5 tips to remodel your bathroom like a spa

your master bath is more than just a room that holds your toilet, sink and shower. it’s your retreat—where you start your day and unwind at night.  from cool colors to clean lines, transforming your bathroom into a relaxing, spa-like space is easier than you think.

1-maximize space.

a good layout is key to a successful bath remodel. you’re putting a lot of components (shower, bathtub, toilet and sink) in a fairly small area so the design should really make the best use of the available space.

master bathroom remodel in nashville, tn. photo credit: the kingston group

if you plan to stay in your home long term, your bathroom design should integrate features that will be useful as you age in your home, such as wider doorways, taller toilets and curbless showers with grab bars or seats and slip resistant tiles. these are practical investments that will make the world of difference over time.

2-hide clutter.

the more storage you have in your bathroom, the less cluttered it will feel. In the unused space on either side of this vanity, tall cabinets were built in to store bulky items, like bath linens and towels.

master bathroom remodel in nashville, tn photo credit: the kingston group

3-separate the tub from the shower.

standalone tubs are central to luxurious, spa-inspired bathrooms. if you have room for a tub that is separate from the shower, do it. it will instantly add a touch of elegance to your bathroom.

master bathroom remodel in nashville, tn photo credit: the kingston group

tubs come in a variety of styles, from modern geometric to vintage clawfoot, and materials, including porcelain, cast iron, acrylic and wood, among others.

4-let in light.

master bathroom remodel in nashville, tn photo credit: the kingston group
bathroom remodel in brentwood, tn photo credit: the kingston group

even a small, undressed window adds style and natural light to a bathroom. this window’s placement high on the wall provides privacy, improves ventilation and still allows bathers to catch a glimpse of the beautiful view outside.

frosted-glass is a popular choice for larger windows. these windows let light flood into the bathroom and at the same time, conceal the view from outside.

having good lighting in the bathroom is also an important principle in aging in place design.

5-use calming colors.

master bathroom remodel in nashville, tn photo credit: the kingston group

the right paint color is essential to create a soothing spa environment. lighten and brighten walls and ceilings with neutral shades and natural colors, such as greens and blues, which exude serenity.

for a fresh, crisp look, an all white bathroom makes a beautiful sanctuary. keep in mind that calming tones and clean lines also make a room seem larger than it really is.

a complete master bathroom remodel should not cost more than 5 to 10 percent of your home’s value, claims consumer reports. according to remodeling magazine, the average cost of a midrange bathroom remodel in the east south central region is $15,000 and an upscale renovation is about $50,000.

if you want to make your remodeling just that much more special, you can pamper yourself with heated floors, a built-in fireplace and high-end materials, like marble countertops.

ricky scott is the owner of Nashville-based the kingston group and a member of entrepreneurs’ organization nashville.


7 strategies for kitchen remodeling

hr1456066-2if done right, a kitchen remodel can recoup much of its cost. kitchen remodels in the $50,000 to $60,000 range recoup about 69% of the initial project cost when the home is sold.  a minor kitchen remodel of about $18,500 does even better, returning more than 75% of your investment, according to the most recent Cost vs. Value data from Remodeling magazine.

to maximize your return on investment, follow these 7 strategies to keep you on budget and help you make smart choices.

1. plan, plan, plan

planning your kitchen remodel should take more time than the actual construction. if you plan well, the amount of time you’re inconvenienced by construction mayhem will be minimized. plus, you’re more likely to stay on budget.

how much time should you spend planning? the national kitchen and bath association recommends at least six months. that way, you won’t be tempted to change your mind during construction and create change orders, which will inflate construction costs and hurt your return on investment.

some tips on planning:

study your existing kitchen: how wide is the doorway into your kitchen? it’s a common mistake many homeowners make: buying the extra-large fridge only to find they can’t get it in the doorway. to avoid mistakes like this, create a drawing of your kitchen with measurements for doorways, walkways, counters, etc. and don’t forget height, too.

think about traffic patterns: work aisles should be a minimum of 42 inches wide and at least 48 inches wide for households with multiple cooks.

design with ergonomics in mind: drawers or pull-out shelves in base cabinets; counter heights that can adjust up or down; a wall oven instead of a range: these are all features that make a kitchen accessible to everyone — and a pleasure to work in.photo

plan for the unforeseeable: even if you’ve planned down to the number of nails you’ll need in your remodel, expect the unexpected. build in a little leeway for completing the remodel. want it done by thanksgiving? then plan to be done before halloween.

choose all your fixtures and materials before starting: contractors will be able to make more accurate bids, and you’ll lessen the risk of delays because of back orders.

don’t be afraid to seek help: a professional designer can simplify your kitchen remodel. pros help make style decisions, foresee potential problems, and schedule contractors. expect fees around $50 to $150 per hour, or 5% to 15% of the total cost of the project.

