Tuesday, April 3, 2018

10 Kitchen Cabinet Ideas for this Year

Here's another helpful post from Houzz on kitchen cabinets.  If you’re looking to update your kitchen style for the new year with something different, you might consider reworking your cabinets. These new cabinet ideas will likely be showing up more in 2018, but I’m betting you’ll be seeing them around for years to come.

1. Embossed fronts. While we might think of modern style cabinets as having minimalist flat-front doors and drawers, many companies now are producing fun versions with embossed patterns, adding a sense of texture and personality while still maintaining a modern sensibility. 

You can opt for simple linear grooves or a fun geometric shape like this charming fish scale pattern.

Embossed cabinet doors look especially great in a dark, glossy finish, with reflected light catching the pattern and making it pop.

2. Jewel tones. Speaking of dark colors, after so many years of white kitchens being the dominant look, we’re definitely finding that more and more people are now choosing to use rich, deep hues, with jewel tones being particularly popular.

Classic jewel tones like amethyst, sapphire and emerald introduce an unmissable dose of color to shake up the all-white mold. They feel sophisticated and timelessly luxurious, making them a safer long-term choice than, say, bright orange or trendy pink.

3. Blue. For those who want a little color in the kitchen but not such a radiant tone as jewel purples, a soft, friendly blue is another timeless choice. But lately, we’ve had more clients looking for this hue than ever before.

4. Mesh inserts. Glass door cabinets and open shelves continue to be popular ways to make a kitchen seem more open and airy, but many homeowners prefer to keep their storage a bit more discrete behind closed doors.

Metal mesh inserts are a great middle ground, giving a slight peek at what’s inside the cabinet but without putting your stored goods on full display.

I’ve used mesh inserts instead of glass on many recent projects. It works beautifully in both traditional homes and contemporary designs with some transitional flair, bringing a slight sense of old-world charm.

Consider using mesh inserts on the “upper-upper” cabinets in a tall space on a full pantry wall …or on a single cabinet at a specific station like a mixing center or coffee bar.

5. Metallics. For those homeowners who love the crisp, industrial appeal of steel, why stop at the appliances? Consider bringing that “chef’s kitchen” vibe to your entire set of cabinets.

Stainless steel door and drawer fronts give a cool, ready-to-work look to your cabinets, for serious home chefs or just fans of industrial-style kitchens.

6. High gloss in dark tones. Metal isn’t the only finish that can bring a glossy sheen to a kitchen. Lacquered or lacquer-look cabinets are a powerful option, and many suppliers at every level now offer high-sheen cabinets. In a murky tone like a charcoal gray, the deep, mirror-like appearance becomes all the more noticeable.

7. Gray. Is gray the new white? It’s hard to say for sure, but for those who like a light and airy look but are tired of white, a sumptuous gray or gray-beige is the next best thing.

At first thought, you might expect gray to seem cold and off-putting. However, as you can see in these examples, a wide range of tones, from charcoal to clay to just-off-white, make an excellent complement to wood floors or shelves for a welcoming palette that feels anything but chilly.

8. Sliding doors. Barn-style doors on a sliding track have become a very popular choice for interior doors, both as a functional solution in tight spaces and as a style statement. Now they’re starting to pop up more and more in kitchen cabinets as a fun way to create a gallery-case look.

A sliding door on a set of uppers combines the appeal of open shelves with the tidiness of a classic door cabinet, and it works in farmhouse style kitchens and modern spaces alike. Plus, not having to swing a door open and shut will make your kitchen feel just a bit bigger, and it makes a world of difference when two cooks are in the kitchen.

9. Two-tone cabinets. Throughout this article you can find many examples of two-tone cabinets, which feature upper and lower cabinets in different colors. Here’s a twist that takes the idea to another level: using two-tone doors on individual cabinets. For example, this breezy kitchen uses a single row of wood drawer fronts on otherwise white cabinets to get just a little touch of natural interest and a fun personality.

