Choosing windows so you can see clearly (now)

custom-windows

Imagine living in a house without a window. You can’t, can you? Windows are your view of the world from inside your home. Light from windows lifts our spirits and keeps us connected to the view and perpetual drama of the weather outside, from the cozy warmth of our homes.

They’re also an important design element when viewed from the outside, contributing to—or detracting from—“curb appeal.” But beyond aesthetics, windows are one of the big drivers of energy use in your home. Old single-pane windows or windows with broken seals between double glass panes leak heat in the winter and boost air conditioning costs by letting in too much heat in the summer.

If you feel drafts, see signs of moisture such as fogging or ice crystals on your windows, or if curtains blow while windows are tightly shut, it’s time for a window upgrade. Let’s look at it in perspective.

Though a complete re-do, installing energy efficient double-paned windows can result in significant savings, lowering energy bills by as much as 10% or more. The economic benefits don’t stop there. Replacing windows also pays off when it’s time to sell your house. Buyers love to see that this major change has been made and it results in excellent resale value for sellers.

What to look for

First, look for the Energy Star rating, a government program that indicates that the product is energy efficient.

replacement-windowsWhen New Englanders buy new windows, they make it a double; double glazed, that is. A double-glazed window consists of two panes of glass with very little space in between for insulation. The space is filled with either argon or krypton gas. The gas is non-toxic, has no odor or color so you don’t see anything, but it provides the extra insulation value. Gas is better than just air in the space because it lessens heat transfer.

When you are replacing windows in an existing home, new window panes are fitted into the present framing and millwork. With an addition or new construction, you’ll buy an entirely new window. The frames around the glass may be made of vinyl (most prevalent), wood (traditional but more expensive and looks weathered sooner), aluminum (not ideal, can be too flimsy for larger windows and is not as energy efficient), and fiberglass (glass-reinforced plastic, a newer material that’s durable).

Aesthetics and energy value are only part of what you need to consider. What about building codes? In historic areas, you’ll be limited to wood frames, probably with muntins (vertical strips that make glass look like smaller individual panes), to coordinate with the colonial, Victorian, arts & crafts or federal style of the antique home.

Other code issues that come up on older houses are window size and placement in terms of emergency exit. Although she was hoping to put off replacing windows for another year, one homeowner who was renovating a hundred-year-old camp to make it comfortable year-round discovered that the building code had changed. To proceed with the remodeling, she had to put in different sized windows upstairs.

See a design/build professional

Another cost factor comes into play when you need custom designed windows versus standard replacement windows. If your federal style home has the old rope sash and pulleys inside the frame, you’ll need someone experienced working with them and will most likely have to have windows built to size, for example.

Condominiums, co-ops and association properties have their own standards and guidelines, and will most likely require you to use a specific window manufacturer.

kitchen-window-viewWhen the contractor pulls out the old window, take a good look. Is there any wood rot or insect damage in the wood framing? What about insulation? You may find there is no or little insulation around the window, or that it has settled to the bottom. Remedy this situation as soon as possible.

Because there are so many considerations when changing out windows, or selecting windows and sliders for a new home, remodel, or addition, it pays to ask questions, especially to experienced design/build professionals like the 3W Design team. Adding or replacing windows—whether fully functional like double hung or sliding glass doors, or static ones such as sidelights to a door or decorative arched styles—is a major investment and must be done right.

Variety of views

Additional options to consider are tilt-in windows for easy cleaning and buying single sash windows instead of double hung. The difference with a single sash variety is that the upper sash doesn’t move. Double hung where both can move are more expensive but good for households with small children (you can open just the upper part), and they’re easier to clean, especially for upstairs windows. You can get away with only one bottom screen with single hung windows.

New windows make your home sparkle! Rooms feel more comfortable, are quieter, and you’ll see the savings on your energy bills. What a nice reflection on you and your home!

Posted in Redmodeling, Windows | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Out with the Cold, In with the New

spring-cleaning

In New England, you’re as likely to have a blizzard as to have 70 degrees in March, so it’s hard to tell when to start spring cleaning and shedding the vestiges of winter. While spring is official March 20, we all have our own signals that give us hope. When do you call it spring?

  • By the calendar?
  • Daylight Saving Time?
  • Red Sox Spring Training?
  • When you see bear tracks circling the bird feeder?

Whenever, that first sunny warm day—even if after a snowstorm—can spark a case of spring fever and motivate you to tackle the seasonal changeover.

First things first: out with the old (months of magazines, leftover holiday décor, clutter) and in with a fresh, cleaner look. Send snowman décor, heavily scented candles and warm throws back to the attic or basement. (Don’t store anything without cleaning it first, and get rid of things that are too worn.)

Lighten up!

You’ll be amazed at how much neater table and shelf surfaces look when you put away—or give away—those knickknacks and dust collectors. Polish the sleeker tabletops and you’ve already made progress.

