Remodeling is about transforming your house into the beautiful, custom home that suits you and your family’s needs perfectly. With every renovation or home improvement, you’re bringing your house a little closer to your ultimate goals.
Kitchen renovations are a great first step towards owning a house you really love. Creating warm, inviting spaces in the rooms that you use the most is sure to have an impact on your home as a whole, and a great approach to effecting the most change with the least space.
At NR Renovations we’re happy to take your kitchen renovations from the drawing board through completion. From brainstorming and developing great ideas, through changing the layout, flooring, counter-tops and more in your kitchen, all the way through completing the final details, we’ve got you covered. Even if you’re not sure what direction you’d like to take with your new kitchen, we’re glad to help you begin thinking and planning.
Kitchen reno tips
Renovating your kitchen will add ease to your lifestyle and value to your home. Here are the 10 most important things to consider when you’re updating your kitchen.
Use quality materials.
Top-quality drawer slides and hinges mean cabinet doors will stay closed and drawers won’t stick. Stay away from drawers that are stapled together or made of particleboard. For cabinet interiors, wood veneer is more durable than melamine, laminate, MDF or particleboard.
Determine cabinet heights.
If you have eight-foot ceilings, choose cabinets that go to the ceiling. They offer more storage, enabling you to use extra wall space for artwork or open shelves. If your ceilings are higher than eight feet, leave 15 to 18 inches above the cabinets.
Decide whether to paint or stain.
Though stained-wood cabinetry is forgiving, most finishes date quickly and aren’t easily altered. Brush-painted cabinets can lend a unique personality.
Select an elegant countertop.
White Carrara marble (honed or acid washed and sealed) and stained wood add elegance and warmth. We also like honed Kirkstone slate, soapstone and Wiarton limestone, and plastic laminate with a wood edge for a sophisticated look.
Install an island that works.
Beware of placing a bulky cube in the middle of the room. We like islands that have an open, airy look. Ideally, an island should be unencumbered by appliances, but if you want it to house a dishwasher-sink combo or a cooktop, try to maintain the light look of a leggy harvest table.
Don’t overdo the details.
Design accents such as pediments over stoves and plaster mouldings on cabinet fronts can represent decorative excess. Remember that the style of your kitchen should be compatible with the rest of your home.
Avoid maintenance nightmares.
Natural surfaces with inherent texture — slate, terra-cotta, brick and tumbled marble — are more difficult to clean but camouflage the odd crumb. Smooth surfaces in light colours, such as white laminate counters or ceramic floors, are easy to clean but show everything. And as much as we love stainless steel, it’s not easy to keep smudge-free.
Stick to basic appliances.
Instead of lots of appliances and gadgets, consider selecting a few reliable basics. For example, a commercial-quality stainless-steel range makes an interesting focal point and takes up less space than separate wall ovens and a cooktop.
Incorporate an adjacent dining room.
A clever design, plus the appropriate lighting and furniture, will let you adapt the room’s atmosphere to suit any occasion. Consider a banquette design combined with slipcovered chairs for an efficient use of space.
Your kitchen should reflect you, not look like a showroom. Before designing the space, search for a piece of unique furniture and use it in your design — a room full of floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall kitchen cabinets looks boring and uninspired.
Bathroom reno tips
An effective bathroom design should address all your needs, physical and spiritual. Here are the most important tips to consider when considering bathroom renovations.
Choose elegant fixtures.
A pedestal sink with graceful lines is more attractive than a blocky cabinet vanity. A classic claw-foot tub is like bathroom sculpture. Even enclosed in a deck, the simple lines of the lip have an inherent beauty that surpasses most acrylic versions.
Sit in a bathtub before buying it.
Bigger isn’t always better. A 60-inch tub is fine for most people. It offers enough room to stretch out and provides a secure foothold, so you don’t float into oblivion when the tub is full. Assess the angled back and lip for comfort and neck support –- a tub for two people slants at either end and has taps in the middle. If you only have enough space for a small tub, buy an extra-deep one.
Select durable flooring.
Ceramic, marble and stone tiles are all excellent durable and water-resistant choices for a bathroom. Subfloor heating coils will make these hard surfaces warm. Well-sealed hardwood floors offer natural warmth and act as a foil for the other hard, cold surfaces in a bathroom.
Hang a stylish mirror.
One beautifully framed mirror over a sink is more attractive than many surfaces covered with mirror. Supplement it with a wall-mounted adjustable makeup mirror, and consider installing a lighted, mirrored shaving niche in your shower stall.
Use found space.
Take advantage of space between wall studs by recessing a tall storage cabinet into the wall to maximize vertical storage while saving floor space. The cabinet should have an interior depth of at least three inches and a door flush with the wall.
