Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Three Bathroom Remodeling Horrors--And How to Avoid Them

In the spirit of Halloween, we're thinking about remodeling "horror" stories. Earlier this month, we shared a fewstories about kitchen remodeling planning mistakes. Today, we'll discuss a few potential bathroom remodeling mistakes--or, if you please, "horrors."

"If you've researched your project online," we wrote in our previous post, "you've undoubtedly read a remodeling horror story (or two, or three...)." Indeed, the Internet is positively teeming with frightening bathroom remodeling stories.

Of course, disaster is not the norm.

In fact, the Internet is also a veritable showcase of remodeling triumphs. A simple Google search yields picture after picture of beautiful and successful bathroom remodeling projects. But the potential for disaster is real--and the Internet can certainly remind us of this simple fact.

In MKBD's view, the best way to avoid disaster is to partner with a bathroom remodeling company. A good bathroom remodeling company can lead you through all stages of the process from planning to construction. And yet, we understand, that many individuals prefer to coordinate contractors, or to perform a DIY project.

Whether you hire a bathroom remodeling company, like MKBD, perform your own bathroom makeover, or coordinate contractors, you can ensure success--and avoid horror--by following a simple outline. In each case, the key is planning, a studious attention to detail, and an honest assessment of potential challenges.

With this in mind, we offer a three bathroom remodeling horrors—and how to avoid them.

1. Choosing a Bad Remodeling Company

A simple perusal of Contractor's From Hell should be enough to convince you that frighteningly bad contractors and remodeling companies do exist. Just take a look at this bathroom remodeling horror story, which details a history of negligence, even abuse. In this story, the remodeling company shows a complete ineptitude for planning, no attention to detail, and terribly, outright dishonesty.

So how do you find an honest and reputable remodeling company or contractor?

Your first, most important duty is to do your research! Ask friends and family for recommendations, then find secondary reviews for each recommendation. For good recommendations, you might also ask local building inspectors or neighbors who have recently performed remodeling projects.

Once you've discovered at least three or four remodeling companies, call each to conduct a short phone interview. Ask each for referrals. And don't be afraid to ask specifics about your project and the companies work load. After the phone interviews, you can choose which companies you'd like to meet in-person. During in-person interviews, make sure you feel comfortable talking to the contractor about your project. And make sure the contractor is tactful, precise, and honest.

This process should yield a few good choices. From this field, you can whittle the choices by calling references and, perhaps, inspecting the company's work at another house. Finally, if you have more than one choice, ask the various companies to bid on your contract. And remember to include details beyond cost, like the start and completion date. And remember: do not necessarily go with the lowest price. Go with the best choice--the company that inspires the most confidence.

A successful remodeling project (like this MKBD project) should be a partnership between the homeowner and remodeling company.

2. The DIY Nightmare

You might think that a professional home remodeling company would not support DIY projects. After all, DIY renovations take away potential customers. In reality, we support DIY projects--to an extent. What we hate to see is the DIY project gone wrong.

We've seen our fair share of nightmares: plumbing disasters, fallen ceilings, even fires! By the time a failed DIY project comes to a professional remodeling company, the work site might be disaster-area. Quite simply, a bad DIY project makes our job harder. We must undo mistakes before we can even begin the real construction work.

And yet, we must admit: in the right hands, a DIY project can be a wonderful achievement. A crafty homeowner can save thousands of dollars on labor fees. And the sense of accomplishment you will feel from sketching a bathroom design to building your bathroom is simply inspiring.

Just make sure you are, in fact, crafty. If you do not know how t perform certain tasks, like plumbing, you might create a horror story! Trust us, we've seen it all. Remember the keys to success: especially with DIY projects, an honest assessment of potential challenges is crucial.

A DIY project can save you thousands, and we believe it's a great investment of time and money--if you know what you're doing. But there's simply no replacing the expertise of a professional remodeling company. In this MKBD project, we combined a artistry and expertise to create a one-of-a-kind bathroom.

