Sewing station. Anyone who enjoys sewing knows what a pain it is to set up and take down your clunky machine every time you want to make a repair or tackle a project. A special sewing station in your laundry room can help you get your work done with an ironing board and other necessities nearby.
Tip: Lower the counter height to 30 inches and knock out a cabinet for some knee space. Make sure there’s an electrical outlet nearby, and don’t forget task lighting to help you thread your needle.
Dog washing tub. Every friend and neighbor with a pooch will be green with envy when you show them your personal dog washing station. This is a great addition for laundry rooms that have an entrance to the outdoors or a garage. Wash Fido’s dirty paws and soiled fur before he comes into the house.
Tip: Tiling the washing station and your laundry-room floors will make cleanup a cinch.
Raised washer and dryer. Bending down to take heavy loads of clothes out of a washer and dryer isn’t good for anyone’s back. A platform like this takes the (literal) pain out of washing and drying and has a seamless look.
Tip: Aim to lift your washer and dryer at least 15 inches for the best fit.
Drip-drying location. A drip-dry station in this spacious laundry room allows wet garments to dry without making a mess. In lieu of more cabinetry, this cavity was tiled all over for ultimate water protection.
Tip: A bar from the top provides a spot to hang clothes, and the floor drain guarantees there is no standing water.
Floor drain. Even if you don’t have a specialized drip-dry spot, a floor drain can be a great idea in your laundry room. Not only does it make everyday cleaning easy, it can also prevent serious damage if your washing machine ever leaks or overflows.
Ironing board. For those short on space, a drawer ironing board can give you the benefits of a built-in board without taking up wall or cabinet space. You’ll never have to wrestle with a squeaky freestanding board again. These are easy to retrofit into budget remodels, too.
Hampers. Built-in laundry hampers like these can help you keep your laundry space extra tidy with minimal effort. When the clothes are piling up, just make sure the drawers are closed! This homeowner has a hamper for whites, colors and darks — all tucked away and out of sight.
Photo Credit: Dennis Jourdan Photography via Remodeling Magazine
Room for Two: Alder cabinets, honed granite countertops and a tumbled marble backsplash give this kitchen a rustic feel.
The homeowners of this 1920s house (pictured above) had been planning a kitchen remodel for a long time. They went so far as to work on a design that would enclose the porch to expand the space, then got cold feet during the market downturn, and, worrying about the return on investment for an addition, put the project on hold.
By the time designer Diane Lawson, of Diane Lawson Designs in Nashville, TN; met the couple, they had revisited the project but had opted to stay within the existing footprint. However, they presented her with a long list of desires that included: good traffic flow for two cooks, separate cooking areas, an island, increased storage, and a rustic Italian design and details that would blend with the home’s Italianate style.
Though most homeowners today want to open up the kitchen to the rest of the house, Lawson says this couple bucked the trend, choosing to maintain the separation from the living and dining rooms.
Fitting in the long list of the client’s wants required some compromise, including a peninsula rather than an island, but Lawson viewed the project as putting a puzzle together to set all the pieces neatly in to the outline.
Photo Credit: Dennis Jourdan Photography via Remodeling Magazine
Window & Wall Upgrade: When the original windows were replaced with low-E units, insulation was also added to the exterior wall.
To help create a rustic Italian feel, the clients chose knotty alder cabinets. Lawson says that this species has increased in popularity during the last 10 years and that the wood – sometimes referred to as “poor man’s cherry” because of it’s similar grain and reddish tones – can cost 10% to 15% less than cherry.
Since not all manufacturers carry alder, Lawson opted for custom cabinetry. Going with a custom shop also had the advantage of enabling her to maximize storage and create a furniture look with cabinets that fit the age and style of the house. “[The choice] boils down to [the client’s] wish list and what they are looking to achieve,” Lawson explains. “And, of course, budget.”
The clients wanted to use the same finish throughout the kitchen – a rare choice these days, Lawson says. Currently, most of her clients are opting for a contrasting finish for the island.
Lawson had known remodeler Michael Menn, of Michale Menn Ltd., in Chicago, for almost 20 years and brought him on to help her with the extensive remodel. The ceiling above the sink had a soffit. Menn removed it to accommodate Lawson’s design, which took the cabinets to the ceiling to provide extra storage.
One of Lawson’s biggest design challenges was the traffic pattern for the family’s two “heavy-duty chefs” and keeping them out of each other’s way. The original freestanding island really affected the pattern, so Lawson moved the island to abut a wall. “While you don’t have access on all four sides [of the island],” Lawson says, “it gave us more room in the busy aisle-way, which is the main entry into the kitchen and is where we needed as much space as possible” – especially when one of the cooks is standing at the island prep sink.
The island has a small trash cabinet and a shelf for the client’s heavy stand-mixer.
Photo Credit: Dennis Jourdan (photo) | Nicole Babcock (floorplan) via Remodeling Magazine
Into the fold: Removing the door and adding upper and lower cabinets makes this former pantry feel like part of the main kitchen.