Build a shower area.
Consider building an open-concept shower area that doesn’t need a curtain or door and is less confining than a standard shower stall. In addition to well-designed drainage, a ceiling-mounted rain showerhead and/or a high wall-mounted showerhead that splashes less water will keep the area outside the shower drier.
Share space for added function.
In homes with back-to-back bathrooms, a shared shower with access doors to each of the bathrooms maximizes limited space. Or turn a closet located next to a bathroom into a small ensuite with access to the neighbouring bath.
Design lighting that works.
Good lighting is imperative. Combine halogen pot lights with wall sconces beside or over the mirror for lighting with no shadows. Always install dimmers.
Buy a quality toilet.
When buying a toilet, it’s not necessary for you to spend big bucks, but you don’t want to scrimp too much, either. You can get a good-quality one-piece toilet for about $400. Models with elongated bowls and seats are usually most comfortable.
Incorporate luxury into your room.
If you’re fortunate enough to have lots of space to work with, indulge yourself with an expanded spa-like bathroom that includes a dressing room –- a haven for privacy and relaxation. Outfit it with a television, fireplace, exercise equipment, makeup vanity and even a large comfortable occasional chair upholstered in thick white terry-cloth.
When you think of finished basements, you probably think of a room that isn’t finished to the standards of the rooms upstairs. This doesn’t need to be the case. The challenge of creating an inviting and beautiful space is greater in the basement, where the systems and infrastructure of your house need to be concealed tastefully.
A finished basement definitely adds value to your home, but be sure to check with your insurance agent. Some finished basements may not be insured — and don’t expect a bedroom there to count in the total of bedrooms when you sell the house
Basement reno tips
Plumbing. If you want to add a bathroom in the basement, find your soil stack and see whether the main drain for the house goes underground or runs aboveground. If it runs underground, as long as you put the new bathroom near it, plumbing shouldn’t be much more difficult than upstairs.
If it runs aboveground, you will most likely need a grinder and a pump — like those made by Saniflo. Water runs down via gravity, so if you want it to go back up after you flush, it takes special equipment.
Natural light is often in short supply in a basement. Also, many building codes require a second way to exit the basement if the space is going to be finished. Get more light and satisfy code requirements by installing an egress window and window well. An egress window is big enough for a person to exit through it, and the well allows more light into your basement. To avoid water problems, have a drain installed at the bottom of the well.
There are always pipes, ducts and wires to conceal. This usually means dropping the ceiling height in certain areas.
Try to consolidate the obstructions to one area and then create a space with a lower ceiling. Continue the dropped ceiling to the walls for a natural transition. Boxing in pipes and ducts with soffits and chases tells people that there’s something hidden.
Of course, the other thing that makes a basement look like it belongs upstairs is the use of drywall. You’ll need to place access panels where shutoffs, junction boxes or meters are. Make sure to install the drywall ½ inch off the ground and use moisture-resistant drywall. All basements flood eventually, and this will help.
Fiberglass-faced drywall is even better than paper-faced drywall, because it’s the paper that harbors mold. Be prepared to pay extra for finishing the fiberglass drywall, because the whole face should be skim coated with joint compound.
Finished basements traditionally had ceiling tiles in a grid rather than a drywall ceiling. Most people don’t like this look, so we’re seeing more and more drywall ceilings. If you want easy access to the space above the basement ceiling but want a more interesting look, consider sculptural ceiling tiles from Mio.
Because a basement is below the bathrooms, kitchen and other sources of water in the house, when a basement floods it often comes through the ceiling. If you have a drywall ceiling, you’ll need to cut out a section and repair it. If you have ceiling tiles it may be as simple as replacing a tile or two.
Think about how you plan to use your finished basement. If you want to exercise down there, you may need more headroom. Lift your arms overhead. Some folks need an 8-foot ceiling to do that. Will you be standing on a treadmill? Add the height off the floor to your height. If you’re actually going to run on the treadmill instead of posing for fake exercise Facebook photos, you’ll need even more room since you’ll bounce up as you run. Often the height just isn’t there.
This problem can be solved in two different ways for. You could cut out the floor joists in that area and hang them from structural headers. Then add steel angles to support the floor. Ideally this area should be located under an area upstairs that doesn’t get a lot of traffic, such as under a coffee table.
In some cases it makes more sense to go down. Dig a hole in the ground 12 inches down, poured a new slab at the lower level and pour little walls with a curb surround so the hole wouldn’t fill with water if the basement got wet. Lowered into the hole, the treadmill is flush with the surrounding floor.
