How to Make Any Size Bathroom Feel Luxurious

Hearing the phrase “spa-like bathroom,” we envision a spacious bathroom, complete with a soaking tub, separate walk-in shower, double vanity, and space for lounging.

If you are building a custom home or completely renovating a house, you can create space for a large bathroom. But, if you are doing a remodel, in most cases you need to stick to the size that you have.

Luxury can be incorporated into any bathroom – large or small – by paying attention to the details. So even if you can’t have a large tub and a separate shower, you can still feel like you just stepped into a spa.

Christina Fay, Bathroom Designer for Bender Showroom, shares tips on how to make any bathroom feel luxurious.

Organization and Color

A well-organized space with a clear direction for the flow of traffic can open up a small space. A floating vanity allows you to see the floor all the way to the wall, while a glass panel shower opens up every bit of square footage.

“Coming from the paint industry, I can tell you that the fastest way to feel a change is to change the colors involved. A new feel, a new energy, and a new start for a room starts with a change in colors,” said Christina.

For smaller bathrooms, white or neutral colors help to make a room feel airy. Light and bright colors are reflective and can mimic the effect of natural light, making the room feel larger.

Custom Cabinetry

To upgrade a bathroom, custom cabinets with slow closing drawers offer sophistication. Bender worked on the cabinetry in the kitchens and bathrooms at The Residences at 66 High Street, providing each unit with high-quality cabinets. Adding in mixed metals by selecting pewter, graphite, gunmetal, or chrome hardware creates the industrial look that is now trending in bathrooms. In order to ensure the bathroom invites in warmth, Bender recommends mixing metals by adding in traditional finishes, such as antique brass.

Temperature Control

No one likes stepping out of the shower onto a cold tile floor. Towel warmers and heated floors evoke spa-like comfort. You can opt for a portion of the floor to be heated, such as space right in front of the shower, or the entire floor.

Connectivity

Advanced technology is seeping into every room of the house, and bathrooms are not excluded.

“Connectivity has become the demand for luxury for those willing to invest in it,” explained Christina.

Popular options include an illuminated, defogging vanity, installing speakers that run off of Bluetooth, and mood setting lights. Personalized controls for the shower, body jets, rain head, a waterfall panel in the ceiling, timed steam generators, Chromatherapy (colored lighting) and aromatherapy controls are all possibilities for a dream bathroom.

“The sky is the limit when you can build a package of systems all linked to one digital interface,” Christina said.

Bathrooms can instill a sense of peace and relaxation. No matter what size your bathroom is, you have endless options for creating a space that is both luxurious and practical.

 

Kitchen Renovations: Where to Splurge

A well-designed kitchen can make an entire house feel more luxurious. The heart of the home, the kitchen is where families and friends gather to prepare food, discuss their days, enjoy meals, and unwind with a drink.

The Horton Group knows how important the kitchen is to most people, which is why we incorporate the best quality and design into the homes we build. For the luxury condominium units at The Residences at 66 High Street, we called on Bender to design the kitchen cabinetry with designer Daryl Zorn.

Bender has six Connecticut locations, with national recognition for their award-winning showrooms. For the model units of the Whitfield and Leete buildings, Zorn worked closely with our interior designer and Nicole White from One + Company Real Estate, the listing company for 66 High Street, to make selections.

“The rest were custom units where I worked directly with the buyers and got a feel of the styling they liked. The styles range from traditional to somewhat farmhouse with distressed cabinets to transitional,” Zorn said.

Kitchens continue to be the most desired room to renovate. The average kitchen renovation costs over $20,000, according to Home Advisor, and can easily go much higher. Because Bender focuses on function, budget, and innovative design, we reached out to them to determine which items are worth the splurge in the kitchen.

1. Cabinet Box Construction

A quality-built cabinet is essential for new kitchens. Pay attention to both the material of the cabinet box and the way it is built. Some manufacturers claim all plywood construction, but with poor assembly. Paying more for the build of the cabinets will go a long way in your kitchen.

2. Qualified Contractor or Installer

Spending money on the quality of the cabinets will go to waste if not installed correctly, and it is not the best time to try out your DIY skills. Find a contractor or installer who is an expert with cabinetry. They know what screws to use, how to level cabinetry, and how to adjust drawers and hinges. A quality installation job will last a lifetime and makes it easier for other contractors in your kitchen, including plumbers, electricians, and countertop installers.

3. Appliances

High-quality appliances not only add to the design of your kitchen but, more importantly, better your cooking experience and the food you eat. With advanced technology, high-end appliances give you more control over how you cook and make cleanup easier.

4. Cabinet Hardware

Hardware allows for endless customization options in the kitchen. Mixed metals, including brushed brass, chrome, and matte black, are trending in kitchen designs. Bender recommends choosing two or three metals that complement each other and play off of one another in cabinet hardware, light fixtures, and faucets. The “jewelry” of the kitchen, cabinet knobs and pulls can make the difference between a nice kitchen and a fabulous kitchen.

No matter what you decide to spend your budget on in the kitchen, you cannot go wrong with quality products installed by a professional.

