Thursday, April 30, 2015

Kid-Friendly Bathroom Design

Last week, in our article about kid-friendly kitchen-design, we noted that many parents often neglect the kid's needs when designing a new kitchen. Fortunately, this is not usually the case with the bathroom. When it comes to the bathroom, in fact, a parent's sanity very well might depend on a kid-friendly design!

Indeed, from morning ablutions to the evening's bath time, no single room sees so much action in so little time as the bathroom. More than even the kitchen, then, a kid-friendly bathroom design must emphasize efficiency. Yet just like the kitchen, an emphasis on efficiency does not have to equal a deficiency of style.

At MKBD, we pride ourselves on our ability to design functional kid-friendly bathrooms that  also appeal to a parent's sense of aesthetic beauty.

Just take a look at the beautiful bathrooms below--you'd never know that they're meant to host grubby little ones!

And make sure you note our favorite kid-friendly bathroom design tips.

A few simple tweaks in your design just might mean insure your sanity.

A double sink is more than mere luxury--for a busy family, a double sink can mean some significant time savings.  

Divide and Conquer

If you have multiple kids, this is the most important tip we can offer: divide the bathroom into kid-friendly zones. This division need not be complicated. Just try to envision how your children will use the bathroom, and how you might enable them to use it more efficiently by dividing the space. (If possible, too, try to envision more space: see below).

Think about traffic flow. Think about one kid on the toilet, another in the bath. Design a space that will facilitate precisely how your family will use the bathroom.

If you're children are a bit older, for example, a double sink will help facilitate an easy morning routine. Just imagine: two kids brushing their teeth at the same time, each with his/her own sink.

If you're children are younger, on the other hand, perhaps you will want to reserve more space for a bath that can easily accommodate both children at the same time.

A large yet shallow bath is perfect for children.

Install a Family-Friendly Tub

A quality tub can be a luxury for the whole family--just take a look at the tub above. But for families with children a tub is a necessity. In the MKBD project above, the family had enough space to build a step for easy access to built-in tub. For family purposes, though, a traditional claw-foot tub can work just as well.

A clawfoot tub can satisfy a basic need for the children while adding a splash of retro style to a bathroom design.

A "kid-friendly" tub is a bit of a misnomer, actually. Most tubs will fit the bill. Just make sure you provide easy access for the parents--and a space to store the necessities (like bubble bath).

Storage is Crucial

Any parent knows, with kids comes stuff--and more stuff, and more stuff. For families, we always suggest a vanity with plenty of storage--and ideally a double sink!

A vanity with plenty of storage and multiple drawers can be a life-saver for a busy family. To facilitate your morning and evening routine, reserve a special drawer for each child!

Steal Space from Another Room

What most families need, really, is more room. If possible, you might want to try to steal space from an adjacent room for your family bathroom. Talk to your contractor or home remodeling company about the possibilities. You might not be able to envision a change like this, but the pros can guide you through a workable design.

Free Bathroom Remodeling Estimate

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

Friday, April 24, 2015

Kid-Friendly Kitchen Design Tips

More than any room in the house, the kitchen is a true work area. So from layout to appliances, every design choice should be made with this simple idea in mind: efficiency trumps style.

Efficiency is especially important for families with kids. For families with little kids, in fact, a functional kitchen that eases the burden of cooking and cleaning defines the success of the project.

It's surprising, then, that so many parents seemingly neglect the issue of kids altogether when designing a new kitchen. In our experience, no matter the family's composition--from couples to families with five children--homeowners desire beauty first, functionality second.

The best kitchen designs promote efficiency without sacrificing style. At MKBD, we're proud to design and build both functional and fabulous kitchens.

In this MKBD project, the granite countertops, wooden cabinets, and extensive lighting positively scream, "beauty," but the practical design choices, like placing the cooktop and an extra sink on the long kitchen island whisper "functionality."

In the MKBD project above the design choices were made with kids in mind--albeit, older kids, who could easily help with dinner prep at the long kitchen island. If you're a parent, though, the fact remains: your design choices must account for your kids--young or old.

If you're a parent, you'd do well to consider a few special design tips for your kitchen remodeling project.


Obviously, the best kid-friendly materials will be those that are both impervious to scratches and stains and easy-to-clean.

For cabinets, we always suggest durable hardwood for every family. Hardwood is both beautiful and durable. Ideally, however, you will stain your hardwood a darker color to account for potential stains.

