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12 Ways to Promote Wellness Through Home Design

1. Eliminate Tripping Hazards

Jamie Gold is a certified kitchen designer, a Mayo Clinic-certified wellness coach and author of the book Wellness by Design: A Room-by-Room Guide to Optimizing Your Home for Health, Fitness and Happiness. In her book, safety is an important aspect of staying well at home. This includes making sure contractors are licensed and that they build up to code, choosing nontoxic materials and minimizing the chances of an at-home injury.

“Eliminating the possibilities for falls at home is crucial,” Gold says. Some of the biggest tripping hazards around the house include loose area rugs, cords, shoes, bags and pet bowls.

2. Create a Landing Zone

To minimize tripping hazards, Gold recommends creating a spot where everyone in the household has a specified place to put their outside-world things away before entering the rest of the home. She prefers to take her shoes off and put on house shoes. This prevents tracking germs inside. In addition to a designated place for shoes and a place where people can sit and put them on, she also recommends having a spot for everything you need to grab before heading out of the house, including coats, bags, phones, sunglasses and keys.

“We are always time-pressured to find things like a backpack, sports equipment or keys before leaving the house,” she says. Staying well-organized means not only not tripping over these things, but also saving time and preventing the frustration and stress that come from frantic last-minute searches when you’re trying to get out the door.

3. Declutter

Another way to stay organized is by getting rid of things you don’t need or that don’t bring you joy. “Start by focusing on what’s needed for the space for functionality, and by looking at what’s getting in your way,” Gold says.

This doesn’t mean you have to clear out all of your favorite objects. It means editing them down to the things that make you happy and having designated display spots for them. In this living room by CAVdesign, wall-hung shelves and drawers keep books, sculptures, photos and other objects neatly corralled.

4. Set Up Your Kitchen for Healthy Meal Prep

Gold is also a big advocate of promoting preparation of healthy foods in the kitchen. This means an uncluttered and hygenic space that functions well for meal preparation. Some of her suggestions include maintaining clean and clear countertops; creating designated zones for prep, cooking and cleanup; incorporating a steam oven or combi oven into your kitchen to help keep the nutrients in your food; and keeping small appliances you’ll need for healthy meal prep, like a blender for smoothies, close at hand.

Another way to promote healthful eating at home is to keep your food well-organized and easy to access. Use clear glass containers to organize food in the fridge, and make sure everything in your pantry or food cabinets is easy to see and access. The easier it is to see and reach the healthy food, the easier it is to grab it for a snack or for it to inspire a menu.

5. Create Connections to the Outdoors

Promoting wellness at home has brought about a relatively new standard for buildings and designers. The International Well Building Institute offers the WELL Building Standard, which focuses on “features of the built environment that impact human health and well-being,”as well as a WELL-accredited professional certification for designers.

Laura Britt is a WELL-certified interior designer who helped the owners of the Dallas home seen here create a healthy home. She forged strong connections to nature throughout the house. These glass doors off the kitchen allow the couple who live here to enjoy views of their backyard while working at their kitchen island. The room also includes a window seat that looks out on the garden. And the glass doors provide direct access to a deck as well as an edible garden. This makes it easy to gather fresh ingredients for garden-to-table meals.

6. Replace Bathroom Fans

Interior designer Laura Freeman of Merits Design Group has always focused on designing for wellness and is currently studying to become a WELL-certified professional. She gave the bathroom seen here a light remodel but says the most important move she made was replacing the fan. “This house was 24 years old, and so was its bathroom fan. Older fans are ineffective and don’t extract allergens and moisture like they should,” she says. “It’s so easy for mold to build up. Even a subtle amount can create poor indoor air quality.”

In general, Freeman recommends fans that are Energy Star-rated and have a CFM (the amount of air movement measured in cubic feet per minute) of 80 or higher. “I like specifying the Broan-NuTone light-and-fan combo units — as a combo it provides a cleaner look in the ceiling, especially in small bathrooms,” she says.

7. Incorporate Biophilic Design

Interior designer Shannon Ggem thoroughly studied how design can affect health in health care-related settings. Then she worked on two self-contained room types for immunocompromised children undergoing lifesaving treatment, and for their accompanying family members, for the Los Angeles Ronald McDonald House. She is also a speaker on biophilic design for the National Kitchen and Bath Association.

Biophilic design is based on the idea that people have an innate tendency to seek connections to nature. Because we spend so much time indoors, bringing organic materials, shapes and colors that remind us of nature to interiors helps us feel connected to the natural world. In the bedroom seen here, Ggem used natural colors and fibers to promote wellness. For example, the cotton velvet settee is a deep leafy green.

A fiddlehead fig adds a natural element to the corner of the room and helps with air filtration. The homeowners also wanted wall-to-wall carpeting in the bedroom for sensory purposes — softness under their feet and sound control. “This carpeting is 100% wool, which is natural and which humans have figured out how to keep clean for many years,” Ggem says.

8. Design a Bedroom for Relaxation and Peace

A good night’s sleep is so important to maintain good health, so make your bedroom a relaxing sanctuary. Gold recommends mitigating any light in the bedroom that can affect sleep. Whether the illumination comes from a streetlight, a floodlight or passing cars, she suggests using blackout shades or blackout-fabric-lined drapes to help ensure a good night’s sleep.

Ggem emphasizes the importance of maintaining natural circadian rhythms, which can be interrupted by indicator lights. These are the small lights on things like surge protectors, air filters and clocks. She recommends covering them with electrical tape to keep them from affecting sleep patterns.

9. Replace Fake Plants With Real Plants (or Nothing at All)

While fake plants can provide some of the good feelings of biophilia, Freeman advises her clients to get rid of them. “Fake plants harbor so much dust and allergens. Unless you’re constantly cleaning them, it’s impossible to keep the air quality clean with them around,” she says. While she’s all for real plants and the air filtration they can provide, she knows some people just can’t keep up with maintaining them. “Getting rid of fake plants still improves the current air quality by eliminating of all that dust,” she says.

