Project Spotlight: Small Changes in Kitchen Provide Large Transformation

When it comes to remodeling it’s often the big changes that inspire the most awe. It’s hard to not say “wow” when an old, dated space that looks like it hasn’t been touched in decades is completely transformed to become sleek and modern. But a remodel doesn’t always have to involve such massive changes to make a strong impact. Sometimes it’s the little things that can make a big difference. This North Dallas kitchen is proof that an effective remodel doesn’t have to change much to completely update the look and feel of a room. A few strategic changes packed a powerful punch in this remodel.

In approaching the remodel, the homeowner didn’t want to change much in the kitchen. The existing cabinets and appliances were in good condition and fit well with the homeowner’s needs and design style. Further, the homeowner had also taken great care to over time update her appliances to the ones that she wanted rather than having to shoulder the burden of replacing them all in one go, a great way to lessen the cost burden often associated with replacing those big-ticket items. With these two big parts of the kitchen in good shape the homeowner instead decided to focus on three other areas of the kitchen: the backsplash, the countertops, and the elevated peninsula.

The old tile backsplash wasn’t horribly dated or out of place, but it had a very traditional feel to it and lacked a modern edge that the homeowner desired. A mosaic metallic tile was chosen as the replacement. Remarkably, the relatively small change completely transformed the vibe of the room. The tile gives the kitchen a uniqueness that was missing and is easily the standout feature of the room. The stainless steel finish matches well with the stainless steel appliances so it doesn’t feel out of place in the design of the room. It is also a great complement to the metallic strips that are used to hold knives and kitchen utensils throughout the room. In fact, we’d be willing to bet that if someone didn’t know the metallic strips existed they just might think the utensils were magically adhering themselves to the backsplash.

The homeowner also wanted to adjust the peninsula cabinets. The outer facing portion of the peninsula had an elevated bar cabinet that was too small to be practical for the homeowner. So rather than waste valuable countertop space the elevated section of the cabinets was lowered to match the countertop height throughout the rest of the kitchen. This created additional work space around the sink and helped to more seamlessly tie the kitchen into an open floor plan design with the adjacent living room area. The height change did necessitate that the countertops be replaced. New quartz countertops were installed throughout the room. The lighter color of the material helps them to not distract from the standout backsplash tile.

With just a handful of changes this homeowner was able to completely transform the look and feel of the kitchen. While remodels are often seen as a costly endeavor, making smaller changes provides a solution that is still transformative but also cost effective. So, if cost is what is holding you back from beginning a remodel take a page out of this homeowner’s book and look for ways to make smaller yet powerful changes to your home instead.


2018 Winter Home Maintenance Guide

Today officially marks the start of the winter season even if the weather may have us thinking differently. It’s time for colder temperatures, holiday celebrations, longer nights, and the welcoming in of a New Year. It’s also time to tackle some new items around the house to keep it in well functioning order. Keep reading to find out what tasks we think should make your to do list this winter.


Prep and Maintain the Fireplace

There is nothing quite like curling up in front of a warm fireplace on a cold winter’s day. But if your fireplace isn’t ready to go then those plans could easily go astray. First and foremost, have your chimney inspected each year if you plan to use the fireplace. Next, have your chimney professionally cleaned if it has been a while since its last professional clean or if your inspector recommends it. Finally, stock up on firewood now so that you’re ready when the mood or cold weather strikes. The last thing you want to do on a cold day is run to the store. Plus, you can bet everyone else will have similar plans and you don’t want all the wood to be sold out before you get there.


General Maintenance

It’s another season which means it’s another time to clean out your gutters. Once the leaves have finished falling you’ll want to make sure your gutters are clear so that they’re able to handle any impending winter weather. This is also a good time to check all the safety devices in your home such as your smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers. Another task to add to your list is to inspect all the caulking around the home and replace any that has degraded or is missing. Key areas to check caulking is in bathrooms, the kitchen, and around windows.



Organize Bookshelves

Chances are that you’ve got at least one bookshelf in your home. You might be using it to store books or as a place to display decor. Regardless of how you’re using it most bookshelves overtime seem to become more and more disorganized. Take some time to give your bookshelves a little love and organization. If you store primarily books consider organizing them in a new way, such as alphabetical by author or even by the color of the book itself. If your bookshelves are being used more for displaying decor then consider swapping things around a bit. At the very least, regardless of how you are using your bookshelves, take the time to remove everything from the shelves and give the shelves a good dusting.

Plan Home Projects for the Next Year

Winter brings with it the end of the current year and the beginning of a new one. This is the perfect time to sit down and really think about any remodeling or maintenance projects that you want to tackle in the new year. Perhaps your kitchen needs an upgrade or you want to upgrade your bathroom to feel more like an at home spa. Or maybe what you need isn’t quite as fun but just as important to a well functioning home, such as a new roof, hot water heater, or windows. Now is the time to get those plans in motion, especially since many home improvement companies are already booking jobs for the start of the new year.

