Our clients opt for open concept kitchens approximately 80% of the time. That statistic is not a huge surprise.
Open concept kitchens have been a growing household staple in the last 20 years or so. When you’re renovating your kitchen, the choice to make the space open concept seems to be a no-brainer these days.
If you’re hesitant to open your kitchen up to the rest of your home, you aren’t alone. Plenty of our clients still want to maintain some privacy. A separated kitchen, living room, and dining space can still work. In fact, when my wife and I renovated five years ago we opted for a separated kitchen as well.
Often our clients believe open concept kitchens will give them more kitchen space, while private kitchens are synonymous with cramped kitchens. There are ways to designing and renovating a separate kitchen that can improve functionality, comfort, and enjoyment – even when it comes to a kitchen that’s limited in size. Let’s take a look at my own kitchen to see how we maximized our space:
On the functionality side, we wanted to add as much counter space as possible. To accomplish this, pick your appliances carefully! Counter depth and built-in fridges save space as well, along with the choice not to oversize your cooktop or oven.
We chose light coloured cabinets for our own kitchen. One unified colour will create a sense of increased space in a room. This also goes for countertops and your backsplash. White marble is an option, but it’s not the most practical choice. Caesarstone offers a variety of really nice light coloured design options – I personally like their 4600 Organic White or 1411 Pure White.
Natural lighting is important to maximize space in a kitchen. Wherever possible, consider including large sliding doors, a window above your kitchen sink, or a clerestory window above the upper cabinetry. These options are sure to provide much needed natural light to your kitchen.
Speaking of lighting, good lighting in your kitchen is significant in making the space appear larger. In our kitchen, we opted for a layered lighting design that includes overhead lighting, under cabinet lighting, and some decorative fixtures. These choices were integral for bringing the right feel and function to the room we envisioned.
One particularly nice thing about having a separate kitchen is that you have the option of choosing a separate flooring from your living and dining spaces. Hardwood has grown increasingly popular for kitchens over the past few years, and provides a range of options for colours, woods, and widths. Some clients prefer porcelain flooring because of its durability and resistance to wear. Another option is cork flooring, as it tends to blend well with the other flooring on the main floor. My personal preference is hardwood, which is the choice I made for my own kitchen as it blends nicely with the other flooring on the main floor.
Kitchen seating is another consideration to make in terms of space. Do you want a kitchen table, an island, or a peninsula for seating? An island is always a good starting point if you have the space, even if it is a small island with seating for two. In our kitchen, Cathy and I chose a larger island and opted out of having a kitchen table. Our island can seat up to eight people and we think it helps tie the room together.
Shelving choices can also help maximize space or improve the feel of your room. In my home, my wife and I chose open shelving. While this means a loss of storage, we felt that it better suited our space. We made up for the loss of storage with three floor to ceiling pantries that provide all of our storage for bulk food, dry goods, utensils, spare pots and pans, small appliances, and much more. These full-sized pantries reduced our need for upper cabinets.
While open concept spaces are increasingly popular, a private kitchen shouldn’t be ruled out just because of a trend. In many homes, this choice can still work to suit your family’s needs. Want to explore your options? Give us a shout.
Free Handy Renovation Checklist: Our super helpful renovation checklist of things you don't want to forget when planning your renovation. Click here to download.
In this particular master ensuite, the placement of windows was the key element of the design.
I've listed out the elements that make the window placement of this design so unique and attractive.
The mosaic tile feature wall with 2 large clerestory windows (positioned at the top of the wall) allow natural light to fill this master ensuite while still allowing for mirrors to be placed above each sink.
These windows provide a view to the outside, the gorgeous tree tops and blue sky.
The shower positioned at the far wall is another central element is the positioning of this window. As we enter the room we have a view to the exterior, right through the shower.
Again, the window is positioned higher up on the wall so that using the shower is still private with the added advantage of showering with a view.
Both are good examples of how to position windows in a creative way that added functionality, natural light and an enhanced (daily) user experience.
It may be the smallest room in your house, but it’s certainly not the one you are using the least! Nowadays, bathrooms have become more than an afterthought when designing, renovating, or decorating your home. Whether it is a private ensuite, or a guest powder room, bathrooms now seamlessly continue the look and feel of the style of the rest of your home. Additionally, while small in square feet, bathrooms contribute enormously to the resale value of your home.
While functionality remains a main concern when designing a bathroom, there is still tons of room for creativity! From lighting to fixtures, and all other design elements in between, bathrooms offer a fantastic range of options that can completely customize the look of the room.
There is a lot to consider when renovating your bathroom. Before you start your design, soak up some helpful information and tips to make your bathroom a room you’ll love!
As mentioned, functionality is a huge concern during bathroom renovations, and should be a priority to keep in mind during your design process. Consider what your bathroom is being used for, including who is using it, and where it is located in your home. Details and functionality of a private ensuite bathroom, that only you will use, will no doubt be different than that of a main floor powder room, where any and every guest who comes to your home will no doubt visit.
You may use your own private bathroom to get ready in everyday, or even to kick back and relax in at the end of a long day. A guest bathroom with frequent visits makes easy cleaning a necessity. Differentiating between what each bathroom’s main uses are will help influence your design decisions, and will ultimately lead to a more enjoyable finished product.
As the old adage goes, the devil is truly in the details. Once you have figured out the main function of each of your bathrooms, you will be able to take the next step in making your vision a reality.
Whether you are doing a full bathroom build, a renovation, or just a simple redesign, there are a few more elements to consider.
