Bathroom Style Guide

By Mark Noonan                                             Plumbing Mart President

 When you are retaining a renovation consultant to design your bathroom, it is useful to have a style in mind as a focal point. Bathroom style (and design in general) can be broken down into a few unique categories: Traditional, modern, contemporary and transitional. Of course, these categories are not limiting, and you can design to fit anywhere in between to suit your personal taste. But by aligning yourself within one of these themes in the initial stages of design, you have an excellent reference point to start your planning.

 Yet the question remains – how do we distinguish between the categories? What is your best fit?

 Traditional

 Traditional design is generally formal in style, with the added touch of classic architectural detail. Typically in a traditional bathroom, you would see heavy use of natural stone alongside embellished cabinetry and vintage-looking fixtures. Traditional design is classical, elegant, and luxurious.

 In this traditional bathroom, we see the use of natural stone, both in the flooring and on the countertops. The traditional theme is continued with the use of vintage fixtures, and the architectural detailing in the wooden crown molding. By adding in the ornate vase and comfortable touch of upholstered furniture, we see how the accessories of this room mirror the traditional theme.

 Here, we see some darker tones incorporated into the traditional design, but many of the themes remain the same. The embellishment on the cabinetry and the hardware add great detail to the woodwork. The turn knobs on the faucet give a classical feel. Also, the horizontally lined wallpaper adds a subtle colour, and show how wall coverings can effectively be used in a traditional bathroom.

 Modern

 The modern bathroom is sleek, streamlined, and clutter-free. Long and low lines are common. You will see liberal use of smooth and reflective materials, such a glass, ceramics, and chrome solid-surface tops. Cabinetry is free of the details seen in the traditional bathroom design, and eco-friendly choices such as bamboo are often seen in the cabinetry. The colour palette is focused on white, with the touches of glass and chrome, and sometimes there is a splash of colour, such as an orange, turquoise or red.

 In this masculine modern bath, we see how cabinetry can create the feel for the design. The long lines of the floating cabinetry give this space a clutter-free feel. The minimal use of colour in this modern space is compensated for by the incredible detailing in the metal wall tiles. Details such as the chrome hardware on the cabinetry, and the unframed mirror give this space a clean look.

 In this space, we see a great use of colour, while still maintaining that clean feel of the modern style. The use of wood above the floating cabinetry and the bamboo on the back wall soften the feel of the room, and the plush rug adds some comfort. The sink, cabinetry and toilet maintain the same white colour pallet, with touches of chrome throughout the fixtures. The mixed shades of green in the tiled floor add interest to the design and break up what could be a monotonous colour tone.

 Contemporary

 Contemporary design is often confused with modern design, but the two styles are entirely unique. Modern design is static (referring to a design developed in the mid-century), whereas contemporary design is dynamic, referring to what is in today. There are fewer rules in contemporary design than in that of modern design, it more follows your design freedom and current trends. Here, inventive use of colours, mixing of patterns and combining materials is a great way to achieve a contemporary look.

 The simple style here shows a contemporary design. Differing from a modern design, where you would see a white countertop to match the white sink, we see a mix of a dark granite countertop with a white undermount sink. The rounded mirror on the rectangular tiled wall offers a contrast of shape that adds interest. The soft colour of the tiles and the dark colour of the granite are successful in mixing both colour and material.

 The great blend of materials in this space creates a contemporary feel. The natural stone flooring contrasts the vanity, with its wooden base and dark stone top. The earthy red horizontal tiles and rounded mirror creates a contrast of shape. Though the vanity base and sink have smooth, low lines like a modern design, the bold legs of the vanity base and the texture in the bowl of the sink create a dynamic feel.

 Transitional

 Transitional design can be considered a fusion of contemporary and traditional furniture, finishes, materials, and fabrics. By incorporating the current trends in contemporary designs, and the always elegant look of traditional design, transitional design creates a classical and timeless representation. The transitional palette relies on a lack of colour, thus creating a clean and serene atmosphere. The only colour contrast in this design is between the dark brown accents to the neutral balances of taupe, tan, and vanilla. A minimalist approach is taken with accessories that are carefully selected to act as a counterpoint to the furniture. The furniture combines curves with straight lines to balance masculine and feminine attributes. The scale of your pieces, such as the vanity or cabinetry, is ample but not intimidating, and lacking the ornamentation you may see in a traditional design. The focus here is on simplicity and sophistication.

