Modifying Your House for Disabled Accessibility Without Compromising Home Value


While daily life can be challenging wheelchairwith a disability, innovations over the last few decades have made a new level of independence possible for
the disabled. Services and products now make it possible for such individuals to attend school, run daily errands, and live in private homes in ever increasing numbers. Being able to live independently also prevents depression, increases lifespans, and can even improve some conditions.

But while this stay at home movement offers many benefits to the disabled and elderly, it is not without its costs.  Extensive modifications and renovations often have to be made to homes to accommodate disabled residents. Some of these renovations are fairly unintrusive (such as intercom and camera systems), but some accommodations require major renovations, such as the installation of chair lifts or elevators. If a homeowner considering such renovations is disabled, any associated costs are often accepted as part of the price of independent living. But what about a scenario in which a disabled individual resides in but doesn’t own a private home? This could be costly for a homeowner in more ways than one.

Disabled friendly renovations to a home can be expensive in a couple of ways. There is the cost of the renovations themselves, which can be an ongoing process. They can limit a home’s functionality and visual appeal for potential buyers, as well. On the other hand, there are a number of cost effective resources and techniques that both allow these renovations to be made and make such a home appealing to both disabled and able-bodied residents. Read on to learn more about increasing a home’s accessibility without sacrificing its value.

What Does Adapting a Home for the Disabled Involve?
Adaptations of this type to private homes vary greatly depending on conditions of disability. And it’s possible that these adaptations may have to change over time, just as disabilities do. The vast majority of disability adaptations that are installed in private homes are considered minor ones. This means that they are relatively inexpensive to install, relatively easy to uninstall, and don’t lessen the value of the home in question. Examples of this type of adaptation include:

  • installing portable ramps
  • lowering stair railings
  • physically rearranging interior and exterior areas for easier access
  • lowering the heights of doorknobs, window latches, and light switches to be accessed by wheelchair users
  • adding or relocating interior and exterior lighting
  • installing cameras, intercom systems, and adapted telephones
  • installing modified latches and lock systems to accommodate those who have difficulty using their hands, such as arthritis sufferers
  • installing lower storage areas in kitchens
  • installing lever faucets in both kitchens and bathrooms
  • installing no slip flooring, grip bars, and shower chairs in bathrooms

These types of changes often cost under $1,000 and generally can be done by amateurs. These alterations also don’t cause issues that can affect home values. Adaptations that are considered major alterations to a home include:

  • installation of elevators
  • installation of chair lifts on stairs
  • installation of ramping floors
  • new plumbing in kitchens and bathrooms, including lower sinks, showers, bathtubs, and higher toilets
  • accessible kitchens
  • adding accessible rooms to house

These types of changes generally cost well over $1,000. Unless homeowners possess various renovation skills, they should be made by professional contractors. And once such changes are made, they generally become a permanent part of the house. If such changes could limit future use by new owners, this could affect a home’s value.

Saving Money and a Home’s Value When Making Adaptations
Many individuals are unaware that federal grants are available for home modifications to assist the elderly and disabled. These modifications are also deductible at tax time. Such monies can certainly help to defray the cost of adaptations, even minor ones.

Sustaining a home’s worth is probably not uppermost in a homeowner’s thoughts when making changes to accommodate a disabled relative, but making intelligent and thoughtful changes when doing so can help to preserve home value. These include:

1. Not making permanent changes that impair or interfere with the house’s basic functioning. In other words, the house should continue to be comfortable and accessible to all who use it, regardless of ability levels.

2. Going with the professionals. Yes, that internet video made dismembering your house look like a snap, but unless you truly have the time and skills needed for major renovations, paying a professional contractor now will save you and future occupants much money and heartbreak later. And given our aging population, a professionally adapted house done now could be much in demand in years to come.



Isaac Christiansen – RIS Media Housecall,  Jul 7 2017 


Posted on July 12, 2017 at 10:49 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Home Design, Sellers

What Color Should I Paint My Front Door?

Extend a standout greeting with a memorable hue at your home’s entry

Decisions, decisions. For your front door, do you go for classic black or shocking pink, calming blue or stately green? For inspiration on how to make your front door the star of the street, check out the choices below.
Susannah Hutchison, Houzz contributor   July 9, 2017
Posted on July 12, 2017 at 6:23 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Home Design, Sellers

What to Look for in a House if You Plan to Age in Place


Look for details like these when designing or shopping for your forever home

 Traditional Exterior by Karnak Pro Builders
Karnak Pro Builders
Hunting for a house that will work for you now and allow you to stay safely and comfortably in your home as you grow older is no easy feat. If you’re looking to age in place, consider putting these 10 things on your home buying wish list to ensure you can happily stay in your home for many years to come.
Posted on April 10, 2017 at 7:07 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Buyers, Home Design

These Doors Can Modernize Your Listing’s Look

Barn doors leading to home office

Thinking of selling your home in the near future?   Consider these simple yet elegant options for dividing a space that increase its functionality while scoring design points.


A front door with pizzazz has always had a starring role in a home’s curb appeal. But lately, the doors inside a home are getting a closer look for their ability to add style and address design challenges. Strategically placed doors can offer privacy in open floor plan environments or increase the usability of cramped spaces.

Real estate pros Helen and Malte Strauss in Orlando, Fla., who also manage a staging blog, have used barn doors hung on sliding tracks above door frames and pocket doors, which tuck inside a wall, in several remodel and staging projects. “We use barn doors all the time in master bathrooms where there is a vanity area that is separate from the tub and commode area,” says Strauss, also a home stager.  In some older homes, vanities are located in the master bedroom rather than in the bathroom, a style that quickly can date a home. “Now we just close those off with a barn door, and buyers love that solution.”