Keep Exterior Cleaned and Well Lit

Winter brings with it colder weather and longer nights, two things that can make the outdoors a bit more dangerous. When it comes to your home’s exterior make sure that the front of your home is well lit. This will not only help you if you are returning after dark in the evening but it will also give your home some added safety. Also keep an eye on walkways at the front of your house to make sure they are clear of debris. If bad weather hits it is easier to clear sidewalks and pathways that aren’t littered with tree branches, rocks or other such objects. Finally, keep watch over your landscaping. If a tree branch is hanging on precariously then get it down sooner rather than later before wind and weather gets to it and can cause more damage.


Prevent Frozen Pipes

The colder weather of winter can be quite the risk for your pipes, both inside and outside. If you want to prevent frozen pipes and the damage that comes with them then be sure to take preventive steps. Make sure any outdoor plumbing has either been winterized or is properly insulated to keep it above freezing when the cold temperatures hit. Inside your home make sure any pipes that aren’t in well heated areas (by windows, exterior walls, or rooms that get rather cold) are insulated as well. If freezing temperatures are in the forecast leave your faucets dripping and the doors to under sink cabinets open. Finally, as tempting as it might be to save money and leave your heater set to a low temperature, make sure that temperature does not get below 55 degrees. Spending a little extra money on heat could save you from spending even more money on busted pipes.


Complete a Home Inventory

If you had to sit down right now and make a list of everything that was in your home could you do it? And not just a list that says things like refrigerator, couch, desktop computer, etc. But a list that includes specifics, such as the brand or where you purchased it or even how much you paid for it. If you can’t do that then this is a great time to put together a home inventory list. Who knows, maybe you’ll even discover something that had been hidden away and forgotten about. No one plans on bad things happening to their home, but if you have a completed home inventory list (with details) it will be a lot easier for you to recoup your losses should something bad ever happen. And don’t forget, once you’ve started a home inventory be sure to keep it updated as you acquire new things.

The Home's Christmas Wish List

The holiday season is in full swing now that December is here and that means that the season of gift giving is also in full swing. Hopefully Santa is ready for the influx of wish lists that are heading his way. And while we might expect to see those lists from young children (or even some adults) we wondered what would happen if our homes got to write their own Wishlist to Santa. We’re not talking about the simple things, like a new paint job or a deep cleaning, because where is the fun in that? We like to think our homes would have big dreams for the gifts that they would want to receive. Here are a few ideas of what we think might make their list.


An Automatic Venthood

What is the best thing about the venthood in this kitchen? The fact that it can disappear back into the island at the touch of a button when the range is not in use. Space is at a premium in this small kitchen so maintaining an open line of sight was key to making the room feel as large as possible. There is no big and bulky venthood hanging from the ceiling that would impede the line of sight in this kitchen. Instead, they get a sleek venthood that perfectly complements the more contemporary style of the kitchen.

An Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor living in Texas is almost a must, and no outdoor living area would be complete without a fully equipped outdoor kitchen for all your cooking needs. The owners of this home were avid cooks and wanted an outdoor kitchen that could keep up with them. It includes a large outdoor grill, restaurant quality smoker, and even a wood fire pizza oven give them plenty of cooking options. An outdoor refrigerator and a clean up station that includes a sink and dishwasher ensure minimal back and forth is needed between the outside and inside when this kitchen is in use.


A Unique Master Shower

If you judge by the amount of money spent remodeling them every year, the master bathroom is easily one of the most important rooms in the house. A room this significant deserves a stand out feature and we think the shower is the perfect item to focus those efforts on. This rounded shower is truly one of a kind. From the rounded mosaic tile walls and glass walls, to the dual handheld shower heads and rain shower head, and to the built in soap niche and bench, this shower is full of great features. Doesn’t your shower deserve an upgrade of its own?


An At Home Gym

Working out can be such a chore, but an at home gym will make it less so. Imagine waking up in the morning and not having to make the trek to the gym in order to get your sweat on. Having a gym at home will allow you to tailor the equipment to fit your needs and not have to fight with all the other gym members for its use. One of the many things we love about this home gym is the carpet floor tiles. Flooring in gyms tend to get trampled on quite a bit more, but these floor tiles can be swapped out individually as needed.

A Pool

A pool in the backyard is a staple feature when living in an area that sees hot summers and mostly mild winters. Pools can range from simple to complex. The pool at this Dallas home falls far into the complex category with its three interconnected pools. On the upper level is a general use pool and spa pool. The lower level lap pool allows the family of competitive swimmers to continue to hone their craft from the comfort of their own home. It is connected to the upper level pools through a beautiful waterfall feature. But an effective pool doesn’t have to be quite so complex. Simpler features like an extended wet deck or architectural feature can create a unique and fun backyard pool.   

