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Charlotte, NC 28203
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Charlotte, NC 28217

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6 Custom Laundry Room Ideas to Maximize Space

While the essential elements remain the same, there are endless possibilities when it comes to designing a custom laundry room and mudroom space that works best for your unique storage and lifestyle needs. These six ideas are a great place to start but certainly aren’t the only options.

5 Best Home Improvements to Increase Resale Value

Learn how to increase your home resale value with these top improvement ideas.

May 28, 2019 by lazarus

How to Choose the Right Countertop

Choosing the right countertop material for your kitchen or bathroom remodeling project can be overwhelming. There are dozens of types, hundreds of brands, and thousands of colors – it’s no wonder people go into “analysis paralysis” when it comes to finding the best countertop for their home.

How to Choose a Countertop

Before you go down any rabbit holes, take stock of what you already have, and what you dislike about it. Do you find that your countertop material gets easily scratched, stained, or melted? Do you cook a lot? Do you have children? Do you entertain? Are you looking for low maintenance? Is it important that the countertops be the focal point of your kitchen, or should they play a supporting role to the cabinetry or backsplash? The answers to these questions will help you begin to identify which factors and features are most important to you, besides finding something that’s aesthetically attractive.

how to choose a countertop

A polished black granite serves as the countertop and vanity tower riser in this master bathroom remodel

The most efficient way to narrow it down is to start with the type that would suit your lifestyle best. While we aren’t going to cover every countertop material, this is what our Charlotte area clients are loving at the moment:

Quartz Countertops (sometimes “engineered” quartz)

Not to be confused with natural quartzite, quartz countertops are made up of a combination of ground-up natural quartz (at least 90%), that’s bound together with heavy-duty resin and pigment. High-quality quartz countertops are non-porous, meaning they won’t stain, they don’t require chemical sealing, and they’re scratch and heat resistant. Low-quality quartz countertops are not non-porous and should be avoided since the biggest reason for choosing quartz is their non-porous nature. While some manufacturers claim that it’s ok to set a hot pot directly on a quartz countertop, we would advise against it — with any countertop material except soapstone.

White quartz countertops look similar to marble, without the maintenance

White quartz countertops look similar to marble, without the maintenance

Quartz Countertops are Now More Realistic

Quartz countertops have come a long way over the last decade. As the technology behind countertop materials improves, they’re becoming more realistic in appearance. The ability of manufacturers to crush the quartz into superfine particles creates a solid look as opposed to the granular, almost terrazzo-like appearance that was popular a decade ago.

Quartz is also through-body, meaning the color and pattern go all the way through the slab. This is important in waterfall installations where the front and back of the slab may be visible. Both sides of the slab do not automatically come polished, so your fabricator will have to polish the back for an additional cost. Through-body colors look more realistic because the veining is visible along the polished edges, just like they are with solid stone slabs.

A white Silestone countertop with a waterfall edge creates a contemporary look in this Lake Norman kitchen remodel

Which Countertop Thickness is Best?

Typically, quartz countertops are available in two thicknesses: 3 cm (1 ¼”) and 2cm (3/4”). 3cm is most popular in North America. 2cm thickness lends a more European or contemporary vibe and has been increasingly popular as we’ve seen the Mid-Century Modern aesthetic make a resurgence. 3cm slabs are always more expensive than 2cm slabs, but some fabricators will build up the edge treatment to make the edge look thicker, which may or may not increase the cost depending on the fabricator.

How Much Do Quartz Countertops Cost?

As with any countertop material, the cost of quartz countertops can vary significantly depending on the manufacturer. Most brands tier their pricing into various groups, with finer, more solid, or delicate veined patterns at the highest end, and granular or more consistently veined patterns at the lower end.

The texture will often have an implication as well. Some manufacturers offer a matte or textured finish, and those are typically going to be more expensive than polished finishes. Country of origin is also important to consider, especially given the recent discussions regarding tariffs on Chinese imports. High-quality brands made in the USA and Europe such as Cambria and Silestone are going to be the best bet and the highest quality. We’ll talk more about general pricing down below.

Pros of Quartz

  • Zero maintenance
  • Incredibly durable
  • Hundreds of colors and patterns
  • Strong and stable
  • Affordable for most budgets

Cons of Quartz

  • Even the most sophisticated patterns still don’t have the depth and visual texture of natural stone
  • The most attractive slabs are usually the most expensive
  • Size limitations – not all colors are available in “jumbo” slabs, which may mean more seams. Pay special attention to the size of your island if you don’t want a seam
  • Not suitable for outdoor applications (UV rays will break down the pigment over time and could cause discoloration)
Creamy quartz countertops with a 6

Creamy quartz countertops with a 6″ high backsplash rest on top of stained, inset cabinetry in the Craftsman master bathroom remodel

Natural Stone Countertops

Natural stone countertops are still incredibly popular due to the unique nature of each slab. That being said, there are several different types of natural stone that are suitable for counter applications, and it’s really easy to get confused when browsing at a slab yard. To keep it simple, we’ll just touch on the major differences between natural stone countertop materials, and the pros and cons of each.

All natural stones are porous and should be sealed to protect them from stains. Stone slabs are also likely to feature divots, and fissures which are part of the inherent nature of natural products and are not considered defects, but rather contribute to the unique nature of each slab. If you are bothered by these characteristics, you may want to stick with engineered quartz.

This common speckled granite was a sensible and inexpensive selection fo this little boys bathroom

Granite Countertops

For twenty years, granite was the king of countertops. While granite has faded in popularity over the last several years as aesthetics change, it’s still relevant and a great choice for many reasons.