She also recently used two barn doors hanging from each side of an open door frame to solve an open floor plan’s privacy issue.  The homeowners had built an addition off the living area that could be used as a guest bedroom, but they never installed a door to separate the bedroom from the main area. Strauss added the double barn doors so the space could be used as a guest bedroom or opened to expand the living area when not in use by a visitor. “It truly makes the room and provides an architectural interest to an otherwise bland wall,” she says.

But don’t be thrown off by the word “barn.”  Your listing doesn’t have to be country chic to benefit from this space saver.  The concept works in many styles, from walnut barn doors for traditional homes to galvanized metal doors for urban lofts, says Lynn MacMillan, with Gem Home Staging & Designs in St. Catharines, Ontario.  Pocket doors vary widely too, from all glass to all wood and from designs that stretch to the ceiling to those that are only waist-high.  Sliding doors can attach to a kitchen island and can be used to close off areas to pets or children when needed.

“I prefer using sliding doors in all my projects,” says designer and architect Lilian Weinreich in New York. Sliding glazed doors, she says, help create enlarged, obstruction-free bathrooms and walk-in dressing areas.

Homeowners needn’t break the bank on these door styles.  Costs vary, but barn doors start around $400 (with do-it-yourself installation). A pocket door can run about $550 (including installation and labor), depending on your local market.

But designers also point out the need for caution.  “You don’t want overkill with this trend.  A barn door is a statement piece. It’s artwork. You wouldn’t use it in every room,” says MacMillan.  But in moderation, barn and double-pocket doors “instantly elevate a home’s style in a way that will make others take notice.”



Melissa Dittman Tracey  –  REALTOR magazine, Jan 2017


Posted on March 20, 2017 at 4:26 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Home Design, Sellers

Smart Choices in New Building Materials

This time of year, many are eager to plan home remodeling projects. Help your clients by making sure you’re ready to share information on the latest materials, products, and systems so they can make their homes more durable, sustainable, energy-efficient, and waterwise.

home under construction


As your friends return from summer vacations, they may be thinking of upgrades they’d like to make to their homes. These days the goal often is to decrease maintenance costs, lower utility bills, and appeal to a wide segment of future buyers. Here are nine cutting-edge developments—some of which are just now being introduced into U.S. markets—that piqued our interest, along with reasons why they’re a wise investment.


Permeable Pavers


Why they’re a smart choice: Though a bit more expensive than concrete, pavers are often a smarter choice in the long term. If they crack, they can easily be removed and reinstalled after the soil or gravel is leveled, while concrete has to be jack-hammered out, says Sacramento, Calif.–based landscape designer Michael Glassman. But now home owners are able to choose permeable pavers, which offer an even smarter hardscape choice for yards. Unlike impervious pavers, these allow the ground to absorb water directly, rather than sending it into streets or down sewers where it’s wasted. Also, their porous surface functions as a filter to remove some pollutants from rainwater.

Example: The “Eco” line from EP Henry comes in a number of shapes, sizes, textures, and colors and can pave driveways, walkways, pool decks, and retaining walls. Many local governments and municipalities offer storm water management tax credits for upgrades like these, and some permeable pavers can help homes qualify for LEED certification.


Green Roof Tiles


Why they’re a smart choice: Asphalt shingles may be a budget-friendly roofing option—they cost far less than metal, slate, or clay tiles—but many asphalt choices don’t provide a good barrier against noise or extreme temperature, nor can they withstand hurricane-strength winds very well. Green roof tiles offer a cost-effective, environmentally friendly option, as they’re manufactured from recycled content. They stand up to strong winds thanks to the way their exposed sections are fastened to the roof. Their corrugated design also allows cool air to pass through and ventilate an attic.

Example: Ondura’s Onduvilla line is made from 50 percent post-consumer reused materials that are lightweight — aiding both transporting and installing — and comes in varied landscape-inspired colors (including red, green, sienna brown, terracotta, gray, and black). The tiles can be added over an existing asphalt shingle layer, which eliminates the cost and labor to remove the original layer.


Cartridge-Fueled Fireplaces


Why they’re a smart choice: Did you know that traditional log-burning fireplaces not only fail to warm a room, they actually suck out heat? That’s why the search continues to find alternatives that offer the look of a crackling flame, are easy to install, and don’t require a gas line or electrical outlet. One option is an assembled, insulated, and ventless design that uses cartridges filled with an alcohol gel that home owners light with a long butane lighter, the same way they’d light a candle.

Example: The HealthCabinet’s model uses disposable cartridges that come unscented or in vanilla, pine, or cinnamon fragrances. Many of its models have a modern hipness and can sit directly on the floor, atop a low console, or in a wall. Some models also can be used outdoors. Prices may seem steep at $4,900 to $12,000, but they require no design time, chimney work, or gas line, so the expense is all on the front end.


Modular, Portable Shelving


Why it’s a smart choice: As more and more newer homes lack built-in shelves, many home owners aren’t sure how to store their books and collections after they move in. But shelving systems are expensive and hard to remove when it’s time to sell. Even bookshelves and other freestanding furniture pieces don’t offer flexibility if home owners wish to expand their collections.

Example: Designers Jack Godrey Wood and Tom Ballhatchet developed BUILD shelving modules to offer expansion options. Manufactured by German-based Movisi from plastic foam that’s recyclable, hypoallergenic, and water- and shock-resistant, the modules can be arranged in numerous configurations on floors or walls. The system comes in black or white and can be used with or without a back.


Tankless Water Heater

Why it’s a smart choice: A traditional water heater keeps its tank hot all day, increasing utility bills. Tankless designs that attach to a plumbing system work on demand, heating water only when needed and paring energy consumption.

