We just wrapped up a fantastic project for wonderful clients. The whole process was extremely rewarding, and I enjoyed working with them.

Sheryl & Tom have lived in their home for over 20 years and were ready for an update. Their kids are all in college leaving just the two of them in the house. They had been toying with the idea of moving, but still loved the house they raised their kids in.

This house is your typical split level with a lot of potential, but they hated their kitchen and hall bath. It just didn’t fit their lifestyle or needs anymore. Their kitchen was hardly used, being too small and cut off from the rest of the living space. The hall bathroom functioned fine and was mostly just outdated. It also had a weird split storage closet (the bottom ¾ was accessed on the kitchen side!) that didn’t function as it was too high up and items were frequently lost.

We were brought into this project by one of our favorite contractors, Better Builders, to help solve this kitchen and bath problem. We started by sitting down with Sheryl & Tom and discussing their wants and needs for the two spaces.

For the kitchen/dining/living:

  • Open up the space by tearing down the wall separating the three spaces
  • Add an island with seating
  • Tom has back problems, so access to cabinets is an important factor
  • More storage
  • Warmer/natural tones but keep it modern, not too beige
  • Built in doggy door so they can reclaim the use of their sliding glass door
  • Remove carpeting from living room & continue the hardwoods throughout
  • Better lighting
  • Update the fireplace & add TV above

For the Bathroom:

  • Soaking tub to fit in existing alcove
  • Single sink (it’s a hall bath, didn’t need multiple)
  • Keep the layout, but update fixtures
  • Fix the weird split closet that was shared with the kitchen

All in all, they weren’t asking for much, and thankfully they had the space to pull it off. Once we established their needs, we moved into space planning.

For the kitchen, we played with the layout, looking at doing a large u-shaped kitchen(top), but ultimately— to increase flow and ease of use of the space— we ended up with an L shaped kitchen with an Island in the middle(bottom). This allowed us to create an open concept space that allowed for easy access from the entry of the house and a more functional space for entertaining.

For the bathroom, we kept the same basic layout, with one major change: the entire odd split closet would be utilized by the bathroom. In this case we went with the first option, a closet(left) instead of cabinetry(right).

To address Tom’s back problems, we made sure to utilize lots of drawers, pull-outs and a full height pantry. He wouldn’t have to bend down and reach back for anything. A few more tweaks and we had our final layout!

Once we established our final layout, we started on fixture & finish selections. Sheryl had started the process a few years back and had some samples already in mind. The problem being that most of her choices had been discontinued so we just used those as a starting point and came up with current options for final fixtures & finishes.

We focused on warm tones and natural products. Tom really liked the idea of being able to see grains in the stones we picked, so we focused on that for both the kitchen(top) and the bathroom(bottom).

There were a few hiccups along the way, like finding out the beautiful backsplash was discontinued, and if we wanted the first-choice countertop, the kitchen would be delayed by a few months. Unfortunately, things like this happen. Depending on how long between selection and build, any number of products could be discontinued, but that’s why having a designer and a solid construction team come in handy. We were able to find replacement tile/counters quickly so that Tom & Sheryl didn’t have to deal with the anxiety of the unknown for long. Luckily the replacement tile for the backsplash and the countertop, in my (and thankfully Tom & Sheryl’s) opinion, turned out even better than the original.

Now that we were getting close to construction completion, the furniture conversation started. They knew they wanted to start over as much as possible, really giving their space new life. In addition to the kitchen and bath design, we helped Tom and Sheryl make furniture selections. We started off by showing them the biggest sectional they could have, while still maintaining other seating options.

Sheryl and I ended up texting pictures back and forth on options that could work. This was a bit more informal of a furniture & décor project, but it was the method of communication that worked for the client, so I adapted to it and end results were terrific. We were truly able to get a feel for our clients’ desired outcome by doing the initial design and really understood their goal to create an amazing entertainment space.

Once we had all the new furniture, Lori, our lead stylist and photographer, and I went in and finessed the space. We played with the layout and accessories, and finally…we got the picture-perfect space!

Here are a few before and after shots of both spaces, for more pictures please check out both the Furniture & Décor album and the Remodel & Construction album!

