Check out this before and after exterior renovation in Bay Island. Let VB Homes design your next remodel project by calling us at 757-491-1996 or visiting our website vbhomesliving.com
Picture: North End Custom Home in Virginia Beach, VA
When it comes to what’s underfoot, there is more than meets the eye. Whether you are building or remodeling, flooring is one of the most important long-lived decisions you will make in relation to aesthetics, function and even issues like safety and sound. Besides the number of choices in materials, each comes with a slew of options. Here, we take a look at the top choices:
HARDWOOD is durable, natural and warm underfoot. Oak floors say “traditional,” while some of the exotic woods like Brazilian cherry and acacia say “contemporary.” Wider planks and hand-scraped surfaces look Old World while remaining grounded in the present. Planks, parquet with their geometric patterns, and prefinished boards for easier installation should all be considered, though hardwood, which can take 120 years to mature, is not the greenest of choices.
LAMINATE is composed of layers of different wood-based materials that are glued or laminated together and topped with a photographic imprint with the appearance of wood grain. Embossing adds more realistic texture. And embossing in register (EIR) ensures that both the look and feel of the wood grain lines up. Easier to install than hardwood floors, it is also more affordable. Expect more bounce and “give” than traditional hard floor coverings as well as more sound transmission underfoot as they are not glued down to the subfloor.
ENGINEERED wood floors are a variation on laminate in that a genuine hardwood veneer tops a number of plywood layers. A little more expensive, an engineered floor is prized for its more authentic look, sound and feel than laminate. It also resists cupping and warping much more than solid planks.
BAMBOO is one of the most eco-friendly choices. Taking only three to five years to reach maturity in controlled forests, this lightweight woody grass has the tensile strength of steel, and one that resists humidity-related swelling and contraction but is still more susceptible to moisture and humidity than other species of woods. It is sold prefinished with tongue-and-groove joints like standard hardwood. Its Janka rating will indicate hardness, with traditional construction bamboo in the range of red oak and strand-woven bamboo rating as high as Brazilian cherry and teak.
CORK is another of the more sustainable choices. Its cushiony feel comes courtesy of this natural material’s honeycomb structure, which also will absorb vibration and sound. Cork’s natural nonslip surface makes it a wise choice for kitchens and baths. Though the surface will largely bounce back if dented, stiletto heels are not a cork floor’s best friend. It also can be more easily damaged because of its softness.
CERAMIC TILE, whether glazed porcelain, terra-cotta or natural stone (e.g. marble, granite, travertine or slate), is a popular, durable choice. Glazed porcelain offers the most affordability and freedom from maintenance, as porous materials must be sealed. The range of colors, textures, finishes and sizes of porcelain tiles lead to an infinite number of possibilities when combined. But drop something breakable on any of these surfaces, and it likely will shatter. And they are not known for a warm feeling underfoot, unless you install radiant flooring.
Finishing the look is grout, typically a cement-based, porous product. For the most maintenance-free grout – one that does not require sealing and re-sealing – consider an epoxy type, which is flexible and less prone to cracking and chipping, or one with an additive that strengthens and eliminates the need for sealing.
VINYL has come a long way and is one of the most budget-friendly flooring choices around. An ideal choice for spaces with moisture issues, it is easy to clean and more cushy underfoot than ceramic or stone. Available in sheets or the easier-to-install self-stick tiles, it comes in varying widths and thicknesses. The thicker the wear layer in millimeters, the more durable it will be. Try to pick a vinyl with at least 15 mm of wear layer for durability.
CARPETING is still the preferred choice of many for bedrooms, especially upper-story bedrooms where it will help muffle sound. Shag has left the ‘70s and has arrived more stylish than ever in the 21st century, although its extra-deep pile makes it a poor choice for dining spaces. Solid cut pile, the most popular choice, is soft and dense and absent of loops that can get “pulled” and unravel, especially by pets’ feet.
For commercial application, modular tiles come in a near limitless range of colors, patterns and textures, are the most durable, and can be easily replaced if one becomes damaged or soiled.
Picture: Bay Colony Custom Home
Hemp and sisal lend a casual, coastal feel, but are not plush, nor are the recommended for homes with pets and small children.
