A Weekend Getaway Helps You Prep for Your Remodel

Does your idea of a fun Date Night include browsing through tile shops or looking at fixtures as you and your spouse discuss what “could be” in your new kitchen or bathroom?  Then you may be the perfect candidates for a quick weekend getaway to nearby Kohler, WI.

Just a 2 hour drive north of Chicago, The American Club in Kohler WI is a 5-Star, 5-Diamond resort owned by the Kohler Co and is located in, you guessed it, Kohler Wisconsin.  This resort destination includes all the usual amenities, golf, spa, dining, shopping, but it also includes a multi-level kitchen and bathroom design center.

This design center has complete kitchens and bathrooms on display, as well as individual bathtubs, toilets, sinks, etc.  For anyone contemplating a remodel, this is a great opportunity to have some hands-on interaction with the products and solutions that you may be considering for your home.

Kohler also offers free tours of their manufacturing facilities Monday through Friday.  These tours include their ceramics and forging plants and are led by recently retired Kohler employees who really know their stuff.  For people who enjoy learning how things are made, these tours get you up-close and personal with the manufacturing process.

Once you’ve had your fill of learning about kitchens and bathrooms, you may choose to enjoy the Kohler Waters Spa or spend some time at their world famous golf courses.  Whistling Straits is home to the 2015 PGA Championship August 10-16 (you can see them setting up for the event in the photos below).  Both Black Wolf Run and Whistling Straits are open to the public to enjoy and offer an unforgettable and challenging experience.

Your upcoming remodel may be just the excuse you need for this short get-away, a perfect blend research and relaxation.

Top It Off With An Accent

Homeowners searching for a unique “wow” factor in their next home remodeling project would do well to try looking up. The 5th wall (your ceiling) is a frequently ignored surface in your home, one that can make a huge impact on the space if given a little special attention.

Some folks are content to simply paint their ceiling a striking color, but adding an architectural element can make a significant design statement. Depending on the existing room, or plans for the addition, different ceiling options may be appropriate.

Beams and Coffered Ceilings:

Glencoe remodel by Normandy Remodeling Designer Vince WeberBeams and coffers are very closely related since they both are visible and extend from the ceiling by a few inches. “Most beams are either decorative in nature, or conceal a structural beam, and typically run in a single direction,” says Normandy Designer Vince Weber. Exposed beams are more commonly found in Tudor or Rustic style homes, but can be modified to work with most Oak Park remodel by Normandy Remodeling Designer Stephanie Bryantaesthetics. Coffers are beams that are typically three to eight inches deep that intersect creating a grid-like pattern on the ceiling which gives the illusion of recessed panels on the ceiling. Coffered ceilings are best suited for traditional styles of homes.

Both decorative beams and coffered ceilings can be added to virtually any room, although it’s recommended to only apply them to spaces that have a minimum ceiling height of eight and a half feet. Because the beams will extend down into the room, you want to be sure there is ample space before adding the decorative element.

Tray and Vaulted Ceilings:

La Grange remodel by Normandy Remodeling Designer Leslie LeeTray ceilings feature a center section that is several inches (or several feet) higher than the areas around the perimeter of the room. The recessed area can go straight up or at an angle. Depending on the style of the home, this raised area may include decorative trim, up-lighting, or an accent paint color. Tray ceilings make a room appear larger without adding any additional square footage.  “This is often a nice alternative to a vaulted ceiling, and is easier to implement in a remodel,” notes Vince.

A vaulted ceiling provides the greatest opportunity to create height within a room but they are best reserved for a newly constructed space.  “These are contextually appropriate for homes built within theNaperville addition by Normandy Remodeling last 30 years or so, and may look out of place in older homes,” says Vince. There are some cases when a tray or vaulted ceiling can be incorporated into existing space, but are most commonly seen as part of a new room addition.

Adding a unique ceiling design to your home remodel can be a striking focal point in an unexpected place. Schedule a time to talk with Vince to discuss the possibilities for your home, or see what other people have to say about working with the Normandy team.




