Tag Archives: Will Fournier Photography

Make room for mudrooms

Make room for mudrooms

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Make room for mudrooms

The Four Seasons – no, not the luxury hotel chain – the actual seasons that are responsible for supplying the dust, dirt, snow, salt, leaves, grass clippings constantly deposited inside your front entry are a year-round issue. The sandals, shoes, boots, coats, toques, mitts, scarves, ball caps and knapsacks that we drag inside (and out) join in too, making it next to impossible to have a presentable and formal entry in any home – unless you have a mudroom, of course.

A few short steps to a lower level can reduce stress on the main floor. Photography: Valerie Wilcox
A few short steps to a lower level can reduce stress on the main floor. Photography: Valerie Wilcox

Lack of space, surplus of footwear

The reality is that many urban homes have tiny main entrances. As such, finding a creative and attractive way to store outerwear becomes challenging. Even if you have the room to tuck away all the outdoor paraphernalia, the floors quickly become an extension of the exterior – and not in the good way – like when architects reference the free flow between the main floor family room and the pool terrace off the bi-folding Nana-wall in Arizona. This is just messy, and when guests come to your door, it is best if they are not greeted with footwear strewn about and forced to step into slush or mud in their socked feet as they enter.

Enter Peacefully – a clean main entry is only achieved with an associated mudroom. Photography: Valerie Wilcox
Enter Peacefully – a clean main entry is only achieved with an associated mudroom. Photography: Valerie Wilcox

Carve out some unconventional space

The solution is to add to, or creatively remodel, your space to allow for an alternate entrance. With space at a premium in urban house settings, the footprint of homes needs to maximize the lot areas and if they don’t already do so, pushing outward off the side of the existing dwelling is the first natural choice. Second to that, is to push off the back of the home, allowing pedestrians to avoid the front door entirely and access the home from either the side or the back. If neither option is available, a front-facing expansion can occasionally allow for a de-formalization of the main entry and create an expanded combination vestibule/mudroom at the front of the home. Let’s face it, if we get a chance to install some more storage elements, it will instantly make the space feel more clean and organized, reducing clutter and mess. If none of those options are viable, we take a look at a quick floor level shift. Given the main floor in the majority of homes are a couple of feet above established grade (a function of pushing footings at least four feet below grade to avoid the heaving effects of winter frost), a side door at, or close to grade will provide for a short run down to the basement level where one can install a mudroom, leaving only a few stairs to keep clean and removing the mess entirely from the main floor.

Millwork is perfect to hide it all with stylish doors and drawers. Photography: Will Fournier
Millwork is perfect to hide it all with stylish doors and drawers. Photography: Will Fournier

Design considerations

We have developed many different configurations for these rooms and the total space allocations and quality of the finishes are dependent on how many people reside in the home, how many visitors (extended family and close friends) come over on a regular basis, if there is a home-based business on the property, whether the home is a single family dwelling or if there is a secondary suite within the same building, and what the budget provisions are for the undertaking. Closets, millwork, benches, flooring type and natural light are all key considerations in the design.

Use earth tones to hide the dirt we bring in from the outdoors. Photography: Valerie Wilcox
Use earth tones to hide the dirt we bring in from the outdoors. Photography: Valerie Wilcox

Creative space alternatives

No matter what your existing home and lot may offer, if you are struggling with the mayhem at the front entry, some careful planning and design can go a long way to retain the sanity of all residents and guests visiting your home. It just takes a little creativity, time and initiative. Don’t get bogged down by the conventional labels for spaces. Define how to best allocate the areas of a home for the needs of everyone who lives there. Let’s mudroom together! For your really good friends, invest in one of those kitschy mats that suggest “Back door (or side door) guests are best.” Trust me, you (and they), will be glad you did!

Thinking of a mudroom in your new addition, renovation or custom home project? As always, I recommend you start your search at RenoMark.ca to find a professional design-builder to help undertake the full project from initial plan, through design, approvals and final construction.

Brendan Charters is a Founding Partner at Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments Inc., the GTA’s only four-time winner of the Renovator of the Year award.

