Special Editions

Ask the Expert: By Design

Unfolding the latest direction in kitchen and bath design

By Elma Gardner
By Design

Dreaming about a kitchen or bath remodel? Not sure where to start and concerned about what really are the most current design trends? The market place is flooded with a wealth of product and a trip to the local kitchen and bath showroom can leave even the most seasoned shopper overwhelmed.

Soft contemporary design is the leading edge, combining the minimalist European design aesthetic with the warmer, softer contemporary feel that resonates with American homeowners. Strong, sleek lines are paired with textured, almost rustic features such as beams, wood ceiling treatments and distressed wood floors.

Glossy finishes and fixtures have made a comeback, sheen and shimmer against creamy walls and warm wood are a leading design trend. Quartz countertops in subtle neutral shades with metallic shimmer, glass tile with iridescent accents, high sheen cabinet finishes and perfectly placed accent lighting are prominent personality traits of current kitchens.

The white kitchen is a constant in kitchen design. It has been called many things, classic, contemporary, clean, sparse even traditional and it continues to be a strong trend. White has never entirely gone away, but neatly and cleverly reinvented itself to remain in the archives as well as the future of home kitchens. White ranges from snow white to varying shades of creamy, muted, milky tones. Paired with some of the latest in exotic wood species, the strong contrast lends warmth and drama to the white palette.

Cool colors and warm woods continue to be strong. Dove blue and taupe both work well as wall colors and are elevated to focal points when covered with sheets of glass, creating a calm, serene backsplash treatment that is the perfect complement to stainless steel appliances and gleaming countertops.

Organic materials, concrete on the floors or used as countertops paired with exposed brick or stacked stone are seen in kitchens, bathrooms and throughout living spaces. Pebble rock floors in shower enclosures teamed with large rectangular porcelain tile continue to provide natural, spa like environments in master baths.

Suspended lighting continues to be a strong trend. In kitchen design the hanging focal point creates sparkle on defined areas of countertop, dining surfaces and flooring. In living spaces, cable or mono rail systems with a combination of small accent fixtures that create pops of light and flood fixtures that provide good ambient light, continue to be used in both contemporary and traditional spaces.

Symmetry as a design trend appears poised to remain, symmetrical placement of windows and cabinetry continues to dominate space planning. Symmetry within design generates a sense of purpose and contentment. Similarly, repeating a shape in various sizes, colors and textures adds a continuum that is soothing, and easy to live.

Tile is making its presence known in contemporary bathrooms: occupying more wall, floor and backsplash space. It is not unusual to see bathrooms tiled to the ceiling on most walls, teamed with warm exotic woods, organic accents or sleek contemporary quartz countertops. Textured tile, or at least tile that appears to be textured, is a strong design trend in the current bath. Japanese style soaking tubs and walk in showers are seen in many contemporary space plans.

Open plan bathrooms are more prevalent than ever and are not defined by size. With the design centered on efficiency of the bathroom space with very little in the way of interior walls the user-friendly aspect of this layout trend will be at the forefront of planning both the master bathroom as well as secondary bath spaces.

The hall bathroom has undergone a subtle revolution. Created as support for entertaining as well as to serve family and guests this small space has traditionally been dominated by the tub shower combination. With an entirely open shower and minimalistic approach to fixtures the tub shower has finally been replaced. In its place a sleek, open space with a generous shower that allows guests to shower in comfort has become more common. Add a glass vessel sink or minimal floating water receptacle for the sink and the hall bath takes on the glamour of a sophisticated powder bath.

By Design makes the entire process seem effortless by creating working plans that are permit ready and user-friendly. Client can see their project come to life through the detailed space plans, cabinet details and tile patterns. Shopping for your fixtures and materials is easy and educational with an emphasis on what works best for the client’s individual needs.

12 tips for a successful remodel

Remodeling an existing home can prove challenging but with some foresight, common sense and the following tips you can eliminate most of the potential problems before you start the project.

Tip 1. Proper planning.
Use a design professional to plan your project. Make sure they are qualified. Doing a kitchen remodel? Look for a NKBA certified kitchen designer. It is a good idea to ask for references, see past projects and/or a portfolio and discuss budget concerns.

Tip 2. Consider all options.
While you may think you have the perfect solution for your design problem, remember that a design professional comes into your home with completely fresh eyes and may see possibilities that have never occurred to you.

Tip 3. Do consider resale value.
While your intention may be to stay in your home for many years it is still wise to keep resale in mind when planning your project. Use your design professional’s experience in tailoring current trends to timeless design so that you can recoup your investment down the line.

Tip 4. Avoid over-remodeling for your neighborhood.
No matter what your budget is there is only so much that you can recoup if you decide to sell. Check the real estate market to see what homes in your area are worth. Consult with your designer to create a project that will keep your investment in your home in line with others in your neighborhood.

Tip 5. Pick the best products for your budget.
Protect your asset. Do not use low quality products in your project. Even though there is a wide variety of design techniques and products available in today’s market place you don’t want to cut corners to save a few dollars and put quality at risk especially if you plan to stay in your home.

Tip 6. Don’t over extend yourself on a do-it-yourself project.
The best plans will only be as good as the execution. Be very clear about your ability to take on a do-it-yourself project and the time commitment needed for its successful completion. Remember if you get into trouble it may be hard to find a qualified contractor to take on a partially completed project.

Tip 7. Hire the correct contractor.
Deciding who to hire for your remodeling project is one of the most important decisions you will have to make. Look to your design professional for a list of qualified contractors that work in your area. Make sure that they are licensed, bonded and insured and consider using a professional that is a member of a trade association such as the Greater Sacramento Chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI).

Tip 8. Manage your budget.
Work with your designer to create the project within your budget and then, as team with your contractor, work to keep the project within those guidelines. You don’t want to come up short at the end of the project. Do not get distracted by input from friends and family, who have not been involved in the design process, along the way.

Tip 9. Avoid the domino effect.
It is easy to fall prey to the domino effect. When one room has been remodeled, such as your kitchen, it makes the adjoining spaces cry out for renovation. Fine if your budget allows it; otherwise plan carefully with your design professional to prepare a master plan that can be completed in phases that do not over-extend the budget.

Tip 10. Be realistic.
Timing is critical when executing a home improvement project. Make sure that lead-times for ordering critical items such as windows, special-order tile, appliances and cabinets are considered. There is nothing more frustrating than having a demolished kitchen and a six-week wait for cabinets! Don’t expect a kitchen remodel to be completed in two weeks, but do get a firm time estimate as well as an approximate completion date from your contractor before signing on the dotted line!

Tip 11. Know your rights.
Before you sign any contract, be sure you know what is involved. A contract should include a comprehensive description of your project, a line item list of costs for labor and the materials that were listed on your plans, a timetable and a schedule of payments as well as a list of responsibilities undertaken by the contractor.

Tip 12. Remember your designer is your advocate.
Make sure that you call on your designer during the construction phase of the project to clarify details and problem solve any on site issues that affect your project during the installation phase.

— For award-winning design and personalized professional service contact Elma Gardner, CMKBD, CID, By Design, 331 D Street, Davis. For more information, visit www.bydesign-studio.com or visit the showroom.

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