How to Remodel Your Fireplace

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The fireplace is often the most commanding element in any room it’s in. Size and abundance of material are often factors, but as renovation specialist Ron Parko points out, our eyes are naturally drawn to the darkest object in a room anyway. Oftentimes, that’s the firebox when it’s unlit. 

Naturally you want this element, and everything that surrounds it, to complement the rest of your home. In many older homes where large brick fireplaces prevail, this can pose a challenge. What do you do? Cover it, paint it, rip it out? Here’s what to consider. 

Project: Remodeling a fireplace wall.

Why: Replacing a fireplace wall is mostly an aesthetic choice, but besides pleasing you now, an updated fireplace can also can add resale value. 

Who to hire: Someone with plenty of experience remodeling fireplaces is recommended if the job is more than just drywalling or plastering. Someone like Rita Henry, will consult with clients through email and provide renderings and design plans so they can hire a local general contractor to do the actual work. 

Brick fireplaces are the most popular to replace. Henry says a quick and easy solution is to simply wrap the brick in either tile or wood, leaving the exposed brick for the firebox. “It’s a more updated look that’s one of the least expensive,” she says. And that way the brick will remain beneath the new material in case a future home buyer prefers brick. 

For the brick fireplace shown here, she wrapped the whole thing in tile. 

AFTER: The stone tile runs wall to wall, creating a dramatic look. It completely changed the tone of the living room in this Denver home

You could also choose to drywall or plaster over the brick, creating a blank canvas that you can then do pretty much anything you want with.
 

Painting is also an option. While Henry doesn’t prefer the look of painted brick, it’s a relatively inexpensive update that can easily be changed. 

For this project Henry ripped out all the existing elements, flattened the niche and cleaned up the wall. 

AFTER: A new mantel and built-ins transformed the space. Henry says an upgrade on this scale could be done for around $3,000.

Length of project: A standard drywall installation with mantel and surround can be completed in two days. A custom mantel or more extensive ductwork or electrical installation can take five or six weeks. 

For this 1950s fireplace, renovation specialist Ron Parko’s client wanted to add bookcases and extend the hearth to each wall.  

AFTER: Because the fireplace is off center, Parko tried to mask it while also extending it out. Raising the elevation made it dominant, while photos and accessories help distract the eye from the imbalance. 

Cost: Drywalling over a brick fireplace could run about $1,500. Parko says a 6-foot-wide floor-to-ceiling paint-grade oak or poplar fireplace with a tiled hearth could run around $2,000. Wrapping an entire fireplace wall in stone and adding a custom mantel could run around $9,000. The most expensive remodel Parko did was for $12,000, which included bookcases, hidden drawers and a mantel leg that concealed a shotgun. 

Permit needed: Only if you’re altering the firebox, adding a wood burner or converting to gas.

Best time of year to do this project: This is a year-round project, but if you’re considering adding hardwood to a room or doing anything to the walls, including painting, it’s best to do the fireplace first. 

8 Ideas for High-Functioning Mudrooms

Mudrooms help us transition from our adventures in the great outdoors to the comforts inside our homes. But when packed with clever built-ins, space-maximizing storage and nifty organizers, a mudroom can also become a high-functioning, double-duty space that can accommodate anything from folding laundry to making crafts. 

Don’t believe me? Check out these fantastic mudrooms and my space-saving mudroom organization tips to see how you can make the entry to your home attractive, functional and clutter free.

Office space. Transform your mudroom into a double-function space with a built-in desk and file storage. One wall is all you need if you plan it right. The cubbies and hooks help keep outdoor gear and clutter separated from the desk area. 

Helpful hooks. Turn an awkward or a dead space into something you’ll actually use. A row of simple hooks around the perimeter and a few well-placed wire baskets have turned this once-empty nook into a valuable drop zone near the home’s entry. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neat and clean. Not all of us like to have our jackets and coats on display. These floor-to-ceiling cabinet doors keep clutter out of sight and add an architectural statement.

 

Laundry time. If you have a spacious mudroom at the back of your house, take advantage of all that room. Consider including a laundry section to make life a little easier. A washer, dryer and small sink mean you can throw dirty clothes right into the wash as soon as you get home. 

Pet station. If you share your home with furry friends, your mudroom is the perfect place for a doggie stop. This pet-friendly mudroom’s special space for cleaning pets means the owners will never see a muddy paw print in their house again. A sophisticated palette of durable materials makes it feel sleek, despite its practical purpose.