Granite is a hard, igneous rock, but not all granites have the same properties since they come from various quarries from all over the world. Generally speaking, the darker the granite, the harder the material. This means it’s relatively difficult to scratch and stain. Even though it’s tough, granite is still porous so it needs to be sealed, especially if it’s a lighter color.

Variety of Granite Colors and Textures

There’s a huge variety in color and pattern from which to choose. Some stones feature dramatic, linear veins, some are more speckled with large crystalline chunks scattered throughout and others are almost solid (Absolute Black for example). The lighter stones are often more fragile and are more likely to suffer damage during manufacturing, making them more expensive. You’ll often see fiberglass backing on natural stones. This is just to offer additional strength and support during shipping and fabrication – it’s not an indication of low quality.

how to choose a countertop

This Colonial White granite is one of the whitest granites available. This lot features a lighter background with gray and black spots, resulting in subtle movement.

Granites Typically Come in 3 Finishes

Polished slabs are the most common because polishing brings out the natural color variations of the stone. If you prefer a honed finish that’s smooth, but not shiny, most fabricators will hone the stone by hand for an additional cost if the stone you chose isn’t stocked in a honed finish already. Some slabs are also available with a leathered finish, which is a pebbly texture that has a more rustic appearance.

Pros of Granite

  • Durable, natural stone
  • Suitable for kitchens, baths, and outdoor spaces
  • Hundreds of varieties and colors to choose from
  • There’s a price point for every budget

Cons of Granite

  • Lighter stones are more fragile than darker stones
  • While there are many granites that are lighter in color, there are none that are white

Marble Countertops

Marble is metamorphosed limestone, mostly made up of calcite. It’s found in many different colors depending on where it’s quarried, but white, cream, gray or black stones with soft, elegant veins are most common.

Marble is soft by natural stone standards, so it scratches easily, stains, and etches when exposed to acids like lemon juice, tomato sauce, or even hard water. If you love the elegant look of real marble, and you want it to look brand new forever, it’s worth paying extra for the best stone sealer on the market. If you are drawn to the veins and light colors but don’t want to worry about long-term maintenance, it’s best to go with engineered quartz.

White and gray marble countertops contrast with the dovetail gray cabinetry. Red stools and accessories offer a pop of color.

Pros of Marble

  • Some scratches and wear can be buffed out and re-polished
  • Each slab is unique
  • Elegant, high-end appearance
  • Stays cool — great for baking, but we don’t recommend having food make direct contact with the counter

Cons of Marble

  • Soft and very susceptible to scratching and etching
  • Not ideal for exterior applications due to pollution and acid rain degradation

Quartzite Countertops

Not to be confused with quartz, quartzite is a natural metamorphic stone that’s formed when quartz-rich sandstone is heated under pressure from the earth. While it looks similar to marble, in that the colors are generally light and the veins are soft and linear, quartzite is as hard or harder than granite so it won’t etch when exposed to acid. You have to try really, really hard to scratch it (it’s a 7 on the Mohs Hardness Scale). Due to these properties, it has become one of the most popular countertop materials in recent years.

“True Quartzite” vs. “Soft Quartzite”

Here’s the deal: true quartzite is quartzite, soft quartzite is marble. Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference because they look identical. If you’re unsure about which you’ve chosen, try this at-home experiment: take home a sample of your chosen material and leave a slice of lemon on it to see how it reacts. If it etches, it’s marble, and if it doesn’t, it’s quartzite.

Pros of Quartzite

  • Elegant look similar to marble, but with the added durability of granite
  • Many color options, with creams and taupes being the most common

Cons of Quartzite

  • Easily confused with marble, which will not perform at the same level

Soapstone Countertops

Lesser known, but still popular due to unique properties, soapstone countertops are a fabulous choice for your kitchen or bathroom. Composed mostly of talc, this countertop material is very soft and scratches easily, but the scratches fade over time as the surface becomes worn and develops a natural patina. Soapstone is incredibly dense and non-porous, so it doesn’t need to be sealed (which is why you may remember it from the tabletops of your chemistry labs when you were in school).

Black and white soapstone counters contrast with white cabinet in this Charlotte, NC kitchen

What Color is Soapstone?

Soapstone is found in shades of dark green, blue-gray, and black. Some slabs will have a spotted appearance like a harbor seal, while others feature crisp, white veins. While soapstone can be polished smooth, it isn’t shiny like granite or marble. Slabs containing more talc will take on a powdery appearance, giving it a casual elegance. Some people choose to oil their soapstone countertops with food-grade mineral oil which will darken them and create a dramatic contrast, but this is strictly for aesthetics — there’s no functional need to oil it.

Pros of Soapstone

  • Non-porous and doesn’t require chemical sealing
  • Scratches easily buff out and disappear over time
  • Unique look with a powdery finish

Cons of Soapstone

  • Limited colors
  • Not as readily available in some areas

How Much Do Stone Countertops Cost?

Pricing stone countertops could be an entirely separate blog post, but since you’re probably wondering how it all works, we thought we’d give you the details here. When it comes to pricing natural stone countertops, they’ll be tiered into price groups just like engineered quartz, but they will vary from supplier to supplier. Group 3 pricing at one supplier is not necessarily going to be the same as Group 3 at another supplier.

Comparing the cost of various countertop materials can be really frustrating because there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Here’s how we explain it to our Charlotte area clients: When it comes to slabs, whether natural stone or quartz, there are suppliers (those who purchase the material from the manufacturers or quarries) and there are fabricators (those who measure and cut the stone to suit your home). Some fabricators keep slabs in stock, which means they’re capable of both supplying and fabricating, while others strictly rely on purchasing and shipping the material from a supplier.

