Ordering Furniture

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When you ordered furniture last, was it delivered on time? Online “in stock” and delivery dates promising delivery in home in 3 days can be misleading. Even when you place orders in the store, the stock on hand can be misleading. Many large retailers have “estimated” delivery dates online or in the store which obviously influence our selections. Well don’t believe it! Those on hand quantities are often Canada wide or at the least regional, which could mean 3 sofas available in Western Canada!

I was working with a design client earlier this summer and I actually called the commercial sales representative in the store to verify the Winnipeg stock before placing a furniture order. Well in the 2-3 days it took for me to obtain the information, relay it to my client for approval and place the order, the quantity and delivery schedule changed dramatically!! Nearly twice as long in some cases! Knowing that delivery was important do you think for a moment that the retailer would verify delivery when I placed the order? Not a chance. They take your payment up front, then wait a week before they tell you it’s back ordered. The order was delivered in a total of 6 separate shipments including one to exchange a broken piece. 

If you went to a restaurant and received your meals 2 hours after placing the order, and then received the meals for your table all at separate times, no one would go back! So why do furniture stores get away with such shoddy service? Maybe because most people buy furniture infrequently. The next time you buy, you try a different store, etc. So far I have yet to find a store that will deliver when they said so initially, at the time they say they will arrive, and will actually assemble the furniture upon delivery. 

Delivery drivers in most cases are just movers and they “don’t assemble” furniture, at least according to their contract with the furniture store. Why not? Most furniture requires some basic assembly! Many movers will not even remove the large boxes and packaging the furniture comes in. Again, why not? Why isn’t this part of the service, especially when Winnipeggers are limited by the bin to the amount of trash and recycled garbage they are allowed each week? Wouldn’t it make more sense for assembly and disposal of packaging to be handled by the contracted moving company? After all if you are delivering to someone in a condo who does not have a vehicle, they need to be able to dispose of the packaging. In addition, instead of up selling me a warranty I will probably never use, a small assembly and set up fee and disposal of packing might be a better up sell that at least has some value to the consumer.

Another tip I learned this summer. Allow extra time for people away on vacation when placing orders in the summer. The rep who took the order, only placed a part of the order before he left on vacation. Result, a one week delay. By then the stock on hand had changed and we were waiting additional time. Then the order processing person was away, someone was filling in but made an error. Finally, the delivery drivers were running behind and could not accommodate the hours that deliveries were accepted at the building. Result, they had to return later in the week after re-scheduling the order. Talk about a string of errors and delays. I was honestly at my wits end!

Maybe it’s time we had some modifications to the advertising online and in store. If the store claims delivery next day delivery or delivery in 3 days – it should be in the clients’ home 3 days after ordering. If not, there should be some hefty fines or penalties to the Retailer for false advertising claims. In most cases, clients will make decisions and base expectations on the information they are given when they place the order. It’s pretty simple, promise what you can deliver! Set realistic expectations! Deliver what you promise! Then you have happy clients and employees and delivery drivers, etc…. Realistic expectations go a long way towards ultimate customer satisfaction!

Squeezing In Rush Jobs

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It’s in our nature to want to help someone when they are in a jam. At least, it’s in my nature to want to do so! However, this can quickly backfire, if we are not careful. The reality is that any good job takes time! More specifically, a great design takes time to plan and complete. You can still have a job done in less time, but it simply will not be the same quality as a job that had adequate planning and preparation. 

As business owners, we become accustomed to producing a certain standard of work once you have been in business for a while. Most understand that the final job will reflect the time and preparation you have put into the design. In many cases a rush job, will often look like just what it is, a rush!  Now, there are times when a rush job can come together well, but more often than not there are things that you would do differently if you had had time to shop for a different piece of décor that would simply look better than what you had on hand. It may be that to my trained eye, it doesn’t look quite right, but to others it looks great! However, when you become accustomed to a certain standard of work, it is hard to be happy with less!

