If you’re still a sceptic – I get it. You may be asking, “Mike, why should I give a hoot about glass blocks? Why shouldn’t I listen to my builder who says they went out with mullets and big hair in the 80’s?” (BTW – if you think about it, how fashion-forward is your contractor anyway? They may be well versed in their ‘sticks and bricks,’ but I’ll bet money they aren’t hopping out of their mud-infested pickup trucks wearing Gucci loafers either).
In this article we’ll look at 5 glass block wall ideas which will blow the lid off your opinion of this product as a stuck in the mud (‘er mortar) building material. At the end let me know if you think I’m smokin’ something funny out of my glass block pipe – or if I’m on to something. A good debate never hurt anyone.
Are you entering a stage in life where your current suburban home, or active senior community, just doesn’t fit the lifestyle or mix of neighbors you want?
Are you kicking the curb (pun intended) on condo living, but aren’t completely sold it’s a fit for you?
Are you struggling to figure out how to inject style, life and personality into a ‘stuck-in-the-80’s-big-hair-shoulder-pad-looking’ condo which needs a swift fashion ‘kick-in-the-pants?”
Bob and Nona Pickering recently hit this stage of life. Their existing condo in an active senior community in the middle of “Go-Blue-Land” just wasn’t cutting it for them. (note: for those of you playing at home “Go Blue” land would be Ann Arbor, Michigan home of the University and Michigan. It’s a beautiful college town. Sorry for saying this Buckeye fans).
While this active-adult community was perfectly fine – they wanted a broad mix (and age range) of neighbors and less traffic (Ann Arbor can get crazy on game-day weekends). While Bob and Nona are both U or M grads – and big fans – game-day they can largely do without.
They wanted more time for golf and relaxing. They like the idea of being part of a larger development with a more variety of housing and people. So, the search for a new home and location began.
As Bob told me, “Mike, Nona and I found our condo in a strange way. As Nona was looking for a home for her sister they found one on a golf course with a décor which screamed out – D-A-T-E-D! Nona’s sister wanted no part of the extensive remodeling and redecorating challenge. Nona and I loved the golf course setting and proximity to Ann Arbor.
Our new condo is in Brighton Michigan (in the Pine Eagles subdivision within the Oak Pointe Community). It’s only 35 minutes from the University of Michigan and has view views of the golf course and a broad mix of neighbors.
We can still go and watch our Wolverines hopefully beat the Buckeyes (OK I’m an Ohio State fan so I had to throw the word ‘hopefully’ in there) but be outside the hustle and bustle of Ann Arbor.
The tired 1988 layout and décor had to go. Nona and I asked her sister if she would let us put a bid in on the home – since she was planning to pass on it. Our bid was accepted and that’s how this condo redesign journey began.”
In this article I’m going to highlight 5 condo design ideas Bob and Nona used to recraft their space around their needs and tastes. This project is an example of how a condo can combine good function (practicality) and good form (personality). Let’s check out these 5 ideas.
I’m going to keep it real dog (in the infamous words of Randy Jackson) and tell you up front most people are confused about solid surface shower products. They’ll ask me some of the following questions:
Isn’t this product a pain to install because the shower panels are 3/8” thick?
Wouldn’t a smooth solid surface material be too slipper to use for the shower pan?
Isn’t solid surface the same as cultured marble?
I’ve heard solid surface showers only come in standard sizes and my shower is custom sizes. Is that true?
I think I’ve seen solid surface showers before. Don’t they come in those white swirly patterns which went out along with big hair, mullets, shoulder pads and leisure suits in the 80’s?
The bottom line is – many people are confused about this material.
I’m here to tell you if I’ve been able to figure out solid surface (and explain this product to members of my team and customers), it ain’t that hard! Here’s what I’ll tell you about my level of “genius”:
I didn’t graduate “Magna-Cum-Rowdy” or Magna Cum Laude from college. I’m a proud Carnegie-Mellon University “Tartan.” A Tartan is synonymous with Scottish guys who wear plaid skirts. Now that’s hot. My Kappa Sigma fraternity brothers can tell you I had my share of fun and lost my fair share of brain cells (don’t tell my Mom this). I worked my butt off to get through, but didn’t exactly have a GPA that blew the roof off the place.
I wasn’t the top in my class in high school either. I owned the 41st highest GPA out of 82 people in at the private school I attended – Hawken School in Gates Mills Ohio. Sure, there were some smart kids there – but nobody was worried about competing with ME for valedictorian.
