Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Remodeling Hell - The Perfect Christmas Gift!

10 Essential Tips for Designing the Bathroom by Sarah Lonsdale

Great article worth a share from Remodelista!

Among the many highlights of his Malcolm Davis of Malcolm Davis Architechtur projects? The bathrooms, which are light, airy, and full of well-considered details. So who better to turn to for advice?

Remodelista: What do your clients typically ask for in a bathroom?
Malcolm Davis: When someone comes to me, they usually know what bathrooms I design; there's always some sense of the outdoors and as much daylight as possible. When clients start looking at imagery, I ask them to think of their house as the best version of what they want it to be and what look will go with that in the bathroom, as opposed to their dream bathroom. I try and have a thread of the rest of the house incorporated in the bathroom so it feels connected.
Malcolm Davis Architecture indoor-outdoor shower: Remodelista
Above: A marble-clad shower with an obscure-glass (frosted) door that opens on to a wooden roof deck and a small window looking onto the trees outside.

RM: How do you manage to make your bathrooms so light and airy?
MD: If I have any way of getting daylight into the bathroom, I do it. I always try and get a bathroom on an outside wall. In a city, you don't always get that option, so then I go for a skylight. It's important to have a visual link to the outdoors; it's neat to have some clear glimpse of the outside, even if it is just one panel of a window where you can see a tree outside or a skylight where a bird flies overhead. The more light the better. Sunlight is the best killer of mold. If you can make the windows larger that's the biggest change you can make.
Malcolm Davis Architecture modern bathroom: Remodelista
Above: A Davis-designed bathroom at the Cook residence in SF.

RM: What's your approach to design?
MD: I like some bandwidth in the bathroom. It needs to be a place where if you are putting yourself together you can be the most spot on, but it's also a place where if you feel terrible you can unwind in warm water and find some solace. The bathroom has to provide a good backdrop, and not work against you. It should convey a sense of simplicity and clarity.

RM: How do you create a serene backdrop?
MD: I use simple, nice materials and work with a limited palette. I really like limestone, marble, and slate. I like to bring in some sense of nature, a piece of natural wood or a Heath tile that has a handmade quality. I use a wood shelf in a lot of bathrooms. If the surfaces feel too hard and shiny, it can feel too perfect. With materials that have a softer organic feel, that's when the person starts to feel they fit in.
Malcolm Davis Architecture Bathroom: Remodelista
Above: Baird Street project. Davis explains, "A tabletop is at 30 inches so the sink needs to be higher so you don't have to bend over so much. I usually have the sink height at 34 to 36 inches high, although I am currently doing a gentleman's sink that's higher."

RM: Storage?
MD: I like hidden storage (there's something about having a million little cupboards that looks overwhelming). I like to place a couple of tall shallow cabinets hidden in a stud bay. You don't need deep shelf storage, a shallow shelf can store a lot. I try and make as many things as dual function as possible. I like to put a recess in the shower and I try and integrate towel bars to feel built in. It's hard to pull off as it depends upon the space
Malcolm Davis Architecture running bond tiled bathrrom; Remodelista
Above: Davis favors plain ceramic tiles in a running bond pattern as opposed to stacked shown here in the Bole project. When using darker tiles he prefers the contrast of a lighter grout
RM: Choice of materials?
MD: A bathroom is going to last for a long time, so I like to keep it simple. It's not clothing. When it comes to materials, I always question whether it will last for a long time. I advise clients to set out a couple of materials they like and look at them every day before deciding. Often it's the one that you thought that was boring that works in the end.
Malcolm Davis Architecture slate wall bathrrom; Remodelista
Above: In this 21st Street project, Davis notes, "I use porches a lot in my mental vocabulary where people may think that this could have been an outdoor space that has been closed".

RM: Lighting?
MD: Industrial-looking Stonco lighting is my go-to. It's a vapor tight light with a guard and they are great for tucking in a skylight shaft.
Malcolm Davis Architecture Bathroom: Remodelista
Above: 28th Street project.

RM: Favorite fixtures?
MD: I like porcelain. Duravit sinks are a favorite, and the Dornbracht Tara line is super classic, although sometimes it can be a challenge to get the hot and cold taps to line up straight. I like Chicago Faucets, but it's too bad they don't have a bigger line.
Malcolm Davis Architecture green tiled bathrrom; Remodelista
Storage: A bathroom unit with a built in towel rail in the Bartlett project.