Make sure you choose an appropriate kid-friendly countertop material, too. Laminate is often suggested for families. Solid surface materials, made from solid synthetic materials, are a recent popular choice. But believe it or not, granite can be a great option, too. Granite can stain, but today's quality sealants eliminate this problem.

For kid-friendly flooring options, do not be afraid to look beyond traditional materials. You want to stick to softer materials that are easy-to-clean, like vinyl or linoleum. A recent popular option that can replicate the beauty of wood is natural cork.

A darker cabinet stain and sealed granite counters, ensure that this MKBD project is both beautiful and kid-friendly.

Kid-Friendly Design Choices

With kids in the kitchen, the work space can get crowded quickly. To ease traffic flow, then, design a layout with clear work (or play) areas that are clearly divided.

A kitchen island can work wonders for a busy family. The island itself can provide a barrier between the work area and the entertainment area, yet it can also provide a space for the children to help with prep work, or perhaps do homework while Mom or Dad is cooking dinner.
In this simple kitchen renovation, MKBD built a kitchen island with a range to accommodate the needs of a family with older children who share cooking duties.

The kitchen island can work for both young and older kids, yet if you want a uniquely kid-friendly kitchen, you might consider lower counters. Engaging kids with the cooking process is the best way to encourage them to actually eat good food, which is every parent's perennial challenge. A lowered counter just might bridge the gap between the adult world of the kitchen and the kid world way below.

As the Washington Post suggests:

"If you want your children to help with the cooking, you might want to consider a lower work surface. Standard kitchen counter height for adults is 36 inches; kids need a work surface that is about six inches lower. When ordering new cabinets, you can incorporate a section of lower counter into its design, and this will make some cooking tasks easier for you long after your kids have grown and left the nest."

We've designed family-friendly kitchens with lower countertops for the children and parents have offered glowing reports: "Our five-year-old son is actually helping and eating," one mother told us.

Music to our ears. No matter the height, just remember to use a child-friendly countertop material (see above).

And, of course, if you have small children, remember to install cabinet safety locks on cabinets within the child's reach.

Child-proofing the cabinets is a no-brainer, but you do not have to make the entire kitchen child proof. Just make sure you have storage space to keep some of the more dangerous kitchen tools out-of-reach.

Free In-Home Remodeling Estimate

If you have any questions about your next remodeling project, please feel free to call MKBD for an individualized consultation. Let's talk bathroom design and more! Call now! 215-355-4747. Better yet, check out our Free In-Home Remodeling Estimate on this very blog!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

How Do You Define Value?

Will your remodeling project increase your home's value? On a day-to-day basis, this is, by far, the most persistent question we field at MKBD. We're happy to speak value--and we're happy to discuss precisely how a remodeling project can increase your home's value. Before we answer this question, however, we must talk about "value."

So how do you define value?

Most people who ask the value question are thinking, simply, of resale value. And often, this is the sort of value "experts" speak about when they attempt to answer this question.

We put "experts" in quotes here for a simple reason: many so-called experts answer this question incorrectly.

"Many projects do add value to your home, and improve your family’s quality of life," writes Heather Levin of Money Crashers. She continues: "Most people consider the kitchen to be the heart of the home, and because of this, updates in this room pay off. According to HGTV, you can expect to recoup 60%-120% of your investment."

This is not true. Not only does HGTV not say this; it is simply not true. The scourge of the Internet: randomly quoted numbers without any real source.

So do not believe anyone who tells you, straight-out, that a remodeling project will increase your home's value. If a prospective remodeling company tells you this, run for the hills.

Call MKBD, instead. We'll tell you the straight facts.

Do not let any remodeling professional sell you on bogus claims about value. Instead, define value for yourself. In this MKBD project, our clients intended to live in this house for years to come. Their project, then, was an investment in years of increased efficiency and happiness.

So here's the straight facts:

Many remodeling projects do not increase your home's resale value--at least not when compared to the expense of the project itself. At best, for most projects, you should plan to recoup a certain percentage of your initial expense. Here's what Investopedia has to say about resale value:

"The return on investment (ROI) of any given renovation project is a function of local market characteristics, the condition of the residential real estate market when the property is sold and the quality of the work performed. Historically and on average, certain projects, such as the addition of a wood deck, kitchen and bathroom upgrades and window replacement, have shown the greatest ROI...However, unless the remodeling project is designed to fix a structural issue or design flaw, it is unlikely that a homeowner will earn back more than the cost of construction."

If you want the lowdown on the actual ROI numbers, we suggest taking a look at the most recent "Cost vs. Value" report from Remodeling.