 

Seasonal storage. Mudrooms can be the perfect place in which to store outdoor sports gear for all four seasons, with the right organizational techniques. This ski-loving family came up with a great solution to keep their winter gear under control: Cubbies for gloves and hats up top, spots for boots below the bench and custom ski racks keep everything neat and tidy.

Personalized. Clever and colorful solutions help bring this mudroom to life. Let your little ones choose a favorite color to make their special space in your mudroom more fun. Color-coordinated baskets add a little personality to an all-white space with minimal cost and effort.

 

Get crafty. If you have the room, incorporate a workstation into your mudroom. Wrap a gift, help your child with a school project or prepare a package for the mail on your way out the door. Having everything in one spot will make multitasking much easier. 

12 Items Worth a Spot on Your Kitchen Counter

Article By: Charmean Neithart

In certain areas of my house, clutter just shows up out of the blue. The kitchen countertop is a dumping ground for random, misplaced objects left by children and a naughty husband. On any given day I find junk mail, empty grocery bags, the ubiquitous unfinished glass of milk and spare change. 

I like my countertops sparse, so I take responsibility for clearing them each night after dinner. As part of my nightly ritual, I clear the countertops, wipe them clean and then reposition all the things for the next day. I like a combination of functional things and pretty things out on my countertops, but I am very picky about my selections. It is a working area, after all, so function comes first. Here are some ideas for countertop styling that looks good and is functional, too. 

Kitchen scale. This is a handy kitchen tool, especially for those who track portion sizes. A scale can also be useful for baking and weight conversions. You can find scales online in every color of the rainbow and digital versions, too. 

Fruit bowl. I keep a bowl on my counter filled with fresh, seasonal fruit to encourage healthy snacking.

 

Silverware caddy. We use a silverware caddy for three square meals a day and just leave it on the counter. It makes perfect sense on a countertop close to the table or dishwasher. 

Condiment canisters. You can place canisters for sugar and flour, plus salt and pepper shakers, right on top of the counter. These canisters can be glass, ceramic or tin. The styling details are endless, but I suggest airtight versions to keep out pests. 

Mixer. I know an appliance garage is a handy thing, but I honestly like seeing mixers. I love the color and the simple engineering of a mixer. We use ours all the time, so it earns a counter spot in our house. Try a baking corner with a mixer, measuring cups and a rolling pin.

 

Cookbook stand. The book stand is one of my favorite countertop accessories. Use it for a hard-copy cookbook or an iPad with a recipe app. The best book stand is heavy enough to support even a large book. Consider a cast iron one with felt pads on the bottom to prevent scratching. 

Oversize bowls. Here is an idea sure to appeal to some but not others. Oversize bowls can sometimes be hard to store, especially with standard-depth upper cabinets at 13 inches. I use oversize bowls a lot for pasta and salad. Find the best-looking and thickest one you can and leave it on the counter. 

Herb plant. I like to keep rosemary on my kitchen counter for the fragrance and general softness it brings to the hard surfaces in my kitchen. Of course, I snip a bit here and there for cooking. Find a sunny spot on your counter and water your plant once a week. Other herbs to try growing are mint and basil. 

Utensils and ingredients. I really like a container for tall utensils right next to my stove. I use a slotted spoon just about every time I cook, so why not have it there at the ready? And I think it’s fine and interesting to keep oils and salt and pepper right within arm’s reach. 

Coffeemaker. Another power appliance in many homes, the coffeemaker need not be hidden away. Those who drink coffee every day should consider a coffee section for their counter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blender. Another kitchen tool available in any color, a blender is handy for blending soups, juices and smoothies. My favorite is the Vitamix Professional Series 750.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toaster. My family loves toast. I bought the biggest toaster I could find, and there still is a line at breakfast time. The toaster definitely gets a spot on the counter in my kitchen. Keep yours next to a bread drawer or bin for a complete toasting section.

Go for the Glow: Mother-of-Pearl Shines Around the Home

Article By: Ines Hanl

Mother-of-pearl has been used since ancient times to make people and their homes more beautiful, but today’s manufacturing techniques have made this product even more accessible and economical. “Mother-of-pearl” is the common name for iridescent nacre, a blend of minerals secreted by oysters and other mollusks and deposited inside their shells; it coats and protects them from parasites and foreign objects. 

Now we can use this wonderful material in our homes in a wide range of products. Mother-of-pearl tiles, wallpaper and countertops can adorn a space with the same elegance that a pearl necklace adds to an outfit. It’s not cheap (mother-of-pearl tile starts at about $30 per square foot), but it can be just the splurge you need to set your project apart from the crowd.

