New house …. what could be wrong?

debshababy:

I’m a huge fan of home inspections, even for new houses! You never know, and you’ll want to be fully informed.

Originally posted on All Points Inspection:

Looks great ... right?

Looks great … right?

What an absolutely spectacular steam shower!
A recent client was purchasing a completely furnished home from a builder. When I saw this beautiful shower enclosure with a steam unit/controller located in it, I began to test it. The unit did not function and I initially thought the power had simply been turned off. The multi-function shower valve was flawless and the unit was draining properly. Once fully investigated, I realized that the steam generator wasn’t even present in the basement, nor was the power connected inside the main electrical panel.

This buyer was very pleased to have paid for an inspection when assuming it wasn’t necessary to begin with …(after all, new home….what could possibly be wrong?) His home inspection fee was money well spent since the builder fully supplied a steam generator and labor to make this beautiful shower functional before transfer.

Note to self:…

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Remodeling the Kitchen in Stages

AFTER showing the new fridge and ovens....nice!

AFTER showing the new fridge and ovens….nice!

I used to tell homeowners that they couldn’t remodel their kitchen in stages… but I’ve expanded my view of this option, with caution. Here are 5 possible steps to remodeling over time, keeping in mind that the entire process shouldn’t be dragged out over years of time. Lets make this a 2-3 year plan (at the most!) okay?

1-DO THE PLAN. Most people now understand, through the plethora of homeowners education TV programs, online forums and digital media (along with following their favorite celebrity designer!) that a detailed floor plan and design board can always be accomplished first. This IS the no.1 stage for your kitchen remodel. Get a professional to help you… or simply start with your own journal of notes and decorating samples.

2-BUY YOUR APPLIANCES. Usually a homeowner is “forced into high gear” when one of their appliances breaksdown. You can live with old countertops and cabinets for a while longer, but you can’t operate without your main appliances. Go ahead and purchase the main ones, even if it’s just your fridge that went kaput. Most appliance manufacturers have a better deal when purchasing more than one. Even high-end makers (ie. Subzero and Wolf) have rebates when you purchase more than one. Oh…and don’t stress about which finish to choose. Choose STAINLESS please! or a finish that mimics the stainless look. I just don’t want to see you “outdate” yourself from the start!

Eliminated closet for more kitchen space.

Eliminated closet for more kitchen space.

3-PAINT THE WALLS. I know, I know…normally that’s the last step. But I find that homeowners are energized when they can paint in a fresh, updated color. It helps to finish, at least mentally, what the rest of the kitchen’s colors and patterns will be. It’s a great atmosphere and very inspiring to live for awhile in your kitchen, while saving bucks for the big items.

A great storage option when you order new cabinets!

A great storage option when you order new cabinets!

4-REPLACE CABINETS. Now if you think your existing cabinets are worthy of stone tops, and IF your existing cabinets are less than 6 years old, this 4th step could be my no. 5 stage below. Being logical, if you intend to get a new floor, you really can’t do that until the final stage, simply because it’s most likely going to RAISE your floor to finished ceiling height. So since you have your floor plan done (that was no. 1 above) get some quotes in the finishes and doorstyle that is current, appealing from a design point of view, AND functional. That means the latest closures and drawer systems. Don’t skimp because even very basic “stock” lines of cabinets (ie.Medallion Silverline)offer the latest in hardware and glides. Be looking at flooring at this point …. at least select your main items on your design board.

4.5-ARE YOU KEEPING YOUR EXISTING FLOOR? or replacing it? If you are going to keep a wood floor, for example, set up an appointment with a flooring refinisher that can do this AFTER step 5. If you need new flooring, specify the height, and make sure to shim the cabinet installation accordingly …. then you’ll be able to put the flooring in last, since your main appliances sit on top of it.

5-NEW COUNTERTOPS & SINK (possibly faucet unless you can safely reuse your existing). Please don’t do this step on old, outdated cabinetry. There’s no temporary approach for great surfaces on great looking cabinets. You’ll need to get the plumbing updated at this stage, since your new sink will mostly likely be undermounted and drain location may change slightly. NOTE TO HOMEOWNER: please don’t purchase laminate tops as you will outdate yourself immediately, and eliminate much of the value of the kitchen remodel, okay? I write this from my 20 years of experience…

Stay tuned for my 2014 Favorite Kitchen Products, and a closer look at the new lighting available.

Call me for help in setting up your kitchen remodel budget.

I know what things cost these days :)

Deb S.

Lighting Up The Kitchen

Here’s the latest on lights for your kitchen.

Don’t hesitate to use LED lighting as you update your home’s lighting, especially in the kitchen. I am always pleasantly surprised how rooms are beautifully illuminated. (and you won’t need to keep changing out the bulbs!)

5 Kitchen Styles – You Decide!

DSC_1138

Continuous hardwood flooring (showing hickory species in photo) can blend rooms, making the space appear larger and open.

Continuous hardwood flooring (showing hickory species in photo) can blend rooms, making the space appear larger and open.

