A Few Really Good Reasons to Renovate Your Bathroom

Bathrooms in the Upper Valley continue to transform from utilitarian spaces to rooms where homeowners can make unique design statements, enhance the quality of their lives and improve their health and wellbeing. If you have been considering remodeling the existing bathrooms in your home, there’s no time better than the present to start. Here are several additional reasons to create the bath of your dreams.

There’s Significant ROI

There are two significant financial reasons to create a stunning new bath. Doing so will provide a competitive advantage when you sell your home when you decide to do so. Second, renovating your bathroom increases the value of your home. Recent studies by the National Kitchen and Bath Association report that homeowners recover an estimated 70% of the amount they invest in a new bath at the time of sale.

Statement-Making Baths Have Staying Power

Remodeling a bath is not something most homeowners in the Upper Valley undertake frequently. In fact, for most of our showroom’s customers, a complete bath renovation serves their functional and aesthetic needs of many years. Our clients never tire of the therapeutic and stress-reducing benefits of a steam shower or the smile that appears every time they cross the threshold of a bathroom with just the right light, sculptural tub and vanity that reflects their style and needs.

Respond to Your Family’s Changing Needs

Many of our clients in the Upper Valley are deciding to stay in their homes for the long-term or need to make changes to cater to the needs of older family members. Renovating a bath to include a curbless shower, lower countertops, decorative grab bars, touch-free faucets and comfort height toilets will enable you and your family to age in place gracefully and with the dignity that you expect and deserve.

Improve the Quality of Your Time

The average person spends more than 30 minutes a day in the bath, according to a recent survey by American Standard. Increasingly, the amount of time spent in the bath is growing. Why not make the most of that time and feel better when you prepare for the day or a night on the town?

Make Your Life Easier

Do you have that drawer that contains too many brushes, cosmetics, toothpaste, hair ties, nail files, etc.? Would it not make your life easier if there was a place for everything and everything in your bath had its own place? Storage solutions and organizational tools for the bath have reached new heights, enabling you to create a clutter-free space.

Eliminate Competition for Space

Do you or other family members have to wait on others’ to brush their teeth, shower or soak in the tub? When you renovate your bath, you can eliminate the competition for space and facilities.

Improve Work-Life Balance

Create a dream bath with a steam shower offering multiple therapies. Add a tub where you can wash away the stresses of the day and create an oasis where you can enjoy a few minutes of the day all to yourself, devoid of tweets, texts, emails and other demands. That’s priceless, and don’t you deserve it?

If you want to create the bath of your dreams, give us a call at 603-448-9700 or visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH and let us show you how easy it is to turn your dreams into realities.

The Latest Kitchen Remodeling Trends

Houzz.com recently surveyed 2,600 individuals who completed a kitchen remodel in 2019 or planned to undertake one in the next three months.

Style Trends

A large majority of homeowners (85%) change the style of their kitchen when they renovate. In 2019, transitional was most popular, selected by 21% of homeowners, followed by contemporary (16%), modern (15%) and traditional style (11%). Transitional cabinets, fixtures and other kitchen staples combine both traditional and contemporary styles. Transitional has been the most favored décor style for three years running, found the Houzz survey. Farmhouse kitchens are not as popular. Only 11% of homeowners opted for a farmhouse kitchen according to survey respondents. This was a decline from 14% in 2018 and 12% in 2017.

Cabinets are King

Cabinets are the number one choice for upgrading during a kitchen renovation. 94% of homeowners reported upgrading cabinets as part of their kitchen renovation with 68% opting to replace all cabinets.

White Remains Number One

White kitchen cabinets continue to reign atop of the color heap in kitchen renovations with 45% of homeowners selecting white cabinets for their new kitchens. Wood-tone cabinets were the second most popular cabinet option (22%) followed by gray as the third most popular color choice.

Shake, Shake, Shake, Shaker

More than six in 10 homeowners selected a Shaker-style door front for their new kitchens. The second most popular style was a flat panel at 21% followed by raised panel doors at 18%. A majority of those replacing their cabinets during their kitchen remodel selected custom cabinets (40%). Another 36% of homeowners opted for semi-custom cabinets with a much smaller percentage of homeowners selecting stock (12%) and even fewer choosing ready to assemble.

