COVID-19 has shown a bright light on the health and wellbeing of families the Upper Valley. With many being confined to their homes for more than a year, designing for wellness has become top of mind. The role of the home has been transformed, serving multiple purposes such as office, warehouse, gym, assisted-living facility, school room and refuge. Many homeowners the Upper Valley want and need their home to function more effectively and promote healthier lifestyles.
Two main rooms in the home where there are multiple opportunities to improve your and your families’ health and wellbeing are the bathroom and kitchen. Many homeowners the Upper Valley have taken advantage of the opportunity to convert their primary bathroom into a personal spa by adding steam showers, saunas, wet rooms, multisensory showerheads, and thermostatic temperature control values where you set the water temperature for individual users and that temperature is achieve within 10 to 15 seconds of turning the water on.
There’s nothing more satisfying than stepping out of a shower, especially on cooler days, to a warm and toasty towel. We’ve seen a significant increase in demand for towel warmers and heated flooring systems. Not only do these amenities provide a luxurious experience, they also contribute to health and wellbeing by improving the thermal comfort of the bathroom, but also reduce moisture in a wet environment that helps deter the germs and mildew.
Being confined at home has spotlighted the need for personal spaces where homeowners the Upper Valley can have a few minutes all to themselves and wash away the stresses of the day. In addition to multifunctional shower systems, homeowners the Upper Valley are opting for soaking tubs that incorporate whirlpool and air systems in addition to light therapy (chromatherapy), aroma therapy and Bluetooth-enabled integrated speakers and sound systems to relax tired muscles and deliver a true spa experience not only in the bathroom but outdoors as well.
Key to effective wellness design is the ability to make homeowners the Upper Valley lives easier, simpler and less stressful. We are designing dream kitchens for homeowners the Upper Valley with voice activated, app and Bluetooth-enabled appliances that make meal preparation, cooking and clean up easier and less stressful. Touch-free faucets and garbage cans reduce the potential for spreading germs. Water and air filtration, advanced ventilation systems and lighting all contribute to make a new kitchen healthier and easier to use.
How can you make your kitchen, bath and other rooms and spaces in your home healthier, easier to use and less stressful? Give us a call at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.
A primary reason why many homeowners the Upper Valley want to renovate their kitchens is that the space no longer works for them and they no longer work for the space. In many cases, the design and aesthetic don’t meet their needs or those of their families.
What type of dream kitchen will reflect your personality? If you are looking for the tried and true, a white palate might be the perfect fit. White is classic and one of the reasons why more than 50% of homeowners the Upper Valley opt for white kitchens.
For homeowners the Upper Valley that desire the clean lines and look of white cabinetry, we often recommend complementing the white palate with a bold backsplash of colored glass, patterned tiles or pops of accent color in countertops, wall coverings, faucets and cabinet hardware. Specifying a matte black finish to faucets and cabinet hardware helps to highlight and enhance the look and feel of white cabinetry.
Other options to offset white upper and lower cabinets is to extend the backsplash from the countertop to the ceiling to create a focal point that wows. Painting an island different colors or selecting a different color for lower cabinets that offsets white uppers are other common options to enhance white cabinetry. The choices are almost endless. Not only will a different color serve to soften the space, it also will make the kitchen more enjoyable to use.
Maximizing the space to fit your lifestyle and design sensibilities is another compelling reason to create a kitchen that reflects your personality. Clutter is another common feature of nonperforming kitchens. Kitchens at their core are places to prepare, cook and share meals. There should be adequate space to do so. A well designed kitchen is an organized kitchen. One of the biggest causes of buyer’s remorse among homeowners the Upper Valley that recently renovated their kitchens was not investing more in storage solutions. Manufacturers have developed creative drawer and cabinet organizers when paired with in-cabinet lighting systems not only provide effective storage but also makes everything more easily accessible.
For homeowners the Upper Valley who frequently use countertop appliances, we often recommend appliance garages that allows you easily access a toaster blender, food processor, etc. that can be easily hidden in cabinetry to free up counter space. Another option to store countertop appliances off the countertop is in pullout drawers in lower cabinets.
