Choosing Tile For Your Backsplash

Choosing Tile For Your Backsplash

Whether clients are looking to do a complete renovation of the kitchen or just changing out a few kitchen elements, the selection of backsplash material is always one of those areas where people struggle to visualize a selection and how it will look in the space. If a client is doing their own kitchen project, this is one of the areas that I see people make the most design errors when it comes to material selection. Often clients do come to a designer after the fact, after trying to implement their design ideas and then not being happy with the results.

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With so many different materials, colors, and design options, the backsplash presents us with an opportunity to complement the space’s design. Still, without a thorough knowledge of design principles, the backsplash can sometimes become the piece that conflicts with the rest of the area.

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When  I select a backsplash for a kitchen that I’m renovating and designing, this is how I approach the selection.

Don’t shop until you have determined what you are looking for. I often go into a space where a backsplash tile selection was chosen based on how much you like the tile material. That’s great, but just like choosing any other design element, the most important thing is to be able to picture the whole room as one and how it’s going to work together to create a cohesive design.

I base my selections on the number of things – the other design elements that I’m putting into the newly renovated design, the choice of countertop material that I am using in the new design, the size and scale of the pattern on the new countertop. The other thing that I look at is how much backsplash there is and how it’s sectioned and cut up in the particular kitchen design. For instance, a backsplash with many small sections might not be a great candidate for a widespread pattern because many details of that design would get lost in the smaller cut sections of the backsplash configuration.

The other thing that I look at when designing a backsplash is precisely where the backsplash material will be applied. Where will it start, and where will it end concerning the cabinetry and the other design elements to create a truly customized backsplash for your kitchen? There is no clear-cut answer that applies to every space and every tile. When designing a kitchen space, the goal for me is to create an overall balance in color, materials, and proportion creating a well-harmonized look.

 

Until Next Time,
Gia

From The Blog

Choosing Appliances For Your Kitchen Renovation

Choosing Appliances For Your Kitchen Renovation

When I work with a client on a kitchen renovation project, I always start conversations with the new space’s appliance needs. When designing a kitchen, you can easily get distracted by all of the tile, countertop, and material selections involved with the kitchen renovation. However, the choice of appliances is always where I start as a professional. That is because the size of those appliances and the selection of appliances needed will dictate the overall kitchen layout. So the time to choose appliances is the in the very beginning. So how do we make our appliance selections?

Here are some of the questions that I ask clients when discussing appliance selections.

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ONE

What type of cooking do you want to be able to do in your new kitchen? Discussing the cooking needs, it’s essential because people use their kitchens very differently. Some people use their ovens more than their cooktop. Some people use a microwave more than anything, and some people don’t use their microwaves at all. The list goes on. Knowing exactly what type of cooking my client will be doing helps with steering them in appliance choices that they will be happy with.

TWO

Be realistic with your appliance goals. Double ovens are great; however, you need a certain amount of wall space for a double wall oven. Using a double wall oven may not be a great use of valuable wall space. It also might eat up an area that could be used for more countertop. So be realistic about the appliance usage. If you’re only going to use that second oven once a year, is it worth any space that you might be giving up for something else? Discuss this with your designer. Some kitchens with space limitations can be tricky. There are many ways that a double oven might be worked into a kitchen, depending on your layout. Be open to discussing your cooking needs with your designer And consider some new ideas.

THREE

Refrigeration needs can also vary significantly from household to household. Think about how much space you need for refrigeration and some of the features you would like to see in your new refrigerator. Your designer can help you meet these goals, specifically when you know what features you really would like to include in your refrigerator. Refrigerator drawers can also be a great option in kitchens short on wall space; this could also be an excellent feature for a large kitchen spreading out the refrigeration area from being in one place.

FOUR

Other appliances like dishwashers, microwaves, steam ovens, etc., all have unique features. Start the search by looking at the features of these appliances, how much daily usage they will get, and how well they will fit into the amount of space that you have in your new kitchen. Designers can help you evaluate these items and create the proper placement in your floor plan.