I found myself in an unusual position a few weeks ago. I received a call from a Realtor I had never worked with. He was scrambling trying to find someone to stage a listing the following week. He said he had been trying to find a stager for 3 weeks! He had a very specific timeline and I explained I was booked with another stage job the day he requested and wouldn’t be available. My clients had booked me close to a month ago and it couldn’t be changed. I was booked pretty solid the following week and was leaving on vacation the week after, so I really didn’t have a lot of time available. He insisted it was a new home and the homeowners had very nice furniture so they really didn’t need much. I agreed to do a consult for the homeowner the Friday afternoon so I could tell them what they needed to do to get their own home ready for showings the following week. 

Once I arrived, they wanted to rent some basic artwork, décor and accessories and have me stage the home. They were leaving for vacation and wanted the home ready for showings while they were gone, they were in a jam. I relented, genuinely wanting to help these nice people get the best price for their home. I agreed to squeeze in their “small” job and re-arrange some furniture and accessorize their home. Between designs, planning, packing and actual staging it took 12 man hours. Time I really didn’t have in an already jam packed full week, and we ended up working overtime in order to get the job completed for their timeline. In the end the job looked good. It certainly looked better than it was before we arrived. However, it has bothered me ever since. There were certainly things I would have done differently if I had had more time. 

So while on vacation I realized that I did not do myself any favours! I exhausted myself and my team with too many overtime hours. For the first time working with a Realtor and a potential source of new leads, I did not make the best impression that I could have, and may have cost myself future business, as a result. Although the design did look better than how the home looked originally, it certainly did not give the best representation of my work. I was disappointed in myself for taking on too much and trying too hard to accommodate others. Sometimes, it makes more business sense to turn business away than to compromise your design and reputation. What an interesting lesson to learn and what an even more interesting position to be in to learn this lesson! 

After all, a Realtor would never take offers on a home before they had adequate time to photograph, market and show the listing. From now on, it is more important for me to do my best for each job than to fit in a last minute job that I simply do not have adequate time to design to the best of my abilities. I would rather ensure that each client be thrilled with a fabulous job, than simply be content with a good one. In most cases, if the home lists on Thursday or the following Tuesday normally doesn’t make a huge difference in the sale price! Isn’t it better to prepare properly and take the time to do it right the first time?

Staging Beautiful Homes

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Over the last few weeks, I have had the privilege of staging a number of beautiful homes. It’s interesting that these home owners still call me in for assistance. They have a wonderful sense of style and color selections, yet they still want a Professional opinion. So what can I offer someone who has a great sense of décor?

Furniture placement is something that evolves in a lived in home. Even if you have elegant, modern furniture, it may not be in the right location to showcase your home at its best. When we “live” in our homes, furniture gets re-arranged for how we live and it becomes such a part of us that seeing it objectively can be a challenge. By the way – I have a very hard time having an objective in my own home. I always bounce ideas for my home off my colleague for a second opinion! An objective set of eyes can come in and say move this over here, this should be in that room and let’s remove this piece completely and re-arrange the balance to showcase the focal point of the room to perfection! It’s a few “tweaks” that can completely change the look of the room in moments and make a huge difference in those online pictures and upon first impression when perspective buyers walk in the room!

Color plays a huge role in the overall picture and first impression. It’s just as important to have the right colors as it is to have the right colors in the in the right places. Quite honestly dark on dark colors will simply not show up in a photo. Light on light colors will not show up in a photo. If colors tones are too similar they tend to blend together so it’s hard to see where one object starts and the other object stops. This is not good for photos. I work with professional photographers who have me set up display suites for photo shoots. Object definition is very important in the photos to best identify the key features of the room. A dark sofa against a dark wall simply wouldn’t photograph well, whereas a light sofa will completely “pop” in the photo! This layering effect of objects in the photograph must continue from the furthest point, usually the wall – to the final accent piece of décor that is closest to the camera. Having definition and color contrast of the objects in the room in the photo is what creates those fabulous photos that generates the interest and brings those buyers to your door!

