Andrew and Kate purchased and moved into a beautiful old stone home. The previous owners had added a family room to the end of the home. Andrew and Kate desired to update the interior of the 1980’s family room addition to blend with their circa 1779 home and become a space the whole family could enjoy.
The home needed a renovation to bring the family room closer to matching the architectural style of the stone home. The stone fireplace, which is the anchor in the room, was enhanced with a wall of cabinetry. The carpeting was removed, and wide plank distressed flooring was installed to coordinate with the original home. Reclaimed wood was hand-selected to encase the ridge beam, and beams with wooden pegs were added. Also, crafted from the reclaimed wood, the sliding barn door accentuates the entry from the kitchen into the family room.
Regardless if homeowners plan to sell or stay for years, redesigning a bathroom is a common renovation most people will encounter. Bathroom design holds a key to making homes more usable for not only their present inhabitants and visitors, but also future owners and generations. Designing a space with that philosophy in mind is called Universal Design.
What is a Universally Designed Bathroom?
Universal design is sometimes mistaken to be solely intended for handicapped accessibility, but creating a space that will be suited for all ages or abilities is what gives Universal Design its name.
Effortless use and accessibility for family members of any size or condition will create bathroom designs that minimize lifting, reaching and other movements that could have a potential to cause bodily injury or difficulty.
Even if disabilities are temporary, a Universal Bathroom Design will ensure your family, future residents or visitors will be able to powder their nose with ease.
8 Universal Design Features for Bathrooms
Before falling in love with sink styles, faucet features or other visually stunning choices, consider how your decisions can address universal concerns while still creating a one-of-a-kind space you’ll love. Give thought to these 8 features:
1) Location: Including a bathroom on the first level of a home ensures that the challenge of stairs isn’t an issue. Larger pantries, closets, areas under stairs or portions of ground-floor rooms may provide the ideal spot for your new powder room.
2) Lighting: If possible, installing windows or skylights in bathrooms can provide increased natural visibility. Motion-sensing light switches eliminate the challenge of hunting for switches in the dark. Well-lit showers are a must – limiting the potential for slips in wet areas. Soft lighting that decreases glares and shadows will help people of all ages and mobility to navigate the bathroom with ease.
3) Clearance: Using 34”-36” entrance doors will also allow better access for mobility devices. Small bathrooms may be your only option, but when possible, provide ample clearance for turning and movement for canes, crutches and wheelchairs.
Bathrooms should be at least 60” x 60”, but ideally larger for those requiring transfer assistance from a wheelchair to a toilet or a shower. Whenever possible, install walk-in showers so the hurdle of a tub’s side is removed.
4) Flooring: Non-slip materials are a must for bathrooms, as falls in these areas can be potentially life threatening. Ceramic tiles aren’t an ideal choice, but if elected should be smaller tiles to allow for more non-slip grout areas. Use textured ceramics that are safer than highly glazed products.
Other great options for safer bathroom surfaces include non-slip vinyl, cork and bamboo flooring.
5) Counter & Sink Heights: Consider knee space at sinks for those in wheelchairs. There are beautifully designed wall-mount and pedestal sinks that could allow a wheelchair user to conveniently move closer to wash their hands and face or brush their teeth.
Certain sink designs with bowls above counters may also not be good choices for small hands and arms trying to reach above them to operate faucets.
6) Faucets & Hardware: Imagine someone trying to use sinks, toilets, doors and other access points with a closed fist. Choose hardware that can be easily used by small hands, those with arthritis or operated easily with one hand.
Likewise, touchless faucets, automatic flush toilets and lever door knobs will ensure challenges are minimized. Pay careful attention to position access points on faucets, toilets and showers to ensure that they can be reached standing or sitting, regardless of age.
7) Toilets: Comfort-height toilets are typically 2” taller than regular toilets and make the transition from a wheelchair easier. Be sure there is 30”-48” of floor space on at least one side of toilets for wheelchair transfers. The higher seat surface will also make it easier to access and exit for those with back or leg pain, or those who could be temporarily injured and using crutches.
