Universal Design can help you stay in your home longer

photo credit - Chief Architect

photo credit – Chief Architect – Better Homes & Garden

Did you know that simple little things like fewer steps, wider doors, lower heights of counters, lower thresholds can all help in some ways to allow an older person to live in their home longer. This is all a part of Universal Design, a design principle that is taking the construction world by storm, since it is no longer an issue that is only for older people, but rather a design principle that applies to all ages.

In today’s world, our population is aging. Many contractors today remodel homes for older clients by adding things such as wider doorways and hallways in the kitchens and bathrooms to make these areas more accessible.

One successful Universal Design Contractor, Mark Miller, of Mack Miller design+build in the Twin Cities tries to incorporate accessible design in all of his projects. He states the following:

I propose curbless showers for all my bathroom bids.  The greatest satisfaction for me are the accessible projects that change the family’s quality of life.  Yes, a total home remodel for a typical client change the look and feel and often the functionality of a home for the family, rarely is it life changing the way an accessible bathroom or an elevator is for someone with accessibility issues.

The best part of this is that a creative and skilled contractor and designer can bridge universal design with almost any remodel project.  There is no reason that Universal Design or Aging in Place design need to look outdated and boring. Since you will have a blank canvas and typically larger spaces due to creating this access, you can get creative and your creative talents.

You have so many options when it comes to making a kitchen more functional and universal design friendly instead of sterile and institutional looking. Start with designing an open floor plan that will work for the entire family and one that can work well for someone in a wheelchair to move around in the room confortably.

 

photo credit - Chief Architect

photo credit – Chief Architect – Better Homes & Garden

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Why Plantation Shutters Make a Great Investment For Your Home

 

Horizon plantation shutters

photo credit: Horizon plantation shutters

Are you considering window treatments for your home?  Do you want window treatments that will make your interior setting look amazing?  Consider taking a closer look at Plantation Shutters, which are a timeless type of window treatment.

Plantation shutters can enhance the value of your home and come in a wide variety of slat sizes, lengths and widths.  You can get plantation shutters in a varying sizes including 2 inch, 3 inch, 4 i nch, 5 inch or 6 inch slats.  You can even have them designed into unique shapes and patterns. When you install plantation shutters in your home, you get an immediate ultra custom look in your home that will be timeless for years to come.

One of the best thing about plantation shutters is that they work well with any type of interior or design. Whether you are going for a traditional look, transitional look or modern look and feel, plantation shutters will complement your decor and give your home that added sense of luxury and style.

If you are looking for options with your window treatments, plantation shutters can be your window’s best friend. Shutters designed with a divider rail or in the double hung fashion are a popular choice in bathrooms. They allow for closure of the bottom louvers for privacy while the top louvers can be left opened for a view and light. You can’t get this type of function with other window treatments such as sheers,  drapes or faux or wood blinds.

Ohair plantation shutters

photo credit – Ohair Shutters

French Doors, Sliding glass doors and large windows are not a problem with plantation shutters. You can have shutters made to order to accommodate a large door or window and the shutters can slide open from side to side. This look really does wonders for a room. You can have a combination of sliding and hinged designs that can provide a nice amount of privacy without cluttering your space.

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Simple and Easy Ways to Green Your Home

how-to green your-home

photo credit: make your home energy efficient

Several Homeowners are staying in their current home or choosing to buy an existing home, instead of the headaches of building a new home from the ground up.

The reasons vary, but sometimes a location or the rich history or the architecture of an older home is seductive and enchanting. Homeowners that are environmentally-conscious, choose to purchase an existing homes because they are not using additional land resources to construct the new home. This is a great way to protect the environment, by using existing resources.

There are several ways that a homeowner can make their home more Green and achieve LEED-Home certification. A simple easy ways to make your home more green are listed below:

  1. Insulate your home. Have your insulation in the walls, attic and basement inspected and make adjustments. Many  older homes have insufficient insulation and adequate insulation can have a tremendous impact on your power and heating bills.
  2.  Choose solar. Solar panels can often be installed on your roof and can reduce electric bills drastically while saving
    resources.
  3.  Install Environmental friendly Flooring. Bamboo flooring is becoming quite popular because the plant grows so quickly it is one of the most sustainable flooring materials in the world.
  4.  Install Energy efficient appliances.  Energy Star-qualified appliances use 10%-50% less energy and water than standard models. According to the Energy Star site, if just one in 10 homes used energy-efficient appliances, it would be equivalent to planting 1.7 million new acres of trees.
  5.  Control the temperature in your home. Almost half a home’s energy consumption is due to heating and cooling. If you turn down the thermostat in cold weather and turn up the thermostat  in warm weather, you will save you energy and money
  6.  Conserve and Save water. You can buy water saving toilets. But, you don’t need a new products to save water — Simple things like using a broom to clean a driveway, instead of water or turning off the water when brushing your teeth can help save gallons of water.
  7.  Use energy-efficient light. LED light bulbs use less energy than a standard incandescent bulb and last up to 10 times longer. Replacing a 100-watt incandescent bulb with an LED bulb can save dollars and energy use over the life of the bulb.
  8.  Use Environmental Friendly paint. Using Low VOC (volatile organic compounds and zero VOC paint, helps with improving indoor air quality problems and other negative health effects that can be caused by traditional paints. According to the EPA, there are unhealthy ingredients are released into the air while you’re painting, while the paint dries, when you use certain traditional paints.

