Creative Storage Solutions: Minimalism Behind the Scenes

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Do you love the minimalist look but struggle to achieve it in your own home? Kitchens, laundry rooms, and bathrooms, are high traffic parts of your home. The newest storage trends keep these well-used spaces streamlined. Perfection is not as effortless as it may appear; there’s a lot going on behind the scenes to achieve organization and clutter-free surfaces!

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The Newest Kitchens Cater to Cleanliness

One of the latest kitchen trends eschews upper cabinets in favor of below-counter storage. Floating shelves, stone sills, and cabinets without doors are popular, but are often staged like displays. On one hand, it can be a headache to keep open shelving looking picture-perfect and free of dust, but everything is in sight and within reach. Many homeowners install customized drawers and cabinets below their countertops. Under counter storage is ideal for storing dishes, cookware, and food. Drawers with pegs keep plates and bowls stable in drawers to avoid breakage. Adjustable dividers, in deep drawers, allow you to customize compartments for individual items.

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Of course, pull-out trash cans and recycling bins are still more popular than ever. Tall roll-out cabinets are perfect for storing utensils upright, or taller items, like canisters of flour or bottles of oil. Your countertops will stay clear because you have a space to store everything. You are also less likely to misplace perishables. Walk-in pantries are trending but if you don’t have the space, roll-out pantry cabinetry works. Roll out cabinets allow you to see all the way to the back of the cabinet. Losing food items on a crowded pantry shelf is one wasteful occurrence that happens due to out of date storage options.

Up to Date, Organized Laundry Rooms and Bathrooms

Some older homes only have washer/dryer connections in the kitchen, creating an eyesore. We thought an ingenious solution was installing a pair of custom cabinets, disguising a washer and dryer in our client’s kitchen. Remodeled laundry rooms boast custom storage options like fold out ironing boards, tilt-out hampers, drying racks, or drying closets. Basic cabinetry for storing cleaning products has become elaborate and spacious. Linen closets or storage cubbies for individual family members are now widely available in the laundry room.

To keep bathrooms organized vanity drawers are becoming deeper and more plentiful. Many bathroom drawers also have dividers. Some bathrooms have specialized drawers with heat resistant holders for hair tools! Separate, freestanding shelving is also popular. Built-in niches keep showers free of shelving units, which can rust and collect a layer of soap scum. Shower niches tucked out of sight from the bathroom’s entryway, or played up with elaborate tile, are attractive choices.

Because people are so busy these days, design trends must serve double duty. Not only are the newest designs beautiful, but they are almost guaranteed to make your life easier. Wiping down your countertops is much easier if you aren’t moving several gadgets with no dedicated home. Cleaning your shower is faster when you don’t have to remove a ton of products to scrub a metal shower shelf. If you want to remodel your home with any of these trending options, contact ELM today. We have a creative solution for your all your storage challenges!


The Hottest, Cool to the Touch, Trend

Induction cooktops are one of the newest trends in cooktops and ranges; they have the same sleek, surface as most glass or ceramic electric cooktops, but they use an electromagnetic coil beneath a glass surface. Selecting a cooktop is a personal choice reflecting your individual preferences and cooking habits. You may not want to choose an induction cooktop solely because it is the newest technology but instead weigh whether it fits your cooking needs. If you enjoy cooking on gas and a gas connection is unavailable, induction cooking gives similar temperature control. Here are some of the biggest selling points and some of the idiosyncrasies of induction cooktops.


Clean and Efficient

The metal from the bottom of the pan interacts with a coil below the cooktop’s surface, heating only the pan, saving energy in the process. Because the pan alone is heated during cooking, energy is not wasted, your kitchen will not warm up, nor will the cooktop retain heat, potentially burning someone or causing any spills to scorch onto the glass. You can even place a piece of newspaper between the cookware and cooking surface to catch spatter, then just toss the paper out when you are done cooking.


Speed and Responsiveness

The speed of induction cooktops is a selling point for some cooks; however, even though water boils more quickly using induction, it is only by a few minutes, but every minute does count in our hectic day to day lives! 

Much like gas burners, induction burners cool down quickly when the temperature is lowered. Most cooks appreciate the ability to make immediate adjustments to their cooking temperature, and fine tuning is more difficult on an electric range. 


Details of this New Technology    

One noteworthy detail of using this new cooking technology, is that you will need cookware receptive to magnetization, such as cast iron and some stainless options. Nowadays, most cookware is induction compatible. You can test the bottom of your cookware using a magnet.   

Induction burners do not have a glow the way electric burners do. Some cooks find this lack of visual representation to be a slight hindrance; for this reason, some brands have made induction cooktops that use LED lights on the burners or on the stove’s knobs.   

One safety feature of induction cooktops is that they will not heat up when turned on unless there is an induction compatible pan on the burner. Although the surface of an induction cooktop does not heat up the way that electric cooktops do, some heat may be transferred to the cooktop’s surface from the bottom of the pan. While the cooktop may retain some heat passed from the pan, it will cool down quickly. 

The technology of induction cooking is not available in ovens, so if you purchase a range with an induction cooktop, it generally comes with a standard or convection oven.

Silver Lining in a Dark Cloud: Remodeling After A Fire

At one moment everything's normal. A couple of hours later your life has been turned upside down. When a house fire occurs everything happens so quickly—and it's not until later that you begin to understand the full extent of how this event will affect your life. 