Texture also plays a key role. There are simply a lot of mirrors, glass, clear plastic and metal furniture on the market right now. It is so important to be aware how these textures impact the room, both in person and in photos. Having a glass or plastic clear see through table with a white wall behind will make the table fade right into the wall and be barely visible. Now there are times when this may not be a bad thing. Quite often older homes have had features added after the fact such as patio doors, usually by the kitchen table. There is a ceiling mount light fixture that requires a table, but in the photo we may wish to highlight the space with the patio door and minimize the space as an eating area – using a glass table so it doesn’t stand out quite so much is a perfect way to achieve this effect. Using a solid table would define the space with the solid table as an eating area and the patio doors may not even be consciously seen by viewers. It’s all a matter of brain psychology and learning how to manipulate the area to showcase what you want to and minimize things you don’t! 

When it comes down to it, hiring a professional, even if it is for nothing more than a consult can take your home from nice to “WOW”! In many cases, using the same things you already have in your home, but just a little differently than you have in the past! So even if you have a great sense of décor, getting a second opinion is a little extra help that we can all use from time to time. After all, most professionals will get a second opinion, so why not you?

Happy Clients have Good Manners


I recently met with a client who was getting her home ready for sale. She was quite outspoken and straight to the point! I just love honest people! So it shocked me when she began complaining about the work she had done by a contractor. My initial thought was that he was obviously not doing a good job! So I was stunned when I asked her what he said about her concerns and she responded that she had never told him! Why not??? He did the work a number of years ago. So why didn’t you address those concerns with him then? She had no answer but continued to complain about him. Is it fair not to say anything to the service provider? … And then continue to complain to other people for years after the fact?

This is where alarm bells go off. There are many types of clients.Most are fair and reasonable. They treat you well, if they feel that you have treated them well, fairly and they are happy with your services. I always ask if my clients were happy with the project, and if they had any concerns or questions. Sometimes we set something up in a certain way because it showcases a specific feature of the room better, drawing attention to a key selling feature. Occasionally a client, who is not accustomed to their home displayed in this manner, or that particular furniture plan is confused, so I’ll explain the logic behind our selections. They almost always agree or at least understand why we do what we do. Sometimes it’s a simple matter of communication to put someone’s concerns at ease.

However, there are always the clients who don’t say anything to the service provider but do not hesitate to speak about the service provider to anyone else who will listen. This is simply inappropriate! I’ve been in business for over 20 years. Most business people genuinely care about the service they provide and want to leave clients happy! Very few business people I have met are not open to questions or addressing concerns their clients may have. However, the client MUST give them the chance to address these concerns. Not giving a service provider the chance to address a problem and then “bad mouthing” them to other service providers, friends, family, etc. is simply bad manners. One thing I have learned is that if the client does this to other service providers, there is a really good chance they will do the same thing to you. Be careful! Reputation goes a long way in a small community. Sometimes, it’s simply better to selectively choose your clients rather than risk opening a can of worms you may never be made aware of, but can affect your business!

I have to say, my heart went out to the contractor. As many of you know my hubby has a Renovations Company and I can only imagine how upset he would be if a client was bad mouthing his company without ever allowing him the opportunity to correct the problem. Without him even being made aware that there was a problem. Again, most people will do their best to make a client happy if they are given the opportunity. It’s much better manners to discuss your concerns with your contractor and give them the opportunity to correct the problem, then everyone leaves happy!

There is always the exception of the rare client who will try to obtain a discount price on the work because they are “not happy”. Again after being in business you can tell these immediately, because they often discuss the “deals” they have gotten on various work around their home. Strangely, it’s never by the same contractor doing the work! They rarely have anything nice to say about anyone they have ever hired. This is another warning that this may be a good client to “pass” on. Unfortunately, not all people are honest and treat others fairly. 