New Construction: the Process of a Residential Build

New construction means you don’t have to deal with hidden issues that come with older homes, knowing you are up to code on everything, and you don’t have to compete for a highly desired home during a seller’s market. While building a new house is a process that takes time, patience, and open communication, the end result is a home built specifically for your needs and desires.

How long does new construction take?

Based on your plan, your builder or subcontractor will be able to estimate the timeline, but it’s essential to remain flexible throughout the process. The timeframe of new construction varies for every home. Factors that affect the process include the land being cleared and approved for building, the size of the house, weather conditions throughout the build, and change orders. In addition, if decisions about finishes and materials are put off, items may take weeks to arrive, pushing back the finish date.

Hire Professionals

When you choose who to work with, you can decide to hire a contractor, builder, or subcontractors for each part of the build. Contractors and builders will oversee the project from start to finish, so you don’t have to worry about hiring multiple people throughout the process. When hiring, take into consideration the experience and communication styles of the people you meet with. You will be working with these people for an extended period of time on your biggest asset, so take the time to interview and choose people you trust.

Site Preparation

Once you have a piece of property that is zoned for residential living, the first step is getting it ready for a new build. Depending on the state of the lot, this can including clearing land or tearing down an existing structure. Vacant land may also need work to reach electric, gas, and plumbing for the house.

Layout and Design

Working with an architect or builder, create the design of the home. The professionals you work with will help keep you on track so basic systems like HVAC and electrical work correctly. Communicate your overall vision, your style, and your must-have items. Once the floorplan is complete, you will be able to get into more specifics of each room. This can be a time-consuming step, as the number of options that go into the design of a home, from the layout down to the cabinet hardware, can seem endless. Be patient and begin with the overall vision before narrowing in on design elements.

Build

As the build progresses, you get to see your vision come to life. At this point, the professionals you hired take control, as they make sure the job is done correctly while adhering to code.

The build begins with pouring the foundation and framing the walls, floors, and roof of the house. From here, “the guts” are completed. This includes everything you can’t see behind the walls, including heating and cooling units, electrical work, and plumbing. During this time, SmartHome systems can also be installed. Workers will then close up the walls with insulation and drywall. At this point, you can really begin to see the vision come to life.

The next phase includes installing finishes and design elements. Starting with the floors and paint, then moving on to cabinets, appliances, and light fixtures. The final few weeks of the build include all the finishing touches.

 

Are you interested in a custom residential build? We’re happy to answer any questions. Contact us to learn more.

Should associations allow dogs?

Dogs are great companions, but should they be allowed in condominium communities? We’re taking a look at both sides of the question below.

Yes, dogs should be allowed.

Dogs can be integral parts of any family. Fun-loving and compassionate dogs can positively contribute to life within a condominium community, especially if many of the residents have dogs. Neighbors at The Residences at 66 High Street often gather to walk their dogs together. Some pet-friendly associations do more than others by incorporating dogs parks or pet washing stations on the grounds. Based on data from the American Veterinary Medical Association, 36% of households own dogs. For this reason, allowing dogs can significantly increase the buyer pool.

No, dogs should not be allowed.

There are liability issues that associations face when dogs are allowed. Almost a third of all homeowner’s insurance claims are due to dog bites, which is why associations must generate rules if they decide to allow pets. In addition, if not properly cared for and cleaned up after, dogs could be a headache for members of a condominium association. Without adequate training, any dog, large or small, can be disruptive and unruly.

If an association does allow dogs, there will be guidelines that must be followed. Pets are required to be registered, and when out of the residence, dogs need to be on a leash and promptly cleaned up after by owners. If you are looking to buy in a pet-friendly community, ask the following questions:

  • Is there a weight limit?
  • Are there breed restrictions?
  • Are there restrictions on how many pets you can have?
  • What rules are in place for pet owners and their pets?

Are pets allowed in your community? If so, what restrictions are in place?

Car Charging Stations at 66 High Street

Tesla has experienced massive growth in the past six years. The plug-in electric car models allow people to charge their cars rather than fill up at a gas station. Not only are these luxury cars cheaper to run, but they are also better for the environment.

With the increase in sales, more charging stations are being opened throughout the country. People need to be able to charge their cars, and charging stations at home or work are the most convenient option, as it can take between 1 and 12 hours to charge, depending on the charger (Supercharger Stations the fastest option, though not available for home use). Being able to get home, plug in your car, and charge overnight is most convenient for Tesla cars.

Connecticut is one of the states where Tesla has installation services, making it possible for residents at 66 High Street to have home chargers installed through Tesla or an independent electrician. The quickest home charging option is the Tesla Wall Connector, although owners can also use the Mobile Connector included when purchasing a new model.

In a multi-unit dwelling, Tesla owners need to speak with either the board, manager, or owner of the complex before installation. Tesla provides a template letter if you need approval to install a charging station. At 66 High Street, some of our residents already have charging installed in the underground parking garage.

As more charging stations appear in New England, Tesla automobiles are becoming an option for more people every day. The Horton Group strives to make the communities we work with both luxurious and sustainable, and are available to help residents who own a Tesla set up a home charging station.

What is the best location for HVAC condensing units?

