As consumers, we are always fearful that we will be taken for  a ride.  Remodeling is one of those places where, inevitably, the dollar amount charged is not what you expected and then there are the little things that carry a big price tag.  

After repeat requests about “how much does a remodel cost,” we created this educational series highlighting places where expenditures rise.  Sometimes these expenditures can be avoided, sometimes not; however, the more prepared you are when it is time to remodel your home, the more confident you will be in your relationship with your contractor and your design decisions.

Tile

As a material, tile comes with a price tag  starting at $1.25 on up to hundreds of dollars per square foot.  This is pretty obvious when you have the material in hand.  What is not so obvious is the labor cost involved for the tile you are looking at.  Our first thought is that the cost to install tile is a flat rate no matter what tile we choose.  This is a mistake.

Floor and Wall Patterns

If you want to have your tile installed in a pattern, the floor on a diagonal for example, your investment goes up.  When tile is installed 90-degrees to the room, tile edges will line up with the wall; when the pattern is put on a diagonal, every tile that meets the wall will need to be cut.  This requires more material and more time for the installer to make these cuts.  As such, you will be looking at paying more.

The more intricate the pattern, the more time the installer will need to take during the install and the more expensive the project.

Odd Shaped Tile

The same thing applies to any tile that is not rectangular in shape.  Where floor meet the wall, every tile will need to be cut.

Mosaics

Mosaics are typically 1×1 tiles and come on a 12×12 mesh sheet.  These can be relatively easy to install.  But… here it comes.  If you are looking at a tile that is a hexagon you will want to be sure that the tile line carries “points.”  Points are pre-cut portions of the tile.  Remember, when you get to the wall you will need 1/2 of a 1″ piece of tile to fill the void.  Paying for your tile expert to cut 1″ pieces of tile is going to add up in a hurry.  If the tile doesn’t come with points and you really love it but don’t want pay your tile setter for the additional tile, you may opt to have the 1/2″ void grouted in.  Once the baseboard is installed it will be hardly noticeable.

Large Format Tile

Large format tile is anything over 12″x12″.  Large format tile is quickly gaining in popularity, and for good reason.  Why look at grout lines when you could be looking at a pretty tile?

However, the gaps between tiles is where installers find room for adjustment.  Perhaps the room isn’t perfectly square (most rooms aren’t perfectly square) or the wall/floor isn’t perfectly flat (most walls/floors aren’t perfectly flat), adjustments made in small increments are undetectable to the eye and, at the same time, hides the imperfections of the room’s construction.  (The reason why old homes feature mosaic floors is more than just a design statement.)

Now, compare the installation of  a 12×24 versus a 12×12.  Instead of making an adjustment every foot you are making an adjustment every 2 feet, this doubles the adjustment.  What may have been 1/16″ adjustment is now 1/8″ – and it is no longer undetectable.  However, if the adjustment isn’t made, your room will look out of square.

Every contractor wants repeat business and they aren’t keen on a shoddy looking room.  The resolution is to start with as near perfect room as you can.  This means more shimming, more skimming and possibly even a coat of self leveling floor compound.  This prep work is time-consuming.

If you are installing large format tile on the walls you can expect an added layer of cost.  The larger the tile, the heavier it is.  When working with small tiles, an entire wall can be set at once.  As the tiles get heavier, the more they want to slide down the wall.  Bottom rows of tiles need to set and cure before you can add height.  Your installer may only be able to set a few rows of tile (or just one row of tile it is very large tile) per day.

You may be trying to pinch your pennies during this economy.  In the past, there was a vast price gap between porcelain tile and ceramic.  Today, the difference in price is negligable.  For durability and longevity, invest in the porcelain.  And then, keep your tile rectangular and 12×12 or under in size.  Nothing feels worse than to buy a tile on clearance thinking you’re getting a deal, just to find out it will cost you double in labor… and when it comes to tile, the labor is usually the more expensive portion of the project.

As a side note, if you are looking for something truely unique but want to keep life simple for your tile setter, there are companies that will precut extensive tile patterns.  Your contractor can provide to this kind of company your tile and your pattern.  If you have a unique shaped tub of shower base, you contractor can give them a scribe or pattern of the shapes and they can cut your tiles to fit.  This will not only be a cleaner look, but may also be less expensive than having your contractor cut each piece on the jobsite. 

Written by staff designer Stephanie Bullwinkel, CBD for Imperial Kitchens and Baths, Inc.

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Defining Style

November 16, 2010

What is the “current design trend?”

This year, article after article (in both retail and to-the-trade magazines) designers are contradicting themselves before they even get to penning the final paragraph.  As you read, experts are saying black and white combos are so now.  However, neutrals and earth tones are hotter than they’ve ever been.  Bold colors like hot pink and chartuese are timely.  But dark green is selling with clients.

