Family Expands Its Living Space With a Backyard Cottage

Photos by Kaan Ozturk

ADU at a Glance
Who lives here: A blended family of six
Location: Arlington, Virginia
Size: 513 square feet (48 square meters); 27 by 19 feet
Designers: Harrison Design (architecture) and Erica Peale Design (interior design)
Contractor: Dasha Cunningham of FineCraft Contractors

The homeowners, with their newly blended family, were looking for a way to add extra space to their home. After they decided refinishing the attic presented too many engineering challenges, they were inspired by some neighbors who recently had added an ADU to their backyard. The neighbors referred their architect, Mark Hughes, to them and Hughes recommended FineCraft Contractors to build it.

Interior designer Erica Peale was already helping the couple blend their styles inside the main house, so the scope of her work expanded to the ADU, where she helped them choose finishes, lighting and furniture. “We have small lots here in Arlington, but the trees around this spot make the ADU feel like a sanctuary in the garden,” Peale says.

While the main house is transitional in style, the couple wanted to do something different in the ADU. “They love Colorado and the Rocky Mountains and wanted mountain modern style out here,” Peale says. “I wanted to do that in a way that would not look out of place here in Virginia.” She and her clients used Houzz ideabooks to share ideas. Then the designer focused on elements such as rustic wood, leather upholstery, contemporary light fixtures and cowhide to achieve the look. Another element that brings in a more rugged feel and a range of colors is the slate floor, which continues from a small patio outside through the interior.

Originally the homeowners wanted the ADU to serve many purposes — entertainment space, guest house, kids’ hangout space and a little home-away-from-home. The bar makes a great serving spot during backyard gatherings, and there’s a TV mounted on the wall behind it. During construction, the couple decided they wanted to add a loft space, and after the pandemic hit, they realized a workspace would also be a great addition out here.

Wall paint: November Rain, Benjamin Moore

Peale found a sofa that pulls out into a king-size bed, which transforms the ADU into a guest house. She knew the walnut side tables and glass lamps from the couple’s existing belongings would work well with the mountain modern scheme. She chose a modern coffee table with a walnut base that matches the side tables.

Peale realized they’d need a hardworking rug in the high-traffic area. “I chose polyester because people will be moving from indoors to out a lot and because kids tend to have muddy feet sometimes,” she says. “Polyester is really durable and relatively inexpensive. I could not believe how luxe it looked, and it pulled all the colors out here together.”

The license plate artwork was the husband’s, and his wife was not at all excited about hanging it in the main house. “The style of this building was more his vision, so I had it framed and hung it out here,” Peale says. She also added a cowhide to the wall to reference Colorado’s ranches.

FineCraft Contractors installed a mini-split system for cooling and heating. The unit is located above the license plate artwork.

The bar includes a small sink and a beverage fridge. The countertop is Charcoal Soapstone quartz by Silestone.

Large sliding doors and a transom overhead compose a wall of glass that lets in the light. It also provides lovely garden views and a visual connection to a round patio with a fire pit. The siting of the ADU creates an easy flow back and forth from the bar area to the patio.
The mix of textures on the ceiling adds interest. V-groove paneling and cedar faux beams add to the rugged mountain modern look.

Ceiling paint: Iron Mountain, Benjamin Moore

During construction the pandemic hit, and the homeowners realized they needed as much work-from-home and homework space as possible. “They originally planned to have a chair and a floor lamp here so they could use it as a little reading area,” Peale says. With the leafy views outside the window and the cozy alcove feeling provided by the loft, Peale knew it was the perfect spot for a workspace.

She found a wooden desk and leather desk chair that worked well with the design scheme. She also selected a pendant light that adds a contemporary touch. The clean look of the desk is versatile. “I chose a console-style desk so that when they have people over they can move the desk chair and use it to serve food,” Peale says.

“The loft was something the couple came up with about halfway through the project,” project coordinator Dasha Cunningham says. A steel ladder offers access. It has flat rungs and comes out at an angle to make it easier to climb. The contemporary railing matches the ladder’s metal and has steel cable wires. And the cedar matches the wood of the ceiling beams.

The loft has a cozy treehouse feel that makes it a great reading spot and a fun fort for the kids. It also serves as extra sleeping space. A nook for books includes an outlet for charging devices.

The ADU has a full bathroom that’s a mix of rugged and elegant. It measures 5 feet, 6 inches by 9 feet, 2 inches.

A clear glass shower enclosure makes the compact bathroom feel more spacious. It also opens up the view of the pretty veining on the shower tiles.

Timing was everything for this newly blended family of six. FineCraft Contractors completed construction on an accessory dwelling unit, or ADU, in its Arlington, Virginia, backyard just as the pandemic hit. With four children in the household, some extra getaway space improved life as the family members adjusted to working and schooling from home. The new building they call their casita includes a bar and entertainment lounge, a full bathroom, office space and a loft. The sofa in the lounge converts into a king-size bed, allowing the casita to serve as a guest house as well.

This content was originally published here.


A Step-by-Step Guide to Designing Your Bathroom Vanity

1. Settle on a Layout

Before you decide on colors, finishes and fixtures, you have to know where your vanity is going and how big it’s going to be.

