Universal Design Bathroom Tips

Universal design, also known as aging in place design, is the concept of designing a space that is safe and functional for the many years ahead of you. Often times, people are concerned about the aesthetics of universal design features making a home feel unattractive. We are here to tell you not to worry! These spaces can be functional, safe and beautiful. Below are five of our favorite features to prove just that. 


Grab Bars Gray Shower Tile with White Accent and Grab Bars

Grab bars have come a long way in the recent past. They are stylish and provide you with an opportunity for stability when entering and exiting a shower. You also may consider them along the back wall of the shower for stability while in the shower itself. They can be positioned horizontally or vertically, depending on their location. There are even small grab bars that can be incorporated into mounted soap dishes in your shower. If you are considering adding grab bars to your shower, be sure to talk to your contractor first. The framing of the shower will need to include blocking to secure the bars in place. 



Teak shower benchFolding Bench

Folding shower benches are often overlooked as a universal design feature, but they are a great one to consider. The bench can be left down for a shower seat when needed. As time or medical conditions change, they can be folded up to allow more room in the shower for a possible walker or wheelchair. As with the grab bars, be sure to talk with your remodeler about your bench preference early on in the design of the project.  Wood blocking will need to be in place behind the tile to keep the bench secure. 



aging in place seamless shower patrick a finnZero Threshold 

Zero threshold, or curbless shower entries, mean that there is no step up and over into the shower. While this may not be something you are concerned about at the moment, this may change in the future. A full threshold makes shower entry difficult and unsafe if you use a walker or wheelchair. A zero threshold entry allows for someone to safely walk or wheel into the shower. The shower layout will need to be adjusted for a zero threshold entry. A small pitch will be put toward the center drain to prevent water from pooling and you may even consider additional draining at the entry. 


Tile and Grout Considerations

Tiles that have texture help to create an anti slip surface. A tile such as a tumbled stone is great for this purpose. You will want to ensure that the tile has soft edges though to allow for easy movement for a wheelchair or walker. Another consideration is a smaller format tile that inherently will have more grout lines. The grout will help to add traction to the floor. When shopping for tile, remember that the surface will change when it is wet, so it’s better to err on the side of caution when it comes to tile texture. 



Open Bottom Vanity

When designing the vanity area of your bathroom, consider leaving a portion of the vanity open on the bottom. This allows you to still have storage, but also to have a space that will be wheelchair accessible. You can design the open vanity portion with a lap style drawer, similar size to a pencil drawer on a desk, to store daily essentials. 


There are plenty of considerations when designing a universal bathroom, but these are a great start to discuss with your design build remodeler. Be sure to be honest with any safety concerns that you have now or may have in the future. The more information you can provide your designer, the better he or she is able to create a safe and functional space for you. 


If a universal design bathroom is something that you are considering, give us a call today at 847-380-8189 or fill out our contact us form. We’d love to help you design and build a bathroom that you’ll love for years to come. 


Guest Post- Maintaining Your Home for Winter: Tips for Preparing for Cold Weather

Winter is my favorite time of year. Time for basketball, cozy pajamas, hot chocolate, and fires in the fireplace. It’s also the time for doing some cleaning and maintenance around your home to make sure it can withstand the cold weather. A little time spent now can save more time and money later by preventing small problems from becoming major issues.

There are several things you can do to winterize your home. Some are normal cleaning projects that prepare your home for maximum sun exposure and clean indoor air. Some are “catch it sooner rather than later” inspections for leaks and damage, while others are annual touch-ups that help keep potential damage away. All will go a long way toward keeping your home in tip-top shape for winter. So, here’s what you need to know.


Deep cleaning your home will help keep indoor air cleaner when windows and doors are shut tight. This is the time of year to have your carpets cleaned, as well as your chimney and furnace. You’ll want to vacuum upholstery; dust window sills, ceiling fans, blinds, and heating grates; and wipe down baseboards. Clean your drapes and window screens, and wash windows inside and out. Change the A/C and furnace filters and check fire extinguisher expiration dates. Finally, make sure all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working.

Outside, you should clean or pressure wash your deck or patio, driveway, and sidewalk. Clean out your gutters and downspouts to keep water from backing up. Wash your grill and patio furniture before putting them in storage. While you’re washing the windows outside, check for leaks or openings that need to be caulked.


The best way to inspect your home is to walk all the way around it, from top to bottom, looking for places where cold air or pests can come in. Check the roof shingles or have a professional do it. You’re looking for damaged or missing tiles. Check your siding or exterior surfaces for damage or wear and tear that requires repainting. Look for buckling or warping, as well as cracks that might let in bugs or rodents. Consider hiring an exterminator to seal cracks and crevices. Look closely over your deck for raised nails or boards that need replacement. Seal or paint the deck or patio, if necessary. Check your driveway and sidewalk for cracks that might need to be sealed. Walk around your yard and remove debris, and check the fencing for holes. 

