KITCHEN…The Heart Of Your Home

KITCHEN…The Heart Of Your Home

 

I want you imagine, just for a moment…that your kitchen is not just a place where meals are made and dishes are washed.  It’s a place where memories are made.

What would it be like…if instead of running to close the door to your kitchen when friends stopped by, you couldn’t wait to show them the best room in your house?  A room that’s the heart of your home, where people WANT to congregate.  A room where everyone is always laughing and happy.  A room where you’re proud to entertain family and friends.  Does this sound like the kitchen you have right now? 

Everyone who’s ever hosted a gathering in their home can tell you, that no matter the size or shape, your kitchen is ALWAYS going to be the place to hang out.  And in some kitchens it can become pretty crowded…and warm!  So what allows one kitchen to pull off the perfect gathering while others just don’t work as well?  Here are a few ideas to get you thinking about creating a kitchen that is truly the heart of the home, the “center of everything”.

A Heart of the Home Kitchen might have:

1.An open flow into the family room or dining room

2. Island for prepping and serving food, especially during a party

3. Stools at the island

4. Enough walk space between cabinets and/or island (36”-48”)

5. Homework space for the kids
6. A place to sit and have a conversation
7. Uncluttered spaces: a place for everything
8. A message center for charging devices and message taking
9. A place to feed pets
10. Medicine storage
11. Table space for eating, talking, or playing games

12. A prep sink so others can help with meals
13. A desk for paying bills, searching for recipes, collecting purses and keys

Your Design Homework:

  • Using the list above, check off the items that you already have in place in your kitchen.
  • Of the items you don’t have, ask yourself if they’re really important to you.
  • If they are, make a plan to include them in your next home makeover project. Remember that some items on the list can serve more than one purpose…a table can serve you for eating meals, doing homework, having coffee with friends, etc.

Though some items on the list might require a higher budget than others, remember that you can start from where you are with the little things.  When you’re happy and excited to entertain family and friends, and your home reflects your personality, your enthusiasm will carry over and memories will be made.

How To Know When Your Home Isn’t Meeting Your Needs

How To Know When Your Home Isn’t Meeting Your Needs

 

Homes come in all shapes and sizes.  Some are spacious, and some are small.  Some are clean and simple, while others are cluttered with things we love. When we’re young and active, we never give a second thought to feeling confident and safe doing everyday basic things around this place we call home.  It’s a given…right? You’ve set it up and decorated it exactly the way you love.  So, how do you know when your home isn’t serving your needs? It happens when you least expect it, and not always when you’re ready.

Several years ago I became a Certified Aging In Place Specialist (CAPS).  During the two day course we learned how to modify homes so that clients can live there as long as they choose.  Basically, we learned how to make life easier in our homes as we age.  Little did I know, how several years later, we’d be needing these design tweaks in our own home!

Since helping clients remodel their kitchens and baths is my all-time favorite thing to do, I always recommend putting these Universal Design principals into place in these rooms.  But I also know that as aging Boomers, we think we don’t need them.  We still have the image of the institutional bathroom in our minds, and can’t face the thought of installing grab bars just yet. 

Well, that’s what I thought too, until the unexpected happened.  When my husband had his knee replaced a few years ago, we discovered all kinds of design issues with our three story townhouse.  This was certainly something we never considered when we bought it. The doorways were only 28” wide when a walker is 30”.  There were no grab bars in the bathroom, and too many stairs to maneuver that required him to stay in the lower level for weeks. Check out my blog post to learn more about it.

I was determined that all of these issues would be corrected when we designed our new home.  Every shower wall and toilet area was prepped for grab bars.  No need to actually install them now.  We’re healthy and active.  Doorways are 36”…check.  Plenty of good lighting…check.  Wide open walkways…check.  Appliances at a user friendly level…check.  We are good to go!

Or so we thought.  Until my own foot issues kept getting worse and worse.  I put off the much needed surgery for as long as I could, asking friends what to expect. 

I learned that I needed a knee scooter and crutches.  I learned that to maneuver the stairs, sometimes you just have to sit down and scoot.  Crazy, I know.  But sometimes you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do to make it all work.

What I didn’t hear from anyone was some basic advice that we all know and just don’t think about.

  • A curb-less shower would have made entering the shower so much easier, and I would have felt more confident. No problem with the actual showering, because a bench seat and hand held shower have made it so easy.
  • The beautiful accent rugs gracing our floors had to go. Yes, they are rolled up and sitting on the sidelines waiting for full recovery day.  Again, safety and confidence is an issue.
  • Grab bars in the shower would help the fear of losing balance and falling.
  • Grab bars next to the toilet, or even a temporary raised toilet seat with built in grab bars, would make life easier.
  • And this one thing, that has nothing to do with your home but everything to do with your physical body, is to exercise. For me it’s yoga…a strength building intense yoga…at least two days a week.  Had it not been for my yoga instructors Karen, Nancy, and Caren always stressing the need for balance and strong bodies as we get older, this journey would be a struggle.