One thing, which may be easy to overlook during design, but you will surely notice missing in the final product, is the presence of a window in the bathroom. While not always possible, the proper bathroom window placement can give your room a flood of much needed natural light, fresh air, and even a beautiful view.
Another detail, which ties in very closely with the specific functionality of the bathroom, is storage options. A guest bathroom may not need much, perhaps a vanity with cupboards to store extra soap, hand towels, and toilet paper, but an ensuite will undoubtedly need much more storage space. Think of where to put your towels, extra bottles of shower essentials, toilet paper, and even cleaning supplies. Storage should also be a main point in your design to ensure all your functionality needs are met.
After all the planning and plotting, now comes the fun part: the actual design elements of the bathroom. Don’t let the small space fool you; there are quite a few items and elements to be chosen. We’re talking: tiles, vanity, mirrors, paint colour, toilets, sinks, tubs, fixtures, not to mention all the finishing touches such as towels, curtains, and soap dispensers, to name a few.
Picking out larger elements, such as the vanity, shower or tub, and choosing design pieces that compliment those focal points could make the task of designing seem much less daunting. There are a few things to consider when picking a vanity, including placement, materials, and storage; and there are even design cheats to make your small bathroom seem bigger.
Once complete, everything should come together for one coherent, harmonized room. Remember, the bathroom should flow with the look and feel of the rest of your home. When in doubt, take inspiration from the colours, textures, and materials of the kitchen, as many of the same elements including counters and tiles, can be of a similar style!
Bathroom Renovations with Walden Homes
With the right design and details, it’s actually quite possible that the bathroom could be your favourite room in the house! At Walden, we believe that you should love your home, and every single room in it, bathrooms being no exception!
Whether you are simply updating the design elements of your out-dated bathroom, or are planning to undergo a complete bathroom renovation, we are here to help.
Bathroom renovations are some of the most versatile types of renovations you can encounter in your home. There are seemingly limitless options when you’re choosing materials, styles, and layouts. When renovating your bathroom, you should first narrow down your needs, which you can do by consulting these handy questions.
Once you’ve narrowed down what you need, it’s time to get inspired by what you want! These 7 bathrooms are sure to inspire your next remodel.
1. Picking the right bathroom floor is important in your renovation. The right tile can pull together a whole room. This photo is a perfect example of the tile pulling together the entire room.
3. If you have traditional tastes, bathrooms like this one may be perfect for you. A traditional look with a modern touch – separating a bath and shower is a modern approach to a bathroom, while the style of the tiles and vanity remain traditional.
4. If you’re working with a small space, take a look at this neutral palette, floating vanity, and lighting options. These features help keep a small space from feeling cramped and could help inspire you to open up your own space.
5. If you love to stay ahead of the curve, free-standing tubs are a big trend in bathroom renovations. Hardwood floors are also becoming a popular flooring choice for bathrooms, but you should tread carefully with this decision as humidity and moisture can severely damage the floor.
7. Do you want a more masculine design for your bathroom? This might just be your style. Besides darker cabinets contrasting the white tiles and tub, this bathroom benefits from plenty of natural light.
Are you itching to start your next renovation? Does your kitchen need an overhaul? Don’t know where to start with your big renovation plans? Take a look at these seven kitchens to inspire you next renovation.
There's no end to the possibilities when it comes to bathroom renovation; the possible combinations are almost unimaginable.
As much as there are trends and similar aspects from one design to the next, bathrooms are the most customizable room in a house. The possible combinations of materials, options, details, and layout are endless.
But don't let that scare you. Have some fun!
From possible different ways to layout of the bathroom, thousands of fixture possibilities, endless tile options, cabinetry choices, and countertop styles - the combinations of all of these make bathroom design a blank slate.
Each one is very different from the next!
This explains why bathroom renovations can be such a challenge. On the positive side, challenging in a good way that keeps things fresh and exciting.
Room for room there are more options in a washroom than in just about any other in the house. Certainly per square foot, they are most design intensive rooms and are also likely to be the most costly area of the house on a cost per square foot basis.
If you are looking to renovate one of you bathrooms, you will want to start off by narrowing things down.
Here are some tips:
What overall feeling are you looking? Is it is a kids washroom, young/older, luxury or modest, practical or detailed, large his/hers ensuite, spacious, simple functional ensuite, family bath shared, or guest bathroom. Who will be using the washroom? Family or guests? Are there accessibility requirements? Are you looking for a style that resembles a spa or more practical?
Don't forget to think of some of the more practical parts such as storage requirements, locations for hanging towels, lighting requirements, washroom venting, shower or tub niches for shampoo, floor warming, etc.
You always want to use a bathroom specialist and licensed plumber. A good quality oriented tile installer goes a long way to a successful renovation project. Plumbing and tile installation are the most critical areas that you really want to get right. Long-term performance is dependent on getting the best possible trades in to do your work. Cut back on other elements if you have to, but do not skimp in these areas.
Bathroom renovation does not have to be complicated.
If you are thinking about renovating a bathroom I suggest that you contact Cindy VanRyn is an amazing interior designer and our partner in SnapDesign + Contracting. Snap makes bathroom design simple by combining great design with hands on contracting.
You can contact Cindy: email@example.com
When you think about renovating a kitchen, the list of features and options that are available is endless and very exciting. Generally, you will consider new cabinets, contemplate increasing storage, debate between caesarstone or quartz countertops, and window shop for new appliances.
However, there is an element of your kitchen design that often goes unappreciated: kitchen windows.
No one seems to talk about kitchen windows. They are an element of your kitchen that you can look at and not even know that you are experiencing, but they are crucial to the redesign of your cooking space.
