Friday, April 5, 2019

Mistakes to Avoid When Remodeling a Kitchen

~ This is a featured post. ~

Remodeling a kitchen improves the value, functionality, comfort and aesthetic appeal of your home. However, when not done right, you may end up spending lots of money on a project that will not fulfill your expectations. Therefore, you should take your time to plan every detail carefully to avoid disappointment. This article highlights some of the key mistakes that people make when remodeling their kitchens and steps you can take to avoid making them yourself.

No Budget
The first mistake people make when renovating their kitchen is getting started without a financial plan. This often leads to under spending or over spending. To avoid this mistake, start by identifying how much you want to put into the project. The general guideline is to set aside 15% to 20% of the value of your home. Once you have a figure, assign an amount for every element in your kitchen including furniture and appliances.  If you don’t assign an amount for each item, some will end up neglected and the result will be an unbalanced kitchen.

Not Paying Attention to Every Detail
Another mistake you should avoid is not paying attention to every detail in your kitchen. Consider anything that affects the aesthetic appeal, functionality, comfort and usability of your kitchen. Ensure everything is laid down in such a way that it works well for you, your family and visitors. Pay close attention to the layout, seating area, storage, lighting, furniture and appliance arrangement, colors, cabinets, open shelves, sinks, lighting, ventilation, electric outlets, flooring, island and every other element in your kitchen. Incorporating functional and stylish countertops will also mean looking into all the details involved.

Making changes when the project is underway will add more costs to your budget. Worse still, you may come to realize some details were overlooked when the project is already complete. Therefore, list everything down and note your expectations for each. Don’t get started on the project until you are fully decided on what you want for the entire space. And when you have considered it all, picture the end result for the entire kitchen. Will it be too crowded? Have you underused the space? Is the functionality okay? Will you have enough storage? Have you incorporated too many designs?

Not Researching When Hiring a Contractor
The outcome of your project is dependent on a number of factors, and a key one is the contractor you choose. Therefore, don’t be in a rush to hire a contractor before you check their qualifications as well as reputation. In most states, contractors are expected to have both a license or certificate and insurance. This should be the starting point for your evaluation. Next, check their gallery to gauge their expertise. And finally, don’t forget to read reviews and check their ratings on the internet. Taking time to review an individual or company before you hire them will save you from a bad outcome. Additionally, when you are dealing with a licensed and insured individual, it will be easier to get compensation in case of an accident.  

No Contract
Your project should begin only when you have a signed contract indicating all the details for the project. A contract is the only tool that you can use against your remodeling contractor in case they fail to honor their end of the bargain. It will also keep you from having disagreements as the project is ongoing. Some of the details that should be included in the contract include payment amount and terms, duration, things to be done, warranty and materials to be used, among others. Ensure that the contract has all the details and don’t hesitate to seek help from a legal expert if some of the terms are not clear.

Buying Furniture and Appliances Last
Another mistake that you should avoid is getting your furniture and appliances last. Decide what you want in advance so that the designer or contractor can take that into account when making the plan. It will be easier to plan for the other spaces when you know the dimensions and color of your appliances. You can order in advance and have them delivered later in case you don’t have enough storage.

Not Thinking About the Future
Kitchen renovation is not something that you do every year, and therefore you should think about the future when you are planning. Some of the ideas that look very trendy today will be outdated in a few years. Therefore, go for designs and materials that will still look good in years to come. Quality matters too when you think about the future. Don’t settle for low quality materials that will begin to chip off before you are ready for your next home renovation project. If you are renovating on a budget, take time to find stores that have affordable but quality materials. You could also buy some second-hand quality items to cut on costs.

Not Getting a 3D Preview
Thanks to advances in technology, homeowners can now view designs in 3D. 3D will give you a better view of what your kitchen will look like when it is done. Many people make the mistake of relying on paper sketches only to realize that the design wasn’t that good when the project is almost done. Therefore, take advantage of technology and get a preview of your kitchen before the contractor gets to work.

Minimal Research on Materials
Finally, when remodeling your kitchen, don’t settle on the first design and material you come across. Compare the durability and strength of different materials before you make a decision. Also, consider factors such as aesthetic appeal and energy efficiency. Explore every option in the market before you make a decision.

Avoiding these mistakes when remodeling your kitchen will save you a lot of disappointment and give you value for your money. Most importantly, you will get your dream kitchen. If you are feeling stuck, seek input from your family members, friends or a professional in kitchen remodeling. However, remember to re-evaluate the ideas you get from other people before making a decision to implement them. Don’t implement any idea that you are not comfortable with.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

My Modern Kitchen Design Plan

Well, the time has finally come. Or has it? Kitchen renovation is so overwhelming and stressful that I've been putting it off for as long as I can. Our home kitchen is perfectly functional, not aesthetically pleasing or current, but functional. When we moved into our house 10 years ago, we chose the-then popularity theme: dark solid maple cabinet doors in shaker style, natural granite counter and a whole lot of stainless steel appliances. My love for this kitchen quickly dried up as my design style evolves. I know I am probably only going to renovate this kitchen once, a gut job, so I am thinking something more nature-inspired, more modern and clean-lined, and can stand the test of time. 

