Tag Archives: Valerie Wilcox

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

Colour Theory 101: A main floor renovation in Little Portugal hits all the right notes

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Colour Theory 101: A main floor renovation in Little Portugal hits all the right notes

Photography by Valerie Wilcox

Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane, and revisit those lessons on colour theory from high school art class; I promise this detour will be quick. Everyone knows that the primary colours are blue, red and yellow. Secondary colours are made by mixing two primary colours together: purple, orange, and green. Tertiary colours are made by (you guessed it), mixing one primary colour and one secondary colour together.

Opposites attract

Now that we’ve got those three terms straight, let’s move on to complementary colours. One common misconception about complementary colours is that they are similar colours. When we say “complementary,” we are actually referring to two colours on opposite sides of the colour wheel. A complementary colour pairing is made up of one primary colour, and one secondary colour that was made without the primary colour it is paired with. The pairs are blue and orange, red and green, and yellow and purple. Scientifically speaking, complementary colours simultaneously stimulate different parts of the eye, which is why we find the combination so appealing. It’s a natural example of opposites attracting. When we are describing similar colours, the technical term is “analogous” colours. They are groups of three colours that are next to each other on the proverbial colour wheel. An example of a trio would be blue, teal and green.

Mood-enhancing hues

Now that we are up to speed on our colour theory, let’s apply it! This is the fun part. First of all, don’t get hung up on the colour of the year. Rather, think about the colours that evoke the atmosphere you want to create in your space. Some may find peace in darker, more dramatic hues, while others find solace in brighter spaces with varying shades of analogous colours. The latter was the case for our client’s ground-floor renovation in Little Portugal. The main goal for the space was to open it up by removing the partition walls. In doing this, we shifted the location of the kitchen toward the back of the home to provide a more formal living/dining space at the front of the house, and a family room right off the kitchen at the back of the house.

Family heirloom plays a new tune

One of the major influences in this design was finding a way to transform the client’s family piano. The piano was no longer in great musical shape, but it had been in the family for decades, so it was an important piece of family history that needed to be preserved. The piano was lovingly disassembled, and the salvaged pieces of mahogany were stripped and sanded, revealing a beautifully rich reddish-orange wood. The family heirloom was then reconfigured into a functional and original desk in the kitchen. Considering the open-concept floorplan, we chose a classic white-and-grey paint combination for the kitchen cabinetry. To add a hit of timeless contrast, we selected a moonstone marble backsplash in a herringbone pattern.

Colour’s transformative power

Knowing that blue and orange are complementary colours, it is no surprise that the hints of blue found in the backsplash, as well as the undertones in the dark grey colour of the island, are the perfect pairing for our custom mahogany piano desk. The vibrant runners are an excellent way to add colour and pattern to the neutral backdrop of the walls and cabinetry. By simply changing the runners, some accessories, and the artwork, the colour story of this space was completely transformed, without another major renovation.

If you are like me, and constantly thinking about your next design project, take the time to consider the colour story of your home, because great spaces are carefully and selectively curated to present a cohesive story from the foyer to the back door, and everything in between. Now for your homework – because I have to give you the full high school experience – do a little colour soul searching; discover what colours empower you, energize you, console you, and then create your new space with unapologetic conviction.

Sources:

KITCHEN CABINETRY PAINT: Chantilly Lace OC-65, Midnight 2131-20 Benjamin Moore KITCHEN COUNTERTOPS: Noble Grey from Caesarstone KITCHEN BACKSPLASH: Moonstone Herringbone from Creekside Tile KITCHEN CABINETS: Merlo Woodworking WOOD FLOORING: Bistro Collection, Maple French Roast, Fuzion Flooring

Natalie Venalainen is a Senior Designer at Men at Work Design-Build.

She has 10 years of industry experience and has won several awards including the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s top 30 under 30 design professionals across North America in 2018.


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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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DESIGN/BUILD EXPERT: A Tight Fade

DESIGN/BUILD EXPERT: A Tight Fade

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DESIGN/BUILD EXPERT: A Tight Fade

by Brendan Charters

Great at the barber, catastrophic at home

Sometime since the dawn of civilization, we became obsessed with curb appeal. Emotional creatures to the core, what started as a basic need, shelter has evolved as an avenue of self-expression. The exterior materials, architectural details, combination and orientation of finishes tell a story to the world about who we are, what we may value and how uptight we might be about the state of our affairs. Like it or not, the face our homes show to the world is a reflection of ourselves. Since the absence of personal time seems to be the norm, and very few people enjoy allocating their time or their hard-earned money toward regular maintenance, we will explore the finishes and colours that provide long-term value for your next exterior renovation project.

