Kitchen Renovation

It’s the start of a new year and a new list of trends. What will be hot this year in renovation design, what is passé and what will stand the test of time?

Generally we recommend clients think about their renovation projects with an eye to current tastes but a nod to the classics. Tile and cabinetry can be expensive to replace if the style loses its luster. Because we have been designing and building in Atlanta for over 30 years, we’ve seen trends come and go and come around again.

Brass was the expensive fixture to put install in the eighties and early nineties. Brass was replaced with chrome and all variations of brushed, satin and polished. Oil rubbed bronze has been a leader in finishes that suggest an earthier quality and less “clinical” in feel. Now the trend is back to brass with a less polished finish and a duller sheen. Brass is the hot finish and shows up in plumbing, cabinet hardware, and lighting.

Cabinet finishes that seem to be everywhere now are stepping away from white and trending toward grey, blues and the very popular “greige”- a color somewhere between grey and beige. Weathered and pickled oaks are rising in popularity as well.

Subway tiles and glass tiles have been the standard for kitchen renovation and are classics. The latest trend seems to be cement tiles with detailed patterns that play to the bohemian seventies look so popular in clothing and interiors.

If you are thinking about a kitchen or bath renovation, give us a call and chat with one of our designers. They can give you ideas to stay current but practical-a great combination.


Renovation is hot in Atlanta once again and people are looking to increase the size and living space of their homes. We are often asked whether additional space is best acquired by building on with an addition or building up with a second story.
The answer, like just about all things relating to renovation, has some complicated variables. The answer may depend on the goals of the addition, style of the house, access to the new space and the land around the existing home. Often in Atlanta’s intown neighborhoods where the lot size can be smaller and city demanded yard setbacks strict, building up is the way to go. Building up onto or creating a second floor maintains the yard around a home, often a premium. Also, when designed with care, a second floor addition can create an added charm to curb appeal and often provide a better resale value.
The next question to consider is cost effectiveness. The trickiest part and often the deciding factor in the up or out debate can fall to the stairs. If the stairway to the new space can be worked out without having to reverse the basement stairs and moving too many walls then building up often saves the cost of foundations and landscape disturbance. One must keep in mind that most second story additions require the reframing of the old ceiling joists to allow for floor loads. This is something typically done with a separate diaphragm system for ceiling and floor joists and has the added benefit of sound proofing, reduction of overall second floor addition height and minimizes the potential of plaster cracks.
In the end, our design staff is experienced with both vehicles to increase the size of your home in a way that is both practical financially and pleasing aesthetically.

Tile for a renovation

If you are thinking about a bathroom or kitchen renovation,  tile can be one of the larger components on the job.  With all of the styles available, picking the right product for your project can sometimes seem overwhelming. Here’s a quick lesson on tile that may prove helpful.

One of the first things homeoweners can run up against when thinking about tile is the difference between porcelain and ceramic. Here are some simple differences. Porcelain is denser, more durable and has a slightly lower water absorption rate than ceramic. Porcelain tile generally is more expensive that ceramic and may require a higher labor cost to install.  Generally, for most home projects, ceramic tile is the product of choice and is more that adaquate in terms of durability.

Tiles come in a multitude of sizes.  If you are working with a smaller bath or space, you may like the look of a smaller tile such as a 6″ x 6″ or a mosaic tile that is typically based on a 12″ x 12″ mesh screen. These mosaic sheets are easy to trim down to fit around plumbing or wall angles and can replicate the look of vintage tile styles often found in older homes.  A large 12″ x 12″ tile (or larger) can create a smooth finish on a floor with fewer grout lines. The only challenge is to make sure the grout lines you do have are centered on the room and make sense in the layout. If you are installing a shower floor in your project, the general recommendation is to use a smaller sized tile.  The installer needs to get a slight slope to floor drain and this can be tough to do with a larger tile. Smaller tiles also means more grout which can create a safer floor finish in a shower. More grout can equal fewer slips on wet tile. When looking at wall tiles, it is important to ask whether the tile you are looking at comes with bullnosed edges (smooth edges on one size) or whether there is a finished cap piece available.  Anywhere the tile ends in a shower, there will need to be a smoothed edge of tile. Nothing is worse than a beautiful tile installation but a poorly thought out edge detail.