3. The Budget Blowout

Budget horror stories are often the result of poor planning and unrealistic expectations. This is a frequent remodeling trap: homeowners expectations often exceed the budgets. In the case of the budget blowout, honesty is crucial. Before your project begins, have a frank budget conversation with your contractor or remodeling company (or yourself, if you're performing a DIY project).

Keep in mind, your total budget is not necessarily the most important number. Think about the way the budget is allocated. Spend wisely!

Mistakes (like those above) cost money, but the biggest mistake is not accounting for potential mishaps in your budget. Many projects only yield problems after demolition beings. Behind your bathroom walls, you might discover lurking mold or water damage. These are real problems that can only be discovered after the work begin. Our suggestion? Leave room in the budget for problems. 

Your budget can include many unique details, like the stain glass window in this MKBD project, but it should also include some extra money for problems.

If you have any questions about your next bathroom remodeling project, 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.

Let's talk budget and more! Call now! 215-355-4747 or visit us online at

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Three Inspiring Bathroom Themes

The smell of burning leaves. The porches festooned with ghosts and cobwebs. The burgundy corduroy pants. It's October in Pennsylvania, and the world has turned to autumn! At MKBD, we can't help but feel excited by autumnal themes. After all, the warm colors of autumn offer an inspiring color template for a new remodeling project!

Sometimes this is what remodeling is all about: inspiration! The beautiful hardwood vanity on Pinterest. The color of those burgundy corduroys! You might've merely considered remodeling in the past, but it's the images and pictures that really inspire you to begin. 

So, taking cues from our local autumnal imagery, we're thinking thematically. No, we're not suggesting you remodel your house with a Halloween theme. We are suggesting that you look around you for inspiration. An attentiveness to day-to-day life can yield some great ideas. And a theme is a great way to clarify the look and feel of your project.

The idea of a thematically-based remodeling project may seem esoteric, but a good remodeling company should be able to translate almost any theme into the embodiment of your dreams.

Last week, we posted three inventive kitchen remodeling themes. Today, we're talking bathroom themes!

A Roman Bathroom

The Roman bath has outlasted the mighty Roman empire by two millennium, though today the bath itself still embodies the ethos of that ancient powerhouse. Then, as now, the Roman theme symbolizes power, durability, and opulence. Of course, the theme also implies classicism, a style that many homeowners enjoy for the bathroom.

For a Roman theme, think warm colors like ivory, gold, or olive, or neutral colors, like white and black. And, of course, think polished surfaces with natural materials like glass, or that Roman staple, marble. The project below is a testament to the beauty of these natural materials.

For this MKBD project, we imported marble tile from Italy. The tile, white with black veins, covers the bathroom from floor to ceiling, imbuing the space with a sense of grandeur. In this picture, you'll see that black and grey glass tile borders the shower at waist level, and that, despite the grandeur, the shower breathes the intimacy of warm candlelight. The rain showerhead, in metallic gold, adds a luxurious touch.

The Roman theme also implies open space, but for this project MKBD was limited by the architectural layout of the previous bathroom. Here, due to space limitations, a classic white pedestal sink is positioned next to a white elongated toilet--the best toilet for smaller spaces.

In the above picture, you might also note the black marble tiles covering the floor as well as the black mosaic tiles covering the bathroom floor. Both provide an elegant contrast to the white marble.


Another common feature of the Roman style is porticoes. You might not be accustomed to seeing porticoes in a bathroom, but for this MKBD project, we installed porticoes on either side of the new Toto tub. Augustus Caesar would be proud!

A French Countryside Bathroom

As we noted last week, the French Country theme is is one of the most popular and enduring themes. It's also easily adaptable to a range of home styles and to different rooms. Last week, for example, we presented a French Country kitchen that boasted the informal elegance of Southern France. In the French Country MKBD project below, the old world rusticity, casual milieu, and welcoming color palette transforms the bathroom into a holiday retreat.