If your kitchen no longer works for you and want to explore what it might take to create a kitchen that reflects your unique personality and lifestyle, give us a call at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.
Although more than 50% of the kitchens renovated the Upper Valley opt for a white palate, we are starting to see bolder color statements making their way into dream kitchens the Upper Valley. Perhaps, the desire to make bolder statements is in response to the turmoil of last year. Homeowners the Upper Valley are gravitating to a range of colors for their new kitchens that include two different tones, natural neutrals such as greige, gray and oak, palettes dominated by warm earth tones such as oranges and intense shades of navy blue.
Several of the colors we see trending in new kitchens include the following:
Green provides warmth and freshness simultaneously. Green is often associated with nature, renewal and youthfulness. Many homeowners the Upper Valley like the versatility that green cabinets provide. Different green tones that have been well receive include mint, sage, and two green tones pairing mint with forest green.
Homeowners the Upper Valley are gravitating to light color blues and cool blue and gray tones. These colors can withstand the test of time because of their ability to complement warmer richer tones that can be incorporated in countertops, tile, metal finishes and backsplashes.
Black and white kitchen are a classic combination. Using a black color palate is especially welcome in kitchens with lots of natural light.
Grey is another color that never goes out of style and also can withstand the test of time. Grey is often preferred by homeowners in the Upper Valley who don’t want a white kitchen. Similar to white, grey is a neutral tone that is more discreet. Gray kitchen cabinets offer flexibility and versatility when mixing and combining accessories. Like white, gray works as a perfect backdrop for pops of color, either in warm or cold tones such as yellow, red, orange, etc. to brighten the room.
Gray kitchen cabinets also provide an elegant and sophisticated look for modern kitchens. Combining gray cabinets with black and white quartz countertops offers a canvas that highlights other accessories and adds depth when combined with other colors. Grey cabinets can highlight metal handles, stainless steel appliances or white walls.
Greige is the combination of gray and beige that provides an elegant feel to any new kitchen. It is often preferred by homeowners the Upper Valley who gravitate toward gray, but believe a gray palate is too cold. Greige cabinets combine elegance, sophistication and power of neutral colors. Because it can be combined with most colors and finishes, greige cabinets offer versatility and flexibility in terms of mixing and compatibility.
Dark blue or navy blue is another important trend in the kitchen. One reason why dark or navy blue is selected for new kitchens is that when it comes to cooking, the color blue suppresses appetite. It offers a way to add a touch of color to the kitchen, without being too overwhelming or too boring. The navy blue kitchen cabinets are also soothing and stand out when paired with other neutral colors.
What colors that are now trending that will be perfect for your new kitchen? Give us a call 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH to select just the right color in the rainbow for your new kitchen.
Many homes the Upper Valley have long narrow bathrooms with a single sink, toilet and shower tub combination. Homeowners the Upper Valley may believe that these common long, narrow baths have limited ability to shine and become the pride and joy not only of their homes, but also the entire neighborhood. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have designed hundreds of baths, we know how to make smaller space appear larger and also more functional and beautiful.
A key to making a small bath appear larger is to create focal points that attract the eye to highlight the length of the room instead of its narrow width. Focal points can be created using a bright patterned tile on the floor and or tub/shower wall, use of cool, light bright colors, think of beiges, creams, peach, eggshell, etc. or at the opposite end of the spectrum dark colored high gloss paints that serves to bounce light off the walls and focus the eye on the faucet, light fixtures, mirrors or even shelving.
Another technique to make smaller spaces appear larger is to mirror a wall, backlight a wall mirror or use multiple mirrors in the space. Another design technique to open a narrow space is to specify wall mounted vanities and toilets and use light colors with lots of textural elements.
New technology advancements enable homeowners the Upper Valley to eliminate the need for a shower enclosure. Using linear drains that are sloped in one direction not only eliminates the need for an enclosure, you can also part ways with the shower door and shower curtain to create an open floor plan bath similar in benefits to an open floor plan kitchen.
