When it comes to renovations, it’s best to talk to a pro. Even if you don’t have your own interior designer on speed dial (yet), once you start planning a renovation, it’s easy to see how a little professional advice can go a long way. Luckily, Jostar has you covered with sound advice as you plan your next Edmonton renovation project. Read on for an in-depth interview with Laura, one of our design experts.
What’s the first thing you plan when you start a new renovation project?
We put together an ideal schedule and establish deadlines that will help us get the project completed on time. We also have to plan appointments with the clients where we finalize the materials, selections, and fixtures. Sometimes certain items take longer to come in than others, so we need to ensure we select and order everything in time to keep things moving. There are often unforeseen circumstances that delay the project, but having a schedule from the very beginning helps us, as well as the trades and the clients, know how to plan and what to expect.
What are some of your sources of inspiration?
A big source of inspiration for me is seeing what other designers in different countries or cities are doing. Designs and ideas are often so diverse, and it is fun to see what others around the world are up to. Certain places are more “advanced” in design than others, in that they start the trends as opposed to following them, so it is always interesting to see how other designers think outside the box. As cliché as it sounds, Pinterest and Houzz are also great sources of inspiration! I’ve been known to call Pinterest my design bible - it really helps to get out of any sort of “design rut.”
How do you balance client ideas with your professional expertise?
One of the biggest challenges can be giving the client exactly what they’re looking for, but also providing them with the most functional and beautiful design for their space. I try to give them ideas they may not have thought about before, while always keeping in mind their style and what they need from the space. If they have an idea I know just will not work at all, I try to explain why. Usually they are very understanding and open to other options. One of my favourite parts of the renovation process is collaborating with clients and seeing their excitement begin as all of the details begin to take shape, and the vision becomes more and more of a reality.
What’s the hardest part of designing a kitchen renovation?
The great thing about a renovation is that you can work within an existing space to create a totally new environment that is sometimes unrecognizable. Ironically, this is also the hardest part! Working with the existing walls, plumbing, windows, electrical, etc. is typically the biggest challenge when tackling a new project. Us designers like to dream up these great kitchens, and I can tell you that not once will the trades look at the plan and say, “sure- no problem!”. There is always something that needs to be reworked, whether it is simply redirecting a cold air return into a toe kick, or the bigger jobs like replacing supporting walls with beams or moving plumbing to accommodate for a new dishwasher location. We try to make note of these things while designing the kitchen of course, but it is usually not until the demo is completed that we find out the full story of what it is we have to work with, and work around.
Describe the biggest transformation you’ve ever been a part of completing.
Without a doubt the largest transformation was a house located on an acreage just east of the city. It had an attached double garage, two bedrooms, one small bathroom, and a really unique addition space with large windows and a vaulted ceiling that was being used as a second living room. The space had a ton of potential to become what the owners wanted, which was a three bedroom, two bathroom home with an open space main living area featuring a large kitchen, dining area, and living room. By converting the garage into a part of the living space, we were able to add in two bedrooms, a three-piece bathroom, and a laundry/mudroom to the old garage alone. The homeowners had the wonderful idea to move their master bedroom to the room with the vaulted ceiling, and we were able to find space for a spacious ensuite, walk in closet, and even a walk-in pantry with easy access to their new kitchen. As you can imagine, this was a massive undertaking. New plumbing had to be run, all new electrical installed, almost all new drywall with updated insulation, new ceiling - it really was almost an entirely new house! And that was just the interior. The exterior received a new roof, siding with cultured stone detail, concrete patio, and a new fence. From the planning stages to completion, this project took just about a year. Stay tuned to our social media to see the unbelievable before and afters of this massive transformation!
What are the 3 most common wish list items your clients have for kitchen design?
Clients are always hoping for more countertop space, more storage, and large island for workspace. Sometimes accommodating all of these can be tricky if it is a small space, and an island is not always workable. But no matter the area we have to work with, we always work hard to come up with creative ideas so the clients space gets as close to their dream kitchen as possible.
What are some of the worst designs (bathroom or kitchen) you’ve ever encountered? How did you fix them?
It is not that is was a horrible design, but there is one en-suite we are currently working on that I feel had a lot of wasted space. It was actually a very large for a bathroom, but lacked any sort of functional storage, had a large corner tub that took up a lot of the space, and had a tiny shower. We have since redesigned it to straighten out the awkward angled walls to accommodate for a more functional vanity and tall storage, a free-standing tub, and a larger shower. This also increased the size of the walk in closet, so it is a win-win! The “after” will actually be the same square footage as the original, which goes to show how the right layout can make a world of difference.
Tell us about your favourite bathroom design project.
Going off of the last question, this same bathroom happens to be one of my favourites as well. The client has picked a gorgeous free-standing tub and very sleek plumbing and lighting fixtures. A lovely almost-black tile will be laid out in a herringbone pattern, which will be a beautiful contrast against the high gloss vanity and white quartz countertops. Stay tuned for the after photos!
What are some of the execution challenges of designing a new bathroom?
As fun as it is designing a new bathroom, they certainly come with their own challenges. Much like the kitchen, you have to consider the existing plumbing and walls. You don’t want to break the client’s entire budget just by moving the toilet from one end of the room to the other. You also have to get fairly creative with bathroom storage, but incorporating a built in shower niche, and tall vanities with adjustable shelving can make a huge difference. Execution wise, don’t forget that someone will actually have to get these products into the bathroom itself. Unlike with new construction, in renovations we typically do not have the luxury of being able to bring up the tub in a crane while things are still being framed. We often have to go with a three or four piece tub/shower combination as opposed to a one piece, as those can sometimes be impossible to get upstairs or through doorways.
How to you make designs feel personal?
Every client we work with is different, so accordingly every design we create is custom made for that person. We always discuss how they intend to use the space, as well as how they want to the space to make them feel, and use that as direction for the duration of the design process. I always keep in mind that this is where the client will be spending large amounts of time, whether they will be hosting special celebrations, or simply making their daily morning coffee. Whether it is an extra pull out pantry for the avid cook, or the refinished kitchen stools that used to belong to somebody’s grandmother, we try to incorporate special details so the space is unique to them, and really feels like home.
The right designer is the difference between a renovation you’re happy with and a renovation you love. From home décor to interior design ideas, designers help make your renovation the best it can be, and even a seemingly simple project can take a lot of effort, money, and time without the right advice. For more planning resources or start your renovation, reach out to an expert like Laura at Jostar today.