Did you ever want that incredible showering experience? Well here are some tips, tricks and ideas to making sure the new shower you build will give you the ultimate showering experience.
Shower Heads: Today I find a great shower has two shower heads. A rain or pressured rain style for the upper main is great combined with a multi-function handheld on an adjustable bar. This will allow you to use the handheld for neck, lower back or even a second person.
Body Sprays: For the extreme user wanting a complete wet massage experience, body sprays do it. The most important thing to body sprays is position and this ends up being the greatest error where the end user ends up hating them. Every person has different massage pressure points they like so placement of the heads needs to be measured case by case.
Valves and Controls: At a minimum we always recommend using a valve body that will control temperature and pressure separate. This will allow the user to slow up the pressure if needed without lowering the temperature. The next level is to use a full flow thermo-static valve and separate shut offs for each head/spray. This arrangement will give the best flow and pressure.
Drains: There are more decorative choices to use than the ugly white /chrome round drain. Ebbe makes an inexpensive 4” x 4” drain in nine finishes and many styles. California Faucets makes great looking square drains for around $300. Linear drains come in many configurations, look great and give you the ability to use a larger format tile on the shower floor.
Grab Bars and Seats: Shaving legs, temporary injury or just very tired, grab bars and seats are useful to everyone and are made today in very attractive decorative configurations and finishes.
Steam: I have always been fond of steam especially for people with sinus and breathing issues. If you never tried using steam, find a place to try it out – maybe a gym or hotel. The steam area needs to be vapor proofed prior to tiling, sized to the cubic foot area, sealed off and the steam head should be a safe distance from potential scalding. Always have a drainage pan under the steam unit incase of pressure release or unit failure.
Shower Doors: Frameless, semi-frameless, framed…. they all are there to control water. Frameless on smaller showers leak! If you’re ok with this they do look the best. There are a lot of very cool shower door handles and pulls that the typical shower door company may not offer; check out CRL Laurence for ideas. And last, hydrophobic glass coatings. They won’t clean the glass but they sure will keep it much cleaner than untreated glass.
Lighting: This one doesn’t need much explaining; it totally enhances the experience – just do it! Use LED – most LED recessed lights today are vapor proof, too.
Mirrors, TV and Music: I saved the best for last. To really have a great experience, use tiled-in-wall mirrors and TVs. They initially seem excessive but after having this option you will never enjoy a shower without them again. See electricmirror.com for some great choices. If you’re a music lover, add speakers and music. There are many options from the very inexpensive, $15 Bluetooth that will play wirelessly from your phone, to showerhead speakers to fully built-in systems. Or just add a Sonos speaker in the room, the sound will carry.
Follow one or more of these “Extreme Shower” tips and your showering experience will definitely be enhanced. I think if you follow all 10 of them, you might never leave your bathroom!
One of the toughest and most important decisions you will have to make for your kitchen renovation is the countertop material. This is the most used and abused piece of the job, but also the most satisfying. It will help you keep clean and actually protect your cabinetry. So, let’s talk about some of the more popular choices in our region:
Granite: One of the best materials to date being used. Cost has come down but this material is still a premium compared to laminate. It gives a very natural look and is extremely durable and scratch resistant. There are some concerns with staining, but I have not experienced this at all over the years. I would always recommend sealing the surface periodically and always remember -the darker the material the denser and more impervious it is.
Quartz: Like granite, not only one of the best materials but has also become one of the most popular materials due to its ability to look like granites, marbles and other natural materials while maintaining excellent durability. This material is man-made using a resin and quartz content virtually impervious and stain proof. It has excellent fabrication abilities, too. If you find a style you like you can’t go wrong here. Indoor use only.
Marble: This natural stone has become very popular again even though it is one of the most fragile and easily damaged countertops. It will stain and scratch very easily depending on the choice. Also certain types, like Calcutta Gold, have become extremely expensive.
Quartzite: Some of the most beautiful countertops that I have seen have been fabricated from this material. While it is not as durable as granite, it is still very durable and often has a lot of character and depth to the stones. If you find one you love, don’t be afraid to use it.
Wood: Adding a wood island or other accent to your kitchen can be exciting with its beautiful texture and ability to stain in any color. Wood is not cold to the touch like a stone top and will not handle hot pots or extreme humidity changes. While it is not the most durable, there are some great looks using wood. If you’re not afraid of being careful you can do your whole kitchen with wood. Walnut and Maple seem to be the most popular types.