Grout color is another important aspect of the overall design. One can use a contrasting color and have the grout play a larger part of the design. White subway tile with a dark grey grout can be striking. Selecting a grout color that matches your tile as closely as possible can create a continuous, monolithic look and can eliminate the visual “noise” of a space. Unless you love to clean, white grout is typically discouraged.

Installation patterns are also seemingly endless. A few basic styles are either straight, diagonal, or a running bond. A running bond is a staggered pattern that is often employed when using rectangular tiles, or subway tiles.

Now once you select the majority of your tile, sometimes called field tile, you may want to add an accent tile. Overwhelmed yet?  If you need a hand, Home ReBuilders has designers on staff who can walk you through some tile selections. Tile can be one of the best paints in your palette when creating your renovation.



Are dog leashes, sports equipment, rain boots, and backpacks overtaking more than their fair share of space in your home? As many of us look to spring as a time to clean up and organize, the gear that comes with this wonderful season can pose a problem. A mudroom may be the answer for greater seasonal storage and organizational improvement in your life.  This space, no matter how large or small, can add value to your home by making it a warm invitation and improved first impression through expanded space and organization.  The Home ReBuilders design/build team has tackled mudrooms that range from simple and straight forward to spaces that serve a variety of functions.

The mud room is most often a transition space from the exterior elements to the sanctuary of your home’s living spaces.  Although some mud rooms are relatively open to other living spaces, many include a secondary interior passage door.  This secondary door serves several purposes – it creates an easy way to separate the living space from dirt & grime carried in during nasty weather and it can even increase the energy efficiency of your home.  The mudroom essentially becomes an “air lock” that catches the cold air (during winter months) and hot air (during summer months) as you open and close the exterior door.  The concept of an air lock to maximize efficiency is not a new one.  In fact, every time you enter a grocery or department store you pass through an air lock which is used to dramatically cut unnecessary energy loss.

The overall look of your mudroom can vary. If your home has a more contemporary leaning, sleek cabinetry from floor to ceiling can capitalize on the look. If a softer look is something you’re after, woodwork and trim incorporating benches, cubbies and built in hooks can provide that English country estate feel. Often the mudroom lends itself to include laundry facilities and even recycling stations. With some careful design work, this hardworking space can look great and really change the way your home functions.

If your home is missing a transition space, or if your existing mud room is simply not working for you, let Home ReBuilders help you work out a great solution.  We can design mudrooms that are purely functional, that maximize storage, that help your family stay organized, and much more.


Design Trends for 2014

It’s a new year and everyone seems to be talking about what is ahead. Here are some design trends to watch for in 2014.

After having been one of the top items on homeowners lists to remove or change for years, brass is making its way back into the home again. We saw this one coming and wrote about it in a previous post. What makes this trend fun and interesting in our field of renovation is seeing brass or warmer metals as accents. A faucet here, a light fixture there is the name of the game. It’s all about the mix of metals and finishes, not so much about the complete matching suites we have seen for years. So if you have been plagued with 80’s brass knobs, you may want to look at them with new eyes and a bit more love.

Color Palettes
Color in homes is always a trendy and fickle topic. The design world seems to be featuring interiors in a few camps. Dark, mysterious dining rooms and libraries painted in rich greens, inky blues, or deep slates and eggplants. Woodwork is painted these saturated colors and the finish is glossy. At the other end of the spectrum is the frequently seen all white palette. Airy and ethereal, these rooms provide a soft background for mixed fabric textures and wood finishes.

Knotty Woods
For years, high end wood grains have ruled the day. Walnut, maple, and  cherry have been the wood species of choice with looking at cabinetry or stained paneling. In the future we will be seeing more rustic woods applied in sleeker modern spaces. Wood always provides a warmth that many modern spaces need as a counterpoint to their sharp edges and clean lines. Think about Belgian pickled oaks and cypresses. Rustic, live edge shelving applied to a clean, tiled backsplash is a trend to watch.

