Jan
18

Three Tips for Designing Your Dream Bathroom

Three Tips for Designing Your Dream BathroomThe bathroom of your dreams is only a renovation away.

Don’t put up with faulty plumbing, or piles of clothes.  Don’t feel that you’re saddled with stained, lime-encrusted faucets or moldy ceilings and floors.  A bathroom renovation can turn a disaster area into a cozy and comfy room – everything you’ve always dreamed of!

OK, so maybe you haven’t spent every waking hour dreaming of a new bathroom; it does tend to inspire a little less passion than a kitchen or living space.  That being said, there are some great additions that can turn your bathroom from a blah space to an amazing addition.  Here are three things to consider when designing your perfect bathroom.

Divide and Conquer!

One of the biggest issues people have with their bathrooms is that they’re often a one-person-at-a-time sort of room.  When it’s in use, it’s usually off-limits to the rest of the household.  This is why a divider is a great idea – they’re an extremely practical solution, keeping the bathroom available in even the busiest households.  No longer is everything off limits just because someone’s taking a shower – whether it’s a simple, freestanding divider or a more complicated built-in project, a divider makes your bathroom more functional while also providing the illusion of extra space.

Pick a Style

Some of us prefer a dramatic, natural look to our spaces, and that can be reflected in the bathroom, as well.  Deep mahogany or beech wood cabinets and worktops can make your bathroom feel like the great outdoors – a romantic look, even if you’re in the middle of a bustling city.  Others prefer a more workmanlike, practical alternative – clean, white cabinets and functional work surfaces first and foremost.  It’s your bathroom; feel free to experiment a little in the design phase to find out what works best for you.

Flooring Concepts

A cold bathroom floor is one of the worst things about getting up in the morning.  However, carpet in the bathroom is a no-go; not only does it simply feel off, but it’s also a magnet for mold and rot, as it will hold in water from the shower and sinks.   No, you’ll want to go with a hard floor, and we find porcelain or ceramic tile to be your best bet; it’s waterproof and inexpensive, so you get great functionality, but it also can create a rick, textured, solid feeling, unlike laminate.  As for those cold mornings, you can either install radiant or heated tile – or just invest in some high-quality bath mats where you’ll be resting  your feet.

Jan
18

Factors to Consider Before Renovating Your Kitchen

Factors to Consider Before Renovating Your KitchenStarting a full renovation of your kitchen can be a very exciting time.  It’s an opportunity to get a fresh start and build the kitchen of your dreams; the perfect kitchen that will give you years of satisfaction.  Before jumping in with both feet, however, it’s important to take the time to make appropriate plans to ensure everything goes a smoothly as possible.  Here are five important key factors to take into account before beginning your remodeling your kitchen.

Define Your Goals

The very first step of any major renovation project, in the kitchen or elsewhere, is to decide just what it was about your old kitchen that you’re attempting to improve, specifically.  Did it lack functionality—a lack of counter space, hard-to-access storage or poor workflow can all be valid reasons to redo your kitchen.  Does it not fit your current lifestyle—perhaps you want a breakfast bar, or lower cabinets and storage spaces.  Are you looking to improve its aesthetics—does it look outdated and kitschy?  By clearly defining the goals for your project ahead of time, you can ensure that your design and remodel will achieve what you’re looking to get out of the process.

Pick Something Timeless

Close your eyes for a minute, and imagine a kitchen from the 1970s.  The bizarre wallpaper, the tacky linoleum, the excessive wood paneling on everything… definitely an artifact from that era.  Remember, though, that all of that was considered modern, trendy and exciting when it was originally installed.  The lesson to learn there is that you want to be hesitant about adopting the latest trends and styles.  You want your kitchen to last a long time, and the last thing you’d want is for your kitchen to seem tacky and dated in just a few years.  Picking timeless design elements helps ensure that your kitchen looks fantastic for years to come.

Be Prepared for Delays

It’s said that “no plan survives contact with the enemy”, and this is doubly true when it comes to home renovation.  A full kitchen renovation is a big job, and despite the best efforts of everyone involved, sometimes delays are unavoidable.  A faucet design you have your heart set on arrives late, pushing back the installation of plumbing, affecting the timetable of cabinet installation, and so on.  While everyone strives to keep delays and disruptions to a minimum, being prepared for contingencies can make the entire process less stressful.

Choose Your Appliances Wisely

More than any other room in your house, your kitchen’s design is impacted by your appliances.  Your refrigerator, oven, stovetop, dishwasher, microwave—all are likely to have prominent places in your new kitchen.  It’s easy, however, to forget about this, and pick lovely surfaces and materials for your countertops and cabinets, only to realize your appliances stand out like a sore thumb.  Choose your plan with your appliances in mind, or make sure to set part of your budget aside for buying new appliances that match your chosen décor.

