Kitchen Remodel Ideas: How to Make it a Functional & Sociable Space

In the age of social distancing, our homes have become more of a “hangout” spot than ever before.  Because of this, requests for renovations have increased, as many homeowners have had more time to assess their space and identify areas for improvement.   There has been an increased interest in kitchens, especially, as some see an opportunity to transform this space into their “living room” – a social space where small groups of family and friends can mingle around the table over snacks, drinks, or a good meal! With this in mind, we developed a list of kitchen remodel ideas you can consider, based on frequent pain points we have seen from our clients and the solutions we have implemented.
  1. Get the Lighting Right 

A dark kitchen feels uninviting for guests, can hinder productivity, and makes it difficult to read recipes or even use sharp knives. There are a variety of ways to make sure you nail your kitchen lighting:

  • Natural light: Amplify natural light with more windows. This can also provide enhanced views into the backyard or surrounding area of your home to feel more connected to nature.
  • Recessed lighting: Improve your recessed lighting, which are fixtures built into the ceiling or wall comprised of housing, trim, and bulb.
  • LED bulbs: This is an energy-saving alternative to traditional incandescent bulbs. 
  • Under cabinet and in-cabinet lighting: This will eliminate shadows to provide adequate lighting for cooking.
  • Paint: Choose paint colors strategically to make the space feel brighter. 
  • Cabinets and countertops: Select finishes that will brighten the space. Consider shades of white for an illuminated and modern look!

2. Make The Space Inviting, Spacious, & Functional 

Homeowners are often frustrated by the awkward layout of their kitchen, as a cramped space makes it difficult for multiple people to be in the room. 

  • Eliminate congestion: Strategically place key features to eliminate traffic congestion and allow family members and guests to comfortably hang out, without getting in the way of someone who is cooking.
  • Enlarge the space: Consider removing the wall between the kitchen and dining room to create a larger footprint for your new kitchen. 
  • Add a dual-purpose island: Create space for a large island that can be used for not only meal prep, but also as a hangout spot for family and friends. 
  • Enhance storage: More on that below!

3. Amplify Storage

Inefficient storage can be aggravating and cause multiple trips to the garage, basement, and other areas of the home while cooking or doing meal prep. It also leads to clutter and can cause your space to feel smaller than it really is. 

  • Remove the soffit: This is a box-shaped structure intended to hide the wiring and mechanical components between your cabinets and your ceiling. Soffits are dated and can often make your space feel cramped. By removing it, you can then install cabinets that reach to the ceiling, allowing for more storage. If the soffit cannot be removed, there are ways to disguise it!
  • Accessorize your cabinets: Add extra shelving under countertops and on walls, free-standing shelves, toekick drawers, and cubbies.
  • Maximize corner storage: Rework blind corners with a LeMans shelving unit or a lazy susan. Blind corners are often found in older homes and can make it difficult to utilize the space in that area.
  • Upgrade your pantry: Consider replacing your old pantry closet with tall cabinetry.  A tall cabinet is much more efficient with full depth shelves, roll-out trays, and dividers.

4. Give It a Modern Makeover

Having a modern, renovated kitchen promotes sustainability and can drastically increase the value of your property, should you look to sell in the future. Here are some ideas:

  • Hardwood floors
  • Luxury vinyl flooring 
  • Stainless steel, energy-efficient appliances and new plumbing fixtures
  • Upgraded metals (matte aluminum, black stainless steel, brushed gold)
  • Open shelving and “floating” shelves 
  • Water-conserving sink faucets 
  • White cabinets accented by blue tile backsplash and newly painted walls
  • Add decor 
Kitchen with Large Island

5. Commit to the Prep Work First

Before you even get started, it’s important to ask yourself some key questions:

  • What are the pain points of your current kitchen?
  • What are your “must-haves?” 
  • What do you need more or less of?
  • Which aspects are outdated?
  • How long do you envision staying in your home? Are you planning to sell at any point?
  • What are you comfortable investing?

So, are you thinking about whether remodeling your kitchen is worth it? If your kitchen is outdated, uncomfortable, or causing traffic congestion, the answer is yes! An investment in your home is an investment in your family and quality of life. Beautiful environments increase endorphins! 