Some fabricators who stock material will price the job on a square foot basis, while others price it on a per-job basis, factoring in square footage and level of difficulty. Keep in mind that even with square foot pricing, there will always be additional costs such as the sink and faucet cutouts, radius corners, fancy or mitered edge treatments, and waterfall sides. Some even charge extra if they have to haul a slab up to a second story.

Honed Carrara marble on this dark gray island creates a focal point in this Charlotte, NC kitchen remodel

For practical as well as cost reasons, this couple selected a honed Carrara marble slab for their island but chose s simple black quartz for the prep areas around the perimeter.

Often we have clients that want a particular slab from a supplier who does not fabricate. In those instances, the cost is always significantly more because the supplier is now acting as the middle man. Suppliers do not sell to consumers or to kitchen designers, so never expect a supplier to discuss costs with you in anything but generic terms. Suppliers only sell to fabricators, so when you get the price from the fabricator, it will have an additional level of mark-up on it because the fabricator had to purchase a whole slab (or slabs) from a supplier, instead of directly from the manufacturer. Each supplier prices their stone differently, so a stone by the same name (from two different places) may have two different prices.

Confused yet? We get it. We’re used to the complexities of the industry because we deal with it every day, but if you’ve never had to purchase kitchen countertops before, we completely understand how frustrating it can be. That’s why when people ask, “Is granite cheaper than marble?” or “Is quartzite more expensive than marble?” there isn’t a straight answer. It all depends on where the slabs are coming from and how complex the design and installation will be. There are plenty of marble slabs that are less expensive than some of the exotic granites. We’ve installed granite counters that were $55/SF and we’ve installed marble counters that were over $200/SF. It depends on multiple factors.

how to choose a countertop: Mitered edges and a waterfall bar top create a contemporary kitchen island

Mitered edges and a waterfall bar top give this contemporary kitchen island visual weight

Luckily, you don’t have to navigate the world of countertops alone. If you are not sure how to choose a countertop, we help our clients first figure out the material that would best suit their needs, and then offer suggestions and guidance regarding which sources would be most appropriate for their budget. The last thing you want to do is fall in love with an exotic slab and design the whole kitchen around it, only to find out that it’s three times what you can afford. Let’s give you the peace of mind that you’ve made the right choices in the remodeling process, and select the materials that are right for your home and your lifestyle.

Schedule a conversation to speak with one of our Project Developers about your remodeling goals and how to choose a countertop!

April 29, 2019 by lazarus

How Would A Designer Remodel Their Master Bathroom?

Whenever we work with homeowners to redesign their kitchen or master bathroom, it’s almost inevitable that at some point during the process they’ll ask, “what would you do?” While they are asking for our expertise based on what we know about their specific needs and desires, and not what we as designers would choose personally, we know that most of our clients are curious about our personal choices when it comes to our own homes.

Have you ever been curious about what a general contractor and a kitchen and bath designer would choose for their own house? Now’s your chance to find out! Last spring, we (Brad and Chelsea – yes we’re married!) bought a new house with the intent to pursue an immediate master bathroom remodel, with plans to complete the rest of the downstairs, including the kitchen, in a second phase at a later date.

What Was Wrong with the Master Suite?

When you buy a house that wasn’t custom-built for you, there are bound to be functional adjustments that need to be made for the way you live. The original master bedroom had brown carpeting and a door to the back porch that we knew we would never use, which threw off the symmetry of the back wall and limited furniture placement in the room.

master bathroom remodel

BEFORE: The door was unnecessary, there were too many windows, the crown wasn’t scaled proportionally for the tray ceiling and the fan was an eyesore.

master-bathroom-design

AFTER: The walls and ceiling are now dressed up with two shimmery wallpapers to reflect light and create a soothing atmosphere. Simple crown molding and a completely painted soffit bring more attention to the tray ceiling which houses a less noticeable clear acrylic ceiling fan. We’ve since added artwork to the walls, and a custom Stark rug to anchor the furniture.

The master bathroom was dark, and felt much smaller than its true size, as a large walk-in shower took up most of the floor space. The transom windows in the shower faced opposite the vanity mirrors, so without window treatments, the neighbors across the street could look out their second-story window and see into the master bathroom.

The original space was also missing a hand-held showerhead – a nightmare for trying to clean anything – and instead featured four body sprays, which use an enormous amount of water. The vanity only had three drawers (which isn’t ideal if you want to limit the arguments in the bathroom when sharing space with a spouse), and there was no place for storing extra toilet paper in the water closet.

master bathroom remodel

BEFORE: The awkwardly shaped shower took up the majority of the footprint of the bathroom

But the biggest problem behind the design of this master bathroom? No bathtub. While many people never use a bathtub and much prefer a larger shower, we determined we wanted to have both. Since going upstairs to the tiny tub/shower combo in the kids’ bathroom was a deal-breaker, we decided that either the bathroom would get remodeled immediately to make space for our dream soaking tub, or we weren’t moving – it was that important.

Luckily, a 66” freestanding tub would fit and still allow ample space for a decent-sized shower, but it would require removing and replacing all three windows, patching the siding and completely repainting that side of the house, and securing HOA approval. No big deal!

Working with the Existing Layout

Due to the placement of the walk-in closet, laundry room, and stairs, the overall layout had to stay the same, but the shower was drastically reduced in size to make space for the freestanding tub. We set back the shower curb a few inches from the closet door casing to make more space in front of the vanity, with the frameless glass shower enclosure making the space feel more open and spacious.