Example:  Rinnai says its Continuum model is 50 to 70 percent more efficient than most traditional heaters. One version allows home owners to preset shower temperature and times and automatically fill tubs. While this type of tank is more expensive to purchase and install, it offers a good payback, especially for those who own vacation homes and don’t want to heat water when away. The key is to pick a model with a flow rate that matches the home’s number of fixtures and average water usage. Using gas rather than electricity makes sense too, avoiding problems when there’s a power outage.


Master Smart Control System


Why it’s a smart choice: Most home systems operate independently, which requires using a control panel for each item that affects comfort in a home. That’s inefficient both in terms of energy use and consumer effort, which is why there’s a whole host of companies working to get these independent water and HVAC systems talking to each other and reporting back to home owners.

Example: Rheem.s EcoNet technology uses a home’s Wi-Fi connection to link its air conditioning, heating, and water management products so that a home owner can control them through a single app or wall-mounted panel. The system can send alerts if anything’s wrong, such as a water leak. If the home owner has set up contact information, the system will even send these alerts directly to their contractor. However, this setup works best with new construction, major remodeling, and intensive retrofits.


Recycled Building “Brick”


Why it’s a smart choice: Too often, building materials get discarded when structures are demolished or remodeled. Salvaged materials are considered a very chic building and decorating look now, but they don’t always offer the right shape, color, or thermal properties for every project. Yet, many can still offer a second life if reconfigured properly.

Example: StoneCycling — a company founded in the Netherlands in 2013 by Tom van Soest and Ward Massa — grinds and blends broken brick and other waste materials and processes them into durable multicolored shapes and sizes for aesthetically appealing interior and exterior applications. The new products can withstand high winds and are flame-retardant. The company is currently working with interior architects in several U.S. cities and Massa says they expect multiple projects that incorporate them to be finished next year.


Solar Facade


Why it’s a smart choice: When you think about solar energy, chances are you picture a panel or set of photovoltaic cells placed on a roof. But about 15 years ago, a Swiss architect developed and patented a wall system that provides passive solar heat gain for new homes and buildings. The system, known as the Solar-Activated Facade, incorporates angled wood louvers that absorb different amounts of solar heat depending on the season, back-vented glazing that either traps warm air or releases it depending upon energy needs, and insulated panels that cut construction time.

Example: Architect and energy expert Eric Nelson of Nelson Architech GmbH and Boston-area architect Stephen Moore of BlankSlate Design hope to begin manufacturing the SAF system in the United States in the coming year. It’s already being used effectively in Switzerland and other countries around the world.

Barbara Ballinger – REALTOR magazine,  September 2016
Posted on November 14, 2016 at 1:11 am
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Home Design

Better Ways to Use Your Dining Room


Ready to rethink a formal dining room?  Here are some great ideas for turning your home’s least-used room into a fun multitasking area.

Setting aside an entire room for formal dining is a luxury when space in most houses is at a premium. Take into account families sitting down to eat together less often — adults working different hours, kids coming and going for sports, people having different diets or food likes — and a preference for casually sitting around the kitchen island or garden table, and a formal dining room could often be put to better use. Here are some great ideas for what could otherwise be wasted space.

Traditional Kids by Joe Carrick Design - Custom Home Design

Joe Carrick Design – Custom Home Design


If you can hardly move because of toys cluttering the living room floor, coloring books and crayons all over the kitchen counter, and bits of games in random places underfoot, create a dedicated playroom in your unused dining room. Dining rooms tend to be close to the kitchen, so kids would still be within earshot, but their mess would not be spread all over the house. Create clear storage places and cleanup rules (tidy up before bedtime), and sanity will be restored.


Contemporary Kids by ANA Woodwork Studio LLC

ANA Woodwork Studio LLC

Turning boxed games into a decorating feature might encourage family table time, rather than individual screen time. And secure storage keeps boxes in one piece — meaning no more losing that last valuable tiny hotel in Monopoly.


Transitional Kids by Braun + Adams Interiors

Braun + Adams Interiors

Homework Station

As kids get older and homework projects run on for several days (or weeks), a homework station with all the tools, reference books and stationery they need in one spot means projects can be started straight away (no last-minute hunts for glue sticks) and works in progress can be safely left out between sessions.


Contemporary Kitchen by Sean Murphy Contracting INC.

Sean Murphy Contracting INC.

Game Room

If you don’t have a basement, rumpus room or big garage, turn the dining room into a game room. Convert the table into a pingpong court with a fold-out piece of plywood, or buy a stand-alone billiards table.

Farmhouse Dining Room by Dalgleish Construction Company

Dalgleish Construction Company

In a tinier dining space, add a folding table for cards or board games. You can use it for drinks or desserts for that annual big dinner party too.


Rustic Home Office by Dan Nelson, Designs Northwest Architects

Dan Nelson, Designs Northwest Architects


In many grand old houses in days of yore, the library and dining room were doubled up. If you long to have tidy book piles, fill your walls with shelves and create the library of your dreams.

Transitional Home Office by Cornerstone Architects

Cornerstone Architects

If you don’t have walls for bookshelves, take a leaf from lobbies in luxury lodges and style the dining table with beautiful coffee table books and the latest glossy magazines. Pull up some chairs and encourage quiet reading time.

Eclectic Home Office by Emily A. Clark

Emily A. Clark

Home Office 

One of the joys of working from home is having an inspirational office that doesn’t look boring or corporate. Mix and match vintage and sleek, use a nice lamp instead of a work light, and add pretty accessories and a smart rug. This works well if the dining room is near the front door, so clients don’t have to troop through the rest of the house.

Scandinavian Home Office by Plyroom


Keep papers and supplies in stylish bins and boxes. Use a sideboard to hide unattractive paperwork for an easy switch to dining mode.

