine your Goals. Our initial conversations with prospective clients focus on how they want their new kitchen or bath to function, look and feel. How will the space be used, and who will be using it most often? What functionality does your current kitchen lack, and what is on your wish list for the new space? What do you enjoy most about your existing kitchen or bath? What are your primary motivators for renovating now? How often do you cook and for whom? What other tasks do you perform in the kitchen? What is the style of your home? What other goals do you want to achieve?

Step 2: Measuring the Space. Before stay-at-home orders were issued, we would visit with our clients in their homes and measure the space. Many are not comfortable with that option during the pandemic. As such, we have developed measurement tools that homeowners can use that enable us to get started. We use Facetime, Zoom or another video platform to assist our clients in measuring the space. On the first pass, the measurement does not have to be completely accurate, but it will provide sufficient information to develop preliminary design concepts and a budget. Before the final design is submitted, we will want to measure the space in person, and we will do so wearing protective equipment to safeguard the health of our clients and our staff.

Step 3: Video. To gain a better appreciation for our clients’ space and style, we ask that they video their existing kitchen and several other rooms. These videos provide additional tools that are necessary to meet the space and style needs of our clients.

Step 4: Developing the Design. We prepare a preliminary design based on our client’s goals, wishes and budgets and present it with different options. We encourage our clients to make an appointment to visit the showroom to see, feel and experience firsthand different cabinets, countertops, fixtures, backsplashes, flooring and hardware and styles, colors and finishes. If a homeowner is not comfortable visiting our showroom, we can arrange to have a limited number of samples delivered to the home or alternatively provide a virtual tour of the showroom through Zoom or another video medium. We then fine-tune the design to incorporate comments from our clients and modify, as needed, for final presentation before ordering products. It is critical to ensure that you are 100% comfortable with the solutions presented. The number one cause of budget overages and expanded timelines is making changes after approving the final design.

Step 5: Construction. We can use video technology to oversee the construction process and installation. Our designers can monitor progress as it’s happening; issues can be addressed or amended in real-time.

Step 6: Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. In today’s environment, it is even more critical to have a constant flow of communication between the homeowner, designer, contractor, installers and trade professionals. We work with homeowners in (insert name of service territory) to develop a communications protocol that they are comfortable with and that respects their time.

Many of our clients appreciated the virtual processes that we use to create dream spaces in their homes. Virtual design can take place based on the homeowner’s schedule, and we have found it has increased collaboration. Even after the health risks pass, we plan to continue to offer design services remotely because not only do they work, they make the process easier for our clients, and that’s priceless.

If you would like to discuss a remote design for your new kitchen or bath, give us a call at 603-448-9700 or send an email to zack@thecabinetencounter.com.

Looking Up: Don’t Ignore the Fifth Wall in Your Kitchen or Bath Renovation

Ceilings are often an afterthought of the renovation process and don’t get the attention or recognition that they deserve. In a well-designed kitchen or bath in the Upper Valley, nothing should be overlooked, including the ceiling. Ceiling height, shape, style, accessories and color helps determine how a space looks and how it feels.

The ceiling should be considered the fifth wall in your new kitchen or bath and should be used to enhance the space’s character. Paint, wallpaper, different textures, heights, finishes and materials can be employed to create a ceiling that serves as a focal point and enhances the overall design and functionality of the space.

The standard height of a kitchen or bath ceiling is eight to nine feet. In some remodels, increasing that height is not practical or even feasible, depending on what is above your bath or kitchen. Typically, we have more flexibility in the bath to incorporate a skylight over a tub, add window space, or create a dropped area of the room to define a portion of the space.

Here are some common ceiling options to enhance your bath or kitchen:

Cove ceilings have curved edges between the ceiling and the wall to create a dome-like design that can create a focal point at the top of the walls. One advantage of cove ceilings is that they help make a space appear taller than it is.
Vaulted ceilings create a sense of volume and spaciousness to a room and also serve to make a space appear larger than it is. Most homes with a sloped roof can support a vaulted ceiling. Vaulted ceilings can have curved or straight sides and symmetrical or asymmetrical lines.
Cathedral ceilings employ straight sides that slope upward at the same angle as the exterior roofline. The most famous cathedral ceiling is at Notre-Dame in Paris. You can’t build anything on top of a cathedral ceiling, but you can create one from unused attic space.
Ceiling trays are recessed ceilings at the highest point with an inverted center. Ceiling trays can add more depth to a room and make it appear more spacious.
Any new kitchen or bath ceiling can be enhanced by decorative moldings, especially Victorian homes.
Beamed ceilings are another tool in a designer’s arsenal to create unique looks. Beams add warmth and character to a room. You need a taller space for beams so the space doesn’t feel small and cramped.
Even basic ceilings can be enhanced with statement-making lighting, paint or patterned wallpaper.
How can you take advantage of the fifth wall to make your new dream kitchen or bath become a reality? Give us a call at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.

