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Category: Helpful Tips
6 Lessons in Scale From Well-Designed Bathrooms
Sarah Burke Houzz Contributor 10.11.13    
How we mix objects of different sizes, masses, proportions and patterns — in other words, how we work with scale — is a big part of good design. Architects and designers use scale to create interest and balance, and taking it into account leads to good design in even the smallest rooms of a house. To see what I mean, take a look at the lessons in scale from these six bathrooms.

1. Use similar shapes in different sizes. Using similar shapes — rectangles and squares or circles and hexagons, for example — in different sizes can add interest and subtly draw the eye around the space.
Unlike most bathrooms, where rectangular and square tiles have a significant presence, this bathroom has round elements — hexagonal tiles, round mirrors and round floor mats — that create an environment that is both fun and minimalist. The white hexagonal tiles on the walls, floors and bathroom vanity make the space feel large and bright.

2. Play with one main material. Choosing one main material for your bathroom's palette will help harmonize the elements, creating a visual flow that's easy on the eyes. Here's an obvious example of how using one main material produces a calm feeling. The large 12-by-24 tile reduces the amount of grout lines, adding to this bathroom's expansive feel. And the simplicity of one material allows the art in the room — the silver steer head — to have a real presence.

3. Vary the sizes and shapes of materials and furnishings. Transitioning between sizes of furniture and materials connects various parts of the space in a different way. There are many good examples of scale in this classic bathroom. There is a nice transition in scale from floor to ceiling, with the small basket weave tiles on the floor, the medium subway tiles for the wainscoting and the large drywall that leads to the ceiling. The leaded window design relates in pattern and proportion to the basket weave floor tile. And because the ceilings are quite high, I love this tall wooden chest next to the cast iron tub. It helps connect the space from floor to ceiling.

4. Create collections. Using grouped items in the same scale adds rhythm and variety to designs. Don't overlook the relationship between wall sconces and the vanity in the bathroom. Because this vanity's mirror is as wide as the vanity, the lighting above the mirror needed to span the same width. Instead of adding one large horizontal light fixture, this designer used a collection of three sconces above the mirror, creating a nice rhythm and tapping into the power of three.

5. When working with one material, use it in different sizes. The floor and window-wall planks in this wonderful barn bathroom are one size, the vanity-wall planks are narrower, and the ceiling planks between the rafters are yet another size. Using the same material in various sizes — one way of working with scale — made this bathroom simply beautiful.

6. Use contrasting shapes. Sometimes the use of the same shape can create harmony in a space, and sometimes the use of different shapes can create a contrast that works. In this creative bathroom, small white floor tiles contrast nicely with 4-by-4 glossy black ceramic wall tiles. The black and white palette allows the wall mural to make its statement.

Get Quartz and Porcelain Surfaces Super Clean
Cathy Lara, Houzz Contributor 9.11.13    
Maintaining the new and sleek appearance of your home doesn't have to be a painful and time-intensive process; as a general rule, the more often you clean, the less time and money you'll have to spend on major cleaning overhauls. But as kitchen and bath designer Kayron Brewer says, it's really about making smart decisions when it comes to your surfaces: "Choose the right materials for the right applications and uses — especially when you are talking about the kitchen and bath." 

Here are a few tips on how to clean tiles, sinks and countertops that are made of a variety of materials.

Natural Quartz
Quartz is one of the hardest minerals found in nature, so it's a fitting material for the busiest space in the home: the kitchen. Quartz countertops are made from crushed pure natural quartz combined with a small amount of pigment and resin. This combination of materials allows quartz to be a dense, nonporous stone that is both scratch and stain resistant with no sealing required.

However, says kitchen and bath designer Gary Lichlyter, "you really can't tell the difference [in terms of surface gloss and sheen] between a sealed and nonsealed quartz countertop. Sealing takes just a few minutes but can really help protect your quartz surface for long-term use, so I highly recommend it."

Cambria quartz boasts of the most simple maintenance regimen: Wash the surface with a soft cotton cloth and warm water with a mild dish soap. According to the company website, "Cambria is durable and more resistant to surface damage than other stone. However, all stone can be damaged by force and no stone is chip-proof. Objects hitting edges particularly at sinks or dishwashers may cause chips."

Remember, natural stone surfaces like quartz can also be damaged by sudden and rapid changes of temperature as well as direct contact with hot pots and pans. Always use a potholder to protect the natural quartz surface.

For tough stains: Quartz countertops are meant to be stain free, as the surface does not absorb liquids.

Stay away from: Bleach and abrasive products.

The biggest issue people have with cleaning and maintaining a travertine shower is soap scum. Soap scum can damage tiles and ruin the look of a travertine shower. Also, hard water deposits can also start to accumulate in a travertine shower.