Contemporary Kids by Rinaldi Interior Design

Rinaldi Interior Design

If you plan to sometimes use the dining room for, you know, dinner, look for covered storage boxes that look grown-up. Make the most of all the wall space with high shelves. (Tuck a folding ladder in a nearby cabinet for safe access.)

Contemporary Dining Room by Katie Leede & Company Studio

Katie Leede & Company Studio

There are no rules that say a work desk has to be square. The classic Eames chair seen here was designed for dining and office use. The pedestal Tulip table comes in several sizes and with different tops to create a classy office.

Industrial Dining Room by Kit Republic

Kit Republic

Garden Room

Indoor plants are taking over design photos, so let them take over your unused dining room. A gorgeous array of vases, pots and cuttings you are nurturing makes an enticing modern version of the grand old orangeries. 

Tip: Make sure your tabletop is sealed to prevent water damage to precious wood or lacquer. Or use a tray or padded waterproof cloth to catch spills.


Shabby-chic Style Dining Room by Kara Rosenlund

Kara Rosenlund

Sitting Room

A second or third sitting room is a bonus retreat in a busy household. Even better if it is TV-free and has a fireplace, a view or fine art. Leave the chaos to the main living room and retreat to a quiet corner here.


Catherine Smith –  May 25, 2016



Posted on June 1, 2016 at 4:41 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Home Design

7 Ways to Mix and Match Kitchen Cabinet Colors


Can't decide on a specific color or stain for your kitchen cabinets? You don't have to choose just one!

There are as many ways to add color to your kitchen as there are hues to choose from, but cabinets will always be prime real estate for a zap of personality. While many homeowners settle on just one shade, choosing multiple cabinet colors can give your space a designer edge. (It’s also a godsend if you’re indecisive.) If you’re searching for ways to blend two or more color tones into your kitchen design, check out these seven ideas that offer a blueprint for mixing and matching cabinet colors.

Farmhouse Kitchen by iMatch Designers

iMatch Designers

1. Turn your island into an accent piece. It’s a classic way to incorporate a second color into your cabinet design, no matter what the style of your kitchen is. It can spice up clean, contemporary designs without adding unnecessary detail, or it can add another layer of color to complement wall paint and decor in traditional designs. The options are especially endless when you go with white or off-white for your main cabinets. 

Traditional Kitchen by Village Interior Design LLC

Village Interior Design LLC

That said, white kitchens aren’t for everyone. If you prefer deep wood tones, you can still use your island as an accent piece without white cabinets. This traditional Texas kitchen creates a down-to-earth country feel by coupling alder wood cabinets with an olive green island finish.

Contemporary Kitchen by Mark English Architects, AIA

Mark English Architects, AIA 


2. Use three complementary colors instead of two. If you’re not satisfied with just two hues for your kitchen cabinet design, keep flipping through the color swatches to find a third color. Not only do three shades give your kitchen more of a designer feel, they also evenly distribute color throughout the space. 

White is a good starting point because it pairs well with other neutrals as well as bold primary colors, Mark English Architects chose to balance this modern kitchen’s white cabinets with both tall black cabinets and a smack of high-gloss orange cabinets.

Farmhouse Kitchen by LMK Interiors

LMK Interiors


Not every three-toned cabinet design needs a primary color, so feel free to stick with neutral tones, especially in industrial and rustic designs. This San Francisco kitchen stays true to its farmhouse roots with a rural color palette that includes white, brown and dark gray.

Contemporary Kitchen Contemporary Kitchen


3. Accentuate a single cabinet piece. The island doesn’t always have to be the showpiece of the kitchen. It certainly isn’t the only cabinetry that can flaunt a splash of color. Wooden hoods, glass wall cabinets or even sink and range base cabinets are hot spots for a dab of baby blue or rustic red. It’s an unconventional way to design colorful accent pieces that aren’t overly fussy.

Transitional Kitchen by Barker Freeman Design Office Architects pllc

Baker Freeman Design Office Architects


4. Choose a different color for your uppers and lowers. Designating one color tone for your upper cabinets and another for your lowers is a way to inject color into your kitchen and maintain an organized design. Choose a darker color for your lower cabinets to ground the design, then experiment with lighter shades like whites and grays on the upper. This prevents the design from feeling too top-heavy.

Rustic Kitchen by Kyle Hunt & Partners, Incorporated

Kyle Hunt & Partners, Inc.


5. Add a stain or glaze to one of your cabinet colors. While an antique finish or charcoal glaze can add extra oomph to your accent color, it can also soften your main cabinet color. This rustic kitchen’s antique white cabinets allow the dark island stain to command its fair share of attention in a space full of visual intrigue.

Transitional Kitchen by Blakes London

Blakes London


6. Play with texture. Mix different colors with different textures, as this transitional kitchen does. It combines a midnight blue painted finish on its upper cabinets with a grainy wood veneer on its lower cabinets. Exploring textures like wood and metal along with color can give you a kitchen design that breaks the mold.

Eclectic Kitchen by Ande Bunbury Architects

Ande Bunbury Architects

7. Break the rules. Yes, it’s OK to toss the rules of design aside (for a moment, at least) and let your creativity run wild. Design with daring color combinations, or opt for singularity instead of contrast. Put color in places it shouldn’t be, such as single drawers or cabinet doors. This eclectic kitchen does just that, integrating seven color tones into a unique puzzle-piece design.

Contemporary Kitchen by Brian O'Tuama Architects

Brian O'Tuama Architects

Not many designers would think to incorporate three color tones from the same family in their cabinet design, but Brian O'Tuama Architects did in this contemporary kitchen. The spectrum effect is truly one-of-a-kind, and that type of creativity can help personalize your own kitchen space and make it yours.