Pay attention to windows when designing your new kitchen! They may seem like an afterthought, but they hold significant influence over how your kitchen is perceived. These examples show off the importance of carefully selecting the windows for your kitchen remodel.
In this renovation, the windows run across the full back wall of the house. The back staircase was removed and relocated which allowed the repositioned kitchen to take advantage of the back wall. This made a perfect location for the kitchen sink along with an eating bar. Sitting over the honed black granite countertop gives you a perfect view overlooking the garden.
Our interior design partner, Cindy Vanryn of Snap Interior Design + Contracting, worked with us to create this beautiful space. To learn more about making use of your kitchen seating from Cindy, read more here.
This is another example of an Allenby neighbourhood kitchen renovation where a wall of windows was used to introduce a maximum amount of natural light. Prior to the renovation, the house and kitchen in particular appeared very dark. The kitchen is now bright and promotes an open feeling. The light from the kitchen filters into the adjoining hallway - making the main floor feel so much more welcoming.
Wall of Windows
If you are interested in building a wall of windows into your kitchen renovation, there are certain considerations you need to take into account. The tradeoff is that there are less upper cabinets. We've made up for this by working in full height pantries. One 5 foot wide and 8 foot tall cabinet can make up for ten to 15 feet of upper cabinets. This combination - large windows, fewer upper cabinets and the use of full height storage cabinets - makes a smaller kitchen feel much larger, more open. As an added bonus, we get a nice connection to the rear yard.
Kitchen seating requirements are central to main floor design when renovating, building new, or designing an addition. Cindy is a partner with Snap Design + Contracting.
Bruce and Cindy discuss the importance of kitchen design and seating.
An interview with Cindy VanRyn, interior designer for CVR Designs. Cindy is a partner with Walden Homes in Snap Design & Contracting. Snap makes kitchen, bathroom and interior renovations easy.
Cindy has worked with Bruce Borden and Walden Homes for seventeen years. Bruce has been renovating and building new homes with his company Walden Homes, for twenty five years.
The following is an edited transcription of the interview
Hi Cindy! How's your day going?
Things are terrific. Very excited about the new projects we're working on together!
Yeah, things are really good. Snap Design & Contacting is getting going, so I'm pretty excited about that. We've got a bunch of interesting client projects underway. So all in all, things are really good.
Why don't we get started with our interview? I want to discuss kitchen layout with you. Specifically how kitchen seating requirements are central to main floor design when renovating, doing an addition or building new.
Sounds good to me.
Cindy, we can draw from both our own personal experiences as well as our clients’. Let's look at the options and the benefits of the different ways that kitchen and eating areas are designed. Let’s get this started by talking about your own home. What setup do you have at your house? How it works, or doesn't. Let’s start there.
Sure. In my house, I have a kitchen and dining room that are open to each other. They are set up as two separate rooms, but they’re all within one larger space. They’re open to each other. I don’t have an island with stools. We sit at the table. So even without the island, when I'm in the kitchen preparing meals, discussions and conversations can continue while people are still sitting or standing around the table.
I think the big advantage to that is that you’re using more of the overall space for kitchen by having it open to a dining area. Having this flexible dining space, gives you a bigger combined space than you would have individually. Imagine that you had a closed-off kitchen and then a closed-off dining room, you'd wind up with a much small kitchen as well as a smaller dining area. At least they would feel much smaller.
Right, now, as it is, I have a bigger kitchen than I would otherwise and a bigger dining space. We're getting more flexibility by give up a bit of separation between the two areas.
But I think that’s a good trade-off, isn’t it?
It is. I mean, the kitchen’s the hub of the home. No one wants to be isolated while they’re preparing a meal or in the kitchen. So, whether the kids are doing their homework or grabbing a snack or actually eating a meal, family members tend to congregate there and it’s really nice this way.
When we look at kitchen design with a client, and seating specifically, the functionality is one of the considerations that we focus in on. The other is the amount of space - what do we have to work with? In a smaller home, having one, two or even three seating areas is not uncommon – three seating areas would be a formal dining space, a small breakfast nook or a small bump-out at the back of some houses.
I mean, there are probably some people who still want that, but certainly today, we see that this type of redundancy is as a waste. Instead of multiple tables and seating areas, many homeowners prefer to have an island with four or five stools that are used day-to-day and an open dining space that can seat eight or ten. It is much more casual. You get bigger spaces.
Yes, definitely. I mean, homes are much more open-concept than they used to be, which makes larger, more interactive rooms than they were years ago.
Yes I agree. I know that in my own house, I have an unusually shaped kitchen. Our kitchen is a square. Kitchens are usually rectangular. So, I’ve got a big oversized nearly square island that is 8' x 10' with seating for eight people. So, four on one side and four on the other. Cathy and I use the island day-to-day. The kitchen has a large open entry to an open dining area that is somewhat more formal. Our dining table will seat anywhere from eight to 16 people, depending on how much we extend the table. In our case, we gave up the separate breakfast area for a bigger island.
I think that we see that a lot with a lot of our clients. They don’t really need the three seating spaces. Two seems to work really well.
Photo Credit: Ownby Design
Cathy and I have four grown children who don’t live at home, they come and go. Most of the time it’s just Cathy and I. There are times where we’ll have one or two of the kids or sometimes they’re there with friends. We use our island all the time. The best part is that it doesn’t feel empty when it’s just the two of us. We can easily accommodate eight or ten around it, which is nice. The flexibility is great. Then, when we are entertaining, we wind up using the dining space. So, that’s pretty handy.
