Fireplace Renovation With a New Custom Cabinet and Floating Shelves: Before and After

My client’s family room had a red brick fireplace that dominated the space and she wanted a change. Because of the odd size and the lack of a mantel, the fireplace seemed out of place and unfinished. And since the client wanted to upgrade to a remote-controlled energy-efficient gas insert, this was the perfect time to redesign the fireplace surround. A full fireplace renovation was in order. In the end, she wanted her fireplace to complement the look and feel of the rest of her home that we had updated and transformed over the years.

Custom cabinet and floating shelves with new fireplace surround

After

Fireplace Renovation With a New Custom Cabinet and Floating Shelves: Before

Here’s the before:

red brick fireplace surround before renovation

Before

full wall view with red brick fireplace

Fireplace wall before

A fireplace is always a focal point in any space. When choosing fireplace design materials, there are a few considerations: the overall aesthetic that the client preferred, the style of the home, and proper scale of the surround. What will hang above it (if anything) is an additional consideration, whether it’s a TV or decorative objects such as a mirror or artwork.

Fireplace Renovation With a New Custom Cabinet and Floating Shelves: After

For the fireplace surround, we decided on a light, neutral tone ledgestone tile from Julian Tile. The contractor, Vaile Long from All the Right Angles, did a fabulous job rebuilding the fireplace frame and tiling the surround.

fireplace ledgestone tile with wood mantel

I suggested that we create a built-in cabinet on one or both sides of the fireplace surround and the client opted to go with a built-in on the left side only since she already had a freestanding sideboard on the right side.

We talked about our options for the wall above the cabinet and whether we should design a full height box with shelves, have floating shelves or leave the space open for a large piece of art. In the end, we decided on floating shelves so my client could use the space to display photos, art, accessories and books.

pictures and vases on floating shelves

Floating shelves styled with personal items

The custom cabinets were built and installed by troico, based out of Coquitlam, BC. They really did an excellent job with the finishing of the cabinet and shelves. The client especially appreciated that they scribed the cabinet to the ledgestone tile of the fireplace surround.

built-in white cabinet with wood top next to fireplace

Cabinet built by troico

To keep the wood tones similar, we specified a close match of the wood stain colour for the mantel and the cabinet top from the client’s sideboard, and from the wood flooring. Years ago we had selected the wall colour, Dry Sage by Benjamin Moore, and the client still loved it so we left it as it.

We wanted the space to feel fresh and up-to-date while maintaining the style of the finishes to have a subtle nod to traditional roots. The medley of the white painted wood, the rich wood tones, and a classic stone finish accomplish just that.

Brown chair and new fireplace

Speaking of renovations, you’ll also want to check out how we transformed our outdated bathroom into a modern spa.

Want even more interior decor inspiration? Follow me on Instagram!

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Screen Roller Shades: How They Work, and Which Type is Right for You

I get a lot of questions about screen roller shades.

I’d like to take some time to go over different types of screen roller shades, how they work, and what you need to consider before choosing one.

What do people mean when they ask for a blind that they can see out, but people can’t see in?

The blind that most people ask for is screen roller shades.

These type of blinds tend to be called roller shades, or solar shades, screen shades or those kind of shades that Starbucks has.

They are basically a mesh or screen material and they all have a different openness factor. Openness simply refers to how tight the weave is, which directly reflects the amount of light that is let in through the fabric. Here’s another way of thinking of it: the tighter the weave, the smaller the holes in the material. There are a range of material types that have small holes (tighter weave) or larger holes (looser weave). The smaller or fewer the holes, the less you can see through the material. The larger the holes in the screen, the more you can see through. Larger holes mean more sun can shine through and people can see through more at night time.

outside looking in through a solar screen shade

Outside looking in through a solar screen shade

Another way to put it is that this type of blind only exists in the daytime. When you are inside and it’s light outside, you can see outside through the blind. This is because it’s brighter outside than it is inside your house or condo. But at night time, when it’s bright inside and its dark outside, people can see what is the brightest, which is inside your home or condo; the same way that you can see the outside through your blind during the day.

That openness factor is defined by a percentage.

Openness visibility guide for solar shades

The most common range is 0-10%. 0 means that there are is no weave (no holes); it’s a solid material. This is used when you want to block all the light, we call it a blackout material. This is a great option for bedroom windows or TV/media rooms.  1% openness lets light through, but you typically won’t see objects outside. The holes are so small that you can’t see through to make out any identifiable shapes.  2-3% has slightly larger holes. This option is a good one for letting in light and for you to see the outline or the shape of objects outside. It gives you some privacy.