Photography: Andrew Snow
Photography: Andrew Snow

NATURE’S FORCE

All good things must come to an end. Rain, wind and sunshine erode mountains into prairies and valleys. Volcanoes are transformed into beaches. Some would argue none of those changes are bad things, but when Mother Nature applies her weathering ways to the face of your homestead, a bleached-out and battered esthetic is almost never a desired outcome. As such, when designing and installing your home’s exterior finishes, work from the following basic principles for lasting success.

1. Natural materials weather best: Fight Mother Nature with Mother Nature!

  • REAL STONE
  • WOOD rot-resistant or heat-treated woods, which are neither painted nor stained
  • BRICK
  • METAL such as zinc and weathering (corten), steel which is naturally self-sealing upon initial rusting.
  • avoid man-made materials with topically applied colouring.
Photography: Will Fournier
Photography: Will Fournier

2. Integrated colouring: These are products with colour that is within or part of the makeup, rather than applied

  • NATURAL STONE
  • BRICK
  • METAL
  • STUCCO with paint infusion (rather than painted after application)
  • EXTRUDED MATERIALS (such as PVC’s)
Photography: Valerie Wilcox
Photography: Valerie Wilcox

3. Factory-applied finishes: Controlled environment with baking process to cure finishes to substrates

  • search out flexible vinyl wraps, paints and stains that can expand and contract with the substrate, as all materials move based on their environmental exposure.
  • Warranty of finish is a massively important piece, as is stability of company manufacturing and honouring it.
  • Composite wood, Cement-fibre siding, aluminum siding all great examples of this.

4. Light to Dark: Dark colours attract sun and heat while light colours show dust and dirt more easily.

  • dark will dry more easily after rains but will oxidize and fade faster and more visibly.
  • light will pick up road wash and garden splash back, muddying the appearance.
  • lighter colours fade less and less quickly.
Photography: Andrew Snow
Photography: Andrew Snow

5. Moisture control: trapping moisture is never a good thing in a home, and it will always impact colours through bubbling, peeling and cracking.

  • design a method of moisture escape
  • understand the wall system as a whole, not just the exterior-applied finish as it works as a system.

When planning your own addition, renovation, or custom home, remember there is real value in working with a professional to design and build the space. The process is as important as the final product here, not just the price. We recommend you start your search at the relevant professional associations to explore your options, including the OAA (Architects), AATO (Architecture Technologists), ARIDO (Interior Designers) and RenoMark, the home of the professional builder and renovator, to find the true industry professionals to help guide you to success.

Brendan Charters is Partner at Toronto Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments Inc. – 2017 OHBA Renovator of the Year.

eurodale.ca

@eurodalehomes

(416) 782-5690


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DESIGN/BUILD EXPERT: Who's on First?

DESIGN/BUILD EXPERT: Who’s on First?

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DESIGN/BUILD EXPERT: Who’s on First?

by Brendan Charters
Photography by Valerie Wilcox

Architect, Designer or Builder—who gets retained and why

Unless you are a confident DIYer with lots of spare time, a home improvement project is usually born when someone puts pen to paper to retain the services of a professional. But who do you hire and in what order? Well, it’s neither an easy nor a one-size-fits-all answer.

ASSEMBLY REQUIRED - Architectural, interior design and building execution are all required to bring a project like this to reality.
ASSEMBLY REQUIRED – Architectural, interior design and building execution are all required to bring a project like this to reality.

WHERE TO START

The duty does fall upon you as the homeowner to take this first crucial step. Regardless of your experience or knowledge of construction or design, if you will be retaining the services of someone else to assist with the project, it is essential that you detail your wish list. Start high level, with the must-have items; for instance, a two-storey rear addition of a specific size, or the gut renovation of an existing kitchen or basement, or a 3,500-sq.-ft. custom home—whatever the high-level description of the project may be. Then figure out your realistic budget, and don’t be afraid to share it with those who will be helping you with the project. This will help people understand quickly if your goals match your pocketbook. Sure, retain a contingency for the unforeseen or unknown items that can come about in a project, and for items that the build may not include, such as furniture or appliances, but sharing the budget will help avoid both the homeowner and the professionals from wasting their time.