A galley layout includes two vanity spaces separated by a pass-through. Each of these spaces can include sinks, or you can use one space to wash up and the other for seating.

Many bathrooms feature horizontal vanities with one section of cabinetry. These vanities are efficient and take full advantage of available storage and counter space. They also ensure clean lines and a streamlined bathroom design.

Homeowners also may choose L-shaped vanities, particularly in master bathrooms. While they don’t always maximize space (corners are seldom efficient), they offer ample leg and arm room, as well as distinct vanity spaces, in bigger bathrooms. Unless they are used in small bathrooms, L-shaped vanities rarely feel cramped.

2. Determine the Number of Sinks

You’ll need to find a vanity style that can accommodate the number of sinks you want.

If they had their choice, many homeowners would prefer double sinks. Unfortunately, there often are space restrictions.

Vanities smaller than 60 inches wide usually have only one sink. The sink can be in the center, to the right or to the left. Your sink cabinet can have drawers or standard cabinet doors.

3. Choose the Style

Once you find the layout that best suits your bathroom and determine how many sinks you want, the next step is to decide on the vanity design. Do you prefer traditional cabinets? An antique furniture piece? A pedestal sink?

If you want traditional vanity cabinets, there are several factors to consider:

  • Do you want a paint or stain?
  • What color do you prefer?
  • What type of door style do you want?
  • Do you want drawers, doors or pullouts?

Vanity cabinets don’t have to be built-ins. Freestanding vanities aren’t attached to any walls and can have open shelving in lieu of closed cabinets. They also can feature furniture-style details.

Another style is a floating vanity, which is mounted to the wall and has open space below.

If you don’t need storage space and are seeking a minimalist design, you can forgo cabinetry and simply install a wall-mounted countertop.

4. Find the Right Countertop

If you’re buying a pedestal sink or restoring an old piece of furniture, you might be able to skip this step. Most other designs, including cabinets and repurposed furniture pieces without a top, will require some type of countertop.

There are a number of materials available, including quartz, granite, marble, laminate, concrete, wood and solid surface.

Quartz and granite are popular choices for bathroom countertops. Both are durable, high-quality materials with designer patterns. Granite needs to be sealed every one or two years because it’s a porous stone.

Softer stones like marble scratch more easily than granite and quartz and have less tolerance for moisture. Wood and laminate don’t always mix well with moisture either, but they may be more budget-friendly than stone.

Keep in mind that repurposed furniture pieces aren’t always able to bear the weight of stone countertops like quartz and granite. Consult a remodeling expert to get specific recommendations for your furniture piece.

5. Pick the Type of Sink

The next step is to determine the type of sink, such as undermount, drop-in, vessel or wall-mount. After that, choose the color and material for your sink, whether it’s porcelain, natural stone or something else.

Undermount sinks are mounted below your countertop with supporting brackets, providing a seamless look. They’re harder to install and usually require a professional.

Vessel sinks sit above your counter. A hole for the drain is cut out from your countertop. There’s more to clean, but vessel sinks give you the option to choose a sink with patterns, designs and custom shapes.

Drop-in sinks are installed inside a cutout in your countertop. These sinks have lips that rest on top of your counter.

It’s time to wrap up your design with fixtures. You may focus most of your attention on your layout and cabinet finishes, but you still need to select your cabinet hardware, faucets, lighting and mirror. Most important, these should be coordinated with the rest of your design and color scheme.

Specifically, you need to make the following decisions:

  • Do you want sconce lights, wall-mounted lighting or recessed lighting?
  • Do you want a built-in mirror or a decorative mirror that you can easily replace?
  • What kind of cabinet knobs and pulls do you want?
  • Do you want a detailed faucet design or something more simple and modern?

An exceptional vanity design requires careful planning and attention to detail. There are plenty of decisions to be made, from the layout and style to the types of sinks and countertops. This six-step process gives you a game plan to follow as you’re working with a designer or other home professional to create your new vanity space.

This content was originally published here.


The Best Low-Maintenance Kitchen Finishes


1. Ceramic and porcelain tile. Kitchens are both wet zones and high-traffic areas, so proper flooring material is key. Ceramic and porcelain tile have moisture resistance that is superior to natural stone or wood (especially porcelain, which absorbs less than 0.5% of moisture when wet). They’re also highly resistant to scratching and staining. Unlike natural stone, you don’t have to seal ceramic and porcelain tile. They also don’t require special cleaners and can handle almost any type of sanitizing agent.

2. Vinyl. Whether it’s planks or traditional sheets, vinyl is well-equipped to handle your kitchen’s worst. Unlike laminate and hardwood, vinyl can handle moisture with relative ease. Its PVC veneer and backing protect against spills and leaks. It’s tough to scratch and stain, and like tile, vinyl cleanup is quick and easy. Water and a mop will remedy the majority of messes. No grout lines is a huge perk, too.

1. Flat-panel doors. Even if you’re not a fan of modern design, it’s worth considering flat-panel doors if your top priority is easy upkeep. The less door detail, the less dust and dirt. Flat panel doors are also easier to wipe down because their surface doesn’t have recesses or raised grooves.