FIVE

Once you find the features you like in your appliances, then we start to look at finishes and details like handles, etc. Depending on the rest of your space’s design, size of your kitchen, and the overall look, your appliances don’t necessarily need to match. But there should be cohesive elements that tie them together and work well with the overall design.

SIX

Think about small appliances. Which small appliances do you use daily, are there features in your larger appliances that could eliminate the need for some of your existing small appliances? Think about what you use daily, and be sure to include it in your plan. Other small appliances seldomly used will need to be part of the new space’s overall storage plan.

 

Until Next Time,
Gia

From The Blog

Your Design Goals For The New Year

Your Design Goals For The New Year

A new year means a fresh start! This year we welcome the new year with open arms as we look ahead and plan for the upcoming year.

After a year where just about everything revolved around your home, you might be thinking of some of the challenges your home presents and looking for guidance on making your home look great and function for your family and lifestyle.

An Interior Designer can make all the difference in the outcome of any of your upcoming projects. 

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ONE

Be open to getting a professional designer involved from the beginning. With so much access to “information,” it is easy for homeowners to assume that they can google their way through a project. I can assure you that this is not a great way to design a project and cause significant design and budget problems. Sadly most of these projects do not have the desired outcome, and often a professional designer is later called to correct issues causing further cost to the homeowner. Savvy homeowners call in the pros from the beginning recognizing the value of experience and ready to invest in professional services to get professional results.

Now, with the daily changes with suppliers, resources, and vendors and the increased demand for experienced contractors, the value of what a skilled professional designer brings to your project is more significant than ever.

TWO

Make a list of all long term design and renovation projects you would like to tackle in your home. Review this list with your designer; discuss your priorities. Listen to your designer’s advice about what makes the most sense regarding what to tackle first. Understanding the process and what is involved will help you phase your project in a way that avoids costly backtracking. Choose a designer with history and the experience to deal with phasing a long term renovation on a professional level, setting your project up for success right from the beginning.

THREE

List specific challenges with your home’s function and tell your designer how you want your home to feel. Some of the solutions that you might be thinking of might not necessarily solve your challenges. Listing your specific challenges, needs, and goals will help you ensure that your challenges are all addressed. Most pros will ask the needed questions to solve your design problems, but be sure to discuss them at your first meeting with a pro. Homeowners may have ideas on how to solve these issues; listen to what the pros bring to the table as they are looking at your home in a different light and with years of experience that they can add to your project. A great designer will listen to your ideas, create something that you love, and help you meet your overall goals.

Until Next Time,
Gia

From The Blog

Considering A Kitchen Renovation? Start Here

Considering A Kitchen Renovation? Start Here

This past year, we have realized that the kitchen is the heart of the home more than ever. It is the place where we prepare meals, but it’s also much more. It’s the place where we congregate with family, store our necessities, sort our groceries, and can even be the place where we do our school or work from home—a tall order for many of our kitchens.

Although many people are always dreaming about a kitchen renovation, many people are seriously considering this much-needed renovation project to meet their family’s needs. With the holidays approaching, our already overworked kitchens will be in full gear as many people prepare to spend the holidays at home. More than ever, this current year is the best time to assess the workings of our existing kitchen and how we can make improvements to meet all of our needs.

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The first step is to take notes on what is not working in your current space. Sometimes it takes a while to figure this out. Many people that move into a new house immediately think that they know what they want to do with their kitchen, but after living in the space for a little while, they have a much better idea of how the room functions. The advantage of thinking about that renovation for some time, you will have a good understanding of what needs to change. These notes are so valuable when you sit down with a designer to create your new kitchen space. In my over 20 years of designing kitchens for clients, I have learned that all clients use their kitchens differently, and although there might be some common needs for the kitchen space, those unique needs can be met by asking the right questions

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Here are some tips on how to evaluate your current kitchen space

ONE

Additional Storage is a common request for any kitchen renovation project. But something to take note of is what exactly do YOU store. How many large pots do you want to be able to store in your new kitchen? What do you keep as far as food storage items? Some people store lots of canned goods, and others need more refrigerated storage. How often do you shop for groceries? Look at what you are currently storing and what you would like to store in your kitchen space. How many small appliances do you own and use regularly? What needs to be accessible for daily use, and what could be stored to bring out when needed?

