Can Your Home Kill You? 6 Home Improvement Projects to Prevent Disasters

From not hiring the right general contractor to the devastation resulting from natural disasters like the current LA fires, a lot of things can go wrong with the construction of your home. But you can minimize damage done by taking the proper precautions. Here are 6 unglamorous (but totally necessary) home improvement projects for optimizing the safety, structure, and sustainability of your home:


Fireproofing

With the Rye fire blazing in Los Angeles right now, this is a big one on everyone’s minds in Southern California right now: the importance of fire-proofing your home. The key to preventing fire damage is in flame resistant roofing and siding and the use of ICFs (Insulated Concrete Forms: flame resistant, inter-locking concrete traditionally used in the construction of commercial properties). If fire safety is a concern, as it pertains to the interior design of your home, work with an interior designer to find flame-resistant fabrics and furnishings. 

Flood-Proofing

Just a few years ago, hillside homes in Southern California were sliding down and those at the bottom were flooding. If your home is one of those at risk for flooding, one of the best ways to prevent such an occurrence is to work with a general contractor to make sure your doors, windows, and walls are sealed properly. Conversely, another method is to minimize the water damage done if any is to get inside by installing electrical outlets higher up the walls and installing a solid, rather than wood flooring. This brings us to our next home improvement project to prevent disasters later on…

Mold Prevention

The process of preventing mold growth prior to or during construction is referred to as “Drying in the walls.” Unfortunately when you mix dry wall and ceiling tiles with heat and water, you get the perfect recipe for mold growth. The best ways to prevent is to have the home properly sealed to keep moisture out and that the construction site is properly dehumidified throughout the process. Another way to preserve the dryness is to stay on schedule as much as possible. When a site has to shut down for any reason, you run the risk of mold growth.  

Electrical Wiring

Strangely, electrical wiring is a project that people feel comfortable often doing themselves, but so many little mistakes can be made: from installing wires too tightly or wires of the wrong size entirely or making too loose of wire connections and overloading outlets, which can easily ignite electrical fires. These are tasks that are easy for your electrician or contractor to do quickly and taking the time to work with a profession is well worth the investment!

Gas Leak Prevention

Gas leaks are another easily preventable problem: They are so often the result of a homeowner who’s improperly installed an appliance and can lead to fires and explosions. This is another instance where having a well-vetted professional install boilers and cookers, and check them regularly, will worth the time and investment for the safety of your home and family.

Earthquake-Proofing

This is something we have to be very careful about here in Southern California. The state has strict build codes, that are updated and improved upon after any devastating earthquake, to help mitigate the effects of an earthquake, but it is worth it for the safety of your family to have a general contractor or design team do a home inspection to make sure everything is built to code, especially if you have an older property that needs to be retrofitted.

Storage Solutions for Every Room in Your Home

When it comes to optimizing storage in your home, take an ‘everything has it’s place’ approach. Before you begin your container store shopping spree or start working with your designer or builder to design built-in storage, you need to take a long, hard look at all of you belongings and organize, throw away, or donate as much as possible.

Here are some ways to think about each space in your home to optimize your storage options

Save 30% off ANY single item during Black Friday Weekend at The Container Store. But hurry! Offer ends Sunday.

Once you’re ready, whether you’re designing a walk-in closet or remodeling an entire kitchen, you’ll want to work with a designer or builder for the best built-in storage solutions that fit everything comfortably and are easily cleaned and maintained. Here are some ways to think about each space in your home to optimize your storage options:

Here are some ways to think about each space in your home to optimize your storage options

Storage Tips for Walk In Closets

In your closets, include a variety of storage types for maximum functionality, avoid dust collectors, and consider including some clear-front storage for smaller items like purses, shoes, and other accessories. Don’t think of storage containers as an afterthought, they should be as much a part of the design as your built-in’s. And avoid thinking about trying to pack as many items as possible in: Though it may cut into your square footage, customize your space by prioritizing the items you use and wear most often, make them most accessible. This can be difficult to do, in the planning stages of your closet, but you will ultimately be much more satisfied by the final result.