10. Use Nontoxic Fabrics and Foams

When buying new pieces of furniture or accessories like rugs, do your research on materials. Part of creating a home that promotes wellness is choosing nontoxic furnishings. For the home seen here, the owners both worked in the health care field and were very aware of how many toxins could be brought into a home through furniture and finishes. They hired Britt to outfit the home to the WELL Building Standard.

“We were extremely diligent in designing with nontoxic materials to lessen the toxic load in the space. All furnishings were carefully vetted to ensure they were healthy and didn’t bring toxins into the home,” she says. Toxins include heavy metals, formaldehyde, PVC and volatile organic compounds.

For example, all the rugs in the house are woven from organic materials, including jute, cotton, wool and silk. And not only are the upholstery fabrics organic and free of carcinogens, but the cushions they cover are made of formaldehyde-free foam and down.

11. Set Up a Clean, Safe and Comfortable Workspace

During the past year and a half, more people than ever have found out what it’s like to work from home. And many have learned that the spaces they had to haphazardly set up are giving them aches and pains.

“The ergonomic aspects of an office include an adjustable chair, setting the keyboard position and having a phone that functions well on speaker or headphones,” Gold says. “If you’re working with paper, you’ll need good light. Lighting includes natural, task and ambient light.” She also notes that while natural light is wonderful to have in a workspace, you’ll need to place your screen out of the way of any annoying glare, or add window coverings to eliminate it.

Also, an office can tend have a tangle of hazardous cords. Plan accordingly with furniture placement or outlets in the floor to avoid tripping hazards.

Because sitting all day has been declared the new smoking, Gold recommends preventing sedentary days. A yoga ball in lieu of a desk chair or an adjustable standing desk like the one seen here can help. “I also recommend ‘dancing between drafts.’ After I finish a task, I like to turn the music up and dance like nobody’s watching and hope that no one is,” Gold says with a laugh. “I also like to walk around the room when I’m on the phone.”

12. Create Calm Spaces

Calm spaces provide balance. This includes balance between colors and elements and mirroring two sides of the room to create symmetry.

“Bilateral symmetry is familiar to us because so much of nature has bilateral symmetry. For example, think of how you can fold certain leaves in half and they are the same on both sides,” Ggem says. “Human beings respond positively to bilateral symmetry because of nature.” Bringing this kind of familiar and neatly organized balance to a room’s layout helps make it calming.

Designing for wellness at home means creating spaces that are good for physical and mental health. It incorporates everything from improving air quality to using textures, materials, colors, shapes and furniture layouts that ease anxiety and make us feel closer to nature. Here experts weigh in, offering advice on how people can promote wellness at home. While there are many elements to take into account when building a new home, from the foundation through the roof, this list focuses on helping renters and homeowners alike with small, doable adjustments.

This content was originally published here.

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Epiphany Kitchens – Northville, MI, US 48167 | Houzz

Epiphany Kitchens. “We are a small Kitchen and Bath remodeling company located in Northville, MI. We carry 3 lines of Michigan made, affordable, custom cabinets. We…

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Houzz Tour: Modern Farmhouse Rises From the Ashes

Photos by Svetlana Igolkina of SVIphotography

House at a Glance
Who lives here: A couple who often host extended family
Location: Napa Valley, California
Size: 3,550 square feet (330 square meters); four bedrooms, three bathrooms
Interior designer: Jane Ellison
Architect: David Rulon
Landscape architect: Chris Hedberg

The couple hired architect David Rulon to design a home with distinctive Napa Valley industrial modern farmhouse style. “David Rulon worked for architect Howard Backen for years. And Backen was the architect who came up with this look and designed local wineries in this fashion,” Ellison says. “It was quite a departure from their former tract house that had burned down.” Rulon designed the home and Ellison helped the couple tweak it to suit their style and function for their needs. Also, the new home was built to new California codes for fire safety and resilience.

Exterior gutter and metalwork paint: Urbane Bronze, Sherwin-Williams; front door paint: Kendall Charcoal, Benjamin Moore

One of the tweaks Ellison worked out with her clients was this arched and trellised entry that lends the local modern industrial farmhouse style. “We wanted to follow a feng shui principle of a sense of transition between outdoors and in,” she says. That transition begins at the arch and continues into a small entry courtyard. Local company Wyatt Studio completed the metalwork.

The transition from outdoors continues into a compressed entry. Ellison had the walls and ceilings painted a warm brown to create a cozy feeling and to highlight the beautiful Logico light fixture and a piece of her clients’ artwork.

The front doors have reeded glass panes that let in natural light while providing privacy. To the right is a refrigerated wine room and a coat closet. On the left Ellison chose a bench that also serves as a sculpture. “These clients have a wonderful art collection that they have collected on their travels,” she says. “And they are so great to work with because they aren’t afraid to take chances.”

Ellison helped them integrate their existing art pieces into the home and to source new furniture. They used Houzz ideabooks to share ideas and shopped in the Houzz Shop for furniture.

Wall and ceiling paint: Eagle’s Meadow, Kelly Moore Paints; trim paint (throughout the house): Cloud White, Benjamin Moore

The compressed foyer, seen here on the left, leads directly into the main public areas of the house. “Walking from the entry with its warm color and lower ceiling into this large, light and vaulted room is dramatic,” Ellison says. The main gathering spaces are open to one another underneath a soaring ceiling. The trusses, ceiling paneling and long clerestory along the peak of the roof that Rulon designed add to the industrial modern farmhouse look.

“This kind of clerestory is great for Napa because skylights can make things too warm on hot days,” Ellison says. “This clerestory design lets the light in from the sides, which controls the heat.”

She used warm colors for the furniture, rugs and accessories. “There are a lot of cool whites and grays on the ceiling and the walls. I like to balance warm and cool tones together so it’s not too sleek,” she says.

Wall paint: Pale Oak; Benjamin Moore

The metal fireplace and surrounding bookshelves anchor the living room end of the space. Wyatt Studio hand-rubbed the metal fireplace surround with a chemical to give it a mottled patina. The built-ins surrounding the fireplace include cabinets and display shelves with lighting inside, as well as quartzite countertops that match the bar and kitchen counters.

