Monday, March 30, 2009

You Never Know!

You never know what you will find when you demo a space. Remodeling is always a surprise. We found a bed of carpenter ants just below the shower pan in my bathroom. Yuck! Luckily damage had not been done to the wood around it, but it would have been bad news if we’d waited too much longer. The contractor sucked a lot of them up with the shopvac before he called me in to see. (Gives me the heebeegeebees!)

Another thing I didn’t realize was all the pipes, ductwork, and electrical the builder had stuffed into the existing furr down. I anticipated plumbing and electrical, but we also had to reroute the ductwork which was unexpected.

I also will need a new shorter window at the tub. The tub deck was a bit too high for the existing tub and the builder had floated up over the window sill and tiled directly into the glass at the window. (Bad Detail!) Since my new tub is about the depth of the old one, I want to rebuild this properly and have my granite deck die into a wall faced with tile below the window. This way if water sits on the tub deck, it won’t sink down into cracks in the grout at the window and destroy the framing. My window, which was clear before, will now have textured glass (rain glass to match my front door). I had originally thought I had wanted a stained glass window, but I think that would command too much attention away from the other design elements in the room. I always had wood blinds there before which remained closed, but I’m going to do a Hunter Douglas, battery operated, Roman shade to have some softness, but still have translucency and light.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


The framing, electrical, and plumbing rough ins are done in my master bath and sheetrock is next! I can’t wait to see it take shape. I’ve taken special care to locate precisely where every outlet, switch, faucet, light fixture, etc. goes. I have provided special blocking in the walls for the toilet roll dispenser (that always wiggled out of the wall) and the medicine cabinets. I’m going to have an outlet inside my seated vanity cabinet for my hairdryer, so it will always stay plugged in. I have outlets in my extra deep medicine cabinets for electric toothbrushes and my husband’s razor, so they don’t have to sit on the counter. Every detail is important and changes like this make your bathroom so comfortable and custom made for you!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Design Drawings for My New Bathroom

Design Drawings for My New Bathroom

Here are the design drawings for my master bath. These are elevations for the sink wall and the vanity wall. Elevations show exact locations for wall mounted fixtures, design of cabinets, backsplashes, and any other architectural features. Elevating the walls helps you think through where everything will be placed and how it will function for you.

When designing this space I kept my program in mind. It is traditional with some modern features so as to look fresh and updated. It will be light colored overall to look as large as possible with dark bronze accents of plumbing fittings, hardware, lighting. The major focal point, the dark wood vanity, is seen directly across from the entry and will stand out in a beautiful stained wood finish. The dark vanity will tie in with the dark bronze finishes throughout the space. All other wood, (cabinets, trim, doors, etc.) will be painted the wall color so they don't distract the eye. The cabinetry is neatly detailed, with a recessed panel door and full overlay design, again to be traditional with a bit of a modern edge. The arch repeats arches in other parts of the house and nicely frames the mirror and sconce. The 1" x 1" mosaic glass tile with a listelle is a real feature - a big expense, but such a high quality and unique product it makes the bathroom really special. On the elevations, you can see the graceful shape of the wall sconce, placed exactly as I want it, centered in the arch. Everything has been well planned and carefully considered to make construction go smoothly and to avoid as many on site decisions as possible.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

"Before" Photos

The “Before” photos of my master bath shows the white, bleak, builder standard look and the leaky, broken plumbing fixtures and brass/glass shower enclosure. The big furr down above the vanity will be ripped out and a beautiful curved one will go in its place with the two sinks on the same wall. The tub, shower, flooring, cabinetry, everything is being replaced. You won’t recognize the space when it’s done… about two months!

More photos tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Floor Plan for my Master Bath Remodel

The plan for my master bath remodel includes some minor wall construction, new cabinets, fixtures, and finishes. In the plan, I have relocated one sink to the adjacent wall for a double sink vanity. This leaves space for a custom built stained walnut “seated” vanity, the first thing you see when you walk into the space. It is designed to look like a beautiful piece of furniture. All other plumbing locations are the same to save on cost. I removed the small angled wall in the far corner and built furred out areas on either side of the long vanity to create much needed storage. I’m removing the door that swings in to the toilet room, it’s soooo tight you can’t even close it when you go in there! The new door will swing out now and will function much better. The entry door has changed from two 18” doors to a single 30”. I decided to use that space just to the right of the door for a new linen cabinet. Furring down above that area creates a small vestibule when you walk into the space. It gives some presence and created a nice squared off shape at the ceiling for the new crown moulding to be installed. These all seem like minor changes, but a well thought out plan can clean up the look and rid your space of everyday annoyances to make life so much more pleasurable!

By “well thought out”, I mean that every detail has been addressed before construction starts. What materials will be used and how? Exact placement and detailing of electrical, plumbing, lighting, cabinetry, etc. must be done. The details and placement of all these items affect the framing, done at the beginning of the job. A qualified designer is responsible for thinking these things through and making sure everything is addressed. When remodeling there are so many unexpected things that can go wrong (like finding carpenter ants!) that it is important to think through everything you can and be as prepared as possible.