8) Storage: For frequently needed items such as bathroom tissue, linens or toiletries, provide storage areas below your waist. Make it easy to find these items under or on top of vanities, or in adjacent cabinetry.
In the shower, include ample shelving for soaps, shampoos and razors. These shelves and compartments should hold these items securely.
Understanding and implementing smart Universal Design features will ensure that your home is easier to resell, and that its bathrooms are perfect for you, your family and friends, regardless of what life throws at them.
*Photos used in this article are stock.
We were recently honored to have one of our kitchens featured as “Kitchen of the Week” on Houzz.com. We built a beautiful country farmhouse style home in southern Lancaster County. Photos of the kitchen caught the eye of an editor at Houzz, who in turn did a feature story on the kitchen. The homeowners worked with Phil Clemmer of Swartz Kitchens and Baths on the design of the kitchen. The end result was a breathtakingly beautiful kitchen that will serve the owners well for years to come.
Classic white cabinets with glass insets, soapstone countertops and reclaimed hardwood floors give this kitchen the feel of an old farmhouse. The custom cabinetry with finished interiors includes specialized drawers and cabinets, including built-in trash cans next to the sink. A soapstone sink sits under a bank of extra tall windows that overlook a patio and backyard. The tall, clean-lined cabinets and walls of windows give the kitchen a bright and airy feel.
The large island seats four, includes plenty of storage and incorporates built-in shelves at the end to hold cookbooks. The soapstone surface creates an ideal space for prepping and serving. Three pendant lights provide additional illumination to the recessed can lights.
The kitchen is the center of our homes. The smells from something delicious baking in the oven or simmering on the stove are comforting, and the conversations that happen there can be the most memorable ones from our day. It’s no wonder the kitchen continues to be the top renovated space in homes, according to the 2016 Houzz & Home Report.
As we move into a new year, 2017 brings with it many new kitchen looks that homeowners are eager to try out. Their primary goal? To keep their kitchens functional but cozy, ready to host a gathering of loved ones.
Here are just a few of the latest trends. Which one will take your kitchen to the next level?
Wood Paneling or Shiplap
Homeowners are in love with farmhouse design kitchens, and wood paneling, especially white, will be a top trend incorporated into kitchens, on backsplashes or ceilings. Its vintage, clean look brings a kitchen together with a nod back to past times.
Black and white is a timeless color palette, and it has found its way to the kitchen. While there’s no need to interpret this trend strictly with those colors, homeowners find their kitchens come together nicely when they stick to basic colors that match others easily. A crisp, elegant look is simply achieved when tuxedo cabinets take center stage.
A farmhouse, or apron-front, sink can be a unique focal point for a kitchen. Not only does it make a statement on its own with its many design options, but it is the most functional sink a kitchen could have. Gone are the hard-to-clean seams that trap food and dust. Debris from countertops can be swept directly into the sink to be washed away. The sink itself is large and can attend to any cooking or washing need.
Many homeowners find themselves wanting their kitchen basics – their cabinet doors and drawers, for example – to work better. Kitchen storage manufacturers are moving toward solutions to this problem with unique options. For example, touch-activated doors to cabinets can be installed, making belongings easier to reach as the door simply elevates out of the way. New drawers can be installed with technology that prevents them from slamming shut, as well.
Unique Countertop Options
Kitchen countertops no longer look drab and outdated. The sky is the limit for countertop materials, and they are being used as statement pieces in the kitchen. From stainless steel to concrete and even butcher block, almost any resource is possible when adding a one-of-a-kind element to the kitchen.
Large Kitchen Islands
Kitchens are gathering places, and multi-functional kitchen islands continue to be a must-have trend for 2017. Long, spacious kitchen islands are taking their places in the center of a kitchen – blurring the line between the kitchen and the dining area. They’re perfect for the center of a party, discussion as a meal comes together, and as a game and homework hangout for young children and teens alike.
While stainless steel appliances will continue to be a popular choice, you’ll start to see more “hidden appliances” in kitchen design – such as microwave drawers or covered refrigerators – that make the home feel more cozy.
