As I write this month’s blog, it’s cloudy and snowing. A perfect setting to discuss spreading daylight through the home. Do you have a dark room or hallway and wonder how to get more light? Many people have their lights on during the day when there’s no need. With proper delivery of sunlight, lights would only be used in the dark, completely logical right?
A dark and dreary interior doesn’t have to be with using purposeful historic features that carry daylight through a building while also bringing architectural interest and connectivity. One method is transom windows. These windows occur above doors and help spread daylight through to the next room. Sidelights are another method, often used on front doors. Any pet owner will recognize the immediate benefit of having a sidelight next to their doors; to alert them their furry friend wants to come in. Another method for delivering daylight throughout about space and is becoming more common is the interior window. Simply put, it is a window that is placed on an interior wall between rooms. Often used in a long horizontal orientation to ease sight lines to entrances, niche corners, or landmarks within a space such as a reception desk. When an interior window is placed in a wall that is adjacent to an exterior window, the daylight is pulled into that next room. If privacy is an issue, have the window sill placed higher up from the floor.
Beyond spreading daylight throughout the space, it’s also about connecting to the next space. Transoms, sidelights, and interior windows help pull you through to the next room. But it’s not just windows that can do this, decorative french doors on pantries, laundries, playrooms, basements, dens and even dressing rooms help connect you, draw you through to the view beyond, and expand the feeling of space.
Whether it’s with a window, a glazed door, or even a mirror, spread the daylight around, appreciate the view, and expand your perspective! Make a physical connection and engage with what is right next to you, whether it’s a room, your garden, or your neighborhood. It’s all about connectivity!
Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ
Studio Owner & Interior Designer
Daricilar Design Studio – Medway, MA
Join next time: “Downsizing; finding the right fit.”
First, I need to apologize for missing last month’s blog “Stained Glass, Tales of Color” that was supposed to be published. You see, a week before Christmas, when my blog would have come out, I suffered a technological apocalypse. My laptop experienced a quick and spontaneous demise. It turned on once briefly giving me a glimmer of hope but alas it was just enough to quickly harvest files onto a jump drive and then it glowed no more. When I logged onto my blog to complete it for the month on another laptop, I realized it was completely unsaved and was truly lost. I will address the topic again at a later date as it’s already written in my mind, but right now with the help of a new laptop, it’s time for the next scheduled topic of resolutions and decor dreams.
As the hurried pace of the holidays slows and the decorations come down, the focus shifts to the new year before us. Many people set resolutions; goals or dreams for themselves for the upcoming year. Most designers have a secret list of project types they would love to do in their professional lifetime. As a designer, I’ve taken that approach and created a bucket list of projects I aspire to be involved with at some point, may it be this year or in the future.
As an introduction on why these items are on my list, I like places that drip with ambiance. To make a place memorable and enjoyable, they have to exude character and have a good vibe. A restaurant for example, has to have a combination of good food and service, plus great atmosphere to bring repeat clients. If you have one of these food or drink venue related projects, call me today! I would clear my schedule for you…
English Pub/Old World Tavern
Now, here are some pretty pictures, let’s all dream together.
My design resolutions aren’t all food related. If you have one of these commercial or residential projects I will still excitedly clear my schedule for you…
Mid Century Modern House
Happy New Year everyone and thanks for reading my blog! Set your 2018 goals high and make them happen. Whether you want to renovate, redecorate, or just rejuvenate, contact my studio, I’d be happy to help you.
Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ
Studio Owner & Interior Designer
Daricilar Design Studio – Medway, MA
Join next time: “Beyond Daylight; it’s all about Connectivity.”
T’is the season of color! From October through February, the holiday season creates a race through the color spectrum. We kick off with oranges, reds, and golds of autumn, the deep purple and orange of Halloween, moving to plum and brandy colors of Thanksgiving then into deep reds and greens for the Christmas season. The crisp blue and silver of Hanukkah and the bold black, red, and green of Kwanzaa bring even more festivity. We welcome the new year with silver, black and gold and finish the winter with the barren feel of white and brown. Yes, there is the red and pink show for Valentine’s Day, the green parade of St Patrick’s Day, lavender shower for Easter and the colors of spring and summer flowers, but no other time of year is color ever more present in such a rapid succession. Color is all around us and quite rightly so. It invokes feeling, reaction, ambiance, mood, and stimulation. So, take these feelings and bring them indoors.
The trick to using color well is understanding its undertones, meaning, the colors that are behind the front color. For example, is it a pure color or does it look “dirty”? By that I mean that the color isn’t a true color, but rather a gray or beige version of it. Is there another color in the background? White, for example, is famous for having a second color present. As an experiment, hold your paint swatch next to a piece of blank printer paper and you’ll see what I mean. Then, look at how much black or white does your color contain (how far up or down is it on the paint swatch card.) Does it read as a pastel, mid tone, or a deep tone?
Current color trends are getting darker, bolder, and a little dirty. This works better for walls and lets the furnishings and decor hold the true color versions to accessorize and feature. These types of paint colors tend to change in the daylight as the day progresses and become moodier as the evening sets in to create ambiance. The black undertones come out allowing the contrast to increase of adjacent white trim and metallic hardware. If wood trim is your preference, opt for middle tones of the color.