Below is my home kitchen design board. I haven't decided yet whether I should hire a designer to help me along the way. White cabinetry is a must-have. Adding some blonde wood cabinetry in the island wrapped around by waterfall counter, or in the pantry, would create visual interest and enhance the modern aesthetics. 

Below is our kitchen's current layout. 

And this is the new layout I am thinking: extending the pantry (no-brainer!) and moving the orientation of the island sink to face the stove. With that, I can get a much longer island (more seating) out of the space. I will probably have to go for a narrower island than 48" so there's more room away from the pantry wall. 

The picture below pretty much summed up my dream kitchen must-haves. Most of the appliances, especially fridge, would be hidden behind cabinetry doors. 

And below is the design board for our kitchen diner. 

As you could see from the layouts above, kitchen and diner are essentially one big open space, so I combine the design boards below to show you how they look together. 

If you remember back in December we just gave our kitchen diner a mini makeover. I am keeping most of the stuff except for the round dining table. 

This Ikea Fjalkinge shelving unit will definitely stay. 

I don't know when I can work up the courage for this project yet - it surely going to be very disruptive to our daily routine, and routine is very important to me. I am hoping early fall before it gets cold, so we can still do some cooking and eating in our backyard. Stay tuned! I will share a source list in my future posts. For now, here are the two items I already ordered: 

Emmett 6-Light Chandelier from Wayfair. 

Edessa Tribal Medallion runner rug from RugsUSA. 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Environmentally Friendly Home Designs

~ This is a featured post. ~

For many, a home is a safe haven and a way to escape from the world. It’s your personal space, and for this reason, you want it to be as comfortable as possible. In this day and age of promoting green practices, people are looking for ways to make their homes green, and one approach is to infuse this need it into your home designs. If you aren’t familiar with the ways you can design your home in a way that benefits the environment, you may not know where to start. Keep reading to find out how you can make your home design environmentally friendly.

Use Indoor Plants 
When designing your interior, include indoor plants in your plan. These can do wonders for your home as well as for the environment, too. If you didn’t know, one of the benefits of indoor plants is that they breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. They’re also capable of absorbing other harmful chemicals like benzene or formaldehyde which are typically found in household products. A few examples of indoor plants to buy are asparagus fern, fiddle leaf fig, or the Chinese money plant.

Use Solar Energy 
Another method for designing an environmentally friendly home is using solar energy. Solar energy is so beneficial to the environment because it’s energy that’s renewable. It also has low maintenance costs and can help reduce your electricity bill, which is often an incentive for many.

If you don’t know much about home solar systems, it’s advisable that you soak in as much information as possible using platforms like Going Solar. The first step would typically be to get solar panels installed so that the energy from the sunlight can be converted into electricity.

Choose Durable Materials 
For those who happen to be reconstructing any part of their home or building it for the first time, use durable materials. Bamboo, for instance, is one of the best eco-friendly materials that you can find. It is said to be exceptionally durable, lightweight, as well as less energy-incentive,  to transport.  Other materials to try are cork, which is another fast-growing resource, or recycled wood and metal.

If you have the luxury of having a garden in your home, you should explore the idea of composting. You can leave a space in your garden for this as it’s a fantastic way of managing your kitchen scraps and improving the environment too, as compostable materials cannot degrade effectively when sent to landfill.

Here are a few steps regarding how to compost if you’ve never done so before.
  • Combine Materials: Make a pile at least three feet deep of green and brown materials. If you find your compost pile is too wet and smells, add more brown. On the other hand, if you find it’s brown and dry, add green and a little bit of water to make it more moist.
  • Water the Pile: Your compost pile should have the same consistency as a wet sponge, so watering it regularly is a must. However, don’t add too much water as it could result in your pile drowning.
  • Stir the Pile: In order to give your pile oxygen, resolve to use a garden fork to turn it once a week. This should help it cool faster and prevent a smell from developing.
  • Feed Your Pile: Once your pile is dry, brown and crumbly, it’s fully cooked and you can use it to feed your garden.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Budget Bathroom Makeover Checklist

~ This is a featured post. ~

With the new year here, it might be about time to consider giving your bathroom a quick makeover. Doing a full remodel is expensive, time consuming, and ultimately unrealistic for the average person. However, there are quick, cheap, and easy ways to breathe new life into your bathroom, even if you’re renting!

If you go through this easy bathroom makeover checklist, you’ll find plenty of ideas that are budget friendly and relatively simple to utilize in your bathroom. Throughout this checklist, we tried to follow some of the most popular bathroom design trends of 2019 so that you’re not wasting your time with anything that's out of style.


The bathroom walls are a great place to start when it comes to upgrading your bathroom on a budget. There are some different options based on the amount of money you want to spend, how much work you want to put in, and if you own your place or not.

Painting your walls is an amazing tactic to upgrading your bathroom. Paint is relatively cheap, and you don’t need to paint every wall. Having a fun pop of color on one wall acts as a great focal point for your bathroom. A trendy new design choice is to paint one wall black if you’re feeling especially adventurous.