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Medium-Tone Stains

Dark paints and stains show dust particles and fingerprints. White cabinets don’t, but they show just about everything else. While medium-tone stains aren’t immune to wear and tear, they’ll show significantly less mess. They’re also easier to touch up than paints. Choose a wood species that features grains and grooves to help hide stains and scratches. Oak, quarter-sawn oak, hickory and beech are smart options.

Quartz Countertops

This engineered product is one tough cookie. It isn’t foolproof, but it’s about as resistant to scratches and stains as countertops get. You only need a soft cloth and warm water for post-meal cleanup. If you have dried-on stains, quartz will hold up well to common cleaning products like Windex, Clorox and Lysol. The things to avoid? Corrosive chemicals and setting hot pans directly on its surface.

Stainless Steel Appliances

This staple material isn’t without fault. Stainless steel sinks, for instance, can develop a chalky residue around the drain due to hard water. They can also scratch. But overall, they’re highly durable and fairly easy to clean. Black and white appliances can face the same maintenance concerns as light and dark cabinetry.

Satin Paint for Walls and Cabinets

What’s the best low-maintenance paint type for walls and cabinets? It’s a tricky question. In a vacuum, the answer is high-gloss and semigloss paints. But when it comes to painting walls and cabinets, glossy paints can look too shiny and reflect too much light. Therefore, satin paints might be your best bet for easy upkeep and design integrity. They’re not as loud as high-gloss paints, are less porous than flat paints and are still very durable over time. Just be sure to hire a talented painter — satin paints can show brush and roller marks more easily than other types of paint.

Semigloss Paint for Trims and Baseboards

Semigloss paint handles moisture, stains and bumps and bruises exceptionally well, so it’s an obvious choice for kitchens. Wall trims and baseboards are common applications for semigloss paint. You don’t have to worry about sacrificing aesthetics for maintenance.


1. Ceramic and porcelain. Like their flooring counterparts, ceramic and porcelain tile backsplashes are virtually maintenance-free. Most options feature a protective glaze that resists stains and doesn’t require any sealing (there are exceptions, of course). These two nonporous materials excel at water resistance, too.

2. Glass. Though glass backsplashes are more likely to show grease and food splatters than ceramic and natural stone, they’re super easy to wipe down thanks to a smooth surface finish. You can also ditch grout lines altogether with solid-glass sheets.
Window Coverings

1. Vinyl or composite. These include both blinds and shutters. They’re nonporous, scratch-resistant, perform well with moisture and can be cleaned with a variety of products. Avoid wood products in wet zones, such as a window above your sink. Wood will warp if left wet. It can also be tough to remove stains and requires special cleaners. Keep in mind that shutters might require more care than blinds, since they trap dirt and allergens inside your window and their decorative frames tend to collect dust.

2. Machine-washable fabric. Fabric window shades such as roller shades, cellular shades and Roman shades generally aren’t the best choice for kitchen windows. They’re susceptible to staining, especially lighter designs. Many options need to be dry-cleaned, which makes it harder to treat stains. However, some curtains and fabrics are machine washable. Always check the product’s cleaning recommendations.


1. Brushed nickel. This finish has what it takes to survive in a kitchen. It’s easy to clean and has a long-lasting finish. Its matte finish hides water spots and fingerprints well. Unless you want to constantly scrub water spots, steer clear of similar options with shinier surfaces, such as chrome.

If you want to cut down on the time it takes to keep your kitchen spick and span, you should take a closer look at your finishes. From flooring to hardware, the materials you select can tack on extra time to your cleanup routine. Wondering which options cut down on dusting, scrubbing and wiping? Here’s a list of easy-to-maintain finishes.

This content was originally published here.


Kitchen of the Week: Bright and Balanced Modern Farmhouse Style

A Texas couple works with a design team to turn a dark and dated kitchen into a light and fresh family space

This content was originally published here.


Yard of the Week: Outdoor Rooms With a Golf Course View

Before: The existing backyard had a basic patio, a small deck located off the homeowners’ bedroom on the left and a brick patio that was in bad shape on the right side of the house.

After: The scope of the project included a light makeover of the home’s exterior along with the landscape renovation. The exterior work included applying fresh paint that matched the walls in the landscape and installing new railings, gutters and downspouts in black. King had his clients use Houzz ideabooks to share inspirations for both the overall feel they were trying to accomplish and specific elements they wanted to incorporate.

He created a series of outdoor rooms across the back of the house. On the left is a private deck off the homeowners’ bedroom. On the right is a dining area. A large outdoor lounge with a fire pit is in the center. In the side yard around the corner is a deck with a convenient bar, a shaded TV lounge area and a hot tub. The French doors in the center of the house lead to the kitchen, dining and family room areas, which are all part of one open space.

“When it comes to plantings, we like to plant in masses. Otherwise it can look like a hodgepodge. The homeowners were open to it,” King says. For example, a massing of coral bells (Heuchera ‘Obsidian’) softens the edges of the lounge patio and brings in a big splash of deep purple color.

Before: There was a small deck with a railing located off the homeowners’ bedroom. It was disconnected from the rest of the yard.

After: Now the sitting area is larger and has a strong connection to the yard, thanks to the steps and the path. Cobblestone-like pavers lead to the other outdoor rooms. King used pavers in light to medium gray tones throughout the yard.

