A How-To Guide: Designing a Warm Yet Modern Kitchen

This how-to guide will help you look for what shapes and finishes to choose that can create a warm, comfortable, and an inviting space that is, at the same time, modern and contemporary.

There are many people that are drawn to crisp clean lines, cool color palettes, and minimalist shapes that define a modern kitchen decor style. But, at the same time, many of us want to have a cozy space that is more inviting than it is modern. We want a space where people want to come and gather. So how can you find that balance of warm, comfy vibes and crisp clean lines? We have put together a guide to help you navigate designing a warm and inviting, yet modern kitchen.

A Modern Kitchen: Find Contemporary Shapes

When you initially think of a contemporary kitchen, you may think of clean lines and not a lot of overly decorative pieces. The color schemes can vary a lot but the classic choices tend to include white, cream, tan, beige, gray and black, and sometimes a mix of these colors. Color palettes usually lead to more monochromatic designs, while patterns, you’ll find, tend to be very minimal and in many cases, uniform.

The secret to achieving a warm, contemporary modern kitchen is to build a foundation of shapes that embody contemporary style. After you have a solid foundation, you can start to add features, using different colors and material that will help you bring that warmth to the kitchen. You will want to pay a lot of attention to balance, using a combination of finishes and textures. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t achieve the right look on the first few tries. Designing a room takes work and a lot of trial and error. Fully expect to buy many pieces, trying them, and then returning them. It is only through this process that you will pick up the “knack” for finding pieces that work for your space and style.

To start, we have listed the basic shapes and elements that you’ll want to look for while creating your warm modern kitchen.

Cabinets

The quickest and most effective way to create a contemporary kitchen is to install contemporary cabinetry. Slab doors equal contemporary. Slab doors or drawers are flat, are only one piece and do not have trim or decorative frill. The slab usually is laid over the cabinet, but it can also be set into the cabinet frame during construction. Many finishes and colors can work here. You can opt for a glossy white finish or a flat and matte look. Also, many laminates like wood will work here as well. You can have fun working with something that inspires you while still working with a design structure that is aimed toward warm and modern.

Cabinet Handles

A contemporary kitchen usually lacks knobs and handles altogether. With modern design options that allow one to use press-touch technology or other no-handle options allow for a minimalistic, clean look. For a more decorative look, you can keep it modern with a stainless steel, matte black, chrome, or in some cases, white handles Another way to use pulls and handles and keep it very modern is to install horizontal pieces. This will add uniformity that will lend to your contemporary look.

Islands

A great way to achieve a warm yet contemporary style is to incorporate a countertop on your island that flows over the edge, those in the industry call this a waterfall edge.

Floors

When it comes to your kitchen flooring, using cool tones in concrete or materials that look like concrete is a great contemporary option. You will have many options that will fit this style and look. You’ll just want to stay away from anything that is going to cause a rustic look, like wood grains or something busy like Spanish tiles that are heavily patterned. Also, using hardwood, porcelain or concrete oversized tiles is a great option for a clean, modern look and feel.

Backsplash & Countertops

What you will usually will find in contemporary kitchens is that the countertops and backsplash are made of the same material. Most often this will be a man made material that does not have a lot of pattern to it with a shiny or matte finish. You can choose a backsplash that doesn’t match the countertop by using something with clean lines like glass tiles.

Fixtures & Appliances

Keep items like range hoods, faucets, and appliances sleek with minimal lines in stainless steel or a matte black.

Next, Warm Up That Contemporary Look!

Once you have planned the basic shapes for your contemporary style kitchen, you can start to warm it up by introducing wood, soft colors, and/or texture. As long as you are starting with crisp, uniform lines, adding in these not so contemporary style options, you will start to see a more inviting, yet modern design take hold.

If you add wood for an organic warm look, this can be done by using it in your cabinets or flooring or both! Just steer clear from wood that looks rustic like a pine. A designer favorite is something like rift-cut wood or a quarter-sawn oak. Using such wood allows you to achieve a very organic-looking warm style that practically glows, yet the shapes still provide that classic contemporary feel. The wood simply warms up the room.

When trying to achieve warmth through color consider something in the range of oranges, reds, and golds, something that has warm undertones. These colors can be deployed through a backsplash, a painted wall, and a few accent pieces on a countertop etc. Another color route to go in can be cool blues or warm-toned greys (so warm that it’s closer to a brown on the color wheel).

Another great way to warm up a contemporary kitchen is to add texture and/or depth wherever you can. This is a bit more of an advanced design strategy but a really great one. It can be the difference between looking like an average cool-toned coffee house versus a warm, inviting home.

Updating Your Bathroom: Where & How You Should Start

Are you daydreaming about updating your bathroom again? When you are finally ready to make the commitment and update your bathroom, it can be a pretty intimidating project to undertake. Below we have created a planning guide to get you through the first hurdles of creating a budget for planning the work. Use the following information and timeline to help make sure that once you start updating your bathroom, that you stay on track and ensure success.

