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Bathroom, Kitchen, Basement Design & Remodeling Ideas for the Nicest Home or Business on the Block

3 Ideas Transform a 1990’s Bathroom into a Timeless Spa Experience

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling, Glass Block

 

3 Ideas to Transform a 1990's bathroom into a spa experience

Here’s two things you can count on. First, bathroom styles can and do change. Second, the design and products in your bathroom will need to change to keep pace with how you’ll want to use the space.

Both of these realities became apparent to Chris and Cindy McGovern after they moved into their Columbus Ohio home. While the size of the bathroom was large enough, the 1990’s look (it had a large Jacuzzi tub) and small stand up shower just wasn’t going to work. When I talked to Cindy about the Jacuzzi tub she said, “I used it one time. I felt like I was going to sink into the darn thing it was so big. Instead of this tub being something I would enjoy it looked like a lot of work to me!”

dated columbus bathroom with a large jacuzzi tub before a remodeling project

 

In addition the shower was a tiny 3’ x 3’ space which would be needed every day. As Chris said to me, “Mike – we wanted a finished bathroom which was cool yet functional and complimented our lifestyle. We did not want a finished space which was so slick that it would go out of style in a year. My wife Cindy wanted this place to feel like a spa. So we called in our A-team designer Marilyn Livingston -who really gets us – to help out.”

In the article below we’ll look at 3 ideas Marilyn, Cindy and Chris along with their builder Fred Ritchie of Ritchie Construction used to create a timeless, functional and spa-like master bathroom design.

Pittsburgh Corning to Stop Glass Block Manufacturing – Now What?

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Glass Block

Pittsburgh Corning to Stop Manufacturing Glass Blocks in Port Alleghany Pennsylvania

Another American company (Pittsburgh Corning the only domestic manufacturer of glass blocks) decides to idle a 79 year old plant in Port Alleghany Pennsylvania and permanently lay off 75 workers. As someone who has bought Pittsburgh Corning (P.C) products, likes glass blocks as a building material or is a fan of U.S. made products here’s 3 questions you’ll want the answers to:

  • (Question 1) Why did Pittsburgh Corning close their United States manufacturing plant making glass blocks? Could this plant closing have been stopped?
  • (Question 2) I already have a window, shower wall or commercial project made with Pittsburgh Corning glass blocks (or was planning a future project with P.C. materials). What should I do now?
  • (Question 3) What is the future of the glass block industry? Can I still use this product for my home or commercial building? What do the product options look like without Pittsburgh Corning in the market? Is the future of this industry bright or bleak?

Let’s explore these 3 questions in more depth.

 

3D Luxury Shower and Tub Wall Panels – Coming to a Bathroom near You

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

3D Luxury Shower and Tub Wall Panels Coming to a Bathroom Near You

There is a fascination with 3D. 3D printing is becoming popular to shorten prototyping and manufacturing. The kids want to get you to the latest 3D movies (even if you hate those funky glasses you have to wear!). You can’t stop seeing more 3D walls and wall tiles at trendy urban hotels and in upper-end interior designs. So what’s the next frontier for 3D? Entering stage left is 3D luxury shower wall panels.

At this point you might have some questions like, “What exactly are these 3D shower and tub walls panels and why would I want them in my home? Are they difficult to clean? Can they be paired with smooth shower wall panels?” Let’s get a sneak preview of these panels (and get your questions answered) and see why 3D (along with smooth) walls could be hotter than buttered popcorn for your shower or tub enclosures.

7 Shower Design Tricks – This Isn’t Your Fathers’ Shower Anymore!

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling, Glass Block

7 shower design tricks this isn't your fathers shower stall

“This isn’t your father’s Oldsmobile” the commercial in the 1980’s proclaimed. What General Motors was trying to tell consumers (although this commercial might have backfired on them more than helped) is times had changed and the designs of their cars had to change with it. When I think of effective shower design which fits today’s family I think the same phrase could apply, “This isn’t your fathers shower!”

So – you may be asking, “Mike – what has changed that Dad or Grandpa’s shower no longer works?” Consider these 3 things:

  • (1) Pace of life – Like it or not we live in a 24/7 world. There is more to do with less time to do it (even though we have the same 24 hours our Dad or Grandfather has). This faster pace means we have less time (and desire) to spend maintaining our homes. We need less maintenance and more thoughtful design.
  • (2) We’re living longer – That’s good – but it has repercussions. While medicine is keeping us upright longer, it’s not keeping all of our body parts from wearing down (bummer). As we get older it’s just not as easy to step over a tub rail or shower curb. Shower design needs to be safer.
  • (3) Homes are getting smaller – Homes have grown steadily from 1973 to 2014 but for the first times in over 40 years homes actually started shrinking in 2015 according to Realtor.com. People have become enamored with tiny homes, container homes and a more sustainable lifestyle. Given these trends shower design needs to be more thoughtful than in Dad’s days of increasingly bloated square footage.