TWO

Appliances – What do you need for the way that you cook? How much do you cook? How much do you use your oven, how many burners do you use at once on your range? What elements are necessary, and what features should be luxurious and desired if you have the space to work them into your new kitchen design?

THREE

Countertop space – Do you have areas in your current kitchen that do not function well because of a lack of countertop space? Think about all the tasks you perform in your kitchen and think about difficulties. So often, we learn to operate within the confinements of our current space. Think about what would be ideal, and then your designer can help you achieve what is possible for your room, knowing what you would like to have.

FOUR

What additional tasks do you use your kitchen for? Do you work at your kitchen countertop? Do you bake regularly? If you entertain, what does that typically look like for you? A few people for dinner or a larger gathering?

FIVE

Items that need a home in your kitchen. Do you store other items in your kitchen besides kitchen items? Like I mentioned before, people use their homes in unique ways. Do you currently store paper products, cleaners, medical supplies in your kitchen? Art supplies for the kids? Are you presently storing kitchen items elsewhere in your home? Are these items that you would like to keep in your kitchen?

Again, you do not need to know how to solve all of these issues; just having a list of not only what you want to see in your new space design-wise, but what is needed for your kitchen to function better for you and your family, will help your designer create a space that meets your needs.

Until Next Time,
Gia

From The Blog

Country Estate Project- Kitchen/Family Room and Video Tour

Country Estate Project - Kitchen/Family Room and Video Tour

A few weeks ago, I showed you the transformation of the master suite. This week, I am excited to share a video tour of my finished country estate project. I would like to tell you about the transformation we did in this lovely home’s kitchen/family room area. 

Recently the home’s new owners contacted me to design an extensive transformation of the space. Dated cabinetry and materials, old appliances, and an inferior layout frustrated the new homeowners, who were very excited to see what I had planned for the space. 


This stately home is an older 1700s era colonial. In the 1980s, a large contemporary addition had been added to the back of this home, keeping the large old original fireplace but adding a multitude of contemporary features that were not fitting to the home.

The awkward kitchen layout did not allow for any flow into the kitchen but created a strange barrier you continuously had to walk around to get in and out of the confined small feeling kitchen. The two stairways added in the previous addition, a pink and brass spiral stairway, and a strange drop-down set of stairs into the family room created more strange barriers in this home.

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One of the things that I wanted to improve in this kitchen space is the flow from one room to the other it’s a vast space that’s open to a living area. I wanted to open things up to give them more seating, more entertaining area, and I wanted to open up the kitchen floor so that you didn’t have to walk around the peninsula to get into the kitchen space like the former kitchen.

I came up with a design that incorporated two large custom islands. Designing beautiful custom cabinetry allowed us to develop exactly the right sized islands with the room’s proper configuration. Creating needed storage, more entertainment areas, and countertop space drastically improved the space’s design proportionally and visually.

The stairways were both changed. The homeowners immediately removed the spiral stairs before the design. We updated the look of that oak stairway with gleaming white paint to tie in the architecture to the rest of the design project. The awkward set of stairs and existing cabinetry in the living space were all removed, re-configured, and re-built. Now you can walk right out of the kitchen area into the family room. All new custom cabinetry in the living area allowed us to create a larger walkway around the stairway, which was necessary for this family. It also allowed us it clearly define the family room area and display their beautiful collections.

This kitchen and family room did come with the most beautiful view of the surrounding fields and woodland areas, so I developed a color scheme that took advantage of nature’s artwork. My homeowner’s love of traditional design elements inspired me to create this space, which ties in perfectly to the original older, more traditional style architecture.

However, we also added state of the art Decor appliances, complete with interactive cooking technology, quartz countertops, gleaming hardware, classic fixtures, and custom furnishings. I hope you will take a few minutes to tour the space with me in the video.