Don’t worry, we didn’t forget about Leo….

This blog post is a guest publication from Marin Ryles with our trade partner, Better Builders LLC.

 

So, you’re finally ready to start pursuing that remodel you’ve been dreaming of for years. Or maybe you bought a new home that needs some serious fixing up. Better yet, perhaps you’ve afforded the luxury to build your dream home from scratch.

I’m sure anyone considering a new construction or remodeling project has a million and one things flying through their mind. If this is you, you’re likely asking yourself, “Where do I even begin?”

Well, having a solid idea of where you want to take your design is a great start.

Some people still opt for the old fashion method or cutting pictures out of magazines and creating a physical idea board. And while I love a good craft just as much as the next person, in this age of technology, you can make this process so much easier. Which is why I would like to introduce you to Pinterest and Houzz.

Pinterest

If you’re one of the 300 million+ active Pinterest users worldwide, you are likely very familiar with this social media meets microblog platform. If you’re not so pin savvy, allow me to introduce you to the basics of Pinterest.

Pinterest is a “visual discovery engine”, designed to spark inspiration and keep your ideas organized and easy to find. Pinning is the verb used by Pinterest users everywhere to describe saving posts to their Pinterest boards. Pinterest has over 75 billion ideas ready for your pinning. Categories range from recipes, to fashion, to arts and crafts, to design and remodeling ideas.

When using Pinterest for organizing your design ideas and goals, you can build a “Pin Board” for your project or just to compile ideas of what you like for that dream remodel down the road. Being able to show a project developer or designer a visual compilation of what you want or styles you like can make a world of difference in the ease of planning your project.

 

Houzz

 

No, I didn’t spell “house” wrong, Houzz is a real (and awesome) website. Houzz started with two homeowners gearing up for a remodel, a stack of magazines, and a handful of referrals to home professionals.

Like Pinterest, Houzz is a place to browse and save thousands of beautiful photos. Houzz, however, is specifically geared toward home design/remodeling. Once you create your Houzz profile, you can begin building “projects” and saving inspiration to them.

Not just a picture platform, Houzz also helps you connect directly with design and construction professionals. Not only can you view a home professional’s page for a portfolio of projects, but users are also able to leave a review of a company directly on their Houzz page.

Joining the community of over 40 million Houzz users, you can create project idea boards and connect with your project professional, all in one place.

 

Why You Should Prepare an Idea Board

To share some reasons why tools like Pinterest or Houzz are valuable, I turned to Better Builders Project Developer, Pete Baughman, and Interior Designer for Housewarming Seattle, Amanda Kratochvil.

In the Better Builders project development process, a site visit with Pete is one of the first steps. During this first “eyes on” meeting, Pete is walking the site with the owners, trying to get a solid understanding of what they hope to get out of their project. This is also when potential clients are usually trying to get an idea of the feasibility of their project. It should come as no surprise when I tell you, guess-timating a project is very challenging when the full picture is unclear.

We understand that verbalizing your design ideas can be difficult, which is where a visual tool like an idea board comes in handy. “To keep it simple, a picture is worth a thousand words”, says Project Developer, Pete Baughman. “Having images that guide us in the direction of your design aspirations, helps us draw a much quicker connection between your vision and feasible design

possibilities.” When looking for images to build your idea board with, it is important to look beyond what you like and dislike. When developing your design dream, Pete advises, “when you look at an image of a design, you need to think about how the image makes you feel, not just the bits and pieces you like and dislike.” We are dedicated to providing a final product that you love, and every last detail will be considered.

 

Amanda Kratochvil, Lead Designer with Housewarming, finds similar value in platforms like Pinterest and Houzz. “The design world is incredibly vast, and there is a style for every single person out there. When it comes time for you to make a change to your home, sometimes it can be hard to describe what it is you like without having some sort of visual. Using a platform like Pinterest or Houzz to gather those thoughts and be able to see them all in one place, can really help define your style and keep you organized. It also gives you a solid platform for showing others and having them—your designer or your builder—accomplish your ideal style in your space. I especially love when clients have these ready for me because it’s an organized visual of their style and is a great reference for me as I’m making selections or planning out their space.”