Specialty Storage Draws A Crowd

A well-designed kitchen is an organized kitchen and increasingly homeowners in the Houzz survey and our clients in (name of service territory) appreciate the benefits of drawer and cabinet organizers. Cookie sheet or tray organizers were most popular, selected by 50% of homeowners upgrading their cabinets. 63% of homeowners selected drawers with pull out waste and/or recycling drawers. Lazy Susans were also popular organizers picked by 40% of homeowners renovating their kitchens. Another 36% of remodelers featured pullout or swing-out drawers. Nearly half of homeowners that renovated their kitchen upgraded their pantry.

What’s the right style, cabinet color and door front and organization tools for your dream kitchen? Give us a call at 603-448-9700 or visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH and let us show you how to make your dream a reality.

A Key To Keeping Your New Year’s Diet Resolutions

We know that many homeowners in the Upper Valley enter the new year with the resolve to eat healthier and/or lose weight. But did you know that keeping your resolution becomes easier if you organize your kitchen and eliminate unnecessary clutter? It’s true, according to Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and star of the Netflix series Tidying Up With Marie Kondo. A study by the journal of Environment and Behavior found when women walked into a messy kitchen they consumed more calories than they did when they entered a clean kitchen. The reason: studies have found that clean kitchens reduce stress and help individuals to avoid unhealthy choices.

When clients in the Upper Valley come to our showroom to design the kitchen of their dreams, one of the first things that we advise is to assess what currently exists in their kitchen. We recommend that our clients inventory cookware, bakeware, kitchen tools, storage containers, cutlery, knives, utensils, gadgets and countertop appliances and estimate frequency of use. We encourage our clients to purge items that they never use. Infrequently used items (e.g., the large roaster for Thanksgiving turkey) can be relegated to upper cabinets or to other rooms in the home to open up prime real estate for the most frequently used utensils and equipment.

Don’t ignore 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. Have a separate area for baking ingredients, spices, grains, nuts, etc. Organizing your pantry by category not only will help you to eat healthier, but it will also save time for meal preparation and cooking.

Next, curate the contents of your refrigerator. In the same vein as curating the pantry, take everything out and assess what you want to keep. Does it bring you joy, or is it unnecessary? The latter may include foodstuffs that have expired or are unhealthy. Reorganize your refrigerator in the same way that you reorganized your pantry. Place foods by category, and put the items you use most often in the most accessible areas. Do the same with your freezer. Toss anything that has been in there for more than a year.

Your countertops should be clutter-free. When you place a blender or toaster in a cabinet, you help to eliminate temptation. The only exception could be a bowl of fruit. A study in Health Education and Behavior examined the eating habits of hundreds of households. Those who left chips, candy and cookies on their countertops weighed significantly more than people who only had a bowl of fruit on display. Having clean countertops also prompts individuals to cook more because messy countertops increase stress.

The last areas to curate are your cabinets and drawers, eliminating rarely used or unneeded items.

Finally, you can eat healthier if you have a set routine for meals and snacks. Marie Kondo advises eating everything at a table and avoiding the temptation to eat in front of a TV or standing up. A routine forces you to be more thoughtful about how and what you eat.

If you would like additional guidance for organizing your kitchen to help you and your family eat healthier and happier, give us a call at 603-448-9700 or visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.

The Cooks Have It

There is nothing more exciting and anticipated than a brand new kitchen for the home chef. We find an increasing number of clients in the Upper Valley who are passionate cooks. Almost all are skilled and capable of producing restaurant-quality dishes to the delight of their family and friends. We understand home chefs looking to create their dream kitchens require a design that responds to their needs, provides the flexibility they desire and offers the performance they expect. Appliance manufacturers understand these needs as well and are responding by creating Bluetooth connected appliances that offer professional kitchen performance and convenience and can perform multiple functions ranging from steam cooking and air frying to convection roasting and max broiling.

Appliances today are breaking new ground in design, style, options and performance. Clients in the Upper Valley are no longer limited to stainless steel, graphite, silver, black or white appliance colors. Appliance colors continue to expand to match cabinetry or specific color palettes. There also are more size options, which provide a skilled designer with a blank canvas that enables homeowners to make a personal design statement while at the same time provide the quality of space that a home chef wants and needs.

