Blog Archive for August, 2016

How to choose the right toilet

Categories: Blog | Posted: August 25, 2016


Admit it. The toilet isn’t high on your list when you’re thinking about your bathroom remodel. It’s not something you discuss excitedly with your friends as you talk about your bathroom makeover.

A toilet has a function. Period.

So does a faucet, but there are many different types of that plumbing fixture. Before you brush off the toilet as a purely utilitarian item, consider your options so you’ll know how to choose the right toilet.

Onesie or two-piece?

A toilet is comprised of two components: the tank and the seat base. The two-piece toilet has reigned as the throne of choice for a long time, but the one-piece toilet has gained in popularity in recent years.

A two-piece toilet is easier to move, but a one-piece commode has no seams where germs can hide. Both are available in a variety of styles, from traditional to contemporary. The one-piece toilet tends to be more expensive.

Preferred seating

Toilets bowls come in a choice of round or elongated. The round is less expensive, but the oval shape is generally deemed to provide a more comfortable seat. In bathrooms where a few inches make a big difference, a round toilet is smaller and can save space.

A higher hopper?

The standard height for a toilet is approximately 14 inches, and that’s fine for most people. If you’re taller than average, you might opt for the 17-inch or 19-inch “comfort height’. This taller toilet seat is also ideal for elderly or handicapped people who are maneuvering from a wheelchair.

Push or pull flushing?

A toilet with a handle for flushing is a common choice. A push-button on the top of the toilet tank gives a more stylish flush feature. It might cost a bit more than the lever-style toilets, but also gets less handling and is easier to clean.

Low-flow or high-powered?

Energy efficiency is important to today’s homeowners. Twenty years ago, toilets used 3.5 gallons of water for every flush. Newer low-flow toilets reduced that usage to just 1.6 gallons per flush, but many people complained this gravity-based technology was no-go on the low-flow. New toilets offer different types of flushing technology. A pressure-assisted flush uses the low-flow quantity but adds power, which leads to a cleaner toilet bowl.

Toilet, toilet, on the wall

You also have the option of a wall-mounted toilet. It’s more difficult to install, but enables easy cleaning underneath (a job no one enjoys).

An in-wall toilet shows only the toilet seat emerging from the wall. The tank is hidden inside the wall. Installation requires a pro, but the sleek profile and simplicity is a great choice for certain bathroom styles.

While it might not be the most exciting seat in the house, the toilet will always be sought-after, so make sure you know how to choose the right toilet.

Laundry room design ideas

Categories: Blog | Posted: August 25, 2016


Your laundry room isn’t one of those spaces in your home where you think, “Oh, I’ll just go there and relax.” It’s purely functional.

But that doesn’t mean the room is prohibited from having style. Look at today’s bathroom designs. They’ve evolved from functional dullness to spa-like beauty. Every space in your home should reflect your personality. Don’t skip over the laundry room. There are so many ways you can re-create this utility area without spending a fortune. Here are some laundry room design ideas to get you started.

Plan for the functions.

All great outcomes start with a great plan. Determine what you want to improve in your laundry room. More storage? Additional function? Nicer style? Create a wish list of things you’d like in your “dream” laundry room.

Additional functions could include a drop-down ironing board mounted on a wall (perhaps tucked inside an attractive cabinet). Maybe you’d like a folding area to sort through your laundry. Pet lovers could also consider converting the space occupied by a utility sink into a dog bath or shower. Some laundry rooms are situated in a place where they double as a mudroom, which means you need even more organization for this double duty!

Calculate your space.

Next, determine what you have to work with—such as space, plumbing, and electrical. Are you planning to knock down a wall to expand the space? Will you need to replumb, redo the dryer vent, or maybe switch from electric to gas (or vice versa)? Make sure you know the current condition of the room.

When you measure the space, take into account whether your appliances are top- or front-loading. Top-loading washers and dryers need extra clearance below the bottom of any cabinet or shelf mounted above it.

Now that you know what you want and what you have, you can build the plan for a room that might even get you excited about doing laundry.

Get creative with storage.

Where do you stash your cleaning products? Is there a shelf over the washer and dryer? Color that “gone”. Use the same storage logic for your laundry room organization as you apply to your kitchen, bathroom, and closet—easy access cabinets, drawers, cubbies, and shelving. Storage should be attractive, no matter what area it occupies.

If your laundry room is also the place where you keep your brooms, mops, and vacuum, how will you store them? A closet is a great addition, but if space is limited, think about adding a pegboard organization wall where you can hang them, along with other household cleaning items and tools.

Rethink the sink.

Perhaps one of the ugliest features in many laundry rooms is the utility sink—a big plastic basin with boring legs and an uninspiring faucet. That unsightly sink was designed for rinsing and washing really messy items, like muddy work clothes. Will a stainless steel sink handle the challenge as well? Absolutely! How about an oversized farmhouse sink in your laundry room for big jobs? Install the sink within a vanity, with a durable and attractive countertop. Add a kitchen faucet with a pull-down spray, and you easily, affordably improve the look of your laundry room—and add value to your home.