SUBFLOORING AND UNDERLAYMENTS. Regardless of the flooring you choose, you are creating problems down the road – a long and bumpy road – if you don’t insist on a proper subfloor and underlayments. Issues of cushioning and sound absorption are just the start of it. An unsightly appearance, compromised performance and uneven wear, because of raised areas, are perhaps more troublesome.
Underlayments are placed on top of the subfloor. They absorb the roughness and imperfections of the subfloors, which provide structural support, preventing squeaks and cracks. “Strong, sound, level, dry, clean and smooth” are the operative words here.
For carpet, rug performance and appearance, it’s all about the pad. Pads protect against packing wear and absorb impact from feet and furniture, lessening stress on the carpet. Pads also lend softness, warmth and sound reduction, but can be problematic for wheelchairs.
Before you begin, remember that, in the end, the finished floor is only as good as what’s under it.
If the winter holidays have meant more traffic in your home – kids home from college, grandparents visiting, friends in and out – you may be thinking that all you want for Christmas or Hanukkah is a new bathroom.
The first decision on your list will be whether to remodel a current bathroom, create or expand an existing bath by carving out space from an adjacent room, or adding on so that the footprint of your home is altered with, say, a large master bath. The latter will likely bear the biggest budget, but it may be worth it. If remodeling, one of the biggest ticket items is likely to be moving plumbing, and some homeowners avoid it for that reason. But, if rerouting plumbing will result in the bathroom of your dreams, it may well be the best decision.
Regardless of whether you remodel, expand, or build from the ground up, following are additional considerations that should receive decision-making priority.
As for layout, avoid skimping on space, as dual users need approximately 3 feet to 4 feet of space to avoid having to squeeze pass each other. Also, make sure the toilet is not the first thing people see when passing by the door. Toilets definitely make a statement, but probably not the one you desire. If at all possible, try to conceal it in its own water closet or behind a wall, which is nice for privacy as well. And if it cannot be hidden, perhaps choose one of the new styles that look almost like sculpture.
The focal point of bathrooms is ideally a beautiful shower and/or tub. Though frosted glass was once popular for showers – and they do provide more privacy – most owners of remodeled or newly constructed bath are opting for clear glass. Clear glass allows all of those ceramic and marble design dollars to be shown off to advantage. Similarly, most homeowners favor frameless or semi-frameless showers, with the former costing a bit more.
In terms of function, showers with spa-like amenities for relaxation are replacing jetted tubs. Consider dual rainfall shower heads, multiple spray nozzles, and steam. At the very least, include niches for shower products – no one wants those on the floor or in a shower caddy – and some type of seating.
Overall, tubs are generally not included in every bathroom nowadays. They are more difficult to clean and, for some, to step into. When tubs are included in the design, more homeowners are choosing smaller ones, at 5 feet to 6 feet, and freestanding styles, like claw or pedestal. In any case, for durability we recommend choosing a cast iron or engineered stone material over fiberglass.
Though dressing tables or vanities are not as common anymore, double
or integral sinks – provided you can devote about 6 feet of counter space to the sink area – are popular for designating personal space and ample elbow room. More homeowners still choose vanities over pedestal sinks. However, there are many pedestal styles available with handsome under-sink storage. Vessel sinks look terrific but, often, because of the splash factor, aren’t practical. If you choose one, be sure your counter height is low enough to accommodate the raised sides.
Pictured: North End Custom Homes Bathroom
As in a kitchen, the best material for your countertop is critical. But without as much wear and tear, bathroom countertops may not need to be quite as durable. Yet hot appliances, like curling irons, still need to be considered. Weigh the pros and cons of granite vs. marble, quartz, and solid surfaces before making a decision. Comparisons are readily available online. Whichever material you choose, consider a grommet through which cords can be threaded for a neater countertop appearance.
Also, as in kitchens, a combination of task, ambient, and accent lighting is ideal. Washing faces with light from above and in front, about at eye level, minimizes unattractive shadows. Sconces, perhaps set into mirrors, are ideal. For the shower, consider a waterproof recessed style. As for mirrors, most homeowners are choosing to frame them, even if large. And, if at all possible, include a window in the design for natural light. If there’s no exterior wall for a window, a solar tube is a good alternative. An operable style will also allow moisture to escape.