The house has two wings off either end of this large, open area. The primary suite, guest bedroom and children’s sleepover bedroom are in the wing beyond the fireplace. To the left, large glass doors open fully to a covered outdoor lounge and dining area. They also provide views to the backyard.

A dynamic light fixture delineates the dining area. “The light fixture works well because it’s like a mobile. It’s fun and playful and has a lot of movement,” Ellison says. “It draws the eye as soon as you walk into the room.”

She and her clients did a lot of the sourcing and shopping together. “I just love these clients because they aren’t afraid to take risks. On our search for chairs, the wife fell in love with this fabric that’s kind of a global mix between ikat and a flamestitch. She has a great eye,” Ellison says.

The 108-inch-long wood dining table has a live edge and a sculptural wishbone-like brass base that plays beautifully off the light fixture. “We needed a really long dining table to stand up to the scale of the space,” Ellison says.

She designed a special beverage bar off one end of the dining table. It includes a bar sink with a purified-water tap, two refrigerator drawers for beverages, a fizzy water maker and the coffeemaker. This makes it easy for guests of all ages to grab a drink while staying out of the cook’s way in the kitchen.

The bar’s backsplash is composed of Moroccan zellige tileand the countertop is quartzite. These elements add an earthy feel that suits the wine country landscape. The upper cabinetry’s reeded glass doors and interior lights show off the bottles and glassware inside.

Beverage bar shelving: Wyatt Studio

The kitchen recedes nicely into the background with its simple Shaker-style inset cabinetry. The paint on the kitchen cabinets matches the paint on the beverage bar cabinets. Ellison also tied the beverage bar to the kitchen by repeating the zellige backsplash tile and quartzite countertops. The vent hood design is custom. A high window over it brings more natural light into the space.

Just as the large, open space called for a large dining table, it also called for a long island — this one is 10 feet long. Ellison was able to source one long quartzite slab to top it off. She painted the island a darker color, Sherwin-Williams’ Sommelier, for contrast. This creates a nice transition between the dining area and kitchen. It’s also a great paint color name for wine country.

To the left, a hallway leads to a large food pantry. The homeowners also opted to place the microwave in there.

Off the right side of the kitchen is this cozy breakfast room. “I always recommend banquettes to my clients because they are so comfortable. And with how easy laptops make working from anywhere in the house possible, they can serve as spaces for office work and projects,” Ellison says.

The door leads to a covered outdoor eating area. This wing also includes a flex room and the pool bathroom. The flex space is a fourth bedroom. The homeowners mainly use it as a home office and workout space, but it also has a Murphy bed for when they have a full house.

Wall paint: Ancestral Gold, Sherwin-Williams

This full pool bathroom also serves as a guest bath for the flex room and as a powder room. “We had just completed the pool bath before the house burned down, and my clients had loved it. So I was glad I was able to find the same finishes for the new pool bathroom to give it a similar look,” Ellison says.

The finishes they loved so much include a river stone floor tile and large-format digitally printed tile that resembles concrete for the shower walls. It’s a balanced mix of natural and industrial materials.

More natural light comes into the room from a high window over the mirror. The vanity color plays off the colors in the floor tile.

Out on the covered patio, Ellison helped her clients source comfortable outdoor furniture and add bold splashes of color to the space.

“Originally we thought we’d find a ready-made fire pit for the patio, but we couldn’t find one that was a good fit,” Ellison says. So she had the landscape architect, Chris Hedberg, create one from concrete. He also created the planter on the other side of the pool in the same style.

This photo also shows the clerestory over the main part of the house and the windows along the sides that flood the interior with light. Another important element is the long screen that protects the outdoor covered lounge and dining areas. The screen rolls down from a casing electronically.

In the homeowners’ bedroom, they requested a pair of cabinets. Ellison created a window seat and flanked it with the cabinets for a cohesive look. They’re covered in an Italian veneer that resembles white oak. The cabinets are topped with quartzite, bringing a natural element into the room. Ellison also notes that the bedroom wasn’t quite completed on photo shoot day, and one thing she’s still working on is a custom cushion for the window seat.

In addition to the large windows and leafy views, the primary bedroom has a beautiful vaulted ceiling. Its beams lend the modern farmhouse feel. The glass door opens directly onto the covered patio.

Wall paint: Glass, Devine Paint

In the en suite bathroom, a large bathtub enjoys a spot surrounded by windows. There are hidden shades in casings above for privacy when needed.

Ellison encouraged elements that will help the couple age in place in the home. Ample lighting and lever faucets are two of the elements seen here. “Lever handles are easier to use than cross handles, and long drawer pulls are easier on the hands than knobs,” she says.

The vanity has deep drawers for storage and a quartzite countertop and backsplash. To the left is a linen closet with a bronze mesh door, and to the right is a cozy seat. Every bathtub in the house has some sort of bench or seat nearby, making it easy to keep an eye on little ones in the bathtub.

One of the best features is the slim pullout cabinets that flank the vanity. The top areas of these cabinets have outlets for hair appliances, electric shavers and toothbrushes, as well as smaller compartments for makeup. The bottom portions of the pullouts provide space for larger bottles.

More age-in-place elements are seen in the shower: curbless entry, a bench and grab bars. The lighting includes a long light well that runs along the top of the ceiling and washes light down the long shower wall.

One of the doors seen off the shower leads to the water closet, where Ellison installed grab bars disguised as toilet paper holders. Due to past knee operations, these bars are especially handy for one of the homeowners. The other door leads to their walk-in closet.

Note: If you aren’t interested in installing grab bars during a remodel, consider having the contractor create support for them behind the walls and leaving you a map of the locations. This will make it easier to install them in the future.

Gathering with their adult children and their grandchildren is one of the couple’s favorite things about spending time here. They wanted to outfit one of the bedrooms for fun cousin sleepovers for their four grandchildren. Ellison and her clients shared Houzz ideabook photos that inspired this bed configuration. One of the beds has a trundle. The designer also added lights over the beds for reading. The wall opposite the beds has storage for toys and a TV.