Sam Ferris –  October 6, 2015


Posted on May 26, 2016 at 12:15 am
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Home Design

Kitchen Confidential: How to Measure Your Cabinets


Follow these quick and easy steps before calling in the pros.

Whether you’re designing your own kitchen cabinets or counting on a professional to get the job done, it’s beneficial to take your own measurements. Having them on hand when you enter the cabinet shop lets you or your designer start crunching numbers quickly. But measuring for cabinets isn’t necessarily an intuitive venture. You have to know center points of major appliances, dimensions of windows and the height of your ceiling. After you grab your tape measure and a notebook, follow these four steps to make sure the numbers add up.

Industrial Kitchen by Blakes London

Blakes London

Step 1: Sketch It Out

It doesn’t have to be pretty. In fact, it probably won’t be unless you’re an artist of sorts. But your numbers won’t mean anything unless you know what areas of your kitchen they’re referring to. Before you start anything, draw a rough blueprint of your kitchen and label all appliances, windows and doorways accordingly. When you’re measuring, write down the corresponding numbers in a clear and concise manner so that you understand them when you look back at your measurements later.


Traditional Kitchen by CMM Construction Inc.

CMM Construction, Inc.

Step 2: Measure the Length of Your Walls

This is an intuitive step, no doubt. You must know the space you’re working with. You can start with any wall in your kitchen. Always measure the length of your island. Round to the nearest one-sixteenth of an inch.

Contemporary Kitchen by Jaffa Group Design Build

Jaffa Group Design Build

Whether you measure the entire length of your walls or just the span of your cabinets will depend on what you’re planning to change. If you’re simply replacing your cabinets, you don’t need to measure the length of entire walls. Simply jot down your current cabinet measurements. 

However, if you’re adding cabinet space or reconfiguring your layout, you need to know the length of every wall in your kitchen. Otherwise, you won’t know how to reposition your appliances or whether you can expand your cabinetry.

Rustic Kitchen by Barbra Bright Design

Barbra Bright Design

Step 3: Find the center point of your sink, stove and windows

Unless you’re planning to shake up your kitchen’s layout, your sink, stove and windows are staying put. As a result, you have to build your design around these items. Knowing the center point of your sink, stove and any windows allows you to correctly position the cabinets that surround them.

Victorian Kitchen by Destination Living

Destination Living

Begin with your sink. To find the center point, start at the end of the nearest wall and measure toward your sink. Stop once you reach the middle part of the appliance or window. Round to the nearest one-sixteenth of an inch.

Beach Style Kitchen by Karr Bick Kitchen and Bath

Karr Bick Kitchen & Bath

The next stop is your stove. It can be costly to relocate an electrical or gas cooking line, so knowing where your cooktop will be and planning accordingly is paramount. Repeat the previous step.

Contemporary Kitchen by Cason Graye Homes

Cason Graye Homes

If your sink or stove is located on an island, you don’t have to begin measuring at the end of the nearest wall. Skip the extra work and start at the end of the island. Just make sure you or your contractor knows where your island is going when it’s time to install your cabinets.

Traditional Kitchen by Lake Country Builders

Lake County Builders

Finally, don’t forget to record the center point of your windows. Measure the width and height, too. This ensures correct placement of any cabinets that are above or adjacent to your windows. It’s also important to include trims. This prevents major headaches down the road when you can’t fit an upper cabinet because it hits the trim of your window.

Transitional Kitchen by Kitchen & Bath Decor

Kitchen & Bath Decor

Step 4: Measure the height of your ceiling

The height of your ceiling will clue you in to the ideal height for your upper cabinets. Here’s why:

  • The standard height of lower cabinets is 34½ inches.
  • The standard thickness of countertops is 1½ inches.
  • The standard backsplash height is 18 inches.

When you subtract these common measurements from the height of your ceiling, you’ll know which upper cabinet height will fit in the remaining space.

It’s ultimately up to you to figure out which height works best. Most upper cabinets span 30, 36 or 39 inches high, but you can buy or make upper cabinets that are 42 inches or taller. You don’t have to take your cabinetry all the way up to your ceiling; it’s perfectly acceptable to leave empty space at the top. Some homeowners don’t like taller upper cabinets because they’re harder to access. 

Of course, there are exceptions to these standards. Backsplashes aren’t always 18 inches high, for example. Sometimes they’re taller. Take note of any possible exceptions in your own kitchen and factor them into your measurements.

Transitional Kitchen by Schwarz Lewis Design Group, Inc.

Schwarz Lewis Design Group, Inc.

If your kitchen ceiling is taller than 9 feet, you may consider double-stacking your upper cabinets. Buy two sizes that fit within the allotted space between the top of your backsplash and your ceiling.

Transitional Kitchen by Elizabeth Lawson Design

Elizabeth Lawson Design

Bonus tip:  Be precise. Every fraction matters. This is true whether you’re an expert or an amateur, but it matters even more when you’re new to the kitchen cabinet process. An incorrect measurement can throw off the entire design and cost you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to correct the mistake. Avoid rounding to the nearest quarter-inch. Take exact measurements to prevent problems during installation.

Sam Ferris –   May 19, 2016



Posted on May 24, 2016 at 4:45 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Home Design

See Why Tile Is Being Used in More Rooms Than Ever


Inventive options and durability make tile a good choice for your floors. Here’s how to get it installed.


When it comes to deciding on tile for flooring, the choices can be overwhelming. And figuring out how to get it installed is just as important as picking a type. The good news is that tile is durable and versatile, and there are plenty of experts out there to lend a helping hand.