Nobody at the Apple “Genius Bar” is recruiting me. I’m sure they’re desperately looking for a 58-year-old guy with ever-so-slightly graying (I lied) hair to work side by side with the techno-savvy-20 somethings. I still have hope I’m going to get the call any day now begging me to join the “Genius Bar” team.
Despite my lack of “genius” I think I can help you dispel some of the mistruths and half-truths about solid surface products. I’ve been working with the stuff in my remodeling and nationwide product wholesaling business for years and have learned a few things along the way. So, let’s take a look at 5 myths about solid surface shower products you need to blow up and ‘not be fooled again’ (in the words of The Who for you 80’s rock band aficienados).
You’re fed-up cleaning black, moldy, nasty tile grout joints with your waaaay-too-worn scrub brush. You’re looking to eliminate this hassle once and for all with bathroom wall panels. You start your search with great expectations. You get on the Internet. You go to your local big-box store. Then ‘it’ creeps in. The ‘it’ is frustration (as your time gets eaten up). Finding the best bathroom wall panels is harder than you thought. You’re slamming into ‘brick-walls’ which look like the following:
Brick-wall #1 – You trip to the local home center store to ‘pick up some panels’ didn’t turn out as planned. All they stock are cheap ‘plasticky’ looking things you wouldn’t be caught dead with.
Brick wall #2 – You find the coolest bathroom wall panels EVER (need to say this in your best ‘Valley-girl’ voice), only to find out they’re only available in the U.K – unless you want to buy a container of them. But you’re not quite sure how the container is going to fit on your lawn and if you’re going to be able to sell your entire neighborhood these panels as well!
Brick wall #3 – You’ve got your credit card in hand and are looking to DIY this project. You make call after call and nobody will take your money. They will not sell you the panels. No – they will only supply and install the panels for you. You can’t afford professional installation, and besides, you’re comfortable doing it yourself.
Brick wall #4 – It takes an act of God to get samples. How can you make this decision if you can’t see, touch and feel the product? You don’t want to spend your hard-earned dollars on junk. Sure, they look beautiful on the ‘net. The challenge becomes what are you going to do if they are as flimsy as a house of cards after you take the shipment and the driver is long gone?
Brick wall #5 – Trying to find special sizes and pair them with a custom sized shower pan is as hard as getting Republicans and Democrats to agree on ANYTHING.
Can you recognize any of these brick walls in your search efforts thus far?
My goal in this article is to give you tips and strategies to blow past these challenges and successfully purchase the best bathroom wall panels for you. I’ll get you – quickly and efficiently – past these hurdles with 5 practical tips whether you want to do it yourself or have them professionally installed. Let’s check out these tips so you can throw out your tile scrub brush, get rid of your tile and not get stuck settling on generic-looking white plastic panels from your local home center store.
Imagine you go into Dillard’s. You find a Fendi, Gucci or Louis Vuitton handbag on Super Sale. You snatch it off the shelf. The exhilaration of pure fashion joy overcomes you. You bring your new-found prize possession home. You joyously pull it out of the bag in your closet. You try matching it with your existing wardrobe and nothing (and I do mean none of your pants, dresses, blouses or shoes) looks good with the new purse. The new bag is waaaaaay too nice to be ‘mixed up’ with your tired wardrobe. Now what do you do? You head back to the mall in search of a sharp outfit to go with your stylish handbag.
You may be asking, Mike, “what the heck does fancy handbags have to do with bathroom remodeling?” That is a darn good question.
Well – Deborah of Cleveland Ohio can tell you. You see while Deborah was upgrading her kitchen floors and countertops she also made a fateful decision to blow up her 30-year-old ‘Back to the Future’ (circa 1987) chipped and butt-ugly Formica countertops in her bathrooms. She replaced them with luxurious 1 ¼” thick Quartz surfaces. It sounded like a good idea…at the time.
The problem Deborah ran into is directly related to the handbag challenge above. The new countertops put her old showers to shame! Her contemporary and stylish vanity tops now lived side by side with a poorly functioning, builders grade faded and dingy fiberglass showers. ‘A’ and ‘B’ (the countertops and the showers) didn’t work together.
As Deborah told me, “Mike – the Quartz countertops made my existing dirty and yellowed fiberglass original shower look ridiculous!” Something had to be done.
While this fashion faux-pas was prompting Deborah to remodel her showers, this project HAD TO BE about more than fashion. The new showers needed to address function. Since Deborah and her husband are both in their 60’s (although she doesn’t look at day over 39! – my wife has taught me well), and they have no intentions of leaving this home (EVER), they wanted a shower which would not need to be replaced as they get older.
This new design had to address fashion and function. In this article we’ll look at the problems of Deborah’s existing showers. We’ll also see how fashionable product selections and a functional shower design were used to make everything work. Lastly – we’ll get Deborah’s input on a on how she came to appreciate her ‘no frustration’ bathroom remodeling contractor – Cleveland Design and Remodeling. (Note – I’ll have to fess up. This is a shameless plug here since I’m a member of the Cleveland Design and Remodeling and Bath Doctor team). However, I think our guys listened to, connected with and delivered a nice job for Deborah – but I’ll let her tell you why. Let’s dig in.
I was looking forward to a quiet – yet quick – dish of twice cooked pork from Billie Lee’s (my favorite Chinese restaurant in Columbus Ohio). It wasn’t as quiet as I expected this night (even though it was a slow night). 3 tables over I could hear loud and clear (and I wouldn’t describe myself as a “Snoop Doggy-Dog either!) an upper 60-year old couple describing to friends their recent home sales experience. They described how their home sold in less than 2 weeks. EVERY offer was above the asking price. They accepted a full cash bid. I thought to myself – wow – housing markets sure can change from year to year.
I’m not sure why this couple was selling or where they were moving to, but what I could figure out (and a crack detective I’m not) is their home was a hot. Also, I came to the conclusion if you’re buying a home in Columbus Ohio you’d better act quick – and don’t plan on finding big bargains either.
You may be in a stage in life where you’re kicking around, should I move or improve?
Perhaps you have to move because your existing home is too expensive, too big, has a bad layout or you’re being relocated.
Perhaps you want to move because your home is too small, or neighborhood safety is a problem, or the school system is going down the tubes.
Perhaps you never want to move. Even though your home doesn’t ‘live’ due to your mobility challenges you’ve told your family they’ll have to roll you out of here.
Whether you decide to move or improve isn’t a question I’m smart enough to chime in on (it’s one you’ll need to discuss with family, friends and a sharp realtor), but what I would like to discuss is what home improvements make sense if you (A) decide to move or (B) decide to improve and stay put.
The list of what you could do to improve your home is longer than you have time or money for. The list of what you should do to improv your home will be different if you decide to stay put or you decide to run, run as fast as you can. Below I’ll look at 5 smaller-scale, yet smart, home improvement projects should you decide to move, and 4 larger-scale projects if you decide to stay and improve. Note, I’m only looking at 4 because these ones will require a decent chunk out of your wallet to do.
At the end of the article I’d love your ideas on which projects should (or shouldn’t) be on your list. My ‘lists are purposely incomplete.’ Let’s face it – these lists could go on and on. Please add to your recommended project ‘to do list’ at the end of the article.
This article isn’t written to dis(respect) remodeling contractors and companies. Hey – the reality is I’m earning a living in this world. I’m a guy who designs, sells, wholesales and launches new remodeling products into the market – and I’ve been doing this since 1985 (man – that makes me sound O-L-D!).
Remodelers and remodeling companies (mine included) are simply a group of people. We each have our own strengths, weaknesses, points of view and depth of knowledge. We have been brought together with the goal of successfully completing (and supplying) jobs for you. We want to minimize problems along the way – and make a few bucks while we’re at it. Perfect we’re not -just ask our wives, husbands, significant others and fellow employees. The only person who ‘may’ think we can do no wrong is Mom – but even she wonders from time to time.
It’s because of our humanity (our imperfections) that I would tell you there are times you shouldn’t listen to us. Crazy – huh? Yes, you heard that right, I said it, don’t listen to us (I hope my kids aren’t reading this now).
There are times you shouldn’t take our word for it.
There are times you need to challenge us.
There are times you need to check us out to make sure we’re ‘legit’ (or in the words of the infamous hip-hop artist MC Hammer – ‘too legit to quit….your job.’
You need to make sure you find a good remodeler (there is no such thing as a perfect remodeler). One who will work with you. One who won’t dictate the terms, conditions and products you’ll use on your job (it is your job, now isn’t it?). Before entering into a remodeling contract, you need to know the strengths (and limitations) of your contractor, when you should listen to them, and when you shouldn’t.
The goal of this article is simple. It’s not to slam contractors (we’re an easy enough mark as it is). It is to give you a realistic perspective on how to choose, and work with your contractor so your project goes smoother and – most importantly – you get what you want.
Let’s look at 5 reasons you shouldn’t listen to your contractor and 5 simple strategies for your project to go smoother.
“Glass block designs are BORING, Melissa said to me. Aren’t those the things used in basement and bathroom windows and old commercial buildings for security? Why would you even THINK (she practically shouted out to me) I would put those inside my new loft?”
Melissa has a point. Glass blocks became as boring as sliced white Wonder Bread in a world of artisan inspired French baguettes. They became functional, pedestrian and mundane. Yes – the traditional blocks are useful. However, when you’re designing a sleek, minimalist loft or Boho-chic luxury residence or uber-cool (OK – Uber may have a bad connotation here) commercial office build-out the last thing you want in the same-old, same-old. You want style. You want drama. You want impact.
As styles change product offerings MUST change with them. If not, they will go the way of your Atari game console, Pong arcade game, or bag or cell phone (I remember how cool I was when I spent $895 for my first car phone, but I digress!).
Design must be inspired – the result of late-night creative bursts from fashion designers, architects, interior designers or just regular folks like you and me.
The fashion capitols of the world are the inspiration for many design breakthroughs. Cool dresses you’re drooling to get your hands on – if they won’t break your bank. Fun features or your new home or ‘coming soon’ remodeled bathroom or kitchen. Cities like Milan, Paris, London and New York lead the way.
Given these hubs of fashion-forward designs it’s of no surprise to me the new re-imagined glass blocks have their origins from a Milan designer named Allesandro Mendini. No, he’s not to be confused with escape artist Harry Houdini – but Harry could have been brought in also to help glass blocks free themselves from their boring self.
If you’re like most reading at this point, you’re probably asking, “So what’s so hot about glass blocks. Why should I check out these new designs with a product which feels as dated as a 1980’s mullet?”
Read on to see 5 fashion-forward glass block designs which will change your perspective. If you think these blocks are BORING, then please give my wife a call. Tell her I’m even crazier than she thinks already and get me professional help ASAP!
If you’ve ever experienced a cracked shower pan which destroyed the ceiling and room below, or a mold-infested concrete tile base which caused eye, throat, skin or nasal irritations and costly doctor visits, you know a ‘cheap’ shower pan can be quite expensive. Ripping out showers, repairing ceilings, putting in new subfloors and doing mold remediation isn’t anybody’s idea of a good time.
If you’re looking to replace a way-too-small yellowed, cracked and creaky fiberglass shower base or a water-saturated mud-set tile shower pan with a custom solid surface shower pan, you have to ‘get it right’ once and for all. You need the facts. You don’t want to become a victim of replacing a bad shower all over again.
My goal in this article is to give you, as Joe Friday on Dragnet used to say (now I’m showing my age), just the facts ma’am (or sir to be politically correct) about solid surface shower pans. What are the frequently asked questions? What are the not-so-frequently asked questions people should be asking? I want to help you figure out if this pan is right for your next job. Let’s check out these 7 facts to save you research time, cost and aggravation.
You’ve decided to venture out into the harsh-cruel world of bathroom remodeling. You’re no longer willing to be a slave to an outdated, unsafe and flat-out ugly shower, tub, vanity, toilet – you name it. You desire the promised land of a Pinterest and Houzz-inspired bathroom. A space which is relaxing, well-light, safe for your family, with plenty of storage. This bathroom won’t have you on your hands and knees praying for a savior to liberate your hand from your scrub brush.
Making the decision to remodel is easy. Planning and doing the job -whether you hire a ‘professional contractor’ (you may debate if there is such a thing) or rolling up your sleeves and doing it yourself – is another thing.
You need guidance and support.
At times you need a savior to bail your butt out. Ouch!
How can you move from the vision of a beautiful spa-inspired bathroom, minimize the trials and tribulations of the construction process and be ‘saved’ from the nastiness which is your current space?
You could go into the Mojave Desert looking for a stone tablet with words of bathroom remodeling wisdom. I doubt you’ll find anything useful. You will locate funky lizards, cougars and tasty prickly pears (if you haven’t tried this fruit, you should – but I digress). Bathroom remodeling inspiration will be in short supply.
A better strategy – crank up your electronic tablet and put into practice the 10 Commandments of bathroom remodeling success below. Will they save you from all trials and tribulations along the way? I doubt it. They will get you a more inspired bathroom with less hassle along the way. Your friends and family may exalt you and your bathroom transformation – and even want to check out your ‘throne’ (I’m getting too flowery here). Let’s check out the 10 Commandments.