Sunday, 24 June 2018

Renos Where to Start #8 Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid in DIY Renovations


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With the advent of DIY and home renovation TV shows, home renovations and remodeling has been on the rise. Other than the recession of 2008, home improvement and repair expenditures has increased by over 120 billion USD since 2001.


More and more people are jumping into renovations with two feet, taking on new challenges and getting their hands dirty. But with any DIY type endeavors, there are bound to be mistakes made.

Here are our top 10 Mistakes to Avoid in DIY Renovations. 
  1. Design Planning
    • Hiring a designer can be costly on a tight budget or for a small project but they have vast knowledge and experience.
    • Ever walk into a room and think "what where they thinking?" Remember the trampoline in the living room
    • The more complex the room the more there is to consider. Kitchens & bathrooms,  Electrical, plumping & HVAC have not only key things to consider but specific codes that need to be followed for the safety of your family and home.
    • If you are in charge of design, take your time and do your research.  
  2. Project Planning 
    • How to go about the renovation.
    • What should be done first, second,...?
    • All too often people start pouring cement for a new deck and slapping up drywall without building permits, or electrical inspections.
    • Planning not only involves picking colors and appliances but also organizing ordering of materials, scheduling contractors & inspections. Poor planning can be costly and frustrating. 
    • A cement truck arriving when the site and people are not prepared is not cheep.
  3. Not Knowing When to Contract Out the Work 
    • Knowing your limits.
    Now What?
    • You spend thousands of dollars on structural work, electrical work, insulation etc for your new master bedroom only to take on the task of drywall taping and mudding yourself. 
    • Drywall taping/mudding is a very unique set of skills and it is literally the finishing touch on your project. A poor job could create cracks in the taping and bumps in the mud that may not be evident until the painting is all done and you're laying in bed looking up. 
    • We are not all plumbers, electricians, drywallers, builders and designers. 
    • Know your skill set and work within it.
  4. Time Management
    • My uncle once told me of a friend he knew that hand measured out the placement of every drywall screw (not guide lines, every screw) when finishing his basement. That's 48 screws per 4' x 8' sheet. While that's awesome attention to detail, it is not necessary to be that accurate.
    • The value of a journeyman is that they know where to spend the time on the details and where not to. Watch a journeyman in any trade and they are methodical and patient. They take the time in the prep/planning phases, spend an extra 5-10 mins setting up there equipment, truing up the blades and guides. 
    • In the end DIY's spend more time sweating the small stuff, worrying about aspects that are not needed. 
    • Consider what is the purpose or focus of the particular stage you are on. Finishing work, take your time, rough construction doesn't need to look pretty.
  5. Going over budget
    • Add 25-30% to your planned budget. 
    • If this is your first time hanging drywall, buy an extra sheet. First time tiling or laying hardwood, ensure the company has LOTS of extra stock for those missed measurements.
    • There are going to be unforeseen expenses for any project: hidden water damage, mold, below code structural aspects. 
    • When we built our first home, the lot was sold as serviced, only to find out the services were ancient and had to be brought up to code. $15 000 was added to the build before we even got started. 
    • BUT if this is your first time there will be unforeseen expenses simply because you didn't know that they existed. 
  6. Shinny Object Syndrome
    • Bathroom renovation. You walk into the bathroom show room and the sales person does there job.
    • Don't be distracted by the newest, the fanciest displays. Set your budget for each item. Toilets, sinks, light fixtures, appliances. If you see something that is above your set value, stop and take the time to see how it effects the budget. 
    • If you don't keep track of an extra $50 here, $200 there you will be surprised how much it adds up in the end.
  7. Gold Faucet on an Ikea Vanity
    • Consider the age, style and the value of your home. The neighborhood you live in.
    • Don't put in a $20 000 bathroom in a home valued at $300 000. 
    • At the same token, discount kitchen cabinets in a $500 000 home could actually devalue your home. 
    • Ensure the renovation scale, features, appliances etc, are proportionate to the value and design of your home. 
  8. Poor Allocation of Funds
    • This ties into #7
    • You most likely don't need a gold toilet. You are better off spending a little more on an experienced drywaller. 
    • Quality kitchen cabinets come from quality materials. Cheap hardwood is, well, cheap.
    • If you have hard water in your area, a water softener is a good investment.
    • Spending your budget in the right areas will pay off ten fold in the time to complete the project and the overall quality of the project. 
    • Get three quotes for any contracted work and check references. I saved over $60 000 when building our home through this process. Better doesn't always mean more expensive, but you better check.
  9. Lack of Knowledge
    • This has come up in every point so far. 
    • This is why its called DIY. The entire point is that this is a journey for you. An opportunity to learn new skills and knowledge. To take true ownership of your home and pride in making it your own. 
    • Do your research. If the renovation is going to take a week, spend a month planning. If it will take a 1-2 months to gut the kitchen spend 6 months designing and planning it out. 
    • Minimize issues by planning and then planning some more.
  10. Lack of Experience 
    • You can't fake experience, so don't.
    • If you don't know how to use a table saw, don't. Get someone to walk you through the process.
    • Ask questions.
    • Hire a contractor that is willing to work with you and have you as their assistant. You're paying them, learn from them.
    • Be on site but don't get in the way. Watch how professionals work. 
    • Got a friend that has a trade? It's amazing how hard friends will work for the promise of a cold beer and a BBQ. 
Know your limits. Do your research and ask questions, as many questions as you need, from experts you trust. Completing DIY projects can be incredibly rewarding. Start with small, safe projects and scale up as your skill set and experience increase. Know when to stop and ask questions so that you can have a safe and rewarding final product.

