According to architect John Deforest, a remodel should be "safe, sane, and even fun." This is the fun part.
In our book Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home, we partnered with members of the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory to come up with a list of extras worth considering when remodeling your house. True, they're not inexpensive, but they're likely to be money well spent. We ourselves have lived with many of these frills, and are eyeing a few for our future remodels.
Here, 11 niceties worth considering:
A fireplace or wood stove
According to Seattle architects Malbouef Bowie, fireplaces can have enormous impact as architectural details (and wood stoves, of course, are significant, and efficient, heat sources). "You can have a really simple interior," says architect Tiffany Bowie,"and if you add a focal point, it really grabs people’s attention and interest."
Pictured here is a minimalist fireplace in a house remodeled by Carolyn Leonhardt, who recommends making "at least one spectacular change" per remodel. Read more of Leonhardt's tips in Expert Advice: 15 Secrets for Saving Money on a Remodel.
Pull-out shelving in kitchen cabinets
For storing appliances and pantry items, architect Sheila Narusawa suggests installing pull-out shelves. They bring all of the hidden items at the back into the light, making them easy to reach—and easy to put away.
Pictured above, a floor-to-ceiling cabinet with pull-out shelves in a Boston remodel by Chris Greenawalt of Bunker Workshop. See the rest of the project in Rehab Diaries: Tales from the Hood.
Antifog bathroom mirrors
Architect Jordan Parnass recommends installing antifog bathroom mirrors; they'll save time and irritation in the morning, especially if two or more showers need to be taken. Shown above, a San Francisco bath designed by bathroom expert Malcolm Davis. He shares his tips with us in Expert Advice: 10 Essential Tips for Designing the Bathroom.
Acoustic insulation for bathrooms
As charming as open-plan loft spaces are, it's not always charming to use the bathroom in one. Ditto for Victorians or anywhere where sound carries well, such as a powder room next to a dining room.
According to architects Specht Harpman, the job of an architect is to consider things like "solar position at different times of day, reflectivity of materials, acoustics, and many other items owners might not be thinking about." We agree, and think acoustic insulation, especially in the overhaul of an old space, is a smart move.
Pictured above, a guest bath in Rehab Diary: A Hardworking Brooklyn Kitchen by Architect Annabelle Selldorf. Photo by Matthew Williams.
Dimmers on the light switches
Sheila Narusawa suggests adding dimmers on all light switches. Even as a simple home improvement project, adding dimmers is a brilliant way to combat harsh overhead lighting.
Shown here, a Meljac dimmer, which we've designated The World's Most Beautiful Light Switches.
Self-closing cabinet drawers
Made LLC suggests installing self-closing cabinet drawers. Kitchens and baths look their tidiest when drawers are closed; if you have lots of hands opening (and forgetting to close) them, spring for cabinets that close themselves.
Pictured above is a Dublin kitchen by architect Peter Legge, who used self-closing drawers with rectangular cutouts in lieu of drawer handles. Find this project and more in 10 Favorites: Cutout Kitchen Cabinet Pulls.
An electronics charging station
Architect Jennifer Weiss is proactive about suggesting details that clients don't think to ask for, such as charging stations for laptops and cell phones. Virtually everyone building or remodeling a house has tech gadgets to charge and corral, and having built-in solutions adds ease and order.
Shown here is an electronics charging station incorporated into a Henrybuilt closet system.
Says designer Kriste Michelini, "If your house requires shutters, use shutters." Translation: For those who don't like curtains or shades, old-fashioned wooden shutters are a great alternative. We like the way they filter light in unexpected ways.
A designated area for your pets' things
Another tip from Made LLC: "Factor your pets and the way they live into your design plans." If you don't want a cat scratcher in the middle of your hallway or a dog bed on your living room floor, take the time to think this through during your remodel.
A waist-high dog washing tub
We had one of these in my house growing up. (Actually, we had an entire room dedicated to grooming our dogs.) And it actually didn't feel like a luxury: if you bathe your dog(s) a lot, a waist-high tub will spare your back (and handily doubles as a utility sink).
Explore the dog-centric setup shown here in Only in Japan: An Architect-Designed House That Doubles as a Dog Salon.