Creating a Budget for Updating Your Bathroom
To start, think about what exactly you’d like to change about your bathroom. What would you like to fully update, replace, add, and fix in your current bathroom? Once you have a good list of what you’d like to include in your bathroom renovation, use our guide below to start a budget. We have laid out the approximate costs for updating each section of your bathroom to give you an idea of how much your project will cost. This will give you a starting budget that you can tweak as you get more specific information.

A Small Bathroom Refresh Project ($200-$5,000)
Updating your bathroom with a  small bathroom refresh project can include projects such as:

  • Painting the walls and trim
  • Updating the vanity
  • Replacing your sink and countertops
  • Refinishing your bathtub
  • Installing new light fixtures
  • Installing new window treatments
  • Installing new hardware and fixtures

A Small Bathroom Remodel ($5,000 – $15,000)
In this case, a small bathroom remodeling project can include projects such as:

  • Replace your current faucets, sinks, shower, and toilet
  • Replace your bathtub and/or shower or whirlpool
  • Move fixtures to other areas of the bathroom
  • Add new supply lines, drain pipes, electrical
  • Replace or add to your cabinetry and/or vanity
  • Add dividing walls
  • Replace your flooring

A Major Bathroom Remodel ($15,000+)
A major bathroom remodeling project can include projects such as:

  • New bathroom cabinetry and fixture layout
  • Add or remove doorways to create a whole to space
  • Moving and/or expand your bath
  • Replacing and/or moving plumbing and electrical
  • Upgrading all surfaces, finishes
  • Add a skylight and/or new windows

Create a Plan with a Timeline

The next step in pursuing your dream of having a new bathroom is to create a plan for the work to be done. A plan with a timeline will help you stay on track if you are completing the job by yourself or it will help you communicate (successfully), your plan to your contractor.

A Timeline for Updating Your Bathroom

Step 1 Research & Planning (6 Months prior to starting.)

Take this time (about 6 months out) before starting the project to figure out if there are building regulations that you need to follow and if there are any permits that you need to apply for. You can also use this time to find a contractor to help, they can often help you with regulations and permits.

Step 2 Floor Plan & Buy List (4 Months prior to starting.)

At 4 months out you can start to draw floor plans and hire your contractor. Have your floor plan handy during the project and while shopping for parts, etc. This is also a good time to make a list of all the things that you need to buy for this project. Your list may include things like tools, fixtures, and other equipment.

Step 3 Purchase Materials Needed (3 Months prior to starting.)

Make your final decisions about materials, tools, and products, and then purchase.

Step 4 Store Materials & Audit (1 Months prior to starting.)

Find a private and secure place to store your materials, tools, fixtures, products, and equipment. Create an audit of what you purchased and stored. Start to arrange for a dumpster if it will be needed. Keep a to-do list on you so that you are always on track and know what’s next.

Step 5 Final Arrangements (1 week prior to starting.)

Make sure you take “before” pictures of your entire bathroom. One thing about updating your bathroom that people most often forget and regret is not taking before and after photos. Then clean up and empty your bathroom of everything. Make arrangements for where to store all of your things, pets, and power tools. You will also want to arrange for a place for washing tools and other items. Make sure you have ample room for your contractors and their equipment as well. Inform your neighbors of your remodeling plan and make sure they have your contact information in case of issues. Make sure to hang about protective coverings to your other floors, rooms, air vents, etc.

Step 5 Start Work  

Make sure to take pictures each time you complete something.

Step 6 Finished Work  

Go through all of your work and make sure that it meets code and has passed inspection according to local regulations. Then make sure the area has been thoroughly cleaned, including your air vents. Gather and store warranties for any purchased materials and products. Make sure all of your related bills have been taken care of and keep copies of everything. Then take “after” pictures and enjoy your new bathroom!

Thinking About Solar Panels? Here’s a List of Things to Consider.

There are a lot of new reasons why solar panels are an extremely good idea but are they right for your home? Don’t worry, becoming a hippie and eating tofu every day is not a prerequisite to installing solar panels, contrary to popular belief. Hippie or not, want to save the planet or just save a lot of money, or both…we don’t care. Either way, solar panels help you save on energy costs and over the years, solar panels have only become less expensive and even more useful. Another added incentive is the 30% federal tax that you get to claim if you install them before the end of 2019. With where the market is at right now, your solar panels could pay for themselves in as little as 5 years depending on your location. Of course, you need to first see if solar panels are even right for your home. To see if your home is optimal for solar panels, read through the points below regarding your roof.

Things to consider about your home:

