Sunday, January 31, 2010

Design Your Perfect Bathroom Remodel - Part 1

Bathroom remodels are tricky to get right.  Limited by a small footprint, every piece need to serve a purpose and blend with the other selections to keep the room from feeling too busy.

Here is a Part 1 of a step-by-step guide to planning the design of your bathroom remodel. 

1.  Layout  
Think about function.  Do you need a bathtub?  Do you have the space to have a separate tub and shower?  Many people now are moving away from tubs in favor of walk-in showers.  If you are not a soaker, and already have a bathtub in the house, consider the ease of use, especially in older age, of a walk in shower.  Do you need two sinks, or will one suffice?  Do you need storage for linens, towels, and products?  How much?
2.  Cabinets
The bathroom vanity is the most dominant piece in the room, so it's best to let this piece set the tone for the design. Do you want a painted or stained vanity cabinet? Custom or off the shelf?  In the kids' bath here in our little blue cottage, we started with the Pottery Barn Classic Double Console in white.
We then added a custom laundry chute cabinet with extra storage for towels above, designed to match the vanity.
The chute drops down to a hamper in the laundry room directly underneath this bathroom.  

3.  Countertops
Countertops and flooring are of equal importance in a bathroom remodel, but since you have far more options in flooring, it's best to select the counters next.  The Pottery Barn vanity above came with a Carrara marble top, which made this selection easy.  If you went with a custom cabinet, you'll need to pick a stone.  A lot of people think stone is only shiny granite, but there are tons of options out there, from marble to soapstone to travertine.  If you go with granite, try a honed finish for a softer, more matte look.  For a great bargain, shop for stone remnants from your local supplier or fabricator.  Often, they have pieces left over from larger projects that you can get for a steal.  Always take a small sample, you'll need it to take it with you when you're shopping for tile.
Coming up next -- selecting bathroom tile, sinks, shower fixtures, and accessories.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Truss Me

In construction, everyone has an opinion about whether it's better to frame roofs with trusses or using conventional stick framing,  Here's mine:  Trusses are smart!  They are installed on 24" centers instead of 16" centers, which means fewer trees cut.  Additionally, a complicated roof might take weeks to stick frame whereas trusses go up in a matter of days, which means less labor and lower project costs.

On our English Tudor remodel, the eaves of the original house were decorated with elegant rafter tails.  For the addition, rather than make each rafter tail and plant it onto the outside of the house, we took one out of the demo pile and sent it to the truss company.  They replicated the detail on extended legs of the truss itself so all we have to do is trim, caulk, and paint.  Done!


Usually, the biggest argument against truss framing a roof is that with all those cross braces in the way, the attic can't be used for storage.  However, in this remodel, the roof pitch was steep enough that the truss designer was able to cleverly box out a sizable area that will make a great platform for the Christmas decorations.

With the roof framing up, we can move on to shingles and windows.  Yay!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Spectacular Kitchen Design

Here are the first glimpses of the kitchen and family room remodel in the little blue cottage.  Compare to the before photo here.  The box beam ceiling turned out great!  The walls and ceilings are painted the same color and the cabinets and trim are Benjamin Moore Super White.

You get a good shot of the floors here.  They are 5" wide ebony stained oak, and the mahogany island is stained to match.  The cabinets are beaded face frame with inset doors and furniture-style (open) kicks at the sink and island.  They're hand painted on site to get the traditional brush stroke finish.  More details on the cabinets to come in future posts.

The backsplash tile comes from one of our Bay Area gems, Heath Ceramics.  These are from their Dimensional Collection, 3D designs from the 50s-60s that have been revived into production.  The color is called Pisces.  

Want to impress that dwelling-obsessed cutie you know?  The Heath factory right here in Sausalito, CA opens for tours Fridays at 12:30pm and Saturdays and Sundays at 11am and 3pm.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Crane Spotting


The Bay Area is a great place to be for the girl who loves cranes.  There are the iconic cranes at the Port of Oakland that look like Star Wars At-At Walkers and the giant blue crane that was built specifically for the Bay Bridge repair.  Big cranes, small cranes, I love 'em all.  My dream construction project involves a crane on a barge.  So when we switched from a traditional stick framed roof to a truss roof at the English Tudor house, a special added bonus was delivery by crane.