The trend used to be an accent wall, now its more of an accent area or alcove. Painting a bigger space creates a bigger impact. The corners of the room blur as the color continues to define to an area rather than a single, flat surface.
Colors in the Home
The 60’s and 70’s brought avocado and burnt orange. The 1980’s brought mauve and pastels. The 90’s brought the golden oak craze paired with jewel tones of hunter green, navy blue, and burgundy. The 2000’s brought espresso brown and beige, mimicking the Tuscany region in Italy. The Tuscan influence touched everything from bronze fixtures and lighting to large scale stately furnishings and dark wood trim. If you didn’t choose the brown Tuscan style, did you have the red accent wall in the kitchen and brushed nickel finishes? Coming out of the 2010’s to present day is the all white kitchen, gray or “greige” walls and shiny chrome metal.
The color trend is moving into drama! Dark and dirty jewel tones are even showing up in kitchen cabinetry. Mid tone woods are also raging due to the renaissance of the mid century modern style. Its time to bring color back. Below are the selected paint colors from various paint manufacturers for 2o17 and 2018. These colors are where the paint industry believes the trends are headed. It should be noted that Pantone (considered to be the industry leader in color) at the beginning of every year announces their choice of the “hot” new color, driving influence into all design fields from interiors, to clothing, and graphics.
Farrow & Ball, Studio Green, 2017
BEHR, In the Moment, 2017
Benjamin Moore, Shadow, 2017
Farrow & Ball, Radicchio, 2017
Sherwin Williams, Oceanside, 2018
Sad to say, but the pale neutrals of the Farmhouse style have had their time in the spotlight. Moving in aggressively are neo-classic styles that take the standard furniture profiles and turn them on their heads. Traditional armchairs are showing up in bold colors with animal prints. Mix in a little bit of the eclectic granny Chic and some feature mid tone antique wood pieces with a bold wall color and you have the new classic. It’s the navy pin stripe suit with a dark fuchsia tie and caramel color shoes.
Bring in the color, don’t be afraid! Contact my studio for assistance in selecting the perfect colors for your project.
P.S. Tune into my Facebook page, routinely I post “Design Ideas” featuring a specific color. These montages are great ways to get some inspiration for the specific color you desire. Also if your’re working with the exterior of your home, check out my previous blog Creating curb appeal and exterior detail for additional color tips.
Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ
Studio Owner & Interior Designer
Daricilar Design Studio – Medway, MA
Join in November: “Designer Tips & Tricks; Creating a Vibe.“
I applaud you! Taking on a kitchen renovation is like ripping at the soul of your home. Its the lifeblood that keeps your household working. Even though you aren’t doing a full blown remodel, a simpler renovation can still grind on your nerves. (To quickly distinguish the terms: a renovation is aesthetic changes like cabinetry, flooring and lighting where as a remodel also includes opening up walls and tearing into plumbing and electrical.)
You’re ready to start a DIY kitchen renovation. Now, contact a designer. Better yet, contact me. I would love to help you! Even if its simply to review your floor plan or help you brainstorm ideas and get organized. Across the miles, via email and FaceTime, I can help you save some headaches. If not me and my studio, then find a designer in a kitchen showroom, your local big box home store, at the very least ask your neighbor who just finished theirs. Don’t jump in head first alone, without a plan, a schedule, and a project outline.
So, you’re going rogue and being truly DIY, on your own. I will still help you. I’ve generated a list in the most practical order, however if your project doesn’t include one of these steps, then move onto the next one.
1. Fix ALL Repairs First.
As you plan the path of your renovation, fix the broken items. A leaky faucet, broken window, rattling exhaust hood, even bad wiring. Fixing the repairs is a must before installing new finishes. If you don’t, then down the road when the neglect has exacerbated the problem, you’ll end up tearing out your new kitchen items to fix the old problems, and you’ll kick yourself. Fix them now when its cheaper and easier.
2. Keep Appliance Locations The Same.
Many factors raise the cost of kitchen remodels and renovations with one of the biggest being the relocating of the sink, stove, or refrigerator. If your kitchen was haphazardly put together like it fell from Kansas into Oz in a bygone era, then appliance locations should be reworked to create a layout that’s current with today’s lifestyle and more importantly, building codes. Dedicated and grounded circuits need to be created. If plumbing needs to get reworked, gas lines moved, or electrical panel work is needed, its no longer a DIY job. Unless you or a loved one is a licensed contractor, leave your appliance locations alone. This is not a Do It Yourself part of the project! Hire a professional for this step.
Also, if installing professional grade appliances, these are very heavy units and the floor and support below need to be checked and if necessary reinforced. Again, hire a licensed contractor for this portion.
3. Keep Functional Appliances.
It is very tempting to want to upgrade the appliances, however, if they’re functioning then keep them. If you want to switch from white to black or stainless steel to make them all match and unify the aesthetic of the kitchen, work the numbers out on paper first. If you know that your stove is on the fritz, you should replace it. But wanting to get a new refrigerator simply because its the wrong color will wreck your budget. Creative solutions can be found online for recovering appliance fronts. Work with the color of the newest, most expensive appliance and adjust the others to that one.
