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cfb661bf-8c7b-4e50-a4ad-0dfec89d3d21What's a bathroom floor without a ceramic tile? Ceramic tile has been used on bathroom floors since the invention of indoor plumbing. It is versatile, inexpensive, and, perhaps most important, is waterproof. It is the quintessential stand-by for your bathroom's floor.  However, bathroom flooring has come along way, and the industry has produced more than just ceramic in terms of options. So when you are making your choice of tile for a bathroom renovation, why choose basic?
 
Here are some great alternatives:

Bamboo

Classy and environmentally eco-friendly, bamboo mixes simple care and elegant design. It comes in narrow- and wide-stock, strand-woven, and is durable and waterproof. It is also available in variable patterns that would compliment any bathroom redesign.

Artistic Relief

What's more durable than concrete? Concrete can be tinted to just about whatever color you want, and can be patterned and stamped so you can express your artistic style. Meaning that you can design your floor to match just about any pattern you'd like.

Pebbles

For a beach-like effect, try natural stone pebbles. They're attached to the subfloor or foundation, are water-resistant, durable, and beautiful. Besides the fact that because the stone pebbles add texture so you won't need mats to prevent slipping.

Cork

Not just for wine, there's a reason hundreds of year's old bottles of wine remain fresh. Cork is mold-resistant, waterproof, antibacterial, and can be installed in sheets, tiles, pieces, or mosaic patterns. It can also be stained to match and existing decor.

Glass Block

Glass block first got popular as a material designed around showers. But some enterprising individuals developed a version as a flooring. Glass is resistant to moisture, mildew, staining, and is incredibly simple to clean. It comes in clear, solid, colored, and textured.

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edf4c001-9f6a-44e8-a590-3635d1ac1641You've been planning it for what seems like years. You have all of the current home design magazines. You visit websites for the latest and greatest architectural design ideas. You've been saving and have finally amassed the budget. But you really aren't ready to add that addition until you answer the following questions.

1. If you were starting new, how would you design your house?

Don't get mired in the details, simply think about a clean slate. What would you do differently? Oftentimes people can't see the forest for the trees, and in this case your house may be causing you not to be able to truly visualize your dream addition. Remove the obvious to find exaltation. 

2. How much value will your new addition add to your home?

It should be on your mind the moment you considered the addition. Even if you are planning on living in your current home for a very long time, the idea of a resale should always be considered (not to mention refinance or lines of credit). Don't consider it as if your new addition will be profitable, you just need to keep in mind a realistic payback amount.

3. Have you gone over all of the zoning restrictions? 

Depending on where you live, the township, municipality, city, etc., will have limitations on your building rights. There may be restrictions on the distance from the street your addition can be. A limit on how much of your lot can be covered with impermeable materials (like concrete and and structures), and so on. Inquire at your area's building department before beginning construction.

4. Will the addition fit well with your current design scheme?

You've probably planned it, but have you considered how your fresh addition will look when it's attached to your existing home? Adding an addition requires finesse (and the help from professionals) to make it look a part of the house, and not like it was tacked on. Not to mention the interior issues of utilities, heating, and windows, as well as a fluid design that makes sense aesthetically. 

5. How much are you planning to spend?

The only real way to get an accurate cost budget is to talk to a professional in the field. A large addition can be quite pricey, so you'll want to have at the very least an estimate as to the overall budget you'll need. Click here to get 2014s cost versus value report for your area. 

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22324f6b-4a04-43d0-9330-2278bc0543abGranite is a popular choice for kitchen countertops. It's so common, in fact, that you're tired of seeing it in your friends' houses, decorating magazines, and model homes. For your kitchen remodeling you want something different that's stylish and yet durable. Try one of these alternatives.

  • Butcher block. Nothing adds warmth to a space like wood and the different pieces of walnut, oak, maple, bamboo, and other exotic materials in butcher block adds decorative interest. The material is also cheaper than other countertop choices like granite or quartz. However, it requires sanding and oiling twice a year to protect the wood. You can't cut on it and should not lay hot objects on it or it will stain.

  • Soapstone. This material comes in gray to green hues and is laced with veins, giving it a traditional Old World look. It's softer and less porous than granite or other stones, making your countertops look homier. Soapstone can take hot pots and pans without damage and does not stain. However, cuts and scratches show on it but can be sanded out. The surface requires regular oiling for maintenance. The color typically also darkens with age.