 Clean, straight lines are echoed throughout this space, from the tiled floor, to the wainscoting, to the design on the cabinetry. The free-standing tub combines a classical look with the claw foot with the contemporary feature of a nickel faucet. There is minimal departure from the neutral tones here, save for the select few blue accessories that dot the room.

This master bathroom shows off the smooth lines of the furniture and the décor. The long lines of the vanity are maintained and minimal embellishment is used, so the elegant feel is maintained. The rounded bowls of the sinks offer a shape contrast to the large square double-mirrors. Textural elements are incorporated in the glass tile behind the vanity, so that even in the absence of colour the eye is intrigued. The glass enclosure for the shower maintains a clean and serene atmosphere.

 So, as you enter into your initial planning process with your renovation consultant try to create a picture in your mind as to which style in the best expression of YOU!  Preparing a selection of magazine cut-outs or web site pictures can go a long way in helping to visually represent the fixtures, features and design elements that best suit your feelings.  Engage and have fun.  Don’t feel limited or intimidated by trends or established practices.  An experienced consultant will help you to avoid any serious mistakes that may be regrettable later, so push your limits and make your next renovation a perfect renovation.

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Kid’s Bathroom

By Mark Noonan                                         Plumbing Mart President

Families are never static, and the same should be said for your family bathroom. It is going to need to grow as your children grow, and through clever design this can easily be achieved.

It is easy to get ahead of yourself when designing a bathroom for the kids. You may feel compelled to install all kid-sized bathroom products and cover the room with playful colours. But unless you are planning on having young children around for many more years, this is likely not the best route. Instead, start simple and focus on functionality. Add in the special touches that make this bathroom perfect for your kids. By doing this you can maintain the resale value as well as make the room comfortable for your little ones.

Start off by choosing a neutral colour palette as your base. From here, you can add in accessories for punches of colour without overhauling the whole room. Accessories like bathmats, towels and shower curtains are easily replaceable as your child’s taste grows, as well as inexpensive.

Next, when considering bathroom appliances, it may seem like a great idea to install toilets and vanities that are the perfect height for your pint-sized little one. But if you choose to install these features, you will be selling yourself short in the long run (excuse the pun). You need to remember that your little ones won’t be little for long. Also, installing child-sized pieces can negatively affect the resale value of your home. A more practical choice would be to install a standard-height toilet (as opposed to comfort height, which may be too tall for the child). Second, a floating vanity is an excellent option. The height is comfortable for adults and older children, and a sturdy stool can easily be stored underneath and slid out for smaller kid’s use.

The littlest ones in the family often have the biggest needs – with help from teeth brushing to bathing. By making sure pieces are of standard height, with add-ins like stools for the kids, parents will be comfortable helping out. The same goes for bathing. Forego the shower in place of a bathtub with a stubbed-out shower. Choose fixtures that offer bathing choices for all ages. Many designers select a bath enclosure with a shower bar to hold an adjustable showerhead and handshower. The showerhead can be repositioned to suit the needs of children, teens or guests. The handheld sprayer comes in handy when bathing tiny tots — or cleaning the tub and shower stall. Parents are often kneeling and sitting around the tub to help children bathe, so make sure there is enough room to comfortably move around.

Fixtures for the sink can be kid-friendly as well. Choose high quality — something that can withstand the heavy and sometime rough usage from the kids and maintain its beauty for the life of the bathroom. Newer designs also offer touchless features so kids do not need to struggle with knobs, timed features so the tap is not accidently left on, and pre-set temperature limits to avoid burns.

When it is bath time, kids tend to splash around. This can’t be avoided, so why not design for it in your renovation? Make sure the wall and floor surfaces can easily be wiped down and cleaned. Choose tile, laminate, stone surfaces or specialty paint that are both good-looking and robust to what your kids can throw at them (literally). Along with this, it is important to consider your kid’s safety, so choose flooring that is slip-resistant or textured. Material such as rubber, linoleum, cork and vinyl are all great options, and unlike tile, offer a softer landing should anyone happen to slip and fall.

