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“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 Old clay tile walls, a nasty deep window well and outdated plumbing and electrical systems all screamed – yuck!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.

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.

A small bathroom becomes big, bright and beautiful

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

A small bathroom in columbus is remodeled to be bigger brighter and more beautiful

It’s easy to have a bathroom which lives big, bright and beautiful when you have tons of space. The question becomes how can you design a small bathroom to create this same sense of beauty, space and function? This was the challenge facing Don Laufersweiler (of Columbus Ohio) when he decided to remodel and convert his poorly functioning existing “Jack and Jill” bathroom into a comfortable luxury master bath.

A small columbus ohio bathroom before an extensive remodel

 

 

As Don said to me, “My goal is to leave this house feet first – and I needed to design a bathroom I would love and would work for me for years to come.” Let’s see how Don (in conjunction with his custom craftsman and contractor Al Barnes) were able to design and build a master bathroom which lives big, shines bright and offers distinctive beauty – all in a 5’ x 8’ space.

A Zen Minimalist Bathroom is Worth the Wait

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

A Zen Minimalist Bathroom with a Glass Block Shower Wall

“I’m the cheapest guy on the planet,” said Jim Van Huis when I called to talk to him about the completion of his Zen minimalist bathroom in a suburban Chicago home. I would respectfully disagree with Jim about this statement given the high quality materials and finished look of his master bathroom.

What Jim was talking about with his “cheap” comment is he and his wife don’t take on a remodeling project until they know they have the cash on hand to pay for it (I guess you can call him a debt minimalist!). So Jim and his wife Mary Kaye had to wait to do the renovation until the kids where grown and the finances allowed – but the wait was worth it!

The goal with this bathroom was to create a peaceful place which embodied Jim and Mary Kaye’s sense of style, desire for simplicity and effective use of space. The old bathroom – while expansive in size – was a “generic spec builder special.” It had a standard (and cramped) 60” x 32” shower with a cheap gold gaudy framed shower door. In addition Formica countertops and run of the mill beige tile were the “stylish gifts’ of the production builder who cranked out their home 12 years ago.

Before picture of Orland Park bathroom before renovation with framed shower enclosure

Old shower and toilet area

The question was what could be done to transform this non-distinct master bathroom into a tranquil, simplistic and attractive environment which could be as enjoyable as it was functional.

Let’s explore below 5 Zen design concepts Jim and Mary Kaye used in the evolution of their new bathroom design.

How to Compare Shower Pans for a Glass Block Wall

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

3 Steps to simplify your glass block shower wall project

how to compare glass block shower pans

I have to tell you I hate when I get a call and the person on the line says, “We’ve got our shower pan completely done – now we’re ready to include the glass block wall.” While at first glance this sounds good because the project is ready to go, I know it can be a bad situation for this person. They might have wasted money, or got the design wrong, by installing a base which may not work well with the glass block wall.

When you’re designing a glass block shower wall it’s best to remember Stephen Covey’s saying to “begin with the end in mind.” Just like a new home you should design the plans for the foundation (a glass block shower’s “foundation” is the shower pan) before you start to frame the upper level walls (in this case the glass block shower walls). If you don’t design the shower pan first (especially in the case of an angled or curved wall) you can end up with a situation where the wall doesn’t fit correctly. This error can cause the joints to be too big and/or to have block sizes which aren’t symmetrical or the best choice.

My goal in this article is to help you eliminate the problem of your shower base not working with your glass block wall. Let’s take a look at 3 steps to design a glass block shower (a sound layout + the right shower pan + a prefab glass block wall) which can simplify and foolproof your project.

7 Myths about Glass Block Showers

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

7 Myths about Glass block showers

For some reason the design, construction and trends surrounding glass block showers appears to be a mystery to many people. As a guy whose been in the supply and installation of glass block shower projects for close to 30 years this product is not nearly as hard to figure out as many people make it out to be. My goal with this article is to dispel the myths, mysteries and downright false statements circulating the Internet about glass block. I’ll not only take a look at 7 myths but provide you with winning strategies to create a contemporary glass block wall project which will be built to last and designed to inspire.

5 Tricks to Cure Spooky Basement Windows

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

5 Tricks to For Spooky Basement Windows

I remember when I was a little kid and my Mom would ask me at night to go down the basement (A.K.A. the dungeon to me) to get something for her. This was a dreaded task indeed – that basement was a dark and scary place. I would run down, grab what I was asked to get and ran back upstairs as fast as I could.

Well today I’m a little older and I no longer run downstairs (and it’s now my wife sending me down to the basement for things) but the basement – and most basement windows can still be a spooky site. In many homes basement windows can be rusty, moldy and filled with cobwebs. Some of these windows would be prime candidates for your local haunted house tour. In the article below learn 5 tricks to eliminate spooky basement windows …and maybe get you on the journey to want to fix up and actually enjoy your lower level space.

5 Out of the Box Remodeling Tips for a Master Bathroom

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

Master bath remodeling with a glass block walk in shower in Martinez California

Sometimes in remodeling one thing just leads to another. Such was the case when Jim and Debbie Patrizi went to remodel their master bathroom in Martinez California.

As Jim said, “What started out as removing a flimsy framed shower door at the beginning of the weekend evolved into a progressive demo of the entire bathroom by the end of the weekend. After removing the door I found dry rot around the shower. Then my wife and I discussed our dislike of the tub next to the small 3’ x 3’ standard fiberglass shower and felt the time was right to remove the tub and the shower to make space for a larger shower. As our design thoughts became clearer we decided to eliminate the generic square design of our tract home bathroom and put some design flair and curvature into our newly remodeled space.”

Learn 5 tips Jim and Debbie used to escape the common boxy look of their tract home bathroom to create a new relaxing, functional and gracefully elegant new design.

 

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