Check out the Housewarming Pinterest profile here.

To view the original post, please visit the Better Builders Blog.

Where do you even start? You’ve got your inspiration figured out from our post on Organizing and Finding Inspiration but you’re still lost. What do you keep? What do you replace? Do you just say “to heck with it” and replace everything? Unfortunately the answer won’t be the same for everyone, but the process to find that answer absolutely can be.

When I’m working with a client who knows they want change but doesn’t know where to begin in their furniture and décor selection process, I always ask them the same question:
what can’t you live without?

It seems like a simple enough question. When you think about how you live in your space and about what you use the most, it’s interesting to consider if you’re using it because it is a convenience or because you really love that piece. It can make a huge impact on your decision-making ability.

That exercise can result in a good list of pieces that you don’t want to live without. The next step is to figure out how to pair those pieces with new pieces. Me personally? I love mixing old with new; you just need to make sure you balance it correctly, so it doesn’t feel like a hodge-podge of random pieces.

Another trick is to stick with coordinating colors. When you do this all your pieces work together regardless of the style because of the color scheme. They just “fit”.

If you want to get techy, take a photo of your furniture and upload it to whatever system you used for your inspiration board. I use Canva. And then as you’re shopping for pieces you can upload pictures of those and make sure it all meshes with your vision.

Here was our inspiration board for the kitchen:

With the living room just off the kitchen, we wanted to ensure we coordinated the two spaces. We used this as a starting point. No need to start from scratch!

Here are our final furniture choices:

We started with a bright orange sofa and a gold coffee table that we just couldn’t live without. By choosing the navy chair—a contrasting color—and a darker gray area rug to ground the space, we aren’t competing with the bold sofa choice but rather keeping it within one color theme.

You’ll also notice I did not stick exactly to my original color story because it’s important to remember that you don’t have to, it’s just a guide. You want to avoid being “matchy-matchy”. The inspiration is a starting point, and you evolve from there. By making sure we embraced a similar look (and stole a few of the items from the original inspiration) we created a cohesive look that will flow from one space to the next without feeling like you’re jumping styles too much.

Let’s talk Décor!

Décor is something that is incredibly personal to each of my clients. You have to decide how you want your space to feel. Magazine ready at all times? Functionally minimal? Extremely personal? Think about how you want others to see your space but also how you want to feel in it.

I’m a fan of the personal approach. I think décor and accessories mean more if you have a good story behind them. Not to say all your pieces need to have a story but it helps make the space feel more special if, at least, some of them do.

If you’re a big traveler, find pieces that you love while abroad and incorporate them into your space!

Are you more of an art collector? Consider having more prominent pieces on a cycle and trade them out so you have a fresh look all the time.

A good rule of thumb is to try to keep within your color story but know that if you go outside of it for a really special piece, it will fit because it fits you.

Most importantly find things that make you smile. Be happy in your space.

Today’s home office isn’t the cluttered catch-all that they used to be. Home offices are now becoming primary offices for more than just solopreneurs. According to Forbes 5.2% of Americans worked from home at least 50% of the time. That means that of the current 327.5 million Americans 17,014,400 worked from home part time or more last year.

Just having a flat surface and any old chair isn’t going to cut it anymore. If you work from home at all you need to have a more ergonomic set up so that you’re not causing undue fatigue or stress on your body. Not to mention if you have the proper at home set up, you’re more likely to be productive, as you won’t be constantly trying to either find that “one paper I could have sworn was right here when I was working last” or trying to find just the perfect position to be sitting in to keep yourself comfortable.

Here are some fantastic (and fun) options that can help you create the perfect home office.

Standing desks:

Not only is this going to keep your body moving as you transition from sitting to standing, but this can help reduce back pain and help keep you focused and motivated.

This desk can have multiple settings, so you can find the perfect height for you, your significant other or anyone else that may use your desk if you must share.

You can get beautiful finishes, or functional surfaces, this comes in a ton of different options, my favorites include, this model that allows you to have a live edge hardwood top that really creates a statement piece in your office.

