Contractor Tips Blog


What Could Your Basement Become?

Posted in Interior Design

If your home has an unfinished basement offering the potential for extra space, it may be time to consider remodeling this area. Often, basement areas are left unfinished to serve as storage or laundry rooms when they could be additional living spaces. With the right designer and contractor, you can turn this wasted space into a useful addition to your home. 

Ideas For Basement Remodels

There are many uses for the basement area in your home. Depending on the size of your basement and how much is of the available space is already being actively used, there may be several options available. Let your imagination run wild, thinking of how you could use that space just below your feet. 

  • Family or play room. For families with children, finished basements can offer a great area for a den, family or play room away from the main living area from the home. This can create a space where the kids can play, watch TV or have friends over which is conveniently located on its own level of the home.
  • Extra bedrooms. If your family has grown and you need more bedrooms, a basement can offer square footage to add extras rooms. Remodeling existing space is usually much less expensive than buying a larger home for your family.
  • Office or studio. Have you always wanted a home office or studio? Your basement may the perfect area to transform into your work space at home. 

Remodeling your basement can create more living space while adding to the value of your home. With the help of your professional designer and contractor, you can finally use that wasted space and add more room to your home.

Posted on behalf or J Christopher Design


4 Things To Consider Before Remodeling Your Kitchen

Posted in Interior Design

The kitchen is one of the most frequently used rooms in any home. Not only is it where meals are made; it often is also the place where family and friends gravitate during a party, where kids learn to make cookies and where that first cup of coffee is made in the morning. Before deciding to remodel a kitchen, there is much more to consider than just cabinet materials and wall colors. Function and atmosphere should play a big part in the overall design. Here are four things to keep in mind while dreaming up your kitchen design

  1. Atmosphere. Kitchens have often been utilitarian in the past; however, there is a move toward building kitchens with themes and their own atmosphere. Rustic or natural themes are popular, along with high technology hidden in under a classic design.
  2. Focal points. What area will be the focal point of the kitchen? Do you want to add a beautiful stone pizza oven or have an island for guests to sit at during parties? Finding the focal point can help the rest of the kitchen come together.
  3. Function. Make your kitchen work for your lifestyle. Love fresh produce chopped into all your meals? Make an area perfect for chopping up herbs and vegetables close to the stove top. Are more beverages made than food in your kitchen? Dedicate more space to a beverage bar instead of food preparation.
  4. Technology. Kitchens can be high tech. Consider what new technology you want to incorporate into your kitchen, such as in-counter touch screens which work like tablets to make finding that perfect recipe even easier. 

The most important step in building the kitchen of your dreams is finding the right kitchen design company to make your dream a reality. Find an experienced contractor who is willing to work with you to make sure your new kitchen reflects your personality and needs.

Posted on behalf of J. Christopher Services


Get Creative With Your Powder Room Design

Posted in Interior Design

Many homes have a guest bathroom or powder room, a space which is often overlooked when it comes to unique and intriguing home décor. These little half-baths are the ultimate place to be creative and add to the overall look of your home. By adding some interesting fixtures or going with an elaborate theme, you can turn these small spaces into a beautiful place for your guests. 

Make Your Powder Room Unique

The great thing about powder rooms is that they are small and have very little clutter to get in the way of design. Most powder rooms have only a sink and toilet, with little need for storage or special lighting. This provides the perfect canvas for exciting colors and fixtures which may be to bold for other rooms of your home. Some ideas for creating a unique and memorable powder room design include: 

  • Rich colors – While a dark red wall may be too much in other rooms, a small powder room is the perfect place to add deep and rich colors.
  • Exotic themes – Use this small space to explore decorating with creative themes such as a Asian or African motif.
  • Modern fixtures – There are so many interesting bathroom fixtures available, yet may not be practical in other bathrooms. The powder room gives these fixtures a place to truly shine.
  • Artful lighting – Most bathrooms must have a certain light quality to make putting on makeup or styling work. Because these spaces aren’t usually a primary space for homeowners to get ready in the morning, powder rooms do not need specific lighting. Play with different types of light fixtures and lighting options. 

Most people who visit your home will use your powder room, so make it a place they will enjoy with creative design. For more ideas, consult with a professional designer to learn more about what you can do to make your powder room the jewel of your home.

Posted on behalf of J Christopher Services


Popular Kitchen Design Themes

Posted in Interior Design

Designing a kitchen can be a daunting task. It takes a lot of careful planning to balance functionality (appliances, layout) with aesthetics, and with so many kitchen décor options on the market, it can be hard to put together a complementary design. One foolproof approach to designing a distinctive kitchen is to fall back on two popular kitchen design themes.