As recovery continued, life got a little easier each day.  My “recliner office” was all set up, and I was plugged in to all my devices trying to get work done.  Life’s an adventure, I always say.  And now I know how to be prepared for “the next time.” 

Your Design Homework: 

  • Take a walk around your home. Check the doorways, the bathrooms, the floors.
  • Now make a list of the little things you can put in place that will make your life easier if you need to have an unplanned surgery…or an accident. Can you add grab bars to you shower or toilet areas?  Are your doorways at least 32” wide?  Do you have rugs that might cause you to trip if you were on crutches?

 

KITCHEN…The Heart Of Your Home

Designer Tips For Lighting Your Kitchen

 

Being an interior designer means more than helping clients with the pretty stuff.  It also means staying current on technology and trends.  This week, to stay current with my design certification, a class on kitchen lighting was in order.  Even though I know the basics, it’s always a good idea to have a refresher now and then to learn something new.  And, of course, I love to share it with you!

The most important take-away for the class, that I can’t stress enough, is the need to plan.  We plan our vacations, our road trips, and even our days.  In a remodel, we plan our cabinet layout and our appliances.  But how many of us don’t even think about planning the best type of lighting we need in the kitchen?  We know that we need overhead lighting.  And if you’re “lucky enough” to have a fluorescent box on your ceiling, you know that you want to get rid of it!  But what should you replace it with?  Let’s take a look at the three essential layers of lighting that are important in every kitchen.

Layer 1 – Ambient Lighting is the general lighting that brightens our kitchen and is the foundation for all the other lighting in the room.  The goal with ambient lighting is to have even distribution throughout the space so we don’t have dark pockets that make it hard to see.  

In the past, builders and re-modelers turned to the flush mount light fixture, or the lovely fluorescent box centered in the work space.  The trend today is to use recessed can lights.  And then we always have the questions…How many cans should we use?  How should they be spaced?  The answer to this is based on the ceiling height, the colors in the room and how they reflect, and…your age.  Yes, our eyesight gets worse as we age, and some of us feel more confident with more overhead lights.

Layer 2 – Accent Lighting

Most of us love this layer because it’s the “jewelry” for the kitchen.  A few ideas of where to place them are:

  • Pendants over an island or table
  • Over the cabinets, tucked away behind the crown molding
  • Inside cabinets with glass fronts to show off what’s inside
  • Lighting in a tray or cove ceiling
  • Under counters
  • On floating shelves which are popular today
  • Toe kicks…especially good for late night visits to the kitchen so you can find your way!

Layer 3 – Task Lighting is especially needed to help us see better when we’re working around the kitchen.  Things like reading the buttons on the coffee maker or dicing vegetables are all made easier with task lighting. 

We all want to have our counter work space illuminated so that we can see better and avoid dark spots.  That’s why it’s so important to install under cabinet lighting in your home

To get the best coverage and light up your whole counter, the lights need to be installed to the front of the cabinets.  LED tape strips offer the best opportunity for this.  And the length of the light strip needs to correspond to the width of the cabinet.  A big no-no would be to try to save money and install a 12” light strip on a 36” cabinet.  Doing that would create shadow pockets on your counter, and make seeing difficult.

Unfortunately, on tight budget projects, this is often the first thing to get deleted off the want/need list.  And it’s the one thing that clients regret not including.  I can’t stress how important it is to find other ways to stay within your budget.

We plan everything else in our kitchens, so why not take the time to plan our lighting.  Remember before you run out and buy the pretty fixtures, put some thought into where you want the lights, where you plan to do the most work, and then where you want that WOW factor of beautiful pendants.

The Heart of Your Home–The Kitchen

I want you imagine, just for a moment…that your kitchen is not just a place where meals are made and dishes are washed.  It’s a place where memories are made.

What would it be like…if instead of running to close the door to your kitchen when friends stopped by, you couldn’t wait to show them the best room in your house?  A room that’s the heart of your home, where people WANT to congregate.  A room where everyone is always laughing and happy.  A room where you’re proud to entertain family and friends.  Does this sound like the kitchen you have right now? 

Everyone who’s ever hosted a gathering in their home can tell you, that no matter the size or shape, your kitchen is ALWAYS going to be the place to hang out.  And in some kitchens it can become pretty crowded…and warm!  So what allows one kitchen to pull off the perfect gathering while others just don’t work as well?  Here are a few ideas to get you thinking about creating a kitchen that is truly the heart of the home, the “center of everything”.