Of course, not everyone has the luxury of being able to paint their walls whenever they feel like it. Landlords can be strict and you might want to pick your battles. Instead, you can go with a fun wallpaper that’s easy to put up and then remove when you decide to leave. Modern prints are popular right now. Wallpaper on one wall, like paint, is a great way to add an interesting focal point to any bathroom.

Finally, if you want the least amount of work or you have a small bathroom, you can hang and additional mirror. Adding in a mirror has a way of making small bathrooms feel more spacious. They trick your eye into making your bathroom feel bigger than it is, which is always a plus!

New Fixtures

You’ll often see people who want to give their kitchen a quick update switch out their cabinet handles/knobs. The same idea works well in bathrooms! If you’re dealing with old or outdated bathroom fixtures, they’re relatively cheap and easy to replace with something new. A popular trend right now is going with matte black fixtures. They are fun, bold, and definitely more interesting than the standard chrome you’ve been seeing in bathrooms for years. If you don’t want to deal with the sink or shower head, you can always go for switching out cabinet handles for your bathroom vanity.


The area between your sink and your mirror is often neglected. It’s an uninteresting space that people will forget about because they have no idea what do with it. This is where you have a chance to shine! Purchasing a simple stick on backsplash will do wonders for your bathroom. Although it’s a small area, your eyes will immediately be drawn to that spot if there is something interesting to look at.

You could always tile that area, but we’re on a budget! Stick on backsplashes are less than $20 and if you go with a high quality option, it’s hard to tell the difference between a stick on and real tile.


Storage and shelving are two aspects of your bathroom that might not be the most interesting, but can make the biggest difference. Having a cluttered bathroom is going to lead to stress and unhappiness. The last thing you want to see when you go to the bathroom in the morning is the mess that’s been lingering for days. An easy way to get better about keeping your vanity area clean and maximizing space is by installing floating shelves.

Floating shelves look amazing and don’t have to be expensive. Since they’re often not supporting too much weight, they’re cheaper than other shelving options. Another great feature about floating shelves, they’re easy to make yourself!

Another upgrade that’s worth thinking about is switching to a floating vanity. Floating vanities are the absolute best option if you’re dealing with a small bathroom. A large, bulky bathroom vanity is going to make your bathroom feel even smaller than it already is. A floating vanity allows you to utilize the space under the sink for additional storage.

These are just a few of the options when it comes to a budget bathroom makeover. You can also add art, buy a new bathroom mat, upgrade your towels and towel rack, you name it. Creating and maintaining a beautiful bathroom doesn’t need to be hard or expensive, just start small!

About the Author:
Thomas is a lead content producer for Trade Winds Imports, a company that has 10 years of experience in bathroom design and an unbeatable knowledge of bathroom vanities.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Natural Light and Interior Design

~ This is a featured post. ~

There is no true right and wrong when it comes to interior design. Like fashion, it is entirely personal (it is, after all, your home). If you absolutely love a certain type of quirky design that others don’t understand, then that’s their problem. You love it, it works. Not everything you love, however, will translate well. This is because every single one of us needs a healthy environment in order to thrive. You therefore must adhere to a few design rules, like letting in as much natural light as possible.

The Power of Natural Light 
There are so many benefits to natural light. For one, it can help regulate your circadian cycle. What this cycle does is it helps you be alert and awake during the day time and then get your body ready for sleep by bedtime. Plenty of light is also great for improving mental health, helping you stay calm, and of course can that finishing touch to any room’s interior design. 

How to Control Natural Light in Your Home 
Knowing how to control natural light in your home is necessary if you want to improve your interior design. Your bedroom needs light, yes, but it also needs privacy. Then there are ways to dress windows to add beautiful shadow play. Other ways to add sharp lines and a modern touch. There are many ways to take control of the natural light in your home, and here are the top four:  

1. Add Custom Window Dressings 
It is a mistake to assume you always want to let in as much light as possible. Perhaps a window gets direct sunlight in the summer, and you want to keep your home as cool as possible, or perhaps you want more privacy. By getting custom window dressings like the best plantation shutters Charleston can offer, you can be in full control of how much light you want to let in and can customize it to match your interior design. 

2. Use Mirrors 
If a room gets little natural light or sunlight, then you can brighten the room by using reflective surfaces. Mirrors, glass, and even wax finished furniture can all help reflect the natural light, brightening the whole room even if the original source is minimal. 

3. Use Light Coloured Walls or Textiles 
If you have a room full of windows, you can use darker colors to your hearts content. If you only have a small window or one window to deal with it is often better to use lighter toned elements to again reflect the light and make the room appear brighter. 

4. Don’t Block the Windows with Furniture
Furniture should never be backed right up against a window. Instead, pull furniture away. A metre is a good approach, but it will depend on the size of your room and what you can get away with. Similarly, if using drapes, you don’t want to block the windows, and instead use a larger curtain rod so you can rest the drapes on the side of the wall next to the window. 

Natural light must always be part of your interior design consideration. How to increase the amount of light you get, how to control it, how to make more use of it – always consider how your design is impacted by the lighting conditions and work with what you have.  
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