For a French Country theme, try sourcing vintage pieces, like this vanity and mirror, painted white, which both lend this bathroom a timeless yet rustic feel straight out of Provence. The vanity's marble top highlights a simple, yet elegant, wash basin.

We love the colors here, especially the unique shade of hunter green, a perfectly original take on the French Country theme. And note the checkered glass tiles, which run around the entire bathroom, adding textual variation to the space.

A clawfoot tub is a classic French Country style--and really, any style, especially vintage style. As we wrote before: "Today, the porcelain tub is an excellent retro addition to any bathroom remodeling project--old or new. And, of course, the classical design of the porcelain tub is a definite must for a vintage theme."

Spa Theme

The spa theme can encompass many different styles and tastes, yet most spa-themed bathrooms share a consistent theme: luxury. A spa-theme bathroom is the type of bathroom that you want to retire to after a long day at the office. In this way, a spa-themed remodeling project can be as practical as a standard bathroom remodeling project. Adding a touch of extravagance to your day-to-day life can reduce your stress and increase happiness. And, of course, a beautifully-appointed bathroom can increase your home’s value.

Think free-standing whirpools, double vanities, radiant heat flooring, giant soaking baths, and exciting amenities, like entertainment systems.
In this MKBD Project, a bronze rain showerhead offsets luxurious porcelain tiles. If you've never tried a rain showerhead, you're in for a treat: just imagine standing in the most comfortable rain shower ever! 
A dual vanity, like this MKBD-built vanity in Yardley, PA, offers space and comfort for two: a perfect addition to any luxury bathroom upgrade. 
A luxurious bathtub is a great addition to a spa-themed bathroom. In this MKBD project, earthy granite complements the white tub.

If you have any questions about your next bathroom remodeling project, 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.

 Let's talk themes and more! Call now! 215-355-4747 or visit us online at

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Three Inventive Kitchen Remodeling Themes

After a recessionary dip in home remodeling spending, the industry has recovered impressively. As the Boston Globe reported this summer:

"There was a time, not long ago, when home renovations slowed to a trickle, with homeowners wary about making anything but the most essential fixes. Now, they are not only willing to spend, but to spend big."

The uptick in spending has occasioned an unprecedented boom in remodeling choices. For the the kitchen and bathroom, especially, the choices can seem endless--and overwhelming. And yet, a well-planned and well-executed remodeling project is certainly worth the effort.

The Boston Globe, for example, tells the story of David Sinclair and Sandra Luikenhuis:

"The couple knew it was time to renovate two bathrooms in their Chestnut Hill house when water started leaking. But they used the opportunity to transform the dated bathrooms into sleek, modern spaces, finished with high-end materials like teak and quartz. The cost was significant: about $50,000 per bathroom.

'I never thought I’d like to hang out in a bathroom, but now I do,' said Sinclair."

If you're feeling enticed by Sinclair's quote, don't let the abundance of options stop you in your tracks. There are plenty of ways to simplify your experience. At MKBD, we often suggest that client's think, first, of kitchen styles or bathroom types. Some homeowners even prefer to think thematically.

A thematic approach to remodeling can help you easily define the exact look and feel of your project. If you feel hamstrung by the seemingly limited styles or types, you might want to think, instead, of your favorite city in the world, or perhaps your favorite movie. The idea of a thematically-based remodeling project may seem esoteric, but a good remodeling company should be able to translate almost any theme into the embodiment of your dreams.

So what is your dream remodeling project? Need some inspiration? Take a look at our few of MKBD's exclusive projects for some ideas.

This week we'll share three inventive kitchen themes. Check back next weekend for a few inspiring bathroom themes.

A Shaker-Inspired Kitchen

The Shakers are a religious sect of Quakers known for pacifism as well as a communal lifestyle that values celibacy and equality of the sexes. They're officially known as The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, yet they've been called the Shakers since their inception--"shaker" referring to the ecstatic nature of their religious services.

Still, the church is where the ecstasy begins and ends: simplicity defines the Shaker lifestyle as well as the sect's famous furniture and architecture.