We understand the passion many of our clients bring to meal preparation, dining and sharing their love of food with family members and friends. While technology continues to embrace the kitchen industry, most passionate cooks are more interested in technological advances that contribute to performance as opposed to bells and whistles that add little to functionality. These might include speedier cooking options, recipe libraries and connected tutorials that help produce more consistent results. What’s exciting for anyone creating their dream kitchen are the options and ability to customize the kitchen to one’s exact needs. Clients in the Upper Valley can opt for in-home steam ovens, wood-fired pizza ovens, high-powered woks, sous vide incorporated into a cooktop and air fry capabilities in the oven.

The increased functionality also is appreciated by our clients who are living healthier lifestyles. They simply smile when they learn about steam ovens, air frying and sous vide options for their new kitchens.

For passionate and all other cooks in the home, what would you like to have in your new dream kitchen? Give us a call at 603-448-9700 or visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH, and let us walk you through the exciting new options that are available for gourmet cooking in your home.


Painted or Stained?: That Is the Question

When planning the kitchen of their dreams, homeowners in the Upper Valley often wonder if they should select painted or stained cabinets. There is no right answer. The choice of stained or painted cabinets depends on the look and feel that a homeowner desires. Both paint and stain have pluses and minuses. The choice really depends on the style statement that you would like to make.

Paint offers a smooth surface with options for a glossy, matte or satin finish. There are unlimited color options, and paint can be applied to solid wood, plywood and medium-density fiberboard. Paint hides the features or grain of the wood used to make a cabinet.

Unlike paint, stain allows the natural beauty of wood to shine through. While paints come in every color in the rainbow, stain options are not as plentiful. The most popular stain choices among homeowners in the Upper Valley are brown, red and gold tones. Occasionally, we specify kitchen cabinets with blue, green or grey stains.

There is a cost difference between painted and stained cabinets. Paint is typically 15% more due to a more labor-intensive application process to cover the entire surface of the cabinet to achieve a smooth, clean, consistent look.

Cabinet Cleaning and Preservation

Stained wood cabinets should be cleaned semi-annually or quarterly if you are an avid cook because wood grain tends to absorb grease and dirt. We advise our clients in the Upper Valley to clean their stained cabinets by mixing seven parts distilled vinegar with one part rubbing alcohol and a few drops of dish soap. Using a microfiber cloth, wipe down cabinets with the alcohol, vinegar, soap mixture, and then rinse with warm water. Seal the finish with furniture oil to keep your sealed wood cabinets looking like new.

Painted cabinets should be wiped down with a damp microfiber cloth weekly. If you find that the cabinets still require TLC, then use the same alcohol, dish soap and vinegar mixture and approach recommended for stained wood cabinets.

Black and white cabinets serve as repositories for fingerprints, dust, dirt and grime. They should be wiped down weekly with a damp microfiber cloth. If you order white painted cabinets, request the showroom provide a small container of matching white paint that you can use to repair the chips and scrapes that often occur with regular usage.

The following products and ingredients can damage cabinets so avoid using them or any product that contains them:

Petroleum-based products
Strong detergents and soaps
Nail polish remover
Paint thinners
Plastic brushes
Steel wool
Scoring pad
Is paint or stain the right choice for your new kitchen or bath? Give us a call at 603-448-9700 or visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH and let us help you select the perfect paint or stain for your new kitchen or bathroom cabinets.

How to Select the Perfect Medicine Cabinet

There is no such thing as too much storage when it comes to a bathroom! A great place to get additional storage is with the use of a medicine cabinet. Storage needs, size of the bath, design and lifestyle preferences are the primary factors influencing a customer’s decision to place a medicine/mirrored cabinet in the bath. Homeowners in the Upper Valley tend to choose medicine cabinets over wall-hung mirrors just for that reason.

The medicine cabinets featured in our showroom are distinguished by both their functional superiority and innovative design. Cabinets can be made of wood, metal, polymers or just about any other material. They are differentiated by their shape, size and mirror design. They can be framed, frameless, arched, square or multisided, and can use beveled or nonbeveled glass. Shelving inside of the cabinet may be made from glass, plastic or metal, and the shelves may be adjustable or nonadjustable.

Medicine cabinets of today are quite different than what you may have seen in the past. They are chock full of beneficial features, such as electric and USB outlets for charging your toothbrush or electric razor and defoggers to keep the mirror fog-free for immediate use after a shower. Some even have interior lighting!