Here are some ways to think about each space in your home to optimize your storage options

Kitchen & Pantry

Much like designing closets, one mistake people often make in building a pantry is installing too deep of shelving. These are both spaces in which more is not necessarily more. You want to avoid having food stuck at the back, out of reach, going stale. A pantry is another great place to include some plastic or glass front storage containers so everything is easily identified. A new trend in kitchen, and specifically pantry design, is allotting storage space for small countertop appliance to be stored out of sight.

Here are some ways to think about each space in your home to optimize your storage options

Mud & Laundry Rooms

Mud and laundry rooms are transitional spaces: indoor to outdoor, dirty to clean, and they involve a lot of foot traffic for being such small spaces. Consider how easily cleaned any materials are: You’ll want to avoid tiles that stain or containers that collect a lot of dust. Since these rooms are generally smaller than other spaces in your house, consider ways to utilize the vertical wall space, first, before moving onto storage that will take up square footage. Consider the flow of these spaces as well: Baskets and containers on wheels are particularly useful in these spaces since there is a lot of movement throughout.

Here are some ways to think about each space in your home to optimize your storage options

Office & Media Rooms

Built-in’s are going to greatly improve the resale value of your home office, living, or media rooms, especially when it comes to ways of hiding unsightly technology and other cables that can potentially distract or ruin a gorgeous design altogether. With that said, consider what you use most frequently: You may want some storage containers to keep items easily accessible: magazine racks (that aren’t like a bottomless pit!), media consoles, credenzas, or tabletop storage like coffee table trays and desktop organizes.  

Here are some ways to think about each space in your home to optimize your storage options

10 Dining Room Design Ideas

Have Fun with the Space

Include bold colors, install that wild printed wallpaper, play with patterns. A dining room is generally used for entertaining– let it entertain you! Read on for tips on where to save, where to splurge, and how to get creative with your dining room design:

 

Draw the Eye Up with a Gorgeous Ceiling

Create a gorgeous ceiling: Paint or wallpaper, include custom millwork and finish off with a stunning chandelier! This is a great place to invest to give the space some architectural detail.

Create a Beautiful Tablescape

With the winter holidays coming up, you’ll likely be using that formal dinning room to entertain family and friends more than usual and most of your guests attention will be geared towards what is ON the table, rather than around it, but it doesn’t have to cost a ton!  

For Thanksgiving table decor, check out these chic and affordable options on Amazon for a modern, rustic tablescape.

Get the right Sized Table for the Space

Flow in any room in important, especially a space that is supposed to seat so many people. You don’t want to go with the largest table you can find necessarily, you need to be sure you leave ideally about 45 inches, give or take a few inches, around the perimeter of the room as a walkway so everyone is comfortable. If your space is small, but you require more seating, consider a table with extendable leaves.

Statement Lighting & Layers

We’re fans of a gorgeous chandelier and it’s usually the centerpiece of a great dining room. Put on a dimmer for transitional, moody, controllable lighting. You’ll also want to include some lamps on a lower level to create layers. Lamps are, of course, functional as light sources, as well as beautiful sculptural objects.

Mirrors to Bounce Light

Include mirrors on the walls or reflective surfaces like metallic case goods or a glass table to bounce the light around the space.

Invest in Forever Frames

Although the dining room might be one of the least-frequented rooms in your home, it can also be one of the most expensive to design because they tend to be formal, and you need 6 or 8 or 10 o 12 chairs. You’ll want to invest in some great chairs that you can always recover or cover with slipcovers when you want to redesign and change up styles.

Create Some Cozy

In a formal dining room, it’s easy to fall into the trap of creating a sterile, off-putting space that you don’t necessarily want to spend time in. Avoid making the space too cold by adding some cozy textiles and colors: Invest in a great area rug in a fun print or warm colors.

Showcase a Collection

Have a gorgeous dishware collection that gets used once a year (if at all)? Or ample wine bottles in need of storage? Or some fabulous art? A dining room can be a great mini-museum! Find some great showcase storage like bookshelves or use the existing wall space.

Fill It With Life

Plants, flowers: Including natural elements always makes a space more inviting. Not only do they make the space feel more lived in, they also help to purify the air. 