For this MKBD project, our clients desired a simplicity that echoed the Shaker lifestyle. Implicit in this theme, too, was a desire for attention to detail. After all, as Wikipedia notes, the Shakers "designed their furniture with care, believing that making something well was in itself, 'an act of prayer'."

Blending the timeless simplicity of the Shakers with a modern sensibility, MKBD produced a space with natural materials, clean simple, lines, a warm brown palette, and careful details, like a custom-built pantry closet and a double granite sink.

A custom-built pantry worthy of the Shakers!

The granite double sink. 

A French Country Kitchen

The French Country theme is one of the most popular and enduring themes--and for good reason. Easily adaptable to a wide range of home styles, French Country emphasizes old world rusticity, a casual milieu, and a welcoming color palette.

In this MKBD project, the client desired a walnut floor with wide tiles reminiscent of the informal elegance of Southern France.

Interior brick walls are a distinctive feature of French Country-inspired remodeling projects. Here the hard wood cabinets have been painted white to complement the off-white brick wall. Note the huge butcher block cutting board, a simple, rustic touch that will certainly prove useful for prep work. 

The chandelier (located above the kitchen table) illustrates an important point about remodeling: you are not bound by any single style or theme. The French Country theme may call for informal elegance, but our clients also wished to add an element of formal elegance. Here, the chandelier provides a glitzy counterpoint to the rustic details of the kitchen.

Warmth & Beauty: A "One of a Kind" Kitchen

Remember, a theme need not be regulated to places or architectural styles. The advantage of thinking thematically is the that you can choose words, colors, or feelings that best suit your mood.

For this MKBD project, the client wanted a kitchen that conveyed "warmth & beauty," yet was also utterly original--"one of a kind," as our client said. The pictures below our a testament to how a homeowner's creativity, translated into reality by a talented home remodeling company, can yield truly impressive results.

MKBD's specialty is our ability to attentively listen to every client request--no matter how fantastic. We pride ourselves on delivering our client's precise desires. This project required an extraordinary amount of planning and construction skills to install a functioning gas fireplace

Warmth and beauty, indeed! Everyone who sees this kitchen struggles to believe that the fireplace is real. We can assure you–it is absolutely real. Anyone who stands within six feet of this fireplace senses the enveloping warmth of this feat of remodeling ingenuity.

Beyond the functioning fireplace, this homeowner desired an uninterrupted color palette--evidenced here by the pantry and refrigerator, which are both covered by decorative hardwood inlays.

A solid birch hardwood floor balances custom-made maple cabinets, a perfect harmony of warmth and beauty!


If you have any questions about your next kitchen remodeling project, 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 themes and more! Call now! 215-355-4747 or visit us online at

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Avoid These Kitchen Remodeling Planning Mistakes

If you're looking for kitchen remodeling ideas, the Internet can feel at once inspiring and overwhelming. Sites like Pinterest and Houzz offer treasure troves of beautifully curated images, helpful tips and tricks, and plenty of links to products and services. Yet the sheer abundance of information can lead some homeowners astray.

Remember the wisdom of the popular idiom: too many cooks spoil the broth. The same is true of kitchen remodeling: too many ideas can derail a project! Over-planning a kitchen is just one of many remodeling mistakes--or as the Internet likes to call them "disasters."

The Internet is a great place to strike within you the fear of the kitchen remodeling gods!

Hestia, the eldest child of Kronos and Rhea, was the Greek goddess of the hearth and home. Happily, Hestia did not have a weapon: she abhorred the violence of her brother, Zues.

If you've researched your project online, you've undoubtedly read a remodeling horror story (or two, or three...) Quite simply, the web is loaded with remodeling disaster stories. Most of these stories follow a similar pattern: the homeowner's expectations for a project are subverted in some small or large way.