Mediterranean Bathroom

by

Calgary Interior Designers & Decorators

www.hughesdesines.com

Mosaic tile. Available in a wide range of natural hues, mother-of-pearl tile and mosaic blends are made from the nacre on shells like capiz, black lip, brown lip, paua and violet oyster.

White mother-of-pearl appears iridescent naturally, but it can be artifically tinted to almost any (sometimes shocking) color.

Contemporary Kitchen

by

Tel Aviv Architects & Designers

Rina Magen

This is a beautiful example of mother-of-pearl on a kitchen backsplash. This shell tile is often thin, unless it’s mounted to a thicker substrate, so if it’s combined with another tile, it’ll need to be built up to look flush.

If you’re not sold on a shell product but love the iridescent look, look for manufacturers that produce iridescent glass mosaics. White iridescent glass can look quite similar to mother-of-pearl tiles.

Traditional Bathroom

by

Tampa Tile, Stone & Countertops

Europa Stone

Flooring. What a elegant mix of natural stone and mother-of-pearl! This application is a great example of layering textures in a white-on-white application. Note how the simple act of creating a border around a well-proportioned floor tile strengthens the grid pattern.

Mother-of-pearl can be used for walls, floor surfaces (make sure to check with the manufacturer) and sometimes outdoor applications.

Contemporary Bathroom

by

Charleston Interior Designers & Decorators

Melissa Lenox Design

Accents. If you are craving the glow but don’t have the budget for a full iridescent wall, use mother-of-pearl mosaic tile to add a bit of sparkle to an accent. Mirror frames, side tables and table lamps can all shine with mother-of-pearl tile.

Mediterranean Living Room

by

Miami Furniture and Accessories

Jalan Jalan Collection

Inlay. Mother of pearl is a very suitable product to be cut into shapes. The cut shapes, called tesserae, are often used as inlay on furniture and other decorative home accessories.

Traditional Bathroom

by

Belmont Interior Designers & Decorators

Julie Mifsud

Sinks. Shown here as a semivessel model, a mother-of-pearl mosaic sink, like those fromLinkaSink, can be cleaned with mild household cleaner or soap and water. The grout can be cleaned with grout cleaner; it should be sealed once or twice a year for maintenance.

Contemporary Dining Room

by

Hillsborough Interior Designers & Decorators

Lisa Silverman/ Decorator Guru

Furnishings. Mother-of-pearl cabinetry faces utilize shell panels, rather than tile. These panels are laminated shell tiles and come in a variety of shell types, colors and sizes

Contemporary Buffets And Sideboards

by

Los Angeles Furniture and Accessories

Nusa Furniture

Penida

 »

Nusa Furniture

 often uses mother-of-pearl in combination with coconut on its furniture. The dark chocolate of the rough textured coconut and mother-of-pearl’s creamy iridescence make for a delicious mix on this storage cabinet!

Contemporary Dining Room

by

San Francisco Interior Designers & Decorators

Kendall Wilkinson Design

Wall coverings.Maya Romanoff, who specializes in luxurious wall products, offers a flexible tile that can be applied like a wallpaper. The tile is a thin capiz shell veneer applied to backing paper with a topcoat for easy maintenance. York Wallcoverings and Franco Ferrucci offer similar products.

Maya Romanoff’s wallpaper starts at $45 per square foot (plus installation). Candice Olson’s mother-of-pearl wallpaper starts at about $110 per double roll (about 60 feet of wallpaper).

Kitchen Countertops

by

Brooklyn Design-Build Firms

IceStone

IceStone Hot Colors

 »

Co

untertops.

Icestone

uses mother-of-pearl as one ingredient in its countertop products. A cementitious base product mixed with recycled glass shards and mother-of-pearl creates beautiful color blends

Contemporary Spaces

by

Seattle Architects & Designers

Beley Design, pllc

Mother-of-pearl accents bring a wonderful glow to Icestone countertops, enlivening a space in a calm way. The use of small pieces of glass doesn’t feel as aggressive as in some other products. 

From personal experience, I recommend using Icestone only in areas where there’s no risk of staining the surface. I’ve used Icestone quite successfully in bathrooms and laundry areas.

Icestone countertops are comparable to mid- to high-end granite in cost. Allow for about $150 per square foot (including installation) in you.

