Whether you’re completely gutting or simply updating fixtures, one thing remains constant for any project: it can be VERY overwhelming.
Not to worry – we’ve gathered these tips and often overlooked options that will help you navigate your remodel and find what works best for you and your family.
👣 Begin your renovation with these baby steps:
1) Find your style
Pinterest is a wonderful tool to browse ideas.
2) Financial readiness
Add at least $5k-$10k to your budget for unexpected expenses. You never know what’s behind the walls – you could encounter damaged pipes, asbestos, mold, or faulty electrical wiring. This could not only raise costs but also delay your project.
3) Prioritize your wants and needs
Ditch the tub for a larger shower if you never take baths or forgo the dishwasher for more cabinet space if you don’t need one.
4) Work with professionals
Better understand the scope of your project by consulting with a professional designer and contractor. Ask family, friends, or neighbors who have recently remodeled for referrals.
5) Be ready for the long-haul
Special order items like cabinets can take weeks, sometimes even months, to come in.
• THE KITCHEN •
💰 WHERE TO SAVE MONEY:
• If you don’t absolutely need it, nix the touch-activated or motion-sense kitchen faucet for a regular one.
• Opt for stained cabinets instead of painted.
💸 WHAT TO SPLURGE ON:
A new trend is creating “stations”
• A charging station with integrated outlets for everyone’s electronic devices.
• A coffee station with a Keurig and a custom drawer/shelf/holder for K-Cups.
• A small bar area or wine rack to display all your favorite spirits.
- Stainless steel and cast iron are the most durable.
- Farmhouse or Apron-front is the latest trending style and comes in many sizes.
- Undermounted makes for easy cleanup whereas top-mounted sinks create a lip on the counter where dirt and debris can build up.
- Some sink models come with built-in cutting boards, strainers, and other accessories for convenient prepping and cleaning.
- Consider adding a garbage disposal to reduce the amount of food waste in your garbage (and at the dump) – some models can even grind fruit pits and chicken bones.
- Opt for single-bowl over double-bowl. You’ll have more space to wash large pots and pans.
- Pull-down is super handy for rinsing dirty plates and getting those hard-to-reach spots in the sink.
- A soap dispenser and/or instant-hot water/cold filtered water dispenser can come in the same finish as the faucet for a seamless look.
✨ Designer Tip: With the prevalence of pull-down faucets, a separate spray nozzle is borderline obsolete. Use that space for other utilities.
1) Framed vs. Frameless
- Framed cabinets are the more American style, where the hinges sit on the frame.
- Frameless is the more European style, where cabinet hinges attach to the inside of the cabinet box.
2) Inset vs. Partial Overlay vs. Full Overlay
- Inset doors lay flush within the cabinet opening for a flat, even surface.
- Partially overlaid doors lay over the frame and leave space between each cabinet door/drawer so that it shows more of the frame.
- Full overlay doors cover the entire cabinet box and allow for the most amount of storage.
3) Wood vs. MDF vs. Other Materials
- Maple, Oak, and Cherry are among the many different cabinet wood species available and all have different characteristics. Keep in mind that real wood will expand and contract when exposed to variations in temperature and humidity.
- MDF, or Medium Density Fiberboard, is made from recycled wood and then machine pressed for a more sturdy door that won’t be as affected by atmospheric changes. This is a better option than natural wood if you’re going for painted cabinets.
- Other materials such as laminate and aluminum make for great cabinet options as well. Many homeowners also add a couple glass paneled doors to display what’s inside.
4) Door Style
- Traditional: Ornate detail (especially in the molding), homey
- Modern/Contemporary: Sleek, clean lines, minimalism
- Paint: Grays and blues are currently trending and white is always timeless.
- Stain: Transforms the raw wood for custom-looking cabinetry that ranges from light tones to deep rich shades.
- Glaze: This finishing technique adds an even more dramatic effect that will define and highlight the door detail as well as create an overall richness to the color. This is not a stand-alone feature – it can only be applied after painting or staining.
✨ Designer Tip: Colors differ depending on lighting so bring home door samples to see what they look like in your home. What seems like Oatmeal in the store may look Gray in your kitchen.
- Arrange your cabinetry based on where you can access most-used items. For example, you’ll want a spacious cabinet next to your stove for pots and pans.
- Create custom drawers and shelving for optimal storage and increase your kitchen’s functionality.
- Match the knobs and handles to the same finish as your faucet.
- Quartz: Stone is crushed into powder and then man-made into slabs. Requires the least amount of care and maintenance.
- Granite: Every slab is unique. Should be sealed at least once a year.
- Marble: Very porous and must be sealed several times a year.
- Corian and Formica: Less expensive options but they are easily damaged.
- Other Tops: Cement/Concrete or Wood/Butcher Block are unique but require special maintenance. Wood tops will need to be oiled and concrete tops are prone to staining if not sealed often enough.
*Use non-abrasive cleaners on your countertops. Certain materials may need specialty cleaners.
✨ Designer Tip: Just like with cabinets, you could create a two-toned look with contrasting countertops – one kind on the island and another around the perimeter. For example: a wood/butcher block island and quartz perimeter or simply two different colors of quartz. We recommend only doing one differential though – two cabinet styles with two countertop styles will just look mis-matched.