Tile can be a small bathroom’s best friend. In smaller baths, we recommend using smaller tiles on bathroom walls and floors and often specify using the same tile for walls and floors to open up the space. Additional opportunities to make smaller baths appear larger include:
Adding niches in the shower/tub area.
Specifying corner sinks
Includes storage solutions in the vanity
Wall mount the faucet
Add windows or a skylight
Use the area underneath a wall mounted sink for storage
Need additional ideas on how you can convert a long narrow bath into the favorite room in your home? Give us a call at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.
A secret to designing a great kitchen is to account for your storage needs and desires in the initial planning phase. A storage plan will address how often you cook, entertain and hold gatherings. A great kitchen must not only look out of this world, it also must incorporate the best functionality that meets your and your family’s needs.
The main cause of buyer’s remorse among homeowners the Upper Valley who recently renovated their kitchen is not investing in more efficient and plentiful storage solutions. To help you to avoid buyer’s remorse when you create the kitchen of your dreams, start by organizing what currently exists in your initial planning phase. This will enable you to match organizational needs to your lifestyle.
Step 1: Curate
Empty every shelf, cabinet and drawer and place contents on a countertop or table. Chances are that there will be items that you don’t remember were there and others that are seldomly used. Curate those items. Determine what you want to keep, what you want to donate or recycle and those that should be disposed of. Also, identify items that you want to keep but are rarely used such as a turkey roaster that is only brought out on holidays. There may be other rooms in the home where you can store those items to free up more space in the kitchen for items that are used more frequently.
Step 2: Organize
We advise many homeowners the Upper Valley to organize their kitchens by tasks, by food groups and by product category. In the pantry, put all baking items in one area, oils and vinegars in a distinct space, pasta and rice in another defined area, etc. The foods that you eat most often should be placed in the easiest to reach places. Similarly, your cookware should be placed in the same general vicinity near your range, oven or cooktop.
Step 3: Get the Tools You Need
The kitchen industry has made significant strides manufacturing storage solutions for cabinets and drawers. Don’t under-estimated the importance of storage baskets, drawer systems, drawer dividers, knife blocks and peg organizers, among others. Baskets and containers help to organize food stuffs. Drawer dividers and peg organizers can create designated spaces for cookware and plates without having to store them on top of one another.
These recommendations can help with an existing kitchen and provide a window to what could be possible with a new kitchen designed with your lifestyle in mind. If you would like additional suggestions for organizing your dream kitchen, give us a call at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit us at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.
We suspect that most homeowners the Upper Valley have spent more time in front of their kitchen sinks in the past year than they could have ever imagined. Kohler claims that the average person uses their kitchen sink between 10 and 12 times a day. When families are working and schooling from home, that number is probably quite low. With kitchen sinks getting so much attention, it pays to provide a little attention in return for several good reason.
First, the kitchen sink and faucet are the most used appliances in the home. For many homeowners the Upper Valley their kitchen sinks remain in place for 20 or more years. One reason for their longevity is they are difficult and can be expensive to replace. That’s another reason why homeowners the Upper Valley should invest in a high-quality kitchen sink when they renovate their new kitchens not only to achieve the look and feel that you want but also to obtain the functionality that you desire.
Tips to Maintain Your Kitchen Sink
Rinse the kitchen sink daily to eliminate food debris and deter the possibility of bacteria growth.
Wipe the sink and kitchen faucet daily with a soft cloth to prevent grime and mineral build up.
Every 10 days thoroughly clean your sink using dish soap and water. Do not use steel wool, Comet, Soft Scrub or other harsh cleansers that can scratch or damage the finish.
Use a tooth brush or other small brush to clean around the faucet and seams where the sink meets the counter.
If you know who manufactured your kitchen sink, visit the website for additional guidance for maintaining it. Additionally, different sink materials require different care as follows:
Ceramic and Vitreous China
Ceramic and Vitreous China fixtures have a durable glossy or matte color glaze.
To clean, use a mild liquid nonabrasive detergent such as dish washing liquid.
NEVER use abrasive or harsh chemical cleaners or abrasive pads because they will remove the gloss or matte finish.
