National Blog

Where is the Real Heart of the Home?

When thinking about the "heart of a home", the _rst place that probably comes to mind is the kitchen. A place where families and friends congregate around food and conversation.

Is this the real heart though? The kitchen is a place of social gathering focusing on others, focusing on food; both of which are outside the self. (Maybe it should be called the mouth of the home? Talking/Eating)...

The heart - on the other hand - is about going within. It is about love. It is hard to have the love and energy required to give to others if you don’t first take the time to care of yourself. Someone who is filled with stress and low in energy won’t be able to fully bring out their love to others and to themselves.

The REAL heart of the home is a sanctuary, a place where you can be alone, a place for healing and recharging your battery. A place to connect to something deeper inside you, your own heart...

The bathroom is that place. That oasis where you can lock the door, shut out the world and be in quiet contemplation. Transforming the bathroom into a therapeutic space can bring a renewal of energy, a reduction in stress and while soaking in your bath, you can allow yourself to connect to your core, your deeper self, your heart…

From our own heart comes the spirit, creativity, expression and love of who we really are.

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By Bain Ultra

Kitchen and Bath Design Rewind

Trends in Kitchen and Bath Design are always changing - or are they? It seems like the contemporary white kitchen was popular for a very long time, at least here on the west coast. Now, with the resurgence of older styles, some products have been given new life. Glam seems to be popular right now in Interior Design including Kitchens and Baths. For those of you who don't know, Glam is described as a style that incorporates shiny, soft and velvety textures with dark colours, and curved shapes, kind of like an old Hollywood Style.   That being said, people may be embracing older and more traditional styles but they don't want to part with the modern innovations and conveniences afforded to us today. Let's take a look at some brands that fill the consumer's desire to mix in some elements of earlier styles with conveniences of the modern age.

Bertazzoni Appliances:

These are beautifully and efficiently designed appliances made in Italy.  According to Jeannie Sasaki of Distinctive Appliances, there is something for everyone.   For instance, the consumer can change the handle of the appliance according to whether they want a traditional, transitional or contemporary look. The finish that sells best is still Stainless Steel, but they recently have seen a spike in demand for colour, and it all started with the Professional orange range. This year the trend is moving toward their 36" Professional red range  as well as their Master range in black and white matte.  These would fit right in with the Glam style that is becoming prevalent. The quality of the vibrant orange and red finishes are noteworthy as they are painted by the same company that paints Ferrari and Lamborghini.  New this year will be Bertazzoni’s relaunch of their Heritage line,  which would greatly complement a more traditional kitchen. Bertazzoni also has a new line of built in refrigeration that sits flush in line with cabinets.


BainUltra Baths:

While some people were making the not-so-hard decision to turn their bathing area into a luxurious shower, others wouldn't dream of parting with their bathtub.  Free standing tubs, inspired by traditional styles with modern elements are becoming increasingly popular.  Renee Martel of BainUltra indicates that home owners and designers see the free standing tub as an art piece or focal point of the bathroom.  She goes on to say that consumers are choosing to install new tubs rather than abandon them for shower areas.  As with Bertazzoni, BainUltra caters to several different tastes.  They have many collections with different finishes and other options to meet individual needs.  Options for bathtubs include hydro-thermo massage air jets, chromatherapy, aromatherapy, thermo therapy and sound therapy.  These options speak to the desire many of us have to incorporate spa and wellness elements in our homes.  

Design wise, BainUltra has a tub to fit just about any style.  An example of this is one of their top selling lines,  Scala.  The Scala bathtub with its modern take on the clawfoot tub was inspired by the traditional Rococo style of the Teatro alla Scala Opera house in Milan.

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Marble is a product immersed in traditional and classical design yet it is a defining quality of contemporary styles as well.  The modern white kitchen I mentioned earlier seems often includes a marble or marble style countertop.  Camille Vince of Cosentino says that quartz countertops emulating marble and natural stone continue to be trending.  Both dark and light colours are popular of late as well as glossy finishes and tops that look like concrete.  A top seller for Cosentino is their Silestone Eternal Calacatta Gold colour which has large dark grey veining with gold on a white background.  Check out their Dekton XGloss series for a more contemporary  or Glam look and Silestone's Quartz Loft Series in colours Brooklyn and Silver Lake for a more industrial look with the feel of cement.

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Jana Prince from Willis which represents various brands of countertop material such as solid surface, quartz, and laminate also stresses the continued popularity of the marble look like Corian's Calacatta Natura quartz. She indicates also that darker colours such as Fenix Matte Black Nero Ingo has seen a big increase in sales since launching in 2014. Finishes with more texture like the leather quartz is also on the rise with consumers.

We are very fortunate in the design world today to have our pick of many options that reflect our own individual needs and desires whether it be size, style, colour, technology and more. Yes, styles are always changing, and if we live long enough, they just may come back round again.