Straighten out those bookshelves. Can you share some of your collection or donate some books? Eliminate a few accessories to let a little “air” into the shelves. How about a makeover: paint the inside a contrasting color or add wallpaper.

Clearing out things to make room for new, positive energy to enter is a principle of feng shui. To change winter’s stagnant, stuffy energy, move! Your furniture, that is. Experiment with new placement. If you’re having hardwood floors polished and rugs or carpets cleaned, consider this an opportunity to minimize the number of pieces in the room. Or pretend you’re “staging” the room to sell your home. Most of us have too many articles of furniture taking up space literally and figuratively. All that “stuff” can hold us back from more creative seasonal expressions.

Positive energy, practically speaking

In feng shui, entrances are important. An objective consultation with an experienced designer will help you streamline and give your home a fresh new perspective. This helps clear the way for more abundant “life force” (chi in Chinese) to flow and, according to ancient thought, blessings are sure to follow. To encourage positive energy flow, clear the decks and make the entranceway welcoming.

Winter in New England means lots of warm clothing clutter: hats, gloves, mittens, people and dog sweaters, boots, etc. So set aside some time to tackle the front hall or “mudroom.” Don’t have one? Click to our last article about mudrooms in NH.

Remember to keep a jacket and rain boots handy for that inevitable squall and mud season. Tired of wrestling with that top-heavy coat tree? Can’t squeeze another thing in that hall closet? A re-do may be in order. You’ll be amazed at how much more room a closet installation can you give you, while letting you see everything at the same time.

Speaking of closets, it’s a sure bet your pantry could use a purge.

Let the sun shine in by taking down heavy insulated drapes, replacing them with something lighter and brighter, maybe with sheers. To improve the outside view, wash those windows and screens.

Get the fireplace ready… for next fall!

Clean out the fireplace one last time and consider if this will be the year that you convert to gas. Schedule a chimney cleaning so you don’t have to worry about it next November when temps take a nose dive. Are the bricks in good shape? How happy are you with the surround and mantel? A fireplace is a focal point. Give it a facelift by adding marble, tile or molding.

Did you hatch any remodeling plans over the winter? Think inside out. If you’re replacing drafty old windows with broken seals, for example, add insulation too.

The vernal finishing touch

In the bedroom, clean and store those heavy blankets, reverse that comforter or duvet cover, or replace it with something spring-like and colorful.

Any home could use a breath of fresh air—literally. On the first warm, spring-like day, open all the windows and air your home out.

Florals are traditional expressions of spring, so if your daffodils haven’t bloomed yet, bring flowers in along with green plants. If your sofa is slipcovered, it’s time to wash and switch it out to a lighter, brighter one.

Put a spring wreath on the door—after a wash, fresh paint and/or new hardware—and you’re ready!

Whether your home needs a head to toe remodel or you just want to refresh a room or two, the designers at 3W Design Inc. can help, from new window treatments all the way to an outdoors entertaining space. So think spring. After all, when the Red Sox are in Fort Myers, can summer be that far behind?

Posted in Seasons | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Modern Flooring Options

Something’s up underfoot!

modern-flooring-options

Any major renovation, remodel or new construction starts from the bottom up. So a firm interior design foundation – wood, tile, stone or carpet – comes first. Let’s look below the surface of the many options of flooring available today.

Flooring can be flamboyant, like a black-and-white harlequin pattern of tiles reminiscent of a Venetian palace, to something that fades into the background, such as a neutral no-pile carpet, that just serves as a blank canvas to showcase your furniture and walls.

But your flooring’s appearance is only part of what you need to consider. Think about:

  • What happens in the room
  • How much traffic and what kind of traffic it will get
  • Character and style of the room, e.g., formal or informal
  • How long it will last (how durable is the material)
  • How comfortable it feels underfoot
  • What kind of care it requires
  • Your budget

There are so many choices today, even within one material like wood, for example. Pine wood alone has variations, from heart of pine (the absolute hardest) to yellow or white pine (only half as hard, and can be subject to dents and dings).

Hardwood can be finished in different stains, and to a high-gloss sheen, a satin finish (popular now) or a matte finish. Boards can be laid horizontally or diagonally for a more contemporary look, or in a herringbone or chevron pattern like old parquet.

transition-flooring

Hardwood floors are timeless but there are a lot more choices now in terms of color (from expresso to white and the new neutral, gray) and styles.

Lighter color (blond) wood expands a room visually, while darker wood looks elegant and old world. In a high-ceilinged Victorian, a dark floor adds a rich look. But dark wood shows dust and dirt more than lighter woods.

Trending now are wood planks that are longer and wider (8 to 10 inches). Reclaimed wood—“recycled” from old barns and underneath carpets in old houses. These give a unique look but the supply is limited. For a similar look, you can get distressed wood, made to look old.

Another kind of wood floor is engineered wood, which is a hardwood veneer over plywood or fiberboard base. The thicker the veneer the more expensive it is, but it’s still less than solid hardwood.