As a result of these 3 factors you and I need showers which require less maintenance, improved safety and better design. Let’s check out 7 shower design tricks to help your shower evolve from your fathers’ old shower.

9 Frequently Asked Questions about Solid Surface Shower Pans

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

9 Frequently Asked Questions about Solid Surface Shower Pans

“I just hate the tile floor in my shower!” Jenny said to me. “You don’t see anyone else in my family on their hands and knees cleaning this nasty grout. I’m thinking about a stone solid surface shower pan, but I’ve got to warn you Mike I’ve got a lot of unanswered questions.”

Jenny’s comments to me are not uncommon. Most homeowners are sick of grout or tired of dealing with the inability to eliminate the discoloration and dirt off their builders-grade fiberglass base. Who has time (let alone the desire) to mix up vinegar and warm water, spray grout joints, then take a stiff brush and scrub the doggone floor? Who wants the frustration of not being able to get a fiberglass shower base clean? Is this really where you want to spend your time? Can you say, “NO WAY!”

These maintenance frustrations have many owners in search of a better solution. One growing option is the use of stone solid surface shower pans – but somehow they seem a bit shrouded in mystery. In this article we’ll unmask the mystique behind this product and look at 9 questions Jenny asked me (OK – she asked even more but in the interest of time I hope you don’t mind I left a few out!) which I bet a bunch of you have as well.

Glass Blocks are not Dead! 5 Ways a Classic Material has Evolved

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Glass Block

 - new products and contemporary glass block designs

Warning – This article may be controversial to some.

I have to admit with many designers, decorators and architects I hear the following comments:

  • Glass blocks are dated.
  • Glass blocks are an old school material.
  • Aren’t those blocks just for basement and factory windows?

While the use of glass blocks for functional (not too sexy) projects like basement,  bathroom or factory windows makes sense for security and  improved energy efficiency, the material has evolved dramatically with some cool designer products no one seems to know about. Why are glass blocks seen as dead or dated? Why is this product the “Rodney Dangerfield” of building materials (i.e. it gets no – or minimal – respect)?

I would contend the marketing of these cool products has been woefully under-promoted. With this lack of promotion a common refrain of designers is often, “glass blocks are dead.”  They aren’t dead – the problem is no one really knows what’s cool and hot with them.

In this article I’m going to take you on a journey to see how this classic material has evolved into a contemporary element which can fit into a home or business with a modern design aesthetic. Let’s take a look at 5 specific ways glass blocks are being resurrected right now “from the dead” into a new modern design-forward building material.

 

Designing a Mud Room and Entryway to Embrace the Outdoors

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in doors, Exterior Remodeling

How to design a mud room or entryway to embrace the outdoors

A house is not a home unless you can embrace all of its surroundings – inside and out.

This is certainly a statement Bridget O’Callahan of University Heights Ohio could agree with. You see Bridget loves her outdoor space! There is nothing quite like the sounds of the birds chirping, the smells of the garden and relaxing activities like and hanging with your husband Tim in the hot tub which can provide a comforting respite from the hectic world. But when your “outdoor home” is literally walled-off from the outside – enjoying it is a bit problematic.

The Challenge – the wall

A number of years ago a room was added on to the back porch of the O’Callahans house by previous owners. This room only had one window on the west side of the home for Bridget to see her beautiful outdoor gardens.

An existing double hung window to be replaced in University Heights for a Sliding Glass Door

There was no door to make it easy to go outside to entertain, relax or enjoy gardening. As Bridget said to me, “The garden is my thing.  I just love the flowers. I thought it would be so nice to be able to see and enjoy them completely without being separated by a wall.”

A daytime view of an extensive garden in University heights ohio

The Project – a new mud room and entryway

The primary goal of this remodeling project was to open up the back and embrace the outside area of their University Heights home. The O’Callahans decided to work with the design and construction team of Cleveland Design and Remodeling to create a mud room and entryway which now brings in the light, sounds, and smells of the outside and provides easy access to the backyard. Read on to take a closer look at the evolution and re-purposing of the O’Callahans office into a relaxing (and multi-purpose) mud room and entryway.