An Elevator

If your home has stairs chances are at some point or another you’ve found yourself having to dread making the walk up there, even if it was just one night when you were especially tired. What’s the solution? How about an elevator that does the cross floor traveling for you! We love how the newer technology feels right at home in this historic 1920’s built home. It has wood paneling and brass fixtures on the interior finish and outside was designed to look like a European castle turret to match the Tudor style of the home.

An Heirloom Piece

When it comes to home remodeling the focus seems to always be on the new. But sometimes looking into the past can offer some unique and stylish options. Take the piece that hangs behind the range of the remodel of this historic home’s kitchen. It is a cast iron fireback from the 1800’s in France that the homeowners were able to acquire. Its history makes it a stunning piece in a kitchen that is meant to provide modern luxuries and conveniences while also honoring its history and heritage.


A Bold Paint Job

Yes, we started this post off by saying the simpler upgrades like paint would not make a home’s wish list, but we like to think that repainting a room with a bold and standout color is a step above a simple paint job. This bedroom benefits greatly from the rich purple hue featured on its walls. It helps give the room some unique personality. Using such a bold color can be a risk, but if done correctly then the payoff can be fantastic!

Project Spotlight: Small on Size But Large on Style and Function

In an ideal world every kitchen would be a spacious room with plenty of storage and work space. Imagine having enough storage space for all of your things, or having enough counter space to spread out so that you’re not working on top of someone else, or even having room for a few specialty appliances beyond the standard necessary ones that all kitchens need. Wouldn’t that be the dream? Well, unfortunately the world is not always ideal and not all kitchens can have the perfect amount to space to make all those wishes come true. But luckily those dreams don’t have to come crashing down entirely just because a kitchen is on the small side. This remodeled Dallas kitchen is the perfect example of how to create a hardworking and stylish kitchen when space is at a premium.

When it came down to it, limited space was not going to stop these homeowners from achieving a great kitchen. The right remodel that incorporated strategic space planning and a fresh design aesthetic would be the answer to their woes. Plus, it didn’t hurt the homeowner’s desire for a remodeled kitchen that some changes to the room were going to be necessary to accommodate a new family room addition that was being built off the back of the room. (You can read more about that project in a previous blog entry).

The most important factor in remodeling this kitchen was in redesigning the work space layout. A larger kitchen has plenty of space and options for spreading out major appliances. But in a smaller kitchen like this one it was essential to make sure that those major appliances were spaced apart. If the appliances were too close together then multiple users of the kitchen would risk having to work on top of each other. To maximize the room’s effectiveness and to allow multiple users the ability to use the room at one time then the appliances needed to be spread out as much as possible. Smart space planning allowed this kitchen to do just that despite the overall lack of space.

The refrigerator anchors the perimeter cabinets on one side of the kitchen. The natural bulkiness of the appliance is partially mitigated by placing it on the fringe of the room. A smaller undercounter beverage refrigerator is located on the other end of the perimeter cabinets and can be easily accessed by anyone using the new family room addition, a main gathering area for the family. Moving the range top to the island provided separation between it and the oven. Instead of installing a venthood above the range top that would have impeded on the line of site an electronic downdraft hood was installed. The hood rises out of the island with the push of a button when the range is in use. The sink’s location did not change in the remodel. Keeping it near the center of the kitchen allows it to be easily accessed from any direction of the room.

Another key factor to consider when trying to maximize space in a small kitchen is storage space. When there isn’t a lot of space to work with storage can often be sorely lacking. In this kitchen custom cabinets were designed to provide as much storage space as possible. One key decision was to make all of the lower cabinets drawers. The homeowners wanted to make sure that they could easily access the items stored within their cabinets. So instead of risking things getting shoved behind other items and lost, using drawers makes it easier to access everything that has been stored. Using glass fronts for the upper row cabinets could be considered a surprising choice when trying to maximize storage space. Glass fronts leave no room for forgiveness when it comes to organized storage. But requiring such a high level of organization can also be a blessing in that it not only makes it easier to find things but it can also cut down on all the extra stuff that ends up stored somewhere in the kitchen and promptly forgotten about.

The remodeled kitchen has a unique design aesthetic: contemporary with a hint of rustic charm. The contemporary elements are the most prevalent in the room, from the single panel recessed cabinet design to the stainless-steel appliances and to the clean and simple lines that dominate throughout. But the pendant lights over the island and the apron sink bring in elements of country charm and a touch of the more traditional home-y feel. The homeowners used this eclectic mix of the two styles while decorating the rest of the home. Prior to the remodel, the kitchen had featured a very traditional design that did not mesh well with the rest of the home. Carrying the homeowner’s unique design aesthetic over into the remodeled kitchen helped tie the room in better.