1 percent openness solar screen

A solar screen with 1% openness. Photo by Nancy DeVries

Next is 5%, which is great for when you have a view you want to see, but you want sun protection. You might have a lot of sun coming through and you want to have sun and solar heat protection. This screen will tone down the glare that is coming through the windows, so you can watch TV and sit in your bright room without wearing your sunglasses.

5 percent openness solar screen

A solar screen with 5% openness. Reduces sun glare while preserving the view. Photo by Nancy DeVries

Open roll roller shades in 5% solar shade from Hunter Douglas

Open roll roller shades in 5% solar shade by Hunter Douglas

Next openness range is 10-14%. Bigger holes, bigger views, best visibility. This screen only diffuses the sunlight, it doesn’t block the sun. It will soften the sunlight.  I like to suggest going with a black fabric which really does help tone down the glare. The black fabric will absorb the light. When the fabric is white, it reflects more light, so you have more brightness. The great thing about black fabric with the solar shade is that the eye sees through the black mesh material a lot easier than when it’s white, because it’s bright outside. You can hold up the two different coloured materials to see the difference.

What are some other advantages of screen roller shades?

The great thing about having roller shades on windows where you have a view is that when they are rolled all the way up, they roll onto the tube so there is no stack hanging down covering your window. The roller tube can be installed as is or it can be covered with a painted metal fascia or a fabric covered cassette headrail. The painted metal fascia can be square or curved, great for giving windows a clean, simple appearance. The cassettes are typically curved and covered in the same fabric as the roller shade. It is a softer, more decorative look for windows that might have drapery panels and or decorative moulding around the window. Both of these coverings are either 3” or 4” high, depending on the size of the roller shade.

screen roller shades

Screen roller shades give windows a clean, simple appearance.

Roller shades can be manually operated with a pull chain or motorized. When I say motorized, that means the shade has a motor in the tube and the blind is operated by you pushing a button on a remote. Simple, right?

Now when I say the motorized shades can be automated, that means that you can purchase a Hub (like a router) which will allow you to operate your motorized shades through an app on your smartphone or tablet. Most manufacturers have created apps that allow you to schedule times when you shades will operate. How cool is that? So, when you are away from home and the sun comes out and is shining into your home, warming it up and fading your hardwood floors, you can open the app on your phone and close your blinds.  So convenient!

These are some quick guidelines about screen roller shades. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me at info@urbanaesthetics.ca

 

For all things related to window coverings, leave a comment below if you would like to receive the Hunter Douglas The Art of  Window Dressing brochure (British Columbia residences only).

Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook for even more design inspiration!

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Bathroom Renovation Story: How My Husband and I Transformed our Vintage 60’s Bathroom into a Modern Spa

My husband and I moved into our rancher home 8 years ago—and while it had good bones and character, it was in need of some serious updates and modernization. We both agreed that a master bathroom renovation should be our first priority.

Before the Reno: A Tired and Out-of-Style Bathroom

The original 56 square foot ensuite built in the 60’s included a lilac coloured sink, bathtub and toilet. The grout and tiles on the countertop were stained and loose. The overhead lighting was inadequate and the bathroom lacked a door, making it completely open to the attached closet.

Ensuite before bathroom renovation on a budget

Shower/tub before

60's bathroom cabinet and lilac sink

Ensuite before reno

The dated tile in tub/shower enclosure desperately needed to be replaced, and not just for reasons of style. The dropped ceiling above the tub made the space dark and small.

The existing layout of the fixtures worked for us but instead of a bathtub, we preferred a barrier-free, (or curbless) walk-in shower with sliding glass doors.

During: The Process of Learning Where to Save

Putting in our own sweat equity for our renovations really helps with the budget, and an added bonus is that my husband is a carpenter. Our budget for this project was around $10,000 and I knew that was going to be tight.

The first savings that we had was purchasing our luxury shower kit on sale at Cantu Bathrooms and Hardware. Even before we had started the renovation we had purchased these pieces. I realize that not everyone is able to do this if you don’t know what the design is going to be, but since we were going to be tearing down to the studs in this bathroom, we could make this kit work in whatever configuration we came up with. Because we bought these items when we saw them on sale, the significant savings allowed us to purchase luxury pieces that we normally could not have afforded.