Photo Credit: Dennis Jourdan (photo) | Nicole Babcock (floorpan) via Remodeling Magazine
Cook Nook: The second pantry has a microwave and an oven. The existing laundry chute remains – but it has been reframed to match the cabinetry.
Separate Yet Cohesive
The existing 360-square-foot kitchen included two under-utilized pantries. Lawson thought the 18-square-foot closet next to the stove alcove would work better as a butler’s pantry, so Menn removed the door to make it part of the kitchen and replaced the wire-rack shelves with cabinets that match those in the main kitchen. The L-shaped run of cabinets has upper and lower cabinets and a countertop. An undercounter wine refrigerator is the only appliance.
The other 24-square-foot closet is closer to the dining room. Lawson considered removing the walls to incorporate it into the dining space, but there were two obstacles to doing that: a laundry chute in the closet and a two-story chimney that runs adjacent to that pantry. “We were bound,” Menn says, but the team also thought that retaining the quaint “little pockets” of space matched the style of the 90-year-old home. As they had done with the other closet, the crew removed the door. The existing closet had some shelves, an outlet, and a hanging bulb. The new space contains an oven, counter space, and upper shelves with a microwave. The wife likes to bake, and this area gives her a space to work in while her husband prepares food in the main kitchen area.
Photo Credit: Dennis Jourdan Photography via Remodeling Magazine
Brick or Treat
The original cooking alcove was outlined with faux brick. The clients liked the idea of a brick alcove and felt that it fit well with the new design’s rustic feel. And, Lawson says, the material ties in with the brick porch outside the kitchen.
Menn and Lawson thought the alcove could be enhanced to make more of a statement, so Menn’s team created a taller, softer arch at the top of the opening and installed real brick – cut ¾-inch thick – on the entire wall, as well as on the wall adjacent to the butler’s pantry.
The alcove also has contemporary features, including a sleek stainless steel hood, a Wolf cooktop, and a stainless steel storage drawer custom-made by the cabinet shop. The hood is actually made for an above-island installation that the clients had considered for the addition version of the project. They liked the shape, so Menn installed it here. He made custom ductwork to meet local code and vented the hood through an exterior wall. Narrow base pull-out cabinets flank the stove and hold spices.
(You’re reading ‘Standing Room Only’ originally posted on Remodeling)
Avoid costly mistakes and get exactly the upgrade you want for your home by working with a professional remodeler.
Lifestyles evolve over time, and so do our homes. Babies are born; kids grow up and leave the nest; aging parents join the household. And even if a house functions just the way it needs to, changing design trends and new materials can leave older spaces looking a little musty and dusty.
That’s where a professional remodeler comes in. Read on to find out what a remodeler can do for you and how to get the most out of your experience.
What a remodeler does: A remodeler is a contractor with a focus on making structural alterations to an existing home or building. He or she implements architectural plans and sometimes provides residential design services. Remodelers also perform many of the same duties as a general contractor, such as hiring and overseeing subcontractors and sourcing materials. Many states have certification requirements for remodelers.
When to hire one: If you’re planning a significant change or addition to your home, hire a remodeling contractor to ensure the integrity of the design and construction, and also to ensure that you’ll meet current building codes. Remodelers also are well versed in cost estimating, legal issues and other nuts and bolts concerns.
What it will cost: Remodelers’ fees take several different forms, and costs vary widely depending on the nature of the work and the materials used. While some will agree to a flat fee, others charge a percentage of the total labor and materials cost (typically 10 to 15 percent, but sometimes as high as 25 percent).
It’s worth noting that, as with many aspects of home improvement, you get what you pay for – a remodeler who may charge more but has deep experience and a sterling reputation is generally worth the extra cost. Don’t hire based on the lowest estimate alone.
Where to find one: Browse the directory of professionals on Houzz.com or use a reliable source such as the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). Check to see if there are remodelers’ trade organizations in your area as well. Another professional you’re working with, such as an interior designer, also may be able to give you leads.
If you notice that one of your neighbors is having work done (remodelers often place a sign with their name and logo in the front yard during construction), ask whether they’d recommend the professional they’ve hired.
Have a clear idea of what you want: Maybe you’re looking to double the size and change the footprint of a dated kitchen, or perhaps you want to convert your attic into a guest suite. Think through the scope of the project you have in mind and create a Houzz ideabook or pull other design resources for inspiration. Don’t worry too much about whether every detail is feasible; your remodeler will help you brainstorm alternatives if it isn’t.
Interview the candidates on your short list: Not only should you confirm that they have experience with the type of project you have in mind, but you’ll also want to be sure that you have a good rapport and communicate well.
Ask detailed questions about job history, professional training and affiliations, licensing requirements and insurance, and get the names of a few references. If lead paint is a concern in your home, you may also need to confirm that the remodeler is lead-safe certified under EPA guidelines.