New frameless cabinets in Annapolis Green by Benjamin Moore feature full height door sink cabinets with roll-out shelves inside for easy access. Frameless cabinet construction provides more storage space than framed cabinetry, which is always welcome in a small space. A shallow, matching wall cabinet was placed over the toilet in the water closet to house extra supplies.

Master Bathroom Materials

Our inspiration started with the turquoise vanity and brushed brass hardware pulls — the rest of this master bathroom remodel took off from there. The counters, shower curb, and foot prop are made of Silestone quartz that has all the beauty of Calacatta marble but none of the maintenance. The subtle gold veins coordinate with the brass metal tones throughout; since the turquoise vanity anchors the room, we made sure the remaining materials and finishes were neutral.

AFTER: Don’t ever expect gold-toned finishes to match across brands. The brushed brass sconce, mirrors and cabinet hardware are all different finishes, but because they’re in the same family they coordinate. Plus, the slight variation prevents the space from appearing too matchy-matchy.

We chose a 12 x 24” porcelain from Dal-tile that looks exactly like a vein-cut limestone. Not all limestones are suitable for wet locations, and we didn’t want to deal with the maintenance of natural stone. Instead, we used a large format 6 x 18” ceramic tile with a white eggshell finish in the shower. The larger size meant fewer grout joints and the eggshell finish does a remarkable job of hiding water spots between cleanings. A 1” hexagon mosaic tile with a slight non-slip texture makes the perfect surface for the shower floor. The finish it off, we installed shower drain cover from Newport Brass with a hexagonal motif that coordinates perfectly with the surrounding tile. Nothing needs to be generic, even shower drains!

master-bathroom-design

AFTER: This decorative shower drain plate from Newport Brass repeats the same hexagon shape from the floor tile and cabinet hardware.

Plumbing Fixtures

The plumbing was one of the easiest parts of this remodel – when it’s your own bathroom, you’re able to use your favorite things! In this case, we included the Victoria and Albert Amiata tub, for its clean and graceful profile. The propriety material is heavy, so it feels substantial when you’re inside it and it doesn’t bounce like thinner acrylic models sometimes do.

We chose the Kohler Pinstripe faucet suite for its classic, slightly masculine lines — and if we’re being completely honest the octagon-shaped hand towel rings. Even though chrome is a classic finish that goes with everything, we would have preferred polished nickel fixtures. Unfortunately, the Hansgrohe shower heads (a non-negotiable for Brad due to their raindance technology) were only available in chrome, so chrome it was. An advantage to using a chrome-like finish is that you can mix and match manufacturers to get exactly what you’re looking for. Not all plumbing suites have every configuration, so knowing which ones we could mix and match easily was key to using parts from several manufacturers.

master-bathroom-design

AFTER: The board and batten paneling next to the shower tile creates a wall of white, making the space feel larger and more continuous. Every freestanding tub needs a ledge or a table for products.

Since the Pinstripe line didn’t have a wall-mounted tub filler, I found one of comparable quality by Brizo that coordinated well. It has a similar escutcheon to the Pinstripe faucet, and lever handles. Since they’re not right next to each other, you’d never notice they weren’t the same faucet suite.

A Bathroom Remodel Without Challenges? Not Even for The Pros

We’d love to say that because we were the “clients”, everything went off without a hitch, but construction doesn’t discriminate — there will always be stress and there will always be delays, no matter how well you plan. Even we had to deal with a missing part and some damaged materials. One side of the house was without siding, exposed to the elements the day before the rains from Hurricane Florence hit! Luckily our team got the siding up just in time so we didn’t have to worry. Our house was a dusty construction zone, and not wanting to have our new custom upholstered bed delivered before or during construction, we slept on a mattress upstairs on the floor for four months while we planned and executed the project. It was not glamorous. Remodeling is uncomfortable, but a few weeks or months of discomfort is worth years of enjoyment later.

master bathroom remodel

AFTER: Even with the plantation shutters, our bathroom is now filled with light and feels spacious and relaxing. Swapping out a standard door for a mirrored door is a great way to incorporate a full-length mirror when you don’t have the wall space to hang one.

Just as we would have advised our clients, we rolled with it, lowered our standard of living for a few weeks, and took comfort in knowing we would have a beautiful master suite once it was completed. And now, we absolutely love our new master suite – it’s the one space in our home that feels complete. We can’t wait to tackle the kitchen, fireplace, and back porch, which will make the home finally feels like ours. All in good time.

6 Bright Ideas for Using Bold Colors at Home

No matter how confident you are, if you’ve ever considered remodeling or redesigning your home it’s inevitable that you’ve considered a bold color palette asked yourself, will I still like what I choose today, ten years from now? The truth is, trends will continue to change as product lines and designers continue to innovate. Sure, the classics will continue to repeat themselves as they are reinvented in some shape or form indefinitely (think white kitchens and black and white bathrooms), but overall, styles evolve, and yours likely will too.

Bold Color Palette: Paradox of Choice

We live in a society of instant gratification and constant comparison. The paradox of choice is a very real phenomenon – we sometimes see it with our clients as they’re going through the design phase after months of Pinterest addiction. Quite simply there are too many options, and the fear of finding something better paralyzes them into indecision. But here’s the thing – there will ALWAYS be something better. When we make a suggestion for a material or product it’s because we know it will get you the result you’re looking for, even if you can’t see how it relates to the big picture. If you’re one of those people that’s drawn to a bold color palette or designs — as designers, we can totally relate —choose one thing and truly make it your own. Everything else will fall into place.