Modern Living Room by Heliotrope Architects

Heliotrope Architects

Project: Working with a tile specialist to get a tile floor installed.

Why: Using tile for flooring instead of carpet or hardwood allows for inventive design options, thanks to the variety of tile choices on the market. And more than ever, tile is being used for floors in rooms besides bathrooms and kitchens, where it’s a popular choice because of its durability and moisture repellency.

Polished porcelain or natural stone tile can add elegance to a living room. Hexagonal mosaic tile is a bathroom floor classic. And of-the-moment faux wood porcelain tile is showing up in living rooms, bedrooms and kitchens. The living room above features a Pennsylvania bluestone in a flagstone pattern.

 Farmhouse porcelain tile  –  Anatolia Tile & Stone:

Modern Kitchen by Traditions in Tile

Traditions in Tile

Whom to hire: Tile installation is a specialized skill, so make sure the installer is qualified. This isn’t a job for the handyman. Bart Bettiga, executive director of the National Tile Contractors Association, says, “It’s a good idea to make sure the contractor uses certified installers, is a member of the NTCA or at a minimum can demonstrate through referrals that they have a proven track record of success.”

If you’re not already working with a contractor or design-build specialist on a home renovation or new construction, you can visit a tile showroom on your own to get acquainted with the multitude of tile available for flooring. Many showrooms have designers and installers or can recommend someone.

Once you’ve chosen a tile specialist, Bettiga recommends asking for a detailed scope of the work to be performed and how long it will take.  

Terra Bella Marble hexagonal tile – Westside Tile and Stone:

Floor tile photos

Mathew Weiner, of Westside Tile and Stone in Los Angeles, says his company will take homeowners through the pros and cons of the tile options and how they differ by look, maintenance and price. They’ll talk about the use and amount of traffic of the room to be tiled, and the reality of natural stone tile, such as marble, which he calls “a living, breathing element” that needs to be sealed yearly and cared for with nonacidic, neutral cleaners.

Rustic Bathroom by Lemon Grass Interior Architecture

Lemon Grass Interior Architecture

Cost: The average price range for quality ceramic tile is $1 to $5 per square foot, Bettiga says. Lauren King, of Normandy Remodeling in Hinsdale, Illinois, says the size and shape of the tile, as well as the material, influence the cost. For a 12-by-12-inch tile, she says, porcelain costs about $5 to $12, natural stone $8 to $15 and ceramic $2 to $7.

Tile installation is generally priced per square foot. For example, the cost of installing tile in a 100-square-foot kitchen with no subfloor prep work is about $3,200, says Rafael Anaya, a tile contractor who often works with designer building Lab in the San Francisco Bay Area. For a labor-intensive job using intricate mosaics, some installers will charge by the hour. Making sure that a floor is level is important and can take extra time, meaning higher cost. Sometimes prepping the floor to get a job ready for installation will take almost as long as the tile installation itself, Weiner says.

Slate tile – Home Depot:

Traditional Kitchen by Carnes Home Builders

Carnes Home Builders

How long will the job take?Bettiga says a typical kitchen takes a two-person crew three to four days to complete. The work includes preparing the substrate (the floor’s base layer), setting the tile and grouting the tile (filling the joints or gaps between tiles with grout).

Florida Tile's Cliffside collection of porcelain floor and wall tile in Light Grotto – Carnes Home Builders:

Modern Living Room by VersaTile Surfaces

VersaTile Surfaces

First steps: When working with any professional, it’s important to go over everything that will be done during the course of the job before the work actually begins. “It is an excellent idea to ask the tile contractor for detailed scope of work to be performed and reasonable timelines to get this done,” Bettiga says. “This includes any demolition, preparation of the floor substrate and actual installation. The tile contractor should be asked to provide details related to products being used, such as membranes, movement joints, type of grout, etc.”

 Transitional Living Room by EcoCraft Homes

EcoCraft Homes

In some cases, the subfloor is inadequate for holding tile and must be repaired or replaced before work begins. A smooth, unbuckled surface is necessary for the tile to sit flat. “Subfloors should be examined in the bid process and discussed with the builder-remodeler or homeowner,” Bettiga says. “The homeowner should make sure the proposed subfloor meets tile industry standards included in the TCNA Handbook for ceramic tile installation.” The handbook can be ordered through NTCA.

A level floor is especially important for large-format tile, such as that shown above in a house in Pittsburgh, where 12-by-24-inch tiles with a one-third offset were used “to give the home a modern feel,” says Elliot Fabri Jr., of EcoCraft Homes in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania.


 Badajoz cement tile – Granada Tile's Echo collection: 

Mediterranean Kitchen by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

During the project: Before tiling begins, door entries are covered with plastic to keep dust out of the rest of the house. The existing flooring is then removed and the subfloor is assessed to determine whether it’s suitable to receive tile. Sometimes tile is laid atop existing tile if height isn’t an issue, Bettiga says. If the subfloor needs to be removed, that’s usually done by a tile contractor or, during a remodel, the remodeling contractor. In some cases, such as bathrooms, a waterproof membrane is laid atop the subfloor before tiling. Next, adhesive mortar is troweled over the floor, and the tile is placed into the fresh mortar. Grout is mixed and applied into the tile joints (spaces between tiles). A sealant is sometimes applied to the grout to prevent staining. 

Max Black Nature porcelain tile – Porcelanosa:  

Contemporary Kitchen by Dichotomy Interiors

Dichotomy Interiors

What to know about choosing tile: In general, porcelain tile is denser and more impervious to moisture than ceramic tile, so it’s more suitable for floors. The Porcelain Enamel Institute rates tile on a scale of 1 to 5 to indicate how it will stand up to foot traffic — from Class 1 tile, which should be used only on walls and not anywhere there’s foot traffic, to Class 5 tiles, which are suitable for heavy-traffic areas. 