RM: Things to note?
MD: Bathrooms don't have to be huge. When I see a large standalone tub floating in space, that's a lot of space it's taking up. I always put my mind into the small places of New York or Europe and consider how you make a space compelling.

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Lowe's Teams Up With Top Designers To Inspire Holiday Projects

Home improvement experts share simple and affordable ideas to prep for your guests this season

To help kick off the holiday season, Lowe's teamed up with
today's top do-it-yourselfers and designers to create holiday-inspired rooms that are guaranteed to welcome any guest in style. From simple improvement projects to eye-catching decor that instantly spreads good cheer, these budget-friendly DIY ideas from leading designers will have your home prepped for the holidays in the nick of time.

Consider these designer tips your holiday home improvement wish list. Just make sure to check it twice!
  • Make a Lasting First Impression – Entryway tips from Design Mom To add a pop of color, paint your front door in a holiday red. We used the color Art District from Valspar Signature's paint and primer in one. Paint is a simple, economical update that really makes a statement about your entire house. Add bright white lights nestled in bright white garlands to create an instant snowy holiday feel inexpensively. Customizing holiday decor to fit your family's style can be easy. Start by taking a simple item, like a store-bought pine wreath and tuck metallic paper leaves into the branches for texture. If you don't have a fireplace, show off your holiday stockings by hanging them along stair railings, or attach them with ribbon to a pretty branch, and hang the branch on a wall over a sofa. View Design Mom's entryway here

  • Welcome Guests in Style – Foyer tips from Little Green Notebook Gold and silver hues are so pretty around the holidays. Buy a small tree and do something fun, such as creating an ombre pattern on your tree with glass ornaments painted in matte finish to create a gradient. Other people love looking at your Christmas cards, so decorate tables in your center hall with platters and antiques to display cards you've received. You can also string cards with clothespins. View Little Green Notebook's foyer here
  • Create a Buzzworthy Kitchen – Tips from Brit + Co. Infuse a dose of holiday into the kitchen, with pops of red accent pieces or stripe the legs of a red kitchen stool with white painter's tape for a candy cane theme. Install a new backsplash with glass mosaic, subway or even ceiling tiles or wallpaper to give the kitchen a personalized look. One of our favorite projects is creating a "DIY Light Marquee." Take cardboard letters, spray paint them gold and poke small holes in for the lights, then weave a strand of bulbs behind the sign to connect all the letters. Display on your countertop or above your cabinets. View Brit + Co.'s kitchen here
  • Design a Deliciously Decorated Dining Room – Tips from Curbly  Set the mood for your holiday feast with a neutral color pallet and invite the warmth of fall into the space by painting accent pieces with fall colors such as Valspar's Desert Travels and Bear Claw hues. A stylish rug, curtain panels, pillows and items from nature can make a room feel cozy and comfortable for holiday gatherings. Create fun, stackable DIY plywood boxes by building wood boxes in a variety of sizes and painting the exterior white and the interior in fall or winter tones for a pop of color.   View Curbly's dining room here
  • Embrace your Wild Side – Showstopping ideas from P.S. – I made this... Introduce a new warm and inviting paint color on your walls like Valspar's Perfect Storm to add lasting decor and style long into the New Year. For a fashionable look, add decorative accessories spray painted in metallic colors such as gold and silver. Use wallpaper in different ways to make a statement. Instead of wrapping an entire room, try creating frames made of wallpaper and molding. Don't be afraid to take risks and do things you don't normally do. Create a story with the items in your space and personalize for family and friends. View P.S. – I made this... living room here
  • Restore Relaxation during the Holidays – Guest suite ideas from Oh Happy Day In your guest bedroom, add touches of greenery and lighting fixtures to the wall for reading, simple DIY artwork to help ensure guests feel right at home. Show your creative side with chalkboard-painted walls to greet overnight guests with a personal "Happy Holidays!" message. For an extra dose of cheer, drape decorative red-beaded strands around a mirror or lighting fixtures for a touch of holiday. New light fixtures can give an ordinary bathroom an instant update. For graphic visual interest, install white tile with dark grout. View Oh Happy Day's guest suite here
For more tips on how to prep your home for the holidays, check out images of each designer's room by visiting the Deck The Halls and Walls and All photo gallery.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Top 5 Easy Holiday Home Improvement Projects

With the holidays and New Year right around the corner, now is a great time to start sprucing up your home for the arrival of your family and guests. Whether it’s a remodeling project, landscaping upgrade, or an interior renovation, these 5 quick and easy tips will help get your home ready for the holiday festivities.

