Tailored Bath Design

         Chestnut Hill Bath Remodel

I often use the term “tailored” when describing some of the parts and process we use in kitchen and bath design.  Even though tailors have little to do with renovating, it is a good metaphor for the difference between a generic developer’s bath circa 1995, and a fully developed plan.

A fully developed, or “tailored plan” uses interior architecture as well as interior design to create a plan where the details have a multi-prong synergy.

  1. The first step is drawing an improved and maximized space that takes full advantage of the real estate available. The existing bath in this study only fit one sink and vanity because of an arbitrary installation of a large tub deck The new bath has his and hers vanities with a larger shower, and still fits a large tub for soaking.
  2. Designing details that create a safe and lasting design is often an unnoticed aspect of the big picture. The existing plan in our example did not have tempered glass (required by code) near the tub. An important safety factor near a slippery surface. The design should also account for small items such as running tile high enough in a shower if the client is extra tall so the walls plaster and paint don’t deteriorate at an accelerated pace.
  3. Where one design element starts and another begins is just as important. If you look at the marriage of the tile floor inlay, how the tile climbs to and above the shower threshold; as well as the continuity of the horizontal planes with tile and crown molding, they all work equally effective at the sink, in the shower and around the tub.

Contact us here for more details on our bath remodeling services!

Happy Tailoring!



Online Shopping for Your Renovation

Shopping online has certainly come a long way. From a design/build perspective, I remember all the brick and mortar fixture and furnishing retailers trying to adapt to online competition. The pros and cons were different then; however, it was really a battle of better service at retail pricing vs. discounted pricing with questionable service policies. A lot has changed in the online environment, and so I thought I would blog about the current use of web orders and what I think works and doesn’t work.

First, there are brand positions that would regulate where the best deal is coming from. One of the hardware lines we sell in house is Top Knobs. They are what I believe is the best value in kitchen and bath hardware with middle to upper middle quality and a policy that no vendor can discount more than 25%. That brand policy makes it a no brainer to by direct from us since the shipping will be the same or less, and we are the direct contact for the purchase. If it needs to be returned, we return it, if something needs service, just call us. When looking certain national brands that you know what you are going to buy, it is easy to price compare- and if it is a porcelain toilet- you probably don’t want to risk getting a cracked one to save $5. Most vendors are sensitive to online pricing and today, there isn’t as big a savings in the end.

Quality can be difficult to understand with certain products because of the image you see online. Lighting is a big challenge for this reason and it isn’t uncommon for a client to return items that looked great in the photo only to receive something that is manufactured poorly or wasn’t accurately depicted. Like other brand items, I know I can expect good quality if I order a Quoizel light online, but I may still want to have it bundled with all the lighting selected from a local retailer since we can get better contractor pricing that keeps the costs in the same as online, with the service we want. The photo below is some hardware recently received that a client ordered online- this was really poor quality- the back of the pull and the knob were hollow. Even though this was going in a space where it didn’t need to be a luxury product, we found a solid knob and pull for the space that ended up costing less.

​​To be fair, online shopping has become a much better experience, I order most of my clothing online to avoid having to go to the store, and if I don’t like it- they have an easy to return process from almost every place I order. If you order a light from Restoration Hardware and don’t like it, they will take it back no questions asked. My first recommendation when buying fixtures and finishes for your renovation is to visit the local retailer, and use the computer for information gathering. If you can’t make it to the store, consult your design professional and let them help with what they know are good and dependable online vendors.

Hollow Drawer Pull

Victorian Kitchen Renovation Provides Structural Surprise

Our firm always has a few hurdles to jump when we meet perspective clients. First, we have to perform the process of due diligence where we prepare detailed specifications based on what the client wants. Then, we get the budget drafted with painstaking detail and closely look at the existing conditions to understand what sort of trauma we will find when we open up those walls, or truly close in on the level of finishes desired for the project. Before we get the honor of working with our future fans, we have to present the budget, which requires showing people what it will cost in reality- and not some estimate full of errors or omissions. Since most of our clients are laypersons to the remodeling industry, education is the key component when you are looking to renovate your home, and that should come in the form of a number.

Poor quality carpentry is usually evident on the outside; however, we just opened a renovation project in Newton to find that walls in the rear of the home were removed that were actually structural. On the inside, the kitchen cabinets were dated, but pretty good quality… and the home was loved by the former occupant who was elderly and wanted to stay, so a bath was added in the 90’s with the kitchen renovation. What we found when we did the demo was appalling. In one room where an undersized beam was located we had already planned “surgery” because we could see the dipping floor. The area where the new kitchen is being moved to, the previous workers had actually just arbitrarily removed a bearing wall to make way for a shower and the only thing holding up the bedroom floor above was a nonstructural wall below. While arguably this wasn’t an imminent danger issue, the floor and ceiling had settled 2 ½” because someone wanted to save $500 on a major renovation (probably not the owner).

If you look at the picture you can see that all the lightly colored floor joists are brand new and all we have to do is connect the old and new. This was at no additional cost to the owner because we had anticipated this when we opened up the ceiling in a few spots to see what we would have to deal with before they signed the agreement. While having a permit won’t guarantee a quality job (building officials are zoning enforcement agents and public safety officials), it would have saved this structure and potential disaster because building inspectors wouldn’t have allowed this to pass muster.

Coming soon….… we are going to jack up this ceiling in Sherborn and see what happened to cause a 3 inch dip in the ceiling- look at the crown molding.