Types of Stairs

Making one design decision leads to what seems like a million other to-dos; take tile for instance. What color tile? What size tile? What pattern? – The same applies when it comes to your staircase. This goes beyond the style of the steps, the risers or the banister. The first thing you’ll need to consider is the actual shape of the staircase. Here are several popular types of stairs; bring your favorites to your architect and contractor to discuss what makes the most sense for your home.

Straight

This one is straightforward, literally. Straight stairs feature a single linear flight with no change in direction.

L-Shaped – a.k.a. Quarter-Turn

The classic straight style, zhuzhed up a little. In this design, the stairs make a 90-degree turn at some point, going left or right after a landing.

U-Shaped – a.k.a. Half-Turn

If you’ve ever promised yourself you’d take the stairs every day at your office, you’ve seen this back-to-basics style. The bend is taken even further to form a full U shape, and similar to the L-shaped staircase, a landing separates the two parallel flights.

Winder

The slightly more complicated sister to the L-shaped staircase. A set of winders—treads that are wider on one side than the other—takes the place of the landing to save space.

Trick of the trade – How to Cut your Countertop Cost in Half

 Marble countertops are timeless, refined and luxurious. But budget-friendly? Not really. That is until you employ this genius design trick.

The strategy: Fake the thickness of any countertop so it looks a hefty three inches tall, but is, in fact, just 3/4 of an inch. The look of a thick, substantial stone top is well sought after but it can often be cost-prohibitive. This is an elegant solution to achieve a chic look while on a budget. We’re not talking penny savings here – we’re talking cutting the cost of your countertop in half ! Depending on the size of the surface, you could potentially save up to 40-50% on material costs.

The execution: Once you have your marble slab selected, your contractor will begin with measurements. If the space calls for a 24-inch countertop, your contractor will add a couple extra inches of width to achieve the subjected “trick-of-the-trade.” Your contractor will template your countertop to have a “mitered” edge (or mitered book-matched edge). A mitered edge adds more stone to the underside of a countertop slab creating a distinguished look through the illusion of a thicker slab. 

Do’s & Don’ts of Keeping your Contractor Happy

Working with a new general contractor is like any fledgling relationship—you’re a little nervous, a little excited, and wary to make any wrong moves. Do you offer your contractor water or do you not? Do you hang around at all times or do you give him or her some space? Here are some simple dos and don’ts to guide you during your renovation –

DO you speak your mind? – Open and clear communication is the single most important aspect to building a good relationship with your contractor. This starts at the very beginning of the project and includes a signed contract, and agreed-upon timeline and budget. Establish other ground rules up front so issues don’t crop up later. And be sure to voice any questions you have, no matter how silly they sound. Don’t make any assumptions.

DO establish a point person – Everyone involved in a renovation has thoughts and ideas. It is important and recommended that one member of the household works directly with the contractor. Compile thoughts/ideas throughout the day and whether you have daily or weekly site meetings with your contractor; bring these ideas into action then. This keeps for a steadier and smoother project.

 DO have a plan if you’re not on site – The complexity and length of the project and how long you’ve known your contractor can determine whether or not to be home. For convenience, some homeowners will provide a key or pass code so the contractor can work without interruption. However, you shouldn’t do anything that you’re not 100 percent comfortable with.

 DON’T leave out fragile valuables – Take the time to relocate your valuables from the main work areas. If you have a spare room that is not included in your renovation you can relocate your items here. If you are taking on a full gut renovation, we recommend an outside storage unit. This takes stress off of you being concerned with your belongings and stress off your contractor to not damage.

DON’T let kids & pets run free in the work area – Safety is first for both the job crew and for your family. Something involving an addition or whole-home remodeling may require that the family relocate during the construction process.

7 Subway Tile patterns you’ve never thought of..

Subway tile in its original form—uniform stacks of tile laid horizontally and off-center—is as classic as it gets. But just like a white shirt, there are endless ways to reinvent it. Sure, there’s the color of the ceramic or grout color to play with, but it’s really as easy as rearranging the pieces à la Tetris. Turn the tiles on their sides, group them in pairs, place them so they follow the lines of the wall and ceiling. In an unexpected pattern—check out some of the genius ideas below—the material feels decidedly fresh and exciting.