Going inside, check your dryer vent for lint buildup and inspect appliance water hoses for leaks. In the attic, look for daylight that might indicate small holes in the roofing or loose fittings that could allow critters to get in. Have your HVAC unit inspected and serviced. See if the weather stripping on exterior doors needs to be replaced. Check vents and chimney piping for holes or areas that need caulking and check for mold in poorly ventilated areas. Look at the walls, ceilings, and floors for cracks that might need to be sealed or repaired. Again, catching small cracks now means easier repairs than fixing major damage later. 


You can prevent damage from falling tree limbs by pruning back trees and dead foliage. You also want to prevent flooding by taking care of your water pipes. Remove, drain, and store outdoor hoses, and close inside valves supplying water to outside hose bibs and faucets. Open the outside hose bib to allow water to drain. Insulating exposed water pipes in unheated areas such as basements, attics, and crawl spaces will keep them from freezing. When temperatures drop, open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors so the pipes underneath can warm. Let cold water drip through the faucet in the sink furthest from the water supply line to your house. 

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When it comes to your home, a little bit of work now can save you major headaches and repair bills later. Check this list, look around your home, and then enjoy yourself knowing that you’re ready for whatever winter may bring.

Author: Clara Beaufort

Photo by Pixaby


Your Kitchen Backsplash Guide

With new tile on the market every day, it can be difficult to find the perfect backsplash for your kitchen remodel. When choosing your kitchen backsplash, you’ll want to consider durability, style, size and what budget you’re willing to allocate to the backsplash. While there is a myriad to choose from, below are some of our clients’ favorites. 


Black and White Cement Tile BacksplashEncaustic Cement Tile

Encaustic cement tile has been a popular choice for a few years now. Its a great way to add a strong design element to your kitchen remodel, especially if you have chosen simple cabinetry. Encaustic tile comes in a variety of patterns. With the different patterns, some people choose to layout the tile in a way that creates an even larger pattern to fill the wall. If you’re considering encaustic tile, but concerned it might be too bold for the space, you may like it just above the cooktop as an accent. 


Subway Tile

Subway tile is a classic due to its simplicity and versatility. Many people choose subway tile for their kitchen remodel because it looks timeless. For those that want a variation of subway tile, people are choosing to use larger format subway tile, such as a 4×8 tile. Those that want a more contemporary look may choose to install subway tile vertically, rather than the typical horizontal installation. There are also chevron and herringbone variations to consider. 


Glass Mosaics

Glass mosaics have a huge variety which is why they are a popular choice for kitchen remodels. Due to the size of the mosaics, they are often sold attached to a mesh sheet to assist in installation. Glass mosaics are often a rectangular or square shape. Sometimes they are just glass, other times the sheet contains a mix of glass and ceramic or porcelain tile. Much like the subway tile, glass mosaics may be run vertically for a more contemporary look. They are often used as an accent piece with field tile that is a bit simpler. 




A slab backsplash is  made of a large, solid piece of stone. Often times, the slab is made of the same material as the countertop. This is often used contemporary spaces as they are visually simple and streamlined. They appear to be a continuation of the countertop which helps to unify the design. Because the slab is one large piece, they are a great option for those who want to avoid grout lines.  When choosing a slab for a backsplash, be sure to look at the veining and variation in the stone so that you can plan where you want the higher variation areas. Marble is a common choice for a slab style backsplash. 



Stacked Stone

Stacked stone is a great option for those looking to add a bit of texture and visual interest to their kitchen remodel. While people may think that stacked stone is a more rustic option, it can be a great way to add warmth to a transitional kitchen remodel. Stacked stone is made from thinly cut pieces of natural stone. Because it is a natural product, there are a variety of colors available. Each stone piece has a natural variation that can add a great design element to your backsplash. Gray tones are very common for stacked stone backsplashes due to its versatility. 


Picking a backsplash is only one of the many decisions you need to make when planning your kitchen remodel. If you’ve been thinking about remodeling your kitchen, contact us today to get started! Our design build team would love to turn your dreams into reality. To see some of our kitchen remodels, including all of the kitchens featured here, visit our kitchen portfolio.

Your Bathroom Remodel Sink Style Guide

If you’re planning your bathroom remodel, you know that each and every design decision has an impact on the overall look and feel of the finished space. It is easy to focus on items like the tile and vanity, but you don’t want to forget about the various plumbing fixtures that help define the space! Sinks in particular seem to be an easy choice until you realize all of the different options for your bathroom remodel. We’ve talked to our bathroom designer to help you determine which style is right for your space. 