Spice Up Your Kitchen Storage

kitchen cabinet spice storage drawerFinding the right home for your spices within your overall kitchen design can be a detail that’s easily overlooked.  Fortunately, there are a wide variety of options for spice storage, and their relatively small size makes them prime candidates for capitalizing on otherwise lost or under-utilized space.

Location is a key determining factor in choosing the right place for your spices, and most cooks opt to have their favorite spices and oils close at hand.  “One of the best places you can store your jars of spices is on either side of the range,” notes Normandy Designer Leslie Lee.  “They are easily accessible at the point of use and it’s these types of thoughtful placements that can make your kitchen more efficient overall.”

Drawers are available with special inserts to make your spices easier to see at a glance, but they tend to limit the size of the jar and the number of spices you can store in the space. Angle cabinet drawer insert for spices and seasoningsCooks with a large number of spices may keep their less frequently used spices elsewhere, such as the pantry, and keep only their preferred choices near the cooktop. “Some people are concerned with storing their spices so close to a heat source,” says Leslie. “But today’s ovens are well insulated and the cabinet itself should not become excessively warm to the point it would degrade the quality of the spices.”

Dedicated shelving that pulls out from a narrow cabinet is another popular option, which also greatly increases the storage options. “These pull-outs have adjustable shelves to accommodate varying sizes of jars and are a great choice for the space adjacent to the range,” says Leslie.  If you like this solution but are very tight on space, you may be able to incorporate spice storage into decorative pilasters or columns, which takes advantage of an otherwise wasted space.

spice and oil storage next to stovedecorative cabinet column with pull out spice storage next to stoveAdjustable shelves for spices and oil next to the stove

While designers do their best to optimize every square inch of the kitchen, there are times when the shape of the room or a primary design driver may create odd sized cabinets.  A shallow cabinet that’s created as part of an island or an existing wall bump-out that limits cabinetry options may not fit common kitchen items, but would be an excellent choice for spice jars.  Overflow spice storage in particular can be relegated to small or shallow cabinets that you might otherwise have been tempted to ignore all together.
Small kitchen cabinet for spice storage

If your cabinetry options have already been exhausted, it may be time to consider a well-placed niche.  Either adjacent to the cooktop or directly behind the cooking surface, these open spaces are a popular place for oils, salt and pepper, and other everyday spices.  Niches typically take advantage of either the space between the wall studs, in the case of behind the stove, or on the side of a cabinet to create a flexible space that can accommodate a variety of cooking oils and seasonings.

Addressing the fine details of how you work within your kitchen is one of the benefits you gain when working with a designer, such as Leslie Lee.  If you would like to talk with Leslie about creating a solution for your upcoming kitchen remodel, you can request a consultation, stop by our showroom, or even sign up for one of our educational kitchen seminars.

storage niche behind stovecabinet niche next to stove for oils and spicesOpen space for storing oils and spices next to range

La Grange Forever Home Featured in National Design Magazine

Check out the summer issue of Storage Solutions Magazine to read all about this La Grange remodel by Normandy Designer Leslie Lee.  These savvy homeowners are enjoying their empty-nest lifestyle, while preparing for their next phase of living.  You can find the magazine article on newsstands throughout the summer, and flip to page 128 to read all about the renovation.

Storage Solutions Magazine Ranch Home RemodelLa Grange Home Remodeling Forever Home

Getting a Handle on Kitchen Faucets

Kitchen faucets come in various styles, colors and options. One option to consider when choosing a kitchen faucet is whether you prefer a single handle or double handle faucet. One may argue that there is no difference between the two and that a faucet is a faucet.  In actuality, there are significant differences between the two.

River Forest kitchen remodel by Normandy Designer Leslie MolloyA single handle faucet is one handle that turns the water on and off, as well as adjusts the water temperature. Since single handle faucets have fewer holes in the countertop, there are fewer places for water to collect making them much easier to keep clean. The ease of  use and cleaning makes single handle faucets in kitchens more common. “Because they are simpler by design, single handle faucets typically have more contemporary styling”, says Normandy Designer Leslie Molloy, CKD. They are also considered to be more ergonomic, easy and safe for young and old. This is especially beneficial for a child or person with arthritis.

