Great Design Tips

Design-Tips abound in this article*. It is jam-packed with TEN incredible design tips from one of the country’s top designers. This article was originally written from the perspective of marketing and selling new homes; this is your best resource for new designs and tips for your own home improvements.

Design impacts every facet of our lives and our spaces. Whether you are in need of fresh new design ideas for your kitchen, living areas, or bathroom, you will find all the details you need right here.

The Difference is in the Details

We’ve seen trends in shrinking floor plans, simplicity of form, and a variety of architectural styles. We’ve seen less regionalism and an increase in designs that bring the outdoors in. But no matter what the trends are or what you are designing, it’s the details that determine your success.

With construction budgets stretched to the max, the smallest of details still matter the most, and how they are handled can greatly influence a company’s reputation and image. Take a look at these ideas to help you establish a unique design signature for your company.


Tip One: Think beyond the backsplash when installing the accent tile. Instead, splurge by covering an entire cabinetry wall with the backsplash material. This works well above a cooktop with a modern hood or over the sink area.

Tip Two: Clean up the countertop edge. Formal ogee edges are fading in popularity and are being replaced with simple contemporary edges such as a pencil or erased edge. If you can afford it, thicken the edge of an island countertop to a full two inches to make the whole kitchen feel more expensive.

Also, move beyond granite and look instead to some of the more progressive countertop materials such as engineered stone, recycled glass, stainless steel, and concrete.

Tip Three: Find furniture-grade upgrades to elevate your cabinetry. A bland production kitchen can look semi-custom with simple changes. Skip a standard toe kick when designing desks, island fronts, and built-in hutches, and use a furniture base instead.

Compound the crown molding with a small frieze on the top of the cabinets, and leave no room between the ceiling and top of the cabinetry. Also, varying cabinet heights is a dated “don’t.” The cleaner, the better–and try contemporary cabinet pulls or knobs even if your kitchen leans traditional.


Tip Four: Wall cladding gives character and substance to the most affordable spaces. Try a textured stone or tile on an entire fireplace wall. Painted brick is back. And wide, V-groove panel molding can add vintage charm to foyers, dining rooms, and fireplace walls.

Tip Five: Create a memorable transition between spaces. You’ve seen good ideas like this before–but can you get creative about where they occur in the plan? Try a vintage door when you least expect it.

Tip Six: Create a signature, “found” spaces—tuck shelves under a stairway. Find a way to put a reading alcove/window seat at the top of a stair landing. Design a walk-in pantry to die for with a mini-mosaic floor, pendant lighting, custom shelving, and storage on the door. Make your fireplace a standout by using one of the new horizontal and rectilinear fireboxes.

Tip Seven: Stop buying the bronze, pseudo-Mediterranean lighting. Look instead at simple, large shade fixtures, simple rustic wood chandeliers, and even woven wicker fixtures. Think young and fresh with your light fixture choices–the whole house will look fresher.

Tip Eight: Embrace contrast. Walls are getting lighter, and floors are getting darker. Trim is a little bit of both, but I see a trend toward darker trim and lighter walls. Picture an ebony floor with crisp white walls and stained trim.


Tip Nine: Freestanding tubs are back, back, back. Get creative, and ground the walls and floors surrounding the tub with contrasting materials to highlight the splurge of a freestanding tub.

Tip Ten: No more bar lights above the unfinished mirror. Spend the money to frame your mirror with cabinetry or millwork, and make sure there is no leftover drywall at the top. Locate simple sconces within the mirror to highlight your buyer’s faces. And add enough recessed cans to make the bath sparkle.

The details are at the top of any potential homebuyer’s priority list, even if they don’t realize it. Details can transform any house into a home and make or break any sale. So be a little daring. Think retro-contemporary. Try some new eco-materials.

 Remember, gaudy excess is gone. In its place are authentic interiors with character features and less square footage. The buyers will get on board a lot easier than you may think.


Home & Garden Product Reviews

We currently have two home-improvements projects we’re working on at the same time, along with several product reviews.

The first project is the complete renovation of an existing sun porch into the home office of our dreams. It’s coming along nicely, as you can see below. We’ll have the full story developed later today, so be sure to bookmark this page and come back soon.

The second project is a complete makeover of the second-floor master bedroom into a more contemporary serene oasis for the nightly slumber. What a mess! More to come shortly on this one.

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Our Home-Improvements is a case study in well-designed, do-it-yourself home improvements. Over the past 20 years, we have renovated two homes, each with its own unique floorplans, mechanical issues, and design challenges.

Our goal is to share our successes and to be a great resource for those who LOVE their homes and the accomplishment of implementing design-inspired home improvements as much as we do.

See how we apply Envision-IT, Design-IT, Plan-IT, and Build-IT steps to every project we undertake, as our roadmap to well-designed improvements.

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Steve’s abode is a three-story, center entrance colonial, built-in 1947, a continual work in progress. From the urban chic kitchen addition to the home office makeover under development, you can find great new design ideas and trends for your home’s own improvement projects.

From inside the home to outdoor living concepts and curb appeal, this home is jam-packed with great projects that you, too, can implement.

Be An Educated Consumer

Our-Home-Improvements is all about leveraging your hard-earned dollars into the best projects yielding the greatest results, both in the improvement of your lifestyle and resale advantages.

We update our content on a regular basis as we continue our home improvements so you can benefit from our ideas and experiences for the place you call home.

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So get a nice tall refreshment, sit back, relax, and take a tour through Our Home-Improvements to see how YOU can get the lifestyle you deserve, maximize your return on investment, and optimize your resale advantages.