People are still looking for relaxation and serene master suites and baths are the hot item. Soothing colors, soft textures, and natural materials are the choice when creating s space to forget about the work day or stresses of everyday life. Spa culture has seeped into the design world and we are frequently asked to help transform a master bath or suite into one’s favorite spa. A few clean lines, soft lighting, organized towel storage and a touch of teak can get you there.

Homeowners today are ready to transform their homes after several years of waiting but value is still a focus. We strive to create the best spaces to use today and well into tomorrow. This need for versatility is a trend we see in our design department when working with clients as well as the interior design world. Furniture and spaces need to offer several functions. The family room may be a spot to watch a family movie or relax but it also needs to provide ample storage and a place to pull out a laptop and she dome emails. Kitchens need to be a place to cook meals, organize bill paying and paperwork, serve as mudrooms and homework stations. Everything needs to earn it’s place in the home. Superfluous square footage and empty rooms are out. Smart design, multi purpose space and furniture is in.

Kitchen Design

One of the most important things to consider in your upcoming kitchen renovation is working with an experienced designer who is well versed in the standards set by the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) Below is an outline of some of their recommended measurements and dimensions for effective kitchen design. Enjoy!

The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) recommends the following guidelines for kitchen planning.

The NKBA developed the kitchen planning guidelines to provide designers with good planning practices that consider users’ typical needs. A committee of experts in kitchen design reviewed lifestyle and design trends and model building code requirements to ensure the guidelines promote the health, safety, and welfare of consumers. Existing relevant research and new research on storage provide the basis for these updated guidelines.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 1- Door Entry
Recommended: The clear opening of a doorway should be at least 34 inches wide. This would require a minimum 2-foot 10-inch door.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 2: Door Interference
Recommended: No entry door should interfere with the safe operation ofappliances, nor should appliance doors interfere with one another.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 3: Distance Between Work Centers
Recommended: In a kitchen with three work centers*, the sum of the three traveled distances should equal no more than 26 feet with no single leg of the triangle measuring less than 4 feet nor more than 9 feet.

When the kitchen plan includes more than three primary appliance/work centers, each additional travel distance to another appliance/work center should measure no less than 4 feet and no more than 9 feet.

Each leg is measured from the center-front of the appliance/sink.

No work triangle leg intersects an island/peninsula or other obstacle by more than 12 inches.

*A major appliance and its surrounding landing/work area form a work center. The distances between the three primary work centers (cooking surface, cleanup/prep primary sink, and refrigeration storage) form a work triangle.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 4: Separating Work Centers
Recommended: A full-height, full-depth, tall obstacle* should not separate two primary work centers.

A properly recessed tall corner unit will not interrupt the workflow and is acceptable.

*Examples of a full-height obstacle are a tall oven cabinet, tall pantry cabinet, or refrigerator.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 5 – Work Triangle Traffic
Recommended: No major traffic patterns should cross through the basic work triangle.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 6: Work Aisle
Recommended: The width of a work aisle should be at least 42 inches for one cook and at least 48 inches for multiple cooks. Measure between the counter frontage, tall cabinets, and/or appliances.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 7: Walkway
Recommended: The width of a walkway should be at least 36 inches.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 8: Traffic Clearance at Seating
Recommended: In a seating area where no traffic passes behind a seated diner, allow 32 inches of clearance from the counter/table edge to any wall or other obstruction behind the seating area.

  • If traffic passes behind the seated diner, allow at least 36 inches to edge past.
  • If traffic passes behind the seated diner, allow at least 44 inches to walk past.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 9: Seating Clearance
Recommended: Kitchen seating areas should incorporate at least the following clearances:

  • 30 inches for high tables/counters with a 24-inch-wide by 18-inch-deep counter space for each seated diner.
  • 36-inch-high counters with a 24-inch-wide by 15-inch-deep counter space for each seated diner and at least 15 inches of clear knee space.
  • 42-inch-high counters with a 24-inch-wide by 12-inch-deep counter space for each seated diner and 12 inches of clear knee space.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 10: Cleanup/Prep Sink Placement
Recommended: If a kitchen has only one sink, locate it adjacent to or across from the cooking surface and refrigerator.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 11: Cleanup/Prep Sink Landing Area
Recommended: Include at least a 24-inch-wide landing area* to one side of the sink and at least an 18-inch-wide landing area on the other side.