 

 

4 Major Ways to Transform Productivity in Your Home Office

Workspaces, whether they’re your home study or a commercial office space have to prioritize a few key areas in ways that other rooms do not, namely productivity. Considering many of us spend the majority of our waking hours in our workspaces, they also need to be comfortable, (but not so cozy you fall asleep).

From the flow of the space to the lighting, storage, and technology, a great designer or remodeling company thinks of every little detail to make your workspaces fun and functional.

Flow

Workspaces are often high traffic areas. Think about how you move about in the space: A bustling commercial office may have clients and employees coming and going, by contrast a home office may not have as many people trekking through, but perhaps you pace back and forth on the phone. Clearly define walkways with rugs and be sure to secure with reg mats to prevent slippage.

Lighting

Since you spend a lot of time in an office, you need to include a variety of lighting sources. Consider how the daylight pouring in from outside changes throughout the day, or how tired your eyes may get from staring at a computer screen all day. We always suggest including as much natural lighting as possible and then supplementing with warm-tinted LED bulbs, which are both environmentally friendly and easier on the eyes than bolder alternatives. And op’t for lamps and chandeliers over canned or track lighting with everything on dimmers for maximum customization.  

Seating & Comfort

Ergonomic office chairs are a MUST. If you’re seated behind your desk for hours on end, you want to be sure selecting that seat is one of the items you’re investing in. By contrast, you’re unlikely to spend much time in other seating in the room; an important thing to keep in mind in designing your seating area.

Storage & Technology

We often talk about how nothing ruins a great design quite like unsightly cables sticking out like a sore thumb. Aesthetics aside, they can often be a safety risk, if they’re hanging down in the middle of walkways. We often design built-in’s with the ability to keep electronics and cables safely stowed away or suggest under-table clasps to keep them secured.

For even more tips on creating a stylish and productive home office, read up on these 10 tips from our partners at Lori Dennis Inc.

 

Designing Hygienic & Sustainable Bathrooms

Bathrooms are one of our favorite rooms to renovate and they always result in high returns on investment. Since our designers are LEED AP certified, that means we care a lot about protecting the environment when we design. We wanted to share some tips on designing better bathrooms to meet hygienic and sustainable standards.  

Green Building Materials for Tile & Countertops

Not only is natural stone sustainable but it’s also aesthetically beautiful, especially in a bathroom where you need something that can withstand water and changing temperatures, and want to create a spa-like oasis at home. Delve further in depth about flooring materials and types of tile in this post we wrote here.

Green Bath/Shower Appliances

There are some incredible luxurious shower options you could install including smart shower heads that can be set to particular temperatures and put on timers to conserve water. Low-flow shower heads will use less water with the same amount of pressure.

Green Faucets

Similarly to your shower, you’ll want to find a low-flow option for your sink faucets to cut back on water waste. Another option is to install a motion-sensored faucet. We’ve all left the faucet on while brushing our teeth, and a motion-sensor faucet will fix that!

Green Toilets

More than every other appliance in the home, toilets use the most water so in order to conserve as best you can, you’ll want to install a low-flow toilet, either with automatic flush or multiple settings.

Toto Toilets – Whole Bathroom

Green Lighting for Bathrooms

We love a naturally lit bathroom, preferably with a view from the shower or perhaps a skylight to filter in the sun. But if that’s a non-option, op’t for LED bulbs to conserve energy. Opt for warmer LED bulbs lend that warm, tungsten glow.

Green Paint for Bathrooms

If you’re painting your bathroom, look for low-VOC if not Zero VOC paints. Avoid paints with formaldehyde. Acrylic or water-based paint is great, unless it lists toxic chemicals such as cadmium, cobalt, magnesium, chromium, and, of course, lead.

Green Bathroom Accessories

Now this is the easiest fix! It involves no construction and you can do it today to make your home a little more green: From your soaps to your towels and toothbrushes, shop around for certified organic products from companies that promote zero or no-waste policies.