  • Solar panels are most productive on roofs that are south-facing. This is due to how the U.S. is positioned in relation to the sun. West-facing and south-facing are the next most productive. North-facing roofs are the least productive and many companies will recommend other options.
  • Solar panels work best when they can be in the sun for at least 5 hours per day. If you have anything that would get in the way of the sun hitting your roof for up to 5 hours, your home may not be optimal. Some things that might cause your roof to become shaded are things like trees, hills, mountains, and other buildings or houses.
  • Solar panels need about 500 sq. ft. of space on your roof. The solar panels require about 100 sq. ft. per kilowatt of solar.
  • Ideally, solar panels need to be positioned at a 30% angle. However, they can be installed on roofs at angles between 0%-45%. When your roof isn’t at an angle that is needed, panels are installed on tilted racks. You’ll want to watch your roof throughout the day and see what goes on in your situation. Sometimes, a roof that is too steep, doesn’t get any sun exposure.
  • Find out what kind of roof you have. Your local jurisdiction may not allow solar panels to be installed on certain types of roofing.
  • Find out how old is your roof is. Usually, your panels will be under warranty for 20-30 years so you want to make sure your roof won’t need to be replaced. Solar panels are usually warrantied to last for 25 to 30 years.
  • Find out what size system do you need. You may not get an accurate estimate from an eager contractor. There are resources you can use to double check any estimates that you receive. Try using the Energy Department’s PVWatts Calculator.
  • How long will you be in this house? Solar panels typically pay for themselves within 5 years. If you sell your home before this happens, you run the risk of taking a financial loss.

Things to consider about the state that you live in and whether solar panels will be worth the investment:

  • What are your local energy costs? You can use this map of electric rates, to see if solar panels will make a significant difference in your energy bill. Decide by checking the rate per kilowatt hour on one of your energy bills.
  • Are there any special incentives available in your state? In addition to the federal tax credit already available, some states offer additional incentives for installing solar panels. You can check for such incentives on the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency.
  • Does your energy company have net metering? If your power company offers net metering, they will pay you if you generate more electricity than you need, buying the energy back from you. Check here to see if you have net metering.
  • Do you live in an SREC (solar renewable energy certificate) state? There are many states, about 30 states that require power companies to generate a certain amount of electricity from renewable sources. So power companies looking to fill this requirement will sometimes pay you to help them. You can earn up to $480 in some locations.

Do your research about installing solar panels in your area and on your home. Having a contractor come out and help walk you through some of these questions can also be very helpful. Our contractors can work with your solar panel contractor to ensure that their plan meets your overall remodeling goals. Contact us today!

Best Remodeling Projects to Add Home Value in 2018

When it comes time to put some work in on your home with the hopes of upping the value, not all projects are equal. Some home remodeling projects don’t have great success rates on the ROI (return on investment) as others. For example, it is unlikely that you will see a decent financial return on something added like a swimming pool. Expensive remodeling projects are dangerous right now as you are likely to only see up to half of your expenses recouped. We have however put together a list of some tips and home remodeling projects that have shown to increase the value of your home when it comes time to sell.

Home Remodeling Tips for 2018

  • Curb Appeal

Where should you start with your remodeling projects? Survey says, the front of your house, where everyone can see it. Adding to the curb appeal has a very high ROI. Things like upgrading your garage door, adding a wood deck, replacing the roof, windows etc. are all estimated to be a very good investment in 2018.

  • Fix or Replace

Do what you can to fix or replace the area in and around your home before adding on and doing a full remodel anywhere in the home. It is a better idea to fix your siding and to continue to improve your curb appeal than it is to start a full remodel on your kitchen right now especially since there is a high likelihood that the next homeowner will probably redo the kitchen anyway.

  • Stretch Your Living Space

Fixing up the basement, adding a deck, and adding luxurious touches to current living spaces are very popular right now and these projects show to have a decent return on investment.

Home Remodeling Projects for 2018  

The projects below are estimated to give you the most bang for your buck.

  • Garage door replacement

Keep up with your curb appeal by replacing your current garage door. It is estimated to have one of the highest ROI for 2018. Now is a great time to replace your garage door, especially if your current one has any damage showing. Potential buyers may question how well you have kept up with the rest of the house based on a bad garage door. The average cost is approximately $3,400 and shows to give you back a 98.3% return! It is also one of the first things people see when they look at

  • Manufactured stone veneer

You can also keep up on your curb appeal by adding new siding. While any type of siding offers a new and improved look, masonry veneer will give you the best bang for your buck, with a huge 97% ROI (return on investment). When it comes to siding, you have a lot of options, you can choose from many different types of styles like either brick or stone veneer. You will definitely want to consider having your siding done professionally, this will look the best and offer the best resale value.

  • Wood Deck Addition

When you ask homeowners to put together a home remodeling wish list, a deck is usually high up on that list and fortunately, 2018 is a good time to add one! The average cost is approximately $11,000 with an average return of 80%. Real estate agents love good decks that are well designed because they are a great selling point. Wood decks specifically see a high ROI with cedar and redwood being at the top of that list.

  • A Minor Kitchen Remodel

Remodeling your entire kitchen can often be one of the most expensive spots in the house to do a full remodel on. If you’re looking to add value and keep your ROI high, doing a minor renovation could be just the thing you’re looking for. The average cost of a minor kitchen remodel is about $21,200 and homeowners can expect up to an 80% return. A minor renovation can include replacing things like cabinet doors, drawer faces, hardware, countertops, oven tops, refrigerator, and sink. You can also repaint the trim, replace flooring etc. A full kitchen remodel shows to only offer a 60% return.

  • Window Replacements

Replacing your current windows for something more modern can be an excellent investment and will add to the selling points of the home and curb appeal, especially if your current ones are outdated. Also, adding energy efficient windows will add possible financial savings for you while you are still in the home as you save on energy costs.