10. Mixing modern and traditional styles. Speaking of not wanting to choose, many homeowners and renovators are deciding not to choose only modern or only traditional cabinets. Instead they’re using a mix of both to create spaces that are rich with inviting character while looking current and interesting.

10 of the Latest Kitchen Trends You Should Consider

Do you want to update your kitchen, but you're not sure where to start or feel overwhelmed by design choices?  Here are 11 of the latest trends from HGTV to help you narrow down your choices.

Lighter, Brighter Kitchens

Make room for windows. By using smart storage strategies like extending cabinets to ceilings, you can open up the kitchen and sacrifice some wall space in these areas.

Convenient Kitchen Cabinetry

Aside from featuring soft-close drawers and doors (once a luxury, now a "must"), cabinetry today works overtime to organize and improve the efficiency of the kitchen design. Cabinetry works for the kitchen — it has become much more than a place to store stuff. 

Universal Design

There are more features today that allow homeowners to age in place, applying Universal Design principles. Base cabinet drawers, large-loop hardware, drawer microwaves and movable countertops accommodate any chef, young or old.

Right-Sized Spaces

The kitchen is the soul of the home, the center of activity. But that doesn't necessarily mean the space must be large. In fact, Peterson says kitchens are shrinking down from recent overblown dimensions and functioning as well, if not better. "We've long seen kitchens as the center of family life, with places for doing homework, working online, along with cooking and dining," she relates. "After years of growing larger, kitchens are becoming smaller, more compact, using technologies adapted from boat design, such as high-quality custom cabinetry."

Time-Saving Kitchen Appliances

"We talk about efficiency, but in the kitchen that really means time savings," says Nancy Divita, showroom director at Trevarrow Inc. Sophisticated appliances help us maximize every minute so we can spend more time living in the kitchen and less time cooking. For example, a convection microwave works as a true speed oven. Induction cooktops perform faster. A good convection oven allows you to produce food quicker than a traditional bake/roast/broil oven.

Kitchen Cabinet Storage

Rather than floating wall cabinets, designers like Jorge Castillo of Jorge Castillo Designs in Miami, and Shaker Heights, Ohio, are installing floor-to-ceiling walls of cabinetry made from interesting exotic wood, such as sapele or anaglade. His contemporary designs feature lacquered wood finish, a return of 1970s design, "but not as strong as it was back then," he says. 

The storage wall creates a backdrop for the kitchen and allows space for stowing away appliances, cookbooks, dishes, bakeware and more.

Pullout Kitchen Cabinets

Pullout cabinets can house several bins for recycling glass, plastic, periodicals and waste. Partitioned bins with a sealing top prevent odor and leakage; foot-operated bins allow for touch-free use. Though not mainstream, compost systems are available for kitchens and adjacent spaces (mudrooms), some models operating with energy from a light bulb. 

Before choosing a cabinet configuration for waste collection, find out what your city's recycling requirements are and will be in the future. For instance, if the city doesn't require separation of glass and plastic now but could move in that direction, you'll want to plan for an additional bin in your design. 

Quartz Countertops

Move over granite. Quartz and similar man-made surfaces generally come with a warranty, and they do not need to be sealed like granite does. Plus, they are easy to clean with soap and water. "It is a material traditionally used in hospital labs, and the reason it's so good for kitchens is because it is not porous, so it is not going to absorb (spills) and stain," Castillo says. 

Castillo chooses quartz surfaces for their consistent look, which provides a sleek and clean surface so he can afford to embellish the backsplash without getting too busy.

Exotic Wood

Maples are phasing out and cherries and darker woods are in for Brad Burgin, Burgin Construction Inc. in North Tustin, Calif. He also specifies a lot of mahogany and bamboo. "Alternative woods are gaining popularity," he notices, adding that these varieties tend to be more expensive. But for an Asian-themed kitchen, nothing beats bamboo, which offers neat, slender veining when stained. This kitchen features exotic wood veneers and a black-brown bamboo shade that gives the space a little extra flair.