1)      Modern

Modern kitchen designs are characterized by a high emphasis on functionality, lots of straight lines, and a clean, streamlined look. The goal is to create a kitchen space that is uncluttered, understated, and minimalist. Lots of storage, cutting-edge kitchen gadgets, and eco-friendly materials and features are some of the hallmarks of modern kitchen design. To get the sleek look of an ultra-modern kitchen, incorporate stainless steel appliances, a dramatic lighting scheme, and glossy surfaces or accents.

2)      Rustic

Rustic kitchens are inspired by the farmhouse and cottage interiors of bygone eras. Earthy hues, natural materials, and rough-finished surfaces are used to create a warm, earthy space with pastoral charm. Exposed ceiling beams, wrought iron crockery, and lots of natural lighting are all typical elements of a rustic kitchen. Walls may be white-washed, made of untreated wood, or incorporate exposed stonework.

Reclaimed, untreated wood is actually a distinguishing feature of rustic kitchen designs and can be used generously for tabletops, countertops, kitchen furniture, and flooring. Rustic kitchens can also have natural stone floors. You can use vintage kitchen equipment to heighten the nostalgic appeal of your rustic kitchen, or incorporate modern appliances. French Country, Scandinavian Country, and Tuscan style are three interior design schemes that can be used for rustic kitchens.

Remember, the above kitchen design themes never go out of style and sticking to one of these themes can be a good way to simplify your design project. This does not mean that your kitchen has to lack personality. By using carefully selected accessories and artwork you can add a personal touch to your modern or rustic kitchen design.


Design Ideas for a Greener Home

Posted in Interior Design

Green living is not just a passing trend. Nowadays, more and more homeowners are investing in green solutions for the home, from eco-friendly building materials to energy-efficient lighting. Eco-sustainable interior design results in living spaces that are healthier, distinctive, and interesting. Here are some techniques and products to bring out the ‘eco’ in your decor.

1)      Eco-friendly countertops

There are now a wide range of choices for environmentally-friendly kitchen countertops. Countertops made from recycled glass have a stylish, mosaic-like appearance and include vetrazzo, fuez, and BottleStone. You can also consider bamboo-based countertop materials like EcoTop or Teragren. Other options include Paperstone made from post-consumer, recycled paper, and Durpalm made from reclaimed, non-fruiting coconut palms.

2)      Nontoxic finishes

Nontoxic lacquers, varnishes, and paints are a smart choice for the health-conscious, eco-aware homeowner. They reduce indoor air pollution and you can achieve the same stylish, high-quality surface finishes as with traditional products. Standard paints have VOC (volatile organic compound) in them, a man-made compound which has been shown to have adverse immune, respiratory, and allergic effects on humans. Eco-friendly finishes on the other hand, have low VOC levels or use colorants that are VOC-free. Examples include Yolo Colorhouse exterior and interior paints, and Benjamin Moore’s Natura line of paints. There is also the option of using natural, organic furniture polishes and wood finishes. These contain no toxic hydrocarbons or other biocides and can be either commercial or homemade.

3)      Green flooring

Today, there are green flooring solutions to fit a broad range of budgets and tastes. Cork is an excellent eco-friendly and rapidly-renewable flooring material harvested from cork oak trees. A stylish alternative to traditional hardwood flooring, durable, sound-absorbing cork flooring is available in a wide number of colors and styles. Another option is sustainable bamboo flooring which adds beauty and serenity to any interior.


Waterproof Your Finished Basement

Posted in Interior Design

Finishing a basement is the process of transforming a basement from an inhabitable utility space into a fully livable space. Designing a finished basement is an exciting remodeling project because it’s a great way to personalize your home. From hobby room to wine cellar, to home office or a playroom for the kids, there are so many ways you can put your basement space to use.

A key step in finishing a basement is making sure the basement is watertight. In older homes especially, the basement tends to be damp or leaky.  Wet basements can pose a health hazard because they invite mildew and mold which can cause allergies and respiratory illness. Waterproofing is also important because you don’t want to run the risk of incurring expensive flooding damages further down the road. Furthermore, because accumulated ground water around the foundation of a house exerts pressure on basement walls, proper waterproofing is crucial to prevent cracks from appearing in your basement walls.

Here are 2 simple ways to ensure your basement is properly waterproofed.

1)      Backfill, drainage, and sealants

Walk around your house and carefully inspect the exterior walls at ground level (the foundation). The ground adjacent to the foundation should slope away from the foundation. If the ground slopes toward the house, the backfilled dirt surrounding the foundation will most likely be saturated with accumulated ground water. In such cases, the best solution is to install a drain pipe around the foundation and cover the pipe with gravel. If your house is on flat land, you will also need to install a French drain or sump pit to collect the water from the drain pipe.

