Myers Constructs Q&A: Planning the Perfect Custom Bathroom

planning a custom powder room storage cabinetThis week, Tamara offers her thoughts on planning a bathroom renovation that fits the very personalized needs of every home.

Q: What are the most important considerations for homeowners planning a custom bathroom renovation?

A: “Bathrooms are one of the most personal spaces in any home, and they should be designed as such. Starting at our first meeting, we work with clients to get an understanding of what the visual and aesthetic goals are for the project. We often say that we like to create a blend of what the house says, our clients’ personal taste — which may differ from the style of the house — and our team’s experience and resources.”

“A house typically already speaks a particular design language, and we need to have a conversation about whether to keep the same palette or introduce a new style. Sometimes, if the home is newer, it may have many off-the-shelf treatments, such as builder-grade moldings, so one of the project goals will be to establish a new style of molding treatments that will elevate the home and support the new vision. If the home is historic, it may have had some renovations that ignored the history so perhaps we need to bring back some more historically appropriate treatments. And sometimes our clients have personal tastes that are different than the original house aesthetic and are looking to perhaps blend both old and new. In this case, this needs to be done skillfully from concept and planning through product selection and execution.”

“Spending time understanding the visual goals up front informs some of the more functional decisions. It’s one of the great advantages of working with our team: We are looking at the whole picture throughout the entire process.”

“When considering possible layouts to determine the best solution, we learn about the people who will use it most. That might include your children, older parents, or houseguests. While locating basic fixtures like a shower, tub, toilet, and vanity and choosing fixtures and finishes, we delve deeply into how the space will be used. We ask important questions like:

  • How many people will use this room, and what are their ages?
  • Do any of them have special physical needs that should be addressed?
  • Does the room offer ample overall square footage?
  • Is there currently a place for storing towels and larger toiletry supplies, will they be located in an adjacent room, or can we split the difference? The storage needs will affect the aesthetic direction and vice versa.
  • Is a custom vanity the right solution, or will a free-standing pedestal sink better serve the overall project goal?
  • Do you need a bath tub or just a shower?
  • Do you need one or two sinks?
  • Do you have any water usage concerns?
  • Is there anything about the current space that makes it awkward or uncomfortable to use? Does it offer enough privacy?
  • Where will you place your clothes and hang your towel while bathing?
  • Do you need more electrical outlets?
  • Where will the electric toothbrush and other countertop items live?
  • Do you need a pull-out drawer inside the cabinet that allows a hairdryer and other electric appliances to stay plugged in, easily accessible, and neatly stored without fussing with the cords?
  • What other types of custom cabinetry are required?”

“With these answers in hand, we can get to work creating timeless and unique spaces for each client that help make everyday living easier and much more enjoyable.”

Lighting: It’s All About the Plan

Lighting: It’s All About the Plan
As is the case with many aspects of our work, if we do our job well when planning the lighting scheme for a project, the solutions become almost transparent to the homeowners and their guests. That’s because they simply blend naturally into the overall landscape of the room, completing the circle of design. For kitchens and dining areas, in particular, we always aim to bring in multiple types of light to allow opportunities to change its effect, depending on the time of day, the task at hand, the number of folks in the kitchen, and, of course, the preferences of the different people in the household.

Behind the scenes, we work with one of the most basic of design principles: the layering of light. There are three layers of light needed for a successful project, and this is one of the things that can really make a professional project stand out.

A quick overview of the three basic layers:

General — Overall, ambient light is very important to set the overall tone and create a safe environment in any home. This can be achieved in lots of ways by using recessed light, chandeliers, and so on, with light that can be soft or strong. We find that creating a room’s character through the use of lighting is a really cool part of our job.

Task — This is critical to make sure homeowners can do their best work in any given space. Whether they are cooking a meal, paying their bills or doing homework with their children, we bring in enough options so that all of these tasks can be achieved without stress.

