Kitchen islands provide so many benefits in the kitchen: from food prep to dropping the groceries after shopping. One of the most enjoyable uses is that of a gathering place around the host (or around Mom & Dad, as is the daily routine at our home). The guests and children sit on stools that have varying degrees of “foot rest” and for the younger socialites this means having a drum on which to kick and pitter-patter against the back of the island. Utilizing interesting tile design in this location offers a great defense against scuff marks. While this may not work in every design, it is definitely worth considering when designing your dream kitchen.
Trends in design range from clothing colors to green buildings; it’s all the things we see every day. Remember the florescent colors that started with ski wear and found their way to every other piece of clothing? Like clothing, trends in home design that lose their appeal are usually color related. The trends for a home’s floor plan are long lasting and born from a slow evolution of the way we live. In the late 19th century, stately homes had only one family bath- why? In a nutshell; it was a drastic technology improvement of indoor plumbing from heating water over a fire for a weekly bath and an outhouse. Our computers did not get us any closer to a 30 hour work week; our lives are more hectic than ever. You can see this in how we use our rooms, or what type of rooms are the most important. Now the kitchen acts as a living space and allows a family to take advantage of their time together. Even the most modest new homes have 2 ½ baths to accommodate everyone getting ready at the same time. These days, a mudroom is more of an epicenter, the “Grand Central Station” of our home “Hurry! We have to get to Soccer, field hockey…” and “please put your shoes on, we have to go!” The mudroom is where we keep the library books, the outgoing mail and if there is enough room, a second powder room so we don’t have to take off winter wear and trek across the house. We’ve come a long way from one bathroom is good enough. The most important trend to consider when remodeling your home is yours…. “how will I make this work for me, my family and where we are going.”
A very common question our customers have when planning an addition is the cost per square foot. The reality is that it depends on dozens of decisions made using the triangle model of budget-quality-quantity. The shape of the structure has an impact. In the March 2006 issue of The Journal of Light Construction, Dennis Dixon noted that a 100 square foot structure built 10×10 or 2×50 resulted in a 40 linear foot and 104 linear foot outline respectively. That is a 260% difference in materials and labor. While not a realistic comparison, it certainly points out issues of geometry and how it significantly contributes to the cost of construction. The other factor I call “soft costs”. Soft costs are what you are going to put on or into your project. A window with 6 over 6 panes in an architectural wood series vs. a vinyl window will create a difference of approximately $500 or 140% difference per window. How much interior and exterior molding, built-in cabinetry and other millwork will be part of the equation as well. So what is the current trend? More people are leaning to a higher quality home with amenities rather than more square footage that is plain vanilla.
Compared to the last 3 years, we have had a mild winter. Since this has resulted in less ice dams or other problems, it can have us off guard for the next bout of bad weather. The May flowers are brought by Spring Showers; so we need to think about it now before it is too late. High volumes of rain are unusual and can catch us off guard. I know that almost every year we have one storm that produces between 5 & 10 inches of rain over a 24 hour period. Even worse, the damage of flooding basements is usually not covered by homeowners insurance. Most water issues are caused by improper or damaged gutter systems. Over the winter, freezing, thawing and snow can cause gutters to loosen or disassemble. Make sure that the gutters have not moved away from the house and that all the down spouts ate intact. On the ground, if you have direct connection to underground drains, make sure they are not dislodged. If there is no ground drainage system, make sure that the slope of the ground is away from the house and add extensions to the downspouts to move the run-off away from the foundation. After each big rain or wind storm, check again… it may save you a great deal of aggravation and expense.