Dornbracht shower fixtures

Dornbracht rain shower and hand shower

The second savings I had was with the floor tile. Again, I purchased these tiles before we had started the renovation. I had received an email from a tile showroom that they were having a sale. Truthfully, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was looking for but I had a feeling that I would know what I wanted when I saw it. I went to the sale knowing the square footage of the bathroom floor so that when I found something, I could confirm there would be enough tiles— an important tip to remember when buying tiles on sale. There’s a reason why they are on sale; stock may be low and they want to move the remaining tiles out of the warehouse.

shower floor porcelain linear tile

A third savings was that I was able to keep my Hunter Douglas Vignette Roman Shade blind in the bathroom window since we did not change the window. I love that the blind operates by holding the handle on the bottom rail, eliminating the use of pull cords. This type of blind is energy efficient by keeping the cold out and blocking the afternoon heat in the summer.

Vignette Shade from Hunter Douglas

Vignette Roman Shade from Hunter Douglas

And finally, we saved by doing the labour ourselves—from the demolition to the final coat of paint.

After: The Reveal and Finishing Custom Touches

I fell in love with the wall tile right away when I saw it at another tile showroom. They are a porcelain tile that look like marble, but at a fraction of the price of marble—and without the long-term maintenance.

The custom-made wall niche was designed and built, keeping in mind the size of personal hygiene bottles. It’s very important to review the size and number of bottles that you will use every day to ensure you have enough space on the shelf for them all. You don’t want to be picking up bottles from the floor when you could have them right beside you.

Budget saving - build your own shower niche and edge with quartz

Tiling the shower niche. We edged the niche with quartz.

walk-in shower with custom built wall niche in bathroom renovation

Walk in shower

The shower controls are conveniently positioned by the shower entry for ease of use. It does not have to be right under the rain shower. A hand-held showerhead is perfect for cleaning the shower and for when you just want to wash off your feet. The slightly sloping floor in the shower directs the water flow to the trough drain located along the side wall. We chose a sliding glass shower door from RONA since it is a narrow bathroom and every bit of room counts.

In-floor heating was my personal request because my feet are always cold in the winter. I wanted warmth and comfort wherever I’m standing in the bathroom, including the floor of the walk-in shower. We used the Nuheat Cable System in this bathroom because of the larger area that we needed to cover and we didn’t want to wait for a custom-built mat. When we renovated our main bathroom, we used the Nuheat Stand footprint cause it was a smaller foot print that was the same size as a standard mat.

My husband had the idea to have the wall-to-wall custom floating cabinets and I loved the idea. I chose a walnut laminate for the cabinets. I love the mid-tone colour of walnut and I find it adds warmth to the space. The doors and drawers are touch-to-open for a clean, minimalist look. The upper cabinet offers additional storage for toiletries.

Floating cabinets with motion activated LED lights in bathroom renovation story

Floating cabinets with motion activated LED lights below

Underneath the floating cabinet is a motion sensor light, with an optional colour changing feature which is useful as a night light or for ambient lighting when using the shower.

The white quartz countertop with a rectangular under mount sink and single lever faucet add to the minimalist style of this spa-like bathroom.

Dornbract single lever faucet, undermount sink

Single lever Dornbracht faucet

As a supplement to the recessed ceiling lights, the mirror mounted linear lights from Sonneman frame the single under mount sink, allowing the light to land where it is needed most. Luxe chrome bathroom fixtures add sparkle and functional style.

Bathroom renovation: Modern lights mounted on mirror

Contemporary linear lights mounted on the mirror

Bathroom renovation by Urban Aesthetics

And a final detail worth noting is that a pocket door now separates the ensuite from the master walk-in closet.

space saving pocket door in bathroom renovation

New pocket door. A great space saving feature.

My favourite features of this bathroom renovation are the curbless walk-in shower and how bright this room feels, even though it is a narrow space.

Walk-in shower of new bathroom renovation

Walk-in shower

 

Have you renovated your out-dated bathroom? What was your best cost saving purchase?

If you are struggling with selecting materials and products for your bathroom renovation, book a consult with a professional who can give you tips and ideas that could save you time and money.

 

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Q&A: How to Cover Angle-Shaped Windows Without Blocking all the Light.

As a certified window covering dealer for over 15 years, I get asked to help find the right window covering for many types of specialty shaped windows.

And I will be the first to say that I can find the perfect window covering because I have a very talented and skilled window covering installer backing me up. His knowledge and experience compliment my product knowledge and design aesthetic and together we measure (sometimes re-measure) to ensure a perfect end result for the client.

That experience led us to be involved with a colleague’s client who needed to replace the blinds on their 3 angled windows.

Question: I have 3 angle-shaped windows and I need a window treatment for them. What type of blinds can fit these windows without blocking all the light?

Angled top shaped windows need new window covering

Before

Answer:  Blinds for angled windows are not items you can buy off the shelf at your local hardware or home decor store. They need to be custom made from a template that is sent to the manufacturer. An experienced window coverings installer would make the template and install the custom made blind.

