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September 27, 2017  |  by Rachel Ludwig

Flooring - Part Three - Carpet, Carpet Tile, Vinyl and Concrete

Welcome to the third and final installment in our Flooring series! We've already covered hardwood and tile flooring, and for this post we will go into a little more detail on carpet and vinyl flooring, as well as carpet tile, and concrete.

Carpeting

Overall we are seeing a declining interest in carpet over the last several years. As designers, we have been receiving more requests for hard surface flooring throughout our clients' homes. This is due to a variety of reasons, but primarily allergies and hygienic reasons. However, carpet is often less expensive and can still be a great option for some areas of your home. Depending on the needs of our clients, we recommend carpet for bedrooms, theaters and basements. Carpeting stairs can be a great option for safety, as well as easier for kids and pets.

There are a few different types of carpets, and the most common choices are synthetic and wool, which both have pros and cons.

Wool Carpet

As a natural fiber, wool is a more natural eco-friendly option and tends to wear well. While the initial cost of wool is higher, it tends to last longer than synthetic. It also is naturally fire-retardant. On the downside, It can shed and be more difficult to clean, so keep that in mind when choosing wool. We usually recommend a low pile Berber if you're choosing this option.

Synthetic Carpet

Synthetic carpet is usually less expensive than it's wool counterpart, which makes it the more common choice for those choosing carpet. It is more stain resistant and easier to clean with steam cleaning and spot treatment. However, synthetic carpet will emit more VOC's (gasses) so it isn't as environmentally friendly. If you are sensitive to that, consider giving some time after installation for some of these VOC's to dissipate.

Carpet Tiles

Carpet tiles have been gaining popularity, and can be a great option for areas of your home like a home gym (vinyl or rubber tiles are also great options), rec room or playroom. They can be fun and colorful, and fairly easily replaced if they become stained or damaged. These are also popular in larger commercial spaces like offices.

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A few other flooring options that we haven't covered yet, are vinyl plank which has been increasing in popularity and concrete which is not used as often in homes, but can be a good fit for some spaces as well.

Vinyl Plank

Vinyl plank or vinyl tile are great cost effective alternative to either wood or tile flooring. It's durable, great for high traffic areas, and can stand up to moisture as well, which makes it great for areas like mud rooms, basements, etc. As a matter of fact, we have vinyl plank flooring in our Kenorah offices and we love it!

Some of the vinyl flooring even allows grouting, so if you want to still have the look of tile but the cost and convenience of vinyl, you can create that effect by adding grout. You can also add in-floor heating beneath vinyl flooring. With a glue down installation, you even have the option to easily replace damaged areas if needed. 

Concrete

Concrete flooring can be great look for a modern industrial look. There are a lot of options including adding color, polishing and grout lines. A few things to keep in mind is that concrete can crack, and if you choose a color it can be difficult to achieve a consistent look over a large area. It can also be quite cold, so consider in floor heating or rugs to warm up the space. As concrete is heavy, if you're adding concrete on top of a sub floor (versus on grade), you will need to ensure that it can bear the weight. Alternately, consider a light weight concrete option.

Designer Flooring Tip
If you are having different types of flooring that meet in a space (ie carpet and tile), consider transition strips so that the transition is as seamless as possible.

We hope you enjoyed this series on flooring! Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions. Thanks for following along!

August 23, 2017  |  by Rachel

Flooring - Part Two - Tile

Thanks for following along in our flooring series! If you haven't yet, check out Part One of this series on Hardwood Floors.

In this post we will be giving some great info from our designers on tile flooring: information on types of tile, installation tips, trends and more! Read on for more great info.

Tile is a great flooring option for areas of your home that might be exposed to water, such as kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and entrance ways. It tends to be a durable flooring option that can withstand wear and tear, dirt, mud, accidental spills and more. 

There has been a huge surge in tile options over the last number of years. Shapes, colors and patterns, there are so many options available in today's market!

