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Home Care

Practical tips to improve your home’s function and ambiance

If a kitchen or bathroom renovation is in your future, take a holistic approach that considers how the space will be used now and in the future.

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Homeowners tackling interior upgrades often focus their attention on two of the most-used rooms the in the house: the kitchen and bathroom. Tailoring these rooms to your personal preferences may enhance your enjoyment of the space, but most experts recommend thinking long term for the biggest return on your investment.

If a kitchen or bathroom renovation is in your future, take a holistic approach that considers how the space will be used now and in the future.

Kitchen Considerations

As the hub of activity for many households, the kitchen is a space that commands efficient, functional design. Aside from the practical issue of losing access to the space while it’s under construction, there’s another important challenge for homeowners to consider when tackling a kitchen remodel: for maximum return on your investment, avoid making choices that are too trendy or personal.

Design trends come and go, so while a contemporary update is almost always a good idea, many design experts recommend sticking with classic looks and styles that have broad appeal, especially for big ticket (and big price tag) elements like cabinetry. Save your flair for aspects like the backsplash tile or wall color, which can be relatively easily changed by a new owner or even yourself when you want a refresh down the road.

Another area to give special attention is the overall ambiance of the room, which is largely influenced by the light from natural and electric sources. For a room that needs brightening, skylights are a smart option because they free up wall space for more storage and cabinets while adding abundant natural light.

However, natural light from above isn’t the only advantage of adding skylights. Some models, such as a Velux solar-powered, fresh-air skylight, can be opened with a remote control to bring fresh air inside, which helps keep the kitchen fresh and rids indoor air of pollutants from daily activities like cooking and cleaning.

Skylights can be ordered with light-filtering or room-darkening blinds, which give homeowners maximum control over the exact amount of light they want. Plus, solar-powered blinds come in over 75 colors and patterns for customizable design options that allow you to truly make the space your own.

Be sure to ask whether the line you’re considering qualifies for a federal tax credit. Solar-powered skylights and blinds are eligible for a 26% federal tax credit on product and installation if purchased and installed by the end of 2020. The credit decreases to 22% in 2021.

A Better Bathroom

In the bathroom, modern upgrades are also a smart investment. However, many experts actually recommend thinking not just about what’s in vogue right now but considering needs far into the future.

Universal design is especially relevant in the bathroom, where simple adjustments can provide added accessibility as you age, and these updates can flow seamlessly into the design. This means considering a vanity with a raised counter height and a taller toilet base, which can add stylish enjoyment no matter your age. Other features like a zero-entry shower deliver high-demand design and safety simultaneously.

Outside of accessibility-oriented updates, upgrading your fixtures, fresh paint and contemporary tile can go a long way toward transforming a bathroom. If you find your space is still in need of a boost, a skylight may be the answer. Natural light can be that last touch to bring your space from just OK to perfect, and skylights in the bathroom allow homeowners to maximize their natural light without losing any privacy.

In a space like the bathroom, where ventilation is a top concern, a choice like Velux No Leak Solar-Powered “Fresh Air” Skylights provide natural light as well as fresh air ventilation to make the environment healthier. They help rid indoor air of bacteria, volatile organic compounds and carbon dioxide.

Smart Climate Control

Fresh air ventilation is one way homeowners can promote better indoor air quality, especially in rooms like kitchens and bathrooms which are especially vulnerable to poor air circulation.

A smartphone-controlled skylight automation system such as Velux Active with Netatmo can help improve indoor climate from the convenience of your mobile device. It allows homeowners to automate when they open and close their skylights and blinds. The system monitors an online weather station and uses indoor sensors to measure temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide levels in the home. Based on a homeowner’s settings, the system will automatically open the skylights or extend the blinds as needed to improve air quality and temperature inside the home.

Explore more design ideas to enhance your kitchen and bathroom spaces at whyskylights.com.

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Home Care

Top 3 ways to check for hidden leaks

Uncommon and hidden leaks are the ones that tend to sneak up on homeowners and wreak a lot of havoc.

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Photo by Dan Smedley from Unsplash.com

Four Seasons Plumbing, a family-owned and -operated plumbing company serving the Asheville and Hendersonville areas, understands the toll that slow leaks and difficult-to-spot plumbing issues can take on a home. This summer, the company is offering homeowners tips to identify leaks early and take action before they result in costly damage.

“Uncommon and hidden leaks are the ones that tend to sneak up on homeowners and wreak a lot of havoc,” said Max Rose, owner of Four Seasons Plumbing. “It often takes noticing a water bill that’s higher than usual or finding a visible puddle on the floor to begin asking questions, and there could already be a lot of damage by that point.”

Max and the team at Four Seasons offer these tricks to help identify potential water leaks:

  • Check your water meter: Start by turning off all appliances in the house dependent on water, such as faucets, dishwashers, washing machines, etc. After waiting for an hour, monitor any changes to the meter. If the meter continues to change, you may have a leak in your system that could require the attention of a licensed, insured professional.
  • Add food coloring to your toilet tank: Toilets account for a considerable amount of water usage in the home. By adding food coloring to your toilet tank, you can monitor the bowl to see if there is any seepage from the tank in-between flushes. A leaking toilet can run unnoticed, and it can significantly impact a water bill with time.
  • Look for discoloration on ceilings and walls: By keeping an eye out for any browning or discoloration on ceilings and walls, you can be proactive in identifying leaks before they become detrimental.

By intentionally setting aside some time to practice these few simple steps, homeowners can save themselves thousands of dollars in repairs in the long run. Leaks can go unnoticed for weeks, months, or even years, resulting in costly damage to a home’s structure.