Exhaust fans provide that function as well, but should be vented to the outside, not into the attic. They also need to be the correct size for the job, especially if your shower includes steam. Consider carefully the noise level of your fan because, while a quiet fan may seem preferable, the noise level can provide privacy in bathrooms, especially those adjacent to more public spaces.
For walls, avoid wallpaper which, generally, can’t withstand the moisture level in a full bath, though it can work well in a powder room. When choosing paint, select an eggshell finish for durability.
On floors, ceramic and stone are the most popular choices for aesthetics and function. Wood looks and feels warmer, but is not impervious to water. However, many ceramic tiles with a very convincing wood look are available in today’s market in a wide range of finishes. Properly installed heated floors keep toes toasty warm.
And for faucets and cabinetry hardware, the most popular and timeless finishes are still brushed nickel or polished chrome. But there are others, like oiled bronze for an Old World feel, to consider.
Hopefully, these considerations will remove the naughty and preserve the nice when transforming your bathroom spaces.
Aesthetics: Of course you want your kitchen, the hub of your home, to look terrific. As you begin to plan your remodel – a process that should take longer than the actual construction – one of the questions to ask yourself is whether you want a kitchen that looks like a kitchen – often a more modernist approach – one that looks like another room in your home, or something that’s somewhere in between. Your answer will drive many of your aesthetic decisions about what to conceal or reveal and whether to include furniture-style details.
Appliances: Among the many obvious appliance decisions related to aesthetics and function, a couple of key considerations are whether you need one oven or two, as well as whether a microwave oven is as indispensable as it once was. Most homeowners need two ovens only once or twice a year, and many are ready to jettison the microwave. An increasingly popular decision is to select a single oven and a dual-purpose combination microwave-convection oven. As for ranges, be sure that whatever model you choose is vented to the outside. Hearth, mantel and chimney-style range hoods will help transform this, the hardest working appliance in your kitchen, into a handsome focal point.
Budget: Kitchen remodels are not inexpensive, depending on the extent of the remodel. But these $30K-$50K jobs enhance the livability of one’s home immeasurably. And while it is unlikely that you will recoup more than 65 percent to 70 percent of the cost should you sell your home, your inviting kitchen just might be what sets your property apart from others on the market.
Cabinetry: Based on the clutter factor, most homeowners still prefer closed, solid wood cabinets. But many possibilities exist for combining closed cabinets with open shelving. Soffits, unless they hide ductwork, are a thing of the past. Yet cabinets that stretch to the ceiling create hard-to-reach space at the top. One attractive solution is lighted, glass-enclosed cubby holes for display. Another is to stagger cabinet height so that some reach the ceiling and others don’t, creating an airier feeling.
Countertops: Natural stones like granite and marble are practically unbeatable for their “natural” beauty, but they are porous. Hence, sealing is recommended. Yet, most people don’t do it, so don’t let that be a deterrent. Soapstone, with a range of colors limited to whites and grays, is also natural, but is nonporous and more pliable, meaning it is less likely to crack from stress or weight. Slate, too, is nonporous, but it comes in a somewhat wider range of colors than soapstone, and is more affordable than granite or marble. Engineered quartz countertops – ground quartz mixed with polymer resins – are durable but more expensive. Concrete is heavy, sometimes requiring additional reinforcement. Do your research before making an informed decision for your application.
Design: While you could certainly serve as your own designer/contractor, professionals can see past the limitations that often limit homeowners’ imaginations about what could be. Plus, professionals are not only trained to solve functional and aesthetic problems that crop up in a kitchen, but they know how to avoid painful design mistakes from the outset.
Efficiency: The equilateral “work triangle” from refrigerator to range to sink is still a fundamental principle in kitchen design. Avoid letting your desire for the highly sought-after “eat-at” center island upset the flow by incorporating one of the points of the triangle into the island.
Extras: It is easy to become seduced by these bells and whistles: “instant hot” dispensers, pot fillers, warming drawers and many more. Think carefully about which of these sometimes costly add-ons will really provide increased functionality.