Avoid using a mild abrasive cleaner like Soft Scrub on a regular basis.
Ceramic Weather Glazes
These special ceramic glazes are created from organic materials; no two are exactly alike. Weathered finishes are designed to change over time and vary in appearance creating a “living finish.” Crazing and darkening is normal, creating part of the product’s intrinsic natural beauty.
To clean, use a mild liquid nonabrasive detergent such as dish washing liquid and dry fixture with a clean soft cloth.
Never use abrasive pads, chlorine or any type of harsh chemicals.
Fireclay is very durable because of its high firing temperature.
To clean, use a nonabrasive cleaner and sponge.
Stubborn stains can be removed with a mild abrasive cleaner such as Soft Scrub on a wet sponge.
NEVER use abrasive pads, chlorine or any type of harsh chemicals.
Granite Polymers and Silicate Quartz Polymers
These polymers form a hard, nonporous material resistant to chipping, scratching and staining. Granite polymers and silicate quartz polymers can withstand heat up to 446°F. Placing a pot from the stove directly in sinks made from these materials will not harm the surface.
Rinse and wipe the sink dry with a clean soft cloth after each use to eliminate water spots, stubborn stains, soap film build-up.
A solution of 50 percent bleach and water can be used to treat tough or stubborn stains. Let the solution sit in the bottom of the sink for one hour, then scrub and rinse well.
Do not use abrasive cleaning agents, steel wool or scouring pads.
NEVER use straight bleach, ammonia or caustic soda solutions.
NEVER use drain cleaning chemicals when the sink is filled with water.
To protect the bottom of the sink, purchase a customized sink grid.
Porcelain enamel is a hard, glass-like paint applied in heavy layers and “baked on” under high temperatures. It is used on cast iron, steel and plastic tubs, kitchen sinks, bar sinks and bathroom vanity bowls.
To clean, use a soft cloth or sponge with a mild nonabrasive cleaner.
Purchase a grid for the bottom of the kitchen sink to help minimize scratching.
Do not allow coffee or tea to stand in the bottom of the sink because that could cause stains.
NEVER use abrasive cleaners or scouring pads. This will dull the gloss and eventually wear to the base material.
Never use chlorine bleach or any other type of harsh chemical.
Terrazzo is a highly versatile building material used in flooring, walls, countertops and other indoor and outdoor applications. Terrazzo can be either poured in place or set with precast. It consists of marble, quartz, granite or glass chips combined with either an epoxy or cementitious binder.
Clean stains immediately because they are more difficult to remove the longer they set.
To remove grease, use a solvent such as carbon tetrachloride.
Treat stains with bleaches such as household ammonia, hydrogen peroxide or lemon juices which discolorstains.
Terrazzo does not need protection from wear, it needs protection from absorption and this is achieved through the use of a penetrating sealer.
Cast Iron Sinks
Periodically clean cast iron with a soft abrasive cleaner such as Soft Scrub.
For stubborn stains, use a soft nylon scrubber.
Do NOT use steel wool, metal brushes, scrapers or abrasive sponge pads.
To protect the bottom of your sink and your dishes, invest in a basin rack. They are superior to a rubber mat, which is more likely to be a breeding ground for bacteria.
How can you better use and maintain your sink and other fixtures in your kitchen? Give us a call at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit us either in person or virtually at our showroom located at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.
Many homeowners the Upper Valley want to create dream spaces in their home and welcome guidance on the best way to pay for a home improvement project. There are many options that include:
Paying with cash from savings
Borrow the cash using your home as collateral
Obtain a personal loan which does not require using your home as collateral to obtain financing
Refinance your existing home and use proceeds to make improvements
The financing option for your dream kitchen depends on a number of factors. One is available resources. If you have sufficient savings, that may be the best option, even though interest rates are at near record lows. Many homeowners the Upper Valley consider cashing in investments to pay for their remodels. That works, but recognize there is a tax exposure if you have made money on those investments. If you can make a higher return on your investment than you would pay interest on a loan, financing may make more sense.