Until next time,
Gia

From The Blog

Working From Home During Your Renovation

Working From Home During Your Renovation

You might have been planning your home renovation project for some time. If you have hired a design and build company like mine, you have a designer/project manager overseeing your project from start to completion.

You knew this was the right choice since you need to keep focused on work and certainly don’t have the time or desire to be learning how to be a designer and a renovation manager at the same time. You also know that you want professional-level results, and you value the skills and experience of professionals. Now you can concentrate on your job and career knowing the project is in good hands.

There is one thing you might not have anticipated…that you might be working from home during the renovation process. 

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Working from home is now the new normal, and homeowners everywhere are settling into their new working environment. Most people are enjoying the new freedom of working in their home environments. No long commute, all the comforts of home, and increased productivity. (see my previous blog article, pro tips for working from home)

Now that your project start date is approaching, and with the recent construction and renovation boom, you are delighted that you have booked this project in advance and with a firm that has you on their schedule.  So, of course, you are ready to start and see the results of your thoroughly planned project. But now, how are you going to handle having a house filled with construction while you are working from home and having daily zoom calls?

Here are some tips for working from home during your renovation:

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ONE

Discuss any additional projects as soon as possible with your designer/project manager. For example, you may have decided that you want to set up a work area in a bedroom away from the renovation activity. You may need a desk, additional electrical outlets, a comfortable desk chair, or further assistance moving furnishings into a place where you can work comfortably. We would be glad to assist our clients with these things, and often we do. The sooner we know this, the better we can help you with getting settled. Your designer can source out the additional furniture items that you might need and will be familiar with the new projected lead time of different vendors and companies.

TWO 

Discuss the renovation process as far as what areas of the house will need to be cleared out or inaccessible during construction. Sometimes homeowners are unaware of how much space will be affected during renovation or construction. We try to prepare our clients for this. For instance, if we are working on a bedroom renovation, we will need to clear out everything in the bedroom until the project is complete to have access to walls, ceiling, flooring, and to have space to bring in the necessary tools to work on the project. This could affect the question of where is the best place to set up that temporary working space.

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THREE

Contact your project manager with your questions as they have all of the information on your renovation project. When working with a design and build firm, all contractors and artisans have been well informed by the project manager as to what they are making and all of the details involved. Although now that you are home watching the process, it is hard not to get distracted with questions about the process. Questions are always welcomed and answered quickly and thoroughly by my firm and most reputable professionals. The on-site plumber or electrician might not know all the details of things that don’t pertain to his part of the project. Your project manager will answer your questions quickly so you can have the answers you are looking for, so you can then be able to concentrate on your work.

 

FOUR

Even in the most well planned and prepared renovation, there will be construction noise. Not fun when you are trying to work or make that zoom call to a colleague. When you need some quiet, plan an alternative working space to give yourself a little break. Even as someone who is no stranger to daily construction noise, numerous renovations for clients, as well as my own home, I found myself in this position a few years ago when I had my crew re-finish all of the floors in my home. Although my office was isolated, I got to a point where I couldn’t take another 8 hours of floor sanding noise. I made my escape and spent a few working offsite in a quiet coffee shop. The peace and quiet, and maybe the extra caffeine, allowed me to be more productive in those very focused hours than if I had stuck it out at home. Removing myself allowed my crew to work more efficiently without worrying about clearing a path for me whenever I needed to walk through to the less than accessible bathroom. Just know that we feel your pain. No one enjoys living on a renovation site, much less working on one. Just know that we are doing whatever we can to lessen the impact yet still complete your project with high-quality work, efficiently, and with as little disruption to your work as possible

 

FIVE

Know that the renovation process is only temporary. Once your renovation is complete, and you can enjoy your new space, you will be so glad that you invested the time, money, and a little inconvenience to reap the benefits of your newly designed and renovated space. We also know that working from home can be a bit isolating. Some clients miss all the activity and progress in their home once the renovation is complete, and quickly start planning the next project. We love nothing more than continuing to plan with you for your next project.

 

Until next time,
Gia

 

From The Blog

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