Fixtures: The importance of lighting can scarcely be underestimated in a kitchen, whether overhead or under-cabinet task lighting, preferably on dimmers. Though recessed lighting is popular, consider flush mounted fixtures for all-over brightness absent that “surgical suite” feel. And, while pendant lighting adds pizazz, pick a style that won’t leave your friends and family seeing spots.
Flooring: Wood is edging out tile for kitchens because of its warmth, both literally and figuratively. Even sealed, though, it is not impervious to water, especially in a leak situation. A possible happy-medium is ceramic wood-look tile.
Though this checklist barely scratches the surface, it hopefully lays the groundwork for top marks on your kitchen upgrade.
For more kitchen tips visit our website at vbhomesliving.com
You’ve decided to remodel your home. That means you’ve decided to, as Southern architect Bobby McAlpine would suggest, reflect “the gorgeous world inside of (you).” And that is no small decision. Nor is it an inexpensive one. But it is transformative. In this month’s column, we provide you with tips for choosing a top-notch remodeler to ensure a rewarding renewal.
Think of this matchmaking process in four categories: business experience, technical expertise, customer service and communication, and company policy.
In terms of business experience, legitimate remodelers will maintain a permanent mailing address and phone number so they can be reached in a timely fashion, and they will carry proper insurance. In Virginia, for jobs exceeding $1,000, contractors must be licensed as Class A (unrestricted dollar amount), Class B (up to $120,000 or $750,000 annually), or Class C (up to $10,000 or $150,000), each with appropriately stringent requirements.
Though there is always room for newcomers in the industry, someone with an established presence may be more likely to have financial stability and solid relationships with trade contractors and suppliers, not to mention an excellent reputation with peers and with customers who would be willing to offer recommendations. Membership in a trade organization demonstrates a commitment to professionalism, as do professional designations like Certified Graduate Remodeler.
When assessing technical expertise, beware of the very low bid, which could indicate a lack of knowledge of actual costs involved. Your remodeler should offer a warranty and have an intimate knowledge of products and materials used for your project, offer an array of options and maintain a portfolio of finished projects at the ready. This professional should also arrange for the building permit, thereby rendering him or her the contractor of record who is, as such, liable for the work.
Your remodeling contractor should be someone you are happy to welcome onto your property day after day, as well as someone with whom you feel comfortable addressing the issues that are bound to arise. Be sure this person not only listens to and fully understands what you need and want, but enthusiastically embraces your ideas. Ask for examples of how the contractor has solved remodeling challenges within budget for other customers. And assess whether this person’s communication style suits yours.
Finally, understanding company policy and procedures at the outset will help you sidestep heartburn along the way. Insist on a written contract to include work performed and a fair payment schedule. And be sure you understand procedures related to changes such as to design, materials or schedule.
McAlpine asserts that the only reason to build a house – and we would assert, remodel a home – is to “expand the territory of the heart.” Hopefully, these considerations will do just that while helping to avoid heartache.
Have a question on building or remodeling? Please send them to email@example.com
One of our favorite finishes that’s trending right now is shiplap! This design creates a unique coastal feel for your home. Back in the day, shiplap was mainly used in older homes, constructing sheds and barns because it was the cheaper way to build, but now it’s seen in houses to give a different interior finish instead of just a plain wall. Shiplap is very versatile, so it can be used in any space throughout your house. There are several different ways you can finish shiplap:
In one of our spec houses pictured below we decided to use shiplap to add a different interior look for this coastal cottage home. We decided to use cedar wood and sprayed it with primer to create this coastal finish look.
Pictured below is an example of painted shiplap
Picture by: Bungalow Blue Interiors
In this picture below is another way to use shiplap. Here they used hard pine and stained it for a natural finished look.
Picture by: Hallstrom Home
Visit our website at http://www.vbhomesliving.com for more design ideas or visit our social media sites that are linked on our blog home page.
Featuring the Liebler and Mutzabaugh’s recently renovated homes. You will be excited by the Liebler’s master suite addition and the Muztabaugh’s exterior before and after renovation.
Also thanks to our publication team: photographer Glenn Bashaw, Danya Powell Bushéy with Carte Blanche Marketing, and graphic designer Kendra Parker.
Be sure to look for VB Homes in volume 4 of The Scout Guide Virginia Beach & Norfolk out now!