The surfaces in your kid’s bathroom also need to be durable. This is especially important for countertops. Choose something that is scratch and stain resistant, yet still looks beautiful. Granite countertops are a fantastic option, and can withstand the toughest treatment from the kids. Quartz is another viable option that comes at a smaller price-tag.

Storage is also important when there are kids in the bathroom. With toys, special bath soaps and shampoos, and towels for everyone, the family bathroom can become cluttered very quickly. Instead of letting this happen, be smart with storage solutions. Make sure there is enough shelving for everyone to store their belongings. Consider having baskets for each kid to store their bath toys so everyone feels like they have their own special space. Install towel hooks and racks at both adult and kid heights. Keeping this shared space organized keeps it functional for the entire family.

So start simple. Keep the space functional. Add in those special touches to turn your bathroom into a kid-friendly space. And, most importantly, be creative.

How to Refresh Your Kitchen On A Budget

By Mark Noonan                 Plumbing Mart President

 

Shoestring Budget, Show-Stopping Results

When planning that perfect kitchen renovation, your mind immediately runs to cost. You need a change. Your kitchen is outdated, it’s not functional, or you simply want to get out of your rut. But, you don’t have the money for a full overhaul. You think all hope is lost and you will be stuck in that dreadful kitchen until your savings account catches up with your vision. Luckily, there are many low-cost ways to update the look of your kitchen without breaking the bank.

Cabinetry. When envisioning a kitchen renovation, the first thing one thinks of is changing the cabinets, since they are a large focus of the space. But doing a full cabinet replacement can be very costly, especially when custom cabinets are needed. Fortunately, you can update the look of your entire kitchen with a few simple updates to your existing cabinetry.

  1. Paint over your existing cabinets. Update the colour to create a more appealing colour palette to you.  If going with dark walls, consider a lighter contrasting shade for the cabinets, or conversely, if going with lighter walls consider darker cabinets
  2. Replace the doors on the cabinet. Look into a kitchen supply store to see what options are available that fit your budget.
  3. Change out the cabinet doors for glass fronts. This can be very aesthetically appealing and is a truly beautiful design
  4. Take out the cabinet entirely, or remove the doors, to create open shelving. This is a current hot trend in kitchen design. It creates the illusion of greater depth in the kitchen and opens up the kitchen visually.
  5. Replace the hardware on your cabinets. This is a great option if you are also painting your cabinets. There are many options available to fit any budget, and an area in your renovation where you can look for sales on supplies without compensating on quality.

Painting. Changing the colour can drastically change the entire feel of your kitchen. Pick a colour that suits the tone you want to set in the kitchen. Choosing a palette based on whites and neutrals, for example, are timeless, whereas bolder colours are trendier (which you may update as the trends change).  For a smaller kitchen, avoid colours that are too dark or heavy, as they can make the room appear smaller. For larger kitchens, or kitchens that are a part of an open-concept living space, choose colours that are flows with the space. If your kitchen is a standard sized space – anything goes!

Lighting. Updating the lighting can change the feel of your kitchen. Get rid of fluorescent lights (nothing looks good under fluorescent lights). Add in pendant lighting over work areas, pot lights as accents, and dimmers to bring everything down for meal time. A stylish light in the center of the space, such as a chandelier-light design, can bring it all together.

Backsplash. A great way to change the look of your kitchen is by updating the backsplash. There are many options available today that are affordable, and look great. Because the backsplash is at eye level, it certainly should not be ignored in your design plan. It may be wise to seek out the advice of a professional design consultant at this stage because of the many options that are available. Spending a little money here is worth it in the long run, both for correct installation as well as the correct design choice.

When remodeling your kitchen on a budget, the devil is in the details. Be careful in choosing your design features, colours, and updates you make to create a cohesive feel that brings life to your kitchen.


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Kitchen Space Planning

       By:   Mark Noonan                            Plumbing Mart President

How to make your kitchen work for you; with tips for layout, design and storage.

Before your renovation consultant starts drawing up the plans, before you start hunting for new appliances, and even before you pick your new floor tile, the most important step in good kitchen space planning is an honest assessment of your life. You need to ask yourself what you use your kitchen for, how you use it, and who is going to be using it.