He used Trex Transcend decking in other areas around the yard to protect mature trees. Decking was the least disruptive type of covering to their roots. Here he cut the deck around an existing eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis). He allowed for potential growth when cutting the holes for the trees.

Saving the mature trees and working around them was a top priority in the design. “The ash tree in the center serves as the heart of the yard, and it was important to protect it,” King says. The trees were one of the most important assets in the backyard — they provide beautiful forms, foliage and shade.

King designed brick walls around the ash tree to highlight it. The trick was doing this in a way that protected its root systems. In this region, the standard practice is to build masonry walls with footings that extend down below the frost line. “If we had dug a 30-inch trench around this tree we would have severely compromised the health and stability of the tree,” he says.

Instead, they placed a pier footing in each of the corners of the walls seen here. “From each pier footing, a steel beam suspends over the root system, allowing the brick wall to float over the existing roots. This greatly reduced disturbance and overall damage,” he says. The wall anchors the tree within the design and provides seating. To highlight the tree even further, King filled the area with a mass of ‘Stella de Oro’ daylilies (Hemerocallis ‘Stella de Oro’). “These create a very low grassy ground plane and hold the yellow bloom throughout the summer,” he says.

King matched the brick profiles on these walls to those on the house and then used the same white paint on both. He capped them in 3-inch rough-cut limestone. They also installed electrical outlets and lights in the brick walls around the landscape. The outlets were installed so Christmas lights could be set up in the trees.

A paved walkway off the French doors makes it easy to bring food from the kitchen to the outdoor dining area. A large umbrella provides extra shade. The umbrella is built in and has a large footing. It’s adjustable, so the homeowners can move it to block the sun as the light crosses the yard.

Beyond the dining area is a lower lounge that makes the most of the golf course views.

To center the lounge patio off the tree and its walled surround, King added a wide pathway of pavers on the right side. “This broke up the patio a bit,” he says.

The trees along the fence are Firebird Sargent crabapple trees (Malus Sargentii ‘Select A’). They will add white blooms and red berries to the yard as the seasons change.

“This fire pit is really cool. The company that makes it, Nisho, is a Colorado company,” King says. “It is an all-concrete unit that has a clean look and fits into this design very well.”

Just around the corner from the dining area is another deck that extends along the side yard. A bar is convenient to the dining area, a second lounge area and the spa.

Before: The French doors lead to the kitchen, dining and family room area. “On the south side of the house, the roots from two mature linden trees had destroyed the brick patio. It was like a rollercoaster out here,” King says.

After: Kingused decking in this area to protect the trees’ roots and prevent another rollercoaster scenario. “If we had used pavers, we would have destroyed the roots, or the roots would eventually have destroyed the patio,” he says. He left extra room in the holes for any potential growth.

The space contains a bar, a lounge and a hot tub. At the time this photo was taken, the homeowners planned to install a TV across from the outdoor sofa.

The walls around this private side patio are original to the home. The team repaired and painted them to match the house and the other brick walls in the landscape.

Before: The scope of the project included the entire property and the home’s exterior. King made sure the design from the street to the back end of the property was cohesive. “We are site architects who look at the entire property as a whole,” he says. In front, this included the driveway, the entry courtyard, the exterior of the home and the rest of the landscape.

One problem was the driveway. When anyone else parked in it, the homeowners couldn’t drive into or pull out of the garage.

After: King reconfigured the driveway to include a parking area along the right side that didn’t block the garage. Using concrete instead of pavers for most of the driveway kept him within the budget. He was able to add a paver border and apron in the same cobblestone-like pavers he used out back. For a more attractive look on the concrete portion of the driveway, he recommended a sandscape finish, which creates a sand texture.

King took care to preserve another spectacular mature tree, a multistemmed beech. A mix of spreading English yews (Taxus baccata ‘Repandens’) and creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia) adds color beneath it.

Before: The home had a charming existing courtyard. But it looked a bit tired and didn’t have any space for sitting and interacting with neighbors.

After: King spiffed up the courtyard with a new, more streamlined brick and limestone wall that matches the walls in the back. He used the cobblestone-like pavers to create a patio with a sitting area.

The new large shrubin the courtyard is a ‘Limelight’ panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’). He used the massing strategy inside the courtyard patio with ‘All Gold’ Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘All Gold’). The yellow flowers are the same ‘Stella de Oro’ daylilies he used in the backyard.

Before, there had been no connections between the front yard and backyard. In addition to repeating materials and plants, King physically connected front to back with a path. He used bands of the cobble pavers to draw a line between the two. Note the way he centered the bands off the driveway’s paver border.

The pavers lead to a focal point — a wind sculpture that entices visitors toward the back. King planted coral bells (Heuchera sp.) along the path to enhance that connection.

The trees along the right side are Crimson Spire oaks (Quercus robur x alba ‘Crimschmidt’). They are tall and narrow trees that hold onto their leaves until spring, providing year-round interest.

These homeowners had a beautiful view of an adjacent golf course from their backyard and some fantastic mature existing trees. But their outdoor spaces were uninviting. “This was an old, tired backyard with a basic little patio and no real space for outdoor living,” says landscape designer Jayson King. He created a series of thoughtful outdoor rooms in their backyard while preserving the mature trees. In front, he reconfigured the driveway, renovated the entry courtyard and planted shrubs, trees and ground covers to create connections between the house and the yards. By looking at the site as a whole, King developed a cohesive design for the property.