4. BE The Labor.
Depending on what part of the country you live, the labor portion of a renovation estimate can run 25-40% of the costs. The DIY method is a no brainer for a job you know you can do, from demolition, re-sanding, painting, and installing new cabinets can all be done by willing and careful homeowners.
Have an expert friend or family help you, watch your how-to videos, and read manufacture’s instructions. Also think about attending workshops available in your area’s home stores and check out books at your local library and bookstore.
Become a task master. This is where your project schedule will come in handy. If you break down the renovation into smaller tasks, you won’t get burnt out nearly as fast. Its when multiple tasks get started all at once, that homeowners quickly get stressed and their project becomes overwhelming.
5. Replace, Refinish, Or Remove The Cabinets.
You’ve created your plan, outlined the project into tasks, and chosen the new direction. You’ve done the repairs, confirmed the appliance locations, now its time to get to the aesthetics. If your cabinets are in good structural shape, keep them. New cabinets are expensive. You can either get them resurfaced, repainted, new doors installed, or keep the upper cabinets open. Give the insides a good scrub and vacuum. Install drawer organizers, slide out racks, and under cabinet lighting if desired.
6. Paint the Walls & Cabinets.
Paint is the cheapest way to redo a room. Layout your color palette and assign locations. Research the proper prep work for the surface you want to paint. Below is a photo of similar profile cabinet doors. Notice the difference a coat of paint and a new counter top can do. Even without a new counter top, the cabinets go from a warm Tuscan vibe to a modern farmhouse feel.
Choose an exciting paint color for the walls and give your painted furniture a touch up. Make sure to check out my next month’s blog regarding color and how to choose the correct one.
7. Redo The Floors.
Depending on what kind of flooring you choose determines how much is DIY and whether you’ll need professional installation. If you do choose to do this step yourself, be sure to prepare the underneath properly prior to installation. Also, where specifically on the floor your first piece is placed will determine the look of the final outcome. (Traditionally, planks start at the perimeter and tile products start in the center.) Always read the manufacture’s recommendations thoroughly.
8. Select New Counters & Back Splash.
Beyond the ubiquitous glass mosaic or white subway tile options, there are many choices regarding back splashes. How about brick veneer or tin? In a future blog coming up, I’ll address how to get a knock out look for your back splash for a budget price. Stay tuned.
If you can’t afford the cost of granite or quartz counter and want to upgrade from laminate there is another option: solid surface. Solid surface is a viable budget conscious option, commonly used on counters. Second to quartz and granite lines, it provides a similar look and feel of stone without the hefty price. Don’t know whether to choose gloss or matte finish in the solid surface? Contact me, I can tell you the pros and cons of both finishes.
9. Replace Hardware, Lights, & Faucets.
I consider this the jewelry portion of the renovation outfit. These are the items that add sparkle and character to what otherwise is simply a functional space. If you can only afford one change other than paint, make it this one. As with any work related to water or electricity, shut them off at the main first. Contact me for more information regarding how to choose the best faucet for your sink, the correct lighting for your needs, and to coordinate the cabinet hardware with the rest of your home.
10. Update The Decor, Bar Stools, & Window Coverings.
A finishing touch to all of your hard work is the soft surfaces. With the decor, bar stools, and window coverings I would also add dish towels, oven mitts, place mats and rugs. These items are the “clothes” of your kitchen. They’re also an economical aesthetic option to change compared to replacing cabinet fronts or flooring.
Now, let’s generate some ideas with the following photos. Who doesn’t like looking at kitchen photos, am I right? I’ve included a variety of styles to cover all tastes.
One more bit of advice, before taking down your kitchen for the renovation; set up a temporary one in another room to preserve your sanity. An electric tea kettle, a crock pot, a hot plate, and a toaster oven can fix numerous meals. Create a dish-washing station in the laundry or bathroom and fire up the grill outside. During renovation you need a dust free counter to pour your morning coffee and in the evening to prepare your dinner. Preparation of a temporary kitchen is an absolute must!
God speed and contact me for questions. I can help you through it.
Beyond single family homes, apartments, condos, and downtown lofts there are many housing alternatives for those who desire something different. Cottages, cabins, houseboats, dome homes, earth homes, and even communal living are all decades old concepts but are still a niche market. However, within this niche market there is a growing movement raging on called Tiny Homes. Occurring world wide, tiny homes (commonly defined as being less than 500 sf) are offering incredibly sensible solutions to a diverse population for many reasons. The main factors driving this trend are:
Those looking to buy are priced out of the market to shoulder the crippling and heavy mortgage burden, however still desire the high demand locations.
Those wanting to reduce their environmental impact and carbon footprint, live off grid, or live a sustainable lifestyle more in tune with nature.
Those yearning for a simpler life with less stress by reducing the required upkeep of a larger home, limiting the consumerism ideals of wanting and buying more, or living minimally with only necessities and truly desired items.
Those desiring to travel and need a home base to return to at the end of a journey. Many tiny homes are mounted on trailers for this reason, thus the owners can then take their home with them on road trips.