  • Concrete. For a modern industrial feel, you can't go wrong with concrete. Because it's a poured material, you can have the thickness, decorative details, and edging that are not possible with other choice. Foods such as red wine or orange juice can stain the surface unless wiped off immediately. Proper sealing protects against such problems. Concrete will also scratch and may crack with direct heat. Finally, you need to allow plenty of time, usually several weeks, when ordering a concrete countertop because it is custom-poured to your specifications.

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rsz natelli4If a bathroom renovation is in the works for your home this year, then you'll want to be prepared. Bathroom renovations are, after all, one of the most popular, and perhaps one of the most important remodeling a homeowner can perform. 

While it's true the at the beginning of any remodel the workload seems overwhelming, it doesn't have to be. With proper planning and a bit of know-how, renovating a room in your home can be extremely rewarding. 

Determine your budget. Under-budgeting is a huge mistake. Begin by estimating what you'd like to change in your bathroom, add up total expenses and costs (including any hired help you may need). Then, subtract the hours you may need to take off of work. Remember, time is money. (Pro tip: Keep a few extra bucks in a reserve for emergencies.)

Decide on a design.Now that you have a budget, a design scheme should come next. Begin by browsing online for different styles. Check out popular websites that relay modern trends. Check out websites like Pinterest for pictorial examples of how you want your new bathroom to look and feel.

Time to buy. With your perfect bathroom in mind, it's time to spend. If you are going it alone, head to a home improvement store with your list and ask for help. Get advice from the staff on things you'll need, cost effectiveness per item, product ratings, etc. A bathroom renovation is an investment for your home's future.

Don't forget your budget. Once you get involved in the process, it's very simple to over spend. You'll need to be your own accountant during this event, keep track of anything extra you spend, and continue to subtract these amounts from your total. Remember the reserve money from tip 1? This will be your "go to" in a crisis. Use it wisely.

There's no shame in asking for help. A big job like remodeling your entire bathroom can sometimes be too much for someone to complete alone. Calling a qualified contractor in your area may save you time as well as extra costs. 

 

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natelliDuring the recession, home remodeling took quite a dip. In fact, an independent research group called the Home Improvement Research Industry (HIRI) found that in 2012 fewer people were committing to remodeling jobs than ever. But those numbers have finally bounced back, and more people than ever are taking the plunge and beautifying their home. 

"The 2014 Cost vs. Value signals an end to the long slide in the cost-value ratio, which began to fall in 2006 and didn’t begin to rebound until last year."

Are you on board? Here are 5 hot new trends for 2014: 

1. Modern Kitchens

The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in your home. It serves as the central spot for gatherings, a place for your family to spend time together, and is one of the most important rooms that factors into resale value. 2014 will feature solid, clean colors, simple countertops to match and integrated, hidden appliances. Minimalism is in.

2. A Touch of Brass

Brass came on strong last year but didn't impact homeowners fully. Perhaps because it seemed out-dated. This year, however, brass is expected to become the "go to" accent for many spaces in your home. But not the shiny, out-dated stuff. Instead, homes in 2014 will be seeing dull, rustic and hammered versions of the classic metal.

3. Up to Date Baths

Second to the kitchen in importance to resale is always the bathroom. As many as 58% of people surveyed said they planned a bathroom remodel in 2014. What's in is, modern "resort" style bathrooms that feature things like walk-inshowers, multiple showerheads, and heated floors. With muted ash grays, off-whites, a muted blues.

4. Vibrancy

While the bathroom and kitchen are tending towards more rustic, muted and modern, other rooms in the house are leaning towards vibrant colors that pop! The brighter accents in 2013 (like orange, turquoise, and yellow) are being twisted into even bolder versions. Look for bright accent walls, and even brightly-painted floors for the new year.

5. Going Green

Sustainability is hot in 2014 for remodels. Homes that feature green remodeling will have a soft, quiet and elegent feel, with new, double insulation in the walls and attic, energy-efficient windows, formaldehyde-free flooring and cabinets, and LED lighting throughout. 

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natellihomes3It has been said for years (and it's true!) the kitchen is always the heart of any home. It's where dinners are created, gatherings end up, and parties evolve to. So making sure that your kitchen is up-to-date and full of innovation is important.