This content was originally published here.


Houzz Tour: City Couple Take Their Urban Style to the Country

“After” photos by Tony Soluri

Houzz at a Glance
Who lives here: Jill and Michael Maremont and their dog, Oscar
Location: Michiana Shores, Indiana
Size: 3,300 square feet (307 square meters); four bedrooms, 4½ bathrooms
Designer: Scott Dresner ofDresner Design

This exterior shot makes it easy to see why the Maremonts were drawn to the home. Large windows provide expansive views to a beautifully landscaped lot full of trees, while a deck and patio provide lots of outdoor living space. And the house is only a 20-minute walk from the shores of Lake Michigan.

Before: The first floor has an open plan that combines the kitchen, dining area and great room. The Maremonts love to entertain and were excited about the potential of the large, open space. But they weren’t fans of the yellow tones in the trim and flooring.

Jill Maremont worked closely with Dresner, whom she’d worked with before. “Scott is the master planner of all planners. He helped us carve out spaces for living and for specific tasks in the kitchen, which was not a very large space,” she says.

After: White paint highlights the leafy views and creates a bright and clean modern look. “When I first come to a new space, I look around and listen to my clients about what they need. And I also think about what I would like if this were my home,” Dresner says. “Then I can envision the solutions.”

One solution was avoiding the expense of replacing the existing yellow floors. Dresner hired H&M Flooring Design to refinish them with a warm gray stain. “The floor refinisher was a true artisan. He mixed a lot of samples for us throughout the process to make sure it was just right,” Maremont says. “They look incredible now.”

“The fireplace wall was the most crooked wall in Indiana,” Dresner says. He had the existing fireplace surround demolished, then added drywall and an asymmetrical concrete hearth. The white surround draws the eye to the firebox and makes a great backdrop for some of the couple’s art pieces. Sculptures like the Nigerian crowns on the hearth, vintage pieces and sculptural furnishings stand out in the white space. The dining room light fixture, sculptures and curvy chairs are highlights too.

Before: More yellowish wood, along with black countertops and backsplash, darkened the kitchen corner. Ocher paint on the staircase wall made everything look extra yellow. The island was L-shaped, and the countertop had some angles.

Luckily, the existing Pella windows and doors were high-quality and in great shape. This was a big budget saver and allowed the couple to put their money into new finishes.

After: Dresner made the dining room part of the kitchen. He continued the same finishes across the entire wall to tie the two spaces together. He also built a long shelf that continues over the screened-in porch’s doors to connect the cabinets in both spaces.

“We cook a lot and entertain a lot, so a kitchen island was a must,” Maremont says. “I usually cook and prep, and my husband is the grill master and the dishwasher. The island is large enough to have people sit on one side while we both cook, prep and wash dishes on the other.”

Dresner streamlined the island’s shape and gave it an elegant waterfall counter in white Silestone quartz. “I love the Silestone because it doesn’t stain and I can put hot pans right on it,” Maremont says. “And if someone spills red wine on it, it’s no big deal.” The deep, rich wenge wood adds dark contrast, while the iconic white Bertoia counter stools nod to midcentury modern style. A pop-up outlet is concealed in the countertop.

The designer packed lots of storage and function into the island. It includes one of Maremont’s biggest must-haves: a drawer with room for more than 70 spices, a beverage fridge, slats for baking pans and a microwave drawer.

“Before, the corner between the porch door and these windows was dead,” Maremont says. Dresner livened it up with a built-in coffee bar. The shallow cabinetry houses all of the coffee and tea accoutrements as well as mugs and glassware. It transforms into a wine-and-cocktail bar during parties. The cabinet, countertop and backsplash finishes match those in the kitchen, creating a cohesive look.
This is the couple’s Doberman, Oscar, who is very happy with the move to the country.

Dresner used flat-panel cabinetry with a white lacquer finish to keep things light, bright and modern. Italian company Stosa Cucine fabricated the cabinetry using a material made with recycled plastic bottles. To make the most of the 6-foot-long range wall, Dresner had Avenue Metal Manufacturing fabricate a custom matte aluminum vent hood and open shelves as one piece. “They are unbelievably talented — this is like a piece of art. And the proportions are just right,” Maremont says.

“The artwork on the left is a door from an event I conceived and put together for one of my clients called Another Door Opens. We asked designers and artists to reconcept what a door is and what it could become,” Maremont says. “All the doors were then auctioned off at a big cocktail party for a charity.” Artist Cleveland Dean used a Japanese burning technique called shou-sugi-ban on the door seen here.

Dresner had Italian Statuario Venato marble tiles left over from another job, and the Maremonts purchased them from the homeowners. This saved money over using the same Statuario Venato marble slabs used for the countertops. Dresner painstakingly designed the backsplash to minimize the number of tiles needed, and filled in spaces the tiles didn’t cover with tiles cut from a matching slab.

As for the lighting, “With 30-foot high ceilings, it was tough to get overhead light,” he says. So he installed a custom LED undercabinet lighting system from Hafele, with channels that keep the look clean and even.