The guest room continues the global theme with a bed upholstered in a playful pattern and a colorful area rug. Ellison added reading lights on either side of the bed.

A bathroom serves both guest bedrooms in this wing. On either end of it are two small rooms that contain a toilet and sink, with pocket doors between them and the main part of the bathroom. One of the rooms can be seen at the back of this photo.

Hexagonal floor tiles in earthy colors add a playful touch to the space. Another bench provides a spot to visit with young bathers and provides extra storage.

The guest bathroom also has a tub and separate shower. “During the design phase of the project, we used Houzz ideabook photos for inspirations, especially for the side-by-side tub-shower details,” Ellison says.

The tub surround is composed of porcelain slabs with marble-like veining. The shower walls are covered in a 3D tile. Like the couple’s bathroom, this shower has a light well that runs along the top. “The light well highlights the 3D pattern on this tile beautifully,” the designer says.

Though the couple suffered a devastating loss in the wildfires, the experience made them appreciate gathering with family and friends here in their new home even more.

This content was originally published here.

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What to Plant Now to Benefit Wildlife in Spring

Trees and Shrubs

Once woody plants start to lose their leaves, it’s prime planting season. Oaks (Quercus spp.) are some of the most beneficial trees for various wildlife. Oak leaves serve as food for an incredible number of insect young, and their acorns help many animals through winter. Bur oak (Q. macrocarpa), an eastern and central North American native, is highly adaptable to slightly moist to dry conditions — even on windswept slopes out in the open — in fact, that open space is its most iconic setting. Depending on where you live, there will be at least a few native oaks to choose from for your specific site conditions. If you’re looking for a smaller tree, consider serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.), hackberry (Celtis spp.), buckeye (Aesculus spp.) and redbud (Cercis spp.).

Shrubs provide habitat for native bees and nesting birds, and can give us a bit of privacy as they diversify a landscape’s ecosystem. Many provide larval food for insect young, and the berries, of course, are a high-energy food source for birds. Look to viburnums, like nannyberry (Viburnum lentago) and American cranberrybush (V. opulus var. americanum), as well as redtwig dogwood (Cornus sericea), elderberry (Sambucus spp.) and buttonbush(Cephalanthus occidentalis), whose summer blooms attract an array of pollinators.

Perennial Flowers

You can’t go wrong planting perennials now for next spring, summer and fall. Living in Nebraska, I have planted young perennialswell into late October and had good fortune with most of the native flowers I selected. For gardeners throughout North America, primarily in the middle and eastern portions, consider planting the following perennials for seasonal color.

Find perennial plants native to your region

Sedges

The later into autumn and the further north you are, the less able many native grasses are to establish before the worst of winter hits. There are dozens of sedges for areas where you want a grass-like look, and you want the plants to be generally 3 feet tall or less. Sedges, just like grasses, provide valuable cover and refuge for toads, frogs, birds, spiders, butterflies and so many more creatures.

One of their benefits is they green up early in spring — some even stay a little evergreen — and regreen in autumn. Basically, cool and moist weather recharges them. Plains shortbeak sedge (Carex brevior) is a favorite that’s very adaptable. For shade gardens, Sprengel’s sedge(C. sprengelii) and bristleleaf sedge (C. eburnea) are low-maintenance choices.

Growing Tips

It’s important to water anything you plant in fall right away. After that, your local region and weather are significant factors in caring for these new plants over winter and into the following year.

Trees and shrubs. Plant after they’ve lost their leaves, which puts much less stress on the new acquisition. Also, choosing a smaller tree (a few feet in height) will save you and the plant a lot of stress. Smaller trees will adjust faster and take off sooner, often equaling, and then surpassing, the size of a larger 15-gallon or balled and burlapped tree within a few years.

If your site doesn’t receive regular amounts of moisture in the first fall and winter, giving the woody plant a quick drink is in order. If you live in an area where the ground freezes, wait for a day or two after temperatures reach above 40 degrees Fahrenheit or so to water. Pay attention to the plant the first year for signs of drought stress — if it’s unseasonably hot and dry, supplemental water may be needed.

The most important factor is always to choose the right plant for the right spot — match the soil, light, drainage and climate with the plant’s needs; otherwise you’re fighting a losing battle. Don’t stake trees unless it’s absolutely necessary; wind helps the trees root faster and produce stronger anchors as the trunk moves around.

Perennial flowers and grasses. We’re talking herbaceous forbs, grasses and sedges — plants that die back to the ground in fall and emerge from the ground in spring. If fall rains are good and the weather isn’t abnormally hot or dry, you might not need to water more than once or twice.

Watering depends highly on soil type, plant type, climate and weather — there are too many variables to accurately advise about watering here. As an example, here in the tallgrass ecoregion of eastern Nebraska, or USDA Zone 5, if I plant flowers and grasses on September 20, I will water right away at installation, then again within about four to seven days. I may water once more a week after that. Smaller potted plants and plugs may have to be watered a bit sooner than 1-gallon pots, as they dry out faster, but these smaller plants will also establish much faster. Spring watering won’t be necessary.

Fall is a great time to plant, because many trees, shrubs, sedges and even perennial flowers are going dormant. This means less transplant shock and stress, partly because the plants are not focusing on maintaining leaves or flowers. Instead, these sleeping plants are entering a period of underground growth, which will help launch them into a successful new growing season.

While there are plants that establish better with a spring installation, here are some that do just as well, if not better, when they go into the ground in fall. They’ll be ready to help pollinators and other wildlife come springtime.

This content was originally published here.

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Bathroom of the Week: An Open Feeling in 125 Square Feet

“After” photos by Sarah Strunk Photography; staging by Amanda Layton of Layton Staging and Redesign

Before: The existing large corner tub and shower stall created awkward angles. The L-shaped vanity wrapped the right wall just inside the entryway, while the compact vanity crowded the inside corner on the left. “There was so much wasted space with all those weird angles,” Foster Hurd says. “They also said they’d rather not have a tub and just wanted a larger shower.”