We keep coming back to flooding, but it will happen, so plan ahead. If you don’t have a system in place to deal with the water, choose a flooring material that can handle getting wet, such as tile. If you don’t have a floor drain, get one installed. It’s best to get a drain that ties into the storm drain directly or that drains into a pit with a sump pump in it. If you pay for these systems up front, you won’t be paying to replace furniture, rugs and appliances later.
The most critical component to making a basement a place people want to hang out is good lighting. A tray ceiling in the middle can be surrounded by lower areas that can conceal ductwork and piping. It also gives the builder a spot to install indirect lighting. Because the ceilings in a basement are usually lower than elsewhere in the house, light reflecting up off the ceiling is better than light directed down.
If you plan to use recessed lighting in your low ceilings, think of the cone of light that spreads from a recessed light. The closer it is to the floor, the closer you’ll need to space the lights to get good coverage. Good lighting design makes a big difference, so hire a professional lighting designer. A variety of lighting types is important so the space can accommodate different uses and moods.
There are many options now for energy-efficient lighting, so don’t avoid LEDs and CFLs because you think they’ll cast an unflattering light. Everything from cool to warm light is available in all types.
Lingo to know:
- Joists: Structural lumber that supports the decking and runs from beam to beam or house to beam
- Beams: Larger pieces of wood or steel that support the joists
- Footing: A concrete pier that supports the deck posts. Make sure the footing is below the frost line in your area so it won’t move when the ground freezes.
- Grade: Ground level
Deck reno tips
How Big ?
How big should you make your deck? Consider what you’ll use your deck for and size it to fit your needs. No decking material is completely maintenance free, so making a deck too big will mean spending time maintaining space you don’t use.
Don’t forget the space under your deck, either. Depending on how elevated the deck is, the space underneath can serve as storage. Or, if you include a product such as Underdeck in your planning, it can be a shady space protected from the rain.
The size of the deck also has structural implications. Your architect, engineer or contractor should size the beams, joists and pier footings so that the deck not only meets structural requirements but also feels stable to the people on it. The higher people are off the ground, the less comfortable they will be with the deck moving underfoot.
Also, keep in mind that in addition to increasing the cost of decking materials and labor, adding square footage will increase the number of concrete footings to dig and pour. Oversizing the deck by two feet in one direction may mean an additional row of footings. Discuss the structural implications with your designer so you can get the deck that is the right size for your family at the price that’s easiest on your pocketbook.
How will you access the deck? The more difficult it is to get to your deck, the less use you’ll get out of it. A sliding door can be left open if there’s a screen panel in place to keep the bugs out. If your plan calls for patio doors that swing outward, check the bug screen options before you commit. Rolling screens are an option, as are panels that flap down in place like curtains with a magnet to keep them together.
Stairs can connect an elevated deck to the yard below, but keep in mind that they also provide intruders with access to your second floor, making locks and alarm sensors necessary in places they may not have been before.
What deck material is best for you? If your deck is to be built at grade or on top of a roof, think about whether you will need access to the space below the deck in the future. If building over a roof or patio with a slight pitch, adjustable deck supports can make leveling the deck much easier.
Composite decking, made of a wood and plastic blend, has become popular over the last decade. Although it does not require periodic sanding or sealing as wood does, it is not maintenance free. Mold and mildew can form on it depending on the conditions surrounding the deck, so be prepared to scrub your deck several times a year.
Only certain species of wood hold up well as a decking material. Cedar and redwood have a natural resistance to the elements. Pressure-treated decking is a soft wood that has been treated with chemicals to make it weather resistant. The arsenic that was used in the past is no longer used, but if you are looking for a chemical-free deck surface, avoid pressure-treated decking. There are alternatives, but the structure of most decks will be built with pressure-treated lumber.
Although wood decking can be left to weather, some people don’t want a gray deck and choose to stain and seal the wood. This prolongs the life of the deck and gives you many color options. Depending on the exposure, staining will need to be redone every two to five years.
What safety features will you need? Unless your deck is built at grade level, you will need to have a railing. There are a few measurements to keep in mind. Limit the space between balusters or horizontal slats to less than 4 inches. This is required by code. Most building codes will allow a railing height to be anywhere from 36 to 42 inches, but keep in mind that a 36-inch-high railing tends to encourage people to hop up and use it as a seat, which defeats the purpose.
In addition to railings made of wood or composite materials to match your deck, glass panels, stainless steel cables and welded metal railings are also popular choices. If you decide on a composite railing to go with your composite deck, see if the distributor of your decking sells a railing kit. The components make it easy to put together an attractive railing.
No matter which railing you choose, make sure it is tied to the structure below and is strong enough to keep everyone on the deck. Steel brackets that bolt the railing posts to the deck joists and beams are usually the best.