"A travertine-tiled shower is a constantly wet surface, so upon installation, I strongly urge people to apply the best sealer that money can buy to protect their travertine shower," says Lichlyter.

For tough stains: Lichlyter recommends zero-pH cleaners, which are readily available in home improvement stores.

Stay away from: "Commercial cleaners that smell good but have petroleum in the ingredients," says Lichlyter. "Petroleum sits on tile grout and causes residue and a dirty-looking appearance." Also avoid acidic substances like vinegar as well as abrasive cleaners and dish soap containing citrus oil.

Porcelain Sinks
Kitchen and bath designer Angie Keyes' cleaning regimen for 
porcelain sinks is simple: She uses a Magic Eraser or a disinfecting bathroom cleaner like Comet, which comes in a nonabrasive, bleach-free liquid solution made for porcelain and ceramic surfaces.
Lichlyter adds, "Tried and tested brands like American Standard and Kohler have porcelain surfaces that can handle all kinds of cleansers."
For tough stains: Lichlyter recommends applying a bit of powder cleanser on the scuff marks and letting it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing the powder off with a scrub brush. Blogger Desireé swears by soft cleanser Bar Keepers Friend, which works without having to use bleach on the surface. "Apply a small amount [of Bar Keepers Friend] directly on the areas where you see stains. ... You'll see the stains disappear before your eyes."

Stay away from: Bleach, which will eventually eat through the enamel seal on the porcelain.

Engineered Stone
Engineered stone countertops are made of 93 percent natural stone and 7 percent polymers and are highly resistant to scratches and stains. "Engineered stone countertops are highly resilient, but high temperatures will damage the polymers and can also damage your counters," 
says Lichlyter. Use a hot-pot pad when placing heated objects on engineered stone surfaces.
For countertops with a smooth and matte look, use a mild soap and water solution to clean and polish the surface.

For tough stains: Multipurpose cleaners and detergents applied to scouring pads should take care of tough stains by transferring the dirt from the surface to the pad; the rough pad will not damage your countertop surface.

Stay away from: "Avoid using harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia," says Whitsunday Marble & Granite. "To clean engineered stone we recommend water and a mild detergent. Engineered stone is tough, but not indestructible."

The Best Places to Stash Small Kitchen Appliances
Bud Dietrich Houzz Contributor 8.28.13    
There are the big three appliances — the refrigerator, range and dishwasher — that we all know and that are must-haves for every kitchen. But over the years, small, single-purpose appliances have proliferated. Toasters, mixers, blenders, food processors, dough makers, waffle makers, coffee machines and so many more gadgets have become a part of our kitchens. But where do we store these appliances when they're not in use? How can we keep them close at hand without their taking up valuable counter space?

An appliance garage. Use a smaller section of a tall cabinet if you don't have a large closet or pantry space for these appliances. Add cabinet doors that can move completely out of the way, and put the appliances on a rollout shelf for easiest accessibility. With an outlet or two in the back wall, the appliances will be ready to use when needed and hidden from sight when not.

Purpose-built cabinets.You can also dedicate a cabinet for a particular small appliance. One of the most common uses it to store mixers. Having the mixer on a pullout or lift-up shelf keeps the appliance handy and easily stored away. This is a very useful bit of cabinetry for an appliance used often.

A small appliance closet. A closet-like space can be a good home to
 all of your small appliances. Equipping the closet with strong rollout shelves will make getting at them easy. When 
you're finished mixing, blending or toasting, just return the appliance to its home and close the door.

The coffee maker. The most ubiquitous small appliance has to be the coffeemaker. More often than not, this wonderful little machine is placed where it takes up valuable counter space. Rather than let it get in the way, try placing it in a dedicated cabinet, away from the main work area. This way that person who wants another cup of morning joe stays out of the cook's way.


A shelf in the pantry.Placing these appliances in a dedicated space in a pantry will work, especially if the pantry is well thought out and organized. A pair of pocket doors provides ample access and turns the pantry into what it should be: an extension of the kitchen.

A corner counter. If your kitchen has the space for it, a dedicated work area will make using that coffee maker, mixer or panini press all the more enjoyable — and make room for more than one cook in the kitchen.

Bath Remodeling: So, Where to Put the Toilet?
John Whipple Houzz Contributor 8.2.13    
From the beginning of your bathroom renovation, your plumbers and framers need to know where your toilet should go — whether it'll be mounted on the floor or wall and where the water supply should be positioned. If that's not complicated enough, wall paneling, tile installation, shower doors and baseboards will all factor into the equation for your toilet location, too. 