The best part of all of these tactics is that they will increase the comfort and value of your home while you go Green!

Click on the following to read more:

The 10 easiest ways to green your home – MSN

How Low-VOC Paint Works – How Stuff Works

How Green is your home – Make Your Home Energy Efficient -

The Seven Principles of Universal Design and Why They Matter

photo credit: Delta

photo credit: Delta

Universal Design has been around since the late 1990’s. Thanks to the prolific nationally renowned Architect, Ronald L. Mace and several other forward thinking architects, engineers, and designers, we have what is known as the Several Principles of Universal Design.

This is a topic that is very interesting and has a lot of discussions in the design community.  If you are remodeling your home or are responsible for the remodel of a home, you may want to take a look at how to incorporate these principles into your design.

One of the leading resources in this area is the Ronald L. Mace Universal Design Institute, based in North Carolina. The Ronald L. Mace Universal Design Institute is  dedicated to promoting the concept and practice of accessible and universal design.

One of the fundamental guiding principles of the Ronald L. Mace Universal Design Institute is that all new environments and products, should and can be usable by everyone regardless of age, ability, or circumstance.

1. Equitable use: The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.

  • Provide the same means of use for all users.
  • Provisions for privacy, security, and safety should be equally available to all users.
  • Make the design appealing to all users.

2. Flexibility in use: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.

  • Provide choice in methods of use.
  • Facilitate the user’s accuracy and precision.
  • Provide adaptability to the user’s pace.

3. Simple and intuitive: Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language
skills, or current concentration level.

  • Eliminate unnecessary complexity.
  • Be consistent with user expectations.
  • Accommodate a wide range of literacy and language skills.

4. Perceptible Information: The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of
ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.

  • Use different modes (pictorial, oral, tactile) for redundant presentation of essential information.
  • Provide adequate contrast be­tween essential information and its surroundings.
  • Differentiate elements in ways that can be described.

5. Tolerance for error: The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.

  • Arrange elements to minimize hazards and errors: most-used elements, most accessible; hazardous elements eliminated or shielded.
  • Provide warnings of hazards/errors.
  • Provide fail-safe features.

6. Low physical effort: The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.

  • Allow user to maintain a neutral body position.
  • Use reasonable operating forces.
  • Minimize sustained physical effort.

7. Size and space for approach and use: Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and
use regardless of user’s body size, posture, or mobility.

  • Provide a clear line of sight to important elements for any seated or standing user.
  • Make reach to all components comfortable for any seated or standing user.
  • Provide adequate space for the use of assistive devices or personal assistance.

Click  on the following Links to read more on the Seven Principles of Universal Design:

 

7 Tenets of Universal Design From the R.L. Mace Universal Design Institute - Remodeling – HW.Net

RL Mace Universal Design Institute -

Aging In Place At Home -

 

Color Options for Granite Countertops

Granite countertop colors

Granite Countertop colors

Selecting Your Granite Countertop: Are you considering granite for your kitchen countertop or bathroom vanity?  If so, you have a lot of choices to choose from.

The Natural Beauty of Granite Colors: Since granite is a natural beauty, all granite slabs will have some variation from another granite slab. This helps make your selected granite countertop unique. It is wonderful helping a client go to a granite slab yard for making a selection for a kitchen countertop.

Elements that Make Up the Color In Granite: It is important to realize that granite is comprised of several elements that give it the illustrious color: quartz, feldspar and Mica. The color of granite depends on the kind and coloring of feldspars which are usually grey (from light – to dark grey) with different tints, pink, orange, red, blue-grey, sometimes blue-green.

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Kitchen Design: Task Lighting for All Spaces

Under Cabinet Lighting

Under Cabinet Lighting

Did you know that proper lighting can make or break the look and feel of a space? Task lighting doesn’t simply refer to a desk or work surface. Kitchens, craft areas, closets and other areas benefit from the proper task lighting. It is wonderful how the lighting industry continues to innovate, offering low watt lights that save on energy and reduce heat.