Hiring a General Contractor: Vet Your General Contractor and Hire the Best Home Builders

There are a couple questions we’ve been getting a lot we felt would be perfect to address together on the blog: How do you choose a general contractor or home builder? And what makes one home remodeling company different from another? These are both very broad, but we’ll address them in five parts: 1. Vetting your contractor or other home improvement expert, 2. Being flexible, 3. Property Inspection and what to look for, 4. Contracts and 5. How you can expect contractors to charge for their services.

  1. Vetting Your Contractor

You want to have trust in your contractor, but you also shouldn’t be afraid to speak up. They’ll be working for you so be sure to address any concerns or additional services you may want/need prior to signing a contract.

Here are a few of the questions you’ll want to have in mind when vetting your contractor:

  • When can the contractor start and do they have enough resources/bandwidth to commit to your job?  
  • Do you like this person?/Do your personalities jive well together?
  • How long has the contractor been working in this industry?
  • How many projects have they worked on and what type of projects?
  • Has the contractor attended any type of formal training or continuing education?  
  • Is the contractor licensed to practice as a general contractor?
  • Does the contractor have a valid workman’s comp insurance policy for their employees that will be on your site?
  • If the contractor  only employs subcontractors, do they have valid insurance and licenses?
  • Does the contractor  have insurance in case something in your home gets broken in the renovation and/or construction process?
  • What is the projected timeline for the project?  
  • What happens if the construction goes past the stated finish date?
  • How often will the contractor or his project manager stop by to check on the progress?
  • Does the contractor plan to work on the project personally or assign a supervisor?  
  • How often should I be updated on progress?  
  • Who pulls the permits for a project?
  • Who meets with the inspectors?
  • What hours should I expect a contractor to work?
  • Has the contractor been involved with any legal disputed following a previous job?  
  • Has the contractor previously operated as a contractor under a different name? I
  • What is the payment schedule?  

To go more in-depth in answering these questions, read here.

  1. Be Flexible

Knowing your schedule gives you a big-picture view of sequencing and deadlines- Are you planning a big event at the house, a wedding, an anniversary party? Is a new baby on the way? It’s already stressful to plan an event, not knowing if you’re going to make the deadline is adding unnecessary stress.  Be mentally prepared for things to be delayed.  

  1. Property Inspection

If someone tells you nothing will go wrong, hire someone else.  Something always goes wrong in construction and the best defensive is a good offense.  If your contractor can think on their feet and feels confident problem solving, they will work it out.  Ask if them what the most challenging aspect of a project has been, and how they worked through the challenge. Have they ever worked on the problems they see occurring at your project?

  1. Contracts with Your Home Remodeling Company

When the scope of work changes the process starts with what is called a “change order.” Change orders are a reality throughout projects because it’s likely you’ll change your mind about

what you want, add things or the project or financing takes a turn. Have a very clear clause in your contract about how the contractor will record, handle and bill for the change orders.

A contract is a good communication tool to make your project run as smoothly as possible, as it is a written understanding of what is expected from each side.  It should be referred to throughout the process. Common contracts include elements like: a detailed work scope, line items for materials, the cost, and a termination clause.  Any special requests, concerns or agreements should be written in the contract.

What are the termination terms?  Either party, you or your contractor, should be able to stop work and a good contract will have written terms as to how this plays out.  

  1. How Contractors Should Charge

Once the contract is written, you and the contractor will work out a payment schedule that will keep the job moving forward and meet your financial capabilities.

A good contractor should be able to give you some very broad ranges of what past projects with similar scopes cost, but will not be able to give you an accurate estimate until you provide a specific set of plans from a designer or architect detailing exactly what will be done and what types of materials will be used. If someone gives you a firm quote without seeing plans, be careful. You could have a lot of change orders in your future, which will cost more time and money.

For more detail about how contractors charge, read here.