Planning on upgrading to the highest quality? Here are 5 kitchen remodeling must-haves for a luxury design.

1. Exotic Countertops 

Not granite. Granite is out (for now). What is in is exotic woods and veneers. Consider upgrading your countertops to zebrawood, African mahogany, lyptus, and teak instead. Add a tiled backsplash and say goodbye to the old and outdated.

2. Wall Ovens

Over the last several years ovens have come a long way. They are smaller, more economical, have better cleaning functions, are ergonomic and sometimes come with wireless control. Want to set your oven to come on while you're at work? Hook it up to your home network and you can have pot roast the minute you walk in.

3. Nearly Silent Dishwashers

Currently, the quietest dishwasher on the market only puts out about 38-42 decibels (DBs). That's just above a whisper, and probably a heck of a lot quieter than your current model. Additionally, look for dishwashers that are Energy Star Compliant, have half-load options, and built-in softeners. The dishwasher in your new luxury kitchen should be convenient to use and well worth the money.

4. Induction Cooktops

What was once just a tradeshow magic, and professional kitchen materiel, is popping up in home kitchens all over the place. Advantages: precision, bridging cooking zones for larger pots, wider griddle space. Disadvantages: specialized cookware, but in the end worth the extra trouble.

5. Built-in Refrigerators 

Built-in refrigerators are sleek and give a kitchen a touch subtle elegance while adding a streamlined, integrated look and feel. Top of the line models come with many amenities, like humidity-controlled veggie drawers, sealed snack pans, easy to use front controls, and digital readouts for a precise temperature in any weather.

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natellihomes2If you're you or someone in your family is in a wheelchair, a senior, or hoping to age gracefully in your custom house then consider incorporating the principles of universal accessibility or universal design. The term refers to ideas for producing buildings and products that can be used by anyone, including those with disabilities or the elderly. Here are some of the ways that the concept can help with the design of your new home.

 

  • Structure. A one-story house with no changes in levels is easier for people in wheelchairs and walkers to negotiate. It must also have access pathways, such as corridors and doorways, that are at least 48 inches wide. For necessary changes in height, such as from the backdoor to the yard, ramps can be added.

  • Bathroom. For those who want a tub, grab bars can make getting in and out easier. A better alternative is a walk-in tab with a built-in seat. For those who use a wheelchair, a double-width shower is best if the shower floor remains level with the rest of the bathroom floor. A curtain partition keeps shower spray from wetting the rest of the room, while a fold-down seat and grab bars allows an easier transfer from the wheel chair to the bathing area.

  • Kitchen. Modifications to this room can start with appliances. To minimize bending, dishwashers can be installed about six inches above the floor while microwaves can go from above the cook top to counter-height. Refrigerator drawers allow more access to food than a standard upright model. Finally, the sink as well as at least one counter can have adjustable heights.

 

Homes designed with universal accessibility are becoming more popular with buyers, primarily because baby boomers are becoming older. So you can be assured of a high demand for your place if you choose to sell it.


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rsz 1natelli2Screened porches provide a wide variety of functions and are an elegant, unique way to open your home to the beauty of nature while remaining protected from the elements.

screened porch provides the perfect place for homeowners to relax with family and friends, and there are many ways to customize them for every lifestyle.

For example, adding some comfortable seating and a medium to large sized table creates a simple dining and leisure space. The screened porch becomes a breakfast or reading nook in the morning where one can enjoy a hot coffee while watching the sun rise. In the evening, it is transformed into an outdoor venue for dinner parties that prevents pesky mosquitos from ruining the fun.

Screened porches can be further personalized. By leaving more open floor space or using moveable furniture, the porch could double as a yoga room or art studio. Adding a few bird feeders right outside can enhance the atmosphere of peace and natural inspiration as colorful birds flit to and fro, trilling their melodies.

A more modern use for the screened porch is that of an outdoor living room. Today's technological advances allow for the installation of home amenities like fans, a TV set or even fireplace. Opting for plush furniture and carpeting bring all the comforts of home into the outdoor dimension.

For a more traditional sunroom design, glass paneling can be substituted for screening. A glass-paneled porch space provides extra protection from weather without sacrificing natural light. 