Go for the Glow: Mother-of-Pearl Shines Around the Home

Contemporary Bathroom

by

Charleston Interior Designers & Decorators

Melissa Lenox Design

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Spring Decor: Season Change, and so Can Accessories

If you’re like me, skin-tingling excitement occurs as you pull the box of summer clothes out of the storage, and put away the sweaters for the season. Spring, summer, it’s like the whole world comes alive. Leaves sprout, flowers bloom, the laughing of kids playing in the streets returns. 


traditional-family-room.jpg

Photo Credit: Traditional Family Room by San Francisco Architect Gast Architects

This year, consider projects that allow you to bring the changing seasons indoors. Think “convertible decor”. With smartly-chosen palettes for draperies, pillows and accessories; you can bring summer out of storage in a big way.

“Oh look. Summer. Time to pull the other pillow cases out, put the other curtains up, and…”

It’s great to clean seasonally. Freshen the place up, get rid of clutter. Wash those decorative pillowcases and get the dust out of draperies. Why not change them up at the same time?

Transforming Spaces with Accessories Colors

Depending on wall colors and other surroundings, you have a lot of accessory choices. Maybe in hectic summer months you want light, cool pastels in simple designs without flashy bold patterns. 

Maybe in winther when you’re more likely to be walloped by oppressive weather, you might want to embrace boldness and brightness, to liven up your indoors since you know you’ll be stuck behind the windows more often.

Think of what the seasons mean to you. Do you need a winter pick-me-up? Is summer about relaxing? Imagine what colors and designs might be appealing to you.

Love Affair with Your Home

I bought end-of-season items before Christmas so I could get a fresh look when the spring came around. My director’s chairs on my deck have been given the Caribbean treatment and my living room pillows are soon getting bright florals for summer.

Convertible room schemes aren’t about impressing your guests or staying up with the times. It’s about making your space bright, fresh, fulfilling, and keeping things interesting. It’s about keeping the love affiar with your home alive and fun.

You don’t need to blow your wad on expensive pillowcases or drapes, since we all know they’re even more enjoyable when you score them on sale. They just have to be attractive, work together and offer a nice change of scene. Go ahead, keep them for more than a single season’s use, as they’ll feel “new” when you take them out after six months of hiding. It’s not like the trend police will beat down your door because you’re using 2012’s look.


contemporary-living-room.jpg

Photo Credit: Contemporary Living Room by Dublin Architect Optimise Design

Accessory Swap

The accessory-swap is a smarter way to go than redecorating every couple of years. It’s budget-friendly, environmentally friendly and you can always easily donate or sell pieces you tired of.

If you’ve got convertibility in mind, you need to pick a great paint color that isn’t going to disappear from the market after a season (like when teal or orange have been “the color of the year” and then you can’t find a thing made with those palettes after the season passes).

An interesting neutral or classic tone on the wall will be the backdrop to a world of patterns and color combinations for your accessorizing. This doesn’t mean only using “shades of beige”. Olive green has been a popular color since the ’70s. So have shades of blues and earth tones and pastels. Is it a color that’ll work for the next five years and that you see fabrics and accessories in regularly? Then great. It’ll do.

Seasonal Artwork Framing and Area Rugs

There are other places you’d be best off remaining neutral, too. Like when you’re framing artwork. Getting vibrant mats or frames that play off the artwork rather than simply defining the art may wind up working against your being able to easily transform the look of your space by switching out pillows, drapes, and other accessories.

An area rugs’ flexibility is also a consideration when you’re making a rug purchase. Sure it goes with your stuff now, but will it be easily adapted to other schemes down the line?

If you’d like to be able to swap your space as seasons arrive, a mix of ongoing neutrals can act as a nice foil for a variety accessory looks is the way to maximize your paint choices and investment pieces for the long-haul while never getting stuck with just one look year-round. 

Don’t just live in your space, love it. Have fun by keeping things fresh and embracing change every few months. 

(You’re reading Spring Decor: Seasons Change, And So Can Accessories originally posted on Build Direct Blog)

Prep your home for spring


Colorful-Spring-Garden---Wikipedia-Commons.jpg

Photo: Anita Martinz from Klagenfurt, Austria (Colorful spring garden) via Wikimedia Commons

Spring officially sprung on March 20, 2013 and now is the perfect time to begin prepping for the season ahead. From refreshing your decor and removing winter layers to performing needed home maintenance. The tasks on this checklist will get your house ready for spring inside and out.