Another option that we’ve seen with clients, and which I don’t discount, are separate breakfast areas. A seating space with a smaller table for four or six, at the back of the kitchen. It could be set into a bay window. Or incorporate a banquette. You know, those are also nice. Cindy, would you agree that overall, things are definitely more casual than they were when we started doing this 20 plus years ago?
Yes, they definitely are. I mean, I have a client who has a formal dining room and I was looking for a buffet for her. I was having a really difficult time finding a formal buffet, because the majority of new homes and renovations with more interactive kitchens don’t have formal dining rooms. They’re either eating at a breakfast table or on their islands and foregoing the formality and having a large great room, instead of a separate traditional dining room. So, even finding furniture for a formal dining room is difficult these days.
I guess the option would be to go to something custom, which winds up getting more costly. But the market has definitely shifted. I know for a fact that we used to build with these four spaces – formal living, formal dining, kitchen and family room. Now, it’s much more likely to be three spaces, or sometimes even two. As a result you’ve got big spaces that are designed for flexible use and seating. So seating is central part of how everything is planned. It’s something that people need to think about early on, because that will dictate a lot of how things get laid out.
Photo Credit: Brookfield Residential Colorado
I'm currently working on a main floor rebuild renovation where the kitchen is being repositioned along the back wall of the house, which is a bit different. We’re using a nice sized island with stools for four and then an informal or casual dining space that’s within the large kitchen/living space. Now, the beauty of having the kitchen at the back, is that the sink has a 10- or 12-foot window facing the back yard. The whole back yard is visually open to the kitchen, which is really nice.
Do you think that defining the seating scheme and how a client and their family will use and live within the space - whether a breakfast area or an island or a dining room or some combination - is an important starting point?
Yes, that’s true. A bit earlier you mentioned banquettes. I'm still doing a lot of banquettes, because they save space and they’re also very comfortable and interesting in a layout.
A banquette can be used like a casual dining room as well, not just a kitchen.
They’re real space-savers and you get storage in them and that kind of thing. So, they’re an interesting alternative.
Is there anything else about seating or eating areas that you want to talk about?
I would just mention outdoor eating as well. A lot of people have decks and as soon as the weather gets better, they’re eating outside. They’re barbecuing. They’re eating on their decks. We like to include French doors or sliding doors out to the back yard. You know, they really bring outdoors in as part of the interior space.
Well, that’s true. You know we can now call the outdoors eating/seating space the third or the fourth eating area. I guess, in your case, it would be the second. Do you use the outdoor eating area often?
Always in the good weather, yes.
Is it out on an elevated deck or on a patio on grade?
It’s out on a stone deck, a stone patio. We use it all the time. Again, barbecuing, entertaining, you’re playing in the back yard. Everyone can be there together enjoying the weather.
You know, for us, we have a kitchen that walks right out onto grade. We open the doors and walk right out to a patio where we have a table set up. It can't be any more convenient. But we don’t really use the table much for eating. We’re out there a lot and we sit around our pool, but our kitchen opens up with a 12-foot sliding door, but we find that it’s so much easier and more comfortable to eat inside. We always have the doors opened, screens closed. It feels like we’re outdoors.
I guess that best of both It would be to have some coverage so you’ve got a table and all that, with a coverage. So you have a combination of both. That would be nice.
We’re doing, a new home design now that has outdoor eating and seating as a central element. The eating area and the barbecue area are covered, so that the owners will be able to use that with heaters for an extended period of time. They're not as weather-dependent.
Anything else that you can think of that we haven’t talked about?
One thing that relates is the unspoken taboo, the television. Unfortunately, we do sometimes eat in front of the TV, so that, again, can be, for some families, a critical component of the eating area.
Well, that’s true.
Even at breakfast, if you want to watch the news or, you know, television.
That’s a good point. Where and how the TV gets placed is important for some clients.
I know we’ve done an island, that have incorporated, not on the surface, but with an upright panel at the end of the island where the TV gets mounted. That was one of the more unusual ones I could think of. In most other cases, we just want the orientation of the island, for example, facing the TV then, I guess, you can also think of adding a small TV somewhere into the kitchen itself.
You do see that more often, yes.
One last part of seating in the kitchen would be a desk or an organizing area. Oftentimes, there’s a stool or a chair or a seating space incorporated within a kitchen for that function.
Yes. Or for a laptop computer. Again, because the kitchen is such a central part of living. We’re all on our social media and Internet and things that you do need a desk. Your mail and items like that – it’s pretty critical to have that in a kitchen as well.
I agree. And the other thing is – you had mentioned this before – kids and homework. We see clients using kitchen seating areas almost like a desk. The island, or the kitchen table or even in your case, the communal dining area, all of these now become a place for the kids to do homework. Homework is one of the things I know that clients are always thinking about as well.
Definitely, because homework is such a constant with a younger family. In my family, it was usually done while I was preparing a meal, the dinner. So, it needs to be accessible to where meals are being prepared.
That’s another reason that the open concept idea is so popular right now.
All right. Cindy, I think we’ve covered this topic. I am going to end the interview here. But thanks for doing this with me today!
We believe that adding a small addition to the back of your home can add value to your property and turn that family room or kitchen into a terrific living space in your home. They can increase room flow and allow for added elements like kitchen islands or added natural light.
A big part of making a renovation work is getting the new and existing spaces to work together. An addition does not have to be overly large to make a big improvement in how the space flows.
This ceiling was raised by 18 inches, which is a great way to increase space in an addition. In this case, it enabled us to include taller doors or windows along the back wall. These tall windows are the first thing you see when you enter the room. They bring in more natural light and creates a nice connection to the exterior.
