Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sarah 101 - Season Finale

The final episode of Sarah 101 was aired a couple of weeks ago.  If you have been reading my blog, you would know that I've been assembling my own Sarah's Book (Sarah's House Season 1, 2, 3, and Sarah's Cottage).  Needless to say, I have been busy putting together my very own "Sarah 101" to add to my collection.  I will share with you about this little production soon, but today, I would like to talk about the great lessons Sarah and Tommy taught us in the second half of Sarah 101.

Episode 8: Classic Ensuite

This timeless bathroom features my favourite color scheme: white, cream, and grey.  Sarah and Tommy also added apricot as accent in the room.

Room Layout:

Tip 1: Tile Play

Well-priced tiles can look like a million buck with different mix of tiles and creative pattern installation.  In this case, a fix of classic cream and white tiles installed as bands, accented by grey glass tiles in the shower totally elevated these big box tiles ... well outside the box!

Don't over look your floor: a mosaic carpet detail on the floor is the perfect touch in a classic ensuite without breaking the bank.

If installing tiles on walls, set the chair-rail approximately 6" above the top of the vanity.  That way, the tile can also serve as the backsplash.  If you pick the right tile (in this case, classic white subway tile), this "backsplash" is also the perfect camouflage for your power outlet.

Tip 2: Tub

A free standing tub may seem to be a splurge in a bathroom reno.  But if you consider the overall cost of a drop-in tub (i.e. build a box, cut the marble surround, cost of tub), a free standing tub may all of a sudden become a logical choice.  Not to mention a free standing tub is always better looking than a drop-in tub.

One important tip when going for a free standing tub is to make sure the tub is ready for dry fitting after the demo is done, so you can make sure the plumbing is at the right place.

Episode 9: Re-Imagined Kitchen

This episode proves that many outdated kitchen can be beautiful and all you need is a bit of imagination.

Room Layout:

Tip 1: Salvage What You Have

If your existing kitchen cabinetry is in good condition, there is no reason to trash them all and go for new.  Instead, a trip to the sprayer will do wonder and the money you'd saved can be reallocated to other important elements such as appliances, backsplashes, and counter top.  

Mindful of the new hardware you have chosen for the facelift. If the holes are at the same place as the old hardware, then you're good to go. But if the new hardware requires new holes, make sure you have them fixed before re-painting the doors.

Tip 2: DIY Specials

Custom Desk: 
Want to extend the counter to incorporate a desk area? Why not use a newell as support! If you already have a contractor on site, it's very little work to have the newell cut to size, add an apron at front and side to form the frame (with extra support on walls), and toe nail the newell to the floor.  Once the counter is in, you will have your very own desk in the kitchen.

Custom Display:
If you have a pass through looking into a "not-so-attractive" room, why not put up a sheet of laminated glass and put up stair treads as custom shelves? When completed, you will have a back-lid open display to showcase your pottery collection.

Tip 3: Double Duty

With most of the budget allotted to the rest of the kitchen, it is time to make an art piece to double duty as a bulletin board.  A simple frame, cork board, and pretty fabrics: that's all you need for a practical and attractive piece of art!

Episode 10: Neutral Master

Who said neutral = flat and boring?  If planned well, neutral can be rich in textures, patterns, and sumptuous in a master retreat!

Room Layout:

Tip 1: Where is the Bed

It's often difficult to decide where to place the bed.  Sarah's tip is to have it facing you the moment you walk into the room.  Don't be discouraged if there's a big window on the "bed wall": just put up full height drapes and when they are closed, you will have a beautiful backdrop against your bed.  

When in doubt, clear the room and try your bed on all walls to see what suit you best. 

Tip 2: New Looks

Vintage pieces add instant charm in any makeover.  They are often better made and more well-priced than new pieces of comparable quality.  All these pre-love treasures need is a new coat of paint or new upholstery.  Consult your upholster: subtle detail like the placement of the seams and pipping makes a world of a difference when you try to turn 1960 into 2011!