Do you consider yourself a gourmet cook who is going to be preparing elaborate meals? Do you entertain a lot? Do you sit down for family dinners on a nightly basis, or is your family all on a different schedule? Is just one of you cooking, or it is two or more? Do you order take-out more than anything and simply want to revamp your outdated kitchen? These are the kinds of questions you can ask yourself to assess and plan how to best design a kitchen to meet your needs.

Store your tools

If you are the kind of person who cooks very often, you want your kitchen to make it easier for those busy weeknight meals. The tools that you need should be easily accessible. Keeping your oft used pots and pans in a cramped corner cabinet won’t make thing any easier. Consider open shelving instead of traditional cabinets so tools are right at hand. When working on your cabinetry, install large drawers for deep pots, and smaller drawers for utensils and cooking tools. Evaluate what you need and design around that.

 Make it kid friendly

When you are picking materials for the kitchen and if you have kids in the house, a primary consideration should be durability. Choose surfaces that will be able to handle whatever children can throw at them (sometimes literally). Granite or quartz countertops are excellent options as they are incredibly durable. Wood grain cabinets hide nicks and fingerprints better than smooth surfaces such as lacquer.  And don’t forget about the flooring. What is most ideal is something that can be easily cleaned in case any spills should happen, and something that won’t scuff or mark, such as ceramic tile.

Customization for the non-cook

Are you finding yourself opening up a delivery of catered food for your party more often than you are whipping up a meal of your own? That’s ok, and your kitchen can be designed and customized to meet your needs. If you are a frequent entertainer, design a space to serve drinks and hors d’oeuvres, such as a buffet doubling as a rolling island. If you don’t cook very often, skip the expensive range and instead, splurge on an item you are going to get more use out of. So for example, if you’re a coffee lover you can install a custom coffee station in your home, or if you are a wine lover you may consider a stylish wine cooler.

 The kitchen work triangle

The kitchen work triangle is likely THE most important feature to incorporate when designing your space. It should be the centerpiece of your kitchen layout. The goal of the kitchen triangle is to place the three most commonly used work sites in the kitchen (i.e.: the refrigerator, the sink, and the stove) with the most efficient distance apart and to minimize traffic through the work zone. Place any of these tri-parts too far away from each other, and you waste a lot of steps preparing a meal. Place them too close, and you’ve just cramped up your workspace.

The basics of the kitchen work triangle are: each leg of the triangle should be between 4 and 9 feet, the total of all three legs should be between 12 and 26 feet, no obstructions should intersect a leg of the triangle, and household traffic should not flow through the work triangle.

 Don’t forget the small stuff

When planning a big overhaul to design your new kitchen, it is easy to forget the small stuff. But paying attention to details can save you many a headache in the long run. Be proactive when it comes to nooks and shelves. Consider the placement of things such as hooks, outlets, garbage receptacles and switches. Pick a faucet that’s easy to use and will make cleaning the dishes a bit more bearable.

 So remember to ask yourself questions about how you are going to use your space before you design it.  In doing so, not only will you create a beautiful kitchen, but one that is also a breeze to work in.

Big Design, Small Spaces

By Mark Noonan                                    Plumbing Mart President

Small bathrooms can cause a problem to many homeowners. The bathroom is one of the most highly utilized rooms in the home, yet when this small space is poorly designed, it can be a source of daily frustration. Mirror too small? Shower feeling cramped? Knocking your elbow on that protruding shelf?

With many bathrooms in condos and older homes lacking the desired square-footage, using space effectively can pose as a problem to people while remodeling their bathroom. Luckily, a renovation that maximizes the space can create a big feeling in a little space.

Firstly, really think about how you are going to use the space. Careful planning is crucial when designing for small spaces.  When renovating, it is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of design options, but you must always keep in mind that you are renovating a small bathroom – a space that indeed deserves to look beautiful, but also must be highly functional. Focus on function. Think about the traffic flow in the room, sightlines, and efficient use of the space. To maintain a light and open feel try emphasizing the window, use open-legged furniture (for a less heavy feel), and keep a simple and cohesive colour palette.