A varnished brick pony wall outside the shower seemed oddly out of place as well, and the striped wallpaper anchored the space in the past.

A large window over the tub sat just a few feet from the neighboring house. “I very rarely opened those blinds,” Linda Bruner says. The thin door to the left of the shower opened to a narrow built-in linen closet. The partially seen door to the left of the linen closet led to the couple’s main closet.

After: Foster Hurd and Stewart knocked the bathroom back to the studs and eliminated the old shower stall, linen closet, corner tub and window over the tub.

The homeowners saved money by keeping the 12-by-24-inch ceramic tile flooring in a matte finish, which had been installed a few years earlier. “The homeowners had enough for patching purposes where we reconfigured the layout of the bathroom,” Foster Hurd says.

With the tub gone, Foster Hurd created an expanded shower with a custom frameless glass enclosure. A double-vanity now spans the side wall. Foster Hurd eliminated the door to the couple’s closet and incorporated the old linen closet space into the main closet. The knotty alder door to the left of the shower now leads to the expanded closet (see last image for floor plan). “We gained additional space in our master closet by removing the tub and linen closet,” Bruner says.

A new knotty alder pocket door to the left of the the closet door leads to the water closet. A custom maple linen cabinet replaced the former corner vanity (see third and fourth photos below).

A slim window in the shower brings in light while providing privacy. “I really wanted natural light in the bathroom,” Bruner says.

The new color palette is seen in warm tan walls, ceiling and trim (Stucco by Sherwin-Williams), an earthy taupe vanity (Nearly Brown by Sherwin-Williams) and creamy shower tiles that vary in tone.

The expanded shower includes fixtures and a decorative grab bar in a rich Venetian bronze finish.

The 5-by-5-inch creamy wall tiles are glazed ceramic in a glossy finish. The varying tones mimic a handmade look. “The tiles stay true to the original style of the home, but still update it and elevate the design,” Foster Hurd says.

Tempered-glass corner shelves hold shower products. “The husband has a bad back, so he wanted to make sure his storage was at a level that was easily reachable for him,” Foster Hurd says.

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Taj Mahal quartzite tops a built-in shower bench and coordinates with the vanity countertop, top of the pony wall and low-curb shower threshold.

The control for the shower is located on the right, just inside the shower on the pony wall. “We wanted to make sure they had easy access to turn the shower valve on,” Foster Hurd says. She also made sure the handheld shower could reach across to the bench.

Recessed niches near the bench store products and keep them hidden from view. “That’s something I really wanted,” Bruner says.

A long niche on the bench provides a spot for resting a foot while shaving legs.

The shower floor is 1-by-1-inch honed mosaic tile in brown, cream and ivory. “The smaller grout lines provide good grip,” Foster Hurd says. “Another important element was that the shower floor does a great job of tying together all the colors you see in this bathroom.”

After: The new 36-inch-high custom double maple vanity with an earthy taupe base and a Taj Mahal quartzite top streamlines the layout. “It makes the bathroom appear so much larger,” Bruner says. The colors coordinate with the wall and shower tiles.

Two soft-close drawers provide storage under each sink. The top drawers tip open and include contemporary round cabinet pulls.

The other drawers have 6- and 10-inch cabinet pulls. “I always go with the size that most complements the width and size of the drawers,” Foster Hurd says. “Going with the larger pull is definitely easier for the homeowners to manage day to day.” The cabinet hardware has an oil-rubbed-bronze finish.

A 33-inch-high floating makeup counter with seating in the center includes a drawer for makeup and skin products. “We did a pop-up outlet with an oil-rubbed-bronze finish [seen towards the back of the vanity counter], so Linda can plug in a curling iron or her hair dryer,” Foster Hurd says.

A muted red, black and taupe rug brings in the tones of the rich woods, oil-rubbed bronze and sandy colors.

The knotty alder pocket door to the right of the vanity opens to a hallway leading to the couple’s bedroom.

Vanity hardware: contemporary nch round knob and contemporary 6- and 10-inch handle pulls in oil-rubbed bronze, Emtek

The two-handle wide-spread faucets and towel ring have a Venetian bronze finish that coordinates with the shower fixtures, cabinet hardware, bronze-frame mirrors and bronze sconces that flank each mirror.

“The lights are on dimmers, so you can wind down before bed,” Foster Hurd says.

Faucets: Cassidy in Venetian bronze, Delta Faucet; mirrors: Astor arch wall mirror in bronze, Bellacor; sconces: Vendome in bronze, Visual Comfort; towel ring: Cassidy in Venetian Bronze, Delta Faucet

Before: Stephen used the compact corner vanity. “The main issue here was that it was super isolated and didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me,” Foster Hurd says.

After: With the new double vanity in place, Foster Hurd created a tall custom maple linen cabinet painted in the same color as the vanity. “The mirrored front makes the room look larger,” she says. “This built-in piece is directly across from their closet, so they can see themselves as they get dressed and ready in the morning.”

The linen cabinet has adjustable shelves and an outlet for a coffee maker or a device-charging station. The bottom doors open to a hamper for dirty linens.

This content was originally published here.

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New This Week: 4 Beautiful Bathrooms With a Curbless Shower

Houzz Editorial Staff. Home design journalist writing about cool spaces, innovative trends, breaking news, industry analysis and humor.

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A curbless shower is a great bathroom feature. The absence of a curb provides a safe shower entry point for people of all ages. Plus it does a surprisingly effective job at creating a sense of openness. Here, four remodeling professionals share details on how they handled a stylish curbless shower.

1. Clean Contemporary

Homeowners’ request. “The clients wanted seamless design,” designer Jorge Cantu says. “They wanted to walk from one space to another with a feeling of cohesiveness and a connection to the outdoors. The high windows offer privacy with a view of treetops, and that outside view is the focal point of the design.”

Shower details. Wood-look porcelain flooring transitions to glazed porcelain mosaic tile that mimics the look of marble. A black-framed glass panel separates the shower from the main space and coordinates with black details used throughout the room. “The curbless shower is all about not creating distraction,” Cantu says. “Simplicity is key in this design.”

