Tuesday
Mar312015

The Little Table That Could

Occasional table. What a name! The perfect accent for a comfy chair. A place to rest a drink. Or a book. And a favorite in my design repertoire.

Two weeks ago at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show in New York City, I found some new treasures to add to the mix of occasional tables in my design arsenal. What I love about these tables is their difference in form, color, texture and pattern. Each packs a lot of design punch in its little stature.

Tucker Robbins, whose little stools and side tables I've featured before, showed glazed ceramic stools in glossy and metallic finishes. These interesting silhouettes add contrast when juxtaposed against orthogonal forms. The colors too add light and shimmer to interior spaces.

                  

This little side table by Edward Ferrell + Lewis Mittman was modeled after a chess piece. Called the Rook Table, it's shown in satin white lacquer. The pedestal adds a classical note, but the white satin finish makes the table equally contemporary.

                                             

I am in love with this Gem Table by Debra Folz. In large and small sizes, its made of laminated glass which gives the illusion of facets. The base is steel and can be plated in zinc or bronze. An added bonus is the colorful shadows the tinted glass top casts on parallel surfaces.

                                              

The Drip/Fold Side Tables by Noble Goods is a gem of another kind. Composed of bent ash plywood, the table is hand-dripped with liquid resin, creating a unique pattern on each piece. The blue pattern on the tables below was stunning, but custom colors are an option.

                      

Another great find at the show, derivative of the ever-popular quatrefoil, was the Major Tom Side Table by Whyte. Made of bleached Linden (aka Basswood), a tree native to North America, the table looks and feels light. So sculptural in form, it makes a strong design statement for its little mass.

                                               

Tuesday
Mar172015

Surface Treatment

The array of surfacing materials that are available to consumers these days is astounding. From paper to stone and every engineered material in between, it's a veritable trove for commercial and residential designers, architects and builders and it makes the choice that much harder for our clients.

With the entry of Wilsonart -- an industry leader in engineered surfacing material -- into the mix of producers of engineered quartz, that trove became deeper and the decision-making process even more difficult. At the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in January, Wilsonart unveiled its line of quartz surfacing material which will soon be 50-patterns deep.

                             

                                                               Photo courtesy of Chasen West for Modenus

Wilsonart drew inspiration for the line from different geographies and cultures, but organized the array of patterns into four categories based on textures and structures: 1) fine and small scale; 2) medium scale; 3) large scale; and 4) veining and movement.

                       

                                                                                     Photos courtesy of Wilsonart

One of the great features of Wilsonart's new quartz is that it can be fabricated into 20-foot slabs making it suitable for large scale as well as vertical applications. You can see below the vertical wall installation in Wilsonart's KBIS booth and how easily Wilsonart's quartz pairs with products from its laminate and solid surfacing collections.

                                                

At KBIS, Wilsonart also debuted 27 new residential laminate designs. As explained by Natalia Smith,  Wilsonart design manager, the new designs offer recession-weary homeowners the opportunity to infuse their homes with personality in an eco-conscious and budget-friendly manner.

“While still focused on style, consumers want their home to showcase their personality. The emphasis has shifted to living in and enjoying their home, rather than improving it solely for future real estate value.”

Laminate installations in Wilsonart's KBIS booth showed the versatility and functionality of the product. The installation below combines wood grain and solid laminates in a fabulous chevron wall display. Notice the blue laminate and wood grain shelves. No ugly brown seam lines, the bane of vintage laminate countertops.

                                

How about this installation below? It features Wilsonart's Chalkboard laminate.

                                

And if these aren't impressive, Wilsonart has curated a collection of 150 designs ranging from geometric to photorealistic images -- even suitable for large-scale commercial murals -- in its Virtual Design Library. If you can't find anything in the Virtual Design Library, Wilsonart can fabricate your original design as part of its Wilsonart x You custom laminate program. The best part of these programs: all designs are available within a 2-3 week lead time.

Disclaimer: Wilsonart was a sponsor of BlogtourVegas and, together with other sponsors, paid for my Blogtour experience.

Tuesday
Mar032015

This Will Floor You

Back in January, part of my Blogtour experience was visiting the 2015 New American Home (NAH), a project co-produced by the National Association of Home Builders and Builder magazine in conjunction with the International Builders' Show. The NAH is an annual project to showcase the latest technology in home building. In the past, the sponsors intended the home to be a "one-of-a-kind" custom home but this year, they intended to showcase how cutting-edge technology could be integrated into a production home--the type of home offered in a suburban subdivision.