There are a surprising number of custom window treatments for your angled windows. Here are my top five specialty shaped blinds for angled windows:

1. Woven wood shades

Woven wood shades are made from natural grasses and reeds which add a unique natural style to your windows. Made to order for a perfect fit for the rectangle and angled-shaped windows. On a specialty angle-shaped window, they will only raise up to the bottom point of the angle. The angled part will be covered with an extra-long valance.

Woven woods angle top shades

Woven woods angle top shades. Photo from Hunter Douglas

2. Roman Shades

Roman shade blinds are a classic style of window covering. The soft fabric fold fabrics are available in a wide range of patterns, textures, and colours. The fabric can be lined to be light filtering or blackout. In an angle-shaped window, they would be made as a stationary covering.  The same would be true for other specialty shaped blinds such as hexagon, octagon, oval and arch.

Angle windows roman shade

Vignette roman shade by Hunter Douglas

3. Shutters

Polyvinyl or wood shutters are a perfect fit for triangle windows.  Durable louvers move individually inside the custom built frame, offering the most custom light control of any of the specialty shaped window treatment options. If the louvers are made stationary because of the size of the window, they would be placed in an open or closed position. Shutters can be custom built for most specialty shaped windows.

Shutter custom for triangle windows

Shutter custom built for triangle windows

4. Cellular Shades

Cellular shades made for angled windows can be stand-alone stationary shades or mounted over any rectangular shade.  They are lightweight and do not have a large head rail or bottom rail.

They are energy efficient because the fabric is a honeycomb shape. This traps the air coming through the window, which insulates the room from outdoor heat and cold air. The honeycomb fabric can be light filtering or opaque. The latter is typically preferable for sleeping quarters and media rooms. In the photo below, another client chose this type of blind for their large specialty shaped windows because they needed sun protection without blocking too much of their view and daylight.

Duette by Hunter Douglas angled top and triangle shades

Duette by Hunter Douglas angled top and triangle shades. Photo by Nancy DeVries

5. Sheer horizontal shades

Different manufacturers will have different design styles for this product in a specialty shape window. One manufacturer will have only a bottom rail and clear clips holding the fabric at the top of the window. This option is preferred by those who do not want raised trim around their window frames.

Another manufacturer builds a custom shutter frame, inserting the sheer fabric inside. You can choose to have the fabric vanes in an open or closed position.

This is what the client who asked the above question decided to go with.

A template is made for the manufacturer to ensure a picture-perfect fit.

template for custom window covering. Do-Rite Installations

The end result. Sheer shades in a custom built frame, providing privacy and light control for the client’s overheight angled windows.

Custom sheer horizontal shades by Maxxmar

Sheer horizontal shades by Maxxmar. Photo by Nancy DeVries

If you have a window that is not a standard size window and you would like to learn more about custom window coverings, call or email Nancy to find out what your options are.

Here are the links to the window covering manufacturers that I use:

Hunter Douglas 

Maxxmar

Elite Window Fashions

 

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Use wallpaper to add style to your home

Wallpaper today is not your grandma’s wallpaper. It’s now trendy to use wallpaper as a way to add style to your home in a way that’s unique and pretty cool.

Use wallpaper to add style to your plain white walls

Recently I helped a client find wallpaper for their downtown condo. The boring builder’s white walls did nothing for this modern space. We looked through several wallpaper books and our final selection was quick and decisive because they just seemed perfect for the space; a zigzag pattern in metallic soft gold for the bathroom and a wide horizontal stripe for the hallway and living room.  Once we selected the wallpaper, we matched a paint colour for the other walls.

 

wallpaper and matching paint colour

Wallpaper final choices with paint sample

Wallpaper has been ordered, received and ready for installation!

 Wallpaper adds style and changes the look of any room

JF Fabrics Wallcoverings – Calligraphy Collection

Use wallpaper to create a feature wall

In the living room, we decided to do a feature wall and chose the wall behind the sofa to be wallpapered.

wallpaper adds style, horizontal stripe wallpaper

Before & After Living room wall

Use wallpaper to define the spaces in your home

In the bathroom, all the walls were wallpapered to give it a dose of oomph. And the long wall in the hallway needed some drama which is exactly what the wide horizontal stripe wallpaper does to this space.

use wallpaper to add style

Before & After Bathroom and Hallway

The client really liked how the wallpaper transformed the look and feel of the condo. The wallpaper defines the various areas in the small condo and personalized them.

What do you think? Are you looking to add some style to your condo? Check out our Instant Aesthetics e-design package where you hire us to help you do up one room in your home. It’s that simple.

 

Related links:

Small space condo furnishing

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