Many tiles are glazed, or coated with a liquid glass that’s baked onto the surface of the clay. The National Kitchen & Bath Association says glazed porcelain tiles are much harder and more resistant to wear and damage than ceramic tiles. Glazed tiles are also more stain-resistant, and they allow for a variety of colors and designs. Some porcelain tiles are also full-body, which means the color runs through the tile, rather than simply baked onto the surface. 

Normandy Remodeling’s King says full-body porcelain is the best type of tile for flooring and outperforms natural stone. “It can be as expensive or more expensive than natural stone, but improved technology has helped porcelain resemble the real deal so closely. The result: There is less reason to use real stone, which requires a bit of care and maintenance,” King says.

Vallelunga & Co's Tabula Cenere porcelain tile: 

Traditional Family Room by Traditions in Tile

Traditions in Tile

A popular tile today is full-body porcelain tile that looks like wood. Weiner says many of Westside’s customers are opting for faux-wood porcelain tile, which he says is an easy-to-maintain product that, unlike wood, never needs refinishing. “Porcelain wood-looking tile will never stain, scratch, change color, and is impervious to water.” Keep in mind that wood-like tile looks best installed in long pieces, King says, adding that the floor must be perfectly level, so the tile can be properly laid to avoid breakage during and after installation.

Contemporary Kitchen by building Lab, inc.

building Lab, inc.

Tile size is also something to think about. Bigger is often better, King says, because there are fewer grout lines. Bettiga points out that larger tile and fewer grout joints generally make an area appear larger. A floor with 12-by-24-inch tile is shown above.

Brazilian black slate tile – Chesapeake Tile & Marble:

Modern Sunroom by place architecture:design

place architecture design

Arabeseco large terra-cotta tile – Tabarka Studio:

Craftsman Bathroom by Design Really Matters

Design Really Matters

Using floor tile in patterns also makes for an interesting design element. “If the tile is the only decorative element in a room, mosaic tile can be a beautiful option,” King says, but because it’s made with natural stone, avoid using it in a high-traffic area. Make sure the tile is “dry laid out,” so you can see the look and feel of the pattern before it’s installed, Bettiga says.

CTM terracotta tile in basketweave pattern – San Diego Marble and Tile

Mediterranean Living Room by H O M E + atelier Michael Ranson

H O M E + atelier Michael Ranson

Though it can give a room a rich feel, there are considerations when using natural stone tiles for flooring. Stones like travertine, limestone, slate, granite, quartz, onyx and marble all perform differently when exposed to moisture. They often need protective sealers, which wear off over time and need to be reapplied, Bettiga says.

Arabescato Carrara marble with a China black marble inlay, custom cut – Tarkus Tile:

Traditional Bathroom by Tarkus Tile, Inc.

Tarkus Tile, Inc.

Marble requires yearly maintenance since it’s prone to staining and etching if not treated or taken care of, Weiner says. If you like the look of marble but not the high maintenance, there are many porcelain tiles that mimic its look while being maintenance-friendly, he says. How is the look of marble attained in a porcelain tile?  “Ink-jet technology developed out of Italy scans real natural stone and digitally prints it on top of porcelain,” Weiner says.


By:  Julie Sheer  –, January 15, 2016



Posted on May 21, 2016 at 8:58 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Home Design

9 Designer Shortcuts That Work


Embrace these favorite pro tricks for quick style:

Every interior designer has go-to tricks. Today I’d like to share my top cheats that I use time and again for quick results. These foolproof ideas can solve many of your design dilemmas in an afternoon.

Eclectic Living Room by Taylor Jacobson Interior Design

Taylor Jacobson Interior Design

1. The corner plant. Some design teachers will tell you putting a plant in an empty corner is a huge no-no, suggesting that an empty corner means the room wasn’t correctly arranged or planned out in the first place. But I often find that plants get forgotten when it comes to designing rooms. So I say, if you ever have a free space for a lively green plant, don’t be afraid to jump on the opportunity to include one. 

The trick to ensuring that your corner plant looks like an intentional design feature and not simply a cheat is to go for something large and leafy enough to hold its own against your other furnishings.


Contemporary Living Room by Sisalla Interior Design

Sisalla Interior Design

For best results, choose a simple but chunky container (like a block clay pot or textural woven basket) and an easy-maintenance plant that’s at least 3 to 4 feet tall, such as a fiddle-leaf fig, so that the plant visually fills the floor space and wall space.


Industrial Bedroom by Aristea Rizakos

Arista Rizakos

2. Stacks of books. Besides being great brain candy, having attractive books on hand gives you the tools to correct endless little decor dilemmas. 

Is a vase or sculpture looking too small and wimpy? Sit it on a book or two, and suddenly it’s a precious object on a pedestal. One bedside lamp shorter than the other? Use a few books to add height where needed and achieve a perfect symmetry.


Contemporary Living Room by Toronto Interior Design Group | Yanic Simard

Toronto Interior Design Group / Yanic Simard

Wherever you have an empty shelf, or a ho-hum display that could use a little accessorizing, simply pull out a great oversize book or two, and you’ve got endless options for decorating like a true stylista.

Tip: For a more neutral display, take the jackets off books with overly busy covers and display just the plain covers.


Traditional Home Office by Dalia Canora Design, LLC

Dalia Canora Design, LLC

3. Clear furnishings for contemporary style. Is a space with beautifully classic trappings feeling a little too traditional? One solution is to bring in a few clear elements, either in modern materials like Lucite or in chunky shapes. The clean silhouettes add a sense of “now,” but the transparency lets them blend into their surroundings so the space doesn’t end up feeling wildly eclectic.