If all of the countertop at the sink is not at the same height, then plan a 24-inch landing area on one side of the sink and 3 inches of countertop frontage on the other side, both at the same height as the sink.

The 24 inches of recommended landing area can be met by 3 inches of countertop frontage from the edge of the sink to the inside corner of the countertop if more than 21 inches of countertop frontage is available on the return.

*Landing area is measured as countertop frontage adjacent to a sink and/or an appliance. The countertop must be at least 16 inches deep and must be 28 inches to 45 inches above the finished floor to qualify.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 12: Preparation/Work Area
Recommended: Include a section of continuous countertop at least 36 inches wide by 24 inches deep immediately next to a sink for a primary preparation/work area.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 13: Dishwasher Placement
Recommended: Locate nearest edge of the primary dishwasher within 36 inches of the nearest edge of a cleanup/prep sink.

Provide at least 21 inches* of standing space between the edge of the dishwasher and countertop frontage, appliances, and/or cabinets, which are placed at a right angle to the dishwasher.

*In a diagonal installation, the 21 inches is measured from the center of the sink to the edge of the dishwasher door in an open position.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 14: Waste Receptacles
Recommended: Include at least two waste receptacles. Locate one near each of the cleanup/prep sink(s) and a second for recycling either in the kitchen or nearby.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 15: Auxiliary Sink
Recommended: At least 3 inches of countertop frontage should be provided on one side of the auxiliary sink and 18 inches of countertop frontage on the other side, both at the same height as the sink.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 16: Refrigerator Landing Area
Recommended: Include at least:

  • 15 inches of landing area on the handle side of the refrigerator, or
  • 15 inches of landing area on either side of a side-by-side refrigerator, or
  • 15 inches of landing area that is no more than 48 inches across from the front of the refrigerator, or
  • 15 inches of landing area above or adjacent to any undercounter-style refrigeration appliance.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 17: Cooking Surface Landing Area
Recommended: Include a minimum of 12 inches of landing area on one side of a cooking surface and 15 inches on the other side.

For safety reasons, in an island or peninsula situation, the countertop should also extend a minimum of 9 inches behind the cooking surface if the counter height is the same as the surface-cooking appliance.

For an enclosed configuration, a reduction of clearances shall be in accordance with the appliance manufacturer’s instructions or per local codes. (This may not provide adequate landing area.)

Kitchen Planning Guideline 18: Cooking Surface Clearance
Recommended: Allow 24 inches of clearance between the cooking surface and a protected noncombustible surface above it.

Code Requirement:

  • At least 30 inches of clearance is required between the cooking surface and an unprotected/combustible surface above it.
  • If a microwave hood combination is used above the cooking surface, then the manufacturer’s specifications should be followed.

Refer to manufacturers’ specifications or local building codes for other considerations.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 19: Cooking Surface Ventilation
Recommended: Provide a correctly sized, ducted ventilation system for all cooking surface appliances. The recommended minimum is 150 CFM.

Code Requirement:

  • Manufacturers’ specifications must be followed.
  • The minimum required exhaust rate for a ducted hood is 100 CFM, and it must be ducted to the outside.
  • Make-up air, fresh air brought inside to replace exhausted air, may need to be provided. Refer to local codes.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 20: Cooking Surface Safety

  • Do not locate the cooking surface under an operable window.
  • Window treatments above the cooking surface should not use flammable materials.
  • A fire extinguisher should be located near the exit of the kitchen away from cooking equipment.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 21: Microwave Oven Placement
Recommended: Locate the microwave oven after considering the user’s height and abilities. The ideal location for the bottom of the microwave is 3 inches below the principle user’s shoulder, but no more than 54 inches above the floor.

If the microwave oven is placed below the countertop, the oven bottom must be at least 15 inches off the finished floor.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 22 – Microwave Landing Area
Recommended: Provide at least a 15-inch landing area above, below, or adjacent to the handle side of a microwave oven.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 23: Oven Landing Area
Recommended: Include at least a 15-inch landing area next to or above the oven.

