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Men At Work - Bathroom Reno

4 tips to design your dream bathroom

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4 tips to design your dream bathroom

Photography by Valerie Wilcox

We get it. A bathroom renovation is by no means a glamorous undertaking. No matter what the end result looks like, you can count on an unimaginable amount of dust, loud noises and traffic from tradespeople, who you’ll soon get to know all too well. Despite the stress and costs that come with renovating, we promise you that investing in your bathrooms is worth the headache. Aside from the kitchen, bathrooms are hands-down one of the best ways to increase your home’s value while greatly improving your everyday living.

We tend to appreciate good bathrooms the most on those hectic mornings we’re just trying to get out the door, or those relaxing (and often rare) evenings we take the time to run a bath. The functionality and luxuries of good bathrooms come down to thoughtful design and thorough project management. Here’s a handy guide of what we think you should know before taking on your next bathroom renovation project.

1 Set a budget

Our designers and renovation professionals are always stressing how important it is for homeowners to understand the financials behind the renovation. What can you afford? What can you expect to get from spending that kind of money? Setting a realistic budget early on will help your contractor determine what the budget parameters are for each category required to complete the project. For example, a contractor or project manager will know what percentage of your total budget will need to be spent on different trades, and what can be spent on interior selections. Start by determining what you’re willing to spend and what your priorities in spending are; then be sure to communicate that to your contractor from the start.

2 Determine your scope

Decisions like tearing down walls, rearranging plumbing, or adding more natural light through a skylight or window are bound to increase the cost of your project. The longer it takes to finalize big decisions, the longer the life of the renovation – meaning more money spent. Our professionals agree that an average bathroom renovation will take anywhere from six to 12 weeks, however, much of that is dependent on the scope of work that’s been set and the length of the overall design phase.

As the homeowner, the single most important thing you can do to speed up the design phase is to be quick with approving designs and deciding on interior finishes, fixtures and accessories. Something that people tend to greatly underestimate is the time it takes to choose finishes. Today there are seemingly endless options of everything, so it often becomes overwhelming to commit to one faucet, one tub filler, one shower system, when thousands are so readily available.

Another miscalculation that homeowners often overlook is how long it can take the items they chose and ordered to arrive at their home. Longer lead times can be the result of various things, but it’s often due to items being on back order or the manufacturing process happening overseas that cause orders to take weeks, sometimes months, to get to the jobsite. It is for this reason that our design team always stresses the importance of selecting fixtures quickly and placing orders early on to avoid delays and unforeseeable expenses.

3 Lay it out

Once you’ve determined the budget and scope, you can start playing around with the configuration of the space. Consider how you, or those visiting your home, will use that particular bathroom. Is it a kid’s bathroom that requires a bathtub and height considerations? A main floor powder room or a guest bathroom that will be used by many people. Or maybe, this is your dream master ensuite that you’ve been relentlessly pinning inspiration pictures towards for years. Regardless of which bathroom you’re renovating, maximizing the space and layout to be as functional as possible is of the utmost importance. A fun little exercise to try, that always seems to pay off, is to have your family create a wish list that includes ‘must-haves’ and ‘nice-to-haves.’ Fill out those two sections and present them to your designer and contractor. Lists like these are helpful for everyone involved in the project because they clearly point out the bottom line priorities of the renovation, and what the ‘nice-to-have’ add-ons are.

4 Make it timeless, not trendy

It’s likely that you won’t be renovating your bathroom every few years, so choosing timeless over trendy elements, tends to be worth it in the long haul. Realistically, if your next renovation provides you with a functional bathroom layout and relatively timeless finishes and fixtures, giving your bathroom a little facelift in a few years might be as simple as swapping out sconces or replacing the shower curtain. All this to say, never underestimate the impact that small changes can make to a familiar space that you’ve grown bored of.

Undertaking a bathroom renovation of any sort may seem invasive and overwhelming, but the results will make it worth your while. One way to reduce the stress for you and your family is to hire an experienced Design Build team to take on the project. This will make the experience more enjoyable because you can focus more on the design side of the project (the fun part), and leave the production side in the hands of your trusted contractor.

Jessica Millard joined Men At Work Design Build in 2017 while studying at Ryerson University.

The Toronto-based firm offers integrated engineering, design and professional construction services for addition and major renovation projects on old Toronto homes.

Jessica has been involved in various internal departments within the firm, and is currently the company’s Project Coordinator.


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At Home With Men At Work: Windows & Doors

The Great Outdoors: The doors and windows that enhance views and extend your living space

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The Great Outdoors: The doors and windows that enhance views and extend your living space

Summer is finally here (hurray!), which means you’ll want to enjoy the great outdoors as much as possible over the next few months. Maximizing those backyard views is a growing renovation trend that we’re seeing everywhere. Seamless transitions not only create an inviting atmosphere that encourages you to spend more time outdoors, but it makes your indoor living space that much better, while adding substantial value to your property.

Homeowners today can choose from many styles of windows and doors designed to erase the line between the interior and exterior of the home. That’s why, when planning for your next home renovation, it’s important to consider which features will maximize the view of your home’s scenery.

Photography by Lisa Petrole
Photography by Lisa Petrole

Large patio doors

Patio doors foster a smooth indoor-outdoor transition. They will not only provide you with gorgeous year-round views of your backyard, but they’ll invite ample natural light and cool breezes into your home as well. In addition to looking great, they make outdoor entertaining much more manageable and enjoyable because they provide quick and seamless access to your backyard, patio or balcony.