Laminates have been around long enough they no longer “sound” plastic-y like some used to (like when your dog’s nails “click” across the room). Plus they can be virtually undetectable from the real thing. Laminate is a very thin layer of plastic or wood glued to a core. Besides being less expensive, these floors are scratch resistant and come in almost as many varieties as hardwood.

If using sustainable materials matters to you, bamboo (very strong) or cork might fit the bill. Both are environmentally friendly. Cork is becoming a favorite in kitchens because its softness and resiliency are easier on backs, feet and legs. It also soaks up sound.

Other flooring materials to tickle your tootsies include ceramic and porcelain tile, including some in styles that are made to look like wood. Slate and stone are popular for smaller inside floors, such as bathrooms and indoor/outdoor transition areas like mudrooms. Though easy to clean, some materials require annual sealing or treatment.

kitchen-tile-flooring

Carpet is a warm, cozy perennial favorite for New England bedrooms or, if your floors are hardwood, add rugs. There are hundreds of choices in carpet, from differences in pile to carved patterns, nylon versus wool, and of course colors.

Sisal is a natural plant material that is used in carpets, and especially on stairs as runners or treads. (Hardwood stairs can be slippery for pets to climb.) It’s durable, doesn’t show dirt, but is not very soft.

What lies just beneath the surface…

Remodelling with new flooring is the perfect opportunity to fix those squeaky floorboards, and even out sloping or uneven floors. That’s a must, actually—tile or stone or vinyl will crack if the base is not level.

hardwood-kitchen-flooringWhether you go with engineered wood, laminate, ceramic tile or, stone or carpet, what’s underneath matters too. Whether sub flooring or underlayment (plywood, foam or particleboard), the foundation of the flooring is important to get right. A good carpet deserves good padding, for example.

For a treat for your feet, think about radiant heating beneath your flooring. It warms the room from the floor up and is an efficient way to heat. It’s appropriate for underneath most flooring materials except for carpeting, which blocks the heat.

Floored by all the choices? Your 3W Design team will help you select and install the perfect material for your home and lifestyle, to keep you on firm footing for a very long time.

Posted in interior Design | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Home Sweet Home… Office!

home-office

According to Entrepreneur.com, the residence is the primary workplace for 2.8 million Americans. With flexible schedules, telecommuting, virtual teams and freelancing, more people are joining the work-at-home crowd every day. Just about every home needs an office these days, whether a separate room, a dual-purpose guestroom, or at minimum, a niche in the kitchen or off the living room.

If nothing else, you need a spot for the home computer or laptop, to pay bills, and keep track of kids’ school and sports papers and schedules.

A home office can and should be as stylish, efficient and functional as the rest of your house. So get ready to clear off the foyer table or kitchen counter and get organized once and for all!

As with any design/build project, first things first: what do you need a home office space to do? That is, how does it need to function? Will it be a solo spot, or a shared or collaborative workspace? Do you need quiet for conference calls?

Get strategic and be specific!

To be more work focused, consider these choices:

  • Drawers or file cabinets (or deep drawers for files)
  • Built-in or floating shelves, or cabinets
  • Open shelving or closed, or open with bins or baskets
  • Counter space to spread out blueprints or textiles
  • Desktop for computer, laptop
  • Couch or sleep sofa for guests or inspirational naps
  • Flooring: will you roll around on a chair? Do you need carpet to soak up sound?
  • Natural light, task lighting or a combination?

Be flexible but keep your style.

Will you see clients or co-workers? Or does the office double as a guest room?

An office in its own room gives you the opportunity for mixed-use flexibility and furniture. A loveseat can turn into a bed, a Murphy bed can pull down from the wall. A file cabinet on wheels can roll away into a closet when not needed, or you can tuck files (or linens for the day bed) into a storage ottoman.

home-library-officeIf you opt for cabinetry and a built-in look, coordinate with the rest of your home. If traditional, your designer will help you select pieces that look like fine furniture. For a contemporary vibe, look at sleek modular designs with chrome, metal or acrylic hardware or shelving.

The library look, with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, is classic. Old Victorian homes with high ceilings lend themselves to this; sliding ladders are an authentic touch. Or, you could even go full-on faux using wallpaper for the same effect.

How much time will you spend there? If you’re self-employed and/or this is basically a full-time office, you need to consider ergonomics, that is, human engineering, how to move efficiently, comfortably and safely within the space.

If you sit at a desk, your chair is important. Can you see a screen or monitor without squinting or craning your neck? Adjustable stand-up desks give you an option.  In terms of idea generation and organization, what’s helpful: a bulletin board, white board? You could go really big by covering a wall in chalkboard paint.

Power up! 

office-at-homeToday’s electronic and media-rich lifestyles require lots of electricity. Especially if your home is older, you may need more electrical outlets.

