I hate it for my clients when their architect or builder gives them an “allowance” for some category of items in their new home or remodeling project. Invariably, it is not even close to what will eventually be spent and I think it does a huge disservice to the client. I realize that the builder cannot possibly take the time to figure out every item that will be specified then price them all out…especially if he or she is bidding the job. ( I am not sure what the architects excuse is on this subject….but most do not seem to have a real grasp on today’s costs for interior appointments) And certainly, if several builders are bidding the job, they need to be on an even playing field with items that can so drastically change from one sub to another or from one manufacturer to another.
But,who wants to find out just about the time you are getting into the fun part of the build that you have enough “allowance” for a reclaimed, slightly chipped porcelain sink from Goodwill? Or cabinetry better suited for a Motel 6? Folks, it happens. All too often it seems to me. Just a little bit of planning ahead of time can alleviate this problem. If clients will begin a relationship early on with a Kitchen and Bath or Interior Designer, they can really hone in on a reasonable budget for most interior decisions. These professionals are in the trenches and will have a realistic idea of what sort of budget needs to be allocated based on discussions with the client and reading the plans. It does not have to be line itemed out right away, but a couple of intensive meetings on the “wish list” will go along way to helping the client get a real idea of what their project will cost. The builder will be thrilled that the client is meeting with someone to solidify the decisions and create a budget that meets the needs of the client and is well thought out. It pays to do your homework in advance!
This is an article I wrote for Home and Garden Weekly. Thought I would replicate it here!
Splurge or Save
Adding personality to your bath does not necessarily mean spending loads of cash. However it is important to know when to count your pennies and when to go for broke! Consider these ideas whether doing a facelift or a full blown remodel:
• Splurge: Custom shower treatments are a great way to add style points to your space. After all, this is a huge canvas in most bathrooms! Look for a fabric with great texture and minimal pattern for most small spaces. Set the rod high and use your imagination in selecting the material for the rod, it can be almost anything!
• Save: Vanities do not have to be expensive but they do need to have some sense of style! Reusing (and recycling..a bonus!) existing furniture is great for powder baths or other small baths where a petite dresser, sideboard or even table might work well. Or, scour garage sales and flea markets for the right piece. Measure carefully to see how much space you have and discuss with your plumber any piping considerations. You can also take a peek at the many new bath furniture options that can be quite affordable yet with more pizzazz than the standard vanity.
Antique chest used as vanity with Stone Forest Sink
Fairmont furniture style vanity and mirror
• Splurge: Lighting is critical in any bath. Do not skimp on proper lighting placement or the right fixture design for the space even if doing a minor facelift. “Most people do not plan lighting well for the bath.” says Sarah Gillette of Urban Objects. Layering your lighting is optimal. General overhead lights can be recessed cans but side sconces are the best for illuminating your face.” Forget putting recessed can lights directly over the mirror. This is a common mistake and does nothing but provide plenty of shadows over your face!
• Save: Consider powder coating existing all metal faucetry in the shower and on the tub so that you can splurge on a to-die-for new faucet for your vanity. This can be a huge cost savings. With roman tub and shower fixtures, you cannot simply buy new trim to get a fresh look. The valves in the wall must be replaced if a different model. And often in older homes, the original valves are discontinued anyway. So to replace with new, the existing tile must come up to get to the valve. Gets expensive! With powder coating, a plumber or your handy hubby can just remove the trim, take it in and come home with new (almost) fixtures! Panhandle Powder Coating offers many different finish selections.
• Splurge: If you are utilizing tile in your redesign, allow for some “wow” specialty tiles. The entire tile budget does not need to be hefty but a little bit of wow goes a long way if used correctly. Try to choose a layout where a bit of accent can help define the personality of the room. And I am not talking about the typical ( and boring!) 6 inch border either! Think about using 4×4 inserts of glass mosaic tile in the floor pattern. Glass on the floor? “Absolutely” says Amy Collier with Moza Tile. “Used as an accent, glass tiles and mosaics can offer the perfect punch to add life to a bath and most glass can be used just about anywhere.”
Interesting tile with texture in tall border from Moza Tile. Design by In Detail.
"Wow" brass tiles on one wall for visual impact from Moza Tile. Design by In Detail.
• Save: Have a shower or tub area already tiled? Tile unattractive but in ok shape? Is there a shower curtain to hide it all? If so, then leave it! And then see number one splurge!
Open bathroom shower idea
At Westye F. Bakke Center
Just got back from Madison Wi at a Subzero Wolf design affair ( for lack of a better word to call it) and let me tell you this was a first class operation! As I love Subzero and Wolf already it was much fun and enlightening to learn more about new product innovations, see the factories and nosh with other designers across the country. I enjoyed it ( maybe too much some evenings!) and kudos to Subzero for trying to get honest feedback from those of us in the trenches specifying and installing their products. I also have to say from a California Girl perspective…Madison was awesome! I am a little biased to the southern half of country but I really liked the town, UW campus and the hospitality of the natives. Thank you Subzero!
Dining in Madison with new friends! What fun!