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Mar 30 2016

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Bathroom Tips for Remodeling on a Budget

Image from phasinphoto, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image from phasinphoto, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sure, bathroom remodeling is easy if your clients have a big budget – just rip out everything and start over. But what’s a person to do if they have limited funds and a bathroom that is in dire need of a facelift? There are several highly effective, low-cost changes you can make for them that can produce impressive results.

Here are some suggestions listed from least costly to most costly – some obvious and some not-so-obvious:

1. Simple Upgrades. The least expensive bathroom remodeling upgrade is to change the cabinet hardware and accessories, including towel and grab bars. Although these are small items, they say a lot about the condition of the bathroom – especially if they are broken or missing. Be sure to coordinate the color and finish with the faucet and shower fixtures for the best look. Unless you are also changing their cabinets, you will need to pick cabinet hardware that matches the screw holes of the old hardware to avoid having to patch old holes.

2. It’s All in the Paint. Next in order of cost is paint. This may be the single-most effective thing to change when doing a bathroom remodel on a budget. A fresh coat of paint in a new, and uplifting color can make a huge difference in a bathroom. But no matter what your client’s budget is, please don’t go too cheap on the quality. Low-quality paint is a waste of time and money. You want to use a paint that is durable, washable and covers well. I usually advise my clients away from glossy paints because they will show every blemish on the surface, and they are impossible to touch up. If you need to touch up a spot, you will be doomed to recoat the entire wall to get it to look right.

Image from Suriya Kankliang, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image from Suriya Kankliang, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

3. Fixture Perfect. If you’re changing the cabinet hardware during a renovation, you might want to change those plumbing fixtures too. The faucets are the easiest to change and can have a dramatic aesthetic effect on a bathroom remodel. Select faucets that fit in the holes you already have in the countertop; they aren’t all the same. Some have one hole, some have three holes, and the holes might be spaced differently for different faucets.

4. Toilet Tips. For a few hundred dollars more, you can replace your client’s toilet. This is the fixture that gets the most use and can look the worst. Consider a comfort-height model, which are becoming more and more popular. Never get a round-bowl toilet unless nothing else fits in the room – those look cheap and are uncomfortable to use. Always choose the elongated-bowl variety for more comfort and style.

Image from Sira Anamwong, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image from Sira Anamwong, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5. Vanity Vanity. Replacing the vanity can be a bit more costly and may not fit into a bathroom remodel on a tight budget. Sometimes it’s possible to just change the doors on existing cabinets, but often the cabinet needs more repair. The drawers may not work right, or the hinges are shot. However, if the cabinet is functionally sound, replacing it just to change the look may not be worth the cost. Try cleaning it up and possibly painting it with a good alkyd (oil-based) paint to get a hard, smooth finish that’s almost as good as a factory finish.

6. Counters and Sinks. Going further, you might think about replacing the countertop and the sink, which will be the lesser cost of the two. A simple oval, undermount sink is less than $100. Solid countertop surfaces like granite and quartz are expensive, however, the countertop in a bathroom is not nearly as large as in a kitchen. Since these products are sold by the square foot, a new top might just fit into your client’s budget. Try looking through the off-cuts or remnants at a stone countertop company. These are leftover pieces cut from large slabs used for bigger projects. Chances are you can find a piece that will fit your client’s bathroom and come at a discount of up to 20 percent.

Image from Keerati, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image from Keerati, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Cultured marble is a less costly countertop and sink replacement option. This is a synthetic stone-like material that is made with the sink bowl molded right in, and there are more color options than in the past. They are custom made to easily fit even an irregular-shaped top.

If you do all of the things listed here, you would still qualify as doing a bathroom remodeling project on a budget. And the aesthetic effect and your client’s enjoyment will be dramatic.

– William Hirsch is the author of Designing Your Perfect House (www.designingyourperfecthouse.com) and is a member of the American Institute of Architects. He is the former president of the Delaware Society of Architects and is a member of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.

Mar 21 2016

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Editors’ Picks from the AD Design Show


Last week, we attended the 2016 Architectural Digest Design Show, which was held March 17-20 on Piers 92 & 94 in New York City. We spent most of our time visiting the kitchen, bath and luxury appliance exhibitors, which included new products from more than 100 companies.

We also received a special tour of this year’s DIFFA Dining by Design, which will be covered in next week’s Industry Watch digital newsletter and as a special news feature on kbbonline.com.

The following are some of our favorite products we saw at the AD Design Show, including ovens, ranges, cooktops, ventilation, bath and decorative hardware, cabinetry, countertops, stone, tile, windows and doors.