Consider Your Long-Term Plans

If you’re still worried about committing to a bold design, it’s important to consider which phase of life you’re in and how much longer your family intends to stay in your current home. If you know you’ll be moving in the next 3-5 years, erring on the more conservative side would be wise. You don’t want to deter a potential buyer by choosing something highly trendy that’s difficult or incredibly costly to replace. Nothing is truly permanent, but purple kitchen cabinets are going to be much more difficult to change than kitchen faucets or decorative lighting.

Sticking around for ten years or more? Do what makes you happy. Ten years is a long time to live with something you don’t absolutely love. You can tone it down when it’s time to put your house on the market after years of enjoyment.

Bring On All the Colors

As a design-build remodeling company, our design team loves any opportunity to flex our creative muscles to create something you’ll love. At the annual Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS), colors were huge for 2019. We’ve been seeing a resurgence of bold color slowly creeping back into the market for a couple of years now. As consumers get exposed to new trends, and let go of the fear of avocado green trauma from the 1970’s, we’ll be seeing more and more color introduced into the home.

Whether you’re a classicist, or a trend-setter, we thought you’d like to see some of our favorite new products from KBIS and how you could work them into your kitchen or bathroom remodel.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Your Kitchen Faucet

You know we love mixing metals, so it may come as no surprise that we are absolutely smitten with the new ombré finish on Kohler’s Sensate Touchless kitchen faucet. Your kitchen faucet is the most used fixture in your house, so choosing one that’s made of high-quality materials is always worth the cost. In addition to the innovative two-tone finish that transitions from rose gold to polished nickel (or titanium to rose gold) we also love the touchless technology. The last thing you want to do when you have raw chicken juice all over your hands is touch anything. Touchless technologies ensure you can wash your hands without spreading grease or bacteria, saving you clean-up time and creating peace of mind for you and your family.

Add Some Personality to Your Kids’ Bath

It’s not uncommon to want to choose more cost-effective materials for your kids’ bathroom in order to splurge on your master suite. But cost-effective doesn’t have to be boring. Why not introduce a colorful stripe pattern in the shower using the new Color Wheel Collection from Daltile?

Classic stripes are synonymous with laughter-filled summer afternoons by the pool – who doesn’t want that feeling year-round? If navy is the new black, then emerald is the new navy. We’d love to see an emerald and white stripe paired with a black painted vanity, white quartz counter for easy maintenance, and brushed brass plumbing fixtures. Anyone ready to remodel their kids’ bathroom?

Add Some Flair to Your Front Entry

Not ready to commit to bringing a bold color palette indoors? How about setting your house apart from the neighbors with some colorful exterior door hardware. While we are huge proponents of a colorful front door, this is an either-or situation. Turquoise hardware on a red door is probably not going to give you the look you were after, but turquoise hardware on a black, mid-century, modern style door may be just the thing to make you say, Welcome home, at the end of a long day. While we don’t expect anyone to rush right out and buy this hardware, we thought it was a clever way to introduce a bold color in an unexpected place. This could easily be repeated around the front door by adding matching, colorful planters.

Marble fireplace with reclaimed beam mantel

Whether you’re on board with the bold color trend or you think that neutral is always the way to go, don’t be afraid to stretch your limits — especially if you’re planning on staying in your home for a long time. Unsure of where to start? Our design team would love to help guide you through the home remodel of your dreams. Give us a call today to start a conversation.

February 20, 2019 by lazarus

5 Modern Kitchen Design Must Haves

You’ve probably heard the old adage, “the kitchen is the heart of the home.” As cliché as it sounds, we couldn’t agree more. We’d argue it’s the most important room in the house, so we’ve compiled a list of five kitchen design must haves for a successful remodel. As a residential design-build remodeling firm, we see more requests for kitchen remodeling projects than any other room of the house. It’s where you spend time with your family, it’s where you nourish your body, it’s where you live. 

Develop a Vision for Your Kitchen

When we meet with a new client for the first time, we like to get a feel for how they use their current kitchen, what – if anything – is working well, and what’s making their lives harder or causing frustration. We listen to their vision to get a better understanding of their ideal kitchen, and how we can make it a reality. Some clients know exactly what they want the end result to look like and what needs to be rearranged to make the space work best for them, while others rely more heavily on our expertise to make suggestions and guide them through the best options. They know they don’t want what they have because it’s not working, but they may not know how best to solve those problems and that’s completely normal.

home-renovation-gray-kitchen-marble-counters

Pull & Replace 

Sometimes the overall layout functions well, but the appliances are failing, and the cabinets are showing their age, but there’s no need to redesign half of the house to make improvements — we refer to these projects as “Pull and Replace” kitchens. We pull everything out down to the studs, make a few adjustments in the design and replace everything with new, higher quality materials so you’re no longer embarrassed when your mother-in-law shows up unannounced. The locations of major appliances and plumbing fixtures don’t move much, if at all, but we’re able to breathe new life into the kitchen by rethinking the storage or the counter space to make it a more functional, modern kitchen design.