Hinsdale kitchen remodel by Normandy Remodeling Designer Ann StockardDouble handle faucets have two separate nozzles, one for hot and another for cold. These handles can be widespread or center set. Widespread is more common since there is more spacing between the handles and spout. Center set means it is 4” from one handle to the other, which is a great selection for vanities that are small with little counter space. Since double handles have more elements, they typically have a traditional style. “With two different sizes of double handle faucets, the aesthetic options are much larger than single handles”, says Leslie.

A kitchen faucet is one of many design elements that can make a huge impact on your kitchen’s overall style. If you are thinking about starting a kitchen remodel, schedule a time to talk with Leslie or register for one of our upcoming kitchen remodeling seminars.

A New Generation of Appliance Garages

La Grange kitchen remodel by Normandy Remodeling Designer Troy PavelkaWhen you think of appliance garages, do images of roll-top louvered doors come to mind? Despite their practicality, appliance garages fell out of fashion for a long time, largely because they instantly dated a kitchen and did very little to enhance the design aesthetic of the space.  But fans of these handy spaces will be thrilled to learn that not only are appliance garages making a come back, they now look better than ever.

“Kitchen design is constantly evolving, and new options for door hinges have led to an appliance garage renaissance,” says Normandy Designer Leslie Lee.  “The newer style of appliance garages have doors that can pop-up, tilt-up, or even open and slide back into pockets.” Nearly any style of door can be used, which makes them incredibly versatile and easy to incorporate in virtually any style of kitchen.  Another bonus of these unique door mechanisms is that they allow appliance garages to be added into relatively tight spaces, a major plus for homeowners with small, or galley style kitchens.

Burr Ridge kitchen remodel by Normandy Remodeling Designer Leslie Lee

“A common desire among people preparing for a kitchen remodel is to create a clean, uncluttered space, which is another reason for the resurgence in popularity of the appliance garage,” noted Leslie.  “Most people will still use the coffee maker, toaster, or blender on an almost daily basis; which leads to them either leaving these machines sitting permanently on the counter or being moved in and out of cabinets every day.  One or more appliance garages allow you to have your small countertop appliances available whenever you wish and they can quickly and easily concealed without moving a heavy stand mixer or espresso machine a single inch.” In fact, many appliance garages also have built in outlets for each appliance,
shaker style in white painted kitchen with green countertops and lighting within the cabinet for ease of use.

Appliance garages are just one of many potential design elements to consider when creating a kitchen remodel that’s right for you.  If you’re thinking about getting started on your kitchen renovation, schedule a time to talk with Leslie or register for one of our upcoming educational kitchen seminars.


Less Is More for Wall Hung Toilets

When you think about what you want in a stylish and beautiful bathroom, you probably don’t give much thought to the toilet.  With a few exceptions, the toilets we typically encounter do not necessarily enhance the design of the room, but rather are a necessary component of the bathroom that offers little in the way of options and design.  However, a new generation of wall hung toilets is gaining in popularity, and is increasingly finding its way into bathrooms across America.

Popular for years overseas, wall mounted toilets take up less space and are more flexible than the standard toilets found in most homes. “The water tank is concealed within the walls of the bathroom, giving it a modern look while saving space and making it easier to keep clean,” notes Normandy Designer Ann Stockard.  You can position the bowl at any height that you wish, and the removable flush plate gives you easy access to the tank, if you should have the need to service the flushing mechanisms.

One of the primary reasons people choose a wall hung toilet for their new bathroom is for
the aesthetic.  “The toilet bowl appears to be floating, and the lack of a visible tank provides a very clean, minimalist look in the bathroom,” says Ann.  “The extra inches that you save by moving the toilet tank inside the wall also make this a perfect choice for bathrooms that are tight on space and need to make the most of every available inch.”

Cleaning is also a major benefit of the wall hung toilet, as the minimalist nature of the design leaves fewer crevasses and curves to clean.  The wall mounted design leaves the ground free and clear so mopping under the bowl is quick and easy.