Tile Types

Porcelain is the type of tile we are seeing and currently using the most often for our homeowners. Not only does it have the most variety in color and pattern, it also is much stronger, less porous and less likely to crack than natural stone and even ceramic. Porcelain tile is actually a type of ceramic tile, but made with a much finer clay and fired at higher temperatures. It is more resistant to wear and abrasion and is also moisture resistant. Porcelain tile is often chosen for its consistent patterning.

Real stone (IE Marble, travertine and limestone) are beautiful, but are more porous and require sealing (and regular resealing). Due to the nature of real stone, the patterning will be more varied and have less consistency. However, natural stone does tend to be warmer, and will also distribute in-floor heating more consistently than its man-made counterpart.

Designer tip: If it's in your budget, consider adding in-floor heating with tile! In our cooler months here in the Greater Vancouver area, having in-floor heating is a nice luxury, especially for bathrooms such as the en suite.

Mosaic Tile

In the design world, smaller mosaic tiles are all the rage. They are great for small spaces like a powder room. They can also work well for a sloped shower floor due to the smaller tile size. However, they can be up to three times more expensive, and harder to clean as there are more grout lines, so keep that in mind if you love the look. Choose a small room or an area in your home where you can feature your favorite mosaic tile as an inset pattern, either in a front entry or bathroom.  Or like one of our homeowners did with these custom hand painted tiles beneath their kitchen island (see photo above!).

Cement Tile

We have had a few clients express interest in cement tile and we are seeing an increased interest in the design world for these beautifully patterned high end specialty tiles. You can find more information here from our friends at Villa Lagoon Tile on how these tiles are handmade, installation details and required maintenance.

These aren't in the budget for every homeowner, but there are some great porcelain tile alternatives, like these tiles in Dear Lillie's laundry room that give the look of cement tiles, but at a much lower cost:

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Shaped Tile

Tiles in various shapes have been gaining momentum in the design world, and shapes such as hexagon, scallop and arabesque are all popular choices. While these tiles aren't always used in flooring (more commonly used for back-splashes) they can be used similarly to mosaic 

Another popular trend we are seeing are larger format tiles (ie 18x36 or 24x48). These types of tiles not only tend to be easier to clean due to less grout lines, they also lend a clean and modern look to your space.

A current popular trend is to install tiles in a pattern such herringbone and chevron. While it is more expensive to install tiles this way, it can look stunning!

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Grout

Typically we recommend avoiding white or light grout. Light grout can be difficult to maintain and tends to discolor over the years. Match your grout to the tile, or go with a darker grout to create some contrast and make a statement. If you want to have minimal grout lines, consider choosing a rectified tile (a tile that has had the edges mechanically finished for a more precise size) that allows for a smaller grout line.

 

Thank you for following along on our flooring series, we hope you've found this information useful! We'll be back with one more post on some alternative flooring choices. 

July 19, 2017  |  by Rachel

Flooring - Part One - Hardwood

We sat down with our designers to ask some questions and to learn more about flooring. As they help our clients walk through many of the decisions that need to be made when it comes to selecting floors, we knew they would be a great source of information on flooring options, current trends and some tips and tricks on making the best choice for your space! Thank you Lee-Ann, Leslie, Lina and Vanessa for your fantastic input. 

We will be breaking this topic up into a few separate posts, and decided to start off our series on flooring with Hardwood Flooring. Hardwood flooring has definitely become the standard for flooring over the last number of years, particularly for use in main living spaces in most new and renovated homes. Hardwood floors can be classic and timeless, yet can also be trend-forward and modern depending on your preferences. There are so many options when it comes to color, grain, width and installation patterns. The variety available means you can create a unique look to suit virtually any style of home!

 
 

Engineered or solid?

When it comes to hardwood people often wonder whether they should choose solid or engineered flooring. While they both have their pros and cons, we generally recommend engineered hardwood for a number of reasons. The primary reason is that it tends to be more stable due to the base it's manufactured on, and as a result there is less expansion and contraction which results in less gaps. Solid flooring is more impacted by weather and moisture levels, and there can also be a limitation to the plank width.