Whatever the reason is, many of these tiny homes are simply beautiful! When the concept of a home is streamlined to the basics the finesse of a well thought out design occurs due to spatial necessity. Still utilizing standard building materials of stud walls, insulation, shingles, double pane windows, skylights, wood floors, tile and so forth these homes can hold their own in style and craft way better when comparing to its cousin the RV, built of plastic, laminates and vinyl. However, due to the small size of these buildings, creativity is also needed in working with current building codes.
Many of these homes are mounted on trailers for this reason but then cannot be considered homes. Being mounted on trailers, many tiny homes average 8 ft wide by 24 ft long, and 13.5 ft tall due to DOT road regulations. To maximize interior space within these confines, many work out to be 150 sf-200 sf with the addition of loft spaces. Placing these homes permanently on a plot of land is another hurdle they face. In many municipalities they can only be classified as secondary dwellings or auxiliary spaces. This means they cannot be the primary residence of the land owner and have to locate on someone else’s backyard. Additional workarounds often have to be considered such as skirting the trailer wheels from sight, proper utility hookups, waste water management and so forth. However, those who are fortunate enough to be able to locate their tiny homes on open land without zoning restriction and completely off grid are living large! The lifestyle freedom these tiny homes bring is phenomenal and the views from their windows can be breathtaking.
As I mention on my website, my design studio is also the combination of the hobbies that keep me up at night. One of my guilty pleasures is watching tiny house videos on YouTube. As a designer, I analyze the homes’ level of craftsmanship, layout efficiency, and sustainable practices/environmental considerations. My favorite video producer by far is Bryce Langston and his “Living Big in a Tiny House” project based in New Zealand. With many kiwi residents either priced out of the expensive Auckland housing market or have fallen victim to the massive earthquakes in Christchurch, tiny homes are becoming a fast trend and valid housing solution. With his friendly interview style and genuine interest in tiny homes, Bryce’s videos showcase different tiny homes all over New Zealand. The additional scenic aerial drone shots are breathtaking and just add to the videos’ charm. He also includes construction tutorials from his own tiny house building project that are very informative and supportive of those looking to build their own homes. I can’t wait to see how his tiny house ends up and look forward to viewing his new videos this year. He’s currently interviewing in Japan and is coming to the USA this spring to learn more about the American tiny home trend. Learn more about Bryce and his living big project at http://www.livingbiginatinyhouse.com/
There is also a subset within Tiny Homes called Micro Homes. These differ slightly as they usually average under 100 sf! These are super stripped down and answer the requirements of absolute basic living. Extremely portable, these homes have also offered some larger cities solutions with helping the homeless find transitional housing for example. Watching YouTube videos on this topic, names start to repeat and those in the Tiny House community refer to each other for design assistance or inspiration. One such name is Dee Williams. Found at https://padtinyhouses.com/, she has downsized her 80 sf micro home to a new vardo gypsy wagon style under 60 sf. She’s truly a minimalist and revered in the tiny/micro community.
While my design specialty is historic preservation and renovations, I have always enjoyed making floor plans more efficient, analyzing every nook and cranny for unused space, and removing unneeded open space. My internship back in college was even analyzing the spatial efficiency of a hospital of 3 million sf to see if they were maximizing their space utilization. Buildings are priced out per square foot, so I like to make sure every one of them is used effectively. Designing a large building is easy but many times the functional space remains the same and circulation space (walking around) is what increases. Many daily activities occur in spaces less than 100 sf and human interactions occur within 10 sf. Shrinking that large building down and still maintaining all functions becomes the challenge, where the creativity begins! Hence, why I love studying tiny homes.
The American dream used to be buy a large chunk of land, build a big impressive house and feel satisfied saying “I’ve made it, I’m a success.” However, I feel that idea is shifting. With land prices soaring, the environmental impact becoming more evident, and lifestyles becoming much more mobile, that dream has new ideas. Cities are being more gentle with natural resources with recycling programs and encouraging water conservation with many states facing droughts. Solar panel installations are becoming increasingly popular and hybrid/high efficient cars are now common place. Businesses too are downsizing, people are now working remotely or on location, thus reducing the amount of office space the company needs to lease. Now, with the tiny house movement, cities have a new option to create affordable housing that can also be a lighter burden, if they choose to accept them into their zoning. I’ve recently read that tiny homes are becoming an appendix to the International Residential Code for 2018. Its still in the review and adoption process by the International Code Council, but the induction is finally here. Many building officials currently don’t know how to approve Tiny Homes as they’re in no mans land for building codes. Yes, restrictions will then occur for the DIY’ers but only through code regulations will municipalities be able to bring main stream acceptance. Then, tiny homes could exist on their own yard screaming “I’ve made it, I’m a success!”
The idea of home is many things to many people. At the end of the day however, all you need is protection from the elements, a cozy place to rest and cuddle with a loved one, a way to prepare nourishing food, and a facility to refresh. How you define those is what makes your home truly yours, whether its big, tiny, or somewhere in the middle. Go find your tribe, the home and community for you is out there.
Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ
Studio Owner & Interior Designer
Daricilar Design Studio – Medway, MA
Check out my previous blogs regarding making homes multi task here and how to declutter your life here.
Join in March: “Beyond the Beige Box; creating curb appeal and exterior detail.”