Your laundry room doesn’t have to be the dullest part of your home. Give it a real clean-up with these design ideas.

7 sure signs that your bathroom needs an upgrade

Categories: Blog | Posted: August 11, 2016

Are you so used to your bathroom that you overlook certain features that might be outdated? Bathroom design has evolved dramatically over the past few years. If your bathroom has become a merely functional space, then it might be time to consider remodeling.

Here are some sure signs that your bathroom needs an upgrade.

  1. The toilet is older than your kids.

Plumbing has changed, and today’s toilets offer more efficiency than your outdated commode. Low-flow toilets offer significant savings, and the touchless toilet eliminates that concern over someone’s lack of “courtesy”.

  1. Water isn’t always where it belongs.

Do you have a leaky faucet in the sink or tub? Does your toilet keep running after it’s flushed? Examine your bathroom for leaks and drips. Check the walls, ceiling, and floors for telltale signs of hidden moisture. Worn-out plumbing is an insurance claim waiting to happen.

  1. Sinks, tubs, and grout have lost that loving feeling.

Does your tile grout look like a cigarette smoker’s teeth? Are your tubs and sinks stained and scratched? Maybe your bathroom is trying to tell you it’s time to pull the plug. Retire the tired fixtures. Take advantage of today’s vast array of choices for bathroom tile, sinks, and tubs.

  1. The lighting is one-size-fits-all.

Your bathroom is a functional space. Some areas benefit from soft lighting, while others are task-centric (applying make-up, shaving). Create the right ambience in your bathroom by installing more energy-efficient fixtures that shed the right light on you—like sconces on the sides of the mirror, instead of on top, and maybe a chandelier over your spa tub.

  1. You have more toiletries than storage.

If you constantly have to make room on the bathroom vanity countertop because of the clutter, you need more storage space in your bathroom. It’s time to rethink the cabinetry. Invest in a new vanity or add shelves. An organized, uncluttered bathroom is a thing of beauty.

  1. Your life has changed.

Maybe you’re now sharing your bathroom with others—spouse, significant other, roommate, kids, in-laws. How does that affect the bathroom design? Can two people easily maneuver through the bathroom functions simultaneously? Is there too much clutter? When you double up, you should double down and invest in a bathroom remodel.

  1. You’re trying really hard to overlook the colors and patterns.

A coat of paint can only do so much to change your perspective. Styles and trends are evolving. Have they reached your bathroom yet? Today’s bathrooms have a spa-like feel, achieved with a combination of the right colors, accents, and materials. Even powder rooms deserve an update.

Every room in your home should reflect your personal style and provide the comfort that you can only get in this space. Don’t allow yourself to be lulled into mere tolerance of your rooms. Turn them into an environment that adds to the picture of your own “Home, Sweet Home”.

Maintenance tips for the first-time homeowner

Categories: Blog | Posted: August 5, 2016

After you purchase a new home, you focus on settling in, making cosmetic changes, and doing the chores that homeowners do—mowing the lawn, maintaining the appliances, and fixing up little things here and there. But do you know the basic tasks you should do to prevent bigger problems? Many newcomers to home ownership haven’t had the experience with many routine tasks, so here are some maintenance tips for the first-time homeowner.

Clear the gutters in early spring and late fall. Get up on the ladder and remove all debris in the spring and fall. If you let too much gather there, you prohibit the necessary drainage, which could cause water damage.

Check HVAC filters. Dust builds up on air filters, impacting the efficiency. You pay more for heating and cooling your home with a dirty air filter, because the HVAC system has to work harder to maintain the desired temperature. Check, clean, and/or replace the air filters according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Clean the dryer vent twice a year. Dryer lint is highly flammable. You should empty the lint trap after every load, and clean the vent (which pushes the air outside) at least twice a year. The lint build-up is not only a fire hazard but also reduces the dryer’s efficiency. If you have to run the dryer more than once to dry your laundry, you probably need to clean the vent.

Test windows and doors for drafts every fall. About 80 percent of heat loss passes through cracks in your home. Before the cold weather hits, make sure you’re not letting it into your home. Check the doors, windows, electrical outlets, and other spaces that might have leaks. Replace weatherstripping and recaulk as needed.

Venture behind your major appliances. It’s not a pretty place, but you need to get behind your refrigerator, stove, washer, and dryer at least once a year. Clean the refrigerator coils. Check all appliance connections.

Replace the smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector batteries annually. Pick a date that you can remember and designate it as Battery Replacement Day. That simple step could save your home and the people who live there.

Test your wood deck’s sealant every spring. Pressure-treated wood decking will need to be re-sealed every two to three years to prevent wood rot and water damage. Pour a glass of water on the wood. If it beads up, the sealant is still protecting the wood. If not, reseal your deck to avoid having to replace it altogether later.

Whether or not you’re a new homeowner, remember that a little preventive maintenance can save you a lot of woes later.

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