Hack Your Home: 10 Tips for Hiding All the Ugly Stuff in Your Home & Keeping Your House Clean

ahh…That feeling you get when your house has been spotlessly clean. It’s refreshing, relaxing, it feels like your home is brand new. It’s ready to grace the pages of Architectural Digest. But then the kids come home from school and litter countertops with school papers; you have to make dinner in a rush and have another new sink full of dishes, then the dog tracks mud through the living room, and that wonderful, accomplished feeling of cleanliness subsides. But it doesn’t have to be that way! What if we told you there were ways to maintain a tidy home? Here are 10 tips to implement in your space:

10 Tips for Hiding the Ugly Stuff in Your Home and Keeping Your House Tidy

1 Cord Corrals & Hooks  

We’ve written before about how easily untamed bundles of cords can ruin an otherwise beautifully designed room. For media rooms, home offices, or other spaces where you have ugly cords, consider taming them with cord corrals and desk hooks to keep your home’s streamlined aesthetic.

Ultra Charging Station & Cord Coral

2 Utilize Art

Install art or a mirror on hinges so it swings like a door over unsightly thermostats or home security systems installed in walls.

3 Varied Cabinets

Include a variety of storage options in kitchens and bathrooms for organizational purposes and maximum functionality. Clear-front storage will entice you to keep both the interior and exterior of the cabinets clean. And you want to be sure your shelving is not too deep, so you don’t run the risk of accumulating expired products that might get neglected at the back.

4 Drawer Charging Stations

Top Desk Drawer charging stations: Install a charging strip at the back of the top desk drawer to utilize as a charging station that keeps devices and chargers off your desktop.

5 A Place for Everything Mentality

Embrace an ‘everything has a place’ mentality to aid in habit building, purge everything else, which includes pets, shoes, things that come and go from your home like keys and bags.

6 Custom Built-In’s

Consider working with a designer and contractor to design custom built-in’s for odd items that don’t need to sit out on counters, but don’t usually fit in general storage space, like printers or computer routers in home offices, purses and shoes in closets, trash cans and smaller appliances in kitchens, laundry baskets or hampers in laundry rooms, etc.

7 Easily-Maintained Building Materials

Consider that in the design of your home, the storage materials, countertops, and flooring should be as easily cleanable as their contents. Avoid dust collectors or things that show spots. Ensuring everything is installed and sealed correctly, by a professional contractor, will make maintaining your home easy.

8 Accessible Cleaners

Keep a green, all-purpose cleaner within reach of places in your home that need them most frequently, rather than with the other cleaning supplies, hidden away in a closet or the garage far away, which you don’t use all the time, like wood or mirror cleaners.

Gabriella System from Pottery Barn

9 Think Vertically

Don’t waste any space! Embrace vertical wall space with wall hooks for coats and hats and install a collapsable wall drying rack in laundry rooms, hand ironing boards on a wall or build one into a closet that can retract.

10 Decorative Organizers  

Decorative chotchkies and art objects or books and magazines should fit on or in your coffee top table tray, and any that don’t, have to go. Similarly, keys should go in a catch all tray or hung on a key hook by the door so they’re never lost!

8 Design Trends in Luxury Kitchen Remodeling

Whether your kitchen style is traditional or more modern, a few common trends carry throughout the new luxury kitchen. The kitchen continues to be everyone’s favorite room to makeover! It’s a central hang-out spot in the home, frequently used, and a good kitchen greatly increases property value. Here are the latest in luxury kitchen design trends:

Whether your kitchen style is traditional or more modern, a few common trends carry throughout the new luxury kitchen. The kitchen continues to be everyone’s favorite room to makeover! It’s a central hang-out spot in the home, frequently used, and a good kitchen greatly increases property value. Here are the latest in luxury kitchen design trend

8. Multiples (of Everything!)

Dual ovens, dual sinks, and dual pendant lights over dual kitchen islands. Having two ovens is helpful when you’re cooking multiple dishes for one meal. Ditto for dual sinks — having a main, deep, double-bowl sink, complete with a pot filler to pair with a small prep sink on one of your kitchen islands makes meal prep more efficient!

Dual ovens, dual sinks, and dual pendant lights over dual kitchen islands. Having two ovens is helpful when you’re cooking multiple dishes for one meal. Ditto for dual sinks -- having a main, deep, double-bowl sink, complete with a pot filler to pair with a small prep sink on one of your kitchen islands makes meal prep more efficient!

