by Jim Caruk
Renovation ideas to treat yourself and to turn your house into a home sweet home
They say that home is where the heart is. It's also where we spend most of our time (granted, much of that time we're fast asleep). But, still, shouldn't your home be a place you love to be in?ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
I can't tell you how many times in my career I've gone to meet with new clients, and moments after I've walked through the door, one of them is telling me how much "we hate our kitchen." The space is either too small, poorly laid out, dated or all of the above.One very common option is to remove the wall that separates the kitchen from the dining room to create an open cooking and dining space. With an island in the middle you gain valuable workspace for preparing meals, and a handy spot where guests can sit and chat with the hosts as they prep. Removing load-bearing walls, of course, requires a lot of careful planning to determine the size and location of the beam that will support things once the wall is removed.THE RIGHT FIT
Once you've opened up the area, rather than some off-the-shelf cabinetry from the local building supply store, I'd recommend custom cabinets if you can work them into the budget. For one, they won't look cookie cutter. Plus, since everything is built to order, you can fully maximize the use of your space. Finally, you'll feel difference in quality every time you open a cabinet or drawer.BATHING IN LUXURY
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Kohler's Numi toilet[/caption]If having a spa-like bathroom is your focus, you'll definitely want to look into the different options for rain showerheads and body spray jets in the shower. Stand-alone soaker tubs add a stylish focal point to the room. And if you've got an extra 10 grand in the budget, consider installing Kohler's Numi toilet. From the motion-activated lid and heated seat foot rests, to the programmable lighting display and built-in sound system, this unit truly is a throne.
|Schluter Systems' Ditra-Heat|
A more affordable option for adding a layer of luxury is to install a heated flooring system in the bathroom. Schluter Systems' Ditra-Heat, for example, is an easy-to-install electric heating option that comes with a thermostat so you can set the ideal temperature for your toes.THE HEARTH OF THE MATTER
If you'd rather spend your budget on communal living areas, you can't go wrong building a living room around a fireplace. There is a wide range of styles of gas fireplaces on the market, from traditional to ultra modern. Other options include the realistic-looking electric fireplaces that Dimplex is producing. I also recently learned about a very old-fashioned wood-burning fireplace design that's coming back into style. The so-called Rumford fireplace was designed in the 1700s by a physicist. The tall, shallow firebox maximizes the amount of heat radiating into a room, and the angled sidewalls direct all the smoke up the chimney. It was state-of-the-art technology at the time, but labour intensive to install, so had fallen out of fashion.RIGHT OUTSIDE YOUR DOOR
Finally, don't overlook the great outdoors. Sure, it's buried in snow most of the winter, but when spring rolls around, we love to expand our lives into our outdoor living space.As I've written before, I love the fact that I can retreat to my own piece of paradise—complete with in-ground pool—without having to deal with bumper-to-bumper traffic all the way to cottage country.COOKING AL FRESCO
While a pool's not for everyone, an exterior seating area built around a gas fireplace or fire pit continues to be a trendy choice. Taking it up a notch, many homeowners are adding fully functional second kitchens to their backyards, complete with cooktops, fridges, prep counters, and running water for cleaning up.Finally, if you invest in household versions of the patio heaters used by bars and restaurants, you can start enjoying your outdoor space from early spring until late into the fall.
|Jim Caruk, Renovation EditorWe look forward to hearing from you and welcome your feedback. Do you have a reno or decor question for our team of experts?Email firstname.lastname@example.org|