Tip 3: Do It Once

Plaster moulding maybe more expensive to install initially.  However, you won't have to worry about re-filling gaps and re-painting your moulding down the road as plaster moulding won't get dried out and shrink (unlike its distant cousins in wood or MDF).

Also consider painting the walls in the same background color as your wallpaper before installing the paper.  Overtime, the paper may shrink a little and you don't want that trace of past coming back to haunt you between the two strips of wallpaper.

Episode 11: Clutter-Free Basement

There is always that room in the house where we all just pile stuff in and the basement often take the cake!  In this basement, Sarah and Tommy showed us with great planning, the basement can be functional, practical, and clutter-free!

Room Layout:

Tip 1: Be Creative

No one says you can't take kitchen cabinetry and re-purpose them as custom storage.  The trick is to pre-determine what you want to achieve and have an accurate measurement.  Here Sarah uses full height pantry cabinetry on one side and has 12" upper cabinet sitting on top of 24" deep lower cabinets to max out storage.  There is even enough room for an island in the middle for added folding and laundry space.

Tip 2: Top It Up

One of the most common features for most basements are those tiny windows. But if you install full height drapes with the curtain rod installed close to the ceiling, you will be surprised how your eyes will be tricked and you will no longer feel that you're below ground.

If your basement has duo or triple purposes, full height drapes can also act as room divider: not to mention hiding all the mess for those impromptu guest visits.

Episode 12: Fresh Laundry

How many of us really enjoy doing laundry? I'm sure some of you do, but you and I both know that you're probably among the rare species.  So how do we make this necessary chore more enjoyable?  Make the room cheerful and tidy!

Tip 1: Storage, Storage, and more Storage

The trick to a tidy laundry is to build-in enough storage so there's a place for everything behind closed doors.  If a hint of history is what you desire, then you should head to your local salvage yards for treasures you can turn into one of a kind storage solution.  Key points to keep in mind when you're out shopping for salvage pieces: (1) make sure the pieces are not warped, (2) the joints are solid, and (3) a square piece is easier to retro-fit into new cabinet.

One big money saver: if you are planning the layout of your laundry from scratch and you have 60" to spare, why don't consider using a bathroom vanity as storage.  It's cheaper than kitchen cabinet and best of all, no assembly required.

Tip 2: Fold It Up

Folding area is a key to any laundry room and if you happen to be using some tall pieces as storage, why not put a rod at the top for drip drying and a counter surface below for folding?  If you're also going to install a backsplash behind the sink and put up shelves for everyday items, consider the size of the tiles and plan its layout to minimize tile cutting.

Episode 13: City Chic Condo

Tommy and Sarah surely did save the best for last!  I love this condo and of course the monochromatic color scheme of black, white, and grey certainly push it right to the top of my list.

Room Layout:

Tip 1: Lived-in Builder Box

Lets face it, how many of us are living in these newly constructed glass boxes and having trouble injecting characters and souls to the cookie cutter spaces? The trick is to assemble a collective mix of vintage and new pieces that are uniquely yours.   Here the vintage art deco and nature inspired chairs not only provide the needed seating but also serve as conversational pieces, while the three seater is custom from Sarah's furniture line.  The common thread in all these pieces is the use of fabrics: all in black, white, and shades of grey.

Tip 2: Pendant Over Pot

With the high ceiling in a loft, why not consider using pendant instead of pot light? At comparable cost, pendants will bring the soaring ceiling back to human scale, not to mention the added charm to the space!  Condos also usually offer limited number of overhead light outlets.  To maximize the wattage in the space, use a chandelier with multiple lights on dimmer for function and ambiance.

Tip 3: Professional DIY

If you are good at photography and would like to put together a gallery wall, consider taking the images in black and white (if you're going for a monochromatic color scheme) and have them professional framed.  That way, your own DIY pieces will look just like they came straight from the gallery.

Here is a clip of the Creative Process for this fantastic condo:

A tip from Sarah on Photography:

Here you have it: all the great tips from the second half of Sarah 101.  For tips from the first seven episodes, check out my mid-point recap of Sarah 101.   Hope you enjoy reading my summary and will apply some of these tricks in your future projects!

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