It is also recommended that you seal the foundation walls then cover them with a protection board made of rock, polystyrene foam, or fiberglass. Rubber-based water sealants are better than asphalt-based sealants because they are moisture resistant and will not crack.

2)      Remove sources of water accumulation

Remove any plants or shrubs growing close to the foundation since plant roots can create a direct route for moisture to flow down into the foundation of your house.

Also, inspect your gutter downspouts; they may be depositing water on the ground right alongside the foundation of the house thereby contributing to ground water accumulation. The simple way to avoid this is to make sure your gutters and downspouts are clean and that they are expelling water away from the foundation. You might need to install a drain line to divert downspout water away from the house.


Features of a Powder Room

Posted in Uncategorized

The powder room, or half-bath, is becoming a more and more popular feature of modern homes. These stylish compartments exude hospitality, providing house guests with a convenient, well-appointed washroom close to the main entertaining area.

If you are thinking of adding a powder room to your home, then you will need to know the basics of powder room design. Although there is always room for embellishments that reflect your personal style, below are the standard features of a powder room.

1)      Commode

‘Commode’ is simply another name for the toilet fixture. Powder rooms always have a toilet so that guests can relieve themselves in a room separate from the family bathroom. This allows homeowners to keep the family bathroom private. Because powder rooms are typically small, a low profile toilet or round, small tank toilet can make more sense in a powder room rather than a larger, oval toilet bowl.

2)      Vanity

The term ‘vanity’ refers to a bathroom unit consisting of a sink or washbasin set into a countertop which rests on a stand or cabinet beneath. In the later case, the term ‘vanity cabinet’ may be used. Sometimes the term ‘vanity base cabinet’ is used to distinguish a vanity cabinet that houses a sink basin from ‘vanity wall cabinet’, a bathroom storage unit not meant to house a sink. Vanity cabinets are useful because they provide space in an otherwise small room to store things like tissues, toilet paper, towels etc. Vanities can also serve the function of concealing plumbing pipes.

With powder room vanities, sink type can vary widely, from raised vessel sinks to oblong or oval undermount sinks. While the vanity is a feature found in most powder rooms, because space is often limited in a powder room, the vanity may be omitted altogether in favor of something more compact like a pedestal sink or a wall mounted sink.

3)      Mirror

A wall mirror is an essential part of any smart powder room design. A mirror placed flush against the wall (powder rooms typically do not have medicine cabinets) over the sink will go a long way when guests want to tidy up. Mirrors also make a room seem bigger which is particularly appropriate in small-sized powder rooms.


Five Fun Ways to Use Your Basement

Posted in Interior Design

When it comes to getting the best out of interior space, the basement is the place that most homeowners concentrate on. Basements are typically spacious rooms with an open-floor plan making them ideal for a range of fun uses. Before converting a lackluster or neglected basement into an attractive functional space, you first need to have a clear idea of how you will use your newly finished basement. Here are five ideas for making your basement come to life.

1)      Children’s playroom

A basement can be made into a safe, comfortable space for children to play. By having the playroom in the basement, parents can keep noisy kids out of their hair but close enough to keep an eye on.  Like all children’s rooms, basement playrooms need to have kid-friendly flooring, furniture, materials and fixtures. Utility features like electrical wires, gas pipes, and water heaters need to be secured and enclosed for safety purposes. 

2)      Family room

With the right use of space and décor, basements can be converted into excellent family rooms. Large windows can be installed to let in light and make an underground family room more inviting. Smartly-chosen furniture, ambient lighting, and decorative touches all work together to make a basement family room feel warm and livable.

3)      Adult game room

Many people relish the idea of having their very own game room. Some features that can be included in a basement game room include: pool table; poker table; dart board; skee ball table; foosball table; and more. The possibilities are endless. Keeping the floor plan spacious and open encourages a sense of fun and movement, and sports-related décor can add a certain atmosphere to a game room.

4)      Home office

Basements can prove to be the ideal space for taking care of finances and work-related projects in the comfort of your home. Their out-of-the-way location provides the peace and quiet needed for high-concentration tasks or brainstorming.  Making sure the basement is properly insulated is important since many people can spend long hours working in their home office. Superb waterproofing is also crucial since home offices tend to have computers and other equipment that can easily be damaged in the event of flooding.

5)      Exercise room

It is fairly easy to convert a basement into an exercise room by simply adding a few small pieces of exercise equipment; however, some people go all out and transform their basements into miniature versions of the gym. Basement gyms require special flooring such as rubber padding to minimize the possibility of falls and injury during exercise.

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