 

A Modern Kitchen Design that Fits Your Needs

Often we know we aren’t going to meet the clients’ goals without completely redesigning the space and opening the kitchen up to other areas of the house. It may be that we’re improving traffic flow, or we may be creating additional gathering areas to connect with friends and family. Eliminating unnecessary walls, installing cohesive flooring throughout, relocating windows, doors, and major electrical, mechanical and plumbing lines is more involved, but isn’t usually difficult so long as there’s room in the budget and the timeline.

townhouse-kitchen-remodel

5 Must Haves in Your New Kitchen Design

Regardless of the approach, each kitchen we design is a unique interpretation of a dream that comes together through the hands of our designers and craftsmen alike. Your designer will take your input to develop the best layout, and then curate materials schemes that best suit your aesthetic and budget. Kitchens have become a fashion industry, so the choices are endless (and completely customize-able) ensuring your kitchen doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s unless you want it to. While you get the last word when it comes to the redesign of your kitchen, and incorporating what’s most important to you, we have a list of modern kitchen design must-haves we’d urge you to consider:

  • Think of Storage as a Verb – You’ll be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t fantasize about more storage space, but when we constantly think of storage as a thing we always need more of, that’s when our houses become overrun with junk and clutter. Instead, think of storage as an action plan. Establish a designated place for everything, and then stick to it. You’ll be more organized and less stressed, not to mention the envy of your neighbors. We’re particularly fond of roll-out shelves, deep drawers and utensil and spice organizers to keep your new custom kitchen organized and accessible.
  • Lighting is Everything – Poor lighting will render even the prettiest kitchen dysfunctional. Advancements in modern LED fixtures have made them accessible to every purpose and every budget. We recommend utilizing three levels of lighting whenever possible: Ambient (recessed cans), task (under-cabinet lights) and decorative (pendants, sconces, etc.). Dimmers are a great way to customize your lighting even further, and they can be used in conjunction with LEDs, so long as the lamp is compatible.
  • Pick One Thing – Every kitchen needs a focal point. It could be a custom floating hood, or a unique backsplash tile that goes all the way up to the ceiling like wallpaper; maybe it’s an unexpected paint color on the island, a really fabulous light fixture or floating walnut shelves to display your Le Creuset collection. Whatever it is, make it yours and use it as inspiration for the rest of the design.

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  • Don’t Air Your Dirty… Trash – If you have a dog or a toddler (and even if you don’t) you probably understand the appeal behind a hidden spot for the trash and recycling. Waste is going to happen, but it doesn’t need to be front and center. In fact, it should be right next to your sink, opposite the dishwasher and it should pull out in one easy motion.
  • Scale Your Appliances to Your Home – Your appliance package should absolutely fit your needs, but don’t discount the expectations of potential future buyers either. The appliances appropriate for a two-bedroom bungalow are going to vary greatly to that of a five-bedroom custom home. Do you need a little help narrowing down which kitchen appliances to shop for before heading to a busy showroom? Download our free Kitchen Appliance Shopping Guide and save yourself a ton of time and frustration! 

Are you ready to take the next step toward creating your dream kitchen? Let’s discuss how we can help; fill out the form down below to get started!

January 17, 2019 by lazarus

Kitchen and Bath Remodeling Trends For 2019

Kitchen and bath remodeling are consistently among the most requested projects for remodeling firms after the New Year. Your kitchen is the heart of the home. It serves as the launchpad for just about every activity in your home: meals, game nights, homework, and social gatherings with loved ones. Your master bathroom is a place to relax, refresh and rejuvenate yourself, whether starting your day or ending it. In highly used spaces such as these, style is no doubt important, but it comes secondary to how each room serves you and your family.  You need a space that works for how you live.

Choosing a reputable remodeling team with experienced kitchen and bath designers will ensure that your kitchen or bath remodel serves as more than just a touch up — it’s an investment in your home and your quality of life. Let’s take a look at what’s trending in kitchen and bath remodeling for 2019, and see how you can get inspiration for your next home remodeling project.

Neutral Kitchens Re-Imagined

kitchen and bath remodeling charlotte nc
All-white kitchens have maintained popularity in kitchen remodeling for years because they’re often the most adaptable to various interiors, and they’re classic, they never really go out of style. But, over the past year there has been a considerable shift to include more color. Navy, ever the neutral blue, has been increasingly popular, especially paired with white. If blue and white conjures up images of cluttered shelves full of ginger jars, rest assured that bringing this classic color combination together in new and less traditional ways will make the space feel more modern and fresh.

Go Bold, but Never Underestimate a Classic Countertop

Although creative combinations of cabinetry and metal finishes are all the rage, we’re still seeing a high demand for classic countertops. Natural marble countertops will forever be another classic. The unique pattern of each slab makes every installation one-of-a-kind. That being said, engineered quartz is still dominating the kitchen remodeling market in Charlotte because it doesn’t require special attention or maintenance. While not for everyone, we find families with young children or grandchildren, or couples who really love to entertain, tend to gravitate toward quartz because it just makes life easier.

kitchen and bath remodeling north carolina

Don’t Be Afraid to Mix Metals

Mixing metals tends to give a space a more curated and intentional look. When the plumbing, appliances, light fixtures and cabinet hardware are all variations on brushed or stainless steel, it tends to look like there wasn’t much thought put into it. Homeowners have a tendency to stress over making sure everything matches, but it’s just not possible. When you’re combining similar finishes across half a dozen brands, they’re all going to be slightly different — especially anything gold or brass. We prefer to mix finishes, but not just for the sake of being different. When it’s intentional, mixing metals really adds another layer of detail making the kitchen that much more unique. In the navy and white kitchen above, we used chrome, stainless steel, aluminum and varying shades of brass.

kitchen and bath remodeling charlotte north carolina

Simple Still Reigns in the Master Bath

In contrast to the bolder features that work well in kitchens, the master bath remains a retreat-inspired space, where less is almost always more. The bathroom is likely the first room you visit when you wake up in the morning and the last right before bed. During those transition times, when you’re inevitably tired, it’s calming not to be surrounded by lots of visually stimulating colors and patterns. Often we’ll choose one thing to make the bathroom a little more personal and less like your neighbors’ house – a custom cabinet color, an accent tile such as the 8 x 8 in the shower above, or a really sculptural light fixture or freestanding tub – and that’s all you need. Otherwise, we tend to stay more monochromatic and introduce some interest with varying textures.
This eclectic master bath remodel pulls inspiration from a few different styles, but the homeowners’ primary goal is consistent with what’s trending for 2019 — a master retreat that’s clean and bright, feels spacious, and is easy for both to use when schedules overlap.

kitchen and bath remodeling trends for 2019

Must Haves for the Master Bathroom in 2019!