Accent — Sometimes we call this the “jewelry” in a room. These pieces can sometimes be fabulous objects in and of themselves. We had one project where we used some wonderful handblown glass ceiling lights that appeared to be grouped randomly, but we planned very carefully to achieve the random look. They became a focus for the room, tying the whole design concept together. Accents can have hidden sources, so there are lots of fun ways to approach this.

Need help with your home’s overall lighting scheme? Contact us to set up a consultation. And visit our Facebook page for your chance to enter our George Nelson Bubble Lamp Giveaway!

Different Customers, Different Outcomes: The Value of a Streamlined Process

We recently received a phone call from a returning prospective client who had contacted us several months ago about doing a large kitchen/home remodel for her. At that time, we met with this homeowner and explained our process, presenting her with an example of our project book. This is a crucial tool we create for every home renovation project we undertake. It’s kind of the “bible” of the project, as it contains every drawing, specification, permits, and all of the product information necessary to complete the job. During the time since we last spoke to her, the homeowner had explored doing the same project with a home builder who had turned to remodeling after new construction dried up. She found that the builder didn’t use anything like our project book, and the spaces he created were unstylish, builder-grade solutions. So, seeing the value in our approach and appreciating the results we achieve, our prospect came back to us. The project book stuck with her as a symbol of “something different” she would get with us.

On the flip side, we’ve also worked with a handful of clients over the years who do not understand the value of the process and systems we’ve created. At critical periods in our construction schedule, such clients have requested major, project-altering changes in the plans that they had previously approved. When we are beyond the design phase and deep in the throes of construction, it is important for clients to know that products have been purchased, plumbing and electricity have been run, and appliances and cabinetry are ready to be installed – and changes such as these are a very big deal indeed. Of course, we do our best to accommodate such requests, but the results are problematic all around: added expense, delayed completion dates, compromised warranties and so on.

These two very different scenarios highlight the importance of project planning and management systems and finding a contractor with whom you share trust and respect. The process requires a high level of mutual commitment, and that’s why it’s so very important to hire a reputable firm. To read more about this topic, see the Myers Constructs Buyer’s Guide.

Enjoy the holiday weekend,

The Myers Constructs Team

P.S. Spring is just around the corner. The time for planning those warm weather projects is now.

Wants vs. Needs: A Look at Prioritizing Home Renovations

Our clients, Robin and James,* have lived in their large, 90-year-old stone single home for 20+ years. They are now in their 40s, and have raised two active boys. James runs daily in the neighboring wooded parkland. The kids are active in hockey, tennis, and do well in school. In fact, they are preparing to head off to college in the next few years. The college fund is paid up, and it’s time for Robin and James to plan ahead for their own needs and enjoyment.

Part of that planning includes renovating their home to maintain or enhance its value. It’s a very well built, handsome home so they want to renovate carefully.

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The Importance of Having a Plan

I’ve been speaking with some landscapers about creating a plan for our yard’s landscaping. I’m pretty sure my reaction to the process is a lot like most homeowners thinking about home renovations: ”$X per hour for design services?! How many hours will that take? What will that cost? Wouldn’t I be better off spending that money on plants and mulch? Why do I need a design plan anyway?”

The truth is, I absolutely know the value of having a great plan, whether for landscaping or renovating a home.

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A Helpline for Homebuyers

We often get phone calls from folks who are have recently purchased an older home and want to make some renovations or upgrades to it. Typical homes in our area – Philadelphia and its surrounds – are 50 to 100 years old. These home buyers usually love the character of their older home. We do, too. After delving deeper into the situation, we often find that the buyers’ real estate agent gave them advice about what certain repairs or renovations for their home would cost, and they purchased it with these cost expectations in mind. Unfortunately, most realtors do not know the true costs for renovations, and they end up giving flawed information, as a result. We don’t fault them, really. It’s not their job to know this information.

As you know, buying a home is one of the most expensive purchases you will make in your lifetime. But you must buy well and plan renovations carefully to make your home a great long-term investment in your family’s wealth.

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