The major misconception I get when working with clients is that a designer’s main focus is making things “pretty’…sure that is one element we focus on but even more importantly we want to make sure a home is safe and efficient so the homeowner can enjoy it visually but also rest at ease that it is structurally sound as well as of having utilized the space effectively. Here are the top five things I often help homeowners with that might not have crossed your mind (but should!) when hiring a designer.
Unfortunately mold makes its way into the nooks and crannies of many homes. Basements and bathrooms are the prime spots for mold to grow, as is any other location prone to moisture. A good designer will demand mold is fully removed before carrying on with any project. As soon as mold is found, the space should be sealed off to prevent the spread of mold spores.
Many of my clients have animals or small children so I always turn to products that are safe for kids and pets. One of my favourites is Concrobium Mold Control. It’s a bleach free, Health Canada-registered non-toxic solution that’s safe to use even with kids and pets around. You can either hire a professional to remove the mold or it’s so simple that many of the homeowners I work with do it themselves. All they do is rent a machine called a Fogger from The Home Depot tool rental department, add a jug of Concrobium and mist the space. It will kill the mold and leave an invisible anti microbial shield to prevent the mold from returning. This product is so safe that youngsters and furry family members can be in the house as the process is completed.
– You might not think this is something that your designer can help you with but think again. Ensuring proper materials are used from the inside out should be a priority, and especially so, if you’ve had to remove mold. You want to ensure mold does not return, which is why I lean towards materials that will help ensure a mold free home. Certainteed offers a great product called Membrain that prevents moisture and air, it is also designed to help wall cavities breathe and stay dry by allowing any dampness to escape. In the winter, it adapts to humidity levels to prevent vapour from entering the wall cavity, and in summer, it prevents moisture build up. Another thing I love about this company is that their products are sustainable (a key factor for companies I choose to partner with); their insulation is made with recycled and renewable content including a plant-based binder that is formaldehyde-free and contains no harsh acrylics, dyes or unnecessary chemicals.
Windows and Doors
– Another key factor in a demolition type renovation is choosing windows and doors that fit not only the style but the family’s functionality. Are there small children to consider, should the windows open inward or outward, are there safety features and are there cleaning concerns.
I recently discovered a Canadian company that makes, manufactures, delivers and installs windows and doors in sometimes as little as a two week turn around time (this is fantastic when working on tight designer deadlines). Total Home Window and Doors is one of the largest window and door replacement companies in Canada and as an added bonus they offer a lifetime warranty on their products. This is a company I can stand behind with the added bonus of making my clients feel protected for years to come.
– Colours, styles, textures, patterns, materials, the list goes on. Flooring is essential to get input from a designer on. It’s labour intensive to install and not something you can (or want to) switch up every couple years; therefore, you want to make sure you pick a material, colour and pattern that you can live with (and love) for years to come. While hardwood or laminate is perfect for some projects, one of my favourite elements to work with is natural stone. It’s environmentally friendly, easy to care for, durable, and adds a unique feature to any space. On a recent project I worked with
ErthCOVERINGS, who offers natural stone flooring and wall coverings.
A new trend in feature walls is to add stone veneer to one wall within the space. I love that I can mix and match the floor and wall options to create a sharp design with a feature wall that is truly unique.
– I get asked all the time about heating options, and especially so for older homes. Typical questions include what is the most economical selection, how to cut down on heating bills, and how to choose the right option within the room. One option I love, which feels luxurious, is in-floor heating. Surprisingly, it’s much more economical than most people think. You can install electric radiant floor heating under tile, stone and laminate/engineered wood floors; Nuheat makes custom mats, like an electric blanket, that perfectly fits the areas you would like to heat. Something interesting is that Nuheat provides 12 watts per square foot so it can actually in some instances replace costly baseboard heaters. Another great feature from Nuheat is they offer a WiFi-enabled thermostat allowing you to control your heating from a free app on your smartphone so when you head out of town or are coming back from a long trip you can adjust it remotely. You can also monitor your usage so you know know where your bill is going hourly, weekly and monthly and modify it as needed.
While you may feel you can tackle any or all of these areas on your own, a designer’s input can be invaluable. Designers are educated on all your options, know of recent developments and new product introductions, and have more than just the final look in mind. Work with a designer to get the practicalities right…and then we’ll make it look pretty too!
Until next time,