Don't feel overwhelmed — finding the right professional can help you get through the technical stuff, and having a handle on these tips and tricks can help you find a spot for your toilet that works for you and your bathroom's design.
Take Note of Wall Panels and Baseboards
Most toilets are roughed-in 12 inches from the finished wall. This works well for most floor-mounted toilets. 

Tip: Some toilets require floor anchoring clips — another limiting factor because it can interrupt radiant heating. Talk with your floor heating contractor before choosing this type of toilet to make sure that the anchors won't mess with water lines or heating cables.

Tip: It's very hard to paint behind toilet tanks like this. I suggest painting the wall and installing the baseboard before putting the toilet in.
Shower doors also play a role in your toilet's location. To meet building codes, a shower door needs to open both in and out, so you'll want to take the door swing into account when choosing your toilet spot.

Tip: Work with your contractor to play with different toilet and door locations when finalizing your shower's size. Use a piece of string and a marker to draw an arc on the floor to show the door swing. This will help you visualize where a toilet can fit comfortably.
Wall-mounted toilets are great for smaller spaces because the tank is inside the wall. In this installation, you can see that the builder brought the wall forward for this wall-mounted toilet's water carrier to create a ledge above the sink and toilet for the flush activator. Usually these ledges are larger, and I love the smaller version here.

Pay Attention to Any Recesses or Compartments
The recessed shelves above the toilet allow for more headroom and save space. This clever use of space was no doubt made possible by good planning. Make sure your entire building crew knows about spaces like this ahead of time for a successful build. 

Tip: Check that your builders spray paint the framing around these niche locations before any wires, pipes or insulation is installed.

Backsplashes that Make a Splash!
Arizona Tile 7.9.13    
Is your kitchen looking drab? Or maybe just missing something? Often times we spend all of our time thinking about cabinets, appliances, walls and floors – your kitchen looks good, but it is missing that WOW Factor that really sets your look apart and gets noticed.

We have a solution that is easy to install, quick to do and can be inexpensive, especially if you are handy. We are talking about backsplashes today and depending upon how big your kitchen is, you can complete this project over a weekend. How is that for fast and easy?

Natural Stone Tile
If you like the look of natural stone, you have lots of options here. Our Golden Gate Quartzite is neutral in color and has a unique texture. As a quartzite product, it will not rust like some other natural stone tiles, so it can be used near sinks without oxidizing. This tile can even be used in both traditional and modern spaces.

If you are looking for the perfect backsplash in a traditional or Tuscan inspired kitchen, look no further than our Giallo Antico marble quarried in Italy. Shown here with an Emperador Dark Marble inlay, this backsplash packs a lot of wow into a few small square feet of space.

Glass Tile
Nothing adds sparkle and drama more than glass tile. At Arizona Tile we have many different options for glass tile in tons of colors. You can even design your own mosaic using our Custom Blend tool.

Imagine hand picking the exact colors that will go with your décor to create a one-of-a-kind tile mosaic that will be yours alone. Our Watercolors glass tilefeatures a narrow tile mosaic that is really unique. Used in a small area or across an entire wall of cabinets, it adds a shine to your backsplash.

Metal Tile
Metal tiles are hot, hot, hot in design! A small dash of metallic tile in your kitchen can pick up the color of your appliances or simply add a bit of shine to your space. Available in Stainless Steel and Copper, our Mineral Mosaic Tiles [featured image above] offer just the right metallic accent to your wall, especially when using the subway tile inspired staggered rectangle.

Don’t underestimate the power of tile used behind your stove or sink for adding that pop that your kitchen needs. Whether you use it simply behind your stove or under all of your cabinets, it can be as simple or extravagant as you like – but it will definitely get noticed!

Balancing Work-Life in Your Home Office
Interior Collective 6.26.13    
The home office sounds like a dream – the ultimate way of living and working. If you’ve ever actually done it, you know that creating the right balance of work and life can be tricky. There are the everyday distractions of laundry, dishwashing, babysitting, getting mail, etc. The ULTIMATE preference of an outside studio space sometimes just isn’t an option, so here' a few tips for balancing out work/life/design for your home studio.
One Wall
If a full room is not an option for your studio/office, try and arrange just one wall. Like a skyscraper, build up. You’ll maximize your space by utilizing stacking shelves, which also creates visual interest.
If you can’t devote one wall to your “office,” then work with the existing living spaces you already have. Find beautiful organizational furniture pieces so that they won’t be an eye sore to the rest of the space. Another great example is the split-level office/living space on the right. Sure, we may not have such a unique space to begin with, but it’s a great example of combining two different functions within one space. Plus it only takes up a small portion of the room.
Maximize What You Have
There are some great gadgets and furniture to help you maximize your space. Check out this fold-up desk on the bottom left; it comes with built-in storage. The shelving unit on the bottom right is also a great space saver, and comes with take out shelves to use as project boards. Additionally, the top left image shows a series of clips for the purpose of displaying work or reminders, freeing up desk space. Lastly, get creative with where you would usually put things on the ground, like in the top right image. Rather than stick papers in a tub on the ground, with just a few hooks you can attach them to the back of a door.
What are some ideas you have for balancing your lifestyle and office?