A Homage to Kitchen Klutzes

This Saturday, June 13, is National Kitchen Klutzes Day. It’s a celebration dedicated to everyone who has ever been a klutz in the kitchen. Saturday, we embrace home cooks who may have dropped a dish, cut a finger or burned a creation beyond recognition. June 13 is your day. It’s a day to acknowledge that you may not be the next Julia Child or Bobby Flay. It’s a day to remind you that it’s okay to be clumsy in the kitchen. And don’t worry, you are not alone. 15% of Americans agree that they are “not very good when it comes to cooking, often messing things up or having other mishaps.”

Celebrate the day by being your klutziest in the kitchen and embrace your inner klutz. Spend some time reviewing safety techniques or curate your kitchen drawers and eliminate those items whose functional purpose you have no clue about. Visit the Burnt Food Museum to find kindred spirits. Go to http://www.foodnetwork.com and watch an episode or two of Worst Cooks in America.

Want to know the best way to celebrate National Kitchen Klutzes Day? Order takeout.

We know that you don’t have to be a skilled cook to enjoy a beautiful kitchen. If you would like to discuss how we can create a dream space, klutz free give us a call at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit us virtually or in-person at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.

The Benefits of a Sanitizing Cycle

Everyone in the Upper Valley wants to do their best and take prudent measures to keep family members safe. The coronavirus pandemic has placed a premium on disinfecting and cleaning. Think about the empty shelves in the grocery store where cleaning supplies typically are stocked.

The Center for Disease Control has issued guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting your home. A tool that may help keep your family safe is the sanitizing cycle found on many dishwashers, washing machines and dryers. The ability to kill germs on clothes, cutlery, dishes and glassware depends on water temperature. Appliances with sanitization cycles meeting National Sanitation Foundation standards are tested to ensure that they can eliminate potentially harmful allergens, some microorganisms and bacteria. Dishwashers that meet NSF standards have rinse water temperatures of at least 150 degrees, and the water temperature of washing machines that meet NSF standards must reach a minimum of 131 degrees. Concerning clothes dryers, the heat from a normal cycle is not sufficient to sanitize laundry. However, the sanitizing cycle increases dryer temperature to one that can kill germs or bacteria lingering on your laundry.

A best practice for protecting your family is to rinse and load dirty dishes into your dishwasher immediately. Leaving dirty dishes in a sink, countertop or elsewhere creates a ripe environment for the growth of E. coli, salmonella and listeria, and those harmful bacteria increase the longer dishes sit in an open-air environment. If dishes sit long enough, it may be difficult for a regular dishwasher to disinfect them.

There’s more incentive to be vigilant today. Before the outbreak of COVID-19, most appliance experts recommended sanitizing cycles on appliances as an effective tool to help allergy sufferers. According to the World Health Organization, the coronavirus can live on plastic and metal surfaces for several days, even though the CDC says the virus does not spread easily from contaminated surfaces. Why take the risk if you have appliances with sanitization cycles?

Other appliances that can help you keep your home safer include air purifiers, HEPA vacuum cleaners and steam convection ovens. These appliances are all designed to eliminate bacteria and sanitize hard-to-clean items.

If you are in the market for a new washer, dryer, dishwasher or oven, and would like to know which appliances have NSF compliant sanitation cycles, give us a call at 603-448-9700, send an email to zack@thecabinetencounter.com or make a face-to-face appointment at our showroom.

Making Smaller Kitchens Appear Larger

There’s a misconception among homeowners in the Upper Valley. We find several homeowners don’t commit to a kitchen remodel because of their kitchen’s smaller footprint. Size does not matter. Lifestyle, enjoyment and family do. Regardless of the size of the kitchen, the most important factor in renovating or creating new space is to determine how the space will be used. That’s why we ask our clients in the Upper Valley how often they prepare meals, entertain and host family celebrations. We also want to know who uses the kitchen and what activities generally take place in the area. Additionally, we want to understand how homeowners in the Upper Valley would expand their kitchen use if it were a more enjoyable and welcoming space.

We know how to expand the look and feel of a smaller kitchen without actually increasing the size of the footprint. Here are several ideas to create the illusion of a larger space without compromising the look, feel or functionality.