Frameless glass shower enclosures are easy to clean, and they provide clean sight lines which helps even the smallest bathrooms feel larger. Solid surface tops, whether quartz or natural stone, are a must for pony walls and curb caps, shower benches and even small foot rests for shaving. They create a more finished look and make cleaning much more effective. Hand held shower heads are also a must. Even if you don’t think you’d ever use it to bathe, you will be so happy it’s there when it’s time to clean the shower. They’re also really handy for washing the dog. And finally, accessible and sensible storage saves you so much time when you don’t have to search for things. Cabinet drawers are much more effective for storing most toiletries, and a wall mounted cabinet in the water closet is the perfect place to stash extra toilet paper so you’re never stuck.

Whatever your specific kitchen and bath remodeling needs are, we’ve got your covered. Are you looking to remodel your home this summer? Now is the time to start planning! Fill out the form below to schedule a conversation.

January 2, 2019 by lazarus

Design Tips for an Open Concept Kitchen

Open concept kitchens are part of a popular remodeling trend that shows no signs of slowing down in Charlotte, despite what some people are speculating. In the past, homes were built with a specific purpose in mind for each room. Modern lifestyles now appreciate multi-purpose spaces that are open to one another for more casual living. Many homeowners with older homes are tearing down interior walls around the kitchen to open it up to other parts of the house, in particular, family and dining rooms.

Open spaces offer some benefits. You may feel like you have more living space when you can still see, and connect with family and from separate rooms and entertaining becomes more natural since guests can flow from one area to the next without feeling like they’re encroaching on the host in the kitchen. But often people wonder how to design one space that’s essentially three or four rooms in one?  How do you make each room feel separate and unique while still communicating with the rest of the space? We have a few suggestions below:

Choose a Contemporary Aesthetic

Fewer walls aren’t the only thing that makes your space feel more spacious. De-cluttering will do it every time. Packing up your home in preparation for a kitchen remodel is a great opportunity to sort though things and determine what’s special enough to come back into the new space, and what needs to move out. As people tend to gravitate more and more toward a contemporary or contemporary-light aesthetic, we’re seeing an emphasis on simpler lines, cleaner materials and form.

Contemporary black and white kitchen with stainless steel backsplash and white quartz countertops with a waterfall edge on the island.
Wide drawers, pulls, tip-up doors and a linear backsplash all place an emphasis on horizontal lines. The concrete floor reflects light bouncing off Lake Norman.

Casual Dining

Traditionally it was essential to have a kitchen (perhaps with a breakfast nook) separate from the dining room. The kitchen was for working and the dining room was for gathering. But many of today’s families don’t feel the need for a formal dining room and instead have a kitchen that truly opens up to the dining room—often with the dining table directly opposite the food prep area. Not only does this create a more casual atmosphere, where families can interact, it also creates a great flow for entertaining. Guests can converse with the host or hostess while staying out of the immediate work zone of the kitchen.

Natural Light

Opening up spaces will always invite more natural light to filter into your home. Window placement is key in the design of any remodeling project, in order to maximize the amount of natural light, but especially when that light will need to penetrate further into the house.

Delineating Spaces

In a multi-purpose space, it’s helpful to create some distinction between each space even if it’s a suggestion more than a hard line. Architectural details such as wide cased openings or turn boards can help to distinguish sections of a larger area. Furniture and rug placement will also aid in defining each space as a separate, yet connected room. Area rugs are a great way to define smaller sub sections such as sitting areas and breakfast nooks. 

Grey island with black & white granite counter. White perimeter cabinets with built-in refrigerator & subway tile backsplash to the ceiling.
The wide cased opening creates a subtle suggestion of separation, even though the kitchen and family room are mostly open to one another.

Uniting Spaces

With an open concept plan, your designer will create separate zones within the larger room, while maintaining a sense of cohesion. The décor choices from one room to another should complement each other and coordinate. Using a similar color palette from one space to another or repeating accent colors or materials will help unify the two spaces. The flooring should remain consistent to prevent the eye from building a visual wall where one stops and another begins. When there isn’t a defined transition point, both spaces feel larger.

White kitchen with gray walls and a dark cherry island is open to the family room.
Removing the wall between this kitchen and family room brings the kitchen, breakfast area and family room together to form one long gathering space.

Connecting to the Outside

When kitchens are situated at the back of the house, it’s a great opportunity to provide views and access to the backyard, as long as it won’t impede the traffic flow. French doors in a breakfast room may offer easy access and great views to the garden all year long. If your kitchen opens to a sunroom or screened porch, marry the two spaces by using similar materials and colors.

Think of how your family lives and how your current kitchen is or is not serving you. Making the right choice for your lifestyle is always the best idea, regardless of whether or not that includes an open floor plan.

Basement Finishing: Is it Right For You?

You need more square footage in your home, but you’re not sure the best way to get it. There are so many options, including a home addition or remodeling an existing basement, or even adding a basement addition. How do you decide which option is right for you?  Here are some things to consider:

 

Additions for Expanding Living Space

There are a lot of pluses to a home addition. By expanding the footprint of your house into the yard, you can add space to a room or add an entire room (or more) to your house. Many such additions are on the ground level because they involve changes to the first floor of the house: a bigger kitchen, a larger dining room, a sunroom, or a family room, etc. But you can also build a two-story addition that adds a bedroom or bathroom to your second floor.  Some homeowners opt to go up and add square footage on top of a garage—or a whole floor on top of the existing house.