As service providers we can protect ourselves by watching for the warning signs and avoiding those situations. If someone complains about previous Service Providers, chances are good, you may be next in the line. If they cannot find a “good” service provider and always have to get a discount for sub-standard work; chances are they will create the same scenario with you.

Thank you to all my wonderful clients!! Know I choose to work with you and I sincerely hope you are pleased with the services we offer! Remember I am always open to addressing questions and concerns! I would much rather you discussed them with me, than others!

Buying Vs. Renting Furniture to Stage Your Home

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At least once a month I’m asked by a Home Owner if it would be easier if they purchased new furniture for “staging” their home or if they should rent. My answer is simple, and always the same! It all depends whether they have already purchased their new home!

If you have purchased your new home and know what space the new furniture will be occupying, then you can shop for new furniture that will work in both spaces. Ensure the furniture you purchase works in both the old and new home in terms of color; style and size! Make sure you measure doorways, as well as the room the furniture will be occupying to ensure it can get into the space and looks good once in the space!

Buying something that will look nice in your old home is important. However, buying something that is the right size, color and style for your new home is much more important. After all in most cases, you only stage your home for at most a few months. Rental cost for a sofa and loveseat is only a few hundred dollars. However, buying a potentially large furniture investment only to find it doesn’t fit in your new home is not only frustrating, but will often end up costing you more in the end. Some clients have told me horror stories about having to remove the main living room window to get their furniture into the new home…. The cost for this is more than renting for staging. Other clients have just determined to sell the furniture (usually at a loss) and simply purchase new furniture that fits their new home! Again, selling at a loss is a more costly option than renting.

Another client had a 2 matching sofa/loveseat sets, one in the rec room and one for the living room of their old home, as many of us do! However, in their new home, neither sofa fit down the staircase! So they have the one set upstairs with the sofa from the other set and one loveseat in the rec room with two occasional chairs. Neither sitting area looked quite right, nor was as functional as it could have been with the correct size and layout of furniture for the space!

Finally there is nothing worse than walking into a room with furniture much too large for the space. The room feels and looks much smaller than it is and gives buyers the impression that it will not fit their furniture any better than it does yours! Sofas and loveseats and sectionals come in as many sizes as there are rooms! If you have purchased a new larger home that will accommodate a larger furniture set but your current home is small, your home will not show as well as it could if you use the larger over-sized furniture!! Buyers want to see the right scale of furniture in the right space. Just because it will work in your new space, doesn’t mean it will work well in your old space! Do what works for the space to get a fast sale and move on!

If you have not yet purchased a new home, then I do not recommend purchasing furniture. Until you see the space it will be moving into – how do you know it will fit? It’s so important to measure the doorways and the height of the ceiling at the doorway. Sometimes, a sofa can go in on its side and be spun into the room if the height is adequate, but not always. Is there a corner or wall immediately when you enter the doorway? Will it affect how you can bring your furniture in? Is there another doorway or patio door that could be used as an alternate entrance? Before you run out to go shopping, make sure your new purchase will be able to fit through the doorway to get into your new (or old) home! 

It’s also important to take into account the layout of both the old room and the new space the furniture will be moving into. Sometimes a sectional will work much better depending on the other focal points and doorways or walkways in a room. Sometimes a sofa or small sectional and 2 chairs will work better. You simply cannot buy furniture for a space until you know what the space is. It can be hard enough to find a home in the right price range and neighborhood without having to worry about getting your new furniture in.

So when getting your home ready for sale, if your existing furniture is too old or dated and you want something new, renting furniture is the way to go. It’s fast and easy! Your Stager will ensure it is the appropriate furniture size, style and color for your space and should have all the accessories to make that first impression, a lasting impression that gets your home sold quickly and easily!

Designing Open Concept Spaces

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Many open concept designs require furniture placement to define the use of the room. The family may require anything from a TV room; sitting room or entertaining space; dining space; or play area for the younger children and a work space for parents or older children. Fitting this all in one space may seem excessive but, it can easily be accomplished with well-chosen and properly placed furniture and accessories. 

