Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Handy Guide to Bathroom Types

If you seek bathroom remodeling advice from a professional, you will likely be asked, first, "What type of bathroom would you like?" A bathroom "type" is defined by bathroom's features and the bathroom's placement in in the home. Each type serves a different purpose. By defining your bathroom type, you can think more specifically about more remodeling choices like an appropriate toilet or paint style

There are three basic bathroom types: the guest bath, the half bath, or the master bath. This might seem like a limited list, but once you choose the most appropriate type for your purposes, you can adapt. With an infinite variety of options--from tiles to tubs to vanities--each of these types can be made to match your family's unique style.

Check out our handy Bathroom Type Guide below. And if you have any questions, please feel free to call MKBD for an individualized consultation.

MKBD is currently offering a FREE bathroom remodeling estimate, FREE design, and FREE custom layout to all new customers.

Call now! 215-355-4747 or visit us online at

MKBD installed an elegant "half bath" guest bathroom for this Philly-area home.

Guest Bathroom

Whether the room is used by guests or not, the "guest" bathroom is often situated away from the main action of the household. Most of the time, the guest bathroom is located next guessed it: the guest room! But the guest bathroom can also be located in the middle of a hallway.  In any case, a guest bathroom should offer, at the very least, the amenities of a "three-quarter" bath: a toilet, sink, and tub.

When remodeling a guest bathroom, you should decide, first, whether this space will actually be reserved solely for guests. Many larger families utilize the guest bathroom for the "overflow" from the master or half bath.

If the bathroom will be reserved for guests, you may choose to emphasize aesthetics over function. If the space will see daily traffic, however, you should emphasize durable materials. (Of course, in today's market you do not need to sacrifice style for durability!)

A guest bathroom offers the opportunity to experiment with unique design touches. For example, MKBD has remodeled several Philly-area bathrooms to resemble the Jersey Shore. Nothing makes a guest feel more welcome than an artfully renovated guest bathroom!

A half bath contains only two signature elements, a sink and a toilet, so you want to make sure these elements shine--like this beautiful Kohler sink MKBD installed for a project in Langhorne.

Half Bath or Powder Room

A "half" bath is simply a bathroom with a toilet and sink. This arrangement is not suitable for a guest bathroom (unless your guests do not like bathing!), but it can serve an important purpose for a large family or a crowded house.

If space allows, a half bathroom can also include a vanity. However, space is often a major limitation for half baths, so the bathroom design must be simple and efficient. In many modern homes, a closet space downstairs or the space under the stairs is sacrificed for the half bath so visitors don't have to go upstairs to visit the main bathroom.

As the second name implies, however, the half bath, AKA the "powder room," can serve an important function for family members too. Traditionally, the powder room served the purpose of pampering. As Joseph Pubillones, the author of The Art of Design, writes:

"The origin of the powder room dates back to the days when wigs were powdered before being presented to a member of a royal court or court of law. During the late 1800s, the term was carried over to describe a room to which women would excuse themselves to powder their noses, a euphemism for applying makeup or going to the bathroom, or for when the conversation at the table turned to business affairs or became too salacious for feminine ears."

A master bath can include luxury fixtures like this "ultra" tub from Bain, merely one detail in this dream bathroom designed and built by MKBD.

Master Bathroom

Traditionally, the master bathroom referred to a bathroom attached the master bedroom, but today the term is often used interchangeably with "full bath," which means any space that contains the four primary bathroom plumbing elements: shower, bath, toilet, and sink.

The one major caveat with this definition is that many homeowners choose to install only a bath (and no shower) in the master bathroom. Also, the master bathroom might not be reserved solely for the "master" of the house. Master bathrooms can accommodate entire families. In any case, we prefer to use the term master bath, which can also mean: the household's best bathroom!

The master bath is the space to indulge your sense of luxury. Imagine features like a lounge area with an HD TV, a cozy fireplaces, or striking panoramic views of your property. To accommodate these  features, more and more homeowners are sacrificing space in other rooms. The result is a new emphasis on a "spa-like" experience.

Whatever your preference, remember, a master bathroom can (and should) house multiple amenities like a single or double vanity with sinks and mirrors, a toilet in a private compartment, a steam showers, a whirlpool tub, and ample storage for linens towels and other necessary bathroom items.

Special Offer from MKBD:

This summer, MKBD is happy to offer an essential toilet upgrade: a FREE TOTO Washlet with a full bathroom remodeling project! Here's a description of the TOTO Washlet from TOTO's website:

"The pursuit of cleanliness can be better in every way, from a clean perspective to a green perspective. The Washlet uses water to cleanse and refresh and can significantly reduce the consumption of toilet paper. It makes perfect sense.

We bath and shower with water. We wash our faces and hands with water. Nothing cleanses like nature’s most soothing and essential element, which is why Washlets purify and clean in ways that you cannot experience with traditional bathroom rituals.

The Washlet offers a lot of amazing technology, cleverly disguised as a toilet seat that fits virtually any standard toilet. At your command, Washlet extends an integrated wand to release a warm, soothing stream of aerated water to provide the ultimate in personal cleansing.