At least a 15-inch landing area that is not more than 48 inches across from the oven is acceptable if the appliance does not open into a walkway.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 24: Combining Landing Areas
Recommended: If two landing areas are adjacent to one another, determine a new minimum for the two adjoining spaces by taking the longer of the two landing area requirements and adding 12 inches.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 25: Countertop Space
Recommended: A total of 158 inches of countertop frontage, 24 inches deep, with at least 15 inches of clearance above, is needed to accommodate all uses, including landing area, preparation/work area, and storage.

Built-in appliance garages extending to the countertop can be counted towards the total countertop frontage recommendation, but they may interfere with the landing areas.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 26: Countertop Edges
Recommendation: Specify clipped or round corners rather than sharp edges on all counters.

The Internet and Home Design

Home ReBuilders has been in business for over 30 years. One can imagine how taste and style has changed since the mid-eighties. In the early days, homeowners were interest in a new bathroom or some more space for their family. Design decisions seemed to focus on brass and crystal doorknobs, stepped coffered ceilings, floral wallpaper, and pressure treated angled decks. People also had a vague or hazy vision of what they would like to see their home look like, often shaped by what they may have seen in a friend’s home. People would talk, Bill and the designers would talk, and we produced a lot of great projects for happy clients.

Shelter magazines, things that had been around for years, seemed to be everywhere in the late-nineties. The market for remodeling and home improvement was hot and publications took notice. Grocery check out lines started populating their shelves with home magazine focusing on renovation. As designers, this was a help. We could suggest clients start really looking at what appealed to them and their focus became more detailed. Homeowners would come to meetings with clippings and tear sheets of things they liked and products they could envision in their space.

Today, Pinterest and Houzz and a multitude of blogs are shaping the industry and people’s tastes. The days of a person coming to a kitchen design meeting with a folder overflowing with ripped magazine pages seems to be over. A laptop or Ipad is pulled out today and a digital file is opened. Again, the result is the same. Clients are educated and opinionated. It’s our job to bring these digital fantasies about what their home can be to life. Successful design starts with communication and these internet sites can be a launch pad for discussion. Be sure to explore them if you are looking for ideas for your next renovation.


Kitchen Design Trends- things to look for and things to avoid

A granite counter here, new custom cabinets there. Anyone who’s ever undertaken a kitchen remodeling project knows those costs can add up quickly. According to the Remodeling Magazine 2012-13 Cost vs. Value Report, the national average cost for a high-end kitchen makeover is now $53,931.

Because they’re such a large investment, most homeowners hope to end up with a finished product that looks fresh as long as possible. What’s hot and trendy today may be out of vogue in a year, making your kitchen look outdated before you’ve had a chance to break it in. One important question to ask yourself before renovation begins is “who is this remodel for?”

Is this project for you and your family to enjoy forever? Is this a long term house? Or is your kitchen only your “Mr Right for right now”? Do you have plans to sell your home in a few years? Is there a good chance your family size, dynamics, job situation may change relatively soon?

“Is this something the homeowners are doing for themselves, for their own enjoyment?” he said. “Or, do they need to update to be able to sell their house?” The answers to these questions can help drive design choices for the kitchen and beyond.

If you remodel falls into the somewhat temporary catagory, you need to make design decisions that will lead to getting the highest return on your investment and which will appeal to the largest number of people. For example, a white painted kitchen has a draw in the current marketplace and it has for some time.

If, however, you have no plans to move anytime soon, you don’t want to completely throw caution to the wind, but you can make more personal design decisions. In total honesty, most kitchen remodels are begun, not because the current kitchen is completely unfunctioning, but because the finishes and materials become tired and worn out looking. As you look to the future in your new space, find ways to add personality without completely committing to trendy phases.

While no one can say for sure which kitchen features will stand the test of time, here are a few trends you may want to avoid to keep your remodel looking relevant for years to come.

Keeping small appliances behind closed doors was a notion that gained a lot of fans in the 1980s and ‘90s. Unfortunately, these garages ate up a lot of valuable counter space. Today’s homeowners generally choose to keep often-used appliances right on the counter, and pull-out drawers are terrific hideaways for blenders, mixers and more.