1) Keep Your Guests Warm and Your Energy Bill Low
Keeping your family and friends comfortable and warm is a priority when having guests over during the holidays. Adding some caulking or weather strips around drafty windows can help keep the heat inside your home. Also, upgrading your heating system to a new energy-efficient model can make a large difference in your energy bill this season.

2) Landscaping & Entry Way Touch-Ups
Although the holidays may bring your family and friends indoors for celebration, your front yard and entrance way will be the initial things your guests will notice. Make a lasting first impression by planting flowers that bloom in the winter such as camellias, holly, and snow drops. This is an easy landscaping solution that will add color and shape to your front yard. Investing in a new front door or touching up the exterior trim with a fresh coat of paint are quick and easy ways to enhance the entry way.

3) New Paint Job
A new coat of paint is a quick, easy, and cost effective way to brighten up a guest room or family room this season. Top winter paint shades are rich cedars and muted grays and whites.

4) Upgrade Your Kitchen
Since the holiday season is largely focused on food, you and your guests will be spending a lot of time in your kitchen. Updating old knobs and pulls on your kitchen cabinets is an inexpensive way to update the look of your kitchen. Adding in a new faucet is an easy DIY project and a great way to add some shine to your kitchen.

5) Get Organized
Organize all the items that may have accumulated throughout the year and start making space for all the new things you will be getting during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the holidays by installing a cabinet or a simple shelving unit in your garage or storage room.

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

8 Tips For Managing Your Own Decorating Project

Thanks for reading today's blog post!  Did you know that I'm the author of not just one, but thirteen books?  For more information, please visit, and/or

If you love interior design and want to tackle a decorating project on your own, goodness knows there are resources available to help you do everything under the sun. But somehow, despite our best intentions DIY home decorating projects often get waylaid — sometimes for months or even years at a time. Stay on track with these nine tips, covering everything from budgeting to shopping.

1. List specific, measurable goals for your project. One of the first things an interior decorator does is define the parameters of the project. When doing your own decorating, it’s easy to justify skipping this step — but nailing down your goals now is essential to a successful project.

Answer these questions before you begin:
  • Which room or rooms will I be decorating?
  • When do I want to have this project completed? What’s my timeline?
  • What is my budget?
  • How do I want this room to look, feel and function when the project is done?
  • Are there any specific issues I want to address in this space?
  • Who will be making the decorating decisions: just me, or will I be collaborating with a partner or housemate?
  • Might I actually need a pro to help?
Written goals will help keep you on track — no veering off from your living room project to accessorize your kitchen!

2. Draw up an item-by-item budget. Sticking to your budget is a science and an art, and it will not happen without some careful planning on your part. Start by making a master list of all of the items you plan to purchase for your room, including paint, jobs for a handyman and so on. Initially you will not have everything chosen yet, so you will need to estimate costs.
Think about the options for each item — for dining chairs, for instance, you could find a mismatched set at a yard sale and paint them yourself for a hundred bucks, you could go to Target or Ikea and spend a few hundred, or you could splurge on a designer set. Set your priorities and consider which items will be your splurge items and where you can pinch a few pennies.

3. Be realistic about your lifestyle. A good decorator would steer you away from ordering silk or velvet upholstery if you have kids or furry friends — do yourself a favor and do a reality check for each design decision before committing. There is nearly always an alternative that will work with your scheme just as well (if not better than) your original choice. And you will thank yourself later!


4. Order samples. During your initial shopping explorations, order samples of anything and everything you can that you are considering. Having fabrics, paint and wallpaper samples in hand will make those final decisions more likely to be a success. You cannot trust the colors on your computer screen!

5. Go shopping. Once you have done the groundwork — and only then — will it be time to begin laying your money down. Be sure to check the return policies on everything before buying. If you are not sure about something, snap a picture of it to look at in your space.

