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Design Inspirations







Entries in Remodeling (5)


The Non-discriminating Shower

What is a non-discriminating shower?  The non discriminating shower is a good thing for everyone.  Everyone can use the shower and can have a showering experience just as good as the next person regardless of their sex, height, age, gender, or mobility. Interpreted to remodeling jargon, it is a shower that has a zero threshold entrance (no curb), has a hand shower that is accessible to people of all heights including those seated in wheel chairs, has a large enough area for a person in a wheel chair to turn around, has shower niches so that the shampoo is not on the floor, usually has a place to sit down and has grab bars for safety.

As I continue to remodel bathrooms, I am aware of the trend of 'non-discriminating' showers and I believe that it is more than a  trend - It is here to stay!    Everyone loves these showers, they love that they are large, they love the hand showers, they love the shower niches, they love the benches (I use it to shave my legs) (more information than you probably want to know)  I always recommend extra blocking in the walls for future grab bars even if the client does not want them at the time of the remodel.  It virtually costs nothing to add in blocking while you have the walls open.  Children, adults, and elderly of all abilities enjoy showering in these showers.  It is really an all for one and one for all remodeling winner!


Truths behind the Lies

Lately I feel I have been living a dream.  A dream where water fountains in schools are safe, family members do not steal from each other, government regulations are enacted to protect you, politicians are as honest as they proclaim and Bill Cosby is the ideal father figure.  Boy, have I had a wakeup call – and so has our country.

Last month I heard on the news that Tacoma schools found lead in the drinking fountains.  Seattle Public Utilities immediately said that there was nothing wrong with Seattle drinking water ‘but that all residents should run their water for two minutes before drinking it JUST IN CASE’ (emphasis added).  It turns out that the ‘gooseneck’ fittings are corroding, where there are gooseneck fittings there is lead. 

The TRUTH is, there are many opportunities for LEAD to enter your drinking water and each home/building is unique in its potential liabilities.  Has anyone suggested that it may be in the publics self-interest to test their water at each faucet?  NO, that would cost too much money and the public outcry when they found out how many of their faucets produced water with lead in it would be crazy.  Politicians may lose their jobs!  Let me ask, how many of you run your water 2 minutes before drinking it?

The TRUTH is, that in 1978 the EPA determined the Lead in the paint was extremely dangerous and made it illegal to sell (after 1978).  But did anyone TELL the PUBLIC that every time you hammered a nail into the wall to hang a picture you were exposing yourself and your family to lead poisoning?  (Remember even the smallest minute amount of dust with lead poisoning can cause permanent brain damage in children).   NO, the government waited until 2010, 32 years, to regulate/protect the public from remodeling produced lead poisoning.  Have you hung a picture up in your home in the last 32 years?

The TRUTH is that I do not believe anyone any more, and that is a very sad place to be.  Truthfully, Christine



How can you get the BLING in your remodel while keeping within a limited budget?  By singing the REDUCE REUSE RECYCLE  song. Here are a few examples:

 We were able to save money in this bathroom remodel by REUSING the drain locations for the tub, shower and toilet.  Because this condo had a post tension construction floor, drilling new drain holes would have been costly.  We were able to use the savings to purchase more costly items such as the free standing tub.  

   Also, in the closet section of this remodel, we REUSED the existing cabinetry, giving it a new paint job and handles and cutting an opening for the cat to use the litter box in private.

This floating wood counter is a RECYCLED coffee table top.  (I like to call this UPCYCLING)  Purchasing a slab of wood with the ‘live’ edge and having it sanded & stained would cost considerably more for this home owner.

This living/entry area was spruced up with paint that accents the architectural features of the home creating interest and REDUCING project costs by not removing the wall.


 REUSING this sustainable cork floor

resulted in significant savings for this kitchen/dining remodel as well as bringing welcomed warmth to the Seattle condo.

Sometimes budget restrictions create wonderful unique solutions that we may not have previously considered.