“I just love everything about this kitchen,” Maremont says. “I love how beautiful, open, light and bright it is. I love the way it functions for the two of us, I love the way it functions when we entertain, and I love how easy it is to keep clean.”

Before: The laundry room was roomy but had ho-hum finishes.

The console provides a landing strip in the entry, brings in a rich wood color that plays off the kitchen island, and provides a spot for displaying art and other favorite objects. Both the teapot and the art over the landing are heirlooms from Michael’s grandmother.

Dresner preserved the existing staircase railing, which suited the couple’s modern tastes. But he had the stairs and the handrail stained to match the floors.

Before: The couple’s bathroom was the last space they renovated. Waiting allowed them to save up for every luxury on their wish list, including heated floors, a Victoria + Albert bathtub, a Toto toilet, motorized window treatments and a rain shower head with an integrated speaker and LED lighting that they can change to any color of the rainbow.

After: Dresner closed off the existing alcove, disguising it as recessed cabinetry. The closed doors hide the shelves, creating an uncluttered look. He also replaced a large glass block window over the bathtub with clear glass.

A minimalist freestanding bathtub replaces the old tub and its platform and surround. Dresner also expanded the shower stall, getting rid of the odd angle in the enclosure.

The new bathroom vanity wall is a stunner. Dresner designed and built the walnut floating vanity and mirrored medicine cabinets. The vanity has deep vanity drawers with push hardware, as well as lighting beneath it that helps anyone visiting the bathroom in the middle of the night. The long row of mirrored medicine cabinets provides a lot of storage and reflects the light from the windows.

The extra-thick countertop profile shows off the stunning natural stone’s prominent veining. Wall-mounted faucets keep the countertops clear and minimalist.

Jill and Michael Maremont made a big life change when they moved from Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood to a rural setting in Michiana Shores, Indiana. They purchased a contemporary home with an open plan and fabulous windows, knowing it would be great for entertaining and communing with nature. Architectural designer Scott Dresner helped them transform the home’s dated look, making it fresh, bright and clean-lined. The couple took on the project room by room over a four-year period and just recently finished the last phase, their bathroom.

This content was originally published here.


Kitchen of the Week: Creamy White, Rustic Wood and a Pop of Blue

For the most popular kitchen of spring 2021, a designer helped a Texas couple create a bright space full of character

This content was originally published here.


New This Week: 4 Classic Farmhouse-Style Kitchens

1. Warm and Welcoming

Homeowner’s request. “The homeowner was committed to paying homage to their well-loved farmhouse while incorporating the yellow cabinetry they have dreamed about for years,” designer Beka Barski says. “Our intention was to create a clean-lined farmhouse-style kitchen that could have been original to the home — with a little sprucing up, of course.”

Farmhouse details. “The wood beams are surprisingly not original to the kitchen, but they introduce a rustic charm that sings the praises of farmhouse design,” Barski says. “The Shaker cabinets are a classic element of this style as well, maintaining the simplicity that is often predicated by farm life.

“Of course the apron sink is something you often see in a farmhouse kitchen, in addition to the beadboard-wrapped island, open plate rack and the apothecary drawers we incorporated into the hutch area on the left side of the space.

“The homeowner selected subway tile and oil-rubbed-bronze hardware that pair wonderfully with the aesthetic of the design as well. It isn’t visible in the photos, but the island also has an open cabinet with wicker produce baskets, which is attributable to more traditional farmhouse kitchens.”

The island countertop is walnut.

Other special features. “The freestanding wood hood, quartz countertops and top-of-the-line appliances are certainly an upgrade from what is typically shown in an old-fashioned farmhouse kitchen, but they marry into the design all the same,” Barski says. “Similarly, the glass pendants are more modern than the other design elements in the space, though their seeded texture and dark hardware firmly ground them in the transitional style camp.

“One of my favorite features in this kitchen is the sink center. This area was designed so that the raised-panel oak sink base and adjacent three-drawer bases stood proud from the surrounding yellow cabinets, creating a focal point in a space that already has so much visual interest.”

Designer tip. “I am a huge fan of visual balance,” Barski says. “I like to introduce symmetry wherever possible, but without having the design feel too matchy-matchy. The shape of the space we were working with made this an easy task, in addition to the homeowner’s desire to have wooden cabinetry accents. By using stained wood in the sink center as well as the range hood, plate rack wall cabinet and hutch, I was able to harmonize the contrasting colors and materials throughout the kitchen.

“Even the hutch visually mirrors the fridge, which similarly has a darker color than the surrounding painted cabinetry. You can create this balance through a variation in color, texture or style — all achieve the same cohesion.”

Cabinet paint: Hawthorne Yellow, Benjamin Moore

2. Fresh and Functional

Designer: Jamie Ocken of Bearded Builders
Location: Outside Blair, Nebraska
Size: 182 square feet (17 square meters)

Homeowners’ request. “Functionality,” designer Jamie Ocken says. “The space was cramped and closed off from the rest of the home. There was only a small window over the sink looking into the living room. This particular home is located on a farm just outside of Blair, Nebraska, so we wanted to pay homage to the style of the home. They host a lot during the holidays, so opening up the kitchen to the rest of the home really gave them plenty of space for entertaining.”

