contemporary

Featured Project: Oakland Montclaire Contemporary Guest Bath

Design “risks” are easier to make in a guest bathroom as they are not used in its entirety on a regular basis. By “floating” the vanity cabinet we were able to open the space and light it from below which gives the illusion of expanding the room as the Crossville Porcelain tile continues beyond.

Oakland Montclaire Contemporary Guest Bath

Oakland Montclaire Contemporary Guest Bath

Cabinetry designed with open storage for extra towels, baskets for toilet tissue and a space to sit down for skin care routines is reminiscent of being in a spa, an experience from which everyone leaves refreshed. Cabinet hardware like these 26 Series bar pulls by Sugatsune come in various lengths and can double as hand towels to prevent cluttered walls and dripping across the room.

Oakland Montclaire Contemporary Guest Bath

Oakland Montclaire Contemporary Guest Bath

Oakland Montclaire Contemporary Guest Bath

Oakland Montclaire Contemporary Guest Bath

 Often I am asked about designing master bathrooms with vessel sinks which we discuss in detail the pros and cons and how it may not be the best design for everyday use. However, this guest bathroom with the Kohler Bateau vessel sink coupled with the Kohler Stillness wall-mounted faucet on a mirror adds a touch of something special for guests to enjoy.

Oakland Montclaire Contemporary Guest Bath

Oakland Montclaire Contemporary Guest Bath

When construction and life interact

Planning and preparing to remodel your kitchen and/or bath is a lot of hard work. Even if you hire an interior designer and a construction team there is emotional work, it can often be draining. People I work with often have some vision for their new space, colors, how they might use it and why, more often than not there is much more to be considered. 

Oakland Hills Contemporary Master Bath

Oakland Hills Contemporary Master Bath

Last week I met with a couple who's home is in Kensington. It's been their family home for more than 20 years where they raised their family and now have grandchildren come to play. While I was measuring their master bathroom we also discussed how their space might be different, and how might it improve their lives. Would changing from one sink to two make a difference? If we installed medicine cabinets with electrical outlets inside to charge their toothbrushes and other items would they actually use it? We stood together and seriously looked at what is working now... which usually isn't much, so next we looked at what wasn't working and why in an almost Sherlock Holmes methodology. Standing in the space and having some sense of roll play or pretending to use what might be. "Purging" was an option she suggested, but not one that I typically recommend as a starting point. Change is hard and changing the habits we have formed for many years is even harder. 

Lafayette Cottage

Lafayette Cottage

Sometimes we get to the last week before construction is scheduled to start and kitchen cabinets are still full and "no one" has time to pack it away in an organized manner. Often people tell me they will purge when they "move out" of the space, but really how many of us actually do that for everything that needs to go? The last time I moved it was in haste. Our upstairs neighbor had left their bath water running and it over flowed and rained into our apartment. Ideally we would have come back the next day and purged the expired pantry items, household cleaners and junk mail, but instead we purged the major items that were damaged and briskly packed everything including paper trash that really should've been shredded. Whew. When homeowners who are preparing to remodel leave this to the last week it is the same. Maybe there isn't a literal flood to deal with, but the hasty, unorganized packing is stressful and comes back to haunt them when it's time to move into their new kitchen or bath. What a let down to go through all that unwanted stuff in the middle of your new space.

Last year I met a professional organizer, Lis McKinley, from Let's Make Room. She specializes in working with homeowners preparing to remodel. Along with her crew she empties, organizes and assists in cleaning out the stuff that should really be tossed into the trashed and replaced with a better expiration date before unpacking. Earlier this year I introduced her to a couple I was working with in San Francisco to remodel their condo's kitchen and bathroom. While not everyone can or needs to move out, they felt this was the best option for them. Wow, I was impressed! Not only was she providing the needed packing, sorting and general cleaning out but she also helped them to sell unwanted items in good condition, provided and coordinated movers and found them temporary housing! I wish I had known her a couple of years ago!

In the end, whether you decide to do these chores yourself or hire someone who does it all the time, its best to remember that your personal time is valuable. For some it’s time away from your career, and others time with family. Make this time remodeling for yourself about yourself. 

Alameda Victorian

Alameda Victorian

It's Not your Grandmother's Grab Bar

Bathroom safety is a designer's top priority with function and style running a close second. You may have heard the commercials saying "I've fallen and I can't get up!". Well, its a more serious topic than the silly commercials leave you to believe. Many seniors fall in tubs and showers and opt to sponge bathe for years rather than take a chance at being that person crying for help. The market is littered with ugly grab bars, suction-cup attaching things and other white plastic hospital style temporary safety stuff which gives bathroom safety a bad name. 

Its my job to tell you that grab-bars are not just for seniors! They are for everybody, and they don't have to be an eyesore to your newly remodeled home!

I recently had a client in her 40's comment "you must think I'm old". In truth, I had not considered her age when I told her that I was recommending a grab bar in her shower. What I had considered was basic human experience. I use a grab bar every day, and yes, I'm only 36. It is easy to over heat ourselves while relaxing in a warm bath or under a hot steamy shower and become dizzy. When we have the flue, or simply don't feel good we are even more prone to needing a little assistance, whether it's to sit down or step out or simply shaving our legs. When I was pregnant, with our now 3.5 year old, I was even more sensitive and even kept the bathroom door open so that my husband could hear if I collapsed.

It could happen to anybody. Have you ever stepped out of the bath only to accidentally grab the towel bar just to have it bend out and fall from being under very little weight? Have you ever stepped into the shower and grab onto the hand-shower bar? Of course, we all do, its a natural tendency. So why fight it?

Now in my best "info-mercial voice" But wait, there's more! 

Ginger Kubic Grab-Bar with Squared Corners

Ginger Kubic Grab-Bar with Squared Corners

Watermark Designs Loft Adjustable Sliding Hand-Shower Mount

Watermark Designs Loft Adjustable Sliding Hand-Shower Mount

Delta Contemporary Tissue Holder with Assist Bar

Delta Contemporary Tissue Holder with Assist Bar

Style doesn't need to be sacrificed! Ginger Co, Watermark Designs, Delta Faucet and many other companies at all ends of the cost spectrum, have designed grab-bars that essentially match their towel bars. Check them out, reach out and touch them if you can, the Jack London Kitchen and Bath Gallery showroom in Oakland has just installed a couple of these beauties in their live bathrooms. You'll find that they have a larger diameter than the average towel bar but otherwise, they have the same mounting trim detail as the rest of the accessories for your bathroom. Ginger was one of the first to provide aesthetically pleasing designs, Watermark Designs has integrated their vertical hand-shower slide-bar into a grab bar to make it more useful and Delta has taken the next step and integrated an "assist bar" into their towel bars and even their toilet-paper holders!