Specialty Kitchen Lighting

There is task lighting, cabinet lighting and smart systems that are programmed for entertaining, cooking or homework time. Lighting draws the eye to interesting surfaces and improves the overall functionality of a kitchen. "The lighting is what makes a kitchen — it creates a feel and an aura for the space," says Daniel Steinkoler

Technology in Your Home: Should You Get a Talking Home Assistant?

Automated home devices such as Google Home are rising in popularity. Could they really change your life?  Check out this post from Houzz to learn more about adding technology to your home.  

Automated home assistants such as Google Home and Amazon Echo have been getting a lot of attention lately, but what exactly do they do, and are they worth investing in? Here’s all you need to know about the latest wave of electronic home assistants.

What is Google Home?
Google Home is a smart speaker you talk to and tell what to do. You can use it to play back entertainment throughout your home, get it to manage everyday tasks, and use it to ask Google to find answers to the things you want to know. Google Home has the ability to make use of a number of apps and devices you already own, including music apps such as Spotify and smart home devices such as D-Link and Telstra Smart Home.

What is Amazon Echo?
Similarly, Amazon Echo is a hands-free speaker you control with your voice. The brand new Echo Plus (one of a range of Echo products just launched by Amazon in Australia) connects to the Alexa Voice Service to play music, make phone calls for you, send and receive your messages and provide the information you’re after (such as weather reports and news). The Echo Plus has seven microphones and sound powered by Dolby.

How do the products differ?
The products are quite similar. Both need to be permanently plugged in and connected to your home internet, and they answer to your voice commands. With Google you’ll find yourself talking to Google Assistant, while with Amazon Echo your assistant is called Alexa.

Positives and negatives
The Echo has been around for longer and the Echo Plus connects to more products than Google Home. Amazon Echo is great for Amazon customers; you can add items to your shopping cart with your voice alone. 

Google Home is backed by Google so is impressive on the search engine front when answering your queries. Australia’s version of Google Home has an Aussie accent too, and knows the local lingo, plus it has connections with Australian services such as Stan and ABC News.

How much do they cost?
Google Home retails from around $199 (but can be bought online for as little as $139), while the Amazon Echo Plus has been launched for $149.

What can they do?
When used in conjunction with compatible connected devices such as those from Philips Hue, Sony, Samsung SmartThings and Nest, the devices can perform a broad range of activities such as dimming and turning lights on and off, controlling fans, adjusting thermostats and activating garden sprinklers. Products such as Nest can even recognise when you’re close to home and offer you a warm welcome, literally. They’ll turn on the heating and open the garage door for you. If you forget to turn the lights off when you go out they can detect and attend to that too. And as with all technology, the potential of devices such as these is only increasing.

What’s the down side?
Although they’re not difficult to use, it helps to be technically savvy to get the most out of your home assistant, and for maximum benefit you’ll need to invest in other smart products to work alongside the device. Home assistants rely entirely on your wifi, so your assistant will only ever be as reliable as your wifi service. And although they can hear your voice commands from across the room, their performance may depend on where the device is placed. 

What about Siri?
Let’s not forget the original automated assistant, Siri. For many of us, Apple’s Siri was our first experience of a virtual assistant, revolutionising the way we interacted with our iPhones. However, Siri has since fallen behind its newer competitors. Apple launched a new product, HomePod, in December, but this is more of a successor to the Apple iPod, with a focus on music and sound quality.

Want to start small?
If you’re interested in a home assistant but want to start small, consider the Google Home Mini or Echo Dot. These entry-level home assistants have many of the same functions as their larger counterparts, and at their lower price point you could have one in every room. The Google Mini is stylish too, although its sound quality isn’t as impressive as its bigger brother. The Mini has a mini price tag of just $79. The Echo Dot retails in Australia for $79.

Are they life-changing?
As they’re reasonably inexpensive, purchasing a home assistant will likely be worthwhile, but you’ll need to invest in other apps and devices in order for them to make a real difference to your lifestyle.

Tell us
Do you have a home assistant device? How have you found it, and would you recommend it to other Houzzers? Share your experiences in the Comments below.

Top 10 Spring Cleaning Home Maintenance Checklist

Spring is in the air, which means it's time to get your house ready for warmer weather!  Here are 10 great tips from Houzz to help you get started.  

With the days lengthening and weather warming, spring is a good time to get outdoors and tackle some larger home projects. With the threat of winter storms past, you can look for damage and make any needed repairs, as well as prep your home and garden for summer. We spoke with an expert to get some tips on what to watch for this season, from proper irrigation to mosquitoes and termites (oh my!).

Tasks to Check Off Your List in an Hour or Less

Inspect driveways and paths. Freezing and thawing are rough on concrete, asphalt and other hardscape materials. Take a walk around your property to look for damage to walkways, paths and driveways, then schedule repairs as needed. Asphalt can often be patched, but damaged concrete may need to be replaced entirely.

Keep an eye out for termites. Beginning in March and going through May or June, be on the lookout for these winged insects. “Termites swarm in the spring,” says Victor Sedinger, certified home inspector and owner of House Exam Inspection and Consulting. “If there’s a bunch of winged insects flying out of a hole in the woodwork, that’s probably termites. Call a licensed professional pest-control company. You’ll save money and trouble in the long run.”

Prevent mosquitoes. In recent years, we’ve become more aware of the potential danger mosquitos can pose to our health. “West Nile virus and Zika virus are just the latest diseases caused by these winged pests,” Sedinger says. 

The best way to prevent mosquitos around your home is simply to get rid of any standing water. “Walk around your property [and peek at your neighbors’]. If you see anything or any area where water stands, fix it, tip it, get rid of it or maintain it regularly,” Sedinger says.

Tackle These To-Dos Over a Weekend

Wash windows. 
Clean the grime off glass inside and out for a lighter, brighter home indoors and increased curb appeal outdoors. Wash the exterior windows yourself by using a hose attachment, or hire a pro to get the job done.

Clean gutters and downspouts. After the last frost has passed, it’s important to have your gutters and downspouts cleaned and repaired. “Clogged gutters and downspouts can cause the wood trim at the eaves to rot, and that can invite all kinds of critters into your attic space,” Sedinger says. 

Having your gutters and downspouts cleaned early in the season can also help prevent damage from spring rains. “Gutters and downspouts should be clean and running free,” Sedinger says. “If your downspouts are installed properly, water is diverted away from the house so that no water collects around your foundation.”

Check sprinkler and irrigation systems. Checking your sprinklers or irrigation systems in the spring can save water — and your plants. Sedinger shares these tips for checking your watering system: 
  • Run the system through all the zones manually and walk the property. 
  • Make sure none of the sprinkler heads are broken or damaged. 
  • Adjust any heads that are spraying the house, especially windows, as this can cause moisture problems. 
  • Adjust heads that are spraying the street, sidewalk or porches to avoid wasting water. 
  • If you don’t know how to maintain your system, call a professional. You’ll save money on your water bill and protect one of our most valuable natural resources.
Check screen doors and windows. Screens are designed to let the breeze flow in and keep the bugs out, but they can only do their job if they’re free from holes and tears. 

Before setting up your screens for the warm months ahead, be sure to carefully check each one and repair any holes or tears, no matter how small. You can find repair kits at most hardware and home-improvement stores.

Maintenance and Extras to Budget for This Season

Inspect the roof. Winter storms can take quite a toll on a roof. When spring arrives, start by making a simple visual inspection of yours. “It doesn’t require a ladder, and you certainly don’t have to get on a roof to look,” Sedinger says. “Use binoculars or a camera or smartphone with a telephoto feature if you need to.” Look for missing shingles, metal pipes that are damaged or missing or anything that simply doesn’t look right. If you notice anything that needs closer inspection or repair, call a roofer.