Designer tip: Engineered hardwood can be refinished! Just be aware of the wear layer so you know how much you will be able to sand it down in the future.

Finishes and patterned install:

As a trend, we are seeing more gray, and gray-toned floors, or a white-washed oak finish. A wire brushed finish has also been gaining popularity recently. If you prefer more of a classic look, consider a hand scraped finish in a mid brown tone as a timeless option!

Pinterest and magazines are awash with herringbone or chevron patterned hardwood floors. While this is a beautiful look, keep in mind that installation costs are substantially higher. A great way to get a unique look but at a more reasonable cost is to consider having your flooring installed at an angle instead.

 
 

Designer tip: Darker and shinier floors will show more dirt, pet hair, foot prints, etc. A mid tone color, with more of a matte finish, some variegated pattern and/or some distressing will show less of the everyday wear and tear.

Where to use hardwood:

We are seeing hardwood being used more often throughout the main living spaces in homes, even throughout kitchens to maintain a consistent look. Keep in mind that wood flooring is more susceptible to water damage (ie a dishwasher flooding). If there's a natural area to transition your flooring in your kitchen, you may want to consider using tile to reduce the chance of damage. There are some great products out there that can minimize the transition between different types of flooring.

Hardwood can also be used on stairs to minimize different types of flooring in your space. You can customize the look of your stairs by the type of nosing you choose (the edge of the stair, in either a rounded or square finish) or by a combination of white and wood (ie white risers/wood tread or the opposite). 

More people are choosing hardwood floors for bedrooms as well. Consider adding rugs to keep the space warm and cozy!

Designer Tip: For a seamless look with hardwood, consider heating vent covers that are flush to the floor and match your flooring.

Type of hardwood:

The type of hardwood you choose is going to be largely dependent on your preference to grain and color. The harder the type of wood, the more durable your flooring is going to be. Hickory, oak and maple are all great choices for flooring that will stand up to pets, children and other potential sources of scratching.

 

Thanks for tuning into the first post in our Flooring series! We'll be back soon with our next installment on Tile!

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June 14, 2017  |  by Leslie Teague and Vanessa Palframan

Kitchens 101 - Choosing Your Appliances (Part 3)

Thank you for following along on our Kitchens 101 series! This post is our third installation in this series with some great tips and suggestions from our designers in choosing appliances for your kitchen.

We will always ask you about how you use your kitchen, which will play into appliance choices. If you entertain larger groups, love to bake, have young children or other potential safety concerns; these are all considerations that will help us to assist you in the decision making process. It's also worth going to some appliance stores and asking lots of questions. They will be able to provide you with more detailed information and educate you on the latest products available. This will be a great way to gather information so you can decide what will work best for you and your kitchen.

Another consideration to keep in mind when shopping for appliances is energy efficiency. Even though huge strides have been made with more efficient appliances, they are still some of the highest users of energy in our homes. By being aware of energy usage of the individual appliances in your home you can not only be kind to the environment, but can also save on your monthly electrical bills as well. This information on how to use the Energy Guide Label is super helpful.

When it come to finishes, most of our clients choose stainless steel for their appliance finishes. With stainless steel, be sure to talk to the appliance store about ones that are less likely to show fingerprints and are easier to keep clean. Higher end kitchens will often choose a fully integrated panel system, which gives a matching finish to the cabinets for the fridge and dishwasher. This is a great way to give a clean and streamlined look to your kitchen (see photo below!)

Now on to some tips and suggestions for choosing your appliances from Leslie and Vanessa:

Stoves and Ovens:

There are so many choices available when it comes to cooking surfaces, and your cooking lifestyle will be a determining factor in what you choose. Things to consider are some of the extras that can be integrated into the cooking surface such as: built-in griddles, fryers and grills. These are all potential options that are dependent on how and what you cook.

