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!

Award-Winning Glam Bathroom Addition Fit for Two

bathroom vanity sinkWith two soon-to-be teenage daughters, these Clarendon Hills homeowners were experiencing a daily struggle for bathroom time to prepare for the day.  They knew that as the girls grew, this problem would grow with them, and decided to take steps to solve this problem before it got any worse.

They began working with Normandy Designer Stephanie Bryant on an addition to their home that would give the girls a bathroom of their own, and would be spacious enough for both of them to get ready at the same time, while accommodating their individual storage needs as well.

Their Cape Cod style home had an existing first floor addition with a flat roof, the perfect place to add their second story bathroom.  Stephanie made sure that the bathroom addition enhanced the beauty and style of the home by creating complementary roof lines and siding details that makes it look as though it’s always been a part of the home. “I added some large windows to bring in natural light,” noted Stephanie, “as well as an oval window that adds to the exterior look of the house while also bringing in yet another source of natural light.”adding a bathroomtwo story house







The interior of the new bathroom has plenty of space for the girls to start out the day, and ample storage for all the supplies that they could want or need.  “The silver tones in the mirror frame and beautiful honed marble countertop add a little bit of ‘glam’ for the girls,” says Stephanie. “On a more practical note, the storage has dedicated areas for each of the sisters, and integrated outlets within the cabinetry help keep clutter to a minimum.”  The vaulted ceiling in the bathroom takes advantage of the new roof line and makes the bathroom seem more open and spacious.

wall lighting sconcevanity sinkwhite cabinets

Stephanie recently received a Remodeling Excellence Award from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) of Greater Chicagoland for this glamorous bathroom addition. If you are considering a room addition, schedule a time to talk with Stephanie to discuss the possibilities for your home.

bathroom remodel by normandy designer stephanie bryant ckd

Naperville Kitchen Remodel Featured in National Magazine

Have you picked up a Spring copy of Kitchen & Bath Ideas Magazine?  Flip over to page 90 to see photos and read all about an award-winning Naperville kitchen remodel by Normandy Designer Ann Stockard.  We think the article turned out beautifully, and have some details of our own to share about this kitchen too.  Below is just a sneak peek of the article “Perfect Fit”.  For the rest of the story, the magazine is on sale through June 8, 2015 wherever magazines are sold.  Digital editions available at http://bhgspecials.zinio.com/ as are several tablet forms as well.

Modern Chicago Condo Bathroom Remodel Wins Excellence Award

mosaic tilesAllocating space appropriately is a critical component of every good design, but making sure that every inch is used wisely becomes a dominant criterion when renovating in a high rise Chicago condo.

Before the renovation, this bathroom had a large soaking tub that was almost never used and the bathroom lacked adequate storage.  The bathroom was also feeling out of date and did not match the homeowner’s style and décor throughout the rest of the residence.  They decided it was time to make a change to their master bathroom, and enlisted the assistance of Normandy’s Stephanie Bryant.

Stephanie and the homeowners talked over wants, needs, and pain points as they began developing a plan of attack for the new space.  The homeowners opted to remove their bathtub, a common request Normandy Designers are noticing in recent years, which gave them the opportunity to allocate their space in a way that better suited their needs.

bathroom shower tileMaking significant plumbing changes in a condo can be a challenge due to the nature of living and working in a high-rise, and this building was no different.  Stephanie worked closely with the plumbers and building management to make sure that the removal of the bathtub and other elements did not cause any issues for other residents of the building, while ensuring that the homeowners’ vision would be fulfilled.

The newly remodeled master bathroom has a crisp, modern feel while still maintaining a warm and inviting tone.  “The vanity is a dark stained rift cut oak and the storage cabinets have a white, high gloss finish,” says Normandy Designer Stephanie Bryant, CKD.  “Floor and shower tiles mimic the look of marble, but are actually porcelain, which makes them a lower maintenance option for long term beauty and enjoyment.” The vertical mosaic tiles create a glittering feature wall as you first enter the room, and enhance the overall spa aesthetic of the space. An oversized shower with multiple body sprays complete the spa-like experience, and start off each day with a healthy dose of pampering.