Farmhouse details. “Vertical shiplap is a simple way to add farmhouse charm without going overboard,” Ocken says. “If you were to look closely at the painted oak cabinetry, you could see an added detail. Painting oak cabinetry allows for you to see the wood grain through the paint. It’s subtle but a strong design element.”

Other special features. Quartzite countertops. American walnut range hood.

Designer tip. “When we enlarged this space, it became a wide space with 8-foot ceilings,” Ocken says. “The vertical installation of the shiplap added additional height and some modernity to the kitchen.”

Sconces: English Pub in antique brass and tarnished graphite, Elk Home; cabinet hardware: Belcastel pull by Jeffrey Alexander, Hardware Resources; faucet: Paterson in matte black, Moen; shiplap paint: Amazing Gray, Sherwin-Williams

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3. Eclectic and Energetic

Designer: Tom Stumpff of Stumpff HomeWorks
Location: Kansas City, Missouri
Size: 160 square feet (15 square meters); 10 by 16 feet

Homeowners’ request.
“As an artist who paints with acrylics, the homeowner is not afraid of color,” designer Tom Stumpff says. “She wanted to mix her classic English cottage taste with bold color choices. She also wanted to use every inch of space available in her small kitchen.”

Farmhouse details. Repurposed antique buffet with custom iron pot rack. Large window with soapstone ledge for plants. Custom alder shelf for displaying items. Red brick backsplash. V-groove car siding on walls. Alcove shelves near the range for storing spices. Soapstone countertops. White oak flooring with clear finish.

Other special features. Cobalt blue range. Tray ceiling. “Built in 1965, the kitchen originally had a 7-foot-6-inch ceiling, with soffits and a small window over the sink,” Stumpff says. “By removing the soffits and adding a tray ceiling, we lifted it an additional 12 inches.”

Designer tip. “Look at every inch of space as an opportunity for use,” Stumpff says. “A couple of inches here and there in a wall or a ceiling can make a huge difference for functional storage and expanding your space.”

Paint: Soft Chamois in satin finish (upper cabinets and walls), Glimmer in satin finish (lower cabinets), Black 2132-10 in flat finish (buffet), all by Benjamin Moore

4. Historic and Heavenly

Homeowners’ request. Renovate a 1720 house while honoring its roots.

Farmhouse style. Antique beams. Brick floor and arch over range. Inset cabinets with custom hinges. Soapstone countertops. Butler’s pantry. Original icebox converted into a refrigerator. Single-pane windows. Unlacquered brass fixtures.

This content was originally published here.


5 Common Bathroom Design Mistakes to Avoid

1. No View Out

No one likes a dark, damp bathroom with bad circulation — it’s no fun spending time in a space like that. If you’re building or relocating a bathroom, try to site it on an outside wall with windows.

2. A Clear View in From Public Rooms

I once worked on a large remodel for which the existing design had a bathroom in the dining room — seems kind of like a conflict of interests, right? Whenever possible, avoid locating the bathroom directly off one of the home’s public rooms — like the kitchen, living room or dining room.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to put in a long hallway, but create some sort of formal separation to break up the line of sight. The last thing you want is to be sitting in the living room with a glass of wine and looking straight into the bathroom at the toilet.

3. Making It All About the Toilet

That leads me to my next blunder: Avoid making the toilet the first thing you see in the bathroom, and avoid any sightlines to it from adjacent rooms. I like to put the toilet and shower in their own room while keeping the sink separate. This allows someone to take a shower while someone else gets ready at the sink. In the bathroom floor plan here, the wall between the two rooms adds only a couple of inches to the overall size of the bathroom but doubles the room’s functionality.

5. Thinking Bigger Is Better

That’s right:Bigger isn’t better; better is better. Whether you’re designing a large master bathroom in your dream home or trying to figure out how to squeeze in an extra bathroom for your growing family, the most important aspect of your new bathroom is that it has a great design that functions efficiently for your specific lifestyle.

The truth is, great design is less about how a bathroom looks (although it’s always nice when it looks fantastic) and more about how it works. Great design translates to a house that functions better, costs less to build, is more efficient to maintain and gets you more for less.

Adding to or remodeling your house is one of the most exciting and creative processes you can go through. But with all that responsibility comes pressure to make informed decisions that will last. How can you make sure to get the right design for your lifestyle, stay within your budget and maximize the return on your investment? Start with a great design for every room in your house — including (or especially) the bathroom.

Bathrooms, whether big or small, should always be well thought out and carefully located, and should function with multiple users in mind. We’re long past the era where there was one bathroom for every three bedrooms in the house, and everyone had all the time needed to use it. Today’s bathrooms need to be beautiful, use space efficiently and serve the users functionally. Avoiding common design blunders, as these rooms nicely do, can help you be happier with your bathroom for the long haul.

This content was originally published here.