7 Product Tips to Organize Your Bathroom

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

7 Product Ideas to Organize Your Bathroom

An organized bathroom can certainly be a challenge (and believe me I know this since my wife Rose and I have 17 and 21 year old sons who believe the bathroom floor is the place to dump ALL of their clothes and the counter is a place to keep ALL products laying out). I’m not up to the task of figuring out how to keep 2 young men more organized ….yet….but I do have some ideas for you for products to use in a bathroom remodeling project to keep your space neat, organized and reduce your time in cleaning (even though I know that’s everyone’s favorite choir….I say sarcastically).

Let’s take a look at 7 product ideas to better tame this beast of a room (AKA the bathroom):

3.5 Trends To Get the Biggest Bang for your Remodeling Bucks

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Basement Remodeling, Bathroom Remodeling, Kitchen Remodeling

3 1/2 trends to get the biggest bang for your remodeling bucks from the 2016 cost/value report

Are you unsure if you should spend your money on a home remodeling project – and if you do – what specific project to choose? If you can find yourself in one of the 3 groups below you’re probably struggling with this remodeling decision right now.

  • Group 1 – Overwhelmed new homeowner – You’ve just bought an older home in a nice neighborhood that needs some work (OK – it needs A LOT of work!), but you’re wondering what project should you do and how much should you spend.

 

  • Group 2 – Debating, “Should I get out of here?” – Your current home just isn’t cutting the mustard. Yes – it used to work for you and your family – but the times and the people living in your home just don’t have the same needs. You’re now debating (a) stay and remodel or (b) get the heck out of here.

 

  • Category 3 You love your existing home but know you won’t get your money out of a remodeling project – In this scenario you may think should I even care about getting my money out of this home or just enjoy it and have my heirs worry about how much this home is worth when I’m no longer around?

The challenge becomes how do you make sense of where (or even if) to put any of your hard earned money into remodeling or replacing any of the old features of your home. While this type of decision can be based off your logical (left brain) side, don’t discount the emotional (right brained) side in your decision making either. So how can you make sense of the decision to spend or not on your home? How can you get the biggest bang for your remodeling bucks the Cost/Value study can help?

What is the 2016 Cost/Value Study?

 For the 29th year Remodeling Magazine creates a report (the Cost/Value report) which looks at the changes in home improvement costs (your bucks) with what value (your potential bang) real estate pros think you’ll get back. So if a project has a 80% value it means you can expect to get back $80 resale value for a remodeling or replacement project which cost you $100.

Statistics are boring (to right brained people) – 3 1/2 trends to make sense of the Cost/Value report 

If math class made you nuts you know there is nothing more boring than reading a bunch of dry stats. So – in this article I’m still going to give you a few figures (sorry about that math haters), but I’m also going to provide you the 3 1/2 trends to guide your remodeling decisions no matter which of the 3 groups above you identify yourself with. You may be asking what’s the “half-trend” all about. Sorry I can’t tell you – you’ll have to read the whole article to find out! Read on please.

“Get out as quick as you can!” – The need for basement remodeling

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Basement Remodeling, Glass Block

The need for basement remodeling in University Heights Ohio

Basements can be scary places! I remember when I was 5 years old and my Mom would send me downstairs to throw out the garbage in our incinerator (anyone else remember having an incinerator for garbage?) and that dark dingy basement would scare the heck out of me. I would run down and back up as fast as I could!

This article isn’t about my scary basement as a kid, it’s about Bridget and Tim O’Callahan’s former cellar (the name some people call their spooky basement). You probably know the type of basement I’m talking about. It had the old, dark paneling and a moldy, musty “basement smell” you just can’t rid of no matter how many air fresheners you jam into the space. Old clay tile walls, a nasty deep window well and outdated plumbing and electrical systems all screamed – yuck! As Tim said when they would get the courage to go into the basement to do laundry all they could think about was, “Get me out of here!”

Before remodeling of a university heights basement

When the existing old knob and tube wiring shorted out it left not so lovely burn marks on the wall. This was the final straw with putting up with the pariah of a basement. Something had to be done. As Tim said, “If we were to go to sell the home down the road there would be no way we could do it with this musty room with burn marks on the wall.” The decision was made to get a basement remodel underway. As the remodeling process unfolded the O’Callahans’ not only made their basement recreation/exercise room/laundry zones functional – they transformed the basement into an area they actually want to entertain in.

Let’s see how Tim and Bridget (with the help of the design and construction team at Cleveland Design and Remodeling) used a three step process to (1) get rid of structural and mechanical problems (2) ramp up the laundry (or business side of the basement) to make it an inviting space and (3) made it special with finishing touches which rival the upper levels of most homes.

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