@eurodalehomes

416.782.5690


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Trade tips for the perfect bathroom

Trade tips for the perfect bathroom

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Trade tips for the perfect bathroom

Washroom, Bathroom, Restroom, Lavatory – call it what you will, we all know what a nice one looks like, and we all steer clear of ones that make us cringe. In virtually every project we design and build, there is one, if not more, of these critical rooms in the homes that are being newly created, gutted or updated.

Bathrooms, as with any room in a home, are affected by the four key budget factors: area (size), architectural complexity (spatial design), HAAS (the systems) and the quality of finishes. Some key tips we offer our clients are not typical or standard inclusions in washrooms, but many of our clients wisely opt for these comfortable and stylish upgrades. We will outline them here for you to consider adding into your own spa-like escape at home.

Photography by Valerie Wilcox
Photography by Valerie Wilcox

The niche

Though many pre-manufactured options now exist, we can create custom shower cubbies to hold shampoo, conditioner, bar soap and razors. Cubbies can be placed to conceal these products, or be a more centralized focal point, depending on your personal preference.

The floor drain

We picked this tip up from our architect friend, Richard Librach. A floor drain, tied to the main stack and installed adjacent to the toilet, is the perfect minor add-on to handle those periodic and pesty toilet overflows. Especially handy in second or third floor washrooms, this can prevent a messy and costly cleanup!

The warm floor

Either electrically (cheaper to install, more expensive to run) or hydronically heated (expensive to install, cheaper to operate), nothing says luxury like stepping onto a warm tile or stone floor in bare feet. Once you go hot, you never go not.

Photography by Nikolas Koenig
Photography by Nikolas Koenig

The concealed drain

Under benches, long, linear or tile-covered drains have taken that traditional round grate from the centre of the shower and transitioned it into a showpiece, or concealed it completely for a more sophisticated look. With curbless showers taking a more prominent position in the marketplace, these drains are one of the most evolving aspects of the bathroom as of late.

Ventilation

While not a code requirement, adding a dedicated switch for your bathroom fan is a smart upgrade. We recommend a timer to increase simplicity and save on energy. ‘Set it and forget it’ helps ensure the fan doesn’t turn off when you turn off the light; it also ensures it runs for a good 30 minutes after a shower, and not all day and night, wasting energy. This also helps reduce mould. If you are really low-maintenance, you can put your trust in a moisture-sensing fan that will turn on and off when humidity levels command it. Or, for something smart and stylish, consider an automatic ERV self-ventilating skylight.

Not just any tile

We don’t recommend natural stone for shower floors. Toronto city water is very hard and has lots of iron that will yellow your beautiful Carrera marble in short order. Stick with the manufactured product here. Likewise, if you like to get a little steamy in the shower, a tiled ceiling will help ensure the moisture doesn’t condense on the painted plaster surface. It costs a bit more but provides a more resistant, easier-to-clean surface.

Steam units

What better way to cleanse the pores than to steam them out? At home personal steam units are becoming more common requests for those looking for the relaxing and pampered spa-like experience.

Photography by Will Fournier
Photography by Will Fournier

Moisture sensors

Eddy home, Alert Labs and similar manufacturers, are producing small sensors hidden, either beside or behind the toilet, that will alert you by text message, email or phone call that there is water accumulating on the floor (from a shower, vanity or toilet), allowing you to act before the issue gets to be a bigger problem.

Recirculation line

Especially useful for tankless or on-demand boiler applications and in second-floor bathrooms, a recirculation loop to the vanity sink and the shower helps ensure instant hot water is ready for use and helps prevent water wastage.

Transom windows

Privacy, natural light and fresh air are all plentiful with these awning-style, high-mounted windows.

Intelligent toilets

Not your grandparent’s bidet, these seats or full-toilet systems can supply your water closet with music, night lights, and warm air blowing at your feet and/or your backside. It’s the ultimate luxury to ensure the most luxurious “go” experience.

Single component grout

Premixed, colour-perfect and stain-proof, this grout resists shrinking, cracking and wear and tear and also prevents mould – the nice bathroom destroyer!