• THE BATHROOM •
💰 WHERE TO SAVE MONEY:
• Luxury items are nice, but only if you can really afford them. Things like towel warmers, body sprays, and a whirlpool tub (especially if you don’t take baths often) could be sacrificed to make room in your budget.
• Don’t splurge on rooms that won’t be seen often. A powder room or master bath should get more attention than a guest bathroom. Plus, there are less fixtures to match in a powder room so you can splurge on that fancy vessel sink.
💸 WHAT TO SPLURGE ON:
• If the kids are all grown up and you never take baths, consider ditching the tub/shower combo and go with a walk-in shower. You’ll have more space for more options (multiple showerheads, bench, etc).
• Create a shower niche (built-in shelving for soap and shampoo bottles).
• A bidet is a great addition to any bathroom. There are toilet seats with bidet functionality included so you don’t have to buy a whole new toilet or separate basin.
• Upgrade to a lighted mirror or medicine cabinet with a defogger for faster getting-ready time.
✨ Designer Tip: Showerhead, trim, robe hooks, tissue holder, and hardware should match the same style and finish. Most manufacturers offer all of these in the same product line for a unified look.
- Many showerheads come with multi-functioning capabilities to give you options for water flow and massage settings.
- Add a handshower for optimal cleansing.
- A slide bar is easy to install and allows you adjust the height of the showerhead if you have family members of varying sizes.
- Rain showerheads are fantastic but only if you have good water pressure. Save money by choosing one that mounts from the wall instead of the ceiling, otherwise you’ll have to re-route your plumbing.
- Body sprays are a nice luxury option.
- Some showerheads or vent fans come with Bluetooth capability to play your music while you shower.
*Remember: Adding more bathing options like multiple showerheads or body sprays means you’ll be using more hot water. If your current hot water heater can’t handle it, you may need to replace it with an adequate model.
🗨️ Vocab words:
Diverter: Allows for multiple showerheads
Thermostatic Valve: Sets the temperature
Volume Control: Amount of water
- An older toilet can use between 3-6 gallons per flush (gpf) which is wasteful and unnecessary. This is why it is so important to update your toilet.
- Standard toilets these days flush at 1.6 gpf saving thousands of gallons of water per year.
- WaterSense toilets flush at 1.28 gpf without sacrificing performance.
- Some models come with dual-flush technology so you have the option of a fuller flush when you need it.
🗨️ Vocab words:
2-Piece: tank & bowl are separate
1-Piece: tank & bowl together – easier to clean
Skirted: concealed trapway – looks nicer, easier to clean
Non-Skirted: visible trapway – dust and debris can collect in the crevices
Comfort Height: 17”+
Standard Height: Under 17”
Elongated: Oval-shaped seat, larger bowl (18 5/8″+), more comfort
Round-Front: Round seat, smaller bowl (16 3/4″ or less), space-saving
The Wow Factor: If it fits in the budget, choose an Intelligent Toilet for optimum hygiene and comfort. Intelligent Toilets come with a multitude of features you never knew you wanted: motion-sensor/hands-free opening and closing seats, bidet with customized temperature and warm air drying, deodorizer, seat warmer, foot warmer, dual-flush, nightlight, and all are controlled from a touch-screen remote. Not to mention, a tankless design that looks incredibly sleek.
• THE HOME •
💰 WHERE TO SAVE MONEY:
• A leak detecting system can prevent damage to your home by automatically shutting off the water supply and sending an alert to your phone when a leak is detected.
• A tankless water heater is efficient and cost-effective for a big family who uses a lot of hot water on laundry, showering, and dish washing (sometimes simultaneously). Instead of a traditional water heater that continuously keeps an entire tank of water hot and can deplete during heavy use, a tankless system heats the water as it’s used.
💸 WHAT TO SPLURGE ON:
• Radiant floor heating is great for basements and underneath driveways to melt ice & snow.
• Whole-home water purification systems are easy to install and remove contaminants that may cause health problems. Showering, drinking, cooking, cleaning, and gardening all rely on water – know that you’re doing these things safely with filtered water for your entire home.
Integrate with your cabinetry:
- Under-cabinet lighting for countertop tasks.
- Above the cabinets for great ambient light when entertaining.
- Toe-kick lighting as a nightlight in kitchens and bathrooms (just make sure the floors are clean).
- In-cabinet lighting for locating items and accenting fixtures behind glass doors.
Common lighting fixtures:
- Pendants for above the kitchen island or breakfast bar.
- Sconces for the powder room or guest bath.
- Flush-mount for smaller rooms and basements.
- Chandeliers for the dining room or entryway.
- A unique statement piece to fill empty vaulted ceiling space.
- Outdoor/landscape lighting to be safe at night and also boost curb appeal.
- A WiFi thermostat that includes geofencing means you can set the temperature from your phone when you’re not home. It can also connect to Amazon Alexa/Google Home for voice-activation control.
- For in-ground sprinklers, a WiFi sprinkler system will help your lawn look its best.
- Install WiFi security cameras so you can check in on your house while you’re away.
- A doorbell camera is a great safety feature if you can’t afford all the security cameras. The sensor can tell when someone is near your front door. It will send an alert to your phone and you can talk to the person from anywhere.
- A digital showering system allows you to preset your perfect shower.
The Future is Now: Connect your fixtures to Amazon Alexa/Google Home. That’s right – now you can voice-activate your shower, tub, toilet, mirror, and faucet. Learn more here.