Basically, anything goes… and it’s a blessing and a curse.

How fun it is to say that you can have almost anything you want and it is current with today’s style trends.  But what about tomorrow?

It’s enough to drive a designer insane, let alone a homeowner trying to update their house to sell (or live in for that matter).  With the economy strapped for cash, we want to spend our dollars on design that will last.

While the design industry seems to be saying “Anything goes!  Just spend money;”  consumers keep asking, “What design direction should I go in that is the best choice for longevity and resale value?”

So, adding our voice to all the other experts writing about home design, here is our take on how to focus yourself on a design for your home. 

  • Keep the architecture of your home in mind.  If you have a home with a predisposed historical design, then follow it (ie. owners of bungalows should look to 1920’s designs and materials for inspiration). 
  • Then be daring, go to the extreme.  High contrast or minimal contrast.  Stay way from the middle ground or the “safe zone.”  While, it does not need to shout, a home should make a clear statement.  
  • Finally, look for balance.  Some women need to take off a piece of jewelry before they leave the house while others need to put a piece on – designing a room is no different.

If you’re still finding yourself dazed and confused, even with a designer in tow as you visit the Merchandise Mart week after week, take heart.  You can never go wrong with buying design that you like… after all, you live there.  And if anyone asks you to define your home’s style, tell them it’s “eclectic” – after all, it’s all the rage.

Written by staff designer Stephanie Bullwinkel, CBD for Imperial Kitchens and Baths, Inc.

Designing By The Numbers

January 27, 2010

Sometimes we find ourselves in spaces that just don’t feel right.  Though we can’t  put our finger on it, we feel uncomfortable – sometimes to the point that we don’t linger, but rather leave the area as soon as we can.  If that space happens to be in our home, it’s common to not use that room.  Or if it is in our office, we’ll end up wandering during the day or taking our work to the conference room or other space.

Issues with temperature, lighting, use of color, etc.  can all be pinpointed to an extent.  The most illusive cause of unknown discomfort, and probably the most common, is that the design of the room disregards the mathematical laws of nature… I speak of the Fibonacci numbers.

Leonardo Pisano Fibonacci (AKA: Leonardo of Pisa) lived from 1170 to 1250 and many think him one of the greatest mathematical geniuses.  One of the best modern sources of information about Fibonacci is by A. F. Horadam, “Eight hundred years young,” The Australian Mathematics Teacher 31 (1975) pgs 123-134.

Recognizing that arithmetic with Hindu-Arabic numerals is simpler and more efficient than with Roman numerals, Fibonacci traveled throughout the Mediterranean world to study under the leading Arab mathematicians of the time. Leonardo returned from his travels around 1200. In 1202, at age 32, he published what he had learned in Liber Abaci (Book of Abacus or Book of Calculation), and thereby introduced Hindu-Arabic numerals to Europe. (Wikipedia)

Also in the Liber Abaci is one of his other great contributions to the world, what we refer to as the Fibonacci numbers.  While he did not discover this number pattern (the formula was being used in India as early as the 6th century), Fibonacci did introduce this sequence to the western world.

In the Fibonacci sequence of numbers, each number is the sum of the previous two numbers, starting with 0 and 1.  As such the sequence begins 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, and goes on.  The ratio that begins to emerge is referred to as the “Golden Ratio” (approximately 1.6180339887498948…).  This ratio has history that goes back to the ancient Greeks and Romans.

This ratio is seen in all things of nature… shells, trees, our bodies.  Artists of the Renaissance period used the formula within their paintings.  Early last century, physicists found that the formula applied to crystal formation.  Some financial experts currently use the ratio to forecast stock expectations.

Architects and designers use the Fibonacci Number system to create spaces of harmonious proportions.  Famous Swiss Architect Le Corbusier used the system almost exclusively in designing buildings, furniture and spaces.

The portions provided by the Fibonacci Numbers and Golden Ratio give us a sense of balance when designing rooms.  Whether we are looking to remodel or decorate, by incorporating these proportions into our “bag” of design theories, we can calculate appropriate room dimensions, fireplace placement, couch height, etc., which will feel appropriate to the other relationships in a room, including human scale.

Furniture can always be moved or replace to remedy an awkward space.  But if you happen to occupy a building that is structurally awkward, reaching a solution may be more difficult.  Remodeling, sometimes, is the only option – however, not before exploring creative cosmetic changes.  Windows that are out of proportion can be fixed with custom sized molding or curtains.  Ceilings can be brought down, if above 8′ AFF (above fixed floor).  Bookshelves can bring walls in.  If you have an awkward space and need suggestions, or if you have examples of disproportional spaces you have salvaged – please share them with us.

Written for Imperial Kitchens and Baths, Inc. by designer Stephanie Bullwinkel, CBD.