In the standard finishes I love the walnut and the dry-erase white. Having a dry erase desk is great for taking quick notes while you’re on the phone without using any paper while the walnut helps the desk blend as part of your furniture if you don’t have a dedicated room for your desk.

If you already have a great desk, you can always purchase a standing desk converter that would sit on top of your current desk and make it so you can transition from sitting to standing without having to purchase a whole new desk. Like this option here:

Chairs:

When you’re sitting you need to ensure you’re keeping the correct posture. A few different things to look for when purchasing a desk chair:

When it comes to chairs adjustable is the name of the game. You want to make sure that you have the ability to customize each of the following to fit your body:

  • Seat Height/tilt
  • Seat placement (front to back) which is especially good for tall people with extra-long legs
  • Arm rests
  • Lumbar support
  • The amount of tension the back has (how much will the back bounce as you sit)

These are just the minimum options for adjustability you should be looking for. Always try out your chair before you by if at all possible, your back and posture will thank you for it!

Fun add-ons

Full disclosure, some of these I personally would never use, but they sure are fun!

How often do you wish you could take a nap under your desk? With this hammock you could! Or this desk treadmill: for the person who just doesn’t have the time to go to the gym.

 

 

Let’s get to know your designer, Amanda, a little bit better.

“I’m the first to admit I fell into my profession. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, but I did know I wanted to be creative, help people and never get tired of my job.

I chose my major on a whim and instantly fell in love. A lot of people tell me that they would love to make things pretty like I do, and while that is a perk of the job it’s not my central motivation. Each day is different, my clients are all unique and I love getting to live my passion every day.

My favorite detail of my job is the space planning. I love taking a space that doesn’t function for the homeowner and making it work for them. Everyone lives just a little bit differently; I love finding out the little details of my client’s life so that I can make their lives easier and tailor their space to their lifestyle.

Something like relocating the entirety of a kitchen to another part of their house so that they have a better flow with their entertaining space, or something simple like changing the swing of a door to help make the space feel more open and less crowded. Seeing the look on my client’s face when they realize that something is possible with their existing space that they’ve hated for so long makes my job worth it.

It’s like a giant puzzle; how do I fit these client specific pieces into a space without compromising on design, building and safety codes or my clients wants/needs? I love being able to play with the pieces to make what, is ultimately, a masterpiece for them.

My one goal for design is to create a functional, beautiful space tailored to my client’s needs.”

For more info about your designer check out her bio in our about section.
Photo Credit: Joseph Bacanskas 

In 2018 Americans spent $72.56 billion on their pets. It’s no wonder that people are starting to take their pets needs into consideration when talking about design.

Most aspects of pet design are more about the logistics of caring for and cleaning up after your pet. There are some smart ways to not only make your life easier, but make your space look great while keeping your fur babies in mind.

Litter Box Cabinet.

Having a built-in area to keep your litter box in is a great idea, it not only keeps some of the smell out of your space but keeps the mess in an enclosed area, making clean up a breeze. I’ve even seen some that are vented to keep air flowing. Check out these cool designs:

 

Pet Feeding Stations:

I don’t know about you, but I’ve kicked my pets water dish a time or two (who am I kidding, I kick it all the time). Getting creative with how and where you keep your pets food and water dishes can be  as simple as a piece of furniture, like the one shown below that does double duty, this will also keep pups out of the cat’s food!

Or something a little more built in like this suspended pet feeding shelf. As a bonus you can custom tailor it’s height for your pet.

Cats are known climbers, meaning it may be impossible to keep them off your furniture, sometimes you just have to embrace it. With a design like this cool bookshelf, you and your cats are bound to be happy.Your cat is more likely to keep out of your stuff if they have their own spot in your shelves!

Doggy beds:

Whether your crate your dogs while you’re away, or if you just want a place that’s just Spot’s but struggle to find the right place to keep the crate or bed without having to constantly move it around when visitors come or just leave hanging around your house looking shabby. If you have the space for it, doing something that is built-in create an aesthetically pleasing functional solution. Whether it’s under stairs or built into cabinetry, these fantastic places to hide your crate. Just look at these cozy homes:

 

This post inspired by the Housewarming & Studio65’s favorite four legged (and one spunky 3-legged) friends: