Our Family of Companies

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

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.

How to regain your independence with an accessible bathroom remodel

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

How to regain your independence with a accessible bathroom remodel in Akron

You might have heard the saying “when life throws you lemons, make lemonade.” Sometimes a challenge can happen in our lives which not only affects us physically, but also emotionally. The key is to fight through life’s “lemons” (challenges) and to make some “lemonade” (personal victories).

An excellent example of making some “lemonade” is the story of Karen Lee Gast who suffered a stroke in November 2014. Not only was her physical mobility reduced (she now uses the assistance of a wheelchair) but she endured the mental challenge of seeing her independence reduced as a result of the stroke. Simple daily tasks (like showering on her own) – were no longer simple….and required the assistance of her daughter Julie (Morgan) who is of constant support to Karen.

While Karen is grateful for her daughter’s help (although Karen says she can be a wee-bit overprotective at times!) she wanted to regain more independence in her home and control over her life. This desire for independence led Karen to do an extensive bathroom remodeling in her home in Akron Ohio. Let’s take a look at why this remodel was necessary.

The old bathroom

 After Karen’s stroke the existing master bathroom just didn’t work. Here were some of the problems with the old space:

  • The doorway was too small to comfortably roll the wheelchair in.
  • There were no grab bars to safely transfer from the chair into the shower.
  • The old stand up 3’ x 3’ fiberglass shower with a framed metal pivoting door was way too small and difficult to get into.

3 foot by 3 foot shower to be replaced in an akron remodeling project

With these challenges Karen was not only not able to use the master bathroom (which is conveniently located right off her bedroom). She had to use a smaller bathroom in the home and could only shower on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays when her daughter Julie could come over to help her. This showering process in this old bathroom took one hour of each of their time. The bottom line was there was no way to make the convenient master bathroom an accessible space without extensive modifications and a full remodel.

In the article below learn 3 critical steps which transformed Karen’s bathroom into an accessible, low maintenance, safe and stylish room she can use without being dependent on others. This now allows her and Julie to do other things (or just spend quality Mom and daughter time together).

Can a garage window be architectural and elegant?

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Glass Block, Windows

Decorative Glass block garage window in Michigan with an architectural flair

When you think about a garage window does the term elegant come to mind? If I’m a betting man (which I’m not) the answer is no way. The words most often associated with garage windows are nasty, bug-infested, leaky and downright disgusting!

Most garage windows are included in a home to either make the front of the home architecturally correct (and symmetrical) and/or to add natural light (which can be very helpful if you have a workbench in the space) or to provide ventilation.

In most cases the garage window is the “Rodney Dangerfield” of your home windows – it gets no respect and is generally an afterthought. The question is can a garage window become something which actually enhances the look and value of your home – while still providing privacy, light transmission and a secure place for valuable tools and vehicles? The answer is yes if you think “outside the blocks” like Sean Ryan of Farmington Michigan.

In this article I’ll share with you why Sean decided to design a glass block window which was so elegant he would actually choose to use it as a backdrop for his daughters (Leslie and Kelly) prom picture (see above). Learn below why Sean decided do this project and his 5 step process to transform his old garage window.

How to “Future-Proof” Your Bathroom

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

How to future proof your bathroom to be waterproof and assist aging in place

I’m sure you’ve heard terms like kid-proofing, soundproofing, and waterproofing but you might be asking what the heck is “future-proofing” and why do I need to do it for my bathroom? When I had a recent conversation with the Operations Manager of Cleveland Design and Remodeling he said to me, “Mike – the key to a bathroom remodel which is built not only to last, but to work for its owners in the long run, is to future-proof the space.” I wasn’t 100% sure what John meant by “future-proofing” so I looked it up. Here’s the Wikipedia definition.

Futureproofing is the process of anticipating the future and developing methods of minimizing the effects and shocks and stresses of future events.

OK – you might say – while I’d like to anticipate the future most of us would admit we’re no Nostradamus and we don’t work for the Psychic Friends Hotline either! So how can you and I anticipate the future (and the “shocks” which come from it) to design a bathroom today we don’t have to re-remodel (is that even a word?) tomorrow? The key according to John is to focus on 2 ideas:

1) Learn to use specific construction techniques and products to win the battle vs. the elements (things like water penetration, air infiltration and home movement)

2) Either learn how to reverse the effects of aging (not sure we’re up to tackling the steps to do this) or use ideas to design a bathroom which allows you to stay in your home as you get older.

Let’s take a look at these two areas in more detail below.

A “Marcia Stewart” Special – How to Inject Personality into Your Bathroom Remodel

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

How to Inject Personality into Your Bathroom Remodeling Project

Martha Stewart it’s time to meet your California counterpart “Marcia Stewart”…..I mean Marcia Reed.

OK you’re probably wondering what’s all this stuff about Marcia Stewart (A.K.A. Marcia Reed). When I had the opportunity to talk to Tom and Marcia Reed about their bathroom remodeling project I was blown away with it’s fun, distinctive and passionate styling. I knew I had to write it. When Tom mentioned his nickname for Marcia was “Marcia Stewart” because of her ability to put stylish personality into their projects it completely made sense to me from seeing their finished pictures!

You see when many people remodel the first thing they ask themselves (or their contractor) is “how will this bathroom show when I go to sell it?” While this question can be a valid another question you may ask yourself could be “how can I design this space to fit my personal style?” You see Marcia Reed is not defined by the popular brand Martha Stewart (or any other popular brand for that matter) – she is her own brand!

Would you like to inject more personality and fun into your remodeling projects but aren’t sure how to go about it? If the answer is yes open up your eyes and get ready to strap on your tool belt (as Tom Reed has been known to do a time or two) and start taking action on these 5 ½ “Marcia Stewart” recommended tips.

Join Our Newsletter to Receive a Free Remodeling eGuide

Get the Free Remodeling eGuide
© Innovate Building Solutions | All Rights Reserved | Log In