Reseal exterior woodwork and/or Paint exterior. 
Wood decks, fences, railings, trellises, pergolas and other outdoor structures will last longer if they’re stained or resealed every year or two. Take this opportunity to make any needed repairs to woodwork as well.  If you’re planning to repaint your home’s exterior this year, spring is a good time to set it up. Want to paint but can’t decide on a color? Explore your town and snap pictures of house colors you like, browse photos on Houzz or work with a color consultant to get that just-right hue.

Schedule air-conditioning service. “Home inspectors see a lot of air-conditioning systems that are just not taken care of,” Sedinger says. “Just because it gets cool doesn’t mean it’s working efficiently.” To get the longest life out of your cooling system and keep it running as efficiently as possible, change the filters at least once each season, and hire a licensed professional to service the equipment before the start of summer.

Tell us: Are you excited to get out there and tackle some home projects this spring or are you dreading it? Share which seasonal tasks you love — and which you could live without — in the Comments.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Dream Bathrooms That Free the Tub

When remodeling a bathroom, the bathtub will be a topic of discussion. Should you ditch it to make room for a large walk-in shower? Should you keep it? Should you upgrade it? Houzz helps shine some light on the debate between freestanding tubs and built-ins in these beautiful bathroom remodels.

If you’re a bathtub lover, and you have room for a separate tub, you’re probably leaning toward the latter. And you aren’t alone. Thirty-seven percent of respondents in a Houzz survey decided to upgrade their tub during their bathroom remodel. Of that group, the majority (43 percent) opted to install a freestanding tub. 

To see what that transformation can look like, let’s take a look at six bathrooms that had enough room to replace a built-in tub with a freestanding one. Maybe these examples will give you new ideas for your own bathroom remodel.

Your turn: Have you swapped your built-in tub for a freestanding one? If so, share your ideas in the Comments!

Bring the Outdoors Inside with Projects General Construction

It make be cooler outside, but you can still make your house cozy inside by bringing the outdoors inside — with natural stone! This gorgeous addition can bring some much-needed warmth into your home during these chilly winter months and it's a quick and easy way to update your space.  
Here are a few ideas from IRG on how you can bring natural stone into your home during this winter season:


The hearth is the beating heart of the home. Your mantle can act as a perfect staging area for many seasonal stylings. One innovative way to warm up a room without ever lighting a fire is to replace your old chimney with a modern yet rustic natural stone. 

With a freshly-cut piece of stone, you can change the entire base of your home decoration operation.  Onyx has risen in popularity over the years, gaining notoriety as a fashionable new material in the world of natural stone. Luxurious and fun, an onyx table top tells your guests to settle in for an evening of warmth and celebration.
White marble is another popular choice of tabletop because it has subtle veining that can add dimension to a room. A white marble table top with white ornamentation is chic and stylish, and on-trend with the season.


Nothing goes better with spruce or pine than natural stone. With a natural stone tree stand, the lights twinkling from the tree and off the stone will create a dazzling shimmer throughout the room. You can also add some carved natural stone ornaments for a rustic, outdoorsy holiday look.

Projects General Construction, Inc. can help you with any of these ideas, just give us a call at 805.682.2226.

Friday, December 29, 2017

How to Determine the Average Cost of a Bathroom Remodel

What is the Average Cost of a Bathroom Remodel?

It can be difficult to determine an accurate budget for your home remodel.  There are many factors:  what type of materials you use, where you live, and how experienced your contractor is, among other things.  This article from HomeAdvisor provides a helpful project cost calculator as well as some general estimates for you to consider prior to your bathroom remodel.  

The average bathroom remodel costs $9,628. Most homeowners spend between $5,922 and $14,023. You can spend as little as $3,500 to $7,000 updating the essentials in a small or medium-sized bathroom. On a large or master bath, you could spend up to or beyond $13,000.
Homeowners have many options when they remodel a bathroom and the total cost depends on style and budget. Bathroom remodels provide some of the highest resale returns as a home improvement project. However, it is not by any means cheap, and it can take a long time to complete. Therefore it is essential to gather and plan your bathroom remodeling ideas ahead of time for the room and then find the right remodeling contractor for the job. Asking questions, setting realistic expectations, cost estimates and budgeting from the start can mean the difference between finding a contractor you trust and enjoy working with versus a long and trying few weeks.
Find more information below on the costs of common accessories included in a bathroom remodel, along with design ideas and considerations concerning hiring a remodeling bathroom contractor. You want to get the best bathroom possible for your dime, so make sure you are armed with plenty of knowledge before you start calling.