With the official start of spring, temperatures will soon be rising again. If you are installing HVAC, efficiency should come before the appearance of the unit. With advanced technology and a multitude of options, it’s becoming easier to find an HVAC system that keeps your home a comfortable temperature, doesn’t make your electric bill skyrocket, and is not an eyesore.

When choosing a location for the condensing unit of an HVAC system, people often try to “hide” it from view. But the location of the unit, when placed correctly, can actually help it run more efficiently.

Condensing units, like air conditioners, help cool down your home. The condensing unit is the part of the HVAC system that goes outside your home. To make sure it is not working too hard in the summer months, consider where it will be placed. Here are a couple of tips when choosing a location:

 

  • Stay out direct sunlight. The cooler the air around the unit is, the less it has to work, lowering both energy use and costs. Opt for a shady, cool area whenever possible.
  • Keep the area clear of debris. Hiding the unit by planting shrubs or bushes could cause filters to get clogged. Keep the area directly surrounding the unit clear of leaves, long grass, and other debris to avoid this.

 

This doesn’t mean you can’t get creative when placing your condensing unit. Many people place their condensing unit under a deck to hide it from view. Another option is putting up a wide-slotted fence around the unit, which allows for airflow and muffles noise.

Work with your heating and cooling contractor to choose a place that ensures efficiency and doesn’t block any views of your yard.

What are HOA fees?

When looking for a condo, townhome, or a property in a planned or gated community, be sure to take a look at the Homeowners Association (HOA) fees. HOA fees are included for all common areas of the property. Since there are multiple residents in the same complex, all are required to join the HOA and help cover the costs of common areas.

Monthly Expenses

HOA fees cover monthly expenses for upkeep and maintenance of the property and common areas. This can include landscaping, pool area, fitness room, parking lots, and hallways. In addition, utilities and insurance for these common areas are covered through HOA fees.

Reserve Fund

Along with covering monthly maintenance costs, part of the fee goes into a reserve fund. This fund can be used for larger, planned expenses, such as plumbing or a new roof for a building. Reserve funds may also be used for emergency situations, like the expenses that occur from a natural disaster.

Are HOA fees worth it?

That can depend on what you are looking for. The amenities that come with complex living can be unbeatable, especially when you don’t have to deal with the day-to-day maintenance or the stress when an unexpected cost arises.  Generally speaking, the more upscale a complex and its amenities, the higher the HOA fees are. The cost of fees can also depend on where you live. For example, living in humid, subtropical Florida can raise the HOA fees for the price of landscaping alone. Always be sure to find out what the fees are and exactly what they cover before making a decision to purchase a condo or townhome

Benefits of Garbage Chutes

If you live or work in a building with multiple levels, it is neither convenient nor sanitary to go down the stairs or elevator carrying a bag of trash. Garbage chutes in these buildings go far beyond convenience – they are beneficial to all involved.

With garbage chutes, residents only need to walk a few steps to their floor’s chute drop off. Garbage goes down the chute, or large tube, to a central location in a building. Typically, the garbage chute has an entrance and is covered with a door for safety.  Residents do not need to worry about taking out the garbage for a certain day or time, and do not need to lug garbage bags to a dumpster.

Building management also benefits from garbage chutes. The Residences at 66 High Street have garbage chutes in the multi-level buildings The Whitfield, The Leete, and The Chittenden. This means management does not need to go around the entire building collecting garbage – it is all in one centralized location. In addition, the garbage collector only needs to go to one place to collect trash each week.

Garbage chutes may seem like a small convenience that can be overlooked when designing a building, but the benefits make it a must-have in commercial and residential buildings with multiple floors.

Countertops: Granite vs. Quartz

In addition to appearance, there are several factors to consider when choosing a material for your countertop. A handful of materials can be used for countertops, which offer various aesthetic qualities and functions. Two of the most popular materials used for countertops are granite and quartz.

Having a general understanding of granite and quartz is important. Granite is a 100% natural material. It is mined from quarries, cut and then polished. Quartz countertops are a 95% natural material; the other five percent is binder and color. With this basic makeup in mind, we can compare qualities of both.

Look of Countertops

Granite is slightly more natural looking due to its 100% natural composition. It can be found in a variety of unique colors and patterns. Though not quite as organic in nature, quartz still provides a stone aesthetic. Since it is engineered, quartz may be more easily found to fit a particular color.

Maintenance

Granite is more porous than quartz. For this reason, it requires more maintenance. It is suggested that granite countertops be resealed annually to ensure longevity, while quartz does not need the same care.

Durability

Both granite and quartz are incredibly durable. Because of granite’s porous nature, spilled liquids can cause staining. While quartz will not stain, it can be damaged by excessive heat.

Price

While the cost of granite and quartz are similar, quartz can run slightly more expensive. Based on estimates from HomeAdvisor, the national average cost to buy quartz without installation fees is $75 per square foot, while slab granite can typically be purchased between $40 and $60 per square foot without installation. We suggest getting quotes from two to three professionals, with installation fees factored in, so that you are able to get what you want for the best price.

In deciding between granite and quartz, there is no right or wrong decision. In the end, it comes down to personal preference, and you cannot go wrong with either.

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