Kitchen of the Week: Modern Details Make Entertaining Easy

Photos by John Wilbanks Photography

Kitchen at a Glance
Who lives here: A couple
Location: Bellevue, Washington
Size: 433 square feet (40 square meters)
Designer and builder: Nip Tuck Remodeling, lead designer Allison Scott

“They really wanted a custom, sleek and modern space,” Bettinger says. “They had some interesting and unique requests. They’re both art-forward and art-driven, so everything we did had to combine these needs.” The team delivered a kitchen that combines custom cabinetry, sleek finishes, handy conveniences for cooking and plenty of room for family and friends.

Before: The tiny kitchen was a separate, compartmentalized room sandwiched between a breakfast nook and the dining room. “When I walked in, it was a postage stamp of a kitchen,” Bettinger says. “If it was 10 by 10 feet, that was generous. There was an adjoining dining room, and the area wanted to be one big space.”

In addition to being cramped, the kitchen had dated cabinets and tile counters. It wasn’t conducive to having more than a few people in it at a time.

After: The team removed a wall separating the kitchen from the dining room and took out the cabinets and refrigerator on the opposite side. It installed new oak flooring. It kept a skylight over the sink, which remained in the same location, and enlarged the window. Symmetry was important to the homeowners, so the existing skylights remained lined up over the windows and the French doors, Bettinger says.

The team also delivered on the homeowners’ wish for smooth cabinetry with no hardware. It used a combination of notched cutouts, push-to-open magnets and channels under cabinets to substitute for hardware pulls.

Here’s a view looking toward the area that opened up after a wall of cabinets and the refrigerator were removed. The changes made room for a spacious new island.

Before: Here’s a view from the old dining nook, which included a pass-through to the kitchen.

These floor plans of the kitchen’s previous layout (above) and the remodel plan (next image) show how the space was opened up by combining the nook, kitchen and dining room.

When the design-build team removed the barriers that had partitioned the space, it increased the kitchen’s size by more than 300 square feet.

After: The team installed an induction cooktop, which is powered by electricity and uses copper coils to evenly heat cookware. Glossy elongated hexagonal porcelain tile on the backsplash reflects light and provides a burst of artistic flair. The tile installers used urethane grout on the backsplash to make it easy to clean. Floating shelves made of vertical-grain fir keep fresh items at hand when cooking, and LED lights underneath them further brighten the space.

Cooktop and ventilation hood: Miele; tile: Verdon in Dove, Cepac Tile

The window that was replaced and enlarged offers a view of a creek in the backyard. The designers chose subway tile trim in the window frame to complement the backsplash tile. A stainless steel undermount sink and sleek fixtures that include a hot-cold water filtration faucet round out the modern aesthetic.

Window trim tile: Continental subway in Glossy White, Cepac Tile

The team created a sleek and smooth wall of fir cabinetry with built-in appliances that include a dishwasher, a speed oven and a base oven with a warming drawer, all from Miele. The speed oven combines the features of a full oven with a microwave. Nip Tuck’s cabinet supplier created the wood panel on the dishwasher, leaving room at the top for the controls. The toe kicks were painted a dark color to correspond with the black aluminum window frames and black-framed French doors.

The oven unit includes a warming drawer.

Here are measurements for the cabinetry and appliances on the wall with the sink and enlarged window.

For the island, the designers continued the look of the rest of the kitchen’s finishes with smooth fir cabinetry and a Caesarstone quartz top in Organic White. There’s a spacious work surface, ample storage for tools and appliances, and seating for family members who visit while meals are being prepared.

Appliances are neatly concealed in the island’s slide-out drawers. The team designed the island to be storage-friendly, since some cabinetry was sacrificed to accommodate undercounter refrigerators and freezers, Bettinger says.

Bettinger says the homeowners were adamant about having no traditional tall refrigeration or pantry, so the team opted for undercounter refrigerator and freezer drawers and two built-in beverage refrigerators. Here’s a view of the kitchen’s mix of closed and glass-front cabinetry, with the beverage refrigerators on the left and refrigerators and freezers on the right. The view through the doorway is to the home’s entry.

The owners use one of the beverage refrigerators for condiments and the other for beverages.

Beverage refrigerators: True

A cabinet with a coffee station and open shelving and cabinet above it for drink supplies contains the double-drawer refrigerators on the left and freezers on the right.

Refrigerators and freezers: Sub-Zero

The pull-open refrigerator (left) and freezer (right) drawers have plenty of capacity for daily food needs, Bettinger says.

The dining area of the kitchen fulfills the homeowners’ wishes for a more functional space. Before the renovation, for large family gatherings they would have to drag the dining table into the living room. Now the entire table fits in the kitchen. A table-height bar counter of PaperStone, a stone-like product of recycled paper and resin, runs under the original dining room window and is a multifunctional spot used as a desk for puzzles and projects, as well as extra seating and a buffet when entertaining.

The transition from kitchen counter to the black bar visually signifies a change in function, but the areas still tie together. “We had to find ways to make it look like it was one space,” Bettinger says. “That’s why the countertop drops, why the color stops, so we could find a place to stop the kitchen.”

Bettinger got to experience the benefits of the new kitchen at a dinner party the owners hosted right before the pandemic shut things down. “Everybody was sitting at chairs around the island and fresh food was out,” she says. “It was about bringing people into their home, saying, ‘Let’s cook together.’ It was about wanting to share their home and food with others.”

Wall paint: High Reflective White, Sherwin-Williams

This content was originally published here.