One of the leading kitchen & bathroom trends is universal design. This can be seen in the shift from door knobs to door handles, which can be opened by people with limited hand strength or grip. Kitchen appliances are evolving to use buttons instead of knobs for the same reason. Vancouver is the first major city to essentially ban the doorknob, but others are likely to follow with other universal design mandates.
We will see appliances with larger buttons and displays to accommodate those with limited vision. Kitchens are being designed to put everything in easy reach, instead of requiring someone to stoop down or climb up to get items. Universal design features aid those who are elderly but also the disabled. For example, far more shower remodels include a built in ledge that can double as a seat. Whether used to hold beauty products without the need for a shower caddy or acting as a seat for someone with limited balance or mobility is up to the resident.
Accessibility for the Aging
One of the major kitchen & bathroom trends is accessibility for the aging. For example, many bathroom remodels include an open shower that uses a glass partition to contain the spray and a gradually sloping floor to act as a drain. About half of NKBA respondents stated that no-threshold showers are being specified by customers. This type of shower avoids a door or the need to step into the shower itself, something that improves accessibility for someone with decreased mobility or balance. The trend toward larger showers is another accessibility trend. Instead of only having the space for someone to stand up, the showers are trending larger so that someone can use it while sitting on a comfortable shower stool.
Toilets may or may not remain in a side closet in the bathroom. However, to accommodate an older and often larger population, the toilet seat itself is more likely to have a larger seat and more space around it.
Grab bars built into the bathroom are a popular upgrade. Adding discrete grab bars near toilets, showers and seats in the parlor are easiest to install when remodeling the bathroom. In the kitchen, universal design leads to levers in place of knobs for the kitchen sink. No-touch soap dispensers are popular because of the ease of use as well as the improve sanitation.
Kitchen & bathroom trends toward water and energy savings have been going on for a long time. This has been driven by local, state and federal laws mandating various forms of conservation. Low flow toilets are one example of many. Lower volume shower heads are another.
We are seeing improvements in the effectiveness of the latest generation of efficient appliances. Gone are the days of low flow toilets that have to be flushed twice to eliminate waste. Low flow shower heads now have an array of settings or put out steam as well to make the shower a luxurious steam bath or delicious massage.
The sale of traditional incandescent light bulbs except for industrial applications that can’t use LED and fluorescent lights went into effect on January 1, 2014. The near total ban on the traditional light bulbs has led to a new generation of beautiful yet functional LED lights. From the light bulb in the fridge to the chandelier over the kitchen table, LED lights have evolved to resemble the traditional incandescent they are replacing.
Making sure your home is prepared for the changes that come with the seasons is important in any climate and environment. However, in the more extreme environment of Alaska, that can see annual seasonal temperature ranges from -40 to more than 100 Degrees Fahrenheit, preparing for winter becomes an absolute critical necessity.
The first steps to preparing your house for the Alaskan season change is to look over the exterior of your home and property very carefully. Inspect your windows and doors, siding and your roofing, driveway and walkways. Make sure that your windows operate easily, normally and latches fully closed. Check to see that the window is fully caulked and sealed at the edges, ensure the weather-strip on all exterior doors is in good condition and replace as needed. Small cracks that allow the cold weather to seep in can quickly add up to be equal to having a 6-inch open hole in the side of the house when the temps fall. Inspect the sides of your home for any loose siding or trim, inspect the roof from the ground to ensure that no loose or missing shingle conditions exist. If needed hire a professional to inspect the roof and complete any siding or roof repairs as required before the ice and snow hit. Seal cracks in walkways and driveways to help prevent water getting into these areas and freezing, as the water freezes it expands acting like a hydraulic ram causing further damage. Repair any damage and fix any loose material problems before the weather prevents you from noticing these safety issues or resolving them quickly.
While you are outside, ensure that the exterior water spigots fully shut off, disconnect the hose and install insulated covers to protect the spigot supply water line from freezing and causing a broken pipe and water in places it should not be and doing untold and un-noticed damage that could easily been prevented. Take a look at the surrounding trees, taking note of any dead or trees that are leaning towards the house. Winter weather in Alaska means potential for damaging high winds, taking problem trees down before winter may save some frustrations when it is dark, cold and windy.
