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Remodeling 101: 15 Luxuries Worth Considering in Your Remodel


Remodeling 101: 15 Luxuries Worth Considering in Your Remodel

April 24, 2017

The most fun part of every remodel? Perusing—and choosing—some life-enhancing frills.

In our book, Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home, we polled members of the Remodelista Architect & Designer Directory to come up with a list of extras, large and small, that are worth the splurge. They may not be inexpensive, but they’re often money well spent. We’ve lived with many of these details ourselves and are eyeing several more for future remodels. Here, 15 worth considering.

photovoltaic (pv) panels integrated into a standing seam metal roof. photograph 9
Above: Photovoltaic (PV) panels integrated into a standing seam metal roof. Photograph via Fabral.

1. A standing seam metal roof

The favorite roofing material of every architect we polled? Hands-down the vote goes to “low maintenance, high aesthetic” standing-seam metal. Energy-efficient, sustainable, and long-lasting, metal roofs also provide a nice pitter-patter in the rain. See Hardscaping 101: Standing Seam Metal Roofs on Gardenista for the lowdown.

2. Solar paneling

If you’re looking to reduce your energy bills and carbon footprint, the time may be right to go solar. See Gardenista’s Hardscaping 101: Solar Panels Pros and Cons and then get inspired by architect Rafe Churchill’s solar Connecticut Farmhouse, standing seam metal roof included.

dinesen meets radiant heat flooring. photograph via dinesen. 10
Above: Dinesen meets radiant heat flooring. Photograph via Dinesen.

3. Radiant heat flooring

If you’re just embarking on a renovation or building a new house, consider installing radiant heating (also known as underfloor heating), an energy-efficient way to keep warm throughout the cold months. “As an architect who has supervised and survived many remodels, I have experienced radiant floor heating in other people’s houses and covet it in my own,” writes our own resident architect, Christine.

the sloan white vertical double panel radiator by uk company hudson reed. 11
Above: The Sloan White Vertical Double-Panel Radiator by UK company Hudson Reed.

4. Flat-panel radiators

“Imagine a heating system that isn’t seen or heard,” writes Remodelista’s Janet of flat-panel radiators. The embodiment of quiet, gentle warmth and minimalism, these European designs, now making inroads in the US, free up floor space, operate efficiently, and look good too.

a minimalist fireplace in a house remodeled by napa, california, designer  12
Above: A minimalist fireplace in a house remodeled by Napa, California, designer 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.

5. A fireplace or woodstove

A fireplace can have enormous impact as an architectural detail, and a woodstove is a significant and efficient heat source, points out Seattle architects Malbouef Bowie. “You can have a really simple interior,” architect Tiffany Bowie says, “and if you add a focal point, it really grabs people’s attention and interest.”

sheila narusawa&#8\2\17;s neatly organized pullout pantry. photograph  13
Above: Sheila Narusawa’s neatly organized pullout pantry. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista; see more in Kitchen of the Week: A Streamlined Cape Cod Classic.

6. Pullout shelving in kitchen cabinets

For storing appliances and pantry items, architect Sheila Narusawa suggests installing pullout shelves. “They bring all of the hidden items at the back into the light, making them easy to reach—and easy to put away,” she says.

in julianne moore&#8\2\17;s nyc kitchen: a la cornue range. photograph by&# 14
Above: In Julianne Moore’s NYC kitchen: a La Cornue range. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.

7. A top-of-the line range

The race cars of the kitchen, a beautiful range is what we recommend for when your midlife crisis hits. In actress Julianne Moore’s NYC kitchen: a glamorous La Cornue range. (For more, see Behind the Scenes: 5 Design Lessons from Julianne Moore.) And for more stove lust, see 6 Château-Style Cooking Ranges and Beth Kirby’s Star Is Born Kitchen, Lacanche Included.

8. Double dishwashers

Have a large family or love entertaining? BAR Architects of San Francisco suggests adding a second dishwasher to handle overload. (And wash efficiently with Domestic Science: How to Load a Dishwasher.)

a san francisco design by bathroom expert malcolm davis. he shares his tip 15
Above: A San Francisco design by bathroom expert Malcolm Davis. He shares his tips with us in Expert Advice: 10 Essential Tips for Designing the Bathroom.

9. Antifog bathroom mirrors

Architect Jordan Parnass of Brooklyn, New York, recommends installing antifog bathroom mirrors; they save time in the morning, especially if two or more showers need to be taken.

the powder room in a hardworking brooklyn kitchen by architect annabelle selldo 16
Above: The powder room in A Hardworking Brooklyn Kitchen by Architect Annabelle Selldorf. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.

10. 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 that sound carries, such as a powder room next to a dining room. Acoustic insulation, especially in the overhaul of an old space, is a smart move.

According to Specht Architects of Austin, Texas, 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.”

for hands free dimmers, consider investing in a smart model, like the belkin we 17
Above: For hands-free dimmers, consider investing in a smart model, like the Belkin Wemo Wireless Light Control Switch, shown here; see Remodeling 101: Smart In-Wall Dimmer Switches.

11. Dimmers on the light switches

Sheila Narusawa suggests adding dimmers to all light switches. And you needn’t wait to install new lights—introducing dimmers can be a simple home improvement project that combats harsh overhead lighting. See also: what we’ve deemed The World’s Most Beautiful Light Switch.

a dublin kitchen by architect peter legge, who used self closing drawers w 18
Above: A Dublin kitchen by architect Peter Legge, who used self-closing drawers with rectangular cutouts in lieu of drawer handles. Photograph by Sean Breithaupt and Yvette Monohan.

12. Self-closing cabinet drawers

Brooklyn architects Made LLC always installs self-closing cabinet drawers. Kitchens and baths look their tidiest when drawers are closed; if you live with a messy crew, spring for cabinets that close themselves.

an electronics charging station incorporated into a henrybuilt closet 19
Above: An electronics charging station incorporated into a Henrybuilt closet system.

13. An electronics charging station

Bay Area 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.

interior shutters, rather than curtains, keep a petite dining room unclutt 20
Above: Interior shutters, rather than curtains, keep a petite dining room uncluttered. For more, see Required Reading: Beautifully Small.

14. Interior shutters

Averse to curtains or shades? Old-fashioned wooden shutters are a great alternative, says San Francisco designer Kriste Michelini. We like the way they filter light in unexpected ways.

in a brooklyn heights apartment by general assembly, storage platform 21
Above: In a Brooklyn Heights apartment by General Assembly, storage platforms double as walkways for the owners’ cats. See more in Before & After: In Brooklyn Heights, a Petite Flat Transformed.

15. 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.

Embarking on a house project? Be sure to peruse all our Remodeling 101 posts, including:

N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran February 5, 2014.

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