Other special features. Gray quartz backsplash and countertop with waterfall edge. Marble-look porcelain shower wall tile in two styles. “The mixture of materials and patterns with little boundaries between them is meant to mimic the diversity and organic variations of nature,” builder Nick Spector says.

Designer tip. “Be bold in your choices,” Cantu says. “Even organic designs can be bold. For example, the placement of the mirror is intentionally unexpected. It is the bold element in a design that is otherwise very zen.”

2. Crisp Contrast

Homeowners’ request. This is the bathroom inside designer Maria Malinowski’s home. She took inspiration from her love of New York brownstones.

Shower details. The fully open shower features black-and-white floor tiles that spell out the word “bath.”

Other special features. The shower features two shower heads and two handheld heads. White subway tile with dark grout and black-painted walls punctuate the heavily contrasted palette. Malinowski designed the vanity herself. It features large brass hardware. A woven pendant shade and exposed wood beams add warmth to the room. “I left the raw construction beams that way because it looks more cozy,” Malinowski says.

3. Bold Beauty

Designer: Nancy Cardoza
Builder: Steve Boyd of Boyd Custom Homes
Location: Mansfield, Texas

Homeowners’ request. “This was new construction, and the homeowner wanted a simple, clean, elegant, modern look for each bathroom,” builder Steve Boyd says.

Shower details. Concrete transitions to white mosaic tile. Sliding barn-door-style glass enclosure. “Curbless showers are easy to get in and out of regardless of age,” Boyd says.

Other special features. Blue-and-gray accent tile wall and oversize shower niche. The back shower wall is large-format porcelain tile. Floating light wood vanity.

4. Sleek Style

Homeowners’ request. “The client wanted something more modern with a touch of glam, yet fun and functional,” designer Lauren Lerner says. “Their wish list included separate vanities, a stand-alone tub and a larger shower. I knew we could create the space of their dreams and that they would be the perfect clients to embrace something a bit more daring and eclectic.”

Shower details. “Once the gorgeous cement tile floor was chosen, I knew a curbless shower was the only way to go,” Lerner says. “The advantages for choosing this feature were purely aesthetic. While this type of shower is a bit more labor-intensive, a good contractor can seamlessly build it out. An elongated cement wall tile and double shower heads in a striking brass color complemented its unique beauty perfectly.”

Other special features. Black steel door encasements.

Designer tip. “Allow your designer — or yourself — to create a space that pushes your comfort zone,” Lerner says.

This content was originally published here.

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7 Reasons Not to Clean Up Your Fall Garden

1. Why Work When It’s Cold?

Look, I’m tired; you’re tired. So leave the garden alone. Plus it’s getting cold out. Do you really want to be outside working? Isn’t there a football game on or some pumpkin-spice latte to savor? Let the garden be for your own health and sanity.

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2. Wildlife is Hibernating

Lots and lots of insects and frogs, and who knows what else, are out there in your garden overwintering in leaf litter, on twigs, even in the top layer of soil. What happens when you “clean up” the leaves and chop down the plants? You might be tossing out a black swallowtail chrysalis or a mantis egg case, or stepping on a mourning cloak butterfly.

3. Protect Your Plants

Leaving the perennials standing will help them gather snow. That snow in turn will insulate the roots when it gets really cold and also add moisture to the soil. That’s a double win for low-maintenance gardening. Besides, isn’t this image just gorgeous? Viva snow!

4. Discover a New Dimension

You won’t want to miss frosty mornings when every leaf, stem and seed head is accented with fascinating patterns of silvery shadows — halos of ice and snow that make the garden exquisite. And did you know that a snowflake is a fractal — a mathematical equation — just like coastlines, mountain ranges, trees, sunflowers and even the human circulatory system?

Everything in nature can be mapped out with math, and nowhere is that more obvious than with a winter frost. Take your kids outside and expose them to a healthy double groan — math and nature.

5. Enjoy New Neighbors

Leaving up your plants welcomes all sorts of wildlife you’d never see, even though they’re quite common. One year this sharp-shinned hawk visited because juncos were taking refuge in the thick garden cover. The hawk did eventually nab a meal, but that’s OK — the garden was helping everyone, doing what nature does best and right out the back door. What a cure for seasonal affective disorder.

6. Even Robin Redbreasts Will Stop by and Surprise You

Did you know there are robins around in winter? They tend to roost in groups, going about only when thirsty or hungry. A heated birdbath is great, but so are all of those fermenting berries on shrubs and trees. Lots of other songbirds will also be enjoying seeds from standing perennial cover, too.

7. Gardens Thrive in All Four Seasons

When the first spring blooms arise, you won’t feel like you missed them (as much), because so much was going on in your garden all winter long — leaving the plants up makes winter seem shorter. Those first spring flowers won’t seem as much like a relief as a confirmation that a garden never really sleeps, and you’ll be seeing that firsthand in all four seasons.

My belief in leaving the garden alone in fall was cemented on a December morning, when a robin landed on a garden chest where I keep my tools. It balanced on the edge where some snow was melting and dripping to the deck below. The robin arched its head downward and pecked at each droplet. Soon a bluebird landed right behind the robin on the edge of the chest. Then another bluebird. All three were now lined up, ready to take their turn at the melting snow.

I have little doubt that if I hadn’t left the garden up, creating a welcoming space, I’d never have seen them. And I have little doubt that winter wouldn’t have meant so much, or been easier to get through, without the living beauty outside my door in a “dead” season so many of us gardeners unnecessarily loathe. Here are seven of the many reasons to leave your fall garden standing.

This content was originally published here.

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Kitchen of the Week: White, Brass and Blue in a G-Shaped Layout

Houzz Contributor. Home design writer and lifestyle reporter with a love for stylish spaces, smart lighting and a good decaf dry cappuccino.

