Mirrors – do you have the right one?

So as I work with more clients in the process of building custom homes there always seems to be a stumbling point when it comes to the mirrors in the bathrooms.  The questions that usually come up are: What is in style? Is it better to have one large mirror or two separate mirrors? Do  want a bevel? What is the difference between the mirror a framer does and one that I pick up at a discount store? And many, many more.

Number one rule for bathroom mirrors is go ahead a put a little extra money in the budget and go for the framed mirror. Flat, frameless mirrors are way out!

So here we go lets talk about what is in style. First I want everyone to take style with a grain of salt because there is one thing that everyone needs to consider above style and that is what works for you. As the home owner who has to live in the house, trends sometimes need to take a back burner for what is going to function for everyday life.  The trend right now is definitely the dual mirrors in the master bath, if the vanity is a double sink. But if you have a large enough master bath where the his/hers sink are in separate vanities then one large mirror apiece. Here is the one issue that a great deal of home owners are finding with this trend. If you made the adjustment to have a sitting/makeup area between the two sinks then what do you do for a mirror? There are a few ways to handle this. First is if the space is large enough then three mirrors with the center mirror dropped down is the remedy. The reason that we need a larger expanse for this option is that a space that is too small can look cluttered with frames. If we do have a smaller expanse then one large mirror with a small standing mirror for the vanity area is the answer.

As for bevel – always go with the bevel. It makes the mirror look more expensive (which it is) and more finished. With all the options out there for mirrors and places to get them there is never and excuse to go without a bevel.

Speaking of different places to find mirrors. There are many options and these include everything from furniture stores, discount stores, framers, glass manufacturers, and accessory stores. So what is the difference between them. Sometimes not much of a difference. However there is one thing that is different – consistency. A good framer or glass company is going to have a higher quality mirror that will be the same every time that your order from them. The framer will also have a great deal more options for the frame so you really can get whatever you want. So where does that leave your other options? Well it doesn’t mean that you can’t find a great mirror in a store already made. And sometimes there isn’t any difference between one that you would find in a furniture store/accessory store and one that you would have made. However, you have to be careful. The one thing that happens with pre-made mirrors is that they can be leftovers or seconds. So what does that mean, well seconds are product that did not meet the quality standards of the manufacturer. So to recoup some of their costs they sell them at a discounted rate. What should you look for? The easiest way to tell if a mirror is inferior is if it waves. That means that when you look in the mirror from different angles that the image moves or does not stay in line.

Another reason that the mirrors that you find at discount stores are such a great price is that sometimes they are not glass. A great deal of product especially from certain overseas markets are plexiglass. Or the frames are made from styrofoam instead of wood or metal.  There is really no reason to be purchasing these mirrors. There are way too many good mirrors out there. Also if you have a good interior designer they are going to have sources to purchase higher quality mirrors at a lower price.

So bottom line is that you need to first keep in mind what is going to function for your lifestyle. Second get a good interior designer this will save you a money and get you a better quality product that you know will look good in your home. Third enjoy your new bathroom that matches your style and lifestyle!

The differences in granites

It has become really popular over the past 5 years to have granite counters. But do people really know what they are getting and all the different kinds of granite and what the different grades mean? The most common granites are your grade one granites. These are the ones that you see at places like Homes Depot. They are usually called Ubatuba, Saint Cecelia, Tropic brown, and New Venetian gold. These are common and affordable granites. They tend to be very consistent in color and design. This can be a good thing if you want a simple, classic look.  However, if you are looking for a statement it will be very hard to find a level one granite that makes a statement. The “statement granites” are what we call exotics. Exotic granites have very little consistency in aeach slab and from one slab to another. These are the granites that have veins, which create beautiful designs. These veins look like rivers and bring the granite to life. There is a large variance in colors, patterns, and price in these granites. They are also well worth the price tag in my opinion. Some of my favorites of the exotics are splendor and Persia blue.

I have found over the years that the more unusual and higher quality granites are coming from Italy. They are not always mined from there but when they are shipped through Italian companies they tend to have a better inspection process leading to better quality.

Granites can be made into countertops as solid slabs or tiles. The solid slabs are more expensive for two main reasons. There is more material being used and more fabrication needed. The granite tiles are an affordable way to get the look of granite without the high fabrication costs. The tiles are thinner pieces of granite and usually your average tile installer can do the installation. However, with slab granite you will need a specialist in fabrication and installation. The major visual differences between slab granite and tiles are the thickness and the grout lines or joints. In slabs you should have very few seams in the granite, while the tiles are installed like tiles with many seams, even when laid groutless.

One draw back to granite counters is the maintenance needed to keep them looking good. Granite needs to be sealed on a regular basis. This is because it is a natural product. And just like all natural products (like leather) granite is porous and germs and food can soak into it if not properly maintained. It is not a hard thing to seal your granite and it is worth the little effort.

So all in all granite counters can really change the way that your home feels and can be done at all price ranges. They are a great investment in a home and can be the focal point. Before you decide what kind of granite person you are look around at your local stone yards and see what is available. There is propbably a lot more out there then you first thought, or if you are only looking at you local home improvement store. If you really want to see all the specialty things being done in granite contact and interior designer.

New products in design

I was at the tile and stone wholesaler today and saw some really great new product. Everything from marble 1″x2″ subway tiles, to new travertine patterns, onyx backsplashes, stone pedestal sinks and metallic porcelain tile. There is some new amazing product out there and I am so excited to use it. I love that builders are building again and clients are building new homes. It’s great to see the interior design field to start bringing new things out again. Last year the products were so much of the same old same old there wasn’t much to get excited about. It was due to start seeing new designs and products.

The housing market and design

The housing market is picking up and that means that the design business is picking up too. It has been fantastic to be meeting new people and working with new clients. The past month has been so busy. I am so excited to be seeing the growth in the industry.

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