We must determine the various functions the space must accommodate. The next question is how many people must it accommodate and what ages are they? How many will be using competing spaces at the same time? Will young children be playing while older ones are trying to do their homework?

To create an effective floor plan, it’s critical to draw out the space. Include all windows and doors/doorways as this will affect your furniture placement. Next, we begin to allocate space to each designated function, the dining area, TV area, and study area ensuring we allow adequate traffic flow between spaces. This also dictates the size of the furniture you can purchase. Consider multiple floor plans; does the furniture still work? This is the time to consider creative use of space. Is there an area or piece of furniture that allows us to double the use of some space? Maybe a desk creatively hidden in a piece of accent furniture? Or storage for toys in a set of coffee and end tables?

Quite often we will have an existing ceiling mounted light fixture for the dining area. This defines the center of the table placement. However, we still have options whether we choose a square, round, oval, or rectangular table. Client preference weighs in heavily in the decision, however, space allowance is equally important. The client may love the idea of a round dining table for 8 but may only have room for a rectangular table due to the placement of the light in proximity to the wall. So we either move the light to accommodate the furniture selection or we select furniture to accommodate the light placement. One rule of design that should not be broken is to always keep a ceiling mounted light fixture centered over your dining table. Something about a light off to the side just doesn’t look right no matter which angle you look at it!

When you have a combination living room and dining room many people choose to visually separate the two areas by using a sofa or loveseat as a divider between the sitting area and the dining area. This visually cuts the space in half, making it appear smaller. Depending upon the placement of windows and walkways; it may be possible to create a more “open” seating plan facing the dining area. This suddenly becomes an entertainers’ dream arrangement! You can easily transition between appetizers in the sitting area to dinner at the dining table and have some guests enjoy after dinner coffee/dessert at both locations, and no one has to crank their neck uncomfortably to be part of the conversation! Everyone is a part of the action in an “open” plan.  The beauty of an open concept design is that you can easily do both! Use furniture placement to separate areas for everyday living and have your “entertainment furniture placement” for special occasions! 

Assuming the kitchen is also part of this open plan, as it is in so many homes, depending on the age of the children, the kitchen island or kitchen table may be a great use of space for after school homework. While parents prep dinner, kids are close by doing their homework and Mom\Dad are available to answer homework related questions. This only works when kids are younger and homework demands tend to be minimal. Once the homework demands increase a dedicated work area will be required. This can sometimes be in a child’s bedroom so they are away from distractions and can concentrate, or may need to be in a more controlled space where they cannot find their own distractions! It all depends on the child and the family! It’s our job to find out what works best for your situation and help you plan your space so its works best for you!

When selecting furniture, the best way to minimize clutter in a room is to have furniture pieces that provide hidden storage. Whether built in cabinetry with drawers or cupboard doors or stand-alone furniture pieces, storage is a must in any well planned space. I have a daughter who still has toys, books and games she uses on a regular basis. When we recently re-decorated, I made sure I selected furniture that provided lots of storage. She has books in a drawer of the end table. Larger more bulky pieces are in the storage coffee table with drawers that have a top that also folds out! Everything is close at hand but quickly and easily hidden when not being used.   

It takes some time to plan a space out for best use and in budget. In the end you are left with a multifunction space that grows with you are your family for years to come.

Creating Beautiful Outdoor Rooms

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Anyone who knows me, knows how I love the outdoors! Years ago I embarked on a mission to create a number of outdoor living spaces that were both functional and inviting. As a result we have a beautiful yard for entertaining. 