One of the top three on the wish list to renovate is always the master ensuite. Cathy, as a realtor, how important is a master ensuite in a luxury home?
As a realtor I have to keep in mind that the buyer is the one who’s going to be inhabiting the master bedroom and ensuite, so looking at it from a realty perspective, pleasing the buyer is first and foremost on my list. This is the reason why many people say that the most important rooms in the house are the kitchen and the master bedroom. The family needs to feel comfortable in the kitchen and if there is not enough space for them, then the master ensuite is often next on the list.
Most people can live with having smaller bedrooms for their kids, or an unfinished basement they’re going to finish in the future, but if they’re feeling good in the room where they go to sleep at night, that is generally primary. I think that the master ensuite is a big component in that.
What about the space? What if we need more space for a master bathroom? Does it make sense to take away from an existing closet, or to reduce the size of another room, or even the size of the master bedroom itself to make room for the master ensuite? If you’re going to have all the items a luxury bathroom does, you definitely need the space.
Well closets are also important to buyers, so I wouldn’t eliminate too many closets, or if you have to eliminate closets, then provide room for them somewhere else. For example, if you have to take out a master bedroom closet, then it’s also important to consider putting a wall of built-in’s or something to take the place of the closet that’s now been taken out.
What are the Most Important Features in a Master Ensuite?
What are the most important features for a master ensuite? Two sinks and a separate walk-in shower seem to be pretty key. Does there need to be a bathtub and should it be a built-in tub, or stand-alone tub?
Well it really depends on the space. The most important thing is having a shower, in my opinion. Double sinks are ideal, but not overly necessary. You can still have a lovely master ensuite with just one sink. Also, placement is always very important. Few people realize how key toilet placement is. For example, when it comes to selling a buyer a house with a master ensuite, ideally the toilet isn’t the first feature that catches the eye. It’s important to have other features pop. Features like a tub, or stunning counters and faucets are important. People want to envision almost a romanticized version of a bathroom.
A large tub could potentially mean romantic baths or luxurious alone time. Two sinks can mean you and your partner each have your own space and can groom at the same time, or it could mean that the ensuite is big enough to enjoy and spread out. The toilet actually has little to do with the ensuite and obviously adds nothing to the luxury quality that we are trying to showcase.
In more elaborate homes, luxury is key. We find that items like heated floors and steam showers are two items that are commonly requested. Natural light, good ventilation, storage and counter space are always important features as well.
Storage has to be there. This includes a medicine cabinet that allows for the storage of towels, and other amenities.
Absolutely. It’s about finding the perfect mix. Also, to answer your question about the bathtub, whether it needs to be separate or not. It really depends. It is definitely fine to have a combined bath and shower if that’s all your space allows for. Many people do like the separate tub feature though. When I go out with buyers, it’s so surprising how many people look for the separate tub. It’s almost as if they have been living without a tub completely!
I had one client and that was all she looked for. She had two kids, crossed into every house just to see if there was a bathtub in the master, and that would have been the only reason she bought that house. It really depends on the buyer. Tub or not, it seems like the master ensuite holds a very important place in everyone’s heart.
Looking at our home, when we renovated, having a walk-in shower would have been the main thing that you wanted. A tub probably would have been secondary unless there’s no other tub in the house, but let’s assume that there is another tub other than the master ensuite, a tub would have been secondary.
You mean the shower would be the…primary? Yes, I agree.
Yes, the tub is definitely a bonus, but when you’re selling a house, and when you’re preparing your house to sell, you want to have a very special feature in every room. You have to be creative. You want people to walk into every room and say something like, “wow these windows are amazing,” or notice the doorknobs and hardwood floor.
In the bathroom, it’s a little different.
In the bathroom, the most captivating thing is the tub. That’s what they’re going to look at. They’re going to look at the bathtub.
Tubs are a great feature and I suppose a well-designed vanity is as well.
A vanity and shower are pretty essential. The extra wow factor comes from the tub, but it’s also a matter of improving your home over the others on your street. For example, suppose no one has a master ensuite on your street. Well, right away, you’ve improved your house in comparison to the other houses on the street. If all you can accommodate is a shower, then that might be enough for the wow factor, but if you live in an area where everyone’s got a master ensuite, you have to go that extra little bit to make yours stand out, and your house special to ensure people will walk in and say wow.
You could go downtown, to the Annex, and you’ll notice that fewer homes have a master bathroom, there’s just one bathroom on the second floor, and the whole family uses it. If your house is going to be the house that has the master, then it might be enough that it has double sinks, a beautiful shower, and that it’s a very inviting space.
Unless you’re adding space to make it stand out even more.
You’re going to add space and create a really outstanding bathroom.
Master Ensuite: Useful Or Novel?
The question is then where to spend your renovation money? Are you going to fix your kitchen, are you going to add a family room, or are you going to spend money on improving or adding an ensuite? These tend to be the three main areas that kind of drive a lot of renovations. A renovation to a master ensuite could be $25,000 to $40,000 dollars. If a client is going to be living in a home for a number of years, I think the ensuite renovation would be pretty high up on the priority list.
I think it’s pretty high. Even if you’re just going to live there five years you do it for your own enjoyment as well as for resale, but it’s definitely a plus when you’re going to resell your house. It’s an important feature people look for.
Many listings are now promoted with videos or virtual tours, and photos, and when people are looking through on the Internet or realtor.ca, whatever website they’ve looked through; they’re definitely looking to see the kitchen, the master ensuite, and the master bedroom.