Visit an in progress job-site (if possible): Ask to drop by one of the remodeler’s current job sites. This can give you a sneak peek at what your experience might be like. Is the site clean and well maintained, and does work appear to be progressing in an orderly fashion? Look closely at the quality of the construction and the attention to detail as well.
Be sure you understand the terms of the contract: Once you’ve chosen a pro, go over the contract in detail to be sure you won’t encounter any surprises. Besides basics such as contact information for the remodeler and others who will be supervising, license number, insurance information, it should include a start-to-finish timetable, a materials list with price breakdowns, payment terms, change order specifications, blueprint or detailed sketches and provisions for conflict resolution. Don’t be shy about asking the remodeler to clarify any details you find confusing.
Confirm which areas of your home the project will affect: You may be remodeling a single room, but the temporary disruption could extend to adjacent spaces. Plumbing, electrical wiring and other behind-the-walls systems might be affected as well. Ask the remodeler which rooms the work will touch so that you can prepare accordingly.
Do your part to make the remodeler’s job easier: Clear out furniture from affected rooms, be sure the work crew has adequate space to park and transport materials, and make provisions to keep pets and kids well out of the way. Give the remodeler an idea of your family’s daily schedule and stick to it as closely as possible to minimize disruptions to the workflow.
Make sure you’re easily reachable even when you’re not onsite. And if you decide to make a change along the way, try not to drag out the decision-making process, which can throw the timetable significantly off schedule.
Don’t wait to call attention to issues: Few, if any, remodeling jobs reach the finish line without a few bumps and snags along the way. Speak up as soon as a problem arises, whether it’s substandard work quality, a communication breakdown or a subcontractor who leaves the site in disarray. That way, you and the remodeler can agree on a plan to resolve it as soon as possible, before work proceeds too far – and you’ll feel reassured that you’ll be completely satisfied when it comes time to make the final payment for the job.
“Going green” is more than just a passing phase – being environmentally thoughtful has become a way of life for many Americans, not to mention businesses that serve their needs. From recycling bottles and cans to investing in a do-it-yourself composter, homeowners all over the country are doing their part to help reduce emissions and protect the planet for future generations.
There are plenty of small things you can do to make your home more energy efficient, but what if you want to go a step further? Whether you’re building a new home or renovating your current place, these green remodeling ideas will save you money over that long haul and make your home more appealing to buyers when you’re ready to sell – while saving the earth in the process.
They’re expensive to install, but solar panels are worth the investment. Last April, the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory released its findings of an eight-and-half-year study of the California real estate market. According to the report, existing homes that were retrofitted with solar panels sold for an average of $17,000 more than comparable homes without them.
They’ll also save you a lot of money over time. For example, a homeowner in Chicago who pays an average of $200 per month on electricity would spend more than $43,000 to have solar panels installed. After tax credits and rebates, the total cost would be just over $30,000. However, after just one year, that homeowner would save anywhere between $1,200 to $2,778 on electric bills. After 25 years, that savings could be as high as $116,560.
In addition to saving trees by using composite decking instead of wood, you’ll save yourself a big hassle. Wooden decks need to be sealed every couple years to keep water out, and eventually the elements will cause at least a few boards to rot and splinter.
Composite decking, made from a blend of wood waste and plastic, doesn’t require the same upkeep as traditional wood deck boards. You won’t need to seal it, which eliminates the time and money you’d spend resealing plus fewer chemicals will be released into the air. And since the deck won’t rot, no trees will be cut down and used to replace it after a few years.
The average cost of a composite deck addition is $15,579, according to Remodeling Magazine, but you can expect to recoup more than 60% of your cost when you sell your home – more than if you replaced your roof or added a master suite.
It sounds crazy, but using fake grass in your yard is a real thing. It looks surprisingly real, and is great for homes in dry climates where it requires a lot of extra effort – and water – to grow the real thing. According to online retailer Artificial Turf Supply, the synthetic stuff costs about twice as much to install as sod. In a 1,500 square-foot yard, ground prep, sod and a sprinkler system would cost $4,750 a year while artificial grass would run just over $10,000.
But over an eight-year period (the warranty period of the synthetic grass listed on the site), the cost of maintaining a sod lawn would cost more than $14,500. During that same period, there would be no additional costs to maintain the fake stuff, which means a savings of more than $4,000. After 15 years, the savings skyrockets to $13,000. Basically, artifical turf pays for itself completely.
And you’re doing more than putting money in your pocket. You may still “rinse” the lawn from time to time, but you won’t waste gallons of water saturating the ground to keep the grass alive. It doesn’t need mowing, either, which means lower gasoline emissions polluting the air.
No matter what green home remodeling project you want to pursue, make sure you find yourself a like-minded contractor. Look for a pro who has some experience in green building, or is at least open-minded and eager to get an eco-friendly project under his or her belt.