Designing outdoor spaces requires a consideration of sun/shade requirements for the space. For example, a swimming pool is best when it has sun a majority of the day. This extends the usage on the days when the temperature may not be as warm (as does a poll heating source)! It’s as much about the function as it is visual appeal. Then we need to plan seating for adequate people in the space. So we have a table and chairs, with an umbrella to provide protection from the sun. We also have some lounge chairs for relaxing with a book while others are swimming. In addition, cleaning the pool had to be taken into consideration. Our yard is not level. It slopes down towards the river so the different elevations came into consideration when planning out the space. We have the main deck area with the furniture and the fun space for “living”. We also have a small deck on the opposite side where we can access all areas of the pool for cleaning. There are plans to join the two areas with a walkway in the rear and build a gazebo looking over the pool. We have also re-done some electrical to provide lighting for later evening swims. As a bonus; we even planned some significant storage areas below the pool decks for winter and off season storage of patio furniture and lawn ornaments. The space works wonderfully, all year long!

We also have a 2 tier patio/deck area for simply entertaining. We keep our BBQ on the lower level and have comfortable seating both up and down to entertain and enjoy the outdoors. It is surrounded by potted flowers and yard ornaments to create a warm and inviting “outdoor room”. It’s where my daughter has her glider swing that she can spend hours on listening to music! I even have some wall décor to add just the right touch, and wind chimes for the light breezy sound I love. The lower patio is positioned around a raised planter that has tall growing vines as well as annuals overflowing and spilling over the edges. It is a favorite of humming birds and butterflies all summer long. This is where I sit and look out over the yard and down to the pool area and the rear rose garden. This is where we often sit while cooking dinner on the BBQ while we enjoy a beer or glass of wine. This area has seating in both sun and shade for which ever our guests prefer. My Mom and I usually enjoy sitting in the sun and my Dad and husband usually prefer sitting in the shade! It works for everyone and was planned to do so!

We have sweeping perennial beds around our house on 3 sides, as well as along one side of the fence back to my rose garden and the fire pit. This is the area I plan on renovating this year. Some perennials have overgrown and need splitting; others I just want to remove and start fresh. I have a cute bistro seating area set up under a metal gazebo. Perfect for a nice escape in the afternoon with a nice pitcher of lemonade or iced tea. With lilacs; roses; peonies and a host of other perennials and potted plants; this is the “room” you see from the windows looking out of the back of our house. It is the focal point and is a fun whimsical space with fairies; wind chimes an arch/trellis made by my Dad that leads you down a short walkway and into the metal gazebo with the “tea room”. This area provides early morning and afternoon shade and sunshine later in the evening. It provides a beautiful view of the house and yard with its multiple gardens; decks; pool; and my little sanctuary, the deck off our master bedroom. 

My master bedroom deck is where my husband and I spend our times quietly sipping coffee in the morning, or enjoying a glass of wine later in the day. It has another nice seating area and is surrounded with multiple potted plants. This is where I thank my Grandmother for teaching me the love of the outdoors and the beauty of a garden. My shade garden wraps around this side of the house and is bursting with ferns; hostas and astilbes. I even have a hardy clematis climbing a trellis in this area. It’s one of my favorite places in the yard.

We built a new garage and workshop off on this side of the yard. I plan on moving my potting shed behind the new garage and building a sidewalk along the garage in this area. Think it will need some flowers to brighten it up too! Guess I have some more planning to do … 

Outdoor spaces should be beautiful and functional. Think about who will use the space and how. Remember to take into account sun and shade patterns throughout the day. Don’t build a deck in an area with afternoon sun – if you want a shady spot to relax after work! Imagine what your “dream space” would look like.  Then set about making it a reality, one “room” at a time!

Refresh your Space with the Beautiful Colors of Spring

accessory P1080464 P1080466We’ve been so busy with staging the last few weeks that we actually have had to go shopping to top off our stock selections. This is rare as I carry quite a wide range of stock in many different colors. I’ve so enjoyed the beautiful colors available for décor accents. The hues are so lovely, bright and reminiscent of our beautiful spring colors. Just perfect for clients who wish to give their space a quick inexpensive “refreshed look”.

Red is always one of my favorites and can be found everywhere. Touches of red can be found in anything from artwork, to small accent pieces to area rugs and even furniture. Red is a strong color. It makes a strong statement. It can be quite classy, when used in just the right amounts. If overwhelming, it can make small space feel almost angry. Red is color of energy. Red is most often paired with greys and blacks and whites. However, it also works well with brown and gold tones. If used modestly, your space will look fabulous!