If you’re in need of a kitchen contractor, please contact us! We can have a virtual design meeting, or we can meet at our Design Center (we have several COVID-19 protocols in place, which you can find here). If you’re concerned about budget, let’s chat and we’ll determine what is feasible. 

Want to see some of these kitchen remodel ideas in action? Check out our kitchen portfolio page for before and after pictures!

Remote Work Might Be Here to Stay for Many Companies. Here’s How to Build or Upgrade Your Home Office to Maximize Productivity

Even when social distancing ends, remote work will likely remain intact for many people in the coming months, as we continue dealing with the unknowns of the coronavirus and its impact on our personal and professional lives. Some have even predicted that this is the end of the office as we know it, as many companies have realized employees can do their jobs just as well from home. A new study from the Institute for Corporate Productivity found that more than half of companies surveyed plan to expand or increase flexible work arrangements on a more permanent basis. Additionally, The New York Times reported that the president of Global Workplace Analytics expects more than 25 percent of employees will continue working from home multiple days a week, which is up from fewer than four percent who did so before the pandemic.

As the workforce plans for this potential “new normal,” many will look to upgrade their work from home office setup, or build one if they haven’t already. In either case, we’ve pulled together some recommendations on creating a space that will make you feel focused, productive, and inspired.

Strategize the location and size of the space
If you don’t already have a dedicated space for an office, ask yourself the following questions. Your answers should help you determine the amount of space you’ll need and the ideal location:

  • Is there an underutilized space in your home that you could transform into an office? 
  • Do you need complete quiet? Do you take phone or video calls often? 
  • If you’re a working parent who often needs to multi-task, would it be better to set up your office near particular rooms in the house? Or closer to a common area?
  • Do you need a strong Internet connection?
  • Will you ever host clients or colleagues in the long-term future?
  • How much storage will you need?
  • Which spaces in your home have natural lighting?

Ideally, you’ll want a more secluded space to optimize your focus, but we know that may not be realistic depending on the existing structure of your home as well as other day-to-day responsibilities you have.

Choose the right lighting
Natural light is ideal. Without it, you may experience eyestrain, decreased energy, and migraines, which will inhibit your productivity and overall health. If you already have a home office that lacks windows, check out these tips to “fake” natural light. Additionally, determine the right task lighting you’ll need, depending on the nature of your work (i.e. desk lamps, light fixtures, etc.)

Decorate and personalize your space

Choose home office color schemes that will make you more productive or feel inspired. If there are certain things you like to have surrounding you – whether its photos of family, artwork, or plants – be sure to include those. If you have the space, you might also consider creating a separate spot, like lounge seating, for brainstorming or completing other tasks.

Optimize with shelving and storage
Once you’ve identified your remote work necessities, you’ll be able to determine how much storage you’ll need, whether you need to file paperwork, organize office supplies, store books, create space for a printer, etc.

Optimize for both function & ergonomics
Do you like to stand while you work, or do you prefer to be seated? Do you do most of your work on the computer or do you need space for writing/reviewing paperwork? Which materials/supplies should be within easy reach? The answers to these questions will help you determine which kind of desk you should have (there are various kinds!) and how to organize your shelving/storage. Whatever your needs are, we recommend designing your space in a way that will enable efficiency. If you spend a lot of time on a computer, select a desk and chair that will minimize neck, back, and eye strain, and position the height of your monitor properly

Prioritize according to your budget
You don’t have to perfectly outfit your office from the start; you can continue to add to the space based on your budget (and time!). Prioritize the must-haves or mission-critical elements first. For example, if you like the option to stand while working, perhaps you prioritize a standing desk over setting up a separate area for brainstorming. 

If you’re looking for more home office inspiration or seeking a home office contractor, please contact us for a virtual consultation! We can help you create a space that makes you feel inspired and excited for work. We’re also available for any general inquiries about home remodeling. We’re open and have strict protocols in place in light of the coronavirus. 