Dual ovens, dual sinks, and dual pendant lights over dual kitchen islands. Having two ovens is helpful when you’re cooking multiple dishes for one meal. Ditto for dual sinks -- having a main, deep, double-bowl sink, complete with a pot filler to pair with a small prep sink on one of your kitchen islands makes meal prep more efficient!

7. Slim Seating

We are seeing a lot of second kitchen islands replacing the traditional kitchen dining nook: homeowners are opting for the extra counter space with barstool seating over table and chairs. Among the kitchens that maintain a traditional breakfast nook, we are seeing a lot of bench seating. Both of these space-saving slim seating options make the kitchen both more of a relaxing hangout and more like a restaurant.

We are seeing a lot of second kitchen islands replacing the traditional kitchen dining nook: homeowners are opting for the extra counter space with barstool seating over table and chairs. Among the kitchens that maintain a traditional breakfast nook, we are seeing a lot of bench seating. Both of these space-saving slim seating options make the kitchen both more of a relaxing hangout and more like a restaurant.

We are seeing a lot of second kitchen islands replacing the traditional kitchen dining nook: homeowners are opting for the extra counter space with barstool seating over table and chairs. Among the kitchens that maintain a traditional breakfast nook, we are seeing a lot of bench seating. Both of these space-saving slim seating options make the kitchen both more of a relaxing hangout and more like a restaurant.

6. Seamless Surfaces

From touch-tap, no-pull cabinetry, and induction stovetops, to hidden outlet strips installed beneath grout-less, marble-slab countertops, sleek, clean surfaces are trending. Seamless design helps keep the kitchen tidy.

From touch-tap, no-pull cabinetry, and induction stovetops, to hidden outlet strips installed beneath grout-less, marble-slab countertops, sleek, clean surfaces are trending. Seamless design helps keep the kitchen tidy.

From touch-tap, no-pull cabinetry, and induction stovetops, to hidden outlet strips installed beneath grout-less, marble-slab countertops, sleek, clean surfaces are trending. Seamless design helps keep the kitchen tidy.

5. Display Storage

Wine storage is a popular addition and comes in many forms. An elegant glass-front wine fridge is a great way to show off your collection! Also popular: A mix of traditional cabinetry, appliance ‘garages,’ and some glass-front cabinets to display decorative dishware or a cookbook collection!

Wine storage is a popular addition and comes in many forms. An elegant glass-front wine fridge is a great way to show off your collection! Also popular: A mix of traditional cabinetry, appliance ‘garages,’ and some glass-front cabinets to display decorative dishware or a cookbook collection!

Source: Sub Zero Wolf

4. Out of Sight, Out Of Mind

In addition to the hidden outlets, new luxury kitchens are optimizing the use of the walk in pantry, housing smaller appliances like microwaves and coffee machines or trash cans.

Source: Zillow
Source: Pinterest

3. Varied Lighting Sources

A lot of different types of tasks have to take place in the kitchen, which means one single light source isn’t going to do the space justice: a mixture of under counter lighting, skylights, island pendants, and overhead recessed lighting help to optimize meal prep, dining, and manage to conserve energy!

2. Niche Heating Appliances

Steam heat ovens, warming drawers, pizza ovens, insta-hot sink nozzles: custom kitchens are catering to very specific dietary needs and finding ways to conserve energy.

1. Tech in the Kitchen

From built in TVs and speakers so you can watch HGTV all day long while you cook (just kidding!) to smart appliances like smart ovens, dishwashers, and refrigerators, technology is becoming an intrinsic part of the modern, luxury kitchen.

Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator

Flooring Guide: Wood Vs. Porcelain Tile Vs. Stone

One of the topics we get questions about all the time is Flooring: What’s the difference between actual wood flooring and engineered veneer? Stone vs Porcelain? What type of flooring is best for pets and children? How much maintenance is necessary? And so on.. Today, we are tackling those questions to provide some clarity on the broad topic of flooring. Read on for the Pro’s and Con’s of popular flooring materials and our answers to your frequently asked questions about flooring:

FAQ’s: Wood Flooring Vs. Porcelain Tile

Q. Why is Wood Flooring so Popular?

Wood floor is classic, enduring, strong. It lasts a long time and you can sand it down a few times to look like new. It gives a home a warm, lived in feel. And you can really get creative with the installation design: herringbone, inlays and parquet, and other fancy applications, or  you can op’t for a more traditional installation for a rustic and down to earth feel. We’re in a light wood trend right now, which has a much brighter, casual modern feel than the heavy darker rich wood floorings of the past.

