If I’ve been asked this question once I’ve been asked it a thousand times, “ Mike – how big should I make the opening for my new shower?” OK – I’ll give you my standard answer. It depends. Boy doesn’t that sound like a cop-out!
In all seriousness designing a shower opening is a bit like being a politician -you’re trading off competing interests. On one hand you want to have the biggest opening so it’s simple to get into and out of the shower whether you’re walking in, shuffling in or rolling in with a wheelchair. On the other hand you want the opening as small as possible so you don’t get water pooling on the bathroom floor which could lead to leakage in the floor below. Given these competing benefits of a smaller vs. larger shower opening where does that leave you? How can you find just the right sized shower opening for you and your family? Explore the answers to the following 5 questions and you’ll be assured to get the size and design of your shower opening correct.
Is the wooden window trim surrounding your shower window rotten and badly deteriorated? If you’re like many people you may be wondering why the heck did they even put wood trim around a sliding or double hung window which is smack dab in the middle of my tub/shower? Constant running water on wood is not a good thing – as is evident to you now!
Well – to step back a bit – when many older homes were built the usage of the tub/shower areas was different. In the 1940’s, 1950’s and 1960’s people actually had time to take a bath! Now given our crazy schedules (I’m guessing your life is probably a lot like mine) nobody even thinks about taking a bath. So when you run the shower the water is constantly running off the wood trim of window. Over time the wood has deteriorated and here you are now.
So what options do you have to stop painting (a losing battle) deteriorated wood trim surrounding your shower window? Let’s dive in to take a look at a few proven choices to eliminate this maintenance hassle.
Boring. Mediocre. Run of the mill. In a nutshell that’s what most glass block shower designs are like. Get one standard 8” x 8” x 4” wavy glass block, stack it on top on the next block, lay them up in a straight line, stick a door on the other side and call it done. Now you have your plain Jane shower. Woo hoo!
When I was growing up my Dad Joe would say the word “mediocre” was a dirty word. He challenged me, my brother Frank and sister Venera to be the best we could be. He wanted us to become the best version of ourselves and do it with with “personopoloy.” You may ask what is “personopoly?” It was my Dad’s funny made up word to us to lead our lives with our own unique personality.
In the article below I’d like you to go on a trip with me to see 5 ½ incredible glass block shower designs (our company had the pleasure of working on) which certainly aren’t boring or mediocre. These designs are distinctive because their owners were not afraid to let their uniqueness and “personopoly” show. They used persistence to find the right suppliers and contractors to make their dream showers a reality and wouldn’t take no for an answer!
When you think of words to describe the most outstanding bridges in the United States (the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Brooklyn Bridge in New York or the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Florida) what words come to your mind? If I’m guessing right it might be exhilarating, breathtaking, fun, beautiful and maybe a bit scary. The word which is not in this list – boring. Now image a bridge which not only spans between 2 points but one you can see through – now that’s a wow! This describes a glass bridge. You many have heard or even walked on – if you were gutsy enough – some famous glass floors like the CN Tower in Toronto or the Tiananmen Mountain “walk of faith” (I have to say no thank you to this one!).
“Walk of faith” bridge
You may be thinking why should I care about a glass bridge since my home (or business) is not trying to span over the East River, the Pacific Ocean or even capture a breathtaking (top down) view of a famous city? When you look at the basic benefits of any bridge they look to connect 2 spaces. In the case of the glass and suspension bridges and floors mentioned above they make the connection between 2 places with a dramatic flair which cements an experience in your mind.
When you look at your custom home or business why should you settle for the same old same old design when you can add flair and drama to create a truly unique space? Imagine how people visiting your home will react while walking over a clear or colored glass bridge! If you’re a business who wants to wow potential clients or new recruits a space which stands out from the crowd is essential (isn’t this why you hired a professional architect or designer to plan your project?). Here are 3 unique advantages of glass bridges which make them one of the most distinctive features in a new home or commercial building:
1) Moving light through a glass floor – Perhaps you live in a row home in the city and the lower level of your home where you have your office is dark. A glass floor can help you move light into this space. Or perhaps you have a restaurant and want to get light into a lower level seating area – another distinctive advantage of structural glass.
2) Visually connecting two spaces – One of the most interesting factors of a glass floor or bridge is it can be designed to be see-through. If you have a lower level wine cellar you can see through the floor to this feature. Maybe you’re into sports memorabilia and you want other to see your favorite jerseys on display, or want to uniquely exhibit your company’s products by creating a horizontal “showcase.”
3) Creating wow factor – You want to add colored light through a horizontal space to create a kaleidoscope of colors below. Now this is a wow feature not to be missed!
In the article below I’d like to take you beyond the fun benefits of a glass bridge and dig into the design nuts and blots, safety, privacy and style considerations which make this product work in a luxury home or business.
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!”
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 Ritchey of Ritchey Construction used to create a timeless, functional and spa-like master bathroom design.
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?
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.
“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.
“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.
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.