Thin Is In

Most homeowners in the Upper Valley may not realize that specifying smaller and thinner appliances creates additional countertop and cabinet space. A standard dishwasher is 24 inches wide, but many of our clients find an 18-inch model that serves their needs and helps provide the space for bigger cabinets elsewhere. The same logic can apply to refrigerators. Many homeowners believe they need the largest fridge that they can fit in a space. A thinner model may serve your purposes if you don’t cook or go to the grocery store daily. We often recommend refrigerators that are 30 or 28 inches wide versus the more popular size of 36-inch+ models.

Specifying panels that match your cabinetry is another trick to make a smaller kitchen appear larger because it creates a consistent flow throughout the space.

Lifestyle choice also will influence the sink that we specify. Most clients come to the showroom with the desire for a double sink. Double bowls are great if you cook a lot. They may not be needed if you don’t. A double sink typically requires 36 inches of space. Single bowls require 24 inches. The extra space provides for an additional standard size cabinet.

Along with slimming appliances, specifying slimmer cabinets can help open up a kitchen. Many manufacturers offer thinner versions of the standard 24-inch depth cabinet. Using 12- or 15-inch deep cabinetry creates more floor space and a more open feel.

Make it Light and Bright

White or lighter shades of cabinets will provide a more open feel to a smaller space. Lighting is equally important. Installing interior cabinet lights, under cabinet lighting and in-drawer lighting will make your kitchen look brighter and much larger. The same effect can be achieved by opting for glass door cabinets that can showcase your crystal, fine china or other items that have special meaning to you and your family.

Mirrors help to make smaller rooms larger, and the kitchen is no exception. We will often recommend a mirrored backsplash or stainless steel if stainless steel is the preferred appliance finish. Mirrored surfaces provide a sense of depth to any room, making the space look and feel larger.

Need additional suggestions on how to create a dream kitchen with a limited footprint? Call our showroom at 603-448-9700 to make an appointment to visit us at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.

Guidance for Selecting Countertops

Countertops play two critical roles in the kitchen. The first is functional. We understand that countertops are used for preparing meals, baking and as spaces for storing kitchen equipment and utensils. Equally important is the aesthetic role that countertops play.

When working with a designer or selecting a countertop on your own, here are several key factors to consider to help assure that the product you choose makes you smile every time you walk into and use your kitchen.

  • Take a holistic view of the kitchen. Countertops, cabinets, appliances, faucets, sinks and hardware need to be in tune with one another. No one component of the kitchen should stand alone. The components need to connect with one another.
  • How countertops make a kitchen look and feel is determined by the material, texture, color, style, form and shape. The way that countertops contrast or compliment other elements has an impact too. We always ask clients, “What message do you want your countertops to convey, and what emotions do you want the space to evoke?”
  • Material will impact how easy the surface is to clean and maintain. The most popular materials that we specify for clients are:
    • Granite: It’s versatile, tough and offers an almost infinite palate of colors and styles. Granite is easy to maintain and it will last a lifetime.
    • Engineered Stone: Products such as Caesarstone and Silestone function and perform in a similar fashion to granite. They are heat and scratch resistant and easy to maintain. The materials will last a lifetime, don’t stain and offer an almost unlimited spectrum of colors, textures and styles.
    • Stainless Steel: Professional chefs gravitate to stainless steel, in part, because it is impervious to bacteria and heat. Stainless steel requires more maintenance because of its propensity to scratch and show water spots and fingerprints. We often specify stainless steel countertops for clients that want commercial-styled appliances and plumbing fixtures.
    • Butcher Block: This is a surface that represents good value if you like the aesthetic. It’s versatile and can work in both traditional and contemporary kitchens. Butcher block can scratch and regularly needs to be treated. Also, it is not impervious to heat.
    • Soapstone: This material also has a broad range of stylistic options from contemporary to traditional Like butcher block it also requires regular oil applications. Soapstone also is resistant to stains, but it can be more difficult and costly to maintain because fixing cracks can be expensive.
    • Solid Surface: Materials such as Cornian, Formica and Staron are examples of solid surface countertops. They offer great ranges for colors and finishes and require minimal maintenance.
    • Concrete: There are no limitations on concrete countertops. You can create custom textures, colors, shapes and surfaces. They are environmentally friendly and heat resistant. They typically require more maintenance because they need to be sealed to protect the surface from stains, water and heat damage. The cost ranges from moderate to luxury depending on the amount of customization.

If you have questions about the countertops that will be perfect for your kitchen, please give our showroom a call at 603-448-9700 or email us at zack@thecabinetencounter.com.