Gas is really the standard for stoves, especially if you like to cook! People often choose gas over electric as it provides instant heat, and generally higher heat as well (which is especially important for some styles of cooking, ie: wok cooking). However, for ovens, most people choose electric as they are considered to have more consistent heat, particularly for baking. Keep in mind the plumbing and electrical requirements, especially if you are choosing dual fuel appliances! 

Induction stoves are becoming quite popular as well. One thing to keep in mind for induction cooktops is that your current cookware may not work (Tip: To test, see if a magnet sticks!). The induction cooktop surface does not heat up in the same way as other conventional cooktops, as the heat conducts through the cookware and doesn't create a super hot surface. It's a safer alternative that reduces the likelihood of accidental burns, especially with little ones, elderly people, or roaming pets around.

We are receiving less requests for double wall ovens and instead are seeing more clients looking at alternative cooking options like convection microwave ovens and steam ovens. However, if you bake often or host holiday gatherings, a second oven can be very helpful. Also, wall ovens are more easily accessible for inserting and removing items which some homeowners love.

Designer Tip: Consider putting your microwave below your countertop or in a tall cabinet. A drawer style microwave is a great choice if you're placing it below countertop level as it is easier to access and helps to streamline your upper cabinets. The island tends to be a popular spot for microwaves.

Fridges:

One of the most important aspect of choosing a fridge, even more so than selecting the door type for your new fridge, is choosing whether to do counter-depth or standard-depth. Choosing a counter-depth fridge tends to look nicer as it's more streamlined, gives you more placement options within your kitchen, and because it's shallower it generally makes your fridge items more accessible. A standard-depth fridge typically has more space, and if you're designing your kitchen from scratch, we can work with you to create cabinets that will accomodate the extra depth.


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French doors, side-by-side, or full door fridge and freezer are all going to come down to personal preference. Just be sure that you will have sufficient space in your kitchen to open the doors fully so that you will have room to extend the fridge drawers (sometimes wall placement can impact the doors fully opening, which in turn affects whether the drawers can open).

Designer Tip: If you want a water and/or ice dispenser, you will need to ensure that sufficient space is planned for the plumbing, as it can take several inches to accommodate.

Hood Fans:

These are a necessary part of every kitchen, and there are many options for virtually any design aesthetic. The most common choices from our clients are the stainless chimney style hood, particularly for a modern kitchen. For more of a traditional or transitional style kitchen, the popular choice is an enclosed hood with a cabinetry surround.

While you can also choose a downdraft type of fan (mostly used for islands), keep in mind that they take up a lot of cabinet space and are less powerful and effective than a hood fan mounted above your stove. In small kitchens, a microwave hood fan is a great multi-purpose item that is also an efficient use of space.

Dishwashers:

We consider noise levels to be one of the most important consideration when choosing your dishwasher. Nothing can be more distracting than a loud dishwasher, especially in a small space. 

If you're not running your dishwasher regularly (ie you don't eat at home often, or it's just one or two of you) you might want to consider a dishwasher with an eco-function, or a smaller drawer-style dishwasher.

If you entertain regularly, or have a larger family, having a second dishwasher in the pantry is a great way to tackle the extra dishes. You will likely also want to look at dishwashers that have a high capacity and an efficient interior layout to fit the maximum amount of dishes.

Some additional features to do your research on are options like temperature controls, adjustable racks, cutlery racks, air-drying options, soil sensors, rinse/hold cycles, wash zones, cycle progress indicators, filters and more! The more options usually mean a higher price point, so knowing what features are and aren't important for you in advance will help as you compare in store.

In-sink Garbage Disposal

We occasionally receive requests for these, but keep in mind that more and more jurisdictions are not allowing these and instead require composting. Also, they aren't always a fit with septic fields, so be sure to do your research prior to installing! 

 

We hope you enjoyed and found this post on appliances informative and helpful. Thanks for following along with us for this series. We will have more information and tips from our designers soon, stay tuned!

 

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