Q. What if Wood Flooring is Outside My Budget? Is there an Inexpensive Alternative?

If you like the look of wood but feel it may be outside your budget, look towards wood-like porcelain tile. It’s less expensive, but looks great and keeps the home cool in the summer. It’s also a great selection because you can install radiant heat below.

Another option is engineered hardwood veneer. It’s also less expensive and looks great.  It has a thinner top layer than solid hardwood. The downside to consider is that it might be harder than hardwood floor because of the glue needed to keep the plys together. So get ready to invest in a lot of plush area rugs!

Vinyl is also an affordable look, that is easily maintained and can resemble wood.  Because it’s so hygienic, you’ll see it used in a lot of hospitals, restaurants, and hospitality public spaces.

(Porcelain Tile – Herringbone Installation)

Q. How Different Will Wood-Like Porcelain Tile Look from Actual Wood?

It can vary, but here is a pro design tip to get around that issue: Match the grout to the tile color so it blends and isn’t obvious that it’s not wood.  This is great because it can continue throughout the house in a seamless continuous way from home into wet surface areas like kitchens and bathrooms.

(Porcelain Tile – Herringbone Installation)

Q. What Rooms Should I Install Wood Flooring? Any I should Avoid?

Wood is beautiful in just about every interior space, but in bathrooms and laundry rooms or other spaces that involve moisture like indoor/outdoor spaces, for example, you might actually want to op’t for wood-like porcelain which is both heat and stain resistant so you don’t have to worry about flooding or any water damage. Because it’s comprised of clays and minerals fired at extremely high temperatures, it’s an incredibly durable material, making it one of THE best choices for flooring, as opposed to ceramic, which is not going to hold up as well.

FAQ’s Stone Vs. Porcelain Tile Flooring

Q. What are the Benefits of Stone Tile?

Stone is classic, resistent, and natural. Though it comes at a higher price, it lasts forever. With stone you have a lot of creative freedom to design borders, install herringbone, diagonal, large scale, you can even craft smaller architectural details, which we love!

Q. If Real Stone is Outside My Price point, What is an Alternative?

Ceramic and porcelain tile are both cost-efficient alternatives to actual stone tile. The ceramic manufacturing process has come a long way so that it looks closer to real stone, rather than a pixilated picture. Porcelain is extremely strong and is a great alternative to stone. It comes is large slabs like stone, for a modern application.

Q. What are the Benefits of Concrete Flooring?

Concrete tile is so fun and makes a real WOW moment in color and design! It’s among the most durable materials and can be entirely customized to fit your specifications. It’s heat and scratch resistant, capturing and releasing the heat in your home for optimal comfort.

Q. What Type of Flooring Should I Avoid Altogether?

We rarely recommend carpeting because it’s a total dust and dirt collector. Carpet can be toxic in its application and material, not to mention it’s more expensive and difficult to maintain. Area Rugs are great underfoot with a thick beefy rug pad, and are easily maintained since they can be moved. Not to mention they’re a great cost-efficient way to change up a room’s decor when you get tired of them.

How to Light Every Room in Your Home

Lighting in Layers

Lighting is decorative, yes, but it’s also a practical necessity in every home. When you’re picking out lighting for your home, you’ll want to think like a designer: think of lighting a room in three layers: The first layer is your general or ambient light, this is the source for most of the light in a room. Secondly, think about the smaller sections, or vignettes in your rooms where you’ll need task lighting. These are spaces where you may find yourself reading, cleaning, cooking, applying makeup, etc. Lastly, think about lighting as decorative accents– these are more architectural light sources that serve as much decorative purpose as plants or art, while still illuminating the space. Read on for more specific tips about choosing lighting for every room in your home:

Read on for specific tips about choosing lighting for every room in your home

Bathrooms

In lighting your bathroom, it’s best to avoid overhead sconces because they cast shadows on your face making you appear tired, giving you big bags under your eyes. Op’t instead for sconces, which should be wall mounted at the same level as your face, typically that measures 66” from the floor, with one on each side of the mirror. This direct and balanced light on your face which will make you look your best. For an ambient night light, undercounter light strips allow you to see without turning on the lights full blast. This is great for those midnight bathroom breaks.