Not everything is worthy of display. If you run a messy office in a nook or off a living space, or are in the midst of a big project and don’t have a door to close, a panelled screen or simple curtain can work. Baskets or bins on open shelves can hide a multitude of sins (and papers and office supplies). Little things matter: corral that cord clutter with a sleeve or wrap for a sleeker, organized appearance.

When you work full-time at home, it’s good to have some separation for that all-important transition from office hours to at-home downtime. If you don’t have a door to close, leaving your computer or spreadsheets behind, how about a curtain, or a pull-down desk surface that goes back up.

Beyond the practical, how do you want your office to feel? Design can play a big part in creating the home workspace of your dreams, from color that inspires, calms or invigorates, to focal points or window treatments framing a view that gives you joy.

Whether your work surface is an old farm table, a parsons table, classic roll-top desk or a write-on wall, with 3W design, inc. as a partner, you can have a stylish, efficient workspace with all the comforts of home—including a dog or cat bed for your best friend and co-worker.

Ready to get down to business? We can help you design your world headquarters – with the easiest possible commute! Feel free to call us for assistance at (603) 226-3399.

Posted in Home Office | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Dress Up Your Dining Room

During the holidays, the dining room takes the spotlight. Could yours use an update?

comfort-dining-room

Formal or informal, elegant or cottage cozy, dining rooms get dressed up for the holidays as family feasts take center stage. But here are some ideas that could make your dining room even more welcoming.

The Appetizer

At this time of year in New England, good lighting is vital. Ceiling lighting such as a chandelier puts the spotlight on your table, whether one spectacular brass or crystal chandelier, blown-glass pendants, or metal track lighting for that industrial vibe. Overhead lighting can really highlight the table, which is the focal point of the room.  A chandelier with arms is perfect for a garland or for hanging crystal glass ornaments for the holidays.

Be sure to include a rheostat switch to dining room lighting. Being able to raise or lower the lights adds an extra touch of ambience. A chandelier with candle-style bulbs that can be dimmed for evening meals won’t overwhelm table candles and lets them twinkle.

If your dining room has high, tray or cove ceilings, you have additional opportunities to light up the room and add atmosphere. Wall sconces add a formal, classic touch with candle bulbs. And crown moulding is literally the crowning touch for traditional rooms.

The Main Course

What’s your style of dining room table: classic cherry, walnut or oak, or contemporary/industrial acrylic, glass or metal? A beautiful table—preferably one that can glass-table-topbe extended with leaves for special occasions—is a blank canvas.

Contemporary or classic, rectangular or round, the table is the gathering place. If yours is looking the worse for wear or perhaps a “well-loved” family heirloom, you may want to refinish it. Luckily, a tablecloth—or a couple of them of different lengths draped over each other—is a quick fix.

Every great dining room deserves a firm foundation. Hardwood? Laminate? Carpeting? Chances are your dining room isn’t an island unto itself; other rooms flow in and out through doorways. So you probably have coordinating flooring. But you can differentiate your dining room and warm it up with a beautiful area rug beneath the table. Rugs or carpet also soften sound.

A Choice of Sides

Along the walls, chair rails complement crown moulding, or if your style of home décor warrants it, consider wainscoting.

Draperies are classic window treatments. Go big with long panels that “puddle” on the hardwood floor, and rods just below the ceiling to lengthen and expand the appearance of any size window.

If you have a view, of course you should showcase it. Just realize that for several months each year, if you dine after 5:00 p.m., it will be pitch black outside.

Or swap window dressings out according to the season: heavy, insulating drapes in the winter, and light billowy sheers in the summer. For a different but still stylish look, especially if the view isn’t great, consider shutters.

Furnishings that act as “sides” to the dining table can include a hutch or china cabinet, sideboard/buffet table, and/or an attractive wine rack or bar table combination.

Artwork on the walls shouldn’t be hung too high since you and your guests will most often view it while seated.

Pull Up a Chair

Comfortable seating and atmospheric lighting encourage guests to linger after dinner. When it comes to chairs, no matter what your style, they don’t all have to match. But they country-dining-roomshould be at the same seating height, so no one’s at chest level to the table.

If there’s room, upholstered chairs with arms at the head and foot of the table (master and mistress chairs) are a nice touch. A bench is great to pull up for kids or extra guests, but unless it has a back it’s not comfortable for everyday use.

For the holidays, elegant slipcovers dress up plain chairs, and you can toss them in the washer when wine or gravy gets spilled.

Room for Dessert

Music adds to every occasion, but if your sound system is in another room, pipe in the music with remote or wireless speakers. And, every celebration deserves a festive centerpiece. Natural materials suitable for the season are traditional but the Internet and decorating magazines have endless ideas.

If your dining room needs a makeover, talk to the space planning experts at 3W Design. Then get ready to entertain in style.

Posted in interior Design | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Your Laundry Room: No Longer a Dirty Secret

Shades of Gray

 

Imagine feeling delighted, excited even, to enter your laundry room! It could happen with a thoughtful, well-planned, redesigned room from 3W Design.