Ultra Compact/Porcelain: While this material is most likely where the future seems to be headed, these countertops have definite fabrication restrictions. Some come as thin as 1/4 inch thick which does pose some complications with the design, too. Because of its extreme durability and impervious nature, this is the best material to use for outdoor projects.
Other types – Laminate, Concrete, Recycled Materials, Stainless Steel, Soapstone, Solid Surface: These materials are still being used for projects but are not the top choices today in our territory for residential countertops.
So, when planning your new kitchen countertops, I would first make your choice of what style you love and then factor in its durability in your household. I would always shy away from recommending marble or wood in a house with small children, but I have done it and have seen it stay in really good shape. Quartz and granite seem to be the most selected types due to their ease of care, durability and cost. It all depends on how you take care of your countertops. This is an important decision as it will most likely remain in your home for the entire time you live there; make it something you can live with for a long time. Enjoy!
One of the biggest trends today in Residential construction is something we don’t see but definitely makes us feel good, radiant heating. From our Bathrooms to Kitchens to the Entire Home is has become the most requested type of primary and secondary heating today.
Radiant heating systems are nothing new, they have been around for thousands of years, they were even used it to heat the Roman Coliseum back in the gladiator days. Today most radiant systems are using either electric resistance or hot water to create the heat transferred to the radiating mass. This mass is either your floor tile, panels, sheetrock, even your wood flooring. The heat is then transferred to other objects including people which gives a more comfortable control of the room environment as opposed to hot air which warms the air and baseboards/radiators warm the air and objects but as with hot air cause a lot of air movement in the rooms. Radiant systems can be designed and used in floors, walls and even ceilings to heat living spaces.
In bathrooms and kitchens we usually install electric cabling or water tubes under the tiles to create a nice warm floor. Hot water systems have a larger heat mass in the tubes that enable them to be used as primary heat or secondary (there is another heat source in the space) heat systems. Hot water systems do require that you have a hot water source (eg. Boiler, hot water heater) and if placed in a mud floor raise the floor level a lot and in most cases cost more initially. Electric systems are sometimes easier to install, thinner, can be quicker responding and if the heating area is large enough can be primary but most times it is used as a secondary system. Most electric systems come with programmable thermostats that allow the user to precisely tailor their warming needs in order keep costs low. One company’s electric thermostat will actually calculate you electric costs based on KWH you enter. Their system can also be placed in wet areas, shower seats, walls, etc.
It is important to use a professional that understands each system, how to design them properly and guide the homeowner to what is best for them. Today most consumers are finding when planning your new kitchen, bath, basement or even new home, using radiant heat that this hidden aspect of their new project ended up being their favorite piece for years to come. Happy Heating.
Why Radiant Heat? Some of the benefits of Radiant Heat are:
1. Invisible, No radiators, no grills, no baseboards
2. Doesn’t dry the air
3. Feels good on your body.
4. Costs less to run.
5. Healthier living
6. Less air movement, cleaner environment
7. Less heating noise, almost silent
8. Better for allergy sufferes
9. Warm feet mean a warm body
10. Your pets will love it, too!
I think most of the kitchen design that I do and teach is that most good design comes from the people it is being designed for. You and your husband both probably have good reasons for wanting either choice so I’ll just give you some general rules I use to help guide my customers.
1. What is the height of the users?
2. Are we going to have cooking (hot surfaces) on the island?
3. Will the space be used for food preparation?
4. Will you layout buffet style food on special occasions?
5. Does anyone that might use them have any ailments that could limit them?
6. Do you have a dog that can steal food from your counters?
These are just a few questions to ask yourselves that might help guide you to your best layout. As for my 2 cents, most times a single level island is a more user friendly set up in general. It offers larger uninterrupted space, easier for kids and seems to allow everyone to use all 4 sides better. You need to work with a good designer that listens to the needs of their customer and helps guide them.
A lot of clients come to me questioning the higher end appliances and service issues. I think the first thing to remember is all mechanical items will require service calls, hence warranties. From my experience all levels of appliances have their issues I think that when people spend 3 or 4 times on a high-end appliance they might voice their complaints that much more when something goes wrong. What high-end appliances do offer besides the name tag are better quality components, more features, nicer designs, and superior integration. I always assimilate it to shopping for a car, make sure you fit the car with the driver, because it might cost as much, lol!