The holiday season is over and the new year has begun. Most of us will now buckle down for 2-3 months of cold weather and inside activities. If you’re already thinking to spring and house projects once the weather gets warm, now is the time to plan and prepare. We’re stuck inside anyway while the snow and wind blow outside so let’s get out the pencil and paper and start brainstorming. Construction projects cost money, its a no brainer. And let’s just put it out there right now and get it over with…there will be additional, hidden costs in any building project. Always and forever, no matter how experienced the construction team, no matter how many times the designer checked & measured, some hidden cost will show up. Now the secret is out, let’s move on to how to reduce them, avoiding as many as possible.
I’ve listed the top ten reasons why I believe construction budgets get blown or surprise cost increases occur. There are others, but these are the biggies to anticipate and avoid. They’re not listed in a weighted order as each one can cause large headaches depending on the project. In addition, many items can cause others creating a ripple effect.
1. Making decisions incorrectly – This directly ties in with not having formal plans. Whenever decisions need to be made, its best to decide them at the beginning and with the entire project in mind. Delaying a decision, rushing a choice, spreading out finish selections, or changing your mind on a selection causes problems. Also spending money inappropriately falls into this category. Your milk and eggs don’t need luxury. Don’t break the bank on dreamy appliances. All fridges stay cold and all stoves get hot, so you’re spending several thousand dollars more for a little metal logo with a good marketing campaign to store bottled water and soda? Walk away, don’t do it. While you’re at it, skip the cabinet fronted appliances or secret drawers. We all know kitchens have appliances, they’re not embarrassing so save the money and stop hiding them.
When making decisions in your project, take a step back and ask yourself how important that item really is and establish a want vs. need list.
2. Informal plans – When there is no formal plan, decisions get made on the fly, without notice. Then situations and outcomes arise and there is no damage control. Miscommunication occurs constantly as different people interpret discussions differently and everyone remembers conversations in a slightly different way. When you have a professionally drawn plan, more details get discussed and written down prior to any construction. Always work the problems out on paper first before swinging a hammer. With professional plans, you’ll get more accurate quotes, avoid miscommunication, and make cohesive design decisions. Yes, you’ll spend money on the designer themselves in fees, however, the gain is work clarification, a professional eye on your side, and an adviser. Just like lawyers, physicians or dentists; architects and interior designers provide a professional service when people need something so use them.
3. Loose budget & scope creep – From the first moment you begin your project you should have a budget in mind. Partnering a firm budget with complete plans greatly reduces the potential for scope creep, or increasing the size of the project by adding additional work. Paint the hall, refinish the doors, tile the fireplace surround all on top of the kitchen remodel and suddenly your house is a mess, your project is never ending and your budget has walked out. Pull back the reins on the project that you initially started and stick with it. If you want to add additional phases discuss that at the planning stage not during construction.
4. Updating & relocating major utilities & fixtures – Additional costs in this category is almost unavoidable. Partnering it with #5, opening walls, the unknown Pandora’s box will be released. The building’s past life is buried in the walls, ceiling, and floors and almost always has to be dealt with for code reasons. Swapping out older infrastructure and modernizing to current code standards can bring financial headaches. Project priorities will be challenged and allocation of funds will be necessary. With aesthetic creativity however, the same outcome can be achieved, no matter what utilities have to remain.
5. Opening up walls/removing walls – In addition to opening up walls for utility access, removing walls for floor plan changes and space expansion usually involves structural additions. Lintels, headers, columns and beams are costly but necessary parts of the building. Reframing openings sometimes require a change in design particularly the ceiling. Many people have aversions to beams as they feel it breaks up the space into segments. Treated correctly they can either enhance and create character or made to blend into the ceiling. Don’t sweat the structural changes, they’re necessary. Concentrate on them being done correctly and then aesthetically.
6. Historic details – When dealing with replicating and restoring historic details, often times it requires hand tools and meticulous labor. This is one area where specialty and experience comes into play. Custom molds may need to be created, relics restored, and layers of history removed or stripped away to reveal original beauty. All of this meticulous work requires additional funds, but many times necessary for historic properties. Particular attention needs to be made when working with the local SHPO (State Historic Preservation Office) and the National Registry of Landmarks in order to register your building. Original building features need to be preserved and considered during design and construction.
7. Mother nature & uncontrollable factors – Weather can wreck havoc on an addition that has yet to be enclosed. Storms can delay delivery, rain can postpone crews, and ice can snap power lines. In addition to the weather, other items out of our control is processes and paperwork. By this I mean applications for financing, grants, historic preservation registration, ordinance waivers, code reviews, permits, inspections, and so forth. The submission and approval process is frustrating and slow going, but necessary. Simply do your part and go with the flow. Get copies of documents and ask ALL your questions.
8. Hiring cheap labor – There’s a reason you should always get at least 3 bids/estimates for your project. If your choice is to go with the cheap one, there’s a reason they’re cheapest especially if it’s by a lot. Again I mention this, in a previous blog about surviving construction, see the link at the end of this post. In public funded jobs the lowest bidder usually has to be accepted, but in private funds, the owner can choose, so do so cautiously.
9. Failing at the DIY method first– When a home project goes well, it can be a money saving success, however when work needs to be redone, torn out, corrected, or recalculated the price adds up quickly. Kuddos goes out to those who try first but know your limits then call in the pros.