2. keep the same footprint

nothing will drive up the cost of a remodel faster than changing the location of plumbing pipes and electrical outlets, and knocking down walls. this is usually where unforeseen problems occur.

so if possible, keep appliances, water fixtures, and walls in the same location. 

not only will you save on demolition and reconstruction costs, you’ll cut the amount of dust and debris your project generates.

3. get real about appliances

it’s easy to get carried away when planning your new kitchen.  a six-burner commercial-grade range and luxury-brand refrigerator may make eye-catching centerpieces, but they may not fit your cooking needs or lifestyle.

appliances are essentially tools used to cook and store food. your kitchen remodel shouldn’t be about the tools, but the design and functionality of the entire kitchen.

so unless you’re an exceptional cook who cooks a lot, concentrate your dollars on long-term features that add value, such as cabinets and flooring.

then choose appliances made by trusted brands that have high marks in online reviews and consumer reports.

4. don’t underestimate the power of lighting

lighting can make a world of difference in a kitchen. it can make it look larger and brighter and will help you work safely and efficiently. you should have two different types of lighting in your kitchen:

task lighting: under-cabinet lighting should be on your must-do list, since cabinets create such dark work areas.  since you’re remodeling, there won’t be a better time to hard-wire your lights. (here’s more about under-cabinet lights.) plan for at least two fixtures per task area to eliminate shadows. pendant lights are good for islands and other counters without low cabinets. recessed lights and track lights work well over sinks and general prep areas with no cabinets overhead.

ambient lighting: flush-mounted ceiling fixtures, wall sconces, and track lights create overall lighting in your kitchen. include dimmer switches to control intensity and mood.

5. be quality-conscious

functionality and durability should be top priorities during kitchen remodeling. resist low-quality bargains, and choose products that combine low maintenance with long warranty periods. solid-surface countertops, for instance, may cost a little more, but with the proper care, they’ll look great for a long time.

and if you’re planning on moving soon, products with substantial warranties are a selling advantage.

6. add storage, not space

storage will never go out of style, but if you’re sticking with the same footprint, here are a couple of ideas to add more:

install cabinets that reach the ceiling: they may cost more — and you might need a stepladder — but you’ll gain valuable storage space for christmas platters and other once-a-year items. in addition, you won’t have to dust cabinet tops.

hang it up: mount small shelving units on unused wall areas and inside cabinet doors; hang stock pots and large skillets on a ceiling-mounted rack; and add hooks to the backs of closet doors for aprons, brooms, and mops.

7. communicate clearly with your remodelers

establishing a good rapport with your project manager or construction team is essential for staying on budget. to keep the sweetness in your project:

drop by the project during work hours: your presence broadcasts your commitment to quality.

establish a communication routine: hang a message board on site where you and the project manager can leave daily communiqués. give your email address and cell phone number to subs and team leaders.

set house rules: be clear about smoking, boom box noise levels, available bathrooms, and appropriate parking.

be kind: offer refreshments (a little hospitality can go a long way), give praise when warranted, and resist pestering them with conversation, jokes, and questions when they are working. they’ll work better when refreshed and allowed to concentrate on work.

-by john riha

john has written seven books on home improvement and hundreds of articles on home-related topics. he’s been a residential builder, the editorial director of the black & decker home improvement library, and the executive editor of better homes and gardens magazine.

christmastime decor 101 w/ guest blogger brad ramsey

if you are like me, you love all of the greenery and color of the holidays.  when it comes to decorating with live plants, go simple and classy.  i prefer to use white orchids.  you can dress them up with branches and holly berries to add a punch of color.

three ice cubes once a week should keep your orchid flowering throughout the holidays.  now here is a secret tip: when your orchid stops flowering, remove the flowering stem and replace it with a quality looking artificial stem with white flowers.  just keep watering the orchid with ice cubes once a week till it eventually flowers again.  when it does, simply remove the artificial stem and store it away till you need it again.  it is easy and simple and allows your holiday purchase to continue to look great throughout the year!