This Chicago master bathroom remodel was so well executed; it recently won a Remodeling Excellence Award from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) Greater Chicagoland.  If you are considering a master bathroom remodel and would like to talk with Stephanie about creating a unique solution for your home, you can request a free consultation or stop by our Hinsdale design showroom to find inspiration for your upcoming bathroom remodel.

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spa bathroom design

Hinsdale Home Show is this Saturday!

Join us Saturday April 11, 2015 at the Second Annual Hinsdale Home Show, presented by the Hinsdale Chamber of Commerce. Normandy Designers will be on hand to discuss your potential home addition, kitchen remodel or home renovation project.

Plus, at 1PM award-winning Normandy Designer Leslie Molloy, CKD; will be presenting an educational kitchen remodeling seminar entitled “Secrets of the Ideal Kitchen.”  We hope to see you there!

The Community House
415 W Eighth St, Hinsdale
Saturday April 11, 2015
10:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Stained and Painted Cabinets: Now in Color!

Combining stained and painted cabinetry in the same kitchen has been popular for over five years, but one of the more interesting developments in this trend is the addition of color to the cabinets.  Up until recently, most of the painted finishes in these combo kitchens had been white, but color is gaining ground as people are looking to infuse their personality into their kitchen remodel.  We recently spoke with Normandy Designer Leslie Lee to get a list of things to consider, and things to avoid, when adding color to your kitchen cabinets:

1. Location, location, location: Determining which cabinets should be in the base color and which should be a contrasting color is largely about location.  “Islands are great places to inject color, since they are already stand-alone components of the kitchen,” says Leslie.  Painting select cabinets a complementary color can also give them the look of a furniture piece, rather than simply looking like cabinetry that’s just in another color.  A popular choice would be to make the refrigerator take on the look of an armoire.

2. Harmony is key: The colors you select need to be harmonious and work together to create a coherent look.  If you’re not sure which colors pair well, you can reference special fan decks by Benjamin Moore that feature colors that are all but guaranteed to look great together.

3. Size matters:  Multiple colors work best in medium to large kitchens and are best avoided in smaller kitchens.  “For example, in a medium size kitchen you might be able to do two different cabinet colors as long as all the countertops are the same,” commented Leslie.  “In a large kitchen you may be able to do up to 3 different cabinet colors and multiple different countertop selections and still create a harmonious look.”

4. Details make the difference: This is particularly true in traditional style kitchens. “A great way to further distinguish the painted cabinetry from the rest of the cabinets in the kitchen is by selecting a slightly different door style,” says Leslie.

5. Choose a base tone that suits you:  Most kitchens that have colored accent cabinets start with a wood stain or white paint for the rest of the cabinets that helps give the room an overall direction.

6. The sky is the limit for choosing colors:  Many cabinet manufacturers offer custom color options that let you find the shade that’s just right for you.  In fact, Normandy Designer Leslie Lee will typically bring out the Benjamin Moore fan deck to find the color that she’s looking to achieve.

7. Color can be timeless, with some restraint:  “Nobody wants to renovate their kitchen only to find that it feels outdated just a few years later,” notes Leslie. “By choosing more muted colors that are grounded in the overall aesthetic of the kitchen, you’ll minimize some of the potential for dating your kitchen.”  Remember all that Harvest Gold from the 70’s?  You definitely want to avoid that level of regret for your kitchen cabinets.

8. It pays to sample first: “I highly recommend getting a sample door that you’ve selected, with the color you’ve chosen, so that you know exactly what you’re getting,” says Leslie.  “Colors can change over time and changes in lighting can influence how you perceive a particular color.”

The decision to add color to your painted cabinets is one that more and more people are considering when undertaking a kitchen remodel.  If you’re wondering whether this may be right for your kitchen, you can request a meeting with Leslie, or register for one of our upcoming educational seminars.