The selection of cabinets requires a delicate balance between form and function. Location may dictate the cabinet’s function, and cabinets can be either surface-mounted or recessed into the wall. In most instances, recessed is the preferred mounting option for customers in the Upper Valley. However, a recessed cabinet may not always be feasible due to the placement of pipes or ducts in the wall. Bylaws of condominiums or co-ops may not permit an owner to recess a cabinet into a common area wall. It may not be practical to recess a cabinet in a poured concrete or plaster wall because of the cost and difficulty of carving out space. A showroom professional will help identify the intended location of the cabinet and determine if there may be restrictions that would prevent recessing a cabinet.

When using a surface-mounted cabinet, keep in mind that the entire body of the cabinet will be exposed. If the edge is not concealed, a popular option is to cover the sides with mirrors or wood that matches your vanity. In addition to the aesthetic differences, most customers in the Upper Valley prefer the space-saving advantages afforded by recessing cabinets into walls.

The most common depth of a medicine cabinet is 4 inches, although many manufacturers also offer 6- and 8-inch depths. Storage needs and capabilities often influence the depth of a cabinet. A 4-inch cabinet cannot hold a standard-sized roll of toilet paper, while a 6-inch deep cabinet, whether recessed, semi-recessed or surface-mounted, can store toilet paper and more. If space can accommodate an 8-inch deep cabinet, customers can use the space to hold hand towels, wash clothes and even a hairdryer. As you can see, depth is an important consideration when selecting a cabinet. The width of the cabinet also needs to be considered from both function and aesthetic points of view. Cabinets are available in widths ranging from 12 to 60 inches, and often cabinets can be ganged together to make it as large as needed. If you are staying with the existing size cabinet, the issue of width, depth and height should not pose a problem. However, if you want to add a deeper or wider cabinet to an existing space, then there could be obstacles that have to be addressed. Most walls have studs that are 16 inches on center. When you evaluate cabinet dimensions, you need to look at both the overall width and the rough-in dimensions. The width of a cabinet refers to the width of the glass, while the rough-in dimension refers to the width of the box. The width of the box specifies the size of the hole that needs to be cut into the wall to accommodate the cabinet when using a recessed application.

If you are replacing an existing cabinet with one that is wider, or for a new construction or a renovation project, arrangements need to be made to frame the wall to accommodate the size of the cabinet. There are numerous options that are dictated by balancing form and function. What’s the best cabinet choice for your new bath? Give us a call at 603-448-9700 or visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon to learn how you can pick the perfect medicine cabinet for your bath.

Realistic Guidelines for Budgeting for a New Kitchen

We advise all of our clients in the Upper Valley that home improvement television and websites are excellent sources of inspiration. While many great ideas, concepts and products are available on HGTV, DYI, Angie’s List, Houzz.com and the like, regrettably, those platforms are also the source of misinformation that creates unrealistic expectations when it comes to both timeline and budget.

Home improvement television does not produce documentaries. HGTV and others are in the entertainment business. That’s why there is a familiar pattern for each episode. There are homeowners who want to improve their lives by renovating their entire home or specific rooms. There is no mention of selecting designers and products or reviewing designs. The budgets quoted typically do not account for design services or labor. That’s why many homeowners in the Upper Valley don’t develop realistic budgets or timelines for their projects.

When prospects ask how much a new kitchen or bath in the Upper Valley will cost, our answer is always the same: It depends. The major factors that influence cost include:

Size and scope of the renovation
If the renovation involves reconfiguring infrastructure such as windows, doors, pipes, ductwork, utility lines and other components behind walls
If the renovation requires changes to meet current building codes
If the renovation increases the size of the existing space
Type and quality of materials desired
Plumbing fixtures
Organization accessories
Floor coverings
Because of the unknown variables involving scope and materials, it is nearly impossible to estimate the cost of a renovation without answering several important questions. We need an understanding of the goals of the renovation and the resources that are available for the project. There are calculators and estimators that you can find on websites published by truly credible organizations such as the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Still, those estimates and tools don’t address what is most important to you and how meeting your goals will affect the cost of a remodel.

The October issue of House Beautiful offered the following percentage breakdown for the cost of a kitchen remodel:

30%: construction and labor
25%: design and architecture
20%: cabinetry
15%: appliances
10%: countertops/surfaces/tile
Please recognize that these are estimates that will be affected by scope and material choices. That’s why it is vitally important to work with an experienced professional whose career is dedicated to making dreams come true based on available resources. If you would like guidance for developing a realistic budget for your new kitchen or bath, please give us a call at 603-448-9700 or visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.