Swap Home Accessories: after you remove its cozy winter layers, your house may feel a bit bare; take that as your cue to bring in spring color. A few bright throw pillows, a colorful glass vase and a fun printed rug are easy ways to wake up your rooms.

Switch the Bed Linens and Rotate the Mattress: give your bedroom a spring awakening by pulling off the heavy duvet or thick blankets and layering on lighter bed linens. Remember to have quilts and blankets cleaned before storing tem to avoid moth damage.

Freshen Your Entry and Mudroom: After a winter of snow, road salt, mud and grime; our home’s entrances are bound to be a little worse for the wear. Mop the floors, wipe down walls and doors, and declutter. Now is also a good time to take a look at your doormats and consider rolling out fresh rugs for spring.

Spruce Up Your Landing Zone: take a moment to assess the place where you put your belongings when you come in the door. Remove anything that doesn’t belong and make a neat spot for keys and mail. A green plant or small vase of flowers on a pretty tray and a dish for change are prefect finishing touches.

Remove Layers: in winter layering your home with textiles feels cozy, but spring is the time for streamlining and shedding excess. Roll up your fluffiest rugs in favor of flat-weave ones or bare floors, and put away throws and pillows that feel too wintry.

Rotate Toys and Books: after months of playing with the same toys, kids are primed for a room update. If you keep a portion of your child’s toys and books packed away in a closet, you can rotate in a fresh selection every few months – without buying anything new!

Bring in Spring Branches: if you have blooming branches right outside your door, by all means clip some and bring them in. Displayed in a large vase or jar, they can last for months. Even if it will be a while before the flowers appear, branches with green buds or leaves can make a lovely arrangement. 

Clean Gutters and Inspect Your Home’s Exterior: it’s important to remove debris from gutters before spring rains and melting snow overload the system – you can hire someone to do this or take on the task yourself (carefully) with a good ladder. Now is also a good time to take a quick walk around the exterior of your home with an eye out for damage that may have gone unnoticed during winter, and if you use storm shutters, now is the time to remove them.

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Your March Checklist for a Smooth-Running Home

Prep your home for spring by shedding its winter layers and bringing in nature and fresh colors!

Photo: Anita Martinz from Klagenfurt, Austria (Colorful spring garden) via Wikimedia Commons

Spring officially sprung on March 20, 2013 and now is the perfect time to begin prepping for the season ahead. From refreshing your decor and removing winter layers to performing needed home maintenance. The tasks on this checklist will get your house ready for spring inside and out.

Swap Home Accessories: after you remove its cozy winter layers, your house may feel a bit bare; take that as your cue to bring in spring color. A few bright throw pillows, a colorful glass vase and a fun printed rug are easy ways to wake up your rooms.

Switch the Bed Linens and Rotate the Mattress: give your bedroom a spring awakening by pulling off the heavy duvet or thick blankets and layering on lighter bed linens. Remember to have quilts and blankets cleaned before storing tem to avoid moth damage.

Freshen Your Entry and Mudroom: After a winter of snow, road salt, mud and grime; our home’s entrances are bound to be a little worse for the wear. Mop the floors, wipe down walls and doors, and declutter. Now is also a good time to take a look at your doormats and consider rolling out fresh rugs for spring.

Spruce Up Your Landing Zone: take a moment to assess the place where you put your belongings when you come in the door. Remove anything that doesn’t belong and make a neat spot for keys and mail. A green plant or small vase of flowers on a pretty tray and a dish for change are prefect finishing touches.

Remove Layers: in winter layering your home with textiles feels cozy, but spring is the time for streamlining and shedding excess. Roll up your fluffiest rugs in favor of flat-weave ones or bare floors, and put away throws and pillows that feel too wintry.

Rotate Toys and Books: after months of playing with the same toys, kids are primed for a room update. If you keep a portion of your child’s toys and books packed away in a closet, you can rotate in a fresh selection every few months – without buying anything new!

Bring in Spring Branches: if you have blooming branches right outside your door, by all means clip some and bring them in. Displayed in a large vase or jar, they can last for months. Even if it will be a while before the flowers appear, branches with green buds or leaves can make a lovely arrangement. 

Clean Gutters and Inspect Your Home’s Exterior: it’s important to remove debris from gutters before spring rains and melting snow overload the system – you can hire someone to do this or take on the task yourself (carefully) with a good ladder. Now is also a good time to take a quick walk around the exterior of your home with an eye out for damage that may have gone unnoticed during winter, and if you use storm shutters, now is the time to remove them.