What are your thoughts on our Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid in DIY renovations? Anything we missed? Share in the comments section.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Subscribe by entering your email address on the top right hand side to stay up to date on the most recent blogs as they roll out from Stride Lighting. 

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Monday, 18 June 2018

Outdoor Lighting Design

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A number of years ago, a young boy was taken from his home in the middle of the night in a near by community. It's hard to imagine of a bigger nightmare for a family. He was thankfully found unharmed and the perpetrator was arrested. Later that summer a door to door home security salesman came to our home and yup, we signed up, believing that a home security system would help to protect our family and our belongings.

We are not alone. Home security solutions in the US has increased by almost $1 billion USD in the last 5 years approaching $4.69 billion USD in 2017 according to Statista.com.
The top three crimes people worry about the most are often related to online activity, identity theft, email hacking and stolen credit numbers. After that, home burglary when you are not home, is next on the list before car theft and getting mugged.


Often considered to be the first and most simplistic approach to home security is exterior lighting, but how effective is it at deterring a robbery? Is that it's main purpose?

After reading the research presented by The Crime Prevention Website's article on The Benefits and Limitations of External Lighting it made me reconsider what the purpose of external lighting is for my home and family. The article brings to light (pardon the pun) the reality of how effective external lighting is at actually protecting my home and to its real purpose.

The reality is that exterior lighting is more for the home owner and their safety in and around the house at night, than it is for burglary prevention. In fact, the question to ask oneself as presented in The Benefits and Limitations of External Lighting:

"Who will benefit from this particular exterior light the most, the home owner or the burglar?"

For example we have motion lights on our detached garage, but the lights around the man doors are behind a 6 ft solid fence. If the lights turn on due to a burglar the light will actually make it easier for the burglar to do their work and not actually make them visible to a passing car or my neighbors due to the fence. So what's the benefit to having the lights in these locations? Well for safety for my family and I as we go to and from the garage at night. Ultimately not for burglary prevention.

So how do you use external lighting effectively? It can be broken down to these three considerations:
  1. Security
    • Lighting can be effective at home security, however it is not external lighting, it's internal lighting.  
    • Think Home Alone, the movie, when Kevin pretends there is a party inside? The appearance that someone is home due to interior lights being on, is more of a deterrent then outside lights. 
    • Exterior lights that illuminate an area that CAN be seen by someone else (neighbor etc.) or an area protected by a camera can be effective at crime prevention according to The Crime Prevention Website.
    • The key is to give the impression that someone is home. 
    • Remember, most home robberies occur during the day while the home owners are at work and school. Growing up, my neighbors home was robbed three times in one year, each time during the work day. 
  2. Safety
    • Illuminating pathways and entrances.
    • Ensuring stairs are adequately lit to prevent tripping and/or falling.
    • Motion lights can be effective in areas that are not occupied such as out buildings as they turn on as you approach. 
    • As we installed in our previous home, lights placed on a solar sensor can turn on all exterior lights from dusk to dawn. Having lights on throughout the night is less of a concern today when we have access to low wattage LED's that run at 4-6 Watts vs 40-60 Watts per bulb prior. 
  3. Home design
    • Entrances, patios, decks, architectural features can be highlighted with the right fixture that also serves multiple roles such as security, ambient and/or task lighting.

    • directional wall sconces can create up or down light to focus light in key areas such as walkways or architectural designs. 
    • As traditional wall sconces are available in limitless design styles and colors, they can add character to entrances, patios or decks. 
As discussed in previous blog posts,  RENOS - WHERE TO START #4 It's Gotta Function and RENOS - WHERE  TO START #2 What was I trying to accomplish?, when you are about to make those important investments into your home, ensure you have a clear understanding as to the purpose for those changes to ensure you get out what you put into your projects.

Thanks for stopping by!

Any questions don't hesitate to ask. Join us on Facebook @ facebook.com/groups/stridelighting/ to join in on more helpful information, support and discussion on home lighting. 