A decade ago, desk areas in kitchens were a desired feature. Today many people find these spots were never used to sit down and plan a meal or take a phone call. Instead they became drop zones for papers and mail and every other thing. With wifi networks and cell phone use being the constant in today’s homes, a drawer that accomodates plugs for cell chargers, laptop docking station, or family electronics may be the smarter way to go.

Farmhouse sinks have long been on the wish list for homeowners. For several years, nothing said I got a new kitchen and paid a fair amount of money for it quite like the apron front sink. This slowly may be making way for a more practical return to the workhorse, stainless undermount sink. Time will tell when this trend fades.

These appliances were especially popular in the 1970s and ‘80s but not so anymore. Oh, they still have their fans, but they tend to get stinky as they fill up with garbage, they can malfunction and many homeowners simply don’t want to hassle with keeping them clean.

The most current kitchens have a space for the microwave — and it’s not on the counter or in a niche built into the upper cabinets. Under-counter microwave drawers fit in seamlessly with the rest of your cabinets, free up valuable kitchen real estate and make sense ergonomically. Marketed toward families on the go, they’re installed at an accessible height for children and equipped with safety locks for homes with toddlers.

All the rage in 2009, ’10 and ’11, decorative range hoods haven’t completely disappeared from the scene, but their popularity is waning. Ditto pot racks. Hanging pots tend to detract from the open kitchen concept. Today’s homeowners generally prefer storing their pot collections in deep drawers that roll out for accessibility.

Aging In Place, Shaping Your Home for Your Future

According to US Census, the 65 and older population now totals 38.6 million and  is expected to grow as “baby boomers” reach retirement age. Housing trends have shown that this boomer group has started small with their first homes and then consistently “traded up” to larger homes.  With today’s housing situation, many people find themselves ready to sell their larger homes as they age and their family size shrinks, but the market has prevented sales.  This leaves many charting their next move and often their path leads them to the Aging in Place concept.  Through design and renovation, many people are modifying their current homes to accomodate their needs as their mobility diminishes. This enables people to retain the value and equity they have in their homes as well as stay in a neighborhood they may have deep ties to.  If you are thinking about renovating a home you are currently in, thinking ahead to the future can be valuable.  Do you see this as perhaps a “forever home”? Careful planning with a designer or architect can open the options for your later years.

There are many modifications one can make to one’s home to make it more user friendly to someone of advanced age. Bathrooms can sometimes pose the largest challenge but can often yield the largest return. Nothing can be more dangerous or curb one’s independance, like a slippery tub and less than agile legs or compromised balance.  The study of universal design, made popular as a concept in the 1990’s, allows for the user’s changing needs. Instead of a shower/tub combination, a roll-in style shower may be used. A bathroom can be designed to accomodate not just the usual towel bars but stable grab bars as well.  The traditional vanity may not be the best choice for someone who may need to use a walker or wheelchair.  Lever handles on doors or cabinetry can assist someone with difficulty gripping. Light switches can be automatic and on motion sensors. The automatic soap dispensers often found in commercial applications, are available and can be installed in the home. The available aids are truly limitless. The challenge is only to think and plan ahead and have your design and renovation reflect this advanced planning.  At Home ReBuilders, we have a staff well versed in the Aging in Place movement.  We’d love to talk to you about your changing needs.


Counter Points

Thinking about a kitchen renovation? Countertops can be a huge driver in the course of your design decisions. In a kitchen, we need our products to look great and function even better.

Marble countertops have been all the rage the last few years, found gracing the pages of every magazine and design publication. This classic material is on a trend wave that doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Marble is a softer material than granite and questions always come up about marble’s durability and function in a kitchen. The answer has two parts. Yes, marble is a durable material for a countertop. It has been used for centuries. Yes, it will it be subject to scratch marks and possible stains or etched spots. So the real question is whether you can look at a few marks and see charming patina or whether you will be forever tormented by a scratch from a careless knife blade? Know yourself and let that guide you.

If marble seems like a risky choice for you, you may want to revisit quartz composite countertops. Brands like Cambria, Silestone and Caesarstone have taken notice of the trend toward marble and have produced some great products that capture the look of marble but provide a virtually indestructible surface.