Those are the things that are always included. You’re only allowed to put eight pictures on MLS, so when we put those eight pictures, we always put a picture of the front of the house, the back of the house, the master bedroom, the master ensuite, the kitchen, and if there’s a family room. There’s never a time that you would omit the master or the master ensuite because that’s what the buyer’s looking for.
That makes a lot of sense; it’s a room that gets used probably more than any other room. It sounds like it makes a lot of sense to go ahead, update, and renovate the master ensuite as part of the overall thinking of how to improve a house.
Yeah, for sure. I have clients now who tell me that they live in a 6,000 square foot condo, and that they only use two rooms in the whole house, the kitchen, and the master and the master ensuite. Empty nester’s or young couples are good examples of that.
I know any time I’ve walked anyone through our house; the biggest impression seems to be when you go into the master ensuite. It always brings out, “wow, we’d love to have something like that” with people. It’s not that our bathroom is so spectacular; it’s just that, it has all the necessary components. It’s done in a nice way. It has a lot of natural light, and incorporates a lot of the design elements that you see today. I think the master ensuite ranks right up there in terms of importance and creating interest in making a home really livable.
The Extras: Showers and Mirrors
We talked about the importance of a double tub and how that may attract some people, but what about the shower?
The shower is really stepping up a notch in homes when it comes to luxury. Some people are even putting steam components in their shower. Imagine coming home from a workout and enjoying a steam. It’s the height of luxury. It’s incredibly novel for people to be able to do this in their own homes. I’ve even seen saunas as well!
A body spray in the shower, multiple rain heads, benches for sitting and relaxing. These types of features are very desirable.
Some people go in the showers and they bathe their younger kids too. A couple can go into together and enjoy a shower, or if you have a double tub you can enjoy a beautiful bubble bath at the end of the day.
Building a bathroom that’s functional, practical, well lit, easy to maintain, has good storage, and adding then the other elements, such as luxurious steam shower. Even if you only use the luxurious elements from time to time, they still seem to be important and a big priority for many people.
Yes. Some people don’t use these things at all; they just like the idea of them. For example, you meet with your contractor, and say we’ve always wanted to have a double tub, and then, the reality may be you only take a bath together once, but the whole idea of it being there, and that option being there is what you’re looking for. It’s romantic and keeps possibilities open.
What do you think about mirrors?
Well, a lot of people don’t consider mirrors they’re renovating, but I think buyers look for it. Well-positioned mirrors in the bathroom are important because it’s where you do your make-up or your hair. It’s where you get ready for your day or night. People are looking for good lighting like you said before which is really important, and then, well positioned mirrors so you can see the back of your head, and blow dry your hair, or put your make-up on.
Mirrors add more than just decorations and you can be creative with them. They don’t have to be just mirrors that are stuck to a wall. It is a useful feature that you can play with and one that can, make your bathroom even more beautiful. The mirrors can also add space as they give the illusion that the room’s bigger than it is.
They’re not really that costly. When you look at the overall costs, you can make a room feel much bigger, and using the right combination of lighting and mirror really does, make it functional from a man’s point of view for shaving, and from a woman’s for putting on make-up and getting ready. So, yes I agree, that’s a great idea.
If you have any more questions for Bruce and Cathy on renovation your mater ensuite, please feel free to ask away below!
Are you in love with this custom kitchen design like we are? Designs like this one always inspire our work and we love to point out key elements so they can help inspire and inform your renovation dreams.
Our team of experts dissect this design from top to bottom:
Waterfall edge on the island.
Countertop and backsplash is a Calcutta Marble.
The cabinetry is stained a rich maple brown that contrasts with the white/light colours of countertop and floor.
The elongated cylindrical fixtures over the island not only provide lighting, but also fill the space without crowding it.
The built-in wall ovens tucked into the corner are well positioned and frame the kitchen. The kitchen has a very quiet, subtle feeling to it.
The drop in counter top gas cooking range is not overpowering and very complementary to the space.
The island is 36 inches wide and 12 inches long and is the central element in the overall design (can’t you just imagine the family and friends gathering and collecting around this space).
Two sinks have been added to this kitchen design. One small sink has been placed on the main cabinet wall for preparing and cutting, with the main sink being centered on the island. This creates two separate work areas in the kitchen and makes the space function even larger.
Concealed kitchen venting hood set included in the cabinetry that is simple and clean looking as well as an exterior mounted blower for the fan that is quiet and powerful.
The island stools are a great feature that would definitely be used and look nice and comfortable.
The built-in seating below the window is a great place to sit, sip your cup of coffee and enjoy the view to the backyard.
Any other elements and/or features jump out at you? Please share your thoughts with us!
During one of our latest whole house re-build projects, we tackled a master ensuite renovation. The owners opted for a vanity with one sink rather than trying to squeeze two sinks into a tight space. Making this decision allowed for a larger walk-in shower and more spacious feeling overall.
While many homeowners feel compelled to have two sinks in a master ensuite, we believe that a more spacious layout is a preferable option if there is not adequate space. As a general rule, a vanity should be at least six feet in length if it is going to comfortably fit two sinks.
The floating vanity sits off the floor allowing the tile to continue; this creates a larger sense of space. The vanity has three drawers that pull out to provide a favourable amount of storage. There is a corner cabinet as well with open shelving that can be used for more toiletries.
The caesarstone countertop paired with an undermount sink is simple and practical. The sink faucets, cabinetry hardware and hand towel bar mounted to the side of the cabinet are all satin nickel finish.
