What We Loved in 2011
January, 2012 - Issue #87
photography by Ted Dayton

Even old dogs - or long-time homeowners - can learn new tricks. This year we had the privilege to work with some of Santa Clarita's most talented home improvement specialists. Here's what we learned.

We Want a Multi-color, Multi-purpose Bath
This bath is gorgeous - and smartly designed. (Did we mention gorgeous? Wow.) The pros at Surfaces USA share their trade secrets: The entire master bath is encompassed in vivid Italian oval multicolored glass. The walls are complemented by warm 24-inch by 24-inch limestone floor tiles that are dramatically spaced with inset 1-inch by 2-inch glass borders. An open bay shower is adorned with mosaic non-slip tile. Stainless-steel fixtures are accented with a drop-down showerhead designed to cover the occupant with a gentle rain. A lustrous white glass bench ties into the glass slab countertop, providing a fresh backdrop to properly display the vibrant, handmade blown-glass sink. The ceiling boasts 1-inch by 3-inch Thassos 3D marble, adding a unique depth that unifies the theme in a brilliant harmony of color, texture and space; 200-0080

Keep Carpets Clean & Dry
Too often, carpet cleaning is delayed to avoid taking the carpet out of service for long periods of time. And there's always the irony that, in an attempt to remove things like mold spores, buckets of water are left (along with dirt, mold and allergens) on the carpet by traditional carpet-cleaning methods. The beauty of the Host Dry Extraction Carpet Cleaning System is that carpet cleaning can be routine and not a special production. Vacuuming, pile lifting, spot cleaning, traffic lane cleaning and overall cleaning can be performed any time. Because Host is low moisture, carpets are back in service as soon as the cleaning is done. The Host Dry Extraction Carpet Cleaning System is a proven method for achieving clean and dry carpet that looks its best every day. Host is recommended by leading carpet manufacturers worldwide and is safe for all types of carpet including stain-resistant, sisal, wool, and even delicate oriental rugs. Truly Dry Carpet Cleaning uses the Host Dry Extraction Carpet Cleaning System - and appointments are still available before the holidays; 476-7775

It's Smart to Brainstorm with Professionals & Shop Sales
As a time honored tradition, Douglas Furniture only hires industry professionals with many years of experience to assist you with your decorating needs. They pay careful attention to designing their showroom in order to provide visitors with countless home decorating ideas for their own homes. In fact, with close consideration to craftsmanship, comfort, durability and value, every item in the store is hand picked by Doug himself. Right now, Douglas Furniture is hosting their Holiday Sale, where the entire showroom has been discounted just in time for holiday entertaining; 255-8366

Think Hard before you Knock Down that Wall
We love how this space was opened up to create an expansive gameroom. What we don't love is thinking about what could go wrong when we try to replicate the work ourselves. "Have you been thinking about opening up the floor plan of your house, maybe knocking out a couple walls?," asks Marie Cooper of Randal G. Winter Construction, Inc. "There are some things to consider before taking on a remodeling project like this. It may seem simple to just remove a wall or two and combine a couple rooms or open up your kitchen to the family room. However, things aren't always so simple. Many times the walls you wish to remove are load-bearing walls and may not be able to be removed. Most walls have electrical inside and some have water, drain and gas pipes behind the drywall. No one is perfect; a contractor might not be aware of this just by looking at the wall - sometimes they find these things out later in the project. You may end up getting something called a 'change order.' Many times there is still a way to get your desired result, but a work-around might extend the project. One of the most important things to remember when choosing your remodeling contractor is not the price on the estimate, but the contractor's desire to make your remodeling project go smoothly so that you are a happy customer when the project is completed"; 799-8089

Make a Statement with One-of-a-kind Furniture
"When you want to make a real statement, you can't do better than selecting one-of-a-kind pieces," explains Hortencia Abouaf, owner of Bella Venezia. "Make your home stunning and unique by selecting furnishings constructed from vintage architectural fragments and hand carvings. Use yours as a buffet, dresser, or entertainment console. Move it from room to room over the years; these future heirlooms are timeless and will adapt to your needs. I pride myself on choosing pieces like these for my store. We specialize in custom pieces and specialty finishes so that when it comes time to invest in something of quality, the look is exclusively your own"; 254-2246

Give an Old Kitchen a Facelift
A major budget buster in a kitchen renovation is new cabinetry. If your cabinets are in good condition, it really isn't necessary to replace them when a professional paint job could provide a lot of bang for your buck. "Door embellishments, new hardware and hinges round out these cabinets. Visitors will be hard pressed to know if these are new cabinets or simply updated. I won't tell!," jokes Tami Smight, owner of Tami Smight Interiors - a full-service interior design firm; 430-0127

Big Changes come in Small Paint Cans
"Homeowners often forget that the easiest way to transform the look of a room is by changing its color palette," reminds Jon Green of Mint Condition Painting & Moulding. "Color choices can be daunting to a homeowner already overwhelmed by too many choices. Sometimes it's easier to start by eliminating what you don't like. Once those are out of the way (Hey - burnt orange isn't for everyone!), think about what emotions you want to generate in that space. Warmth? Relaxation? Energy? There are numerous online sources that can show you what colors to choose from a psychological perspective. Sometimes it's just as simple as choosing what you absolutely love; it's your space - and if a color 'speaks' to you, listen! Of course, we offer personalized color consultations to help you make the very best selection for you, your home and your room"; 251-5521