Visualize Your Décor

What sort of furniture are you going to have in your new space?  What colors and textures will be prevalent?  How much space will everything need?  Creating a “mood board”—an arrangement of images or materials that will help evoke the style you’re looking for in your redesign—isn’t just a good idea to get inspiration; it serves as a guideline to ensure that you’re keeping everything thematically on track.   You want your final kitchen to be both practical and aesthetically unified, and that includes the things you’ll be putting into it.

Keep these five key factors in mind when planning your next kitchen renovation, and you’ll be well on your way to getting the kitchen of your dreams.  A little extra planning at the beginning can prevent tons of headaches down the line.

Dec
22

How to Install a Tile Kitchen Backsplash

How to Install a Tile Kitchen BacksplashA tile kitchen backsplash is an involved project that, nonetheless, can add life and interest to your kitchen.  There are some ways to have an easy, quick installation – mosaics on mesh backing or peel-and-stick tile being two of them – but if you want a long-lasting backsplash, the best way to install one is to use tile adhesive to install it directly on top of your drywall.

The easiest way to do this, of course, is to contact an expert like Parada Kitchens.  If you’re determined to do it yourself, though, here’s a quick how-to.

Tools and Materials

You’ll want to have tiles and tile adhesive, of course, as well as grout and flexible caulk to fill in the gaps between them.  As far as tools, you’ll want to have most of the following:

  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Tile cutter
  • Tile saw
  • Notched trowel
  • Rubber grout float
  • Goggles
  • Latex gloves
  • Sponge
  • Tile spacers

Most of these items can be found at your local home improvement store at very reasonable prices, though some tools obviously will get more regular use than others.

Preparing the Walls

The first thing you’ll want to do is cut the power to your kitchen – you’ll want to tile right up to outlets and switches, and current there could cause quite an unpleasant shock.  Tape off outlets and cabinets, to reduce risk of any spillage or other extraneous material causing issues.

You’ll want to attach a ledgerboard – essentially, just a straight piece of wood that’s used for support, screwed into the wall studs where the bottom edged of your backsplash will be.  This will be removed once the adhesive cures, but it insures that you’ll get a nice, straight edge.

Make sure you clean your walls thoroughly before beginning – we recommend a combination of trisodium phosphate and water – and sand and degloss any glossy surfaces.  If there are any dents or ripples in your wall, you’ll want to fill them in with joint compound in order to have a nice, flat surface.

Plan your Layout

A good plan can make everything go much smoother, compared to just slapping tile on the wall and playing things by ear.  Find the center point of your planned backsplash, and mark a vertical line – that’s the center you’ll build your pattern around.   We recommend dry-laying your tiles horizontally on your countertop, to make sure that you have the perfect width, before applying any tiles to the wall itself.  Use your tile spaces to check the ends.  Also, try to ensure that cut tiles will be hidden under cabinets – it will create a more pleasing look when all is said and done.  If your countertop isn’t level, you may have to cut from the bottom to get a level finish.

Attach the Tile

Your chosen tile adhesive will have instructions on how to mix it.  After doing so, spread a small section of wall, using your drywall trowel.  You’ll want to work in small sections, because your adhesive will dry quickly.

Place your first piece of tile into the wall, with a little twist to ensure that it sticks.  Press against it with the rubber float to seat it in the adhesive.  Remember to leave about an eighth of an inch gap at the countertop, to allow for expansion!  You’ll want to repeat this process – small section by small section, until you’ve tiled the entire area.  Then, let the adhesive dry for 24 hours, and you’re ready to grout.

Apply grout diagonally across tiles using a rubber float to press it into the joints. Wait 10 minutes, then wipe away excess with a sponge using a diagonal motion.  Make sure you don’t wipe the grout away from the joints themselves!  Once the grout is dry, you can then apply grout sealer to seal the grout.  Finally, any expansion gaps can be filled with caulk or silicone sealant.

 

And, as always, if you’d prefer to have the professional touch – or simply want to ensure a knowledgeable expert makes sure every step is done properly – contact the experts at Parada Kitchens!

Dec
22

Smart Storage for Small Spaces

Smart Storage for Small SpacesSmall spaces require clever solutions.  In some homes, there just isn’t any more room to add extra cabinets or shelves, yet you still find yourself with piles of books, electronics, dishes and more beginning to pile up.  You may need to think outside the box to keep yourself from being swarmed with too much mess to handle!  Here are some creative ideas you can tackle to help find some more storage in an already full home.

Stagger Shelves

Most shelves are uniform – that is, they’re the same depth from top to bottom.  That can create a sort of oppressive, towering feel, and will make your already small room feel more cramped.  However, if you use shelves that get narrower towards the top – think stair steps or wedges – then you’ll get almost the same amount of storage without the towering omnipresence of a full set of shelves.  It will make the room feel lighter and airier, which will help with the feeling of cramp and clutter.