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By Tanya Kenny, Rake Design, Ltd.


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Falls are the cause of one-half of all accidental deaths in the home. The majority of these at-home falls occur in the bathroom, and the risk of falling increases with age. That’s why a home’s value can increase by upgrading the bath to a barrier-free room which is safe and accessible for everyone.

Here are some of the things you can do to create a “Smart Bath” in your loved one’s home, and we’re not just talking about smart technology, also about smart furnishings with various options. With a medical alert button nearby and smart watches designed for older adults, help can be summoned at a moment’s notice.

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  • Let’s start with replacing or converting the toilet to one that, especially for people with limited mobility, stroke victims or paralyzed individuals, is easier to rise from without assistance. Toilets can be replaced with approved comfort-height models that provide safety and ease of use. A washlet can be added on top of an existing toilet and can be programmed to accommodate different users with a front and back washing and drying feature and hands-free flushing, all operated by remote control. There are comfort-height toilets that have a built-in bidet with the same features.
  • Standard tub/shower units may be uncomfortably high for the elderly and disabled to step over and too low to sit down into for bathing. They can be replaced with a customized wet room or shower to suit individual needs and preferences.
  • Seats can also be added to an existing tub or shower. (see photo). A portable shower seat is sometimes preferable for people with limited mobility when the shower area is limited. For the wheelchair bound, a wet room offers open space that permits a rolling shower chair to be placed anywhere in the shower area. Either design will provide safety and ease of use for the client and caregiver who might be assisting with bathing and grooming.
  • All grab bars should be properly installed and anchored into reinforced walls in order to support a minimum of 250 pounds of force when the anchors are at either end of the grab bar. manufactures grab bars and rails that can be anchored anywhere along a wall and be customized to any length because anchors can be clipped into a track which allows for anchoring anywhere on the wall where studs are located. Grab bars are used for support in lifting oneself up or navigating a short distance, i.e. lifting one’s self up from a wheelchair and to stand and shower. Rails are used for continuous movement in a bathroom like moving from the tub to the shower because they provide safety, security and stability. (see attached photo showing a tub and continuous rail.)
  • Doorways should be widened to 915 mm or 36 inches wherever possible providing passage for all users regardless of abilities.

An interior designer who is also a Certified Aging Place Specialist (CAPS) provides expertise when designing or remodeling environments such as bathrooms for older adults.

By Wanda E. Gozdz, B.S., A.S., CAPS, Allied ASID, CAPS, CLIPP, CHAMP
President, Golden Age Living, LLC

Wanda E. Gozdz Golden Age Living

Upgrade your Kitchen and Bathroom Designs with an Electric Fireplace

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If the kitchen really is the heart of the home, then it just makes sense that you would have a fireplace there. After all, that’s where fireplaces began, and the word hearth contains the word heart.

Electric fireplaces make it easy to add this design element to almost any room. They are inherently zero-clearance, which means that they can be installed into drywall or cabinetry without any worries about combustible materials coming into contact with the fireplace. Electric fireplaces feature flame effects created by LED lighting, so there is no combustion inside. This also makes them incredibly energy-efficient. The flames can be operated without engaging the heater , so an electric fireplace will never overheat a room. This means that if you are cooking and entertaining your guests in the kitchen, you can have all of the ambience of a fireplace with exactly the right amount of heat, or no heat at all when the oven is on.

As today’s kitchens typically open to most of the main living areas, it’s important to consider sight lines and feature walls. An electric fireplace may be just the thing to transform a mundane bank of cabinetry into a focal point. If there’s an eating area, why not add a small electric fireplace to a nearby wall to cozy things up?

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In the bathroom, the popularity of free-standing tubs has created a new opportunity for a gorgeous feature wall centered on the tub. What better way to accent the tub than with a linear electric fireplace mounted above? Flickering flames and softly drifting heat will make an end-of-day soak even more relaxing. Or, if you’re at an age when you have your own built-in heater, enjoy the flames without the heat. Crystals inside the fireplace can be lit with LED coloured effects, to accent any décor, or left neutral and understated. If you prefer a more organic design, there are often driftwood kits available to replace the crystals.

With so many shapes and sizes to choose from, there really is an electric fireplace for any space or situation. Installation depths are now as little as four inches off the wall, for even the tightest of spaces. Some vertical units will even fit between regular 16-inch stud spacing. All that is needed is a regular 120-volt electrical connection, preferably on a dedicated circuit. If you are retrofitting rather than doing an extensive renovation, there are solutions that will allow you to install the fireplace without rewiring or doing major construction.

At resale time, kitchen and bathroom updates bring some of the highest returns of any home improvements. You owe it to your clients to upgrade your designs and suggest an electric fireplace!

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By Jeanne Grier, Stylish Fireplaces