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Home Care

Add storage and seating to your patio

According to landscape designer, Doug Scott, storage is something a lot of people forget about when designing an outdoor living space.

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Photo by Sonnie Hiles from Unsplash.com

Whether you’re grilling, gardening or simply lounging in the backyard, it’s important to have the tools, supplies and equipment you need close at hand. Unfortunately, finding a convenient place to store everything is a challenge many homeowners face.

According to landscape designer, Doug Scott, storage is something a lot of people forget about when designing an outdoor living space.

“Whether it’s gardening tools and supplies, outdoor furniture cushions, or a random collection of toys, almost everything we do outdoors comes with stuff,” Scott said. “And it’s not always convenient to go back inside and get those things.”

Scott has partnered with Exmark on a new Done-In-A-Weekend Projects video that shows homeowners how to build a dual-purpose outdoor storage bench that offers convenient on-patio storage. It also provides comfortable outdoor seating for family and guests.

“It’s really the best for both form and function,” Scott said.

While it’s possible to build the exterior of the outdoor storage bench from several wood options, Scott said untreated cedar is a good choice, for several reasons. It’s attractive and is naturally rot-resistant, so staining or painting the storage bench is an option, not a requirement.

The interior of the storage box is built from a combination of plywood, pine boards and decking board, secured with a combination of wood screws, wood glue and exterior construction adhesive.

Scott said the outdoor storage bench is a project that most folks can complete in one to two days, but he recommends enlisting the help of a friend or family member, which can cut the project time in half.

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Home Care

Modern kitchen and bath upgrades

Modernizing your spaces isn’t just about the aesthetic, although that is a major advantage, especially when it comes to resale value. Updating your kitchen and bath is also an opportunity to introduce new technology and enhancements that improve the function of these high-traffic rooms.

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Upgrades happen for all kinds of reasons, but one of the most common purposes of a home renovation is to make essential spaces like kitchens and bathrooms more modern.

Modernizing your spaces isn’t just about the aesthetic, although that is a major advantage, especially when it comes to resale value. Updating your kitchen and bath is also an opportunity to introduce new technology and enhancements that improve the function of these high-traffic rooms.

Modern styles simplify everyday living and can make contemporary entertaining more enjoyable. The sleek lines of modern design lend themselves to a clean look, which is supported by hidden features that make organization easier.

Smart Technology

Although the idea of a connected home isn’t new, technology is steadily improving. This means smart features are now often more affordable, easily integrated into the rest of your home and available to help manage a wider range of household items.

In the kitchen, you can add smart technology in numerous ways, from appliances and climate control to lighting and window treatments. For example, touch-to-open and push-to-open doors and drawers create a sleek, modern design while opening and closing with either a push or touch of a button for convenience.

Similar diversity is available in the bathroom, where you can incorporate connected health and fitness monitors, touchless toilets, mirrors that double as information centers, towel warmers and even showers that automatically adjust to your preferred temperature.

Paint

Changing the colors in a space is one of the most effective ways to transform the decor, but the walls aren’t the only place where paint can make a big impact, especially in rooms like the kitchen or bathroom, where the cabinetry can make a bold statement.

Black is a hallmark of modern design and installing cabinetry with a black finish can instantly upgrade a room. To create visual interest, consider incorporating accent cabinets in a coordinating finish. For example, you could pair Wellborn Cabinet’s Midtown wall cabinets finished in Matte Ebony with upper center cabinets finished in Putty Oak. An island in Bel-Air can incorporate both dark and light tones for a cohesive look.

Decorative Range Hoods

An exposed range hood is a trendy look that can add sophistication to your kitchen. Treating this functional element as a statement piece gives you another place to showcase your style and create a sleek and modern look. If your hood is covered, consider making the cabinet door a focal point with a material such as back-painted glass.

Multi-Purpose Sinks

While your sink has some obvious functions, you can upgrade the space for even more practical use. Some of the latest sink design innovations include built-in features such as cutting boards, colanders, bowls, drying racks and compost areas. In addition, motion activated wastebaskets with separate compost or recycling containers provide hands-free access to reduce unwanted messes.

Touchless Faucets

Public restrooms aren’t the only places you can benefit from a touchless faucet. At home, the feature may come in handy when your hands are full or filthy. An automatic water flow is convenient and can help keep germs and grime under control. For the most on-trend, modern look, coordinate your faucets with other bathroom elements finished in gold hues, such as a laminate veneer vanity in a high-gloss gold finish.

Cabinetry

Collectively, cabinets are the biggest component of most kitchens. Since kitchens tend to be the hub of the home, it’s important to maintain a homey feel while adding the luxury of modern features. Using warm colors, gold-toned hardware and sleek door styles can deliver a glamorous yet welcoming design.

For example, Wellborn Cabinet’s Aspire Full Access Frameless line features flat moulding and flush lines to create a thoughtfully integrated flow throughout the kitchen. A Morristown door in the Smokey Walnut finish and Serenity metal doors in Sand Gloss Glass marry heirloom quality and contemporary finishes for a beautiful and functional space.

Free-Standing Tubs

A luxurious soaking tub is a top demand for many homeowners, and trends are moving toward free-standing options that create a focal point in an oasis-like bathroom. You may be envisioning an old-fashioned claw-foot style, but there are numerous modern takes on the traditional version that can fit seamlessly into your modern design scheme.

Wood-Look Flooring

Natural wood floors were once the gold standard, but thanks to improvements in the quality and appearance of laminate and vinyl products, you can find alternative flooring in even high-end homes. Laminate and vinyl planks give the same look as wood (or stone, if you prefer) to complement a modern aesthetic, usually at a lower price point and with greater durability over time.

Find more ideas to modernize your living space at wellborn.com.

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