Bathroom Lighting Tips and Trends

Tips and Trends in Bathroom Lighting

It’s often said that kitchens and bathrooms sell houses, but there’s no doubt bathroom upgrades increase the level of luxury for a home’s current inhabitants, as well. Many people dream of heated floors and fancy tile, but what really turns a plain powder room into a spa-like retreat is the room’s light. Let’s take a look at the four main types of bathroom lighting and current trends for a lovelier lav:

Task Lighting

Task lighting illuminates a specific point for a specific purpose; in the bathroom, that means the vanity mirror. To avoid unflattering shadows, vanity mirrors should always be lit from the sides, not just centered above the mirror.

Current trends: Brass is back! There has been a resurgence of this long-neglected metal in the past few years, especially in bathrooms. Choosing brass or gold-tone faucet hardware and vanity sconces adds a delightfully modern twist. Take care, however—these metals need a bit more TLC than chrome or nickel. Be prepared to polish and clean regularly to keep your fixtures fresh.

Accent Lighting

Accent lighting places light strategically on a favorite feature and adds depth to the room. These lights can be playful or utilitarian, but always be sure they are waterproof!

Current trends: Backlit mirrors are the hottest way to give texture and depth to even the smallest powder room. This muted lighting provides a lovely, soft glow and pleasingly frames a special vanity mirror.

Decorative Lighting

Decorative lighting adds interest and personality. It’s an easy and fun way to add an unexpectedly unique touch into what is commonly considered a purely functional room.

Current trends: The funkier, the better. Get ready to see lots of eclectic, sculptural fixtures, especially one-of-a-kind chandeliers with unusual materials and contrasting colors.

Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting floods the space with light and is most often found with overhead fixtures or recessed lights in the ceiling. Incandescent bulbs (or LED bulbs designed to mimic them) are a great choice for a warm glow that won’t harshly bounce off reflective surfaces.

Current trends: Dimmers allow you to change the level of lighting according to time of day and personal preference: perhaps fully lit for morning makeup application or barely there for nighttime visits. They make a room much more comfortable and quickly customizable.

No matter which lighting trend you favor, placement is key. A few inches can make the difference between a softly flattering glow and a myriad of unattractive shadows. Always consult a professional who can expertly guide you to the sweet spot of impeccable illumination and let your style shine.

kitchen lighting

3 Lighting Tips For Your Next Remodeling Project

kitchen lightingLighting is a critically important aspect of every remodeling project. Whenever we advise our clients about lighting, we address three primary areas of need: Functionality, Style, and Control. If you are planning a remodeling project, here are a few home lighting tips for you to consider.

1. Address Functionality First

Before we begin selecting fixtures, we consider first how the homeowner will use that space, and then we work with them to select the best lighting options for that area. From task lighting around work areas, to accent lighting for accentuating artwork, there are a wide variety of lighting options available.

The quantity and mix of fixtures necessary to light any area will vary depending on the size and dimensions of the space. Using a light layering approach, we strive to achieve the optimal lighting solution based on each client’s needs and budget.

2. Make a Style Statement

More than just providing illumination, lighting can help homeowners express their individual style and taste. Clients often select decorative pendant fixtures over their tables, peninsulas, and islands to add personality to a room. Pendants can be in line, staggered, or larger in scale. Large or small, there are numerous options for every taste ranging from vintage or reproductions, to industrial, sleek and contemporary, transitional, traditional, eclectic, the list goes on.

3. Gain Control

Finally, when working with clients on their lighting, we always consider how they want to control the light in the space. Do the lights need to be dimmable? How frequently will these lights be used? What are the energy efficiency goals? Do the homeowners want to be able to control the lights remotely? Recent innovations in technology have made it easier than ever for clients to control both interior and exterior lights whether they are away on vacation, or simply seated in another room.

Still Need More Ideas and Inspiration?

Looking through photos on Houzz is a wonderful way to gather ideas and inspiration for any remodeling project. To assist with your lighting planning, browse through this Houzz Ideabook I created.

If you have questions about an upcoming project, please feel free to contact me with your design questions. I can be reached at the office line at: (610) 584-0665.