MKBD has performed successful kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects since 1983--and we've learned that by honestly assessing your project’s potential pitfalls, you can reduce the frequency, magnitude, and, most importantly, cost of mistakes. We're not here to tell you that mistakes do not happen. They often do! The key to a successful project is not eliminating mistakes--but limiting mistakes. And proper planning can certainly help.

However, some homeowners overdo it. Proper planning is about setting about reasonable expectations. If you're in the kitchen remodeling planning stage, make sure you avoid the following planning mistakes.


In a sense, "over-planning" is a misnomer: studious planning is really the key to kitchen remodeling success. Yet, it is important to remember: the actual remodeling project might not conform precisely to your plan. For this reason, it is helpful to be adaptable: change the plan when appropriate, especially when considering potential mistakes. 

Obviously, mistakes cost money, but the biggest mistake might be not accounting for mistakes in your budget. Your remodeling company or contractor might not discover potential problems--like plumbing or electrical challenges--until the work begins. So leave a portion of your budget for dealing with this unforeseen problems.

Unrealistic Expectations: The Completion Date

Unrealistic expectations can transform an otherwise brilliant project into a nightmare, and often the main source of contention between homeowners and remodeling companies or contractors is the completion date.

Kitchen remodeling projects often exceed the stated completion date. It's helpful to accept this before your begin the project. It's also helpful to let your remodeling company or contractor tell you the completion date--instead of the other way around.

By placing undue stress on your workers to finish by a certain date, you might inadvertently compromise the quality of your project. If you're concerned about the completion date, talk to your lead contact about a reasonable timetable that accounts for potential setbacks before work begins.

The "before and after" photos below reveal a tremendous transformation. Remember, this sort of transformation will take time! With realistic expectations, you will feel happy about your project, from beginning to end.

Before: For this MKBD project, the homeowners desired a total kitchen transformation with impeccable design. The "after" pictures below reveal a true dream makeover!

After: Every detail here, from the built-in warming drawer to high-grade kitchen hardware provides confidence and spark. Warm paint colors on the kitchen walls complement glazed maple cabinets with gorgeous pink granite countertops. Eye-popping red exotic hardwood floors provide the final punch for this beautiful kitchen. MKBD designers wanted to get every detail right in this new kitchen and worked tirelessly to give homeowners a kitchen of their dream. 

Overspending: Spending Too Much Money

Overspending covers two distinctive ideas: spending too much money and wasting. The first idea, spending too much money, is likely on most homeowner's minds, but surprisingly few homeowners recognize how to avoid this mistake.

Quite simply: the kitchen remodeling industry is very competitive; with so many vendors vying for your business, you have the power to negotiate the best deal for you. To adequately equip yourself, do your research about product quality and prices, and negotiate for every product and service. Otherwise, you're simply accepting prices at face value.

Negotiation could amount to some serious savings--and that's money you can reserve for potential mistakes or for a more diverse array of high quality products.

For this Fort Washington-area remodeling project, the client was uncompromising about purchasing the highest quality materials at the lowest possible price, from the custom-made cherry cabinets to the green sea granite countertops.

Overspending: Wasting Money

The remodeling project above is a great example of a homeowner spending his money wisely by purchasing only the highest quality materials. Another way that homeowners waste money is by seeking the lowest price, which often equates to the lowest quality. It's far better to seek higher-priced options, then (as we note above) negotiate the price.

It might seem like a paradox, but the quickest route to wasting money is spending too little money. We often see this problem with DIY projects. A DIY project can save you thousands of dollars on labor fees--only if you know what you're doing. If you're not sure how to install a dishwasher, for example, you might make a mistake that could cost you dearly! If you hire a high quality professional, you will avoid the risk and hassle of a DIY project.


A kitchen remodeling projects require a significant financial investment. Some remodeling companies might try to take advantage of your lack of knowledge. At MKBD, we strive to educate our customers--just read our blog! We tell you the secrets other remodeling companies don't want you to know. We empower customers. You will find many answers on this very blog! However, if you can't find the answer you're looking for, please call us: (215) 355-4747.