The mix of whites and blues in the cabinets and countertops also contribute to the mix of styles in the kitchen. Using white cabinets with glass fronts for the upper row cabinets helps to create a more open feel in the room and gives it a more traditional vibe. Their color helps them to blend more with the ceiling and adjacent walls while the glass fronts give them a less clutter-y feel. The lower colors feature a sharp, saturated blue color that is popular in more modern kitchens and complements the design aesthetic of the kitchen and adjacent living areas while providing contrast with the white upper cabinets. The blue and white color scheme is also carried over into the countertops with blue quartz countertops for the perimeter while white quartz is used for the island. The island countertop was also extended along two sides to provide as much bar seating space as possible for the small room.


So what do you think? Does size really have to be such a limiting factor in a kitchen or, like in this kitchen, can smart design be used to create a hardworking and stylish kitchen?

Eight Standout Uses of Tile in the Bathroom

Last month we featured a few standout tile backsplashes from past projects on our blog. This month we decided to keep the focus on tile but this time in the bathroom, another common place to find the material. Its ability to stand up to wet environments, versatility in usage, and plethora of design and style options easily make tile one of the most popular materials to use in a bathroom. Here are a few past bathroom projects that feature some memorable uses of tile.

With fully tiled floors and walls, this spacious master bathroom features a plethora of tile. The style of the tile was consistent throughout the room, but the walls feature a larger size of the square tile while the floors feature a much smaller version. This variance helps provide visual differentiation and helps the material to not feel too overwhelming. One of the best advantages to having so much of the room covered in tile is the ease with which the room can be cleaned. The homeowner wanted the room built in such a way that it would be possible to hose down the room to clean it. By using tile throughout so much of the room the homeowner can achieve their goal.

This pool house bathroom uses tile to add some whimsical drama to the room by using a fun geometric green patterned tile on the walls. The geometric shape of the tile is a good complement for the contemporary style of the home. It is also loosely reminiscent of palm tree leaves which works well for a pool bath and gives it a beachy and tropical vibe. Juxtaposing the darker colored tile with the white grout adds distinction to the shape of the tile and helps to make it even more of a statement piece.






There is quite a bit of tile used throughout this bathroom, but the real standout piece is easily the green accent tile used in the shower. It is a glass tile with a 3D element that mimics the look of a basket weave. A metal accent liner was used above and below the tile to help create a clean transition between the green tile and the other tile used in the shower. Surrounded by the muted neutral colors featured elsewhere in the bathroom, the unique accent becomes a truly unique feature in the room.






The black based marble designed tile used in the tub/shower combo in this bathroom makes a dramatic statement in the small room. The design of the room is centered around the black and white color scheme which makes it the perfect place to use the dark tile. The prevalence of white fixtures throughout the room helps the darker colored tile not feel too oppressing. Furthermore, the white veining in the tile also lends itself towards softening the tile’s appearance and really stands out because of all the other uses of white in the room.

Without a doubt that star piece of this master bathroom is the shower. And it wouldn’t be half as amazing without the mosaic tile that was installed along the curved back wall. The small size of the square tiles allows it to be more easily used along the curved wall. The shower is freestanding and located in the center of the room, therefore the tile was installed around all sides of the wall to create the truly statement piece.







The homeowners wanted their master bathroom to feel like an at home spa retreat. As such, they chose a light-colored tile to help create a relaxing atmosphere. Tile is used throughout the room on the floors, in the shower, and around the bathtub. But the real standout use of tile is the Grecian patterned tile that was used to create the floor design. The special floor design adds some unique personality to the room and gives it a custom feel. The patterned tile was also used in the walk-in shower and helps add visual continuity to the room.






The bright red tile on the shower walls is what makes this bathroom so spectacular. Surrounded by black floor tiles and black fixtures, the vibrant red shower tile can really pop. Using such a bold color can easily go awry if not done correctly. But by limiting the red tile to just the shower walls and using neutral colors throughout the rest of the room the red tile can be unique without overpowering. Further, the slight color variance within the mosaic pattern of the tile helps tone down any risk of the tile being too overwhelming.






This bathroom might be small on size but it in no way lacks on stylish design and we like to think the way that the luxe marble tile it features played a part in that. The same tile series was used throughout the room but in varying sizes and shapes. The floor and shower soap niche use a hexagonal shaped tile, subway tile was used for the wainscoting with a matching cornice border, and the shower walls feature the square shaped version. Using the assorted sizes and shapes provides some distinction to each area without sacrificing the cohesiveness that using a consistent tile series brings. Also, using a lighter shade for the tile helps the small room feel more open. A darker colored tile would likely have been too oppressive when used in such a small space.