A new color is yellow. Yellow is a wonderful soft accent color. It’s full of vitality, like the sunshine! However, it is a much softer color than red. Where red is strong and bold, yellow is soft and pretty. It’s also a perfect complement color for greys, blacks and whites. I usually choose a bit of whimsy in my accents for yellow. Yellow is fun and playful to decorate with.

Purple is still quite a popular color for décor. There are a multitude of hues. One of my favorites is violet in the blue – purple side of the spectrum. Then everything to a vibrant orchid at the other end of the purple spectrum. As long as you stay with similar hues when selecting your accent colors – the room will always look stunning. Purple is a majestic color. It makes any space look elegant and regal.

Green is a newer color that has been around for a few years now and its beginning to grow on me more and more. It’s a lime green. It’s very similar to the grass and trees of spring. You can have so much fun with green! It’s a carefree color and suggests playfulness and the outdoors. The number and selection of décor items I’ve recently seen in this color has been staggering! All suggest whimsy and playful nature in the rooms they adorn.

Blacks, greys, and whites are our base colors. Decorating in a monochromatic color scheme (hues of the same color) is quite common and lends a very clean feeling to a room. Just the right shades mixed together can make for a very interesting space. It can be quite elegant; or casual and welcoming, it depends on the items selected and the range of hues in the design scheme. 

Before you head out to the store and get overwhelmed with the selections, select an accent color you really like. Then pick up some beautiful accessories to give your space a whole new personality! It’s so cost effective to change just accent pieces. If you replace artwork, area rug, throw pillows and some beautiful accent pieces, you can change the whole personality of a space! Your costs – maybe $400 – $1000, depending on your budget and much you “want” to spend. Freshening up a space can be really cost effective! So decide what colors will make you feel the best about your space and have some fun! The results may just surprise you.

Planning the Perfect Bathroom Renovation

BathroomThe most important step is identifying what is not working for you and what you need to work better in the new space. This may be layout issues; lack of storage; shower might be too small; everything you do not like about the existing space. Once you have identified the critical must haves, the next step is the budget. 

How are you financing the renovation? Have you saved “X” amount? Are you planning on using a credit line? Were you planning on updating and then rolling the cost into your mortgage renewal? These may all effect the amount you have available for a renovation budget. 

Next we need to address practical issues such as location of plumbing and accessibility and functionality of accommodating various floor plans. It may be much too costly and use too much of the budget to move the toilet stack.  This dictates we must design around the existing toilet location. This just means that sometimes, we need to be a bit more creative with our design and work a bit harder to achieve that “perfect” look. You would be amazed at what we can accomplish! 

Once we have determined a floor plan that is functional and solves all or most of the home owner’s concerns with the space, we can begin to have fun! This is where the creative side comes out and shines! We can help you allocate your budget to the things that mean the most to you! You might really love tile and want tile floors, walls and shower stall. However, you may also want a real fabulous shower with speakers, steam and body sprays as well as the overhead rain shower and telescopic handheld pole with handheld spray… the options are now almost limitless in terms of the level of luxury you want to indulge yourself in! After all, this is how you start every day – so you might as well make it an amazing start to every day! 

The style and type of tile and color can really set the mood from calm and soothing to something a little more stimulating and refreshing! You want something funky and fun, no problem! What color would you like that fun in?  You want a calm soothing spa like feel – again options now are almost limitless! There is something for everyone and something for every individual style!   

Shower doors area somewhat confusing, some better than others. You want to ensure a proper closure to prevent water outside the shower. Do you have room for a pivot door or is a roller door a better option for you? Maybe you really want a roller door but it’s not in the budget right now. Rather than settling for a door you do not like and will have to drill through the tile to attach, consider using a basic adjustable shower rod and curtain for the short term. After saving for a few months, you can now have that fancy roller top shower door you really wanted! It’s a great compromise and has caused zero damage to your walls! 