According to the nationally respected site, Remodeling, the most recent "Cost vs. Value" report for nationwide home improvements shows a 67.8% cost recoup for "major" kitchen remodeling projects, and an 79.3% cost recoup for "minor" kitchen remodeling projects. Those numbers are down from last year's report, which showed a 74.2% recoup for a major project and 82.7% recoup for a minor project.

At MKBD, we specialize in "major" kitchen remodeling projects. In this project, everything is brand new, from the cabinets to the powerful oven. With such an investment, the true value must exceed mere financial considerations.

So how do you define value? The answer to this question is unique to each homeowner. And this is why the answer is so crucial. By answering this question, you will set a template for a truly valuable project.

Our suggestion? Instead of focusing on re-value, look to the lifestyle benefits of your remodeling project. How would you like to change/improve your life?

For more, please read: "The Top Three Lifestyle Benefits of a Kitchen Remodeling Project."

Clean and cool: this two-tone Shaker-inspired kitchen is perfect for entertaining. A joyful dinner party is certainly a valuable benefit of remodeling.

Free In-Home Remodeling Estimate

If you have any questions about your next remodeling project, please feel free to call MKBD for an individualized consultation. Let's talk bathroom design and more! Call now! 215-355-4747. Better yet, check out our Free In-Home Remodeling Estimate on this very blog!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Maximize Your Bathroom Storage Space

It's a maxim of the remodeling industry: the older the room the less available room. Old rooms, by nature, accumulate things: furniture, yes, but also knickknacks and odds and ends. If you’re not careful, clutter and disorder can overwhelm even your most spacious rooms. This maxim seems especially true for old bathrooms, those repositories of toiletries, towels, and expired prescriptions.

We wrote before, a beautiful kitchen is a clutter-free kitchen. Well, the same is true for your bathroom. This is why we so often emphasize storage space in our bathroom designs. No matter the size of your space, if you do not account for adequate storage space, your bathroom will quickly feel cluttered and crowded.

If you're planning a bathroom remodeling project, think storage first! Below we share some of our favorite ideas for maximizing storage space—and minimizing clutter.

 In this MKBD project, the double sink vanity includes a cabinet that reaches to the ceiling, taking advantage of vertical wall space.

Build Up: Use Your Vertical Space

Remember, your bathroom walls can house much more than mirrors. Taking advantage of your vertical space is one of the best ways to maximize storage. Many homeowners choose to install high cabinets (like the gorgeous white cabinets above). Or more, simply, many homeowners choose to install shelves above the toilet or bathtub.

In this inventive design, a simple white shelf offers a stylish and practical space solution. [Source]

Add Deep, Sturdy Wall Cabinets

As we infer above, the utility of bathroom walls are neglected in far too many bathroom designs. Most bathroom designs merely place a mirror or two on the walls, leaving a great deal of space unused.

Why not install a cabinet or two?

Of course, you're likely familiar with the medicine cabinet--a not-too-deep box (usually located behind a mirror) that houses toiletries and other bathroom essentials. But we're talking about something different--deep, sturdy cabinets, like those found in kitchens.

No longer strictly the purview of the kitchen, deep, sturdy cabinets grace the walls of many well-organized bathrooms. Deeper cabinets occupy more space, of course, yet in most bathrooms they can be installed in a seamless way that is not too obtrusive. And imagine what you could do with that extra space--often four times as much as the typical medicine cabinet!

Choose a cabinet material that can withstand moisture, and don't be forget to accessorize: just like your medicine cabinet, a deeper cabinet can also house a mirror or towel bars (like the cabinet above).

In this MKBD project, we maximized space with a deep wall cabinet.

Maximize Your Vanity Storage

The bathroom vanity will likely provide the bulk of your storage space, so you want to make sure your maximize its efficiency. Think plentiful drawers (if possible) for big families. Think niches to store toiletries.

If you're lucky enough to have some extra room, a large vanity with deep drawers might accommodate all of your storage needs. For a smaller space, think a mixture of drawers and open spaces with baskets for organizing.

In this MKBD project, we installed deep and plentiful vanity drawers to accommodate  a busy family's storage needs.

Build Down, Too

Like wall space, floor space is an often neglected ally in bathroom storage. Most bathroom designs waste precious floor space. Think simple solutions here. In smaller bathrooms, the space below the sink might offer a perfect spot for a storage rack. Take a look at your corners--some might present an opportunity to stack boxes to maximize vertical space.