Use variety

Cabinets and drawers offer two very different types of storage – the difference between vertical and horizontal storage can be staggering at times.  Yet, far too often, we see people locked into segregating them – using only cabinets in this room, or only drawers in that hallway.  A narrow drawer under a cabinet can offer a few precious inches of storage, and make things fit more naturally.

Out-in-the-Open Storage

Not everything has to be stored away in closed cabinets or drawers.  It’s OK to use spots in view for storage, especially of small things.  Try mounting a rack or a bin on the side of your cabinets, and using them to store similar-sized items; kitchen papers and wraps, for example.  As long as you keep them tidy, it can serve as a decorative accent to the kitchen rather than feeling like your stuff is spilling out of your cabinets, and it will free up a drawer for less visually appealing items.

Vertical space!

We can’t stress enough the benefits of vertical space.  So often, walls and doors become wasted space, not helping at all with clutter and organization.  Thin wire baskets can be attatched to doors – great for a spice rack in pantries, or for stationary in a closet.  Pot and pan lids can be hung on the interior of cabinet doors, freeing up more cabinet space for bulkier items.  Cabinets can be stretched to the ceiling, and small, under-cabinet wire racks can be used to store larger utensils.  These are precious square feet; use them!

Pare Down

Finally, if you’re having trouble storing all your stuff, you may have too much stuff.   We all end up accumulating things over the course of our lives; I have a drawer full of cookie cutters I have never used.  Audit what you have – if you never use an item, do you really need to have it?  By paring down to the essentials, you’ll have less stuff to have to manage and store.  For example, it’s worth replacing towels more frequently as they get worn out rather than having a closet full of towels you never use.  Simplify, and your home storage issues will become that much easier.

Dec
9

Kitchen Countertop Materials

Kitchen Countertop MaterialsWhen it comes to kitchen countertops, there’s a myriad amount of materials to choose from, each with their own pluses and minuses.  It’s not a decision to make lightly; countertops play a major role in both the look and functionality of your kitchen.  It’s important to make the proper choice of material for your lifestyle and aesthetic choices.  Fortunately, with such a wide range of possibilities, you should be able to find something that matches your usage needs, your design choices and your budget constraints.  Here’s a quick look at the pros and cons of several common kitchen countertop materials.

Granite still reigns supreme as one of the most popular and elegant choices for your kitchen countertop.  It’s a beautiful, strong, natural surface.  The unique grain in each block of granite ensures that your countertop will be unique, as opposed to man-made surfaces which will look identical from home to home.  However, it’s important to remember that granite is a porous surface.  That means you’ll have to seal it regularly to avoid bacteria and mildew from permeating its surface – you have to factor in regular upkeep for a granite counter.

Wood is a surprisingly durable surface, with most scratches and nicks able to be buffed out.  Wood gives you a warm, natural feel in your kitchen, and can come in a wide range of styles and price points, depending on thickness and finish.  However, wood can be easily damaged by direct heat, say, from hot pans or pots.  It also has a tendency to warp if not given room to breathe; you don’t want to install wood in a very tight space or on top of a substrate.

Stainless steel makes for a durable countertop that is very easy to clean.  It’s a non-porous surface, so it’s water-, heat- and stain-resistant.  It can make for a chic and contemporary look for your kitchen, and can be shaped and formed to any layout or size you desire.  Its reflective properties also help your kitchen look brighter as it reflects your lights.  However, stainless steel is very easy to scratch, and can be dented and dinged up under regular use.  They can be very noisy, and in the winter, very cold.

Engineered stone comes in many brands – Caesarstone, Cambria and Silestone are just three of the most popular.  Engineered stone is a mixture of quartz and binding elements, giving you many of the aesthetic bonuses of natural marble countertops, with the benefits of being a solid surface; no sealing required!  Its biggest con is it’s price; engineered stone is one of the more expensive manufactured surfaces out there.

Solid surface countertops, including Corian and Wilsonart, are an acrylic and polyester blend that makes a great countertop.  It’s a non-porous surface, meaning there’s almost no regular maintenance required.  Any scratches and burns can easily be sanded out, keeping your surface looking good even under heavy use.  There’s a wide variety of color and pattern options, including options you simply won’t find in nature.  Unlike engineered stone, solid surface countertops look artificial and man-made; they’re not a good replacement for granite or marble if you’re looking for a natural look.  It also is more vulnerable to heat damage than other surfaces.

This only scratches the surface of your countertop possibilities.  Concrete, laminate, bamboo, soapstone, marble, granite, tile – there’s almost no end to your choices.  An experienced kitchen designer can help walk you through all of these choices and more, helping you select the best surface for your unique situation.