Photography by Valerie Wilcox
Photography by Valerie Wilcox

Bi-fold-glass walls

Similar to the patio doors, bi-fold glass walls make for even more seamless and spectacular views. Often designed to smoothly stack and fold against side walls, they create huge openings from corner to corner in a room. Modern technology allows these folding glass walls to be completely weather-resistant and energy-efficient, and swing doors can be added to allow everyday access during the cooler months, making them that much more practical.

One thing to take into account, however, is that bi-fold glass walls can take up quite a bit of space on the floor/deck (depending how large the wall is) when in the open position. Folding door units are designed to be stacked perpendicular to the opening. The amount of space that the folding doors will take away from the opening is dependent on the number of panels, panel width, height and thickness.

Photography by Lisa Petrole
Photography by Lisa Petrole

Skylight windows

Amazing designs can be achieved with skylights. Their orientation not only invites natural light to pour into even the smallest, darkest rooms, but they allow you to quite literally look up and see the sky from indoors. While some skylights are purely meant to let in natural light, others open up like windows to act as natural ventilation systems in stuffy rooms. Whether your skylight opens up or not, it is bound to increase your property value and help blur that line between indoors and outdoors.

Photography by Lisa Petrole
Photography by Lisa Petrole

Windows in varying shapes & sizes

Windows may seem obvious here, but what’s important to take away is that introducing various sizes, shapes and orientations will add detail to your home’s interior and exterior. Bay, bow and corner windows are great in dining rooms, kitchen nooks and seating areas; while picture windows work well in rooms that get lots of natural light and/or are adjacent to a scenic outdoor space, such as your backyard. When it comes to deciding on window placement, one of the most important things is to make sure that the view is not being obstructed by large trees or your neighbour’s home.

Balconies

From a construction standpoint, this feature is a bit more of an undertaking than the others; however, second and third floor balconies are great additions that hold their value for a long time. Plus, with such a wide variety of balustrade and railing options, you can add character and update the style to your home altogether by adding even one balcony. In addition to giving your home’s facade a mini-facelift, balconies allow you to enjoy a new, elevated view of your home’s scenery.

The seamless transition trend isn’t just about bringing the indoors out, but rather establishing a flow between a home’s interior and exterior. Choosing features that work well with your space will help to blur those lines and, ultimately, bring about a proud feeling of connectedness with outdoors – no matter the time of year.

Jessica Millard joined Men At Work Design Build in 2017 while studying at Ryerson University.

The Toronto-based firm offers integrated engineering, design and professional construction services for addition and major renovation projects on old Toronto homes.

Jessica has been involved in various internal departments within the firm, and is currently the company’s Project Coordinator.


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AT HOME WITH MEN AT WORK: Big living in small spaces

Big living in small spaces

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Big living in small spaces

Photography by Valerie Wilcox

Living in Toronto holds its fair share of perks; however, the luxury of space is by no means one of them. If you’ve ever been in the market to buy a house in the city, you’ll understand just how valuable real estate here can be. With the average Toronto house running just shy of 1,950 sq. ft., we’re seeing more and more homeowners hold onto their valuable lots who opt to renovate or remodel to create more functional living space and storage, rather than fleeing the city for larger properties.

As a seasoned, Toronto-based design build company, we are constantly on the hunt for innovative and clever solutions to help us utilize every last square inch of living space in our clients’ homes. Whether it be toying around with the reconfiguration of the existing house, or opting to add on a sizeable addition, improving functional living space for urban homeowners is something we are proud to call ourselves experts in.

Here are some small-space design tips to consider when planning your next home renovation project:

Function first

There is no logical way to design a space until you determine its primary function. Identify spatial needs by determining how you plan to use your home. What people and purpose will it serve? Consider your lifestyle. How often will you entertain, or what type of entertaining do you plan to do? Does your job require a home office area to work from? Identifying your living needs—keeping in mind growing children and any future family additions—will allow you to plan with purpose, something that’s paramount to a successful renovation.

Free up the floor plan

Decades ago, homes were designed and built around the idea that every room had a very specific function. The kitchen— often small and shoved in the back of the house —was for preparing food; the dining room was formal and intended for proper sitting meals; and the living room was for relaxing and entertaining. While a traditional-style floor plan might be nice to have in theory, it’s not as practical or desirable as it once was. Cultural norms and lifestyles have evolved to the point where people prioritize convenient, multi-functional spaces that allow individual activities and social togetherness to coexist.

Open-concept floor plans also eliminate the need for circulation areas between rooms, such as halls, stairs and walkways, which pose as major space hogs in the floor plan. Freeing up this space gives your designer much more square footage to play with when designing your new layout.

Build in storage everywhere

When you choose to undertake a home renovation project, you can begin to really customize the storage and organization options that go into the new design. Start with identifying the storage that you find useful in your current home, and from there, make a list of features that you’d want to incorporate into your new home. Most old-Toronto homes suffer from a lack of usable storage, so the extra effort required to iron out the details of a great storage design plan is worth the time and money.

With a growing family comes growing space and storage needs. Before deciding that the only way to meet those needs is to move, sit down with a designer and weigh out your renovation options first. You might be surprised with the degree of improvement that a simple remodelling job can do for your family.

Jessica Millard joined Men At Work Design Build in 2017 while studying at Ryerson University.

The Toronto-based firm offers integrated engineering, design and professional construction services for addition and major renovation projects on old Toronto homes.

Jessica has been involved in various internal departments within the firm, including design, production and marketing.


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