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February 13, 2011

15 Essential Steps you need to know, when designing your dream home Part 3 of 5.

So, let’s review, we've looked at steps 1-3 in designing your dream home:

1. Selecting your perfect structure.
2. Floor plans and elevations.
3. Function

Then steps 4-6 in designing your dream home:

4. Budget
5. Mood and Style
6. Overall design

Let’s move on to step #7.

7. Bathroom and Kitchen:

Powder Room / Half Bath traditional bathroom

In our last blog I had mentioned that when considering the overall design of a new home or renovation, I always start with the kitchen.  I find the kitchen counter top to be the most limiting.  Yes, there are lots of different materials; quartz, granite, cement, laminates, etc.  But I still find the colour palette generally starts with the counter tops. 

Classic White traditional kitchen

Then we move onto the cabinetry itself – do we want stained or painted? The trend is certainly towards a light coloured, painted finish, Colour guru Maria Killam points out more information about which colour cabinetry to select. 

When I specify a painted finish, I usually go with a MDF material for the cabinets. I find all kitchen cabinetry or wood in general, contracts and expands with the moisture in the air. If you are using wood, the joints will split a little when the wood swells. If the cabinets are stained, that small gap is not noticeable, but if they are painted, it certainly is noticeable. MDF does not contract nor expand to the extent that natural wood does, so we don’t have to worry about any tiny cracks. 

That being said, if a raw (unpainted) area of MDF is exposed to water for an extended period of time, this will swell and will not go back down. However, all areas of MDF should be painted, leaving no ‘raw’ areas. Just take care to dry off those dishes before stacking them in the cupboards.

Backsplash detail contemporary kitchen

Now we’ve got appliances selected (as stated in my last post), cabinets and counter tops selected, let’s select our sinks and faucets.  Speak with your cabinet manufacturer and find out which size sinks you can accommodate.  Ensure the sinks will be large enough to contain all the splashes from either washing dishes or washing hands.  Select faucets that are easy to use and go with the general style of your home.
In the bathroom when selecting your tub – don’t be afraid to visit showrooms and lay in the tub.  There are two things I don’t like selecting for clients - tubs and beds – they really are a personal preference. Make sure you’ll be comfy in the tub. 

Now, select tile to coordinate with bathroom fixtures, flooring faucets, etc.  Please, please, please don’t select an accent tile, if you really need an accent, perhaps select a textured tile, one that co ordinates with your general tile.  Different coloured tiles or patterned tiles date so easily.  Remember, when in doubt  use plain tile.  You can always bring in accent pieces of sculpture, or flower vases, etc. to give life to the room, don’t rely on accent tiles to do this job.

8.  Furniture plan:

It is essential to create a furniture plan before choosing lighting or finalizing the electrical plan. Go through each room and write down all the activities that will happen in each room.  i.e. in our living room we:

Watch TV
Play board games

Ensure you have furniture for each activity and plan for furniture to perform double duty for several functions.  We have upholstered ottomans that we prop our feet up on when watching TV, but when we have several guests over, they become seats, they are also pulled up to the coffee table for board games.  Arrange furniture around a focal point, perhaps the fireplace or a window with a view.
9.  Lighting plan:

a.  Choose your general lighting first. This is the lighting that you initially switch on when entering a room – it casts a soft, even light over the bulk of the room. 

b.  Task lighting next; such as Island lighting, under cabinet lighting, desk lighting.  Think about what tasks you’ll do in which rooms and ensure you aren’t struggling to see.  A tip when you are reading – the bottom of the table lamp shade should be level with your eyes when seated, this is the most comfortable level for most people and helps to reduce eye fatigue.
c.  Decorative lighting is last; such as: wall sconces, up lighting, etc.
To me, lighting is one of the most important aspects of design.  It can make or break the atmosphere of your room. Be sure to include both up lighting and down lighting (have some light sources shine up, some shine down). Ensure you have enough outlets to plug in your favourite lamp, stereo, computer etc. The electrical budget usually equates to 3% of your budget.

Stay tuned next week for more design tips.  If you need help or have any questions on home design, please email me at  I’d love to help you complete the home of your dreams!

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