Laundry rooms are often neglected parts of the home. But laundry won’t feel like such a chore if you create a welcoming, efficient, functioning environment. Here are some ideas for “destination” laundry rooms that will leave you feeling anything but wishy-washy about washing day.

Why remodel your laundry area? Maybe your old washer drained all over the floor, leaving pounds of unspun towels sopping wet at the bottom. Your dryer died. If these major appliances are old, they can be a real energy drain. If you’re replacing these appliances for more efficient Energy Star-rated ones, it may be the perfect time to reconfigure your utility room, mud room or laundry closet.

What do you want this space to be? Will it be a multi-purpose room with a sink, counter space, recycling center, mud room for coats and boots, or pet area? Is there room to include a desk for bill paying and/or homework, or for a table to fold out for crafting?

At Home

 

Is your laundry area in a bathroom, or is there room to incorporate a powder room into or next to the laundry? Flooring should be practical and easy to clean (a laundry area is not the place for carpet) but that doesn’t mean it can’t be attractive and there are lots of nice-looking, durable flooring materials and finishes to choose from.

An ironing board can be folded away in a slotted closet. A seat on a bench above a cubby or bin can be used for pulling boots on and off. Tired of unfolding a drying rack in the middle of the floor? Consider rods for hanging, perhaps above the counter or sink.

Dress it up

For a utility room that looks anything but utilitarian, when it comes to decorating, have fun! Large white or neutral appliances don’t leave a lot of wall space, depending on the size of the room. So you can go a little wild to make a big impact with a beautiful glass tile backsplash or funky wallpaper—whatever makes you smile when you enter. Especially if there are no windows, choose bright colors or classic white with bright accents.

For storage of cleaning supplies, incorporate custom built-in cabinets to complement a contemporary style home, or do open shelves with rustic baskets for a cottage or farmhouse feel. Simple touches can make any space special, like using a single color for all hangers, and coordinating bins for storage and supplies.

Nashville Farmhouse

 

Hide and seek

If your laundry room is near the main living space, there are other considerations. How quiet and vibration-free are the appliances?

If off the kitchen, in a pantry, or in a mudroom, front-loading machines can be tucked into elegant cabinetry. Consider a pocket door or one with glass panes if in keeping with the house style. Louvred doors can let some of the warm air from the dryer through–but the noise comes with it.

Take things UP a notch 

The days of hauling heavy baskets up and down the stairs from a dark basement are over. For convenience, nothing beats an upstairs laundry space. Since the bulk of the laundry—and the bulkiest laundry—is bed and bath linens and towels, this makes a lot of sense.

Of course, you probably can’t add on upstairs, so where to put it? A linen closet could work, especially if it’s adjacent to upstairs bathrooms and plumbing. You can stack things in your favor by putting a front-loading washer and dryer on top of each other.

Things you’ll need to consider with your design/builder for an upstairs laundry include:

  • Where will the dryer vent?
  • What will the noise level be like? (Select appliances that don’t have a lot of vibration.)
  • Will extra precautions have to be taken due to moisture being produced?
  • How deep are the appliances? Front loaders tend to be deeper than top-loading machines (which may be wider). Don’t forget to account for hoses, faucets and pipes at the rear or on the side.)
  • Is there enough vertical space to consider putting the machines on a pedestal for storage drawers underneath?

Some “destination” laundry rooms even include a dog washing and grooming station. After all, it kind of makes sense to keep those furry coats clean in the same place you wash all of your outer wear.

You still may not want to air your dirty laundry when guests come over…but if you work with a designer like 3W design, you’ll certainly want to show them your beautiful, functional spaces including your very livable laundry room!

Posted in Launtry Rooms | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Make Your Kitchen Work for You – Beautifully!

kitchen-remodeling-nh

A kitchen remodeling project can be fun, especially when you work with experienced design/builders. But it’s also daunting: so many details! Before you get to the fun part such as style and décor and choosing new appliances, consider function first.

Of course, the function will be a beautiful, well-planned, efficient place to cook. But what else do you require from a kitchen space? Since remodels are costly investments meant to last from a couple of decades or until you move to another home, you want to make the most of this opportunity.

Try this exercise: take out your favorite note-taking device and try to make a list of everything that happened in your kitchen in the last 24 hours. That list is likely to be pretty long. Now put a check mark next to the functions your kitchen currently serves pretty well, and a minus sign next to the functions it struggles to support. The negative functions are the ones you’ll want to address in your remodel. If you’re not sure how, ask a professional.

Kitchen remodels need to last a long time, so consider how your life will evolve over time. If you have children, will they still be living at home in 15 years? A wall with chalkboard paint for kids’ masterpieces, menus and lists can easily be painted over when your style has changed from easy-to-clean and child-proof to sleek stainless or French country.

kitchen-islandBut more permanent fixtures and surfaces—countertops, cabinets—must stand the test of time, not only for function but for attractiveness. This is not the place to go retro with a boomerang-patterned red-and-black sparkle counter a la 1960s diner, no matter how fun it seems today – unless of course that is what you really want! Just be aware that come time to sell, it could be a turn-off to an otherwise interested buyer.