Some homeowners the Upper Valley opt for an unsecured home-improvement loan that does not require using your home as collateral to guarantee payment. You most likely will need to have a great credit rating to be eligible for an unsecured loan.
With home values skyrocketing the Upper Valley another popular option is to refinance your entire mortgage and use the appreciation to finance your remodeling projects. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that home values increased 10.8% through the end of the fourth quarter of 2020. Replacing your existing mortgage with a larger one enables you to use the difference to pay for your new kitchen. Most mortgage lenders will require most borrowers to have at least 20 to 25% equity in their homes.
If you don’t have 25% equity in your home to refinace, an option may be a home equity line of credit (Heloc) loan. Fees for Heloc financing range between $3,000 and $4,000 plus the cost of a new title, recording fees and taxes. You need to plan ahead. Heloc loans can take two months or longer to be approved. Also note, that Heloc loans’ interest rates fluctuate. They are better financing options if you don’t plan to own your existing home for a long period of time. If you do, then a fixed rate refi or equity loan may be a better option.
What’s the best option for you to finance the kitchen and bathrooms of your dreams? Speak with a qualified financial advisor that can explain the pros and cons of different financing options. You can also call our showroom at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit us in person or virtually at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH to learn of financing options that many of our clients have used for their home improvement projects.
Now that many homeowners the Upper Valley are spending almost all of their time at home, they want to improve the quality, look and feel of their kitchens, baths and other rooms in their home and many want their newly renovated spaces to allow them the opportunity to age in place with dignity and little effort. There are several key considerations when designing a new kitchen for the long-term using universal design principles. Universal design addresses the needs of anyone regardless of their age, size, ability, mobility or disability. Common features of a universally designed kitchen include:
Pull out shelving in pantries and upper cabinets.
Pull out drawers in lower cabinets.
Rounded edged countertops and open shelves.
Shallower sink depths (6 to 8 inches).
Locate the primary sink next to or across from the cooktop
Countertop microwaves, steam ovens and small appliances used most often.
Standard depth appliances and cabinets.
Organizational systems for cabinets and shelving
Sufficient clearance space between cabinets, walls and appliances that can accommodate a wheel chair even if no one in your home currently requires a wheelchair.
Touch and voice activated faucets and appliances.
Hands-free soap dispensers.
Placing the dishwasher close to the sink.
Natural lighting, under and in-cabinet and drawer lights and smart light systems
Textured flooring to reduce the possibility of slip and fall accidents
Entryways and doors that allow easy access to wheel chairs.
What other features do you need to design a beautiful new dream kitchen that allows you and your family to age in place with dignity and ease? Give us a call at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit our showroom either in person or virtually at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.
A perfect storm has occurred. Never before in the history of our showroom has demand been higher. And we are not unique. Almost every peer in the remodeling business is reporting record or near-record project volume. There are a number of reasons for current conditions. Many homeowners the Upper Valley have been working and schooling from home for more than a year. Many have told us that they are tired of their homes and their homes are tired of them. They want their homes to look, feel and function more effectively.
Second, those in the Upper Valley who have been fortunate to work through the pandemic have more discretionary income that can be earmarked for home improvements. Plus, interest rates remain at near all-time lows. Third, home values are ballooning upward with demand for new homes far exceeding supply. This combination has made many homeowners the Upper Valley realize that they can afford the kitchen or bath of their dreams.
What do current market conditions mean for homeowners who want to undertake a renovation project?
Start your research as early as possible. Determine what will best suit the needs of your family and budget, ranging from simply replacing what currently exists in the same location or undertaking a full-scale renovation that reconfigures and potentially expands the space. Determine the type of cabinets and countertops you want the most. Visit Instagram and Houzz.com among other websites and create your own storyboards with images of kitchens and products that you desire in your new kitchen. The more decisions you can make before visiting a showroom, the better served you will be.
Have realistic expectations. HGTV and other home improvement television shows are wonderful sources of inspiration. They, however, perform an incredible disservice when it comes to timelines and budgets. Most home improvement television shows do not include the cost of labor in their pricing or design, planning and permitting in their time estimates. Pricing and timelines on home improvement television are not realistic during normal times; it’s even worse now.