Pretty Sliding Doors
"Nothing conveys the personality of a home better than windows and doors," says Michele Mittelman, owner of Preferred Glass and Windows. "The major benefits to new dual pane energy efficient windows and doors are that they reduce annual energy bills up to 40 percent," she says. "Windows and doors are vital accessories to your home; you can change the look of your space by selecting styles ranging from vinyl and fiberglass to wood or aluminum," Mittelman adds. Old, leaking sliding doors are an incredible energy drain - and an eyesore. New sliding doors, like the one pictured here, add elegance and efficiency; 298-2165

Play Up Flattering Curves
Even a small dining table can serve up big style. "Here, a round glass pedestal table creates the illusion of more space because the eye travels through the room. Round tables offer more seating in a tight space. It's so easy to pull up another chair to a round table. As an added bonus, pedestal tables have no table legs, offering more legroom for diners," shares Tami Smight of Tami Smight Interiors; 430-0127

Choose Dramatic Lighting Schemes
"Lighting contributes to the overall design of a space," explains Tami Smight, ASID and owner of Tami Smight Interiors. "General ambient lighting is just one level of illumination. In this contemporary dining room, recessed lighting effectively showcases art pieces and architectural details. Because these lights are flush with the ceiling, they disappear and allow the elements of the room to take center stage. Consider adding a dimmer switch to your recessed lighting to create varied moods"; 430-0127

Maximize Space & Style
"The purpose of this master-bath remodel was to maximize the shower space, improve on the vanity and increase storage - all while creating a spa-like environment. Textures and materials soothing to the senses were selected, as well as a custom jetted tub designed specifically for the client's needs. Patterns in tile design with classic, timeless elements were incorporated. The shower features body spray and a multi-functional shower head, along with a shampoo/soap niche hidden in a pony wall for easy, but out-of-sight, access. A large armoire-like built-in was added for everyday storage of towels and toiletries," instructs Kathy Phillipson of Kathy's Kitchen & Bath Design; 645-2104

Balance Beauty with your Family's Needs
"As a mom, I know that it's hard to balance 'what looks good' with 'what won't get destroyed by the kids.' I am a big fan of choosing high-quality pieces that are affordable; we can't cut into the college fund!," shares Kathy Goldstein of Suburban Chateau. "My 'musts' for a sitting area that makes me proud - instead of crazy - are sturdy pieces covered in washable fabrics. An exception to this rule: leather. A deep-shaded leather will age well - even with the occasional 'whoops' pen mark. In our house, we just call it 'distressed' leather after the kids have had their way with it! Leather wears well in homes with kids - and it looks great long after they've put their college fund to good use"; 775-2980

"Modern" can be Warm
"The goal for this master bathroom was a calm, clean, modern feel. It was accomplished by making the floating vanity cabinet out of zebra wood, which gives a contemporary look with horizontal wood grains. A gray Caesarstone was used as the quartz material to add to the cool tone of the room. The tiled wall highlights the horizontal lines featured in the cabinet. The frameless mirrors have a built-in light, giving a warm feeling to the room. The wall-mounted faucets add an interesting detail, and the rectangular over-mount sinks emphasize the clean-line look. The tile continues all the way around the tub enclosure and shower walls. The frameless glass enclosure makes the space feel very open and fresh. The walls were kept white to enhance the tile and cabinet color," says Nick Oz of Dannick Design; 775-7430

When it comes to a Room's Elements, Choose Wisely
Shares Dawn Rudio, owner of Rudio Designz, "The elements of this room create a delightful, light, bright, cozy, inviting space. Warm buttery walls, and honey oak/hickory floors compliment and balance one another. Using neutrals will give these homeowners years of enjoyment and will be very transitional over time. The ceiling fan offers movement throughout the area; large-scale furniture makes the space appear large; and with the use of round, square and rectangle accessories, accent pieces and textures, we have a very well-balanced room. The use of the round mirror marries the ottoman shape and offers reflective lighting as well as balance. The color in the pillows bring out accent pieces like the well-framed, well-scaled art shown above the sofa. Hanging these two framed art pieces vertically makes the ceilings appear taller," 799-5868

With Proper Care, Hardwood is the Right Splurge
"Harder finishes of hardwood will last 25 years or more when you care for them correctly. New options, which contain aluminum oxide or ceramic oxide, never get dull and have a gorgeous depth that lasts. However, you must stay away from oil- or waxed-based products! Today's finishes are impermeable instead of oil/wax-based, so when you use these products, they can't bind to the surface. What they will do is make your floor look discolored and produce a flaky buildup. A damp-mop kit is the way to go, using a professionally-formulated mix of vinegar and distilled water. It will leave no residue - as long as you avoid tap water. Water from the faucet contains calcium, which will build up and make your flooring look lifeless.

As for what look to choose, it comes down to preference - but wider, distressed planks are what's trending now. Most people are steering clear of bleached blond woods; not only are the prone to a buildup of dirt, but the finish tends to yellow or 'amber' a bit over time, too. Smart shoppers are sticking with middle-of-the-road colors with moderate distressing to hide the inevitable wear that happens to a wood floor 'naturally' over time," says Ben Griffiths of Brent's Carpet One; 255-3337
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