Centuries ago, the kitchen was the hub of the home because of the hearth, which provided warmth. More than that, it was the cooking, drying and even bathing area. We don’t bathe in washtubs anymore, but we do practically everything else in today’s larger kitchens. A few examples…

  • Besides cooking and food preparation, there’s food storage
  • Children may do homework there
  • A desk may serve for meal planning, bill-paying
  • You could have a mini office with a computer
  • There could be an adjacent laundry room
  • You may have a collection of cookbooks or glassware to display
  • An island may serve as a buffet table for entertaining
  • The kitchen may be open to adjoining spaces so you can keep an eye on children and guests.

Speaking of guests, because it’s impossible to keep them out of your kitchen, the heart of the home needs to be beautiful enough to show off, but also allow you to entertain the way entertaining-in-kitchenyou want to. One key design element is a clear delineation between guests and host, typically an island or peninsula that can serve as a buffet and/or bar. This way you can engage with your guests while keeping them out of your way.

A kitchen remodel is, of course, a significant investment. It’s important that you design, plan and build a space that serves the needs of your entire household for the life of the kitchen. Once you’ve plotted how it needs to serve your functional needs, it’s easier to choose the layout and design elements to make it a beautifully functional space for years to come.

Engaging an interior designer doesn’t have to feel like a big commitment. We offer what we call a Design Agreement. For a minimal upfront cost, you get to tap into the knowledge, experience, and resources of our team. At the end, you will have a picture of the proposed design and a layout plan to keep. If you see the value in what we offer, we put the cost of the Design Agreement towards your project budget for the build out. It’s that simple—and the results will be simply stunning!

Feel free to call the pros at 3W design at (603) 226-3399 if you have kitchen design questions. It’s why we’re here!

Posted in Kitchens, Redmodeling | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Build Green to Save Resources & Money

home-solar-panels

Any home building or remodeling project can benefit from a little green thinking, as in saving resources and saving greenbacks to boot.

In fact, you can adapt your home or remodeling project, even if already under-construction, to be more environmentally friendly without spending a lot of extra green. Many energy-efficient home improvements save you lots of money in the long run—and you may even be eligible for a federal tax rebate. Perhaps the best thing is you won’t have to compromise on designing and building beautiful spaces to enjoy.

First, think about the Four R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle, and repurpose.

  • What materials can you use to reduce your environmental impact?
  • Can you reuse barn board, beams, shiplap, or reclaimed flooring?
  • Can you save that cast-iron bathtub, or re-wire and recycle a funky light fixture?
  • Can old wood paneling be used for bookshelves or slate roof tiles to make a path?
  • Your old cabinets, carefully removed, could be just the thing for someone’s camp or cabin—and your walls aren’t destroyed in the demolition.

Maybe you don’t have things to salvage, but other people do. Check out architectural salvage yards and Habitat for Humanity’s ReStores. There are several in New Hampshire. (And, if you’re remodeling, think about donating useful items to the ReStores.)

Sign up for an audit

Not an IRS audit, a good kind: a free energy audit. It will be well worth your time because any improvements you make will help your home feel warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer, and your energy bills will be lower.

solar-panel-installationNHSaves, in collaboration with the NH Public Utilities Commission and local electric and natural gas utilities (Eversource, Liberty Utilities, New Hampshire Electric Co-Op and Unitil), provides information and incentives to reduce energy costs and help save the environment at no cost to consumers.

OK, it’s not really free—you pay for energy efficient initiatives when you pay your utility bill. So why not take advantage of it? And ask about federal tax rebates for using things such as compact fluorescent light bulbs while you’re at it.

Let’s take a look at some practical ways you can significantly improve energy efficiency at home:

  • Contact your power company to have an energy audit done. They can recommend simple fixes, and there may even be money available under energy grants to help pay for them.
  • Solar panels enable you to not only get cheap electricity, but in some areas putting panels on your roof may pay, through programs which sell electricity back to the power company. Or maybe geothermal energy is available from the ground up.
  • Live in a condo townhouse, or can’t consider panels on the roof of that 1800s home? Practice simple “passive” solar solutions, such as opening and closing blinds at strategic times on certain sides of the house.
  • When remodeling, ask the experts at 3W Design if installing radiant heat underneath your new flooring is a good option. This warms rooms from the floor up, keeping you feeling warmer, and eliminating a lot of waste from heat rising to the ceiling.
  • While you’re on the ceiling, add a fan to move warm or cool air around. It’s old-fashioned but effective.
  • Replacing windows? Of course, you’ll want well-insulated ones. See if the contractor can blow extra insulation into the walls around the windows, especially if you have an older home that may not be well insulated.
  • If you’re reusing old windows that are single-paned, add storm windows in the winter to keep the heat inside, and add weather-stripping. You may even be able to find old storm windows to reuse.