A Heart of the Home Kitchen might have:

1.An open flow into the family room or dining room

kitchen island

2. Island for prepping and serving food, especially during a party

serving food

3. Stools at the island

Island

4. Enough walk space between cabinets and/or island (36”-48”)

walk space

5. Homework space for the kids
6. A place to sit and have a conversation
7. Uncluttered spaces: a place for everything
8. A message center for charging devices and message taking
9. A place to feed pets
10. Medicine storage
11. Table space for eating, talking, or playing games

table space

12. A prep sink so others can help with meals
13. A desk for paying bills, searching for recipes, collecting purses and keys

Your Design Homework:

  • Using the list above, check off the items that you already have in place in your kitchen.
  • Of the items you don’t have, ask yourself if they’re really important to you.
  • If they are, make a plan to include them in your next home makeover project. Remember that some items on the list can serve more than one purpose…a table can serve you for eating meals, doing homework, having coffee with friends, etc.

Though some items on the list might require a higher budget than others, remember that you can start from where you are with the little things.  When you’re happy and excited to entertain family and friends, and your home reflects

5 Remodeling Fears That Keep Your Dreams on Hold

remodeling fears

Do you ever find yourself dreaming of what life would be like when you finally have that new kitchen or bathroom?   You see visions of the perfect dinner party with everyone laughing and happy in your organized kitchen.   Or maybe you dream of how relaxed you’ll feel when you soak in your new bathtub after a long day at work. 

And then…..the remodeling fears set in, you’re stopped dead in your tracks, and your dreams are placed on hold.

So many of my clients have heard horror stories about remodels gone bad.  Once you hear one bad story, they seem to pop up everywhere.   Has that ever happened to you?   After listening to these stories over and over, I’ve discovered that there are 5 remodeling fears that keep your dreams on hold.   But I know it doesn’t have to be that way.   There’s a way to avoid the nightmare and send you down the path to your dream kitchen or bath.

Fear #1 – Making Costly Mistakes
We’re all afraid of making a mistake, especially when it costs us money. And because of this we often second guess our decisions.  The solution to this is to begin with a plan and stick to the plan.  Do your research on all the products you’ll need in your new space.  Check the dimensions so you know that things will fit.   And consult with an interior designer to guide you through the process and give you professional advice.

Fear #2 – Having it take longer than expected
When you’re interviewing a contractor, be sure to get an approximate finish date that matches your expectations.  One way to avoid construction delays is to have all of your products ordered and stored before your room is demolished.  Then, if items are back ordered, you won’t be left hanging until it arrives.

Fear #3 – That it will cost more than was budgeted
Keeping a budget spreadsheet that you continually update is one way to avoid this fear.  It also lets you see where you can blow it to buy that “gotta have” item.  And where you can save on something that isn’t as important to you.  But things happen, and you need to be prepared for it. So I always recommend having a cushion of 5-10% for those unexpected issues.

Fear #4 – Unexpected surprises behind the walls
This fear always goes hand in hand with remodeling fear #2 and 3, because surprises behind the wall can affect the budget and the construction time. Unfortunately, as much as your designer and contractor plan for the perfect project, without tearing a wall open to peek inside, there’s no way to plan for it.   It’s always a good idea to have a Discovery meeting just before starting. Then the contractor can cut open the soffit to look for venting or other obstacles.

Fear #5 – Hiring the right people
When you do your homework by asking your friends, neighbors, and family for referrals, you’ll be headed in the right direction.  Hiring a contractor, builder, or interior designer should be more than just a cost comparison of fees and mark-ups.  What is the experience they bring to the table?  Be sure that whoever you hire is someone whose personality works with yours.  Since you’ll be working closely with them for an extended period of time you need to like and respect each other.

By following these guidelines, you should be ready to take your dreams off hold, set aside your remodeling fears, and finally have the kitchen or bathroom that you’ve always wanted.

Remodeling Your Kitchen: A Happy Thought or One That Fills You with Dread?

fan deck and blueprint

Whenever I hear women talking about remodeling your kitchen, it’s usually a conversation filled with animated excitement. They talk about the new appliances they’re going to buy, the colors they’ll use, and the beautiful cabinets filled with every convenience.

But every once in a while, the “remodeling your kitchen” talk turns to the horror stories they’ve heard from friends about remodels gone bad. They bring up things like project budgets that have gone way beyond what they planned for. They worry about all the chaos and clutter that they’ll have to deal with. And worst of all, they agonize over the lengthy process and whether they can even stand to do it.  Does this ring a bell with you?

Remodeling projects don’t need to end this way.  It should be a fun and exciting time for you.  Now, I’m not saying that it will all go perfectly.  But I am saying that I’m passionate about helping you have a successful kitchen remodel.  It’s what I love to do!

But I can’t do that if I don’t know what your biggest concerns are.  You know, the things that fill you with dread, and might even keep you from starting your project. So please take a minute to complete this poll I’ve created, and then look forward to making memories in your own dream kitchen!