If you are fortunate to have the fire contained to one portion of the house, as it was with the residence pictured here, you may think that it's going to be a simple repair. It rarely is. Even though the actual fire damage may be contained, the heat and smoke from the fire have likely travelled further than you think and very possibly have caused damages that aren't readily apparent to an untrained eye. Then add to it water damage coming from efforts to put out the fire. Again, there is what you see—and what you don't see. Water coming from a fire hose soaks into walls where it collects and sits. Water trapped in the walls becomes an ideal breeding ground for mold and can pose a significant health hazard. 

Bathroom after fire

Bathroom after fire

Before Exterior

Before Exterior

The Fire Restoration Process

Before your life can return to normal, all of this needs to be taken care of by professionals who thoroughly understand what they are dealing with and how it can be remedied in a way that won't come back to haunt you later. It is likely to take longer than you would initially expect, and the process is much more complex than a normal remodel. 

  • First, the damage needs to be properly remediated. 

  • Second, insurance companies are involved. The needs of the insurance claims adjustor must be addressed appropriately, so that you get the full value of what your house was insured for. 

  • Third, when walls are ripped out because of the fire and water damage, the house then needs to be put back a little differently in order to satisfy current building codes. It's not everyone who can navigate these complexities.

Bathroom after remodel

Bathroom after remodel

Exterior after remodel

Exterior after remodel

Finding the Silver Lining: People and New Possibilities 

Along with these difficulties come a few bright spots. During the experience you are likely to meet some wonderful human beings—be it the first responders who come to the fire, or the various professionals who help and guide you through the process of restoration.  Also, if you have been thinking about remodeling your home anyway, now is a great time to add those elements to the restoration. While your house is already torn apart, and you may be living somewhere else, it's much easier and more cost-effective to go ahead and add on those upgrades you have always dreamed about adding. 

The homeowners in the situation pictured here took advantage of the tragedy and undertook a full house remodel along with the repair of the fire damage. The project included a new layout for the main floor and an updated modern style in the interior and exterior. 

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The all white kitchen, a different stain to the hardwoods, and the metal railings of the staircase all contributed to a modern atmosphere. The large living room windows and the kitchen opening up to the new deck extended the room to the outside. The open floor plan wrapping around the chimney created a main floor with lots of space. The bedrooms kept their floor space, but were repainted and finished. The main bathroom was updated with new tile, and an updated shower. The basement was refinished to match the rest of the house, and will be used for storage and an entertainment area. The entire house now has the clean modern style the homeowners desired and a repaired version of its old self.


Design Solutions

In the end, the demolition and fire damage were not the most difficult part of the project: Figuring out where the staircase needed to go was the biggest challenge. We were able to provide a unique solution to this issue. The homeowners and the project manager decided that up against the back wall would be the best option for optimizing space, and for the safety of the staircase. The couches in the living room back up to the metal rails, complimenting the transition from the kitchen to the living room, and then to the basement. The stairs match the kitchen well, and the metal handrails catch your eye when you turn around the corner from the kitchen. 

We at ELM Construction were happy to help navigate with this family through the difficulties faced in the aftermath of their home’s fire. Helping get them into the home they had always dreamed about was an unexpected silver lining for the family. We hope you never face this situation. But if you do, realize that we are there to help you get through the difficulty and into a better place with your lives and with your home.

Remodeling? Why Not Pamper Deserving Pets?

Are you planning to remodel your home? Why not include modifications for your four-legged family members? Adding pet built-ins into a kitchen remodel or another area of the home is easier than you think. After all, pets do a lot for their human families; they give comic relief with silly antics, convince us to exercise when we are feeling sluggish, and they always seem to know when we need quiet companionship. They deserve to have spaces enhancing the comfort and quality of their lives just like we do. 

Nooks for Privacy

If space is an issue in your home, consider the double-duty of a window seat with a built-in crate tucked beneath it for your pet, or a litter box nook that prevents litter tracking and masks odors. Most pets prefer to have spaces in the home where they can have privacy, especially if there are small children or younger pets that pester them. A perfect—often-unutilized—space is the area underneath your home’s staircase; this space can be modified to include a kennel, nook, litter room, or even a cat staircase!  


Hidden for Freshness: Feeding Stations

You can use custom cabinetry for food storage, which is classier than having a sack of pet food propped in a corner or stored in closet where it may be vulnerable to insects. Keep dog and cat food dishes in your pet’s customized nook, although not too close to your cat’s litter box! Food dishes can also be stowed away in custom designed drawers in a kitchen or laundry room or hidden in other parts of the home. 

Feeding stations are great options for pet owners who prepare their pet’s food fresh daily. The convenience of having food bowls tucked into a kitchen drawer makes choosing fresh feeding options far more appealing. It is also a perfect solution for owners of multiple pets who may exhibit aggression over food. Whether you have a dog that likes to eat the cat’s food, or dogs fighting over their food, separate feeding stations can be a wonderful option for keeping the peace. 

One detail to note is that fresh water should always be accessible for your pets!    


A Cozy Out of the Way Spot

Since your pet may get underfoot in the kitchen anyway, why not build them an under counter bed? You can either have it lifted off of the ground on a platform or placed directly onto the floor. A plush bed to fit the nook can be custom sewn. If you are experienced at sewing it can be a fun DIY project to complete at home. Foams and water-resistant battings are available at fabric shops. It can be enjoyable selecting the fabric patterns and textures you prefer. Just make sure fabric is stain resistant and washable and that you measure the space beforehand. You also want to include a zipper so that the bedcover can be removed for washing. 

If you are considering any home remodeling projects, take the time to consider every member of the family’s usability and comfort level of the new space, even your furry family members!