Read on for specific tips about choosing lighting for every room in your home

Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of the home and needs the most variety of light for cooking, cleaning and just showing off, so you’ll want to use a variety of task and ambient lights. This includes under cabinet (at the counter and floor level, recessed lights, or ceiling mounted fixtures like Chandeliers or Pendants above island). While cooking and cleaning, having overhead and under cabinet lighting will help you see what you’re doing. The under cabinet light strip will add more light to the work surface of the counter.  Without them, sometimes the cabinets cast a shadow on the counter making it difficult to see what you’re doing and you could chop your finger off.  (Trust me, I’ve done that! But it was also after a bloody mary, so…. Perhaps that’s a story for a separate blog post on kitchen safety!)  

Read on for specific tips about choosing lighting for every room in your home

And when you’re not in the kitchen, keeping the under cabinet LED light strip, inner cabinet with glass doors, and Island lights on dim, allows the kitchen to be the highlight of the home: a star even while it’s in the background. A natural approach is to center the sink between 2 windows for natural light along with installing a can light or pendant directly above the sink so you can see what you’re doing when cleaning dishes.

Read on for specific tips about choosing lighting for every room in your home

Dining Room

The dining room is where you are encouraged to bring on the drama! This is a room where you’ll want your lighting on controllable dimers. Beautiful lighting from a chandelier will cast gorgeous light on dinner guests so that everyone looks stunning. Wall sconces, and decorative mirrors will also help to bounce dimmed light around the room.

Read on for specific tips about choosing lighting for every room in your home

Living Rooms

Although it’s popular, we’re not a big fan of multiple recessed can lights in rooms, because they can make a ceiling look like swiss cheese.  Again, it’s best to think in layers of lighting.  Floor lamps, table lamps, chandelier, ambient like a reading lamp, directional plant lighting, or art lights. Consider how much natural light sources might come from the windows, candles, or the fireplace as well. And much like in the dining room, chandeliers are great for bouncing light up and off the ceiling rather than casting light directly on someone’s face casting shadows.  

Read on for specific tips about choosing lighting for every room in your home

Bedrooms

Think soft, subtle, and simple in the bedroom: Nightstand lamps or hanging pendants on either side of the bed, a chandelier above the bed. In closets, choose lighting above the rods or inside the cabinetry. Op’t for either a pretty pendant, ceiling mounted fixture, or recessed lighting.

Read on for specific tips about choosing lighting for every room in your home

Focal Points, Hallways, and Stairs


In choosing lighting, think like caveman: Light is the source that helped them navigate in the right direction, towards safety. If you have a long hallway, have a light at the end. If you have beautiful art, light it in a way that will highlight its depth of color. If you have stairs, make sure the steps are lit to prevent anyone from accidentally falling.

Read on for specific tips about choosing lighting for every room in your home

Landscape

Think of lighting in terms of distance – the house or close to the house, mid range and street level. Don’t forget to light the street numbers so visitors can see your address. Consider uplights on plants and trees, path lights to guide guests from the street to the front door, wall sconces around the perimeter (perhaps, on motion sensor), front door chandelier or sconces on each side of front door.

Read on for specific tips about choosing lighting for every room in your home

Entry

First impressions are everything. Make it big and bold, illuminate the entryway. If you have a tall ceiling with a window above the door, hang a chandelier so it’s completely visible from the exterior.

A Couple Lighting Terms You Should Know:

LED Lighting
Use warm white light, staying away from anything that feels unnatural with a cold blue undertone to it.

Dimmers

Dimmers are great. They save energy and offer flexibility in bright lighting for cleaning and working, or low ambient lighting.