10. Custom orders– Many people think custom is better and implies quality and they’re wrong. Custom simply means someone made it especially for you and you’re paying for it, dearly. As a designer the term “custom kitchen” drives me crazy. I was trained that unless the dimension is obscure and aesthetic is unique, use standard issue cabinets. The worst is when I see a generic kitchen that has standard dimensions and the client or realtor says “it’s custom!”. I’m thinking, no it’s a rip off. Do not equate custom with better. It might very well be better constructed or highly personalized, but if you’re simply looking for white or basic maple kitchen cabs buy quality store ready ones As long as the doors close correctly, the joints are sound and the boxes stay on the wall go with store bought and splurge on the granite or quartz counters that you really want, your dishes won’t care! This also pertains to custom made furniture too. I once had an upholsterer tell me that he was making a custom sofa for a designer that cost $5,000 to make and that with the retail markup she was going to bill her client $11,000! Let me tell you, I had a physical reaction in my gut. Even he admitted it was a rip off and it was his sofa. When ordering furniture from a retail store, you may get offered custom fabric or COM (Customer’s own material) where you can choose any fabric under the sun. Three questions always to ask when deciding whether to do this 1. How much more does it cost? 2.How much time will it add to the order? 3. Is it necessary?
Someone will always be willing to sell you something more expensive, you as the consumer/buyer need to know when its not necessary.
Juggling these 10 construction balls can challenge any project’s budget. Some are unavoidable but some can be managed. I may rant on some hot buttons, but money and resources get wasted so easily in construction. I try to educate and provide pros and cons to my clients for them to make the right choice for themselves and their project. Everyone comes with their own priorities and we all value different things. You may enjoy luxury line items and that’s OK, however those items should fall by the wayside when new drainage lines or wiring updates need to suddenly be made. People only like spending money on the pretty finishes as those are what you can see, however what’s on the inside of the walls is vital for success. Then, feeling good on the cash you saved, bank the money and apply it to the mortgage.
I have been looking forward to writing this month’s entry ever since I created my annual list of topics during the summer. The following is a culmination of all the finishes that I love to use as an interior designer. Obviously, not all would make it into every project as the owner/users, project budget and function of a space dictate what’s appropriate. Also, trying to be a well rounded designer, all interior styles and materials are workable and feasible. HOWEVER, if I had to pick signature items for myself, these would be it…
I’ve grouped my favorite picks into categories. Many overlap and work in other groups like the texture helps depict the style or color scheme. But I’ve tried to group them into cohesive ideas.
Please also check out my curated style boards on Pinterest: DDS Style Boards. I have boards for interior finishes, decor ideas, historic preservation, and mid century modern, as well as plain/simple, modern for the modern shy and a new tiny house board.
Now back to my list… let’s take a look at some examples of my favorite materials assembled together:
When you layer different elements you create depth and richness, both physical and visual. Using complimentary colors and a diversity of materials you create a balanced environment. If you’re like me you enjoy the beauty and richness that can be found in older pieces too. The trick when using vintage pieces is to mix them with new up to date materials around them bringing the interior to present day. If using all vintage pieces, the interior will appear just that, dated.
Now, to briefly address items I don’t like: paisley, chevron, and herringbone patterns. I don’t like polka dots much either, but for the right room I could squeeze a few in here and there. For reproductions, I’m not a fan of digitally printed or vinyl imitation of materials, it always looks flat and too perfect. Real authenticity brings dents and dings, scratches and scars, patina and dirt. However if your budget does not afford all of the real things, don’t worry. To quote from my July’s blog post Decorator, Designer, Architect…which one to choose? :
“Never let a designer tell you that you need a bigger budget for a better impact. Creativity and imagination can go a long way for a limited budget.”
Real materials can cost more, but can still be showcased just in smaller quantities. Also, function often requires something more durable, such as vinyls and polyesters, this is not a problem either. Today’s commercial materials can deliver a similar desired aesthetic and meet the building code requirements and durability standards for the location.
When choosing materials and finishes, create depth and interest. Interiors are to be experienced and enjoyed. The physical environment provides a visual energy, make sure its amazing!
So you want to change your space, you believe you need different space or you will burst at the seams if you don’t build or remodel. PAUSE- did you purge all the unnecessary junk from your space? If not, read my last month’s blog about flexible and evolving rooms. (Blog) There’s a motivating section about sorting out your stuff. Constructing new space just to fill it with unused stuff is pointless and expensive. If you’ve already purged, please have a seat. Let’s talk…
ESTABLISH the PROJECT
The most helpful step in a construction job is to know exactly what are you wanting in the outcome. Are you painting and buying new fixtures or are you redoing the whole bathroom? Are you tearing out empty offices to pave way for an open office layout or just removing cubicles? It’s important to clearly define the boundaries of the project from the start. If you don’t, the project will “grow legs” and run away from you making your timeline unrealistic and the budget blown. The phrase “while we’re at it, why don’t we just…” is a very alluring statement. Yes it is more economical to have the work done all at once, but you don’t want to renovate the whole building if it’s just one room that really needs the work. Also, consider phasing the work, especially if you are occupying the space during construction. Enough unknowns will be uncovered while remodeling as it is to delay the project. If there is additional desired work, it’s best to discuss it with the designer and contractor to figure out when and how to add it to the original scope.