HERRINGBONE

STACKED

DOUBLE CROSSHATCH

TRIPLE CROSSHATCH

VERTICAL

VERTICAL OFFSET

FOLLOWING A CORNER

5 ways to care for your renovated home

As your home renovation draws to a close, you may experience feelings of relief and joy at the transformation from the old to the new. Decisions on materials turned out to be good choices, and daily life is now blending and flowing around your new space. The question: How to keep it all looking great for years to come? Here are five ways to care for your new home.

1. Consult manufacturers’ manuals for appliance care

An obvious first step that many homeowners skip. Most appliance manufacturers have a place on their webpage dedicated to manuals or product service and support. A model number will lead you to literature on cleaning and maintenance. Often, a simple Google search is enough. For example, a stainless wine refrigerator requires little attention except for periodically washing off fingerprints. This can be done with water and mild dish soap, then polished with a microfiber cloth dipped in mineral, cooking or olive oil. Note: Clean and polish with the grain. Look closely! Steel has grain just like wood. Here are extra tips:

*Speak with your contractor about how to maintain your equipment.

*Register major appliances with the manufacturer through their website.

*Make sure you know the location of the model numbers for future reference.

2. Safeguard your kitchen countertops

You probably reviewed pros and cons of different materials before you made your final decision of kitchen countertops. Ready to start cooking? Here’s a refresh!

*Quartz countertops, such as Caesarstone, are durable, non-porous and do not need to be annually resealed, but acidic foods or juices can erode the acrylic. This material is also more likely to be damaged by excessive heat than granite, crushed glass or concrete. Treat yourself to trivets.

*Porous natural stones, such as granite and marble, may need to be resealed periodically and are susceptible to stains from oils and acids. Don’t let spilled liquids sit on your stone countertops. Spill? Swipe!

*For laminate or solid-surfacing countertops, cutting boards are mandatory because both of these materials are easily scratched.

3. Tend to your tiles

Bathroom tiles get hazy with soapy residue, while kitchen backsplashes get splattered with oil, and floor tiles experience both! Regular cleaning will prevent the need to muscle through buildup, so break out a mild all-purpose cleaner and some basic cleaning equipment.

*For kitchen backsplash tiles, mix dish liquid with water and rub away the oily residue with a sponge or gentle cloth. White vinegar mixed with warm water is another option. A mild all-purpose cleaner will clean up bath tiles nicely. Mix the solution with water and wipe with a rag, a soft brush or sponge.

*Sweep or vacuum floor tiles of any debris and grit on a regular basis to avoid dulling or scratching the surface. After clearing away large particles, use a mop and bucket with mild soap or detergent and warm water. If you wind up with a hazy film, consider switching up your mop material (sponge to chamois, for example) and/or wipe away the film with a fresh cloth and an all-purpose cleaner.

*Where there is tile, there is grout. To care for your grout, use gentle brushes to scrub it clean. And if your regular tile cleaning routine is not doing the trick on your grout, try a paste of baking soda and water, a mild bleach solution or store-bought grout cleaner. Remember to reseal it periodically.

4. Work with your wood

Refinished or brand new hardwoods can be beautiful foundations for your home. If you are the type of family that takes off your shoes before entering the home, you are off to a great start! Even if not, caring for your floors can be easy with a few simple guidelines.

*Begin with indoor and outdoor welcome mats. Mats placed before and after the threshold of your door are an important first step in maintaining scratch- and stain-free floors even in the winter.

*Area rugs cut down on regular wear and tear of the floors in the areas where they are positioned.

*Little felt stickers (available at any hardware store) do a good job protecting your floors from furniture-driven scratches.

Here are a few rules of thumb when cleaning your floors:

*Sweep or vacuum debris on a regular basis

*Mop with water and a gentle soap and never leave water or other liquids sitting on your hardwoods. Water can eventually penetrate the finish and leave stains in the wood. If you are not sure what cleaner to use on your floors, manufacturers of wood sealants often offer hardwood floor cleaners, such as Minwax® Hardwood Floor Cleaner.

5. Care for your cabinets

Although you likely will not be cleaning your kitchen or bathroom cabinets as often as higher-traffic surfaces (such as shower tiles and cooking countertops), don’t forget about them!  Knobs and pulls can harbor germs and cabinet doors can become grimy over time from moisture and oils in the air. Similarly to hardwood floors, wooden cabinets don’t do well with water or other liquids resting on their surface. Whether you clean your cabinets with soapy water, white vinegar water or mild all-purpose cleaner, remember these vital last steps: wipe away cleaner residue with a wet cloth and dry your cabinets with a towel.