                                                   

I guess if you're a production home builder in the southwest or some other part of the world with an arid climate, this year's NAH, on the outskirts of Las Vegas, would have been extraordinary. But coming from the northeast, I confess I was not in love. The house beautifully merged indoor with outdoor spaces, something that is no big deal in Las Vegas. But as I look out my window to the more than two feet of snow that has been my landscape for the last 4 to 6 weeks, a home that blends interior with exterior spaces is a total fantasy.

                          

Can you imagine this type of home in New England? Hah! Nevertheless, there were lots of take-aways from the house.

The strongest take-away was the flooring materials used in the house provided by Mohawk Industries. Mohawk provided the hardwood flooring, wall-to-wall carpeting and area rugs made of SmartStrand Forever Clean, and area carpets from their Karastan luxury brand.

Mohawk’s Clarett Graphite Oak hardwood flooring was featured in the home. This beautiful oak hardwood has a subtle gray wash and matte finish making it equally suitable for homes with country and contemporary decor.

   

Mohawk's Graphite Oak hardwood and Karastan Area Rug shown left, with close up of Graphite Oak hardwood shown right. 

Karastan area carpets added color and pattern to the neutral interiors in the NAH. The rug below was my favorite, setting off a sitting area in the NAH's second floor billiard room and lounge.

                             

       

I have witnessed some pretty amazing product demonstrations, but by far the best I've seen was the demonstration by Mohawk's product development team of their new SmartStrand Forever Clean carpet. This carpet is the perfect solution for heavily-used family areas of the home. Using technology developed by DuPont, Mohawk has incorporated stain and soil protection into the core of carpet fibers for lifetime protection that will never wear or wash off. With new Nanoloc spill protection, the carpet prevents spills from penetrating the fibers, making cleanups quick and easy.

Mohawk's team demonstrated the stain repellant quality of the carpet with red wine. They submerged two pieces of carpet -- one with ordinary topical stain protection and the other, SmartStrand Forever Clean with Nanoloc protection -- into bowls filled with red wine. The carpet with ordinary protection absorbed the wine and did not come clean. But the SmartStrand Forever Clean carpet repelled the wine, and the carpet wiped completely clean.

                          

                          

Needless to say, all of us from Blogtour were completely floored. You would be too.

Photos of the exterior of the 2015 New American home are courtesy of tnah.com. All other photos courtesy of Chasen West Photography.

Disclaimer: Mohawk was a sponsor of BlogtourVegas and, together with other sponsors, paid for my Blogtour experience.

Tuesday
Feb242015

Guest Post: Which Home Improvements Make Sense When You're Selling Your Home

Today, I'm turning over the blog to my friend, Joanne Taranto, from Gibson Tom Matthews and Joanne TarantoSotheby’s International Realty. Joanne and her teammate, Tom Matthews, assist a wide selection of home buyers and sellers in the suburbs west of Boston, Massachusetts, specifically in the Lincoln, Carlisle, Acton and Concord, Massachusetts real estate markets. Take it away, Joanne . . .

When I go on a listing appointment, a question I often hear is “Joanne, which home improvements pay off?” While any improvement project is sure to add some extra value, there are some things that matter more to buyers than others. In this blog post, I’ve pulled together seven home improvement projects you can add to your property to add extra value and ultimately increase your resale value.

Landscaping & Outdoor Improvements - Unkempt trees, untrimmed bushes and messy flower beds can obscure views, darken interiors and ruin curb appeal, even with otherwise beautiful homes across all price points. Whether you’re doing it yourself or hiring a professional, some simple and affordable landscaping can go a long way to help you secure the price you want for your property.

If your property permits it, consider adding a backyard deck. At a cost of approximately $30 per square foot, a wood deck provides extra space for the buyer and increases the opportunity for entertaining.

Updated Entry - A modestly priced steel door will upgrade both energy efficiency and curb appeal at a minimum investment. For an updated look, consider removing old awnings over windows and doors. If your porch is a little bare, you can add drama with columns or a pergola, both attractive and affordable.

