Everyone agrees that amongst some of the biggest surprises brought on by the Covid-19 Pandemic, is the trend towards home improvement. The obvious need for a home school, home office or two in many cases and the need for at home entertainment in light of the lockdowns, cannot be understated. I drive my neighborhood and see painter’s vans, contractor’s trucks and huge dumpsters everywhere. I hear construction in many of the neighborhoods I sell. It is clear, that the home needs to be more functional and versatile than ever. Since home improvement is not going away anytime soon, I thought I’d run through a few of the interesting things I’ve discovered and even some I’ve implemented in my own home.
It’s not novel to say that the kitchen is the most important room in the house. However, the trend towards open and great room floorplan design/re-modification, does create an issue with the messy kitchen, especially when multiple people are working from home. One solution making its way onto the scene is what De Giulio Kitchen Design of Chicago has named, the Layered Kitchen. The concept is that you have the “show” kitchen and the “prep” kitchen. The former being the center island often with stools for casual dining or working on a laptop, that is open to the family room for all to see. Clean and open. The latter is described as a prep kitchen, but this doesn’t have to be a second full sized kitchen rather, a back area or sectioned off partial room. It can even part of an adjacent laundry. This back “layer” would have a disposal sink, maybe a second dishwasher and a small workspace for cutting and chopping. Your blender and food processor and maybe even coffee station can be part of this “second kitchen” as well. Again, this doesn’t have to be a huge space, rather one that is just large enough to get the prep work done, but small enough that it’s out of sight and can be closed off. It is not intended to take a ton of space from some other part of the house. Many of our Asian communities have adopted a similar idea for cooking with a wok. We find the “wok kitchen” listed as an exciting upgrade feature in many high-end homes in places like San Marino and Arcadia (Search for homes here). Often, all it consists of is a place with a single burner gas range and a wok-holding grill and of course a super powerful vent hood.
Another interesting remodeling trend is the granny flat or ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit). I have written about these before, but in an article I read by designer Barbara Ballinger, she suggests people are putting a shed in the back and not just for storage (which is a huge problem with so many studying and working out of the home) but rather, as an office or play room as well as a visitors’ sleeping quarters. Now before you start imagining some chainsaw horror flick or grandpa’s tin shed filled with lawn tools and spiders and smelling of gasoline, check out this Boulder Colorado company called Studio Shed. These guys are doing some amazing things. Like a number of companies out there, they are offering prefabricated ADU’s but they are also offering prefabricated sheds. These “sheds” start at 8’x10’ and can go as large as 10’x18’. You can get them with prewired electric, windows, doors including walls of glass and French doors. I mean, these things are cool! Some are even designed to be music studios, an amenity very dear and close to my heart. (Read about Tim here) I priced one out at 10’x12’ or the size of a typical bedroom, added electric, French doors with dark aluminum and a wall of glass, with cedar shake siding (so we’re talking tricked out by their standards) and the total was $24,248! Now of course this doesn’t include permits if required nor does it include the footings, deck or pad that the shed needs to be mounted to, but still, that’s amazing and it looks so cool!
It’s important to know that you don’t have to spend a fortune to make really nice and inspirational improvements to your home. Paint is always a good idea and guess what? Color is making a comeback! Whether that’s color of cabinets or walls, bold is back. Houzz reports in their Kitchen Remodeling Trends of 2021, that while white cabinets still remain most popular, there’s a move afoot to have the lower cabinets have color, while the uppers remain white. Hardware is another place to make improvements too. If you have a tract home, maybe it’s time to change the door hardware from the 1990’s brass to something different. One modest change if you don’t want to replace all the hardware, is to use gold hardware on cabinet pulls and bars. If you are looking for a little inspiration on color, the British paint colorists at Farrow and Ball have put out a host of paint colors inspired by The Natural History Museum in London. With “colours” like Skimmed Milk White, Lake Red, Imperial Purple and Scotch Blue, you see that color is back!
Finally, let me share a couple of little things we’ve done to our home since the pandemic started. Like most of you, we found ourselves cooking a lot more since the pandemic started. Having professional quality cooking tools seemed like a necessary item so we bought some All Clad D5 pots and pans from William Sonoma. They look beautiful but they took up a lot of room. To solve our space demand issue, we hung a cool pot rack we’d purchased from Amazon, from the ceiling. (I did it myself I’ll have you know) Since the All Clad is not only functional but beautiful, our kitchen took on an entirely new look and this, frankly, made cooking in the kitchen an inspirational experience. Lastly, now that winter is upon us, we finally bought a gas fireplace insert in a kit with blue colored glass. ($400 from our local fireplace store.) What a change! Instead of using real wood as we’ve been doing for years though sparingly due to the mess, I now have instant contemporary ambience in my family room! Not to mention a great way to warm the space on a cold winter day while I work from home. OK, it hasn’t been cold in Southern California so far this season, but the glass does look cool and I do rather enjoy working in front of the fire. And while these subtle improvements may seem like little things, often times little tweaks are all a home needs to become more functional, homier and perhaps just a little prettier. And after all, when it comes time to sell, I can assure you, pretty sells. (Contact Tim here)
Done something interesting to your home? Let me know!