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A kitchen island is a popular design feature these days. But it’s not always the best approach for an efficient layout. A tiny island in this Arlington, Virginia, couple’s kitchen was more burden than blessing. It took up floor space, broke up the work triangle and didn’t offer room for seating. So designer Asha Maxey helped persuade the homeowners to ditch the island and establish a G-shaped layout with a peninsula, giving the owners countertop seating, storage and breezier pathways. “Many people think peninsulas are outdated or islands are the only way to go, but the peninsula makes this space more functional,” Maxey says.

She also freshened up the style with white Shaker-style cabinets, a white backsplash, brass accents and light blue walls to create a casual coastal look.

“After” photos courtesy of Asha Maía Design

Kitchen at a Glance
Who lives here: A professional couple with two young sons
Location: Arlington, Virginia
Size: 285 square feet (26 square meters)
Designer: Asha Maxey of Asha Maía Design

Before: In the former kitchen, the small island provided limited countertop surface and storage — just one cabinet and two drawers — and was more of a hindrance than a help. The couple felt like the style needed to go as well. Light oak cabinets, dark granite countertops, blue-green walls, a busy multicolored backsplash and basic beige tile flooring didn’t fit with the bright, family-friendly style they wanted.

A busted pipe in the winter caused major damage to the kitchen and sped up the homeowners’ plans for renovating the space.

After: Maxey had the space knocked back to the studs and addressed the water damage. She kept the location of the main components mostly the same but moved the microwave and oven elements to the left of the fridge and replaced the former slide-in range with a cooktop and stainless steel vent hood.

After ditching the island, Maxey created an updated G-shaped layout with a peninsula that seats three. She took the white Shaker-style cabinets to the ceiling to maximize storage and make the kitchen appear taller.

A new stainless steel French door refrigerator coordinates with the vent hood and other new appliances. The steel joins brass pendant lights, a champagne bronze faucet and polished nickel cabinet pulls for a mixed-metals look.

Peninsula lights: Duncan one-light pendant with rod in aged brass, Golden Lighting

The peninsula pendants have a nautical-style design that pairs with the light blue walls, blue-gray stools and crisp white cabinetry for breezy coastal style.

The end of the peninsula includes paneled detailing that coordinates with the cabinets. “Instead of doing a waterfall-edge countertop detail, this was an attractive way to close it off,” Maxey says.

Dark engineered hickory flooring provides a rich, grounding counterpoint to the mostly white palette. “They wanted to go with something durable and not worry about the nuisances of pure hardwood,” Maxey says.

Flooring: Homestead Retreat Hickory TecWood in Stampede Hickory, Mohawk Flooring; wall paint: Rain, Sherwin-Williams

The backsplash is white ceramic 4-by-12-inch tiles with a glossy finish and a subtle wavy texture. “I feel like subway tiles are classic and timeless, but we wanted to modernize it by going with something that’s elongated and has texture,” Maxey says.

Upper cabinets flanking the hood feature frosted glass doors. “We just wanted to break up the white and offer a place to do a bit of display,” Maxey says.

The countertops feature fractured veining in a range of grays, browns and beiges on a white background.

Large-scale polished nickel pulls add an elegant detail to the cabinets and drawers. “I felt the larger pulls add a modern touch,” Maxey says. “I wanted to do a mix of classic and modern in this space. I feel like they elevate the kitchen.”

A 33-inch double-bowl fireclay apron-front sink offers a classic farmhouse element. A pull-down one-handle deck-mount faucet has a champagne bronze finish. A brass pendant light hangs overhead. And a stainless steel dishwasher sits to the right of the sink. “I always mix metals in almost all my projects because it gives a timeless look,” Maxey says. “By adding brass tones, it warms the space.”

With the new G-shaped layout, the homeowners can move freely and efficiently between the sink, cooktop, peninsula countertop, fridge and wall appliances. “I think this project offers a way you can create a functional kitchen without an island,” Maxey says. “A peninsula is a great alternative that allows a place for people to gather if you don’t have the space for an island.”

This content was originally published here.

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10 Things to Enhance Your Powder Room for the Holidays or Anytime

1. Orchids

Longer lasting than a bouquet of flowers and undeniably elegant, orchids make a smart choice for the powder room.

While rare varieties of orchids can be expensive, you can often find budget-friendly potted orchids right in your local grocery store.

2. Posh Wastebasket

Is it silly that something as small as a wastebasket can make an impression? Maybe so, but upgrading this detail can boost your powder room’s stylishness just the same.

Look for one made from a material with a bit of shine like , , wire or .

4. Scent Diffuser

You may not feel comfortable leaving a lit candle in the powder room during a party, especially if children are present. But having a pleasing scent in the space is a gracious detail.

Choose a scent diffuser in a subtle fragrance and set it on the sink or a nearby shelf. You’ll get all the good vibes without the flame.

5. Nice Soap and Hand Lotion

Swap out your usual no-frills hand soap for a pretty matching set of liquid soap and lotion. It’s such a simple thing, but guests really appreciate it.

Bonus points if you pick a seasonally inspired scent like apple cider or pumpkin spice in fall and peppermint or pine in winter.

6. Vase of Flowers

In the powder room (already a small space), a mini bouquet can make a big impression. Place a bud vase or other small vessel (cream pitchers and julep cups work well) on the sink and fill it with a few stems of freshly cut flowers. And if you have a bouquet in another room already, just pull out a few stems for the powder room — no need to buy anything extra.

7. Pretty Little Tray

Corralling things on trays is a staple decorator trick. If you don’t already have a small tray you could use, keep an eye out at flea markets for vintage trays. Setting your soap and bud vase on a pretty little ceramic or silver tray will make your powder room setup look intentionally designed.

9. Statement-Making Mirror

If your powder room has an easily removable mirror, swapping it for something with more personality can be a great way to refresh the space.

Generally speaking, opting for a mirror the same size or larger than the old one makes for the easiest (that is, fewest holes to fill) swap.

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Holiday and party guests may never see your bedroom or home office, but they’ll likely make a stop in the powder room. With a little extra care, you can make this small but hardworking space welcoming, whether for a special occasion or drop-in visitors. Here are 10 touches to help dress up your powder room for company.

This content was originally published here.