Subscribe by entering your email address on the top right hand side to stay up to date on the most recent blogs as they roll out from Stride Lighting. 

Visit us @ www.stridelighting.com.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Reno's-Where to Start # 7 Kitchen Renovation Review

AFTER 

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I came across an interesting article this week from Today.com that inspired me to follow up on our latest post, 10 Tips to Kitchen Lighting. The article is about a beautiful renovation of a 1960's ranch style kitchen and dining room. It in fact resembles my very own kitchen in many ways (style and age). This beautiful renovation was the handy work of Erin @ Lovebergs at Home
BEFORE 

What can we take away from this beautiful renovation and apply to your potential renovation?
  1. Don't kid yourself. This was a major overhaul. This is not a little face lift. Major electrical, plumbing and structural changes. BUT often to get this level of improvement you are going to have go to this extent.
    • TAKE AWAY: Big improvement may require big change (depending on your current situation)
  2. The Island - The addition of an island based oven/stove top creates a more efficient kitchen work triangle (stove/oven, sink and refrigerator). In the old design the layout created a very elongated work area. Now the majority of the tasks are focused in a much more efficient layout making prep work more enjoyable and effortless.
    Image source
    • TAKE AWAY: Ensure to improve or at the very least do not take away from the kitchen work triangle. 
  3. Addition of the Bar Stools - This may seem like a minor addition but now the kitchen is a social area. While preparing a meal, the chef no longer has to be cooped up in the kitchen and can now have the benefit of company without their back to their guests.
    • TAKE AWAY: Multi-purpose. On a budget or if you have limited space, a few extra $$$ could increase the functional space by creating multiple purposes for said space. This ties into #7.
  4. High Contrast design style - White doors/light colored counter tops with dark base cabinets/flooring creates a sense depth to the room, creating form and purpose for a small location.
    • TAKE AWAY: Play with your color choices. Consider what will still hold value in 10 years. Remember the pink bathroom fixtures ;(
  5. Light in the Room - This new design is much brighter for multiple reasons.
    1. Lighter cabinet color/material choice.
    2. Pulling the cabinets away from the sink window, allowed the incoming light to fill the space. The previous design created a mini cave around the window (see previous photo).
    3. Working with the window, white tiled back splash ensures to push the light into the room.
    4. A large light counter top on the island - a huge reflective surface to increase the light in the room.
    • TAKE AWAY: Effective lighting is not just about light fixtures. Colors, textures and layout has a significant impact. 
  6. Layered Lighting - there is not just a single new lighting fixture in the room. Layers, it's all about the layer's. There are a mixture of lighting options:
    1. Strategically placed recessed lights allowed a more even lighting of the key areas. The prior design most likely had a single fixture in the center. 6 new pot lights distributes the same light where it is needed and creates highly effective ambient lighting which will double for task lighting at the island.
    2. Adding in the vent hood will provide task lighting over the stove top.
    3. Addition of a mini pendant for task lighting over the sink.
    4. Cabinet lighting and under cabinet lighting in the dining area.
    5. New pendant over the dining table. The shades on this beautiful pendant fixture will cast light downwards to the table top while still creating ambient light, much like a table lamp.
    • TAKE AWAY: Create a layered lighting strategy. Make use of multiple lighting sources so the room has greater flexibility and usability. 
  7. Re-purpose Underutilized Space - While they removed an entire section of cabinets and moved the fridge to open up the wall into the seating area, they re-purposed unused space. The dining room before and after:
    • Given that most homes don't have a formula dining room, creating spaces that can be dual purposed is key to living efficiently. Here they created effective storage space by utilizing essentially a vacant wall.
    • The mixture of solid doors, glass doors and wine racks breaks up the wall creating a sense of style and elegance.
    • The openness created by removing the wall between the kitchen and dining room, combined with the two windows means the space didn't feel more cramped as it would have if they tried to add the cabinets in the old dining room.
    • TAKE AWAY: What areas are underutilized in your home/room? Empty wall space, the upper 1-2 ft of wall space around a bathroom, mudroom and laundry room can be underutilized storage space. In this case floor to ceiling cabinets. 
In conclusion, while planning a future renovation, consider what you are ultimately looking to achieve with this new space and keep that in the forefront of your decision making.

For more information on this kitchen redesign, Erin walks you through the entire renovation HERE, complete final budget breakdown and all.

What are your thoughts on Erin's new kitchen? Do you prefer open concept designs? Comment in comments section below!

Thanks for stopping by!

Any questions don't hesitate to ask. Join us on Facebook @ facebook.com/groups/stridelighting/ to join in on more helpful information, support and discussion on home lighting. 

Subscribe by entering your email address on the top right hand side to stay up to date on the most recent blogs as they roll out from Stride Lighting. Visit us @ www.stridelighting.com.



Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Renos - Where to Start #6 10 Tips to Kitchen Lighting

Thanksgiving. The entire family has shown up for the weekend. Siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews, the house is packed with conversation. Where does everyone end up? The kitchen. The focal point of any home. Food preparation is a key part to any day. Many important conversations happen while you are preparing a meal, feeding the little ones.

As such the kitchen can be a highly productive and active area. Proper lighting design and fixtures can make even the simplest kitchen designs become a beautiful extension of your homes design and feel. Given how much time is spent preparing meals, having proper, adequate lighting ensures this process will be more enjoyable and less fatiguing,

Here are some tips to kitchen lighting designs:
  1. Start Early in the Design Phase - If you are designing a kitchen for a new build or for a renovation, consider the lighting needs at the inception. Don't let lighting be an afterthought. Cabinet and flooring color with impact the perceived amount of ambient and task light in a room. The darker the surfaces, the more lumens (see My Lumens are Hot the difference between lumens and wattage) you will need to create the same perceived lighting intensity.
  2. Work with Natural Light - Have you ever done dishes staring at a wall? Sinks and dining areas placed near windows eliminate the need for artificial lighting throughout much of the day. If you are in the design phase, splurge on larger windows near the sink and dining areas. You won't regret the investment.

  3. Layered Lighting - kitchens are diverse rooms with multiple architectural elements. Cabinets, dining areas, breakfast bars, islands, pantry's, appliances, prep areas, windows, patio doors, etc, all potentially require different lighting needs depending on how you intend to use the space. Ambient, task, and accent lighting all have their specific place in a kitchen. A pendant lighting fixture will not provide enough light for an entire kitchen, nor would under cabinet lighting. They both have their purpose.
  4. Ambient Lighting - Maximize your lighting needs with effective ambient lighting first. This is general lighting when you enter the room. This should provide you with 80% of your lighting needs to make a snack, get organized, find your car keys, etc. throughout the day. This can be achieved through strategically placed LED recessed lights for a larger kitchen (providing a mixture of ambient and/or task lighting) or one to two flush or semi flush fixtures depending on size and layout.
  5. Task Lighting - fill in the voids not addressed by ambient lighting. Under cabinet lighting is a MUST in any new kitchen. Small LED pod lights or strip lighting are effective in these areas. Also a light over the kitchen sink is another MUST. If you have a window by the sink, recessed pot lights work well here. Light the surfaces you will be working at the most, directly.
  6. Accent Lighting - Under cabinet lighting can be dual purposed. I often leave the under cabinet lights on in the evening to create a soft low light that can be calming in the late evening. Open cabinets or glass doors with glass shelves are great for in cabinet lighting. Up lights form wall sconces or top cabinet lighting can create ambiance in any room. Dimmer switches give you more control to create the lighting you need.
  7. Islands/Breakfast Bars - Often a feature of any kitchen, mini pendant fixtures are a must. With endless styles, materials and colors, there is a mini pendant to highlight any island. It also can provide both accent and task lighting depending on the fixture of choice.
  8. Mini Pendant & Recessed Light Placement - a general guide for spacing: Using an island as an example, take the longest dimension and divide it by the number of fixtures (pendants or recessed) plus one. So if your island is 60" long, you are going with two fixtures, so 60"/3 = 20". So a fixture will be placed every 20", so 20" and 40". They would then be placed centered across the shorter dimension. For recessed lights being used for ambient lighting, you would want to avoid placing the lights so that they are directly over your head or slightly behind you as this will create unwanted shadows as you stand at the counter. This places the recessed lights more along the edge (outside third) rather than closer to the middle/center of the area.
  9. Light Switches - One-way, two-way, three-way or dimmer switches? How many entrances do you have into your kitchen? There must be a switch for at least one light in the area for safety and code requirements. Consider where you will place the various switches for each type of lighting in the room. Sit down with your electrician and work through those details. Get it right the first time. It can be timely and $$$$ to make changes once the paint is on the walls.
  10. Tall Ceilings - Draw the eye lower using long pendants or mini pendants to lower the source of the light. In combination with top cabinet lighting this will create a sense of layers and texture in the room.
There is much to consider when piecing together a lighting design plan for a kitchen. Talk to your electrician or designer about what you are looking for and how to best achieve that goal. 

Thanks for stopping by! 

Any questions don't hesitate to ask. Join us on Facebook @  facebook.com/groups/stridelighting/ to join in on more helpful information, support and discussion on home lighting. 

Subscribe to stay up to date on the most recent blogs as they roll out from Stride Lighting. Visit us @ www.stridelighting.com.






Renos Where to Start #8 Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid in DIY Renovations

Join us on Facebook @  facebook.com/groups/stridelighting/  to join in on more helpful information, support and discussion on home lighti...