Kitchen Appliances & Fixtures - In many American households, the kitchen is still considered the heart of the home. Potential buyers will often make a beeline for this room on showings. For a couple of hundred dollars, you can increase the perceived value of the kitchen with minor changes like replacing the faucet, adding new cabinet door handles and upgrading lighting to newer, brighter energy-efficient bulbs.

If you have mismatched appliances, you may be surprised to learn that you can replace the faceplates on many appliances for a minimum investment in time and money. Matching appliances makes a kitchen look more cohesive, and this improvement can make a big difference in a buyer’s mind.

With a slightly larger budget you can give your cabinets a makeover. Rather than springing for all new cabinets, consider hiring a refacing company.

More Space & Storage - According to a study released by the National Association of Realtors, every 1,000 square feet added to a home boosts the sale price by 3.3 percent. With more and more buyers looking for dedicated rooms for hobbies, extra rooms are always a welcome addition. For more affordable ways to add extra space, consider finishing your basement or attic.

If you have a lower budget, consider increasing your perceived living space by investing in storage opportunities like built-ins, a pantry or additional cabinets.

Bathroom Improvements - In the hottest real estate markets, a bathroom remodel is a sure-fire way to increase the sale price of a property, often returning more than 100 percent of the cost. Bathrooms are areas of the home where you can tell if money has been well spent or not. They’re also one of the most expensive areas in a home in terms of construction.

If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll be surprised at how much a new pedestal sink, cabinet handles, caulk and a toilet seat can make. If you’re listing a more expensive home, buyers have been opting for larger walk-in showers in lieu of whirlpool tubs

Energy Efficiency - With energy costs always on the rise and the growing interest in protecting the environment, many buyers are becoming conscious of buying homes that are “green.” There are also tax credits available for certain efficient home improvements. While you don’t have to go solar, buyers are often cognisant of older, inefficient water heaters and furnaces, inadequate insulation and out-of-date windows.

Eliminating “What’s That?” Problems - Regardless of price point, every home has a couple of small but immediately noticeable things. Examples include a broken front step, dated wallpaper, cracked light switches, dented garage doors or paint that needs some retouching. The good news is that these changes are almost always relatively small.

Of course, this list isn’t meant to cover all of the home improvements you can make to boost the value of your property, but it’s a start. Savvy home sellers can do all of these things and much more in order to achieve a higher price for their property. It’s important to remember that the sale of a home is a negotiation between two parties and everyone has different preferences.

Friday
Feb202015

Pawsitive Feedback

I last wrote about the trend toward the integration and customization of kitchens and how Poggenpohl, a German brand, was forwarding that trend with its introduction of the P'7350 kitchen concept.

Take a look now at how Wood-Mode -- the largest U.S. manufacturer of custom cabinets for the kitchen, bath and other rooms in the home -- is championing that trend stateside.

At the 2015 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS), Wood-Mode featured new cabinetry options targeted to specific lifestyle needs. Its just-launched Coffee Station and Wine Bar is a complete beverage station, with lateral bi-pass doors that switch the focus from breakfast duty to bar service.

  

                                                              Photo courtesy of Wood-Mode.

The upper doors slide left and right, maintaining the upper cabinets sleek low profile.

           

                                                               Photo courtesy of Wood-Mode.

Cabinet interiors are constructed of solid walnut, making the cabinets as handsome on the inside as they are on the outside.

                      

Pull out pantries are fashioned in chrome and white.

                            

Recognizing the value of pets in our lives and the accommodations they require, Wood-Mode introduced the Pet Parlor last year and showcased it at KBIS. Doubling as a utility or laundry room, the Pet Parlor features low-height pull-out drawers with pet bowl cut-outs and and bin storage for pet food. A low cabinet unit can accommodate an apron sink for pet-bathing.

                          

     

                                                      Photos courtesy of Wood-Mode.

Showcasing its ongoing partnership with Susquehanna Service Dogs, Wood-Mode brought to KBIS several Labrador service dogs including two adorable puppies -- service dogs in training -- to demonstrate the features of the Pet Parlor and the talents of these service dogs. You'd think that travelling almost 2500 miles by airplane to work at a trade show would be disadvantageous for the dogs. But interestingly, the trip was ideal for their training. Being able to guide their human companions among large crowds is just the skill these dogs have to master. A purely pawsitive outcome!

Disclaimer: Wood-Mode was a sponsor of BlogtourVegas and, together with other sponsors, paid for my Blogtour experience.