WISH LIST - Decide what the end goals are and your true budget to see if there is a fit.
WISH LIST – Decide what the end goals are and your true budget to see if there is a fit.

INTERVIEW THE EXPERTS

The second step is to meet with people—at least a couple from each discipline (architect or designer, interior designer and builder), and two to three firms that may roll all those services into one (i.e. Design-Build). We recommend meeting at the proposed project site, as it will allow the professionals to identify any potential obstacles to undertaking your wish list, such as trees, neighbours or other potential structure or site conditions. Get an understanding for their rough costs in a project like the one you are planning, and also use the time to get to know them and their process. Take notes, as different people will give you different advice and all of it could come in handy down the road, no matter who you ultimately retain to help. Designing and building a home or large addition/renovation project is unlike most other transactions. This service arrangement can involve working together daily for a year or more, and attitudes, egos and personalities need to mesh as well as the scope and budget do for the project to be a successful undertaking.

FINISH LINE - Touring finish suppliers early in design can help determine budget needs for finishes.
FINISH LINE – Touring finish suppliers early in design can help determine budget needs for finishes.

DECISION TIME

The third step is to retain services to commence the project development. This is the scariest, we know, but is the only step that thaws the project freeze we discussed before, and is required to convert the project into something real. If you are hiring someone for architectural design, as well as interior design, and a third person to build the project, we recommend bringing them all on-board simultaneously. It may only involve a minor commitment at the outset to buy some time, but will help ensure that the architectural design and interior design stays in line with the budget, and most importantly what it will ultimately cost to build. If you have a single source design-build firm retained, getting updated budgets upon crystallizing the basic floorplan will ensure budget constraints are adhered to if design changes are needed. It can be done early in the design phase, and thus be cheaper. Likewise, if you are selecting your own interior finishes, or retaining professional interior design help, we recommend touring suppliers to get a sense of tastes for finishes, and how those costs fit in against the initial budget. A high and low(er) type selection in the early stages will help your designer and your builder understand where your goals are esthetically, and will also help you to learn the cost impacts of your decisions related to finishes, and what compromises you may have to make to keep the project within the budget.

SERENITY NOW - The right budget, the right team and the right attitude ensure a dream home come true.
SERENITY NOW – The right budget, the right team and the right attitude ensure a dream home come true.

DETERMINE THE COURSE OF ACTION

The final verdict is that while some may say you should start with a builder first, others will suggest the architect or designer needs to come first. We feel that ultimately the homeowner or project initiator comes first, and that upon the first project idea development, the other three disciplines should quickly follow, but in unison as soon as possible to ensure an accurate and successful outcome. It is ultimately up to you, the property owner, to decide how you bring them together, either by way of building your own team of designers and builders, or reaching out to a single source design-build provider. Neither option is right for all projects, nor for all consumers, and we urge you to meet with all options to see which people and process will work best for you and your specific project.

SMOOTH PROCESS TO DESIRED RESULTS

When planning your own addition, renovation, or custom home, remember there is real value in working with a professional to design and build the space. Remember, the process is as important as the final product here, not just the price. We recommend you start your search at the relevant professional associations to explore your options, including the OAA (Architects), AATO (Architecture Technologists), ARIDO (Interior Designers) and BILD or RenoMark, the home of the professional builder and renovator, to find the true industry professionals. Best of luck with your next exciting project!

Brendan Charters is Partner at Toronto Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments Inc. – 2017 OHBA Renovator of the Year.

eurodale.ca

@eurodalehomes

(416) 782-5690


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Design/Build Expert - Kitchen Trends

Design/Build Expert – Kitchen Trends

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Design/Build Expert – Kitchen Trends

by Brendan Charters

Don’t get caught up sporting old trends in the most crucial room of the home

The most popular room in every home, the kitchen has become more than a space to simply prepare meals. As a family, we all congregate there, socialize, entertain and fill two of the basic needs of life to sustain our existence— we eat the food and drink the beverages we store within it. Given the wide spread popularity of the space, more and more homeowners are allocating sizeable parts of their new home or renovation budget to creating the perfect kitchen for them. It has also become a very fashionable room, and often dictates the architectural or interior design style of the rest of the home. Cabinet doors, countertops, appliances and backsplashes set the stage for the rest of the rooms in the home to follow. And those style trends are in a constant state of flux.

In working with our in-house Design-Build team here, I will break out the key trends we are implementing in this all-important room for our clients in 2018.