Mirror, mirror on the wall

From custom cabinet framing, to lit vanity mirrors, and mirrors with hidden TV screens embedded within the glass, voice and smart mirrors, the conventional mirror – even with your beautiful face in it – is just plain boring! “Hello Alexa, apply a filter to my bathroom selfie!” Thinking of a new bathroom or perhaps overhauling an existing one? As always, I recommend you start your search at RenoMark.ca to find a professional builder to help you undertake the installations of all the new finishes in your project.

Brendan Charters is a Founding Partner at Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments Inc., the GTA’s only four-time winner of the Renovator of the Year award.

@eurodalehomes

(416) 782-5690


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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

Design/Build Expert: Grey, Beige or BOLD?

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Design/Build Expert: Grey, Beige or BOLD?

by Brendan Charters

This year, the colour experts encourage you to introduce some playful and dramatic hues to interiors

As a design-builder, the colour of things matters less to us than the functionality and durability of the spaces that we create for our clients does. In every project we build however, we witness the trends come and go quite rapidly, since the individual homeowner (and/or their interior designer) dictates the colours that will be installed on that particular wall, window, door, trim or cabinet element. Given we rarely build to sell a home ourselves, we are not usually concerned about choosing colours that will appeal to the masses. Like I mentioned, we are usually installing preselected colours instead of spending time selecting them. Something we are more comfortable with anyway.

GOT THE BLUES? HC-155 Newburyport Blue from Benjamin Moore is a bright blue, which pops on this island and fireplace surround against the white cabinets and honey-brown floors and shelves. Photography: Will Fournier Photography
GOT THE BLUES? HC-155 Newburyport Blue from Benjamin Moore is a bright blue, which pops on this island and fireplace surround against the white cabinets and honey-brown floors and shelves. Photography: Will Fournier Photography

THE OTHER SIDE OF NEUTRAL

“Builder Beige” became the boring norm that everyone used to describe the tract development palette of the ’90s. Through the turn of the Millennium, no one dared use much of it at all. Greys became the dominant neutral of all things tile, furnishings, decor elements and accent walls in the decade that followed. Recently, things have been getting a bit more dramatic, colours such as “Hale Navy,” for example, a deep-blue colour, has been finding its way onto kitchen islands to offset the typical white kitchen that has become so commonplace. We have painted fireplace accent walls and even front doors with this colour in the past few years.

COLOUR-RICH YEAR

There are a number of colour expert companies that release their projected “Colour of the Year.” 2017 saw Pantone cite “Greenery” as the leading shade while Benjamin Moore nominated “Shadow”—an allusive and enigmatic shade, which they describe as the “master of ambiance.” The description alone makes me want to paint my den in this shade! So many of these new bright, rich and bold colour options are a far cry from the beige and grey we are used to. “Night Sky,” a softer blue-grey hue almost appears to be a blend of the three of these colours. “Honey Glow,” a vibrant mustard is Dunn-Edwards Paint’s Colour of the Year and is said to be the perfect pair for accessorizing either of these blues or greens. No matter which way you stray from beige or grey, one sure trend has been to keep it to the fringes, accent pieces and feature walls give people a taste of their playful side, without being overpowering.

Shadow 2117-30 is Benjamin Moore's 2017 Colour of the Year.
Shadow 2117-30 is Benjamin Moore’s 2017 Colour of the Year.

MIX IT UP

A splash of colour is what makes our spaces stand out from our neighbours, and helps define a room’s desired intent. A red dining room was said to stimulate appetite while a blue room offers a calming effect. There is a real psychology to our perceptions of colour. It provides for interesting methodology when deciding what paint or colour choices you inject into your decor. Ask yourself what mood you want the room to create so you can attain the desired effect. Our recommendation when injecting colour into your space is to start small and don’t overdo it. Grey and white look nice, but not if you see that colour combination everywhere, in every room, in every home. Paint is relatively low cost. Powder rooms, dens and nurseries are typically small, enclosed spaces where you can experiment with your personal flair. No matter how you decide to inject some life into your decor, you typically get what you pay for, no matter what colour it is. If you plan to own it for the long term, reach for quality in both product and workmanship.

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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