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Houzz Tour: A Striking Design, Artful Ideas and Cool Surprises

Photos by Kylie Fitts

House at a Glance
Who lives here: A family of four
Location: Bow Mar, Colorado
Size: 6,236 square feet (579 square meters) including finished basement; five bedrooms, five bathrooms
Architect: Brad Tomececk of Tomececk Studio Architecture
Contractor: Ascent Contracting

The first surprise is in the entry, where dramatic asymmetric windows kiss the vaulted ceiling. This area illustrates why taking the house down was necessary. The original home’s low roofline with corresponding 7½ foot ceilings was replaced by a higher one composed of scissor trusses. This allowed for the soaring vaulted ceilings and expansive windows that were so important to the architectural appeal of the home. All the windows and doors are low-E, energy-efficient and aluminum-clad.

“This was a complex project to prepare for and coordinate, so we used the kind of 3D modeling that’s more often used in commercial construction,” Bride says. “It helped us know precisely where elements like the trusses, structural steel, and windows and doors would land. This helped us prepare and schedule, because we knew the lead times months before construction began.”

The vaulted ceiling continues across the living room, and spectacular windows and bifold doors are located opposite the entry windows. A large skylight in the middle of the ceiling lets in more natural light.

The massive fireplace is a surprise in this room. Black metal shelves stand up to the scale of the surround. Local metalworker Dustin Oliver of Metal Craft fashioned these shelves as well as other special elements in the house.

To the right is another surprise, a bold bar alcove. The team transformed a ready-made walnut console into a bar by adding a thick quartz countertop. Cabinets flank it, concealing an ice maker and a 6-foot beverage fridge. Graphic black-and-white wallpaper draws the eye.

The fireplace is a major element and divides areas within the open plan. Its surround is board-formed concrete veneer. Creating it was no easy task — the cement truck had to pour the concrete down on a connector through an opening in the roof. “This took a lot of planning and coordination,” Bride says.

The flooring throughout the house is 4-by-4-foot Italian porcelain tile; where to cut openings for electric outlets in it required thoughtful coordination. These outlets make it possible to plug everything in without having to stretch cords across the floor to wall outlets.

Beyond the fireplace, a bubble-like glass chandelier over the dining table draws people into the next space and toward the next surprise.

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“Our clients did not want a traditional formal dining room,” Bride says. Instead they wanted a cozy area with a view of a showstopping wine cooler. “A showcase wine cooler was a must-have,” he says. “It is encased in clear glass, and the homeowners wanted a floor filled with loose river rocks just for fun, and the stones add an old-world feel. We recessed the floor to make this work.” The wine room has a Wine Guardian wine cooler that has its own thermostat and remote control. Inside the space there are beautiful walnut-and-black metal racks as well as a ladder. An ornate door pull adds an unexpected eclectic touch to the wine cooler’s glass surround.

This photo also provides a better look at the bold X-and-O wallpaper in the bar alcove. “The homeowners really knew what they wanted and had great taste. They chose all the finishes with some help from a designer friend,” Bride says.

The slim wine room abuts the basement staircase, which has an elegant black metal railing. With 1,098 square feet of living space, the downstairs area includes two of the bedrooms.

The dining-and-wine-tasting area is open to the kitchen, with subtle delineation between the spaces provided by the ceilings. This wine-tasting area has a flat ceiling defined by soffits, while the kitchen has a vaulted ceiling. The ceiling fixtures in both spaces are lined up, a subtle touch that’s easy on the eye.

The high ceiling makes the kitchen feel large and bright. Along the sink wall are more spectacular windows. The lower windows are push-out casement models — no cranking required. Peaked clerestory windows overhead follow the line of the ceiling.

Six seats abut the large island, and oversize pendants that resemble paper lanterns overhead suit the scale of the space.

Different cabinetry finishes and an Oriental rug create a warm custom look. The cabinet hardware changes with the finishes, with each type of hardware complementing each cabinet finish.

A painting hung on the vent hood adds an unexpected artful touch. To keep things clean and simple and put the focus on elements like the painting, the homeowners wanted to keep elements like the vent hood very plain. And they hid the outlets in pop-up receptacles in the countertops.

Also seen in this photo is a cozy sitting-TV room for the family. It includes built-in cabinets and another fireplace.

A blue wall and cabinets bring saturated color into the space. The custom walnut cabinets that flank it and brass metal finishes add pleasing warmth. The cabinet on the left contains rollout pantry shelves and a hidden door to a walk-in pantry behind it, where small appliances are stored. The cabinet on the right contains a Viking fridge and freezer.

In the couple’s bedroom, a cloud wallcovering creates a serene vibe. The door on the left is also covered in the paper for uninterrupted floating within the clouds — even the acrylic door pull keeps the view clear. This door leads to a “secret” workout room with cork flooring.

The homeowners opted for a partial wet-room strategy in their bathroom. Two sets of shower heads and the bathtub are in the same area behind the shower enclosure, with a floor that slopes toward a linear drain along the base of the tub. Marble-look porcelain clads the shower walls; the floor and accent wall tile are penny rounds.

Clear glass lends an open feeling, lets the entire bathroom enjoy the natural light from the window and makes the bathroom feel more expansive; the curbless shower adds to the open feel. The window glass is frosted for privacy.

Like the kitchen, the bathroom has a high ceiling that makes it feel larger than it is. The custom vanity is walnut. “It adds a hint of rustic style,” Bride says. Also adding a hint of rustic style are twin mirrors on a barn-door track. Crafted by Oliver, this unexpected custom piece is another cool surprise.

This Denver-area family had a vision of turning their typical brick ranch house with low ceilings into something that fit their bold and contemporary tastes. But as their plans for a remodel and addition evolved, they realized there wasn’t much worth saving. “These homeowners were very intentional with the design and put a lot of thought into it,” says Justin Bride, owner of Ascent Contracting. “With the new roof structure, layout and windows they wanted, it didn’t make sense to keep anything but the foundation.” The result of their efforts is a striking home that has a surprise around every corner.

This content was originally published here.