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natelli homes blog3Not everyone has the space or the know-how to install a traditional wood-burning fireplace. With an electric fireplace, you don't need to. In fact, it's easy to set up an elegant and dramatic focal point in any room, while still providing the warmth, ambiance and comfort that comes with a traditional fireplace. And the best part? They are an eco-friendly alternative to burning wood or using a gas fireplace, and are ready to go right out of the box. Simply decide on a location, plug it in, and you're room will look (and feel) like a million bucks.

Here are some additional benefits to consider when remodeling your home:

Environmentally-conscious

Want to have the elegance of a fireplace while remaining eco-conscious? Then you're in luck. An electric fireplace requires very few resources to produce heat, and there are no emissions as a by-product, so you'll be adding nothing negative to the environment while it's operating. There's also no wood, gas, or additional lines to be installed, all you'll use is pure and clean electricity straight from an outlet. 

Plug-in Ready

Electric fireplaces are ready to go straight out of the box. There is nothing to install or configure, no additional resources to acquire beforehand, and very little planning as to its placement (just an open wall). All you have to do is find a place to plug it in and you're house will be warm and cozy in no time, all with the appearance that you've had a traditional fireplace installed.

Money in Your Pocket

Looking to save money on your gas heating bill? Because with an electric fireplace, you'll notice savings on your bill after just the first month (again, electricity is greener than gas in more ways than one). What's more, there is no waste when the unit is operating, because electricity converts directly into heat. Compare that to a gas fireplace where some of the costs in running it are related to the dissipation of the gas into the environment. Also, think of all the money you'll be saving not having to furnish wood as fuel as you would with a traditional fireplace.

The bottom line? An electric fireplace is a classy and contemporary alternative to traditional wood and gas fireplaces. They put off a warm glow by using bulbs that look almost identical to real flames, are clean from soot and ash, use a sustainable resource, and are perfectly safe to operate in any room in your home. 

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735166b7-3ebe-499b-f33b-055a02ad0bdc 1It can become so easy to get caught up in the big picture when planning bathroom renovations that you overlook some minor additions capable of becoming the icing on the cake. These five ideas may not equal the big-ticket items around which your dream bathroom centers, but few bathroom renovations would not benefit from including at least one or two.

  • Bathroom Fan with Timer

The bathroom fan exists to remove the moisture caused by the sudden increase in humidity that results from normal use. If properly used, the bathroom fan dramatically reduce incidence of mold and mildew in a bathroom. If not used at all, the results can be either a unregulated growth of mold and mildew, but it the fan is left going too long, its usefulness becomes trumped by the amount of energy it wastes. Bathroom renovations present the perfect opportunity to introduce fans with timers that keep it running long enough to do its job, but automatically turn the fan off to keep it from becoming an energy vampire.

  • Concealed Toilet Brush

The brush used to clean out the toilet may be a tool no bathroom should be without, but it is also true that no bathroom could fail to benefit from its being hidden from view. Which is why part the process of bathroom renovations should always at least give a few minutes worth of consideration to the ridiculously simple solution of cutting a hole in the drywall next to the toilet behind the flip-down door of which sits the now concealed toilet brush. 

  • Hands-Free Sink Faucet

Most bathroom renovations are certainly going to touch upon replacing existing sinks. While you ponder over standard issues of remodeling bathrooms like countertop material and whether to find more space by going with a pedestal sink, take time to think about why you rarely have to touch faucets in the bathrooms out in the business world anymore. The same sensor technology that saves you from picking up the germs left behind by other shoppers at the mall can also become part of the renovations of residential bathrooms. The advantages to your family's health alone make this home addition worthwhile. 

  • Anti-Scald Shower Valve

Bathroom renovations in older homes should actually put installation of anti-scald shower valves up near the top of the list. A number of different options are your disposal including showerheads with built-in anti-scald technology, pressure-balancing valves and thermostatic valves. The differences between these options are primarily cost as well as the means by which they all accomplish the same goal: keeping you from becoming the victim of a sudden change in water temperature with the potential for serious injury caused by burns or falling in the tub. 

  • Heated Towel Shelf

Tired of getting out the shower and facing the cold comfort of a towel exposed to room temperature? One of the most useful minor additions you can make to your bigger bathroom renovation plans is the introduction of a heated towel shelf. Imagine stepping out of the shower on a cold day and wrapping yourself in a luxuriously heated towel. For an additional benefit, situate the heated towel rack directly below your bathroom mirror and you can reduce or even eliminate fogging. 

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