Overall Lesson: Remember that when it comes down to it, we recommend you opt for a more spacious layout rather than trying to squeeze every last piece you desire into a room.
Even if you're a minimalist who prefers to keep the area under your wall cabinets clear, installing some undercabinet lighting could be worth your consideration. Undercabinet lights provide crucial illumination for food prep and, if they are also dimmable, can work well as a nightlight once the kitchen is closed for the evening or for the member in your household who enjoys a good midnight snack!
Take a look at this PDF with some great information on undercabinet lighting. We also have the following two videos that can help guide your decision.
Walden Video: Why You Want Under-Cabinet Lighting
Walden Video: Tips On Designing Kitchen Accent Lighting
We are thrilled with our latest kitchen transformation. Our clients purchased the house because of its many great qualities, but the kitchen, unfortunately, was not one of them.
The existing kitchen had limited and difficult-to-use counter space. The appliances were oddly placed and the cabinetry aesthetics were out of date and did not keep up with the noticeable quality in other areas of the house.
Shortly after our client purchased the home, we began to work with our kitchen designer and cabinet builder to create a with new layout that made much better use of the existing space. The day that our clients closed on the home, our crew was able to begin with the kitchen renovation. We completely gutted the kitchen and the plan unfolded as follows:
The appliances were repositioned and are now easily accessed.
This kitchen transformation was planned & completed on a compressed schedule, allowing our clients to move in without the inconvenience of living through a renovation. For ideas on how you to plan your kitchen transformation, contact us for a free consultation.
When designing, renovating and building new kitchens, one of the most requested elements is island seating. Larger and smaller kitchens can take advantage of this feature. Seating three to six is most common.
Rather than having two levels on the island, we prefer to design the kitchen all at one level with a continuous countertop. The island becomes one large surface that can be multi-purposed. Used for eating, cooking, homework, entertaining or just reading the paper with your morning coffee, the kitchen island can become one of the most central parts of your home.
The size of island can vary from 3' wide by 6' in length to 4' by 12'. The islands that we build for our our clients are all custom built in our cabinetry makers shop in the north end of Toronto.
Here is a video that Rob did that looks at the design options of kitchen islands:
More and more clients are using the words “clean and simple” do describe their style preference. These words as they extend into various elements of a renovation require different building techniques.
Take this shower, for example. What we are looking at is a curb-less shower, one where the floor of the washroom and floor of the shower are continuous. This creates a seamless clean appearance as well as better accessibility.
There are a number of technical challenges to building a cureless shower – one that does not flood the washroom floor or create ongoing water leakage to the room below.
We’ve worked closely with a number of design partners as well as our tile installation contractor and plumbing contractor to devise a cost effective approach to creating a seamless shower floor.
How do you feel about a curb-less shower? Would you incorporate this design in your home?
In many homes in Toronto, we often work within a standard 5' wide x 7' to 8' long bathroom. Enough room for a tub/shower, vanity and toilet.
One technique that we like to use to make the room feel a bit bigger is to use a floating vanity, like the one pictured here. The vanity is hung off the wall rather than running down to the floor. The floor tile runs below vanity and makes the room feel more spacious.
Yes, you lose some of the storage space in the vanity but we can make up the lost space by incorporating a recessed medicine cabinet and some shelving about the toilet.
Photo Credit: Zeroenergy Design
See this video about a narrow washroom, made to feel more spacious.
When a kitchen allows for it, we like to include two kitchen sinks. If you're a fan of cooking, you'll probably agree. The second sink eases congestion at clean-up and meal preparation time. It can also be used as a prep sink, allowing for two separate work areas.
The ideal location for a second sink is in an island, then in one of the other runs if possible. If that doesn't work, it is possible to have the two positioned in the same run of cabinetry.
Vegetables can be cleaned and pasta can be drained in one, while oversized pots and pans are easier to drain in the other.
5 things we notice about these countertop details:
# 1 is showing a bull nose profile. This is a detail that is considered a timeless classic - great for traditional kitchens. Most homeowners are selecting something a bit more contemporary these days.
#2 features a waterfall countertop detail. The way to make stone countertops a focal point is to run them vertically down the edge of the island.
# 3 is a french cove detail. This is a more traditional detail, but it can be contrasted with a modern sink set against more traditional cabinetry. There are many combinations that can work beautifully.
# 4 is a mixed glass counter with a slightly eased and miltered corners. This is a more contemporary edge profile that suits kitchens of various styles.
# 5 also has a slightly eased edge with somewhat softer rounded corners. This is contemporary that works comfortably in many kitchen styles.
It would be wrong to categorize white vanities as a trend when it comes to home decor in Toronto. They are something that we have seen over the course of our work for many years. When it comes to renovating washrooms, a white vanity really is the easiest thing to use and something that will look good for years to come.
This applies to all styles of homes, including those that are more temporary, modern, traditional or transitional.
Countertop materials can add some variation to a white vanity, as well backsplash tile and other color elements that are used in the bathroom. Paint colors, lighting selections, as well as cabinetry hardware selections will also provide different elements to customize a white vanity. Who says white has to be boring?
When it comes to Toronto bathroom renovations, we are finding that more and more homeowners are looking to add a contemporary feel to their bathrooms. The popular trend is to go with a freestanding tub as pictured above.
Freestanding tubs are not only attractive, they are also a great option for bathrooms that are not overly large, as they provide a bigger sense of space with more open floor when compared to the older styles that are built-in. As a result, we are seeing fewer of these older style tubs in newer renovations.