These additions can be a great option for some homeowners. However, you do need to consider the zoning restrictions in your city. Sometimes zoning regulations or setbacks can severely restrict where you can build. Also, many homeowners don’t have enough land to allow for a significant addition.

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Remodeling a Basement: Transform the Space for Your Needs

Remodeling or finishing an existing basement can be a great way to increase living space without breaking the bank. You can turn that existing, unused space into a productive and enjoyable living area.  In most cases an unfinished basement can be transformed into almost anything you need:  a rec or family room, a home theater, home gym, wet bar, bedroom, bathroom or even an entire au pair or in-law suite.

Since basements are below the rest of the house, a basement remodeling project is less likely to be disruptive to your lifestyle than other kinds of renovations.

However, you do need to ensure that the basement is leak proof and won’t become too humid; you don’t want water or mold to damage your newly finished space, so address any potential moisture problems right from the start.  Basements can also be dark. Be sure to maximize the natural light—perhaps by putting knee walls around existing windows—and plan to add lots of artificial lighting to keep the space from being too dark. You will also need to be careful about which products you use in your basement remodel; a wood floor wouldn’t be suitable on a slab foundation.

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Basement Additions: Great If You Can’t Build Up or Out

But what if you don’t have an existing unfinished basement? Yes, it is actually possible to excavate and build a basement under an existing house.  There are many advantages to this kind of basement addition. It’s a great alternative if you’re facing restrictions on how big or how high an addition can be.  Also, basement additions don’t eat up yard space, and you don’t have to worry about local requirements for setbacks or esthetics.

Construction of a basement addition can involve the excavation of a portion or all of the crawlspace or digging under the slab to create an entirely new area. Depending on how your house is situated, the cost may be more affordable than you expect.

However, basement additions aren’t feasible for every home, and construction does require a working with structural and mechanical elements of the home. You may need to replace older foundations and install a new drainage system.  Plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems may need to be relocated.  And it’s important to find a way to provide windows for the living spaces (bathrooms, laundry rooms, media rooms, and storage space don’t require windows).
No matter your situation there is a way to add space to your home—and value to your property. You simply need to find the best fit for your situation and your family’s lifestyle.

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Considering an addition or remodeling existing space?  Consult with the experts at Revision Charlotte!

So You’ve Found a Remodeling Company. What’s Next?

If you’re like most of our clients you’ve spent months, maybe even years dreaming about how remodeling your home will improve your life and bring your family and friends closer together. You’ve gathered up the courage and the funds to finally get started, and your Pinterest board and Houzz Ideabooks are full of inspiration that you can’t wait to share with your designer. You’ve talked to numerous friends and family about their remodeling experiences to get advice, and you’ve met with several remodeling companies that provide the all-in-one service you’re looking for, and narrowed it down the team you trust the most. The days of living in your old space are coming to an end, and you’re finally ready! Your whole family is excited! Let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s get started now!!  

Having that sense of urgency is understandable. When we finally gather the courage to take on a huge change, it’s natural to want it to happen quickly – especially when we know it’ll be disruptive and uncomfortable for a little while. The same is true for home remodeling, but unfortunately even the best remodeling companies can’t turn around a renovation in a week. Planning, staging and executing any remodeling project is an involved process with a series of necessary steps before the first hammer ever swings.  

Here’s an overview of the design-build remodeling process:

Conceptual and Construction Plans

It all starts with scaled conceptual 3D renderings to establish a general direction towards a final design. After meeting with you in your home to take detailed as-built measurements and listen to your goals for the project, your designer will work with you to present the best layout to meet your specific needs. After a few tweaks, conceptual plans then get converted to detailed construction-ready documents.

Existing Site Evaluations

Remodeling means transforming an existing space, so before estimates can be finalized, a team of trade professionals needs to comb the existing structure to see what will be required to transform it from its current state into your dream home. Plumbers, electricians, HVAC specialists, and structural engineers are just a few of the trades we team up with during this process.

Fixture and Finish Selection

Miniature kitchen cabinet display with various door styles and finishes.

While it is not uncommon for some remodeling companies to present a contract full of allowances for fixtures and finishes, we always prefer to minimize the unknowns by making those decisions well before contract signing. It helps us control the budget and the timeline since we are able to order and stage all materials well in advance, and who doesn’t want to save time and money? Don’t worry, our designers will guide you through the selections process and present materials and finishes that meet your functional and aesthetic needs. We utilize a series of spreadsheets to keep track of everything from cabinetry details to plumbing fixtures, light switch style to countertop edge profiles, because we know firsthand that the details can make or break a project, so we make sure to keep a close eye on them. 

Pre-Construction Staging

 

With a detailed contract and construction plans in place, permits can be applied for, custom materials can be ordered, and crews can be scheduled. One final walk-through with the construction and design team ensures we’re all are on the same page before work begins. This is also the time we discuss detailed information about construction logistics and disruptions (parking, dust control, work hours, debris, etc.), especially if you plan to remain in the home while the project is underway, as most of our clients do.

From the time you choose ReVision Design/Remodeling to the moment the construction begins, we’ll be here to help. Following the necessary steps will take time, but the end result will be well worth the wait!

When you’re ready to schedule a conversation with one of our Project Developers to discuss your project, we’d love to hear from you!

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