HIRING the PROFESSIONALS
In the beginning stages of contacting professionals it is important to familiarize yourself first with the correct terminology regarding construction. Below are some words that are often times confused. The subtle differences can greatly affect the impression the professional forms regarding the scope and depth of the project.
Preservation: respecting the historic property in its entirety and efforts are focused on maintaining current conditions without making modifications.
Restoration: returning a property to a specific previous time period using the original materials that are present. Other items not matching the chosen time period are removed.
Rehabilitation: similar to restoration however originals in poor condition may need to be recreated in order to complete the work.
Renovation: aesthetic updates to dated interior finishes such as flooring or wall finishes. Can also include plumbing fixtures, lighting, and appliances.
Remodel: changing physical characteristics like doors and walls as well as finishes mentioned in renovations.
New Construction: either constructing an addition to the existing structure or a new building altogether.
Once familiar with the specific term defining your project, meet with an interior designer. They will know who you need for a project, what plans need to be drawn and help you solidify your ideas. Refer to my article about hiring a professional. (Blog) Unless you are a seasoned DIY veteran many construction jobs will require professional design help. Review their portfolios, discuss past projects, and have them view your space to brainstorm ideas prior to signing a contract. This will also allow piece of mind that your ideas are aligned. Items also important to discuss when hiring a designer are your style inspirations, historic preservation items, environment/sustainability concerns, allergies/health and age range of occupants (infants and elderly specifically). The designer won’t just help design your space but also assist in managing the construction site and working with you and your contractor. Specific notes can be written into the plans to address necessary concerns for your project.
In general, you want to get as much work done on paper first before bringing in the sledgehammer. You may be anxious to get the work started, but it will always be cheaper and more beneficial to work it out on paper first. Plans, details, schematics, finish schedules, custom orders, contracts, deposits/payments, permits & insurance, workshop space, tool storage, dust mitigation and garbage removal are all items that need to be addressed prior to any hammer getting swung. A word of caution when reviewing quotes from contractors: Always get at least three different quotes. Look for the outlier (extremely high or low). If one is drastically different than the other two, don’t accept it. They’re either missing part of the scope, desperate for work, or misunderstanding the project.
SCHEDULE & BUDGET
You may have established an end date in your mind prior to meeting with your designer and contractor, however they well help fill in the details and make adjustments as necessary. What may feel like a quick job, may indeed need more time because of unconsidered factors such as plumbing or electrical updates or needing increased structural support for wall openings. If there’s a big event that the work needs to be completed by that needs to be communicated in the planning stage to have the most impact.
When creating a budget, know your financial limits firmly. Is there a loan or grant getting used or a fixed cash amount that needs to be maintained? Yes you’ll sign a quote from a contractor but contingency is there for a reason, make sure it’s part of the quote. Allocate 8-15% of your budget for contingencies as unknowns are always discovered. Remember if you “rob Peter to pay Paul” then your budget will need to be adjusted. Meaning your big ticket items need to be covered if they’re necessary and scrapped if they’re not. For an in depth remodel imagine a $100 pie; roughly a third should be for the interior work including finishes, non structural wall alterations, and windows. $5 is allocated for furnishings. Plumbing, electrical, and HVAC take another $33 of the pie. The remaining third should be roughly divided into $25 for the structure itself, and the remaining $10 of the pie for contingent expenses discovered along the way. If its just an aesthetic interior renovation the $25 for the structure can be allocated into other pie portions as needed.
A careful decision is whether to attempt to continue to use the space vs vacate during construction. Demolition is brutal, especially if nothing is being salvaged and the walls or floors need to be opened up for electrical, plumbing or HVAC work. If you must remain in the space consider construction phases or scheduled time for excessively noisy work. Dust partitions and walk off mats should be installed regardless to help reduce tracking dirt elsewhere in the property. Otherwise, set up a temporary location elsewhere, it will move the work along faster and help you keep your sanity.
Also during construction material samples should be available to select remaining finishes such as flooring or paint colors. With technology 3D models and color renderings are standard practice as well as example photos. If not possible, ask to visit a showroom or view past projects to visualize an item prior to installation. The schedule and timeline is very important to continue work progression. The construction trades follow each other in work sequence so delaying a tile decision, for example, can hold up plumbers and painters. Decisions need to be made as early as possible as lead times for many items can be 6-12 weeks if not readily available as a stock item. A single order needs to be placed for finishes to prevent different color batches to occur. If special orders or back orders occur, a faster alternate should be suggested if the delay will cause significant schedule setback.
It is best to discuss frustrations and problems as they occur to keep the aggravations at a minimum. Update meetings should occur twice a week for a project that is less than 12 weeks in duration and once a week for jobs longer than 12 weeks. Once daily phone calls and email exchanges should suffice for quick clarifications but bombarding contractors and designers with hourly issues will complicate matters and can cause more confusion in the back and forth transactions. When walking through the job site, dress appropriately especially footwear. Sturdy, closed toe shoes should always be worn to avoid tripping and injury. A dust mask and safety glasses are always wise to have on hand. A hardhat during heavy demolition and structural construction will be required by the contractor and should be announced ahead of time.