A Bit of Bathroom Renovation History
In the past, many master bedroom suite tubs or luxury bathrooms were surrounded by stone or even a step. Today, freestanding tubs can come with either contemporary or traditional detailing. In our day to day work, we see both styles.
The tub filler that stands next to the tub usually has a hand held component to it as well and there are soaker options or more costly air jet options.
If you're considering renovating your bathroom and live in the Greater Toronto Area, contact Walden Homes today for a free project estimate.
In homes of any size, we can always find a place for something as useful / functional / central as a computer station, mail gathering location or family event calendar location.
This small desk area, 2′ wide by 2′deep, is all that was needed here to set up a functional communication hub. Kitchens are a good place for these as they tend to be the heart of any family home. Useful for organizing computer necessities, mail etc. For some, four square feet is all that is needed. The computer is set up on a bar height cabinet, set just off to the side of the severy area, at the entrance to the side hallway, really tucked away.
There are many other variations to this application, the point is that it is highly functional and it does not take up much space. Just find the space for it and design it to work best for you.
Extra things we like about this space:
-Nice end panel.
-Granite counter to tie into kitchen.
-Useful use of 4 sq st.
Do you think you could make space this small work for you?
While few people these day’s actually have a butler, many homes still contain a butler’s pantry. So how does one make functional use of such an outdated feature?
This particular butler’s pantry is located between the kitchen and dining room, acting as a passthrough between the kitchen and dining room.
This is a great space for storing dishes, decorative flowers, plates or vases. For the dining room, it can contain a wine fridge, a small sink and a little countertop where coffee can be served, making it a great staging area for serving guests.
This particular butler’s pantry is functional and elegant, a terrific feature for a house. In order to be functional, a butler’s pantry doesn’t have to be big, a space of 4′ x 5′ would do. The doors on either end can be open to create a larger sense of the space.
What do you think about having a butler’s pantry in today’s home? Decorative? Waste of space? Or just a nice, functional feature?
How much do you rely on your kitchen cabinets? Could you ever conceive of a functional kitchen that had no upper cabinets? Few people can. However, it is possible to have a stunningly gorgeous kitchen that is also extremely functional.
The above photo demonstrates a good example of a large galley kitchen without any upper cabinets. It has countertop to ceiling windows that offer a great view of the rear yard over the sink, which is usually nicer to look at than a wall while working cooking, cleaning and washing up.
So how do you deal with the storage component? Organization is key in order to make this type of kitchen work. The bottom drawers must be fitted with appropriate racking and storage systems. In addition to this, floor to ceiling pantries can make up for loss space.
The large island allows for an overview of the family room, which is also a nicer view than walls and cabinets. A kitchen like this truly opens up a home.
Do you think you could be able to make the switch from upper cabinets to lower ones?
This is an example of Walden Homes transforming a home for our clients in order to address lifestyle needs.
Often, the central issue for most people is organization. Clients are generally looking for a structure to follow. Once the structure is in place after the renovation, living and functioning day to day is much more comfortable. A sense of place for everything simplifies things.
Above is the perfect example of function , lifestyle and organization:
Note the floor-to-ceiling wall of book shelving. This particular family loves to read. Books are central to how they spend their time together. A sun-filled room is a wonderful, quiet space to enjoy reading and relaxing.
The uniform shelving compartments with the illuminated rectangular art display sections adds a unique touch. The ladder with sliding rail also makes the book shelves a special feature to the house.
Do you believe that effective organization is the perfect way to compliment design? What room of the house would you love to have organized more effectively?
This is an example of a narrow galley kitchen, an older style that required minimal updates such as new appliances, fixtures, countertops, and backsplash. But, doing all of this without keeping in mind that the kitchen was isolated from the rest of the house would have been a mistake.
Adding an opening to the adjoining room gives the opportunity to implement an eating bar and it also creates a visual connection to other areas of the house. Therefore, when working in the kitchen, the cook is no longer isolated. This also allows easier entertaining.
The smaller kitchen suddenly feels much larger without adding the extra cost of having to build an addition.
The eating bar can be used on a daily basis for tasks such as eating, having coffee in the morning or temporarily placing objects. The kids can do their homework after school, as well. This opening adds to the overall functionality of the home. It is a gathering place and central to the overall flow of the house.
Love the look of this kitchen? Let’s take a look at all the separate aspects that make it such a stunning room:
1- Large window over the kitchen sink: This helps to open up the kitchen to the rear of the house which creates a visual connection to the terrace.
2 – Uppers on either side of the window: – The use of frosted glass ties nicely into the window creating a very open feeling along this wall. The room, in turn, looks more spacious and welcoming.
3 – “Heavy” kitchen components are on the other side: Note the kitchen appliances are all on the opposite side of the kitchen, drawing the eye directly to the window. The gas stove, large hood fan, 48″ stainless steel fridge, double ovens are on the other side.
4 – The centre island: This component is critical to the overall functionality of this kitchen. It not only provides a good working area, it also offers a second sink and seating for 3.
5 – Feature wall in behind the gas range and hood fan: This in conjunction with the stone backsplash runs from counter top to ceiling accentuates the height of the room, helping to create a sense of balance to the length of this wall.
6 - Simple cabinetry: White framed cabinets using flat lacquered doors. and very minimalist detailing on the upper crown and light valence makes for a modern, clean look.
7 – Countertop: A blend of white calacatta marble on the island with a black granite on the other areas of the kitchen is a great combination that attracts the eye.
8- Flooring: A natural finish to a wide plank pine ties in nicely with the white cabinets and light colour walls.
All in all, this kitchen design is a hit in our books.