About Me

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I have 20+ years experience in Home Furnishings and Interior Design, specializing in Kitchen and Bath Design since '01. I work for Bilotta Kitchens in the A&D Building on East 58th Street in the Mid-town Manhattan. I have a passion for learning and love the opportunity to collaberate on projects of all sizes. My strengths in the field begin with my design background, use of color and texture to bring interest to a room, spatial relationships, organizational skills, innovation, decisiveness, and planning. I have had the thrilling experience of helping hundreds...?maybe thousands of people with their projects, and what I love is it never gets boring, and no two are ever the same. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bathroom Trends

Bathrooms are the second largest single home renovation project second only that is to a kitchen. It's exciting as a designer when a bathroom comes my way that rivals a kitchen in size and complexity. It's fun exploring the new technology and being creative with the client to achieve a look that is personal to them. And it's easy to spend upwards of $50,000 on a well appointed master bath. As homeowners are considering their home longer term investments and less apt to "flip" property, they are returning to the well planned and better equipped Master ensuite.  

12"X12" Faceted Limestone

 Recently I had such an opportunity in a great loft apartment in Chelsea on the West Side. Going for a minimalist look, the entire bathroom was designed in limestone (with the exception of one accent wall), to which we applied 3 coats of stone sealer, while an adding expense and time to the project, it will protect the stone and grout joints and ensure a good finish to the project.

In a move to get away from smaller tiles and too much grout in the shower we faceted the 12" x 12" tiles towards the shower drain. This eliminated the need for a mosaic tile which would normally be used for it's ease of "grading".

Toto Washlet Toilet
We used Hangrohe Axor Starck (by famed Architect Philippe Starck) plumbing fixtures and WetStyle Cube Freestanding Soaking Tub and Wall Hung vanities. This combination of clean lined materials made for a sophisticated unfussy look. Even  though this bathroom is larger than average, the use of wall hung vanities not only opens up the space, but makes the bathroom very easy to clean.

The Toto Washlet toilet finishes the suite with self-cleaning conveniences and a heated seat.

Robern Uplift medicine cabinets set against a blue and natural mosaic variegated "fettuccine" tile and the "cherry on top" Runtal Towel Warmer make this bathroom with Manhattan skyline views the perfect, well designed, personal, sanctuary after a long day.

In addition to using larger more contemporary tile, clients are also frequently opting for taller vanities and/or wall hung vanities with height flexibility and also adding more electrical outlets for additional bathroom appliances. In this bathroom, not only did we have wall outlets and outlets in the medicine cabinets, we added them in the vanity drawers, perfect for keeping a hair dryer!

While an average bathroom renovation may fall in very reasonably around $30-40,000 premium fixtures and tile can quickly raise the bar. It's important when using these specialty materials to make sure the contractor has the skill to install everything correctly. I always recommend asking neighbors and friends for referrals of contractors who have done recent good work. Often what sets Home Center tile and high Quality Porcelain tile that you find in a premium quality showroom apart is the higher temperatures at which the tile is fired. High heat forces the air bubbles out and makes for a more durable product that will perform better over the lifetime of the project.

If you are interested in the above project, please feel free to contact me.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Avoid The Zero Point Renovation and Get Great Kitchen Results

Beautiful Simple Contemporary Kitchen by MCK+B

Recently I was visited in the showroom by someone interested in renovating their kitchen in a home they wish to sell in 2 years. I spoke to them a bit about the size of the kitchen and the look they wanted to achieve. I  gave them some literature and noticed they also had Home Depot Kitchen Brochures, including what I consider to be the nicest line HD carries which is KraftMaid.We began to discuss the budget for the project and the value of the home, which they revealed to be a $10,000.00 budget  including new appliances, in a home valued at $500,000. Granted the kitchen was tiny, it still wasn't a realistic number. A client this far off the mark, may need to explore the market more and hear similar from a few designers before they reevaluate their budget.

I attempted to explain to them  what they were proposing was a "Zero Point Renovation". This is a remodel that is so far below what the property value demands that when you go to sell your home, you get absolutely zero to negative credit from prospective buyers. In other words, you may actually get less for your home if you rip out older but nonetheless good quality materials, and put in new poor quality in it's place. When people are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for a home they will look closely at the kitchen and bathrooms. And if you are going to live there for 2-3 years before selling it, the poor quality renovation will be truly lackluster by then.

When they asked me what is reasonable to spend on a kitchen remodel, I told them 10-15% of a homes value. Now I know there are many who believe the real number is 15-20% , but I think that a well spent 10% is plenty, and if the kitchen is small as in their case, and the appliances are going to be a nice quality GE, but not SubZero-Wolf or comparable, then realistically they could get the entire project done for 7-8% or $40,000. For that with the right design advice, I would expect them to be able to get:
    Stylish Upper East Side kitchen with a view
  • semi-custom cabinetry
  • basic granite or Caesarstone counter tops
  • Ge Profile appliances in black(possibly stainless)
  • natural stone or glass tile backsplash(Susan Jablon Mosaics is a great cost effective online resource)
  • under cabinet lighting
  • recessed lighting in the work area
  • under mount sink
  • Kohler Pulldown Simplice faucet in Vibrant Stainless at under $300.00 is a bargain  
  • Hardware is a great thing to save money by purchasing online (I recommend you order samples in at least the amount of the restocking fee, that way you hold them and know you like them before ordering the whole kitchen worth a risk being disappointed)
There are certain fixed costs in a kitchen remodel, namely the labor, including electrical and plumbing costs. Many times homeowners seek to save money by just cutting everything they can out of their cabinetry expenses. And while I've heard the expression "a box is a box" a few hundred times in past years, and there is  room for an argument here, but you aren't just giving up the box, it's the door, drawers, and more importantly the finish. I gave up being a field representative for a cabinet company, simply because they did business in a lower price point, and it was heartbreaking to meet with consumers disappointed and complaining about the finish of their cabinets after they were installed.  It's better to avoid this disappointment, shop, look closely at what you are buying at set your expectations appropriately.

I recommend a  balanced approached when trying to cut costs. Take advantage of some of the websites and tips I offered above as a way to get a well blended design and the most out of your renovation budget. In the end I believe you'll be more satisfied overall.