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Choosing the perfect gray for your decor

 

4 grays

 

If you are like most homeowners, you read the memo that gray is the hottest color to use in your home decor.  That is, if you want your home to look modern and unmistakeably contemporary. Now that the easy part is over, the real challenge comes into play, how to select that perfect gray for your home. If I could bottle up this secret, I tell you, I would make a fortune.

The key to finding that perfect gray that works for you, is by visually looking at what you want in the space where you are putting the color. Are you looking for a cool color?  Are you looking for a warm color? Will this color be used as an accent color or will this gray color be used on all of the walls? Believe it or not, this makes a big difference. Do you want a gray with a beige undertone, blue undertone, green undertone, purple undertone?  All of these decisions will need to be made before you settle on your perfect gray color. [Read more...]

Essentials for Designing a Functional and Chic Built-in Wardrobe Closet

Custom-Closet with Island
Do you have this spare space in your house that’s just begging to be utilized?

Transform it into a custom designed, functional and stylish built-in wardrobe closet! Get your planning and styling off to a good start by keeping the following essentials in mind.

PLANNING BASICS

Consider your needs

• Prior to finalizing the design you have in mind, you need to take into account two very vital elements: your storage needs and the pieces you will be storing. Other considerations should include the ‘long hang’ versus the ‘short hang’ ratio.

• If you want to incorporate designated spaces for your bags, footwear, suitcases and sports gear in your design, it is advisable to have it noted down so you can factor it in your final layout.

Make room for ventilation

• If you will be utilizing a converted space, it is advisable to take advantage of natural ventilation. However, keep in mind that letting too much sunlight in can also be counterproductive as it can degrade fabric and fade colors.

• If there’s no window, at the very least, make it a point to ensure there is good air circulation. You can look into installing cooling vents to ensure odor and moisture are regulated. Setting up exhaust fans like the ones commonly used in bathrooms will also work wonders.

Prioritize proper lighting

• Closets making use of natural light is oftentimes rare. However, proper lighting is very important if you wouldn’t want choosing your outfit to turn into a guessing game of sorts.

• If making use of natural light is not feasible, recessed and surface-mounted lighting fixtures are handy options you can look into. Exposed light bulbs on the other hand are considered a no-no. Other lighting alternatives available at your disposal include incandescent, fluorescent and LED bulbs. [Read more...]

Palm Aire – Custom Wainscoting and Crown Molding Project

wainscot web

I am so delighted to share a new completed a very creative custom wainscot and crown molding project.  We used a more modern approach which is more of a shaker style wainscot, instead of the traditional version with the ridges. This creative project was for a condo located in Palm Aire – Pompano Beach Florida.

Look for a more in-depth blog post covering specific details of our “Modern – Shaker Style” Wainscot project in a future blog post.  I just had to share the pics with you now, because I love how this modern Wainscot project turned out so much. I had the opportunity to work with a couple of amazing clients and an amazing team on the execution of the project. They did such an amazing job on this custom “Shaker Style” Wainscoting project, that I literally gush, every time that I look at my pictures. I am over the moon with joy, when I am actually in the room, because it looks so amazing. I feel that I can gush over it, since it really was the collaborative work with my team and clients that were very open on ideas of creativity.

I have always been very candid with clients about how paint and the right crown molding and base molding can transform a room. It is even more amazing to see how magnificent a well executed wainscot project with the right colors, can enhance a room and make it look stunning.

In this particular Palm Aire custom wainscot and crown molding project, the high ceilings really helped pull the look off brilliantly.

The owners wanted to have something that was unique for their Florida home, so they worked with our team on concept ideas that included adding wainscot to the living room walls with a custom shelf so they could place cool decorative artwork. Our directive was to come up with wainscot that integrated rectangular boxes into the design to give the wainscot added pizazz. I have often seen concepts in magazines, so it was exciting to actually be involved with the creation of a custom wainscot wall design.

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Find Your Room’s Color Personality – use color to dramatically change a room

three dramatic color palette

photo credit Lowes

We have all heard that  a gallon of paint can change the look and feel of a room.  Did you know that it can change the room’s personality, also?  You must be wondering what personality are we talking about the homeowner or the room.  Since every room has it’s own unique style and feel, it also stands to reason that a room also has it’s very own personality.

I work with clients all the time in trying to choose a paint color for a room or entire home. It can be a daunting task.  The first question to answer is what message are you trying to convey with this room?

There are a host of Paint choices to choose from: Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, Martha Stewart, Behr, Valspar and a host of other well known brands.

Recently I came across an article on Lowes.com that brilliantly showcased three distinctly different looks for one room.  This was achieved by a room visualizer and some very creative people.  How do you decide what paint to use on your walls to really make them pop?  Take a look at the three distinctly designed rooms , that happen to be the same room. [Read more...]