Still the most popular colour in cabinetry, white is starting to share the space with greys, blues and greens for a bit of fun. Photography: Valerie Wilcox
Still the most popular colour in cabinetry, white is starting to share the space with greys, blues and greens for a bit of fun. Photography: Valerie Wilcox

THE EXPERTS WEIGH IN

Interior designer Laura Thornton from Thornton Design, Jimmy Zoras from Distinctive by Design Fine Cabinetry and Jim Cunningham, architectural technologist from Eurodale Developments, all shared key elements they are recommending to clients. These experts guide homeowners in two areas of the kitchen—functionality and style—and at times, those two areas of focus can be at odds with each other.

Thornton suggests, no matter what the style or trend of the day is, no one can ever go wrong with paying for quality in this room of the home. Kitchen cabinets, counters and appliances are all touched on a daily basis, and if things begin to break down quickly, it will both look horrendous, and limit the true effectiveness of the space.

FUNCTION BEFORE FORM

In line with HOUZZ’s annual consumer survey, she also states that ingenious and creative storage is a must, allowing us to hide everything and create the esthetic of a clutter-free and vast countertop. This also lets people show off the style of that key kitchen feature more easily. It will also create a calm feeling of order. She notes that many people are experimenting with the removal of upper cabinets from their designs, or the introduction of open-display shelving. While it may look great in a staged photograph, or could work for a single person, it is somewhat impractical for a family with a greater need for organized and hidden storage.

The kitchen is no longer a room on its own, with only one function. A built-in banquette seamlessly provides lounge, eating and working space when desired. Photography: Valerie Wilcox
The kitchen is no longer a room on its own, with only one function. A built-in banquette seamlessly provides lounge, eating and working space when desired. Photography: Valerie Wilcox

MINOR UPDATES

Because these style trends change so rapidly, there are cost-effective options that freshen and update a space in order to remain current. Thornton recommends starting with the lighting, door and drawer handles (hardware) to inject some new life. Cunningham believes a countertop and backsplash change, while slightly more costly and invasive, will really alter the esthetic and feel of the room.

COHESIVE & CLUTTER-FREE

Zoras from Distinctive still sees many white cabinets running through his production line, however, people are starting to experiment more with colour for islands and base cabinets, which is helping to tie the kitchen together with the other rooms in the home. This bleed effect is something Cunningham from Eurodale sees architecturally. With smaller urban homes, the kitchen is increasingly becoming part of the dining, family or other common spaces. Kitchen cabinets tying into desk spaces and eating spaces, or even media millworks are starting to erase the word “kitchen” from blueprints, replacing it with “great room,” making it difficult for people in the space to clearly identify where one room ends and the other begins.

This walnut cabinetry tucks away clutter and frames the style of the entire home. This contemporary style offset against the concrete floor and ceiling is then paired with furniture for a unified, clean and dramatic esthetic. Photography: Valerie Wilcox
This walnut cabinetry tucks away clutter and frames the style of the entire home. This contemporary style offset against the concrete floor and ceiling is then paired with furniture for a unified, clean and dramatic esthetic. Photography: Valerie Wilcox

This further enforces the need for creative and ample storage to keep the spaces collectively clean, so the visual focus can be on the beautiful finishes rather than the clutter of dishes, cooking utensils and countertop appliances required to execute the culinary magic occurring in the space (or hidden places for your takeout container trash, depending on your lifestyle).

TO TECH OR NOT TO TECH

Lastly, while kitchens are under the technology assault, implementing Internet connectivity to appliances and creating hubs for device-charging or television or tablet screen integration, the kitchen as a lounge is helping people to actually disconnect from tech and speak to one another. Built-in banquettes, eat-in kitchens, desk spaces are allowing families the ability to congregate in one main room to remain connected to each other vs. ducking away into private rooms with their personal devices. Cunningham believes wet bars and butler pantries are helping to connect entertainment spaces to the kitchens, so families can easily eat, live, play, entertain and clean in an attractive and organized environment. Zoras helps us all get there by designing amazing pullout waste-sorting stations, baking and serving tray sections, full-extension Lazy Suzan inserts and deep-drawer organizers. These are the things you don’t see, they add some cost but completely revolutionize the function of a kitchen.

When planning your own kitchen in a new home or renovation, remember there is real value in working with a professional to design and build the space. Function is as important as form here, and planning your search at renomark.ca, the home of the professional renovator, is a great place to start looking for help.