Free In-Home Remodeling Estimate

If you have any questions about your next remodeling project, please feel free to call MKBD for an individualized consultation. Let's talk bathroom design and more! Call now! 215-355-4747. Better yet, check out our Free In-Home Remodeling Estimate on this very blog!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Bathroom Lighting: How to Create a Perfectly Layered Lightscape

It takes a lot of experience to design a bathroom that woks on every level. From floor to ceiling, vanity to toilet, each part of a bathroom's design deserves equal attention. Unfortunately, many bathroom designs neglect the basics in favor of the WOW factor.

In our experience at MKBD, no element of bathroom design is so readily neglected as the lighting. Homeowners and remodeling companies alike focus on the big ticket item--like say, the porcelain tub--without giving equal thought to how the big ticket items will be illuminated.

Unfortunately, without appropriate lighting even the most exquisite bathroom designs will appear lackluster—or worse, blindingly-bright and frenetic.

How often have you visited a bathroom that felt incredibly dim?

How often have you visited a bathroom that blazed like an institutional bathroom?

This is why we prefer to discuss lighting first. We truly believe that your lighting choices determine the success of your project. Thankfully, with appropriate planning, your bathroom light can strike the perfect balance between function and style.

Check out your bathroom lighting options below!

Ahh, natural light. In this MKBD project, the tub is illuminated by a large, frosted glass window. Here, daytime bathing requires no artificial light; at night, moonlight provides a subtle glow.

Natural Light 

Perhaps for reasons of privacy, traditional bathroom design tends to limit the window space. This is unfortunate. No artificial light can equal the ambient glow of natural sunlight (or moonlight). And really, privacy is not an issue with today's discreet window options--like the frosted glass above.

If your bathroom does include ample window space, you're in luck. With ample natural light, you will not need to use your artificial lights during the day (and possibly into the evening). You will save money while benefiting from the calming rays of the sun--or moon. Yes, moonlight can illuminate a bathroom.

If you do not have ample window space, we suggest (when possible) installing more venues for natural light: more windows, or perhaps a skylight! A skylight is especially amenable to natural light, and is perfect for capturing  the dim light of the moon. Just imagine luxuriating in your nighttime bath with nothing but a few candles and the moon to light your way!

Layered lighting is crucial to achieving a balanced, textured lightscape. In this MKBD project, subtle ceiling lights complement the bright vanity lights. For grooming, use both. For relaxation, switch off the vanity lights.
Ceiling Lights

Many otherwise beautiful bathroom designs have been ruined by one simple flaw: a central, shockingly bright ceiling light. We see it time and time again: most of a bathroom's light is concentrated in once source, and this source is TOO BRIGHT.

The key to effective lighting is layers of light, each light source diffusing into the other. This is impossible if your ceiling light is throwing off watts like some mini sun.

This is not to say that the ceiling light cannot be the central source of light.You just don't want the ceiling light to dominate the ambiance. To control a strong, central light install a dimmer switch, and keep your lights brighter for grooming, softer for relaxing.

In general, however, MKBD advocates for evenly-distributed recessed ceiling lights (as in the project above.) Recessed ceiling lights can brighten specific areas, and can be installed to overlap, creating the rich, layered texture that is so crucial to wonderful lighting.

Bathroom Sconces

A sconce is decorative light holder attached to the wall. Many people view sconces as mere ornamentation, but sconce lighting plays a crucial role in bathroom design. Sconces are often seen around mirrors, but strategically-placed wall sconces can offer an extra layer of illumination for any part of your bathroom.

And about that ornamentation: you can choose from a variety of styles, materials, and finishes to complement your bathroom theme. Bathroom sconces are a perfect way to add some extra flair to your design.

Ornamental Sconces often come in vanity light strips, as in this French country-inspired MKBD project.

Vanity Lighting

Vanities are often illuminated by sconces or recessed lights. We mention vanity lighting here because of all your light elements, your vanity will most likely require the brightest light.

This is why a vanity sconce strip can be so useful: two, three, four (or more) lights can be fastened above your mirror to brighten your beauty-making.

Just make sure that your vanity light is not the primary light source for the bathroom. Again, think about layers. Ideally, you will only need your vanity light when you are actually using the vanity. Otherwise, the brightness might disturb the lightscape you worked so hard to create.

Free In-Home Remodeling Estimate

If you have any questions about your next remodeling project, please feel free to call MKBD for an individualized consultation. Let's talk bathroom design and more! Call now! 215-355-4747. Better yet, check out our Free In-Home Remodeling Estimate on this very blog!