Another major item to consider when remodeling or building is plumbing fixtures and appliances such as hot water heaters, and washers and dryers. Low-flow fixtures (showerheads, toilets, dishwashers) can reduce water usage by as much as 50%.

Look for Energy Star appliances for the best efficiency. How much can you save by updating appliances? New dishwashers use less than 6 gallons of water to get your dishes clean, versus 10 gallons per wash cycle of a 10-year-old model, for savings all around.

efficient-gas-fireplaceTankless hot water heaters don’t waste energy by constantly reheating the water in the tank. Hot water comes out instantly, never runs out, and there are federal tax rebates for them. Ask your bathroom and kitchen remodeler at 3W Design for details.

Outside, investigate drought-proof landscaping (known as xeriscaping, and practiced frequently in the U.S. Southwest), or leave areas wild for insects and wildlife. You won’t need noise-polluting power tools (leaf blowers, mowers) that use gas, and the birds, bees and butterflies will enjoy the natural habitat.

Look up the Green Building Council at www.usgbc.org for more ideas. The designers and builders at 3W Design can help you bring your ideas for an energy efficient, environmentally friendly lifestyle to life—beautifully.

Posted in Construction, Green Building | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Design a Master Bath for the Ages

Large Master Bathroom

What’s the number one must-have people want in a master bath makeover these days?

Large spaces!

According to Houzz Bathroom Trends Study, in 2015 30% of those remodeling a bathroom wanted to enlarge their shower by 50% or more; 19% were looking for 25 to 50% more room. Are you looking for more space, comfort, ease, and safety in a spa-like bathroom? First, you need to determine your budget.

In southern New Hampshire, remodeling a basic bathroom starts at about $11,000. For a nice master bathroom, you can expect to pay $20,000 and up. If the value of your home is in the $500,000 range and higher, expect to pay significantly more to do your master bathroom—and your home–justice.

Danahy Master AfterOf course, if you’re considering adding on a master bathroom as part of a new master bedroom suite, the cost would be more. But the investment is well worth it.

Redoing a bathroom is not for amateurs. Aside from the challenges of moving or adding plumbing fixtures, if you want to enlarge the room you have to take space from someplace else. Can you steal a few feet from a walk-in closet, or a hallway? Bump out a wall into an adjacent room? An experienced design/build team can show you possibilities (and pitfalls) you may not be aware of.

A firm foundation

Start from the bottom up. Tile floors—ceramic and stone or tiles disguised as stone—is classic. Another timeless look is a palette of black and white squares or diamonds. Newer looks include travertine marble and even wood. How about radiant (under-floor) heating? This warms the room from the floor up, makes toes feel toasty, and is more efficient. To visually expand and unify the room, particularly with walk-in showers, you can “flow” tile flooring into the shower basin.

Lighting is important, not just for tasks such as shaving. Consider recessed or can lighting to open your bathroom up, and include a strategically placed heat lamp and dimmer switches. Make the most of any natural light. Does the house layout give you a skylight option?

Binder 30 (1)Larger showers are trendy, but are you willing to sacrifice a tub? Or will the master be large enough to feature a soaker tub? For traditional or transitional homes, clawfoot and similar style tubs fit right in. Soaker or slipper-shaped tubs are deeper than but not as long as other tubs.

For that spa ambiance, nothing beats a whirlpool or air-jet tub, but they use a lot of power, water, and can be heavy and noisy. So think carefully about how much you’ll use it. Maybe a steam shower is more practical.

Vanities offer furniture-like features with feet, vertical slide-out drawers for bottles and jars, and open storage areas like cubbies. These nooks can relieve the look and feel of solid, hard surfaces, especially when rolled towels are tucked inside. (Some vanities are furniture, old dressers opened up on top for a vessel sink, for example, for a true custom piece.)

Dual sinks are the norm these days in new construction, but do they fit your lifestyle? Maybe you and your significant other rarely use the bathroom at the same time. If so, that’s valuable space you can use for something else, like more storage.

What are your privacy preferences? Is there room for a privacy wall or alcove to set off the toilet area? Some contemporary bathrooms feature curved walls that “hide” showers or toilets behind them, without walling them off completely.

Think about comfort besides style. Imagine wrapping yourself in a warm towel from a heated rack on winter mornings. Is the bathroom easy to clean? (Hanging vanities and toilets mounted on the wall free up floor space and make mopping a cinch.)

The future is now.

As the Chinese proverb says, the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now. What does this mean? Consider the future while redesigning or remodeling your home. According to AARP’s 2012 United States of Aging Survey, 90% of Americans, plan on “aging in place,” that is, in their home. Therefore, plan ahead when doing any building or remodeling project. That means considering the principles of universal design.

Universal design principles allow for beautiful spaces now and, looking toward the future, safety and accessibility for when you may not be as agile or strong. Maybe you may have an elder parent living with you, or you may eventually need to accommodate a walker or wheelchair.