Information source: Interior Collective

How to Remove Soap Scum From A Glass Shower Door
Urban Designs 5.21.13    
Soap scum is a white build-up consisting of minerals from the water, dirt, bacteria, and sloughed-off skin. The very best way to keep soap scum off glass shower doors is to prevent it from happening in the first place by wiping the glass completely dry after every shower. But who has the time for that? So try this combination next time you're cleaning:
Solution to Soap Scum:
  • 2 teaspoons borax
  • 1 teaspoon Castile soap?
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar?
  • 1 1/2 cup hot water?
  • 10 drops tea tree oil

  1. Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake.
  2. Spray mixture on glass and allow to penetrate. 
  3. Follow with a sponge or brush.
  4. Rinse off and dry.

  • The best time to clean soap scum is right after taking a warm shower. The heat and steam aid in loosening the scum and allow a bit more ease when scrubbing.
  • Tea tree oil is a natural fungicide and carries many antiseptic properties. It will kill most of the bacteria found in the soap scum and help prevent growth.
  • Dislike the smell of vinegar…fear not! The vinegar smell will fade within a few hours of cleaning.

Are Quartz Countertops the New Granite?
Carrie Urban 4.22.13    
Over the past several years, quartz counter tops have been gaining a significant share in the market place. Some of this success can be attributed to a huge increase in colors and variations as well as the enhanced durability these newer products offer. Companies such as Caeserstone, Silestone, and Cambria have been pushing the quality of the quartz countertops to new levels, while lowering their costs. 

Here's several interesting facts about these quartz surfaces:
  • Most quartz counters consist of 97% quartzite, or rock, which has been taken from the surface of the earth. In other words, there is no deep mining involved and far less environmental impact than granite tops.
  • Quartz is one of the most abundant minerals in the world with a greater hardness than granite. The fabrication process makes them stronger and more scratch and heat resistant than granite.
  • Quartz countertops require less maintenance than granite. NSF 51 certified against bacterial growth, quartz does not require annually sealing (unlike granite) and has a less porous surface making it almost impervious to stains.
  • Lifetime Limited Warranties are offered by Cambria and Ceasarstone for their surfaces.
Granites, marbles, and travertines still have timeless beauty but there are many advantages to quartz countertops. Choosing between a processed surface and a natural stone will always be determined by the finding the right surface to enhance the look of the room around it.

To learn more about which product is right for your home at Urban Designs, located at 1552 Bergen Pkwy, Suite 201 in the Hiwan Barn in Bergen Park. Please visit our website at www.urbandesigns.com for more information or call 303.981.7811.  

What should you do with the space under your sink?
Inner Most Cabinets 4.8.13    
There's always so much extra space under the sink. But what should you do with it? We use it for cleaning supplies, garbage and Tupperware. But it tends to get messy and cluttered quickly. Organizing your cabinet under your sink will allow you to utilize the space and store more items in it. Not everyone has the luxury of getting a cabinet designer but you can purchase containers for cheap to help you organize! 


Get Those Stainless Appliances Clean Again
Urban Designs 3.11.13    
Looking for a way to remove those fingerprints and stains from your Stainless Steel Appliances? We found this tip on eHow.com and are happy to pass it along!

1. Dampen a cotton ball with acetone and wipe at the spots on your stainless steel appliances. This will remove most fingerprints and hard water spots.

2. Use a sponge or rag to scrub at the spot with acetone if it doesn't come off right away.

3. Scrub at the spots on your stainless steel appliances with a no-scratch scrub pad. This is often the only way to remove rust spots or other caked on material.

4. Polish your stainless steel appliances with a commercial stainless steel cleaner, available in the home cleaning products aisle of your local supermarket.

5. Refresh your stainless steel's original shine by dabbing some vegetable oil on a clean cloth--paper towels will do in a pinch--and wiping it on to the stainless steel surface you want to polish.

If you don't have acetone, try using vinegar or even club soda to wipe spots off your stainless steel appliances.

Read more: How to Clean Spots Off Stainless Steel Appliances | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_4913522_clean-off-stainless-steel-appliances.html#ixzz2NH3HXoeO


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