Brendan Charters is Partner at Toronto Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments Inc. – 2017 OHBA Renovator of the Year.

eurodale.ca

@eurodalehomes

(416) 782-5690


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Design/Build Expert: Bathroom Basics

Design/Build Expert: Bathroom Basics

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Design/Build Expert: Bathroom Basics

by Brendan Charters

Standard features with an eye towards the future

The earliest records of baths date back to 3000 BC. In 5,000 years, the basic need for bathing has not changed tremendously, though the frequency of use of this societal norm has increased and so has our expectations of this essential space. The technological revolution is also helping to shift our expectations of what we encounter when we enter these rooms. When thinking of these spaces, virtually every aspect of these rooms can be categorized into two main segments.

HIGH STANDARDS: Heated floors, steam showers, stone and glass tile, custom niches and cabinets are all perceived luxuries we see as standard or basic features in most projects today. Photography by Valerie Wilcox.
HIGH STANDARDS: Heated floors, steam showers, stone and glass tile, custom niches and cabinets are all perceived luxuries we see as standard or basic features in most projects today. Photography by Valerie Wilcox.

DEGREES OF DISCRETION

The first is privacy. Powder rooms on the main floor must never open directly into the dining, kitchen or even living rooms. The expectation is growing that these rooms have some level of sound attenuation to them, with solid-core doors and sound insulation, and even sound-board drywall. Stack drains are also frequently being insulated. Pocket doors, while functional at saving space, do little to conceal what is occurring beyond the door. Quiet ventilation fans are nice when located as an ensuite feature, yet noisier fans can come in handy when trying to cancel other sounds. In many ensuite bathrooms, we are noticing a resurgence of more formal water closets, giving the toilet its own space for its own function, resulting in a more spa-like experience for the rest of the bathroom, and allowing for more comfortable multi-user scenarios.

EXCUSE ME The fortress of solitude-or—enclosed water closet—is a luxury few think about, but all fall in love with when they realize the functionality. Photography by Valerie Wilcox.
EXCUSE ME The fortress of solitude-or—enclosed water closet—is a luxury few think about, but all fall in love with when they realize the functionality. Photography by Valerie Wilcox.

COMFORT ZONE

The second is comfort. Comfort is a highly subjective term, and one which we internally frame in different ways, depending on our personal situation and lifestyle experience, as well as needs. While 10 years ago, I would have thought comfort includes a shower with multiple body sprayers, a Kohler steam shower, heated floors, marble-tile finishes and a Toto washlet (a toilet with a heated seat, built-in bidet and blow dryer function—who needs toilet paper?!). Now, in 2017, I think of accessibility, critically positioned grab bars, wide doorway entrances, curbless showers, floating vanities, occupant-sensing lights, and moisture-sensing fans. When we are healthy and able-bodied, bathrooms fill dream and Pinterest boards with spa-like set-ups, rich finishes, mountain or seaside views and candles. When loved ones around us (or even ourselves) are not physically well, the access to and simple usability of a washroom becomes the most basic of needs, that if not designed and built with access restrictions in mind, can become an unattainable and non-functioning space, forcing them out of the home.

CAUTION–CURB AHEAD Regardless of the quality of finishes, if you are unable to get in to, or out of, a shower safely and easily, it can render a beautiful bathroom, useless. Photography by Andrew Snow.
CAUTION–CURB AHEAD Regardless of the quality of finishes, if you are unable to get in to, or out of, a shower safely and easily, it can render a beautiful bathroom, useless. Photography by Andrew Snow.

PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE

In recent years, I have noticed more and more clients planning for the dream of aging in place, or simply being able to return home, versus staying in hospital or a long-term care facility. With personal family and friends being forced to undue prior expensive cosmetic renovations in order to make an existing bathroom an accessible place, it definitely makes me pause and think about what the new era of standard features in a bathroom should be. Even if only needed for temporary injury or rehabilitation, an accessible bathroom in every home should become a basic need, one which I bet our Baby Boomer generation will push for in upcoming building code revisions. Forget your spa experience (for now)—let’s create spaces that everyone can use and benefit from for the long term—so we can all stay at home if we want to, no matter the health circumstance.

Lastly, and most importantly, before undertaking a renovation project in your own home, start your search at the home for the Professional Renovator at renomark.ca, where the top licensed and insured contractors can be found in Canada, from coast to coast. Happy Renovating!

Brendan Charters is co-owner of Toronto Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments – 2016 BILD Renovator of the Year.

Visit eurodale.ca or follow Brendan on Twitter @EurodaleHomes



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