Transitional Kitchen by Wellborn + Wright

Wellborn & Wright

Try clear plastic seats, Lucite art shelves, oversize pendant shades or lamp bases, or simple glass vases holding a single type of flower (or nothing at all).

Tip: Mix glass and clear plastics to bridge the low-tech and high-tech materials. And it never hurts to add a little wood for a perfect complement.


Contemporary Home Office by Toronto Interior Design Group | Yanic Simard

Toronto Interior Design Group / Yanic Simard

4. Signature color. Why do interior designers like me have a personal signature paint color? The logic is simple: Colors always look a little different between the paint chip and on the wall, so when you’ve found a great one that you love in real life, there’s no reason not to use it again and again.

I used one of my go-to off-whites (Benjamin Moore's Classic Gray) in the space in this photo and the next, and the results are totally different moods, but both beautiful.

Contemporary Bedroom by Toronto Interior Design Group | Yanic Simard

Toronto Interior Design Group / Yanic Simard

Besides guaranteeing a great result every time, using a signature color also connects different spaces for a sense of consistency throughout your home. Contrary to what TV may teach you, every room in the home doesn’t need to have its own theme. If you’ve seen a color you like in your own space (or someone else’s), go ahead and repeat it, adding your own spin each time through the other furnishings.

Tip: Repeat the same flooring where possible so you know that the walls and floor will always coordinate the same way. This will make it easy to move furnishings between rooms to make your look flexible and fail-safe.


Contemporary Nursery by Dyer Grimes Architecture

Dyer Grimes Architecture

5. Off-center art. Is that favorite framed keepsake a little too small for the wall? Not when it’s off-center on purpose. Anyone can hang a perfectly sized piece centered over a sofa or bed, but if you have a must-display piece that doesn’t happen to be the right dimensions, try hanging it off to one side and a little low for a quirky asymmetrical look that feels artistic.


by Glenn Gissler Design

Glen Gissler Design

The same strategy works on a shelf or mantel, or over a table. Just remember: “low and off to one side,” and let that otherwise wimpy piece become a stroke of decorating genius.

Midcentury Living Room by Hufft Projects

Hufft Projects

Tip: Make sure that every piece you display is meaningful and effective, rather than taking up space with filler pieces you don’t love just to create a trendy gallery.


Transitional Living Room by E & A Interiors

E & A Interiors

6. Hidden technology. Designers love to hide televisions and computers in cabinets and credenzas, especially in more traditional settings, which can seem silly to the person who just bought a slick new flat-screen and wants to show it off.

Keep this mind: In the modern era, technology changes so quickly that today’s shiny new must-have is tomorrow’s dated model. What doesn’t change is the beauty of the other classic pieces in a room.

Scandinavian Living Room by Design3 | Дизайн в кубе


For a modern approach, turn your media wall (whether it’s just a TV or oodles of gadgets) into a display area, tucking away tech boxes in cabinets or on open shelves among artworks, candles and heirlooms. This lets the area serve as an attractive focal point whether or not the TV is on.

Tip: Use a wireless TV transmitter to send signals from your cable boxes (tucked away in a cabinet near the cable outlet) to your TV to avoid a mess of cables.


Scandinavian Bedroom by NORTHBOURNE architecture + design

NORTHBOURNE architecture & design

7. Throw blankets. A gorgeous throw blanket is the decor equivalent of the garnish on an exquisite meal, giving a room a sense of life, casual elegance and a dash of color or texture. I’m an avowed fan of classic white linens, but a throw blanket spread quickly over the foot of the bed in the morning lends an inviting air that you’ll appreciate when you come back at night.

Scandinavian Living Room by Inne


Don’t get too fussy with a throw blanket. After all, it’s called a “throw” for a reason. When everything else in the space carries clean lines, a casually tossed throw provides some needed softness.

Tip: Invest in a high-quality, natural-fiber blanket with rich color and an enticing hand-feel, and you’ll be able to use it in different rooms for years of style.


Eclectic Living Room by Sarah Greenman

Sarah Greenman

8. Black-and-white patterns. Whether you have a busy space filled with drama or a muted palette that needs more life, black-and-white prints and patterns are a virtually foolproof addition. They always feel fashionable, they hold their own without screaming for attention, and they’re so neutral that they won’t fight with even the wildest color palettes.

Contemporary Living Room by Camilla Molders Design

Camilla Molders Design

Any sofa or bedspread can be elevated with a few black-and-white pillows. Add in some monochrome artwork, and you get a sophisticated look every time.

Tip: A simple 1- to 2-inch black-and-white stripe is the most classic of all, perfect for mixing with other patterns and solids in your choice of accent hues.


Scandinavian Bedroom by Design3 | Дизайн в кубе


9. Collecting over time. The last designer cheat for the day is to not rush the design of your space, but rather allow the finishing touches to be collected over time. Often clients want an entire space to be designed and completed ASAP, but if designers take a little extra time with a decision, it’s not just because we’re taking a long lunch. To really know how pieces will work together, you sometimes just have to see them in the space and even live with them for a while.

Taking your time also avoids creating a look that’s too “matchy.” Collecting as you live your life lets you introduce pieces that aren’t so perfect but have just the right character and personality.

Beach Style Living Room by Crowell + Co. Interiors

Crowell & Co. Interiors

Tip: Know when to edit your collection as well. If you keep some storage dedicated to tucking away accents and accessories, you’ll be able to develop your collection without having to show every favored piece all at once (or part with any of them forever).

If you haven’t used something in a year, let it go. It’s the No. 1 secret to having a happy, beautiful home. 


By Yanic Simard  –   May 16, 2016


Posted on May 18, 2016 at 7:31 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Category: Home Design