Inside the home it is absolutely critical to have your heating system inspected, cleaned as needed and ensure that it is properly functioning and venting to the exterior. A cracked heat exchanger or snow blocked venting can result in dangerous levels of carbon monoxide collecting in the house. Carbon Monoxide poisoning is a real possibility in cold country and deaths have resulted in recent winters due to improperly maintained furnaces and boilers. Stay safe and have a professional inspect your heating system every fall and remember to change filters in forced air heated homes.
If you need assistance with anything discussed or a personal walk through around your home, think about contacting a local Anchorage construction / remodeling professional such as 360 Construction and Design to help get you ready for the winter with peace of mind, eliminating potential problems and maybe even saving some money on the heat bills.
One more thought, if you are considering updating or remodeling a Kitchen, Bath or other area of the interior of your home, the shortened days of Fall and Winter may be ideal leaving our wonderful Spring and Summer for time to play. In addition to making sure your home is ready for Winter, we can help verify that everything is up to code, safe, and that we have proper heat throughout the home. During a remodel we can install energy saving LED lighting to help brighten the short days and enlarge windows to take advantage of the longer days. There are many different construction materials available that work well in our extreme environment so that you can now achieve some pretty cool looks with materials that will stand up to our extreme weather. 360 Construction and Design can design, build and remodel your home to stand up to the worst weather that Alaska can offer while you enjoy, the warmth and comfort of a new kitchen or bathroom all year round…
The most common bathroom size measures 8 by 5 feet. This is enough room for a single sink, a toilet and a shower or shower-bathtub combination. You may think there is not a lot of options to improve upon this space, but you might be surprised at what you can accomplish with a unique bathroom remodel.
Ditch the Traditional Tub Surround – Install a Walk-in Shower
Installing a walk-in shower is a great way to open the space. Most people do not fully utilize a bathtub and are simply stuck with one, because that is what was originally installed. A more functional walk in shower may be just the thing you need. With a tiled pan and larger format tiles from floor to ceiling, this investment will not only create a more attractive space, but could be more user friendly, than stepping into and over a tub every morning.
Invest in a custom glass door. Once you’ve spent the money on a beautiful tiled shower surround, you don’t want to hide it behind a shower curtain. Invest in a custom glass shower door/enclosure. There are a couple of options that work for the standard 8×5 bathroom. One being the by-pass sliding door. This can be fabricated by commercial contractors with a bottom rail or without. There are several options for top mounted hardware from traditional to industrial. You can also work a fixed panel and door scenario into the design. You may be limited by local safety codes on some swinging door scenarios. Either way, you want to have a clean, clear view of your new shower.
Most people tend to need as much storage as possible, so they opt for a vanity cabinet. But instead of a basic box, try asking your designers or commercial contractors to accommodate something a little different. Simple additions such as bottom valances and decorative feet, help make the vanity cabinet look like a piece of furniture. They provide a little character to a more traditional vanity. For a more contemporary approach, explore the options of a floating vanity which is suspended from the wall and has no bottom touching the floor. This is a classic modern look and some people may argue that it’s even easier for cleaning.
Open it Up
Every now and again, you may come across an 8×5 bathroom that has a patrician wall between the vanity and the toilet/bathtub. This makes an already small space feel even smaller. The idea of privacy in space like this, is humorous. There is no hiding in an 8×5 bathroom. Not only does the addition of extra doors cause potential clearance conflict, it will also make the washer room portion feel very dark. Remove any patrician wall immediately! This wall is most likely not load bearing, so it can go! Once this wall is removed, it will allow for the light supplied from the vanity area to flood the tub/shower area. Another benefit is added inches to the vanity and top!
If you are lucky enough to have an exterior wall as one of the four walls of your 8×5 bathroom, you may want to take the opportunity to exploit the possibility of adding a small, operating window. Natural light will create a comfortable feel to this enclosed space. Often, we place windows either in the center wall of the shower or above the toilet. You may need some light engineering for header sizing and codes, but it will be worth it! If you don’t have an exterior wall, look up. You may be able to add a skylight tube if you do not have a livable floor above you.