budget

Muppet Theory

Last week at All Soul's Episcopal Parish in Berkeley, I listened to a sermon referencing Muppet Theory, based on the article published by Slate, in relation with the workings of the Holy Spirit . I started wondering "what kind of Muppet am I". Do I bring chaos or order as I interact with people?

Okay, I admit it, I took the Zimbio quiz previously via Facebook and it thought I was Gonzo. Yes, that lovable blue creature with the hooked nose who is somehow in a relationship with Camila the chicken. In general I'd say he brings chaos to the Muppet stage. Out of curiosity I retook the quiz and I was now the very organized stage manager Scooter. Oddly enough, all of this actually makes sense. 

Gonzo

Gonzo

As a kitchen and bath designer I bring both chaos and order to the lives of homeowners and contractors on a daily basis. Remodeling one's home is inherently going to bring chaos by losing the use of one or more room and simply moving out so as not to live in a construction zone is stressful. 

Designing a fresh new space also brings chaos. Some things I am continually balancing in my mind include: Can I relocate plumbing? Can I relocate walls? How can I increase storage and function in a small space without changing the walls? What new and efficient technologies can I introduce and what will be the impact on the budget and installation? So how do I find balance and relieve the remodeling stress for both the homeowner and their contractor? Through listening, checklists, documentation and clear communication.

Scooter

Scooter

I was recently working with two different clients who happened to work with the same architect and both found that he didn't provide adequate assistance in moving their project along so that the general contractor could provide an accurate budget and start construction with-in their timeline. Each had decided that they would take his incomplete materials list and "go shopping" on their own and both were quickly overwhelmed.

One, happens to be a personal friend, and started telling me her story and how stressful it was with her frequent travel schedule and her husband's long work hours. We quickly pulled together a plan to accomplish selecting the items she would need so that she could provide all of the necessary details and pricing to her contractor before she hopped onto the next plane. My other client let her contractor know the circles she was moving in without the results she was hoping for. He referred her to me, as we have worked together on previous projects. 

Decision making is often more difficult than we imagine. As we worked together to narrow down the possible options, through a process of elimination of style, taste, cost and comparison, their shoulders relaxed, their disposition was more cheery and over all, they had a better experience than they had ever imagined. And the bonus was that their contractors had less "work" to do to prepare their final budget and construction schedules because we were able to provide them detailed information and ready to purchase quotes.

Order brings a sense of peace to the chaos that is remodeling. This is the balance that a professional designer can bring, and maybe a Muppett too.

New Office!

Jack London Kitchen and Bath Gallery

Jack London Kitchen and Bath Gallery

I am excited to announce that I am moving in with my favorite plumbing showroom, Jack London Kitchen and Bath Gallery! 2500 Embarcadero St., Suite F, Oakland, CA 94606 where I will be holding office hours from 10 am - 4:30 M-F by appointment.

As of Monday June 16th, I will have my office in the loft area of this fantastic showroom. Stop by and say "hello" or make an appointment and I can do what I do best as the "Sherlock of Design" by turning the overwhelming choices into an enjoyable experience in selecting what is just right for their function needs, style and budget while having fun.



Decisions and Consequences

Every decision in life that has a consequence. Adopting a pet provides companionship and messy clean up. Getting married involves loving commitment and quirks to work around. Having children brings joy, challenges and lack of sleep. Buying a home has a sense of independence, a way to showcase your personality and style as well as maintenance that requires professional guidance and execution.

Whether our decisions have a positive, negative or balanced impact depends on our values. What is your primary decision factor? There are only three. Budget, Timing and Quality. Do you shop at discount stores knowing that you are keeping your budget low and might have the opportunity to grab a quality designer item, but knowing that it will take a while to search through the un-organized racks? Do you shop at department stores, confident that you can find what you are looking for off the rack in a reasonable amount of time and knowing that you might pay a little more for something that will most likely have a shorter lifespan? Do you shop at designer boutiques because you will be certain of the quality of the item as well as the design, knowing that you will pay more for the item that took longer to produce as well as find the just right fit for you? Asking yourself these questions will give you a sense of your general decision making style. 

Remodeling Decisions Require Balance

Remodeling Decisions Require Balance

In remodeling I often come across home owners who have chosen one of these routes. Most often is the person who has chosen the lowest budget route and unconsciously sacrifices both timing and quality.  It is like your basic three-legged-stool. When emphasis is too heavily placed on one leg, the others loose their ability to be maintained and the remodeling nightmare begins. It pains me to see friends in this predicament even now. 

Remodeling decisions require balance. Be realistic, how long will it take to remodel my home, 4 weeks or 6 months? Where do I live, what is the cost of living like? Why am I remodeling, for my long-term living, a fast sell on my home? Unfortunately home improvement shows are generally unrealistic for bay-area living. Their budgets are usually materials only and/or are based on national averages. As you know, living in the San Francisco bay area, we are at the top of the national averages in cost of living thus increasing the wages needed to pay for quality professionals. To ensure that the professionals you hire can provide quality we all desire it may take a little longer than just a few weeks. While timing and budget vary from project to project, quality should not. Does this mean you must select the highest rate? No, but it does mean that the lowest rates should be off your radar. Does this mean that you should have a 6 month time estimate for construction of a small bathroom? No, but it does mean that you should carefully consider time-frames of 2 weeks or less. In everything, ask yourself "is it too be god to be true?", if you think it just might be, I recommend using your gut instinct.

A quality remodeling professional will communicate clear intent and execution plans, communicate changes in a timely manner, put you at ease in discussing their home, your budget and timing,  have a realistic schedule for your project, be known in a positive light by their peers, local showrooms and clients. Most of all, in selecting a professional for your home there must be trust. You are inviting people into your life more than you realize. As a designer I'm ok with seeing your messy home even on our first appointment, it shown me how I might be able to restructure your storage needs. You will see the general contractor and their trade partners on a daily basis during construction from breakfast till dinner.

Although it is said that the three-legged stool always has one leg favored, I encourage you to have balance between the three as much as possible so that the consequence of remodeling is as pain-free as possible and provides you with the beautiful home you imagined.