During construction feel free to document the progress with photos. Also, city inspections reports/sign-offs and permits should be posted. As the owner, copies of these should be provided to you if desired. When all work is said to be completed a final walk through should be performed. The site should appear finished, cleared of all leftover debris and professionally cleaned. Have your designer perform a “punch list” during the walk through. This list should only include small items such as paint touch ups and receiving manuals. If any major issues are evident, consider the work incomplete. Final payment to the contractor and owner occupancy shall occur after punch list items are completed.
The project is finally completed and hopefully successful. You are excited to move into the space and are pleased with the finished product. The contractor and designer aren’t finished yet. Post occupancy surveys, portfolio photos and client references are the last steps to completing your project. These are the venues to air your exaltation or grievances. Please complete the surveys, write the references/reviews, and let the photographers take the photos.
As the old adage goes, “only experience brings true confidence”. However, with the help of a qualified designer and seasoned contractor you should feel comfortable tackling any construction job. Don’t be afraid, make the jump and improve your life. After the dust settles it will be awesome!
Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ
Studio Owner & Interior Designer
Daricilar Design Studio – Medway, MA
Join in October: “Favorite Finishes, A Designer’s Choice.”
So you have a space in either your home or business and you want to change it. The project is out of your comfort zone so you have to bring in the design pros, but you don’t know who to call. This is a common question, especially confusion between interior decorators and interior designers. I’m here to spread a little light on the topic and assist those seeking the professional design assistance they need.
You start your hunt by perusing websites, social media, and the phone book and notice some being called designer and others decorators as well as abbreviations and letters after the names. Interior decorators don’t require any formal education. Anything from selling home decor to window treatments and wall paper usually falls under this domain. It’s oriented towards aesthetic treatments in homes. Formal Interior design education is a 2-4 year college program, issuing either an associate or bachelor degree, and work in either residential or light commercial sectors. Commercial interior designers, in comparison, typically are trained from a 4 year bachelor degree accredited program, many carry the NCIDQ certification and work alongside architects in design firms. Architects are trained in a bachelor or master degree accredited program and carry the NCARB by state licensed credential. If you see the initials ASID, IIDA, or AIA, these are professional associations with levels of Professional, Allied, and Associate depicting levels of qualifications. If you see LEED AP or GA by a person’s name, these letters refer to certified knowledge in sustainable construction methods for building certification by the USGBC.
Adding to the mix are kitchen and bath designers, showroom associates, and equipment specialists. These professionals all work in showrooms representing products. Use caution when working solely with these professionals as they usually work on commission and may not always have your best interest in mind. Suggestions of custom work, special orders, and tailor made items can wreck havoc on your project’s budget, extend your timeline and may not even be necessary. Its best to involve a third party decorator, designer, or architect not affiliated with a showroom and agree to a flat fee or hourly rate instead of commission for payment. It may sound helpful to work with the showrooms’s in house design team but be on guard.
Don’t take design advice from someone who will profit when you spend more money with them. Use third party assistance that can be a helper not a spender.
Let’s look at some examples of who to call and when: Do you need help choosing new curtains or carpet? Call a decorator. Are you remodeling your kitchen or bathroom? Call an interior designer. Do you want to knock out a wall and build an addition? Call an architect. Those should be pretty clear, now let’s muddy the waters. Do you want to open up your kitchen to your living room, relocate the fixtures in your bathroom, and add furniture to your remodel project? How about creating zones in your office space, change the visibility through your business lobby, then upgrade your suspended ceiling? This water is getting murky! In all examples, you should call an interior designer. They can handle the kitchen remodel, refer to an architect or even a structural engineer for the living room wall opening if a header is needed by the contractor, work with the plumber to relocate the fixtures in the bathroom, and then assist you in the retail store to help you select your furniture. They can rearrange your office zones by function, redesign your business lobby and then suggest products for that new suspended ceiling.
You now know you need an interior designer for you project, however still some uncertainty and doubt may remain. Will they want to do it? How will they possibly reinvent this space? How long will it take? Is it possible on my budget? Can I remain in the space while the work is being done? Can I even afford to hire one? All of these questions can be answered in an initial project consultation. Contact the designer, set up a time to meet and discuss your ideas, from there, the designer will give you feedback and draw up a contract including a scope of work summary and preliminary schedule. State your timeline as early as possible as some items require 2-3 month lead times, holding up the project. Budget also needs to get discussed from the beginning as an experienced designer can suggest where in the project to splurge or save to be the most effective while still meeting all end goals.
Never let a designer tell you that you need a bigger budget for a better impact. Creativity and imagination can go a long way for a limited budget.
All design professionals will have a portfolio of past work, ask to see it. The Internet has made this step much easier with Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs and of course websites. From there you will know whether your selected professional is capable of performing the project. The designer should be able to draw up plans, show style examples, provide swatches and samples, and guide you through the process to create your dream.
This is YOUR project, you can succeed in it but you need help. Don’t be shy, call an interior designer. Dream it, discuss it, plan it, review it, watch the work, and love the outcome!
Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ
Studio Owner & Interior Designer
Daricilar Design Studio – Medway, MA
Join in August: “Evolving rooms and flexible spaces”