Candice Olsen, Divine Design

An extraordinary kitchen of “contrasts” designed by Candice Olsen

TRANSITIONAL STYLE – This is simple really. Don’t throw away all your things …. mixing the old with the new and creating a cleaner-looking kitchen with more storage is the trick to creating this look in your kitchen. For example, even if you will keep your appliances and flooring, try to select a cabinet style with simple lines and upgrade your countertops to a one-color quartz. You might want to take that old closet out and replace it with tall pantry cabinets to organize better.
RUSTIC AMERICAN STYLE – We used to call this “Tuscan” but here in the states we are really into re-purposing materials! So for a really interesting, laid back and casual approach to this kitchen style, I enjoy searching for old barn posts, or using the vintage details in an old century house to gain tremendous texture and aura. A honed slab of granite or a rugged 2-inch thick piece of limestone, soapstone, or wood can be used for countertops. Slate, distressed hardwood, or textured porcelain large tiles are great for the kitchen floor. By all means, go to the flea markets or small stores that sell vintage accessories. In my area, I recommend a resale shoppe called “Life Is Sweet”. Here’s their Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Lifeissweetinhudson
NEW AMERICAN COUNTRY – Your life will reflect this timeless style. A long time ago, we used words like colonial, or Georgian, or early American, but life in casual America has never changed really. However, now I need to plan for more modern appliances and a place to charge those techy devices and cell phones! Using colorful fabrics at the kitchen windows and on the barstools has never been more fashionable…..AND we always seem to dine-in the kitchen with this all American style of stained cabinetry (cherry is nice) and granite surfaces and hardwood floors in maple or oak or hickory and cherry. Because the kitchen is “open” to other rooms, all your collectibles can be displayed as well as kids artwork and family photos. The backsplash can be small mosaics or larger subway tiles and adding color to the walls is always in style.
EUROPEAN CONTEMPORARY – Nevermind that it’s clean … and sharp … and high-tech, this look can be designed in several cabinet finishes and surfaces. There are however two ways to go with color. If I was ever to design a city high-rise loft kitchen and it had a window with a gorgeous skyline view somewhere, I’d probably want to stay with neutral colors on the big items and specify a couple spectacular light pendants to mimic the lights in the city. But if a family wanted to have that magazine picture pizazz, why not eliminate some of the upper wall cabinets and display art on open shelves or hide the big appliances such as purchasing “Refrigerator Columns” by Sub-zero. There are so many choices for a modern style.
CLASSIC TRADITIONAL – If you need to remodel your kitchen in a timeless tradional style, this is a great look that’s “safe” even for when you go to sell your home in a few years. White painted cabinets with a possible stained or color-painted island works, as well as stainless appliances and granite with movement and pattern. Small lamps on the counter’s corner and accessories such as decorative storage jars and beautiful serving bowls with colorful placements can jazz up this look as well as a modern runner rug for in front of the kitchen sink. The new gray neutrals also work well (and yes, beige goes with gray!) See Abby M Interiors blog about this style: http://www.abbyminteriorsblog.com/2014/02/designer-favorite-granite-for-your.html

White Kitchens

white kitchen cabinets

White… is it a color? The clean and neutral color of white is a safe choice for kitchen cabinetry, especially if you are remodeling your kitchen. Here are 5  quick reasons to select white finishes for your cabinets.

1- Existing or new appliances always blend. That’s good design.

2- Showcasing stone countertops, such as quartz or granite with movement will be amazingly beautiful with a perimeter of white.

3- There is a safety factor with remodeling in neutral cabinet finishes, especially white since it’s never trendy and may appeal to a future home buyer.

4- There are many options including MDF material for cabinet doors that can be painted white, or wood like maple that can be painted white as well as Thermofoil white which is a safe, wipe-able white that will not move around with humidity level changes.

5- Bold accent colors can be used in multiple places in or around your kitchen. I am loving the new pops of yellow and purple against white and stainless steel for 2014.

Crazy for Granite

Granite island and perimeter surfaces

Granite island and perimeter surfaces

Frequent questions:
Q: How do I select the type of stone or granite that’s best for my kitchen?
A: Each and every natural stone has very unique characteristics. Maintaining your choice of granite could be the key. If you have a busy house with many people using the kitchen, I would steer you away from really dark stone. Every smudge, waterspot and crumb will show up on a dark surface and constant maintenance would need to happen. There are also gorgeous granite slabs that simply have more natural fissures, and that could also be an issue for certain applications.

Q: Why are some granites much more expensive than others?
A: Prices of granite are based on its’ availability. If it is a rare color, the price is always higher. More common granites have actually come down in cost.

Q: Are more expensive granites better?
A: The price of granite depends on the capacity of the quarry and the quarry’s production volume. So the higher the production, the less expensive the cost.

Q: Will I see seams?
A: Yes, unless you have an island that is one level, less than 9.5 ft. long and less than 3 ft. deep. The common standard in the natural stone industry is a seam width of 1/16 inch.

Q: Can I cut on my granite countertop?
A: My personal opinion is that you should always use a cutting board, although the industry rates the hardness of granite between 6-9 (10 being the hardest) and therefore is very resistant to scratching. A kitchen knife ranks at 5.5 and so I always tell homeowners the knife will get dull really quickly if they cut directly  on the granite top.

Q: Will granite stain?
A: Most granites are resin treated at the quarry. When hiring a fabricator for your granite, make sure they include sealing the granite. I’ve rarely seen a stone that stains …. if it does, it can be removed. You can always check with a qualified stone fabricator for more information.

Enjoy your granite tops …. it’s a great investment, and you’ll enjoy the beauty excellent function of natural stone. By all means, include natural stone in your kitchen remodel.

Deb.