Don’t be suprised if you are quoted four-to-six-month timelines before your project can start. Be wary of anyone who is able to begin sooner. Even if showrooms could start your project earlier, supply chain issues may prevent them from doing so. You may have read about the freighter that got stuck in the Suez canal for a week and disrupted global commerce. Many manufacturers are producing at maximum capacity. It is not uncommon to receive shipping dates for new cabinets or appliances 12 to 16 weeks from the date of order.
Supply chain backlogs also have affected pricing. The cost of lumber has tripled in the last year. That’s another reason to have realistic expectations and partner with showrooms that you can trust. Check online reviews, obtain references from family and neighbors and ask showrooms for a list of references from their clients who have undertaken projects similar to the one you are considering.
The lessons of these most extraordinary times are:
Start early in the process.
Obtain references and make sure that you trust the showroom that will design the kitchen of your dreams.
Don’t be surprised if your project can’t begin for three to four months from the day you sign a contract.
Trust your showroom professional to assure that you have a realistic budget to achieve your goals.
Remember it might take longer, but the finished product will be more than worth it.
What other tips do you need to successfully plan your dream kitchen or bath? Give us a call at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit our showroom virtually or in-person at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.
With a large percentage of homeowners the Upper Valley spending most of their days at home, demand to make their homes more beautiful and functional is at an all-time high. Master baths are at the top of the list of most desired renovation projects. If you would like to renovate your master bath, consider the following:
How long do you plan to live in your home? Who would be the primary users of the bath? What functionality is most important? What aesthetic do you want to achieve?
Many homeowners the Upper Valley plan to remain in their homes for many years and want improvements that will enable them to age-in-place easily, safely and with dignity. Let your designer know your long-term plans for your home. It will influence both the design and the budget for your project.
Identify the primary users of the bath, their ages and how and how often they use the bath. There are many homeowners who only shower and then there are a large group that can’t live without a tub.
Creating in-home spas for homeowners the Upper Valley is not difficult. A spa-like space that will enable you and other family members to have a few moments all to yourself, devoid of texts, tweets and other interruptions where you can wash away the stresses of the day and recharge your batteries. Both showers and tubs offer hydrotherapies that can relax tired muscles, ease arthritic pains, rejuvenate skin tone, improve respiratory function and generally make you feel better.
If you and your family don’t use the tub, you may want to opt for a multifunctional curbless shower that gives you the ability to create open-floor plan bath that does not require a glass enclosure. The benefits of steam systems have been known for centuries. More recently, light therapy, aroma therapy and hydrotherapy systems provide the wow and technical functionality that make dreams come true.
Smart technologies for the bath can also enhance the overall experience. There are technologically advanced toilets that feature:
Lids that open automatically as users approach
Remote control operation
Personal cleansing/bidet functions
Temperature controlled heated seats
Ability to play music
Seats that automatically close softly (soft close)
Digital assistant connectivity
Smart mirrors and medicine cabinets can feature:
Integrated lighting that eliminates shadows and offers comparable benefits to natural light
Monitor human health and provide notice of problems remotely
Control other fixtures and components in the room or connect to personal digital assistants, smart phones, tablets and other Bluetooth enabled devices
Electrical and smart device charging capabilities
Infinite design options to meet any style preference
Storage is another key component of a bath renovation because a well-designed bath produces an organized bath. Determine how much storage space you want and need by inventorying all items that you want in your bath from towels and robes to cosmetics and hair care products and everything in between.
Function without form can compromise the look and feel of a new bath and your enjoyment of the space. Ask yourself how you want your bath to feel every time you step into your tub or take as shower. The aesthetic tone for most master baths is set by the faucetry selected. Your designer can help you identify faucets, shapes, sizes, color schemes, floor and wall covering that meet reflect your style and the vibe you want in your new master bath.
What will it take to convert your master bath into an in-home spa that will allow you and your family a place to wash away the stresses of the day? Give us a call at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit us virtually or in person at our showroom located at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.