But this is not a conventional bidet; the wand self-washes and retracts after each use. The S300e/S355e models feature eWater+, a function that mists the bowl with electrolyzed water before and after each use, making the bowl easier to maintain and reducing the need for chemicals during cleaning.

For more, read here.


To take advantage of this offer, call MKBD today: 215-355-4747. But hurry! This offer is only valid from June 14, 2014 to September 1, 2014!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Kitchen Backsplash: Style & Utility

At Master Kitchen & Bath Design, we love new kitchen cabinets, gleaming floors, and sturdy contertops, but the unsung hero of the kitchen remodeling world might just be the kitchen backsplash.

"But why?" you ask.

Well, with minimal labor, a kitchen backsplash can add an exquisitely stylish touch to your kitchen. But the backsplash is not all about style. As the name implies, a "backsplash" can serve as a protective shield against, well, all the splashes that might otherwise damage the kitchen wall.

Have you ever opened a bottle of wine with a little too much vigor? Have you ever splattered pasta sauce all over your kitchen wall? How about oil stains? If you've ever suffered the ignominy of scrubbing your kitchen wall in the middle of a dinner party, you'll appreciate the utility of a kitchen backsplash. 

Best yet? A kitchen backsplash just might be the most inexpensive kitchen upgrade. We recommend a backsplash for most full-scale kitchen remodeling projects, but it's also perfect candidate for a DIY project.

If you're tired of the look of your old kitchen, you might slap a new coat of paint on the kitchen walls, but one afternoon of work can also yield a beautiful backsplash that can transform the look and feel of your space.

Have we got you thinking backsplash? Great! Check out our handy primer below to learn more about this simple, yet effective kitchen upgrade.

A natural stone backsplash adds a stylish panache to this Center City MKBD project.

The Backsplash:  A History of Utility & Style

On her blog, The Kitchen Designer, Susan Serra offers an anecdotal history of the kitchen backsplash:

"Everywhere I look, I see small rectangular tile used on backsplashes and upper walls in the kitchen. It's getting a little bit worrisome to me. It's worrisome because, having been a kitchen designer since the very late 80s, I have perspective. Perspective helps my clients, and I hope it helps you too.

"It started (my professional association with tile) with 4x4 ceramic glazed tiles and pretty fruit and vegetable or flower designs, often seen with corner motifs, sort of that Country Floors look. Definitely gorgeous. Funny, I'm seeing it more and more frequently again and it's still every bit as beautiful. Like Terracotta flooring, it was very popular, then went away. Now it is returning, at least on the periphery, to fashion again."

Serra's history is valuable for her perspective on backsplash trends since the early eighties--and up to the two thousands, but you might be surprised to hear that the word backsplash has been around since at least 1947, according to the Merriam Webster.

Here's how the august dictionary defines the word: "a vertical surface (as of tiles) designed to protect the wall behind a stove or countertop."

So, as a mid- twentieth century invention, the backsplash was originally intended to provide the necessary utility of protection, but by the 80s, the "pretty fruit and vegetable or flower designs" that inspired Susan Serra's early association with tile signaled a more whimsical purpose: style. 

For this contemporary kitchen remodeling project in Hatboro, PA, MKBD installed a variety of backsplashes, including marble and a metal mosaic mix.

Kitchen Backsplash Materials

As the two pictures above illustrate, the backsplash can be made in a variety of materials, not just natural stone or ceramic tiles, but granite, limestone, soapstone, plate or mosaic glass, beaded board, stainless steel, and more.

Your choice of material will ultimately depend upon personal preference, and each material will offer its own unique benefits, but most homeowners choose a backsplash material that easily integrates with the cabinets, kitchen walls, and countertops.

The easiest and most cost effective solution is to simply use the same material for your countertops and backsplash. However, some homeowners use the backsplash to provide a subtle contrast to the countertops.  With a seemingly endless variety of patterns and colors, and a variety of finishes, you're sure to find a backsplash that matches your vision. 

For more backsplash material ideas, check out HGTV's "30 Trendiest Kitchen Backsplashes."  

In this MKBD project, the homeowners opted for a contrast between the beautiful Decora cherry cabinets and the countertop and backsplash.

Hire a Pro? Or DIY?

As we noted above, a kitchen backsplash is a perfect addition to a full-scale kitchen remodeling project. That said, a backsplash can be installed quite easily as a simple kitchen upgrade by a professional remodeling company or by you--if you're the DIY type.

Prepare your walls by cleaning with soapy water. You might find that you have to sand the walls, too, before applying a layer of mastic and laying your tiles. Once your work is dry, seal the tiles with grout. To finish, clean your tiles again with soapy water. And, of course, make sure you choose only the best materials.


Got a kitchen backsplash question? Please feel free to call MKBD for an individualized consultation. MKBD is currently offering a FREE Kitchen remodeling estimate, FREE design, and FREE custom layout to all new customers.

Let's talk backsplash and more!

Call now! 215-355-4747 or visit us online at