For a major master bath remodel, consider the following carefully:

  • A master bedroom and bath on the first floor
  • Incorporating a walk-in or curb-less shower stall
  • Making sure there are no sharp edges or tight squeezes
  • Installing wider doorways
  • Lighting the cabinet toe-kick for nighttime bathroom trips
  • Touch-free plumbing fixtures
  • Scald guard on the hot water heater
  • Including seating in the shower
  • Nonslip flooring to prevent falls
  • Smooth, easy-to-clean surfaces
  • Door and cabinet handles that are easy to grip or push
  • A hand-held shower head that can easily slide down or up for access when standing or sitting.

home-spa

Whether you’re remodeling a master bath for your comfort now and for decades to come, or thinking of resale value, the right details can make all the difference. Well-designed fixtures will complement your home’s style, and be functional without looking institutional—such as towel bars that are sturdy enough to double as grab bars.

The 3W Design team has plenty of experience building and performing master bathroom makeovers, so please feel free to give us a call! (603) 226-3399

Posted in Bathroom Trends, Bathrooms | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

2016 Kitchen Trends for “Always in the Kitchen” People

French Country Kitchen

 

The kitchen is the heart of the home and though trends come and go, some things are timeless: like white appliances, clean, uncluttered lines and clean design.

According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, a traditional look is only one of the reasons why 67% of consumers today say they prefer a classic white-on-white kitchen. But white doesn’t have to be boring or sterile. For a pop of color in a classic white kitchen, rely on colorful china or stoneware in a glass-front cabinet, eye-catching hardware – things like whimsical knobs, etc.

So, you’re not an old-fashioned kind of homeowner? White works with contemporary designs too, and you don’t have to give up style. One of the buzzwords today is “transitional design,” a combination of traditional and contemporary.

White subway tile backsplashes are one trend that’s come back around again this century. But for a newer look in your contemporary kitchen, try gray grout–and it won’t show every little speck like white can. In fact, gray–in shades of charcoal, fog, ash, shadow, dove gray, slate, stone, smoke and silver–is being called the “new white” or “new neutral.” Other hues that can function as neutrals in the palest pastel shades include pale blue, a green or sage gray, and tinted whites.

When it comes to our love affair with stainless steel appliances (which work with both white and gray color schemes), the honeymoon may be over. Though still popular, contemporary and sleek with a slightly industrial vibe, they’re also notoriously tough to keep shiny and fingerprint-free.

Living in black and white

For a touch of drama, black on white livens things up: black granite countertops with a harlequin black-and-white diamond floor, for example. (How classic a combo is this? Think Venetian palaces.)

Granite is still king and tops most people’s want list. But this solid stone has to be sealed regularly, whereas lighter, brighter quartz is easier to care for.

This makes quartz the latest contender in the counter craze. Made of crushed quartz stone with resin, the material is rated toughest by Consumer Reports. And there are dozens of color options.

French Country Kitchen

 

Still on trend with a traditional flare is the kitchen island, peninsula and cabinetry-as-furniture look. So that floating island may sport corbels, claw or bun feet, and carvings. This works seamlessly if the “furniture” touches match the home’s overall feel.

A perennial classic touch, even in the kitchen, is hardwood flooring. Especially if you have the much-desired “open concept” layout where the kitchen is open to and integrated into the dining room and/or a great room, matching flooring creates a sense of flow. And if a kitchen is all white, or has a contemporary, cooler feel, wood floors in any color or stain add a feeling of warmth.

Looking to change it up a little? Consider a newer, sustainable flooring material such as bamboo, a softer and quieter product like cork, or a wood or laminate in gray stain palette instead of the familiar maple or oak.

Pore over magazines, and drool over specialty websites like www.Houzz.com, www.HGTV.com, and of course www.3Wdesigninc.com for inspiration and ideas when you’re planning your build or renovation.

Rye Seacoast Living Home

 

A kitchen remodeling project is the perfect opportunity to consider the extras you always wanted—even if you didn’t know you wanted them. Think about a warming drawer, for example, or under-counter, hands-free, slide-out trash and recycling bins.

Bring in more light with a larger window or skylight. Hide electrical outlets under the cabinets instead of interrupting the backsplash, which could be solid stone. Under-cabinet lighting can reflect off a shiny counter to add a touch of elegance while providing better task lighting, and acting as night lighting.

Trends and what’s popular are one thing, but…

What’s most important, though, is what you want, which isn’t necessarily what “everyone else is doing.” What works for you? Different levels of counter workspace? Smooth surfaces that are easy to clean, or do you want more “gingerbread” in your Victorian? A prep sink in an island? (Consider adding a disposal to it.)

The professionals at 3W Design can help you check every item off of your wish list, whether you’re updating or doing an extreme makeover from the floor up. So picture yourself in the kitchen of your dreams—and expect to have lots of company there.

Posted in Kitchens | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment