If you are planning a bathroom remodel with a designer or a contractor, you have likely been asked what kind of shower system you want. There are only two basic systems, and chances are you have used both at some point, but the technical plumbing lingo can make it all a bit confusing.
Pressure balance shower system
With a pressure balance valve, you have one lever that is your on/off function and controls only the temperature of the water, not the volume of the water. When the valve is on, it is all the way on (2.0 gallons per minute in California). You cannot decrease the volume of water coming out, but you can always use an adjustable shower head to change the pressure.
Thermostatic shower system
With a thermostatic system, you typically have two levers or controls. One lever controls the temperature of the water (thermostatic valve), and a second lever controls the volume of the water and the on/off function (volume control valve). This system allows you to set the temperature once and for all so that each time you take a shower it’s set the way you want it. You can also adjust the volume of the water coming out, but 2.0 gallons per minute is still the maximum. This valve is more complex and therefore is more expensive than the pressure balance valve.
With either system, you can add a diverter function to the shower. A diverter allows you to have more than one shower head (or a tub/shower combo). In California, you can only have one shower head running at a time, so each shower head needs to be on it's own diverter port that cannot be operated at the same time as another, and the valve cannot have any shared ports. Today, "all-in-one" valves are available that combine the diverter, volume control, and thermostatic valve on one escutcheon plate for more simple look.
So what’s popular?
Our design team usually suggests a pressure balance system in hall, kids, and guest bathrooms, and a thermostatic system with a fixed shower head and a handheld shower head on a diverter function in the master bathroom.
We are frequently asked to explain the difference between stock cabinets, semi-custom cabinets, and custom cabinets. Here is a brief explanation of the three to help better understand why the differences drive the overall price.
Stock kitchen cabinets are pre-made based on a set catalog of options, finishes, and sizes determined by the company. Only these pre-determined sizes and options are manufactured. There is no option to edit or customize for your project beyond the standard offerings that the factory produces. Diamond is one of the stock cabinetry options that we offer.
Semi-custom kitchen cabinets are also made based on a catalog of options determined by the company. However, semi-custom cabinets are often available in more sizes, more woods and finishes, and with more options and accessories available. The factory is typically making these cabinets per your order. DeWils is an example of a semi-custom cabinetry option that we offer.
Choosing to work with a custom cabinet company gives you free reign in terms of woods, finishes, design options, sizes, and accessories. If you can dream it, chances are it can be built, as your cabinets will be made specifically for you based on your order. Different from a local cabinetmakers’ shop, the custom cabinet companies that we work with are still made inside a factory, which allows the temperature, humidity, and air dust levels to be controlled for a flawless finish. Bentwood is one of the custom kitchen cabinetry options that we offer.
We recently became dealers of an exclusive handmade tile collection called Tabarka Studio, and it is already one of my favorite products we offer. Tabarka specializes in beautiful handmade ceramic and terra cotta tiles that are hand glazed or painted with intricate patterns. The tiles are perfect for any indoor floor or wall application and look especially beautiful as a kitchen backsplash, fireplace surround, or a powder bath floor.
The shapes, patterns, and colors of Tabarka tile are influenced by art, architecture, and design from all over the world and from many different eras. Tile inspiration stems anywhere from the Art Nouveau style Paris Metro signs, to the Moorish patterns of Alhambra, and beyond.
Here are some beautiful pieces from the Tabarka Studio collection:
We could all use a little inspiration.
Bamboo is one of my favorite "green" materials to use in interior design projects. It is a rapidly renewable resource and most bamboo products are FSC-certified. Not only do many types of bamboo regenerate without needing replanting, but it also grows easily on its own without pesticides or other chemicals. Its ease and speed of growth make bamboo one of the most eco-friendly materials on the planet.
Not only is it environmentally friendly, it also performs. The species of bamboo used for building materials is very hard and durable, making it a great option for hardwood flooring, cabinetry, butcher-block countertops, and more, and it looks beautiful in all of these applications!
Here are some of my favorite bamboo products:
Bamboo is an obvious option for achieving that "zen" feel in a space, but it actually works great in all styles of homes. Bamboo hardwood flooring is perfect for traditional and contemporary applications. Bamboo butcher block wood tops look good in every kitchen. Bamboo cabinets can be stained any color to work in all contemporary and many transitional applications.
Porcelain is one of the most popular tile options due to its durability, cost, and consistency in color and texture. Porcelain is typically more durable than natural stone due to its resistance to staining, etching, and scratching. Porcelain tile can be used anywhere, and most are suitable for outdoor use and wet applications. Many types of natural stone contain calcium that can wear with time, but that will not happen with most porcelain. Since porcelain is man-made, its color and texture are controlled, unlike natural stone where variation is inherent and often quite prominent.
Porcelain tile can look almost any way, shape, or shade imaginable. A porcelain tile can be as small as a fraction of an inch or as large as several square feet per piece. Porcelain tile can be made to look almost exactly like natural stone, hardwood flooring, concrete, or anything else you can think of. And trust me, the technology to do so is getting better and better.
Here are my favorite porcelain "look-alike" collections:
Open up any architecture and design magazine and you’ll probably see articles or photos that feature sustainable or “green” design. More than just a trend or concept with few product choices, sustainable design does not yield a limitation on the possibilities of your interior design or remodel.
Regardless of your style preferences, there’s a growing range of innovative and attractive sustainable and recycled product choices to incorporate into your home.
Wood cabinets from certified sustainable sources such as bamboo, hardwood floors created with reclaimed wood, durable countertops containing recycled glass, renewable fiber or recycled paper are just a few popular green options that Douglah Designs uses for our kitchen and bath remodel projects.
Rustic French country-inspired or “farmhouse” style of interior design and décor is distinct and charming as it is timeless. Rustic white cabinets, country inspired faucet, big apron sink, and old fashioned French motifs on hand crafted tiles are only some elements of a farmhouse style kitchen design.
The farmhouse style is so very distinct, that it’s safe to say that you either love it or you don’t, right? Before you eliminate the idea completely, take a look at some updated farmhouse looks that are evolving towards cleaner lines, sleeker shapes, and a fresher overall feel, while still adding that little touch of French country character to the space.