DA_Discovery WineStation

Dacor’s Discovery WineStation is the first of its kind to display, dispense and preserve four bottles of wine for up to 60 days with a commercial-grade dispenser and preservation system for the home.

Gemstone Tile

Gemstone Tile specializes in turquoise tile. The shower tile featured above runs $2,900/square foot.


Jenn-Air’s Obsidian Interior black interior refrigerator features white LED lighting and was released last year.


TracyGlover-Dimple-TourmalinePrimavera (1)The Blackburn Pendant by Tracy Glover features a dimple-shaped diffuser in the Primavera pattern in the tourmaline color.

SA Baxter

SA Baxter’s brass doorknob; the company makes pulls and knobs and recently added light fixtures.

*Blomberg Pro Gas RangeA 30-in. stainless steel pro gas range from Blomberg is one of the largest in its class.


Viking‘s own professional chef, Joe Arvin, demonstrated the latest in cooktop technology. The Incognito cooktop countertop allows the trivet to transfer heat from the countertop directly to the pan, creating more space for cooking and serving.


This photo features Sub-Zero wine storage and built-in refrigeration, as well as a Wolf dual-fuel range/ventilation.


RangeCraft’s Miami hood features mirrored titanium metallic enhanced with Swarovski crystals.

AGA Marvel solid cast-iron oven - one of 15 colors

Above is the AGA Marvel solid cast-iron oven in one of 15 colors.

*Stikwood Sierra Silver

Reclaimed Sierra Silver peel-and-stick planks from Stikwood are a mixture of brown, red and gray tones and retail for $14/square foot.

Mar 01 2016

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Tile 101: A Look at its Design, Health and Safety Properties


This bathroom, designed by Rabaut Design Associates, showcases tile’s stunning visual impact on the floors, wall and ceiling.

Today’s tile offers more design opportunities than ever, with astounding achievements including large-format, thin tiles; wood looks; geometric shapes; and a variety of attractive colors, finishes and textures. Beyond its good looks, though, ceramic tile brings another benefit to the table, as well as to the backsplash, floors and walls. Tile is a healthy and safe material.

This is so important to me when I design kitchens and baths for clients. I’m thinking through not just the aesthetics of the space but also how the building materials contribute to a healthy home and what impact the products make on the environment.

There are five main aspects to tile being healthy for families, which include:

VOC-free – Some VOCs emitted by non-ceramic building products can contribute to a wide variety of health problems and “Sick Building Syndrome,” according to various health experts.

Formaldehyde-free – Ceramic tile contains no formaldehyde, a chemical long associated with respiratory disorders.

PVC-free – Ceramics are also free from PVC, a resin used in some types of building products.

Hypoallergenic – Tile is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction, an increasing concern among building product manufacturers.  

Natural ingredients – More than 95 percent of fired ceramic tile is made from clay and other raw materials found in nature. 


The bathroom design was awarded a 2015 Coverings Installation & Design Award, netting the honor in the Residential Tile Design category.

Tile is also safe for the home’s occupants.

• Slip/fall safety – Of the many hard surface flooring choices available, ceramic tile stands out when slip/fall safety is a consideration because of the thousands of floor tile choices that are slip-resistant when wet.

• Fire-resistance – Tile made of ceramic is non-flammable and does not produce smoke in a fire.

Finally, ceramic tile is environmentally friendly. With a 60-year service life, ceramic tile is both cost effective and a good choice for reducing negative environmental impacts, resource use and demolition waste.

To learn more about product transparency – how companies are reducing hazardous ingredients and minimizing pollution and waste – join us at Coverings for the conference session, “From Green Squared to EPDs and HPDs – A Snapshot in Sustainability for the Tile Industry.” To learn more, visit www.coverings.com.

– By Alena Capra, Coverings’ Industry Ambassador

Feb 08 2016

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KBB’s Editorial Advisory Board Talks Favorite Products and Trends at KBIS

Opening Photos

Kitchen & Bath Business’ Editorial Advisory Board walked the KBIS 2016 floor in search of creativity, sustainability and innovation. See what impressed them, and be sure and check out our upcoming February/March issue for even more of their findings and photos.


Dekton Aura Bookmatch

Amy Ahearn, CKD, CAPS, Ahearn Cabinetry Designs, Bernardsville, N.J.