Estimating Bathroom Remodel Costs

Determining your budget could be tricky when planning your renovation. A large factor in determining cost will be the size of your bathroom, ranging from small to medium or master bathroom size. The fixtures you will need to fit in your bathroom will range in price depending on their size. The list of fixtures involved in remodeling a bathroom can include elements like faucets and fixtures, floor plan changes (like converting a half bath to full bath), new showers or baths, new flooring, countertops, cabinets and lighting. This long list of comes with a lot of different prices and options to compare before choosing what to buy for your bath remodel.
Here is a chart with some of the many options involved in a bathroom remodel, including the least expensive (small) to most expensive (master) costs for each:

OptionLow RangeMid RangeHigh Range
Install bathtub$400 - $1,500$2,600 - $4,100$6,000 - $8,000
Install cabinets$1,200 - $3,500$4,700 - $7,000$8,000 - $13,000
Install countertops$900 - $2,000$2,800 - $4,100$5,000 - $6,500
Install flooring$800 - $2,000$2,500 - $3,600$5,000 - $7,000
Install lighting fixture$120 - $900$1,100 - $1,700$2,500 - $4,000
Install shower$450 - $2,000$3,000 - $4,800$6,000 - $10,000
Install sink$190 - $900$1,400 - $2,300$3,500 - $6,500
Install toilet$130 - $250$340 - $480$550 - $780

Remember: you don't have to include all of these items in your bathroom remodel, unless you're building a whole new bathroom from scratch. You always have the option to add some pieces–sink, toilet and lighting fixtures–after you've done the bigger projects to spread out costs. Also consider that some of these projects–bathtub installation/remodel, shower installation or cabinet installation–have smaller, cheaper alternatives. For example, you can refinish cabinets to make them look brand new and flow with the new bathroom for less money. There is also the option of replacing faucets and other plumbing fixtures, which costs less than replacing bathtubs and showers.
For those who want a similar style from room to room, it's worth considering the cost of kitchen cabinets ahead of time. If you plan to have your kitchen remodeled after you tackle the bathroom, consider the cost of your bathroom cabinets and fixtures on a larger scale. This will give you a more detailed estimate of your kitchen remodel cost.

Small Bathroom Remodeling Costs

Small bathrooms are often less expensive to remodel than larger bathrooms because they have less square footage. This means fewer materials involved to make them look brand new, and their cost will be on the low range of the chart above since you need less of them or their smaller sizes to fit in the bathroom. The cost of labor will also be lower because the time spent to remodel a small bathroom won't be as long as a large bathroom, unless the professionals run into snags with the electricity or plumbing. However, there is still a lot of heavy lifting, planning and general time involved in the process. Here are some cost factors you might deal with in the midst of a small bathroom remodel:
  • Changing the layout: If you decide to increase the square footage of the small bathroom, it will increase the total cost of the remodel. This means changing the electrical wiring in the walls, adding more flooring, and possibly more plumbing. All of this will increase materials and labor cost.
  • Fixtures and appliances: If you replace any of your current fixtures and appliances in the bathroom--countertops, bathtub, toilet, sink, etc.--this will increase the cost because the professionals will need to remove the originals and install the new ones. You can save on this cost by refinishing some of the appliances or buying the materials yourself.
  • Plumbing and electrical: Any issues with your plumbing or electricity during the renovation will add onto the cost of the remodel. You might have them checked by separate professionals ahead of time just in case. However, there could be issues that occur during the renovation that can't be planned for.
We hope that these ideas have provided you with some inspiration for your next remodel!  If you'd like to make any of these changes in your home, please call Christi at 805.682.2226.