There are a wide variety of bowl styles, flush plates and placement options that should be considered when adding a wall hung toilet into your bathroom design.  If you’re considering a bathroom remodel and want to learn more, you can request a time to talk with Ann or register for one of our upcoming bathroom remodeling seminars.

Kitchen Island Benefits from Mixing Wood and Stone Countertops

Your countertops are one of the quiet workhorses of the kitchen, regularly standing up to acidic foods, temperature swings, and sharp objects. But some of the most beautiful countertop materials can also be fairly delicate and prone to damage.  Wood countertops or butcher block countertops are two such items that can be incorporated into kitchen counters, and with a few careful considerations, can add a richness and natural beauty sure to be worth the effort.

“There are two types of wood countertops, one is a typical wood top, and the other is a butcher block top,” says Normandy Designer Chris Ebert.  “The standard wood countertop is similar to what you might find on your dining room table.  It has a finish on the wood, and is not meant for direct use as a cutting surface.  Butcher block tops, on the other hand, are typically unfinished or oiled and are intended to be used as a work surface in your kitchen.”

One of the best places for a wood top in most kitchens will be at the island.  “The island area typically is used more for dining, entertaining, and light meal prep, and does not usually have as much usage and traffic as the perimeter countertops,” noted Chris.  Whether you prefer decorative vs a functional wood top is as much a question of personal usage preference as it is about the style of your kitchen.

An aesthetic benefit of adding a partial wood top to your island, is that it can provide a visual break of what might otherwise be a large expanse of stone.  This change in material can make a larger island feel more proportionate to the scale of the room while balancing the look of the stone countertops. “Another benefit to wood on the island is that it is not cold to the touch if you have seating,” adds Ebert.  ”And it can be sanded down to look brand new!”

While a wood countertop isn’t right for every person or every home, it is a unique design detail that is sure to make your kitchen stand out. To find out if this might be right for your new kitchen, you can schedule a time to meet with one of Normandy’s talented Designers, like Chris Ebert, or register for an upcoming kitchen remodeling seminar to get your inspiration flowing!

Modern Home Addition in Western Suburbs Wins Second Award

We are excited to announce that Normandy Design Manager Troy Pavelka received a 2015 Chrysalis Award for a recently completed addition and renovation, his second Chrysalis Award in 4  years.  This La Grange Park home addition has also won a 2014 Remodeling Excellence Award from NARI Greater Chicagoland.

The master suite addition and whole home renovation to this ranch style house provided the family with much needed space. Careful consideration was given to the integration of the homeowner’s desire for a modern aesthetic and the existing California ranch style of the home. The seamless addition of the master suite, paired with the sleek yet comfortable interior of the house were major contributing factors to the award win.

The Chrysalis Awards program began in 1994, and recognizes the nation’s best work in sixteen general categories of residential and commercial remodeling. The Chrysalis Awards are open to any professional remodeler and design professional in the United States.

If you’d like to meet with Troy to discuss the possibilities for your home, schedule a complimentary, in-home consultation with him today!

Traditional Burr Ridge Kitchen Remodel Wins Second NARI Award

This Burr Ridge kitchen by Normandy Designer Leslie Lee has a rustic, yet traditional style that expertly conceals many modern amenities.  From a furniture style refrigerator armoire, to concealed waste bins that open with a tap of the knee, the quality craftsmanship and details convey old world charm while providing easy access to a myriad of modern conveniences.

The homeowners’ goal for the renovation was to create a European-inspired kitchen that was rustic, yet also elegant and refined. Custom crown molding, cabinetry profiles, pilasters and cabinet feet were added to the kitchen cabinetry to create layers of detail and interest in the space. “The kitchen island pedestal and refrigerator armoire bring a furniture-like quality to the space,” notes Leslie.

The kitchen design and renovation was executed with such skill and detail, it recently won a Regional Contractor of the Year Award (CotY) by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI).  This designation is in addition to the Remodeling Excellence Award received by the NARI Greater Chicago chapter earlier this year.

See more of our kitchen renovations, or register for an upcoming seminar to get started on your kitchen remodel!