6. A little of this, a little of that … It’s important to take a breather midway through your decorating project to reassess. How are the things you have bought so far looking in your space? Is it coming together as you envisioned, or do you need to rethink some parts of your scheme? Are you sticking to your budget?
Every decorating project has its surprises — the important thing is to adjust to them, rather than steamrolling on no matter what. If, for example, you spent way more than you planned on the lighting, look for ways to cut costs elsewhere.

7. Stay busy while waiting for orders to arrive. The results of all of your hard work are on their way — use the downtime to complete some tedious but necessary tasks that will help your finished space look its best. Send out area rugs for cleaning, polish your wood floors, clean windows inside and out, clean window coverings and paint, and touch up trim. This point in the process is also a good time to sell or donate your unwanted furniture and accessories.

8. Don’t settle. By the time your new furnishings actually arrive, you may be so tired of working on your project that you are tempted to let less-than-perfect products stay, rather than expend the energy needed to deal with them.
Don’t do that. Mistakes happen, even to the pros, but a pro would never let a piece that just doesn’t work stay in the space. Muster your strength and send the piece back — the sooner, the better.

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

7 Home Improvement Apps to Help Your Inner Handyman

Whether you're remodeling your kitchen or just fixing a leaky faucet, keeping up with your house's basic maintenance is an essential part of home ownership. And with these helpful mobile apps in your tool-belt, you'll be able to tackle virtually any project without having to get your contractor's license.


7 Home Improvement Apps to Help Your Inner Handyman

You never know where you'll find the perfect color for your living room. But when the moment of inspiration strikes be sure you're ready for it. The free Colorsnap app (iOS, Android) from Sherwin-Williams can help by analyzing that perfect color, wherever you find it, and converting it into a matching, custom tint mix code for the company's paint brand.

All you have to do is take a picture of the color you like, tap on the hue you like best, and the system will return its "closest result". An image of my Navy Blue lighter shot under bright white indoor LED lighting for example, came back as "Quixotic Plum, SW 6265" which is close enough!


7 Home Improvement Apps to Help Your Inner Handyman

"Measure twice, cut once" is one of carpentry's most fundamental rules, up there with "no horsing around near the band saws." The same holds true for home improvement in general. Before you can start in on a project-whether re-tiling a bathroom, laying down new hardwood floors, or even painting a hallway-you've got to know exactly what the scope of the project is and how much materials you'll need.

The Handyman Calculator (Android) can assist you with the more complex math-from figuring square footage and stud spacing to unit conversion to asphalt volume, tile, paint, carpet, and linoleum coverage calculators, this app takes care of all of the heavy mental lifting. You just need to provide the correct measurements.
7 Home Improvement Apps to Help Your Inner Handyman

The iOS faithful should check out Home Improvement Calcs from Double Dog Studios ($2, iTunes) for similar functionality to the The Handyman Calculator, including more than 74,000 preset functions from mulch coverage to attic insulation volumetrics. It also includes enough helpful explanatory illustrations that you'll be able to BS your way through the lumber section of your Home Depot with ease.

Or better yet, avoid the hassle of going to the home improvement store altogether. Both the Home Depot and Lowes offer dedicated apps for both iOS and Android which allow you to shop, purchase and, most importantly, have delivered just about everything the two stores sell.


7 Home Improvement Apps to Help Your Inner Handyman

In addition to big renovation projects, a house requires regular maintenance and upkeep- especially the older it gets. To keep on top of the innumerable little duties that keep small problems from becoming big, expensive issues, check out House Maintenance Schedule ($2 freemium, Android). This calendar app helps schedule and remind you of upcoming maintenance projects, from flushing the water heater and inspecting fire extinguishers to changing HVAC filters and cleaning downspouts.

7 Home Improvement Apps to Help Your Inner Handyman

And if you find yourself stumped by a project, there are plenty of resources on the Internet to help you along. The Family Handyman DIY Tip Genius ($5 freemium, iOS) by Readers Digest is designed for both the iPhone and iPad and is packed with more than 300 (1,800 if you pony up $5) ideas and tips to keep you from bungling the job. For more ideas and tips be sure to also check out the regularly scheduled podcasts from Handy Guys and Money Pit Home Improvement. Now get out there and make Tim Taylor proud.

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