A simple way to enhance sightlines in your renovation is through a newly popular design option, the stand-up shower. This is created with a custom shower base that is proportional to the room, adding a piece of wall panel, and trimming the entire thing out with luxurious, seamless glass. This design creates an elegant look. By using glass walls without metal bracing the line of sight is maintained, keeping the space looking large. You also won’t miss your large soaking tub. Modern shower fixture design has been upgraded – the luxury of the soak tub has been turned upright and brought into the multiple spray heads and rain showers available in today’s design.

Efficient usage of the small space can be achieved through adding clever storage solutions when designing your renovation. The correct storage solutions can make your small bathroom functionally large. The most effective way to achieve this is by employing vertical storage solutions – tall cabinetry and wall-mounted storage utilizes cubic footage without overtaking precious square footage on the floor. It is also wise, when possible, to consider recessed shelving. Another option may be to consider glass-fronted cabinets that add both design appeal as well as more visual interest to keep the space looking large. Make sure that the storage is carefully planned as to avoid clutter on the countertop, which can make the space appear smaller.

Illusions can be created that trick the eye into thinking the bathroom is larger than it actually is, and the best way to achieve this is by maximizing the natural light in the room. The more natural light let into the room, the larger it will appear. This can also be doubled by having a mirror opposite the window to reflect the natural light. In addition to light from the outside, create light on the inside by using a light, monochromatic colour palette to create a brighter feeling atmosphere.

Never feel like your options are limited when remodeling your small bathroom. From the newest bathing options to storage to careful use of colour, a small space can be made to feel large. So when renovating your small bathroom, keep all of this in mind. Your big ideas do not need to be contained by the small square footage of your bathroom.

 

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Our Top Five Kitchen Tips

By: Mark Noonan                                          Plumbing Mart President

  Planning a kitchen renovation? Take a look at our top five tips to help you plan the perfect kitchen.

  1. Ofeeling to your kitchen – a great solution if you are renovating in a smaller space
  2. Consider a kitchen island. An extra surface in your kitchen can sometimes be a real life saver. Install an island with granite or marble countertop and an undermount sink for extra prep space – or an extra sink to have some hands help you with the dishes. Get a rolling island that can be used as extra seating for guests, or be rolled to the side as a buffet. Don’t think you have enough space? Think again. From rolling to stationary islands, from big to small, there are plenty of options customizable to fit your space.
  3. Create customized storage. Whether you will be installing it in your cabinetry or the kitchen island, consider what you use most in your kitchen, what needs a special space, and determine how you can customize shelving to create a functional space. Upright steel slats create a great place for heavy baking sheets, deeps shelves apen up and use every inch. Instead of upper cabinets, install open shelving in your kitchen so your most-used items are at an easy reach. Not only is open shelving functional, but it also adds a more open and airy re perfect for large bowls, pots and serving dishes, and small cubbies are great for hand towels and small utensils.
  4. Go with glass kitchen cabinets. If you have some beautiful dishware you want to display, glass cabinets installed in the kitchen are the way to do it. With glass cabinets, you create the feel of a piece of furniture in your kitchen, and it can change the dynamic of the typically monotonous wall-to-wall enclosed wooden cabinetry. Also, if you are renovating in a small space, glass cabinetry can help to open up and brighten up your kitchen.
  5. Don’t forget the kitchen sink. When it comes to kitchen sinks, the bigger, the better. If you are going to be cleaning out large pots and cookwear, or have a large load of hand-wash-only dishes to do after a holiday party, you are going to need a big sink to get the job done efficiently. Undermount sinks are also a great option, it makes cleaning a breeze as you can wipe the debris off of the counter right into your sink. When orienting the placement of your workspace in your renovation, place the kitchen sink underneath the window. As much as you may want to forget it, you will be spending at least some time there washing dishes, so why not enjoy some scenery while you’re at it?

5         ½             … And the sink faucet too. High gooseneck faucets make it easy to fill large pots and vases, and to maneuver things in and out of the sink.

 

How to Narrow Down Renovation Choices

By: Mark Noonan                                                      Plumbing Mart President

Modern? Contemporary? Or traditional?

Granite? Tile? Or marble?

Brushed nickel? Pewter? Or copper?