-check out brad ramsey interiors or follow him on instagram at @bradramseyinteriors or twitter @bradleyramsey

six factors to consider before installing a gas fireplace

by guest blogger jeremy martin of all-pro inspections

parisa gas fireplace can add ambiance and warmth to any room, and with since we have probably seen the last 75 degree day for the season, you might be considering adding one in your home.  because purchasing a fireplace is not something we do everyday, there are some important things to consider:

if you have lots of questions, you’re not alone. it’s smart to do your research and get advice from the pros.  joel ginsberg, retail manager and fireplace expert for fireside hearth & home, offers some important considerations so you get the right gas fireplace for your home.

are you adding a new gas fireplace or converting an existing masonry wood-burning fireplace?

many choose gas fireplaces for the convenience.  you can heat your home and enjoy beautiful ambiance by simply touching a remote control or wall switch. whether you’re starting new, or want to replace an old fireplace from the 70s or 80s, there are plenty of affordable options.

already have a wood-burning fireplace? consider transforming it with a cleaner and more efficient gas fireplace insert that fits directly into the existing opening. as part of the installation, two liners are installed inside the chimney; one expels the fire’s combustion exhaust and byproducts outside the home.  the other draws in outside air for combustion. this guarantees no room air is used for combustion which stops heat loss and protects the indoor air quality of your home. you get the benefits of gas without having to replace the entire fireplace.

what style fireplace fits your home?

the sky is the limit when it comes to fireplace design. whether you prefer the traditional stone fireplace designs or you favor sleek modern styles, there’s bound to be something to complement your home’s interior design.

the look of the fire itself comes with many style options. traditionalists prefer realistic manufactured logs with burning embers.  however, if your design style leans toward contemporary, you might like options like the cosmo 32, manufactured by heat & glo.  these styles are inspired by european designs that have features like linear flames that flicker in unison, unique materials like black onyx, and panoramic viewing angles of the fire.  placement is also being redefined, as modern style fireplaces are often positioned at a higher level, evoking a living piece of fine art.  to find out which style is best for you visit http://www.fireplaces.com.

what are your heating efficiency requirements?

did you know a gas fireplace or fireplace insert can help reduce your heating costs?  similar to the premise of a hybrid car, you can turn down your home’s thermostat and zone heat the rooms you use most with an efficient gas fireplace. this cuts down on the amount of fuel consumed by your furnace and can help to reduce home heating bills by 20 to 40%, according to the hearth, patio and barbecue association.

do you want a vented or vent-free gas fireplace?

depending on the manufacturer and model, gas fireplaces can be vented or unvented.  direct vented gas fireplaces have sealed combustion systems that protect indoor air quality by drawing outside air for the fire and expelling 100 percent of combustion exhaust and by-products outside the home, resulting in a safe, beautiful fire. in contrast, unvented (a.k.a. vent-free or vent-less) fireplaces lack sealed combustion or venting systems, drawing indoor air and oxygen for the fire, while expelling exhaust and byproducts, like carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and moisture, into the home. while unvented units are legal in many areas of the country, some hearth manufacturers, remodelers and hearth retailers will not sell them due to safety and moisture/condensation issues.

what is your budget?

“for the most part, when people enter the store, they assume it will be expensive to purchase and install a gas fireplace or fireplace insert.  most people are pleasantly surprised at how inexpensive it can be,” comments Ginsberg.

he says the average price of a gas fireplace including installation is $4,400. For those interested in a gas fireplace insert, the cost can be as little as $2,900 installed.

what is the return on investment?

these days, homeowners want to make sure the money they put into their home adds value.  there is good news: homebuyers consider fireplaces one of the top three desired home features, according to remodeling magazine. also, according to the residential cost handbook, a gas fireplace can add an average of $5,900 to the value of a home. therefore when it comes time to sell, homes with gas fireplaces have an advantage.

as we head into the cold winter months, it is natural to want to warm up by a fire.  given the potential of increased efficiencies, zone heating reducing utility bills and hours of atmosphere and enjoyment, installing a gas fireplace has a multitude of benefits.

jeremy jeremy martin is owner of all-pro inspections serving the middle tennessee area.

white is the new white

-by guest blogger lori paranjape, redo designs

realtors know that neutral palettes sell homes.  clean, neutral colors throughout give buyers a the feeling of starting fresh.  no tattoos.  no piercings.  while using white as a neutral color isn’t exactly shocking, it is when the color is actually white.  like white-white.  whiiiite!

so why not do for yourself what your realtor is already telling you:  don’t wait to paint until you’re ready to sell.  how about actually living in a pretty space?!

we’ve all seen gray and off-white (cream), or (gasp) builder beige… but what we are seeing as the freshest of the fresh and newest of the new is just plain white.  white walls and white trim (as much trim as your budget can afford).

to us it feels modern and clean.  it’s ready for an amazing furniture and fabulous accessories.  lamps, pillows, drapes, flowers, and don’t even get me started on how amazing art looks on white walls (ever been in a builder beige art gallery…didn’t think so.)

so get on out there do something crazy… like paint your whole space white!  if you’re looking for a good one, my favorite white is benjamin moore “white dove”.  there are no undertones of color.  it’s all the way white.

now, onwards.  can’t wait to see the pics!

-lori paranjape is a lover of all things design, wife to fox’s tennessee mornings anchor, nick paranjape, mother to two little lovelies, and partner at redo design in downtown franklin.   lori@redoyourhouse.com