Technology available for today’s homes is incredible, and you can now have smart-home technology integrated into every corner of your home, including the kitchen. Lighting, security, audio, video, motorized shades and temperature control can all be controlled with your tablet or smartphone. More kitchens have smart-home technology built in – for watching television, looking up recipes (on a big screen) or piping in music while creating culinary masterpieces.
Smart Kitchen Appliances
We are living in a time where smart kitchen appliances are now commonplace. There are a whole host of options, from refrigerators that are connected to the internet to ovens that are connected to engineers so they can diagnose issues remotely. Other clever kitchen gadgets include a smart coffee maker by Firebox that allows you to brew (and grind) coffee on demand, the Somabar that helps you make the perfect-tasting cocktail and the Tefal Actifry Smart XL – a Bluetooth-powered fryer that takes recipes directly from your smart device to prepare the perfectly fried dish. (Source: Connected cooking: The best smart kitchen devices and appliances)
Mixed Hardware Fixtures
Gone are the days of monochromatic kitchen hardware. With so many finishes – stainless steel, rose gold, copper, pewter, black steel – on the market, homeowners more than ever are encouraged to be creative by mixing up kitchen hardware and finishes.
If, after reading this article and seeing some of the many new kitchen products available, you are ready to sketch out plans, let us help you redesign your kitchen to make the most of your space and to fit your family’s needs.
With the living space of their home divided by walls, John and Carole felt confined and knew it was time for a change. Openness, flow and functionality were high priorities when it came to designing their home’s new floor plan. A spacious kitchen and large area to gather as a family were also important. In search of a builder that was experienced with performing whole-house renovations and additions, John and Carole found Metzler Home Builders.
The new addition included a family room and sunroom and provided the perfect spot for family gatherings. The foyer, kitchen, dining room, laundry and side entrance were completely revamped. The dining room was moved to the front of the home and the kitchen moved to the back to make ample room for a formal dining room and a larger, airy kitchen. Distinctive arches were utilized throughout the project to provide flow and allow open spaces that can be enjoyed for years to come.
When building a home or undertaking a remodeling project, you expect to have to make a variety of decisions. From design to finished detail and everything in between, the design/build process is one that comes with many selections, and from there, choices of what fits your lifestyle, tastes and budget are made.
But what might be surprising to you is that when our customers build or remodel with us, they also have an additional choice:
They have the freedom to use subcontractors that they have an existing relationship with – instead of ours.
Recommending your subs
Most people are amazed to discover that we “allow” our customers to work with subcontractors they know and recommend because many other builders and remodelers don’t. While we certainly see the rationality behind why other builders will only work with specific subcontractors, we, on the other hand, see this customized construction experience from another perspective – through our customers’ eyes.
- For starters, while we may be the builder, building or remodeling a home isn’t about us; it is about what our customers want for their home. Often, our customers have spent years dreaming about their perfect home, and they have chosen us to help facilitate that process. The people who choose to build or remodel with us are trusting us to listen to and design the home they have in mind. They are confident in our skills to be able to deliver their home in a safe and timely manner and make it an enjoyable experience.
- Secondly, by “allowing” new-to-us subcontractors to work on your home, we recognize that you are verifying that the sub is legitimate and understands his craft. We know that you would not want a subcontractor working on your home that you did not trust.
- Additionally, we fully recognize that there are many outstanding subcontractors in our area, and often we’ve even heard of these folks. We recently completed projects where one homeowner had an existing relationship with an excavator and another homeowner’s brother-in-law was a superb drywaller. And even though the subcontractors were new-to-us, both projects went just fine.
Timing is Everything
When working with a customer-recommended subcontractor, our biggest concern is timing of the project. We’ve made a commitment to you, our customer, that we will deliver your home by a particular date. What we have found is that professional subcontractors understand this, and they, too, want to adhere to the schedule and give the homeowner an amazing construction experience.
For all of these reasons, this is why we don’t shy away from using new-to-us subcontractors. In the end, our customers are the ones who need to be comfortable, and it is up to us to deliver an experience that is pleasant and memorable.