Monday, March 16, 2009

How to Define What You Want

The absolute most important step in addressing the design of a space is defining your goal. I often see clients who are unhappy with their homes and want me to tell them what to do. I can do that easily if you can define your end result.

This is called the “Programming” phase of design. In this phase the designer gathers all the information needed to design the space. Photographs, measurements, inventories of existing items and furnishings to be used in the new space are all done and the desired end result is defined.

You may have magazine photos you have found that help define that look, colors in mind, or a certain style like French country or modern minimalism. You may be concerned with daily maintenance, resale value, or a tight budget that will limit your wants. You need to define who will be using the space, how will it be used, and the priority of all the desired items.

It is also important to define what you don’t want in the space. You may hate the color red or do not want to spend money on new cabinetry. Including your “don’t wants” in the program is just as important as the desires.

This takes some soul searching and a strong dose of reality. Many times clients think that because they have a designer they can dream up the world and we can magically give it to them, but some things are impossible. There are budget constraints and design issues, like marrying several different styles together. Sometimes you just have to choose and prioritize.

It took me a long time to do just that with my own bathroom, but I finally did. I decided that first and foremost I wanted beautiful materials presented in a simple and straightforward manner, nothing too tricked up or overdesigned. It should look like it effortlessly fell into place. I wanted color that doesn’t scream COLOR. I love colors that are soft and hard to define, that look one way in morning light and another in the evening. It needed to be traditional to work with the rest of the architecture of the house but have a modern edge so as to look fresh. I wanted a distinct focal point and some interesting features to keep your eye moving around the room. Beautiful lighting, hardware and faucets that feel good and solid in your hand, and of course, I have to consider the “R” word – resale! That meant I had to mind the budget and make it appealing to many types of people - a challenge, but not impossible.

There it is, my program. Now when choosing materials and designing details, all I have to do is go back to my program to reestablish my direction if I tend to go off course. This happens often in the design of a space. When I take clients on shopping trips, they sometimes see something they love and all of sudden want to use in their space, but it is entirely inappropriate for the program or direction we have chosen to go. At that point, you can evaluate your program to accommodate the change, or make the sometimes difficult decision to set aside the fabulous item you’ve just fallen in love with in order to keep yourself on track to your goal. Remember that your program is something you have carefully considered and set as your priority and the new favorite thing is really just an impulse. This is something your designer is there for, to guide you through those decisions. I have always considered it to be one of my strengths as a designer, to keep the focus on the desired vision.

Next posting - A Look at the Plan

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Making the Decision to Begin

Well, I’m finally ready….I think.

To say that my master bath is in a state of disrepair is being more than obvious. There is peeling wallpaper, faucets that are broken, a shower door that doesn’t close, three kinds of floor materials in one small space (vinyl, tile, and carpet – yuck!), and stains from my daughter’s last hair dye experiment. My husband has been begging me to spend the money and get it done and if you knew my husband, you’d know it must be pretty bad to elicit that response.

I’ve only been planning and dreaming about this project for way over a year now. I can design other people’s spaces much more easily than I can my own! I know all to well everything that’s out there and I love it all. Vessel sinks, undermount tubs, custom cabinetry, unique lighting, gorgeous tile, polished nickel, antique brass, traditional, contemporary, transitional,… can I choose?

The problem was that I never really attacked it like one of my work projects, I just left it stewing on the back burner in my mind, picking up miscellaneous samples here and there or sketching for an hour or two on a weekend, not really focusing the design and finalizing decisions. I would get stumped on something, like the floor tile not being just the right color, and would wait until I happen to be heading to tile showrooms again, and then I would forget to get MY tile sample and then a year and half went by.

I’ve been very busy. Business has been good and I’ve had lots of projects. Design is my absolute obsession and I live and breathe it every moment of my day. Someone recently asked me what I do for fun. I automatically said, “I work!”, without even thinking. I am a one person operation at the moment and I do everything from design and meeting with clients to buying ink cartridges for my printer. Being a small business owner is very time consuming and my little bathroom project didn’t get top billing.

Mind you, I’m not a big “bathroom” type person anyway. I don’t really go to spas or take a lot of time with make up or luxurious soaks in the tub. I kind of get in and get out. I’m much more of a kitchen person, even a laundry room person (although I’d rather not be one of those). I used to like to cook and entertain, even though now I’m too busy, and I’ve always spent a lot of time in the kitchen. I’d rather spend money there than in the bathroom.

I also dread the mess of a remodel. I’ll have to go upstairs to shower and sleep and since I work out my home there will be contractors traipsing through my workspace every day. I know too well all the dust involved and how it permeates every nook and cranny in your home. I’m not looking forward to that.

But it has to be done. I couldn’t sell this house without a remodel of that bathroom, so I might as well enjoy it while I’m here. The time has come.

Next article…..How to Define What You Want
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