By Deanna Kane
If your itch to spring clean extends to giving your living space a facelift, it can be easy to fall into a rut of selecting the functional features that meet your basic needs. While there are inevitable home items that are necessary to create a livable space, the options to elevate the aesthetics of these essential home features, such as lighting or storage, can take your space from builder-grade to custom. Including these practical features facilitates an overall more comfortable way of living; however, these unavoidable selections don’t need to sacrifice style.
“Just because something is functional does not mean it can’t be pretty,” says Eileen McGee Wetzel, interior designer with Story Hill Renovations, LLC. “Minimal updates to your house can make a huge difference; there are small things you can do to every room to elevate the home.”
Upgrading light sources is one of the easiest way to make a visual impact. “We love making a bold statement in a foyer or over an island,” says Wetzel.
However, it’s the standard, functional light sources that can often be overlooked.
“A ceiling fan is an excellent cost-effective option for homes with minimal air flow. They do not have to be basic; updating a ceiling fan can create a bold statement and dress up a functional eyesore,” says Wetzel.
Another area to upgrade is highly functional recessed lighting. “Installing wood clouds on the ceiling instead of can lighting adds a fun architectural element, and also lowers the ceiling to make the room feel cozy,” says Jerry Schmidt, sales director with Dream House Dream Kitchens.
Light switch covers are another functional feature that can be easily overlooked.
“We should kiss goodbye the toggle light switches and dial dimmers. With the resurgence of vintage fixtures, we are seeing more decorative plate covers and even bringing back push-button switches,” says Wetzel. “These are great if you want to bring a little vivacity to utilitarian fixtures.”
“To fully blend the outlets and switches into the home’s design, I would recommend going to a company such as Legrand, and swapping out those old plates and switches for a modern take,” says Wetzel.
Upgrading basic house necessities can be what separates a cookie-cutter model house from a custom-designed home.
“Upgrading standard heat registers and air vents to a version in a honeycomb pattern or bright brass is inexpensive and takes your home from generic to branded without a high price tag,” says Wetzel.
“We are not seeing our clients settle for typical metal grates on floor and wall registers,” says Scott Lowell of Lowell Construction. “They are choosing designer grates made of cast iron by companies such as Reggio Register. The grates can be left as natural cast iron, brass or aluminum, or painted to match the walls.”
This level of customization even extends to marble flooring. Air vents can be fabricated in marble to blend in seamlessly with bathroom floors, according to Lowell.
Storage is the number one request when remodeling a home, according to Wetzel. She suggests easy ways to incorporate storage features throughout the home, such as fabric boxes or storage ottomans to hide clutter.
Another option is to replace standard-issue plastic laundry baskets with decorative fabric bins. They are less of an eyesore when they inevitably end up left out in the open.
Bathroom drawers are notorious for becoming a graveyard of tangled cords and appliances. Upgrading one of these drawers to a grooming drawer can alleviate the mess caused by accumulated appliances, as well as countertop clutter. According to Schmidt, grooming drawers house canisters for hair dryers and curling irons, and also include in-drawer outlets and metal inserts to put the appliance back when it is still warm.
“These drawers really help with heat and cords,” says Schmidt.
Intelligent add-ons like a pot filler installed behind the range top allows for easily filling large pots, according to Schmidt.
This feature can make preparing meals infinitely easier, minimize mess in the prep space, reduce the strain of carrying heavy pots and cut back on clean-up time.
Instead of letting phones, tablets and laptops accumulate on the kitchen island, charging cabinets are a highly practical feature to incorporate in a home’s desktop space. “Charging cabinets in the drop zone can be customized for every family member; everyone can have their own slot to charge their individual device in one central location,” says Schmidt.
“From a designer’s point of view, these elements are eye candy. They are little pieces of good design in unexpected pieces that will inevitably make you smile and feel more at home,” says Wetzel.
The Lakeshore Living publications are published by Nei-Turner Media Group, a full-service agency located in Lake Geneva, WI. Our four publications cover the picturesque lake communities of Lake Geneva, Madison, Lake Country and Northwoods.
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