As always, I welcome your ideas and feedback,  Think green and keep dry,  Christine


Selecting Counters for your Kitchen

Remodeling a kitchen is a big project and selecting the right counter can make or break your project.   The three main considerations that everyone needs to address are:

a)  Durability/wear ability

b)  Installed Price

c)  Color & patterning in relation to other materials in your kitchen

For kitchen counters the durability debate has been between granite and quartz with stainless steel and marble being thrown by the wayside. (picture:  Vyara Gold granite counter)

QUARTZ:  The truth is, if you want a counter that never stains and has a consistent pattern and color without variation, you need to stick with manmade quartz products (Silestone, Caesarstone, etc)  These products are made with real quartz stone in a binding resin.  The upside is that you have a durable counter that will withstand heat and will be the exact color and pattern as the sample that you were given.  Another positive is that you can select 'patterns' that look like limestone or marble but have the durability of the quartz material.  The downside is that it is just as expensive as granite and you do not get the unique variations that natural stone provides.

GRANITE:  is extremely dense and therefore is less likely to stain in comparison to other natural stones.  Granite is a stone, a natural material.  All natural materials can absorb stains, just in varying degrees.  All natural stone counters should have be sealed to protect the stone against staining. The beauty of granite is the unique one of a kind patterning available in a multitude of color variations.  The downside of granite can be the intense pattern activity (It can be very busy)

MARBLE:  This is a neglected beauty of a stone.  Yes, is is slightly less dense than granite, making it more prone to staining.  But if you have been to Europe, you probably sat at marble tables and counters and walked on marble tiles that have been installed for hundreds of years - and they look great!    Marble has less veining than granite, giving it an elegant look.  Marble is a favorite of pastry chefs, both professional and ameteur.    I often add marble counters into a kitchen design for a contrast to the primary counter material.  Marble tends to be less expensive than granite or quartz.

STAINLESS STEEL:  Another neglected material.  It is durable and you do not have to worry about matching colors.  Scratches blend together to become invisible (think of your stainless sink.)  Be careful of reflecting under cabinet lights onto a stainless steel counter.  Either select a different type of light source for task lighting or keep the stainless counter away from upper cabinets.

ALTERNATIVE materials:  There are numerous counter top products that should be considered, but are too numerous to explore in this article.  They range from recycled glass, recycled porcelain, recycled paper, recycled walnut shells, etc.  The durability of these products range from marble to granite in comparison and vary just as much in price. 

The CHALLENGE for a successful kitchen design is to coordinate the patterns and colors of the cabinetry, the flooring, and the counters.  A very strong patterned granite can 'take over' the personality of the kitchen.  This can be a good thing, OR it is the nightmare of the home owner ('all I see is the busy granite!') 

The QUESTION that you want to ask yourself is 'What do I want to be the visual star of attraction in my kitchen?'  If it is not the counter, then you want to stay away from most granites (the exception being black absolute, which has little to no pattern.)  The pickle that many homeowners find themselves, is that they have already selected/installed the flooring as well as the cabinetry and then they start looking at counters.   If your selections for flooring and cabinets cannot be changed, your good options for kitchen counters are extremely limited.  

The best advice I can give is to hire professional to help you successfully coordinate your patterns & colors and avoid the pitfalls that can present themselves in this extremely expensive venture.



Why you want a designer as your contractor

The typical complaint of designers and clients is that they have spent much time and often very much money, designing the perfect space for the clients' needs and then  - the contractor comes in, views the plans as suggestions, doesn't order the custom tile until the day of installation so - oops  - we need to reselect the tile, etc  You get the drift.  The result is a space that has nothing in common with the space that was so meticulously designed.  This happens more than you think. 

The other situation I run in to is a lack of communication and/or organization  that results in emergency decisions.  One in five people that call me for design services start off the conversation  "My contractor says I have to pick the paint color (tile, lighting, carpet, etc) TODAY or the whole project has to stop and it will cost me more money." 

When you hire a designer that is also licensed as a general contractor, there is no question what the lead time is of the product that was selected.  The designer/contractor is experienced at coordinating purchases and installations of custom materials and finishes.  When you hire your designer as your contractor, there is not a break in the design focus.  The project will be constructed the way you and your designer envisioned it.  That is why design/build companies are so popular.

One word of caution - make sure the designer (of the design/build company) is one that you would have hired as your designer.  You have a choice to have either a 'nice' remodel or a 'WOW this is fantastic!' remodel.  The difference is the Designer.