Bathroom remodeling includes a dizzying array of decisions. There are so many options out there when it comes to styles, shapes, materials, and the newest innovative technologies. Because of this, designing your bathroom for your upcoming renovation is both an exhilarating and exhausting experience. To make life a little easier, here are five steps to help you narrow the field and make the best decisions for your bathroom renovation:

1. Evaluate the needs of the bathroom. Do you prefer soaking in the tub or are you more showering type? Do you often need to share the bathroom in the mornings as your family gets ready to go off to work and school? Consider possible users of the bathroom: guests, family members and future owners. Will your new space work for all ages and abilities?

2. Find your style. It’s in the pictures you’ve saved as you’ve been planning your dream bathroom. Bathroom suites of fixtures, faucets and accessories designed together with just the right touches make it easy to feel confident about your product choices. Need help? Bathroom renovation consultants specialize in helping you find your style. They know the products available, and can help execute your vision through design.

3. Open up some space. If you rarely use your bathtub, consider pulling it out and replacing it with a shower to gain more space. A fixed showerhead paired with a handheld showerhead that has multiple spray functions at the touch of a button is a nice little luxury. If you are remodeling to accommodate an elderly or disabled family member, replace your old tub with a comfortable and accessible seated shower, designed to be easily installed within an existing tub recess.

4. Take comfort. Look for vanities at 36 inches high. Most adults find this height more comfortable and convenient to use. Consider toilets that are “right height” designed to be typical chair height at 16 to 17 inches from the floor to the bowl rim rather than the conventional 14 inches. Single-handle faucets with advanced drip-free performance have smooth and easy operation for temperature control. Or, consider newer touch-free faucets. Look for sink and shower faucets with an adjustable hot limit safety stop to reduce the risk of scalding, especially if children will be using the bathroom.

5. Should you go green? First check to see if you get green for going green. Pluming Mart offers a $60 rebate on energy-efficient toilets for the Mississauga area. A good siphonic dual-flush toilet can cleanly and completely flush as much as 2.2 pounds of solids on the high setting, while using as little as 1 gallon of water for liquids. Look for the WaterSense label to assure you’re getting a top performer. Visit www.responsiblebathroom.com to view all the product options.

Planning a bathroom remodel can take time and research, but having a comfortable, stylish and functional bath to come home to can make your efforts all worthwhile. Whether you are seeking a luxurious sanctuary, a space for the kids to get cleaned up in the mornings, or a place to safely and gracefully grow older, it can all be within your reach.


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How a Kitchen or Bathroom Renovation Can Add Value to Your Home

 By:Mark Noonan                                                                               

The kitchen and bathroom are not only the two most important rooms to you while you are living in your home, but they are also the two most important rooms when renovations creates the greatest return on your investment upon resale. But just how much should you expect to invest in a renovation project?

For a kitchen renovation, consider investing between 7.5-10% of the property’s value into the renovation. So if you are living in a $500,000 home, consider spending anywhere from $37,500-$50,000 on your kitchen.

For a bathroom renovation, consider investing between 2.5-5% of the property’s value into the renovation. So, again, for a $500,000 home, consider spending anywhere from $12,500-$25,000 on your bathroom.

The amount of money you choose to spend depends on the use of the space (a powder room renovation would be less than a main bathroom renovation, for example), as well as the quality of goods you wish to put into the space.

In terms of the design features you include in the renovation, consider how long you will be in the home. Strong personal tastes may not be attractive to buyers, but if you are planning on staying in the home for 10+ more years, these options may be more feasible. If you are looking at a shorter time of being in the home, it is best to stay with more neutral feel, something that would be attractive to the widest demographic of buyers.

To maximize resale value, make sure that the renovation is done right. These rooms are where it is most important to hire a professional installer versus the other rooms in your home. Because of the large amount specialty work required (plumbing, electrical, tiling, cabinetry etc), it is best to leave it to the professionals. Professional installers are not only skilled in the trade, but are thoroughly familiar with building codes in order to meet the standards for a home inspection.

All of this being said don’t live and die by the resale value of your home. If there is a design you love, go for it. You are the one living through the renovation and the final product so make sure you love what you have created. Future worth is never a guarantee, so find a harmonious balance between the both personal taste and resale attractiveness.