Pedestal Sink- bathroom remodelPedestal

Often used in powder rooms, pedestal sinks, are a budget friendly option for bathrooms that don’t need much storage. Because of the lack of cabinetry, pedestal sinks also work well in smaller bathrooms to keep the space feeling light. If you’re considering a pedestal sink for your bathroom remodel, but concerned about storage consider adding a medicine cabinet mirror or built in storage. 



Custom double vanity, drop in sink, bathroom remodelDrop In

Drop in sinks, also known as top mount or self-rimming, are a popular choice for bathrooms. They are a budget friendly choice in comparison to an undermount sink. Drop in sinks are also relatively simple to install. They are supported under the countertop and then are set in place. While drop in sinks are popular, some people feel the rim of the sink can look busy on the countertop. However, it’s a personal preference!


Vessel sink, bathroom remodelVessel

In the early 2000s, vessel sinks were one of the most popular bathroom sink choices. While the craze has died down a bit, vessel sinks are still a common choice for people looking to have a bit of a ‘statement piece’ in their bathroom. They can easily add visual interest to simple vanities. Vessel sinks are also simple to install. One downfall of vessel sinks is cleaning. Depending on the style of the sink, it can be difficult to clean around and behind the sink. 


Double vanity sinks, undermount sink,



Of all the sinks on this list, undermount are the most popular. Undermount sinks get their name from the way they are installed, mounted under the countertop. They are visually appealing by keeping the vanity looking simple and clean. Undermount sinks make cleaning the counter much easier as there is no rim between the sink and counter, just a smooth drop from counter to sink. If you’re considering resale value, undermount sinks are considered a sophisticated perk to the space. 


Small bathroom with single vanity and a tile half wall. Integrated

Some people choose to buy a vanity, sink and countertop all in one. The sink in this option is integrated with the countertop. This is often a common choice in powder rooms and hall bathrooms because of their simplicity. When the countertop and sink are made of one material, there are fewer choices. Because of this, integrated sink vanities are often readily available for purchase. Like the undermount sink, integrated sinks are easier to clean than the vessel or drop in sink. 


While there are a lot of choices to choose from, hopefully this guide will help you determine which sink it best for your bathroom remodel. If you’re just starting to think about remodeling, give us a call or fill out our contact form to get your project started! Our design build team would be happy to help you with your remodeling needs! To see some of the bathrooms we’ve completed visit our bathroom portfolio

How to Plan For and Navigate a Home Show

Home show season is fast approaching! With different show options almost every weekend, how are you to know which shows to attend? Even more importantly, how should you prepare for the show and navigate it once you get there? While it may be easy to come to the show at the very last minute, you’ll get the most out of your time if you plan it out first. Here are some simple tips to help you navigate the hustle and bustle of home show season!

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9 Home Remodeling Mistakes to Avoid

Getting started on a home remodeling project for your Chicago-area home? With so many online resources available, and so many opinions offered by family and friends, knowing where to start can be difficult. It can also be easy to make unfortunate remodeling mistakes.

In this month’s post, we’ll go over common remodeling mistakes to avoid when getting started on your home remodel.

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Kitchen Organization: Remodeling & Cabinet Accessories

Life happens in the kitchen. Not only is it the place where we prepare our food, but it is often the place where everyone tends to gather. And while the saying goes, ” the more the merrier”, if a lack of storage space clutters your kitchen, added people can make it feel stressful and crowded very quickly. Kitchen organization with the use of cabinet accessories will make the kitchen somewhere you want people to gather.

Remodeling with functionality and ample storage in mind can make the kitchen relaxing and inviting. This clean, peaceful feeling can be achieved rather easily when you consider adding cabinet accessories to your kitchen remodel. Here are some of our clients’ favorites.

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5 Bathroom Storage Solutions

5 Bathroom Storage Solutions

Everyone wants to start their day off on the right foot. For most of us, we start our day by getting ready in the bathroom. If we are lacking in the storage in the bathroom, our things may be scattered and we may become frustrated quite easily. Here are 5 bathroom storage solutions to help keep your bathroom organized so you can start your day off right.

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15 Questions to Ask Home Remodelers Before Hiring

Remodeling your home is an exciting time. There is so much to do and so many things to think about. But before you jump right into hiring remodeling professionals, make sure you’re working with the right ones.

Choosing the right remodeling professionals can be the difference between your dream home and a nightmare. You’ve probably heard horror stories about remodeling projects gone terribly wrong due to unqualified and unprofessional contractors. Don’t let this happen to you!

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Stainless Steel: An Everlasting Trend?

Stainless steel has been the sought after appliance color for years. It has had a longer time in the spotlight than avocado green, black and white. When you think about it, it makes sense that stainless steel has lasted us all awhile. It pairs well with almost any cabinet and counter combination. It can blend right in or, stand out and look a bit more sleek. Why would anyone think that it would go out of style?

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