Consentino has remarkably done what the market demanded: create engineered natural material surface slabs that are bookmatched to each other, heretofore the exclusive domain of natural stone, specifically marble. Other properties include high resistance to heat (you can torch your crème brûlée right on the countertop), non-porous and not subject to thermal shock, which can affect traditional quartz tops. Dekton is not new (it debuted in late 2012), but it did have a great presence at the show. Not limited to countertops, Dekton – dubbed the “ultra-compact surface” – can be used for cladding, flooring and interior and exterior surfaces. A unique blend and proprietary recipe comprised of porcelain, glass and quartz, the realistic veining and bookmatching of the slabs might even have fooled Michelangelo himself!


Nar Bustamante, Nar Fine Carpentry, Carmichael & El Dorado Hills, Calif.

This Kallista shower fixture (above) brought the feeling of classy yet something I could probably pick up at a plumbing supply store in Mexico City in the 50s. I loved the timeless simplicity and commanding elegance of this piece

Chemetal (below) has come a long way with some awesome finishes for its products. This line will do very well with the modern market. They had some great metal patinas and a variety of eye-catching, multicolored concepts.


Paula Kennedy, CMKBD, CAPS, Timeless Kitchen Design, Seattle

Paula noted several trends at the show, including:

– Transitional is more widespread
– Growing confidence in color
– Desire to simplify lives and reduce footprint
– Healthy home, healthy living
– Wireless controls in the bath & appliances
– Appliances to fit “smaller living”
– Auto, tech & fashion-driven design
– Gun metal, mirrored and brass finishes
– Industrial chic growing/deepening


From top left clockwise, Paula’s favorites from KBIS include ROHL’s new Mink finish, Flash Freeze & Blast Chill by Irinox and GE’s Monogram Pizza oven.


American Standard’s Coastal tub

Michelle Henderson, Banner Plumbing Supply, Buffalo Grove, Ill.

There is a demand for freestanding tubs, but in most cases the tub is either a solid surface like material and a higher price point, or the more competitive tubs tend to be a double-walled acrylic. Because of the nature of acrylic and the backing required, the tub walls are thick and therefore have very small interiors. Somehow American Standard has made these tubs of cast acrylic, but they are only slightly thicker than their solid surface competitors. And here is the kicker… they’ve managed to offer a reasonable price point.


American Standard’s Sedona tub

The Coastal (oval) is $2,799, and the Sedona (rectangle) is $2,599. Both of these tubs have integrated drains that consist of a finished slotted overflow and a toe tap closure. Many of my clients are ripping out their oversized built-in tubs they never use so they can expand the shower to a more luxurious size. When they do so, they want to keep a tub in the bathroom for resale, and the freestanding tubs are a perfect solution. The only catch is that price is very often a consideration because they never used the original tub, and this new one is just for show. The price point of this tub is perfect for that client, and the product looks great.

*Fairmont Designs

Fairmont Designs’ Belle Fleur

The simple yet elegant design of this vanity makes it a perfect fit for a formal powder room or a girl’s bath. Bow front, Queen Anne legs and glass knobs typically scream old world, but this piece is the perfect example of how something very traditional can be simplified and lend itself to a more transitional palate. The vanity features fully concealed soft-close hinges, as well as a hidden soft-close drawer perfect for a blow dryers or tissues. There is a coordinating blizzard white quartz top available and a very complementary white oval mirror.

Christopher Grubb, Arch-Interiors Design Group, Beverly Hills, Calif.

I’m seeing a lot of gold. Some manufacturers even said they showed a few pieces last year and because of demand and expanded the finish into other products they have for a more complete collection.

Last year I saw several items with or in black (faucets etc.) This year feel it was universal from a lot of manufacturers. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see black cabinetry in both contemporary and traditional styles making a resurgence.

Gray continues as a popular finish; like the shiny gray on appliances for those who are suffering from “stainless fatigue.”


From controlling your appliances to Wifi switching in the home, technology continues to expand in unheard of ways. Legrand (above) has Wifi switching, and what I like is this is transitional in look so it will fit in more design projects.

*Laundry Vignette

Rachel Roberts, Kitchen & Bath Galleries of North Hills, Raleigh, N.C.

I loved all the laundry vignettes. Often it seems to be an overlooked area for displays, so it was great to get some inspiration for designs for these spaces –whether as a separate room or part of a closet.

Toni Sabatino, Toni Sabatino Style, New York


Left, clockwise: Richelieu has done great cabinetry inserts, as well as surfaces and hardware. Emmevi Rubinetterie, Italy, featured a Pinnochio faucet with water coming out of his nose when you move his arms. Thompson Traders’ Artisanal sinks and accessories – this is really stunning handwork.