Bathroom vanities and colors have a multitude of selections. Space will dictate the size; but from there on it’s all about the style that speaks to you. My one word of caution is to get a good quality product. Sometimes the less expensive items may look nice but they simply do not last! The finish can start to chip, handles or doors break… if you are going to pull back on the budget, this is one area I always tell clients – you get what you pay for! You are better off installing a less costly vinyl floor that can be easily replaced with tile down the road, and spending the extra money for a really good vanity. It you want a granite countertop; again if it’s in the budget great; if not there a multitude of laminate selections that look just like granite that can all easily be upgraded down the road. 

 Mirrors and lighting and storage features are very much individual. However, they should blend seamlessly with the overall design of the room. Having a real funky light in a very traditional room may not look quite right… WE can usually recommend something that has a bit of fun but blends a bit better with the overall look and looks better in the space. 

 Using a Designer is not only about maximizing your design options, it’s also about maximizing your budget!  Certain items are worth the extra expense and the latest box store special is just an expense that will require replacing much sooner with a much better quality product at a slightly higher cost. There is a lot to be said for good quality materials! They last a long time! I’d rather see my clients get 20 years out of their bathroom than just 5 or 6 years!

Planning Great Kitchen and Bathroom Designs

ensuite611after kit611after Kitchen P1020816This is the time of year when many people undertake major home renovations. They decide they want to renovate now and rush out to begin purchasing. The first thing many people order when undertaking a major bathroom or kitchen renovation is the cabinetry, countertops and knob pulls.  Then they begin to look at appliances and fixtures. This can easily lead to disappointment and design compromises. 

The first step is to consider what you want? Do you have any “must haves” on your list? If so, what are they? Do you have any appliances that you simply cannot live without? How will you use the space? How many people will use the space at the same time? Are there multiple functions the space must accommodate in the design?

Whether you are using standard cabinetry or completely custom cabinetry or a combination of the two, it is critical to know what appliances and fixtures need to fit in the cabinetry! You should have a specification list of product models, names, and supplier information for each piece. Most manufacturers have an installation guide available online. This makes it extremely easy to print off all the correct dimensions for the appliances and fixtures you want and provide them to your cabinet supplier at the time you place your cabinet order. Trust me, they will love you for the effort!

This not only saves a tremendous amount of time; it also allows them to provide better options for your layout knowing exactly what they are dealing with from the initial appointment. Sinks and dishwashers may require modifications to existing plumbing and electrical; certain hood fans may require additional power or exterior venting to be moved/modified, and cabinetry to hide the vents! If planners know what they are dealing with in terms of appliances at the initial design, they can recommend the most efficient layout, and save you time and money!

There is nothing more disappointing than ordering your cabinetry and then finding an appliance you love and MUST have, and then finding out it doesn’t fit in your new cabinetry! Appliances come in multiple sizes. If your cabinetry is built for a 30” fridge and you get a counter depth 36” fridge , modifying your cabinets can be costly! 

Do you want granite, laminate, quartz, Caesar stone, concrete countertops or something else? Your countertop selection affects the cabinetry. They need to know what countertop you are using. Different counters require different specifications in finishing! So, if you change your mind, part way through, make sure you tell your cabinet maker – otherwise you may be in for a nasty surprise on installation day!

Showers, sinks, faucets and baths also have different specifications and often require different framing details. Again, you should have the manufacturer, model number, product name and installation specifications so everything is ready for the product to go in. This just keeps nasty surprises and frustrations to a minimum. No job will go 100% problem free, but when you take steps to minimize problems and surprises, a job can go much better than anyone thought was possible!

Even though, spring seems to be the time when most people jump into renovations at the speed of light, it pays to take your time and plan things out before you begin placing your orders! Fabulous kitchen and bathroom design doesn’t just happen – it takes time and planning to make it all come together just right!