Whether you're designing and building your dream home, or planning a major remodel, small details can make all the different. For inspiration, we asked a few Tampa Bay, Florida experts for their advice on the right products, colors and styles for creating a luxury residence that makes a statement.
Everyone's In The Kitchen
Kitchens have evolved as the centerpiece of the home - the place where families love to gather to talk, cook, eat, do homework, play on the computer and even entertain. The latest trend, says Patty Figiel of Leverette Home Design, is kitchen cabinetry with less detail and cleaner lines, almost a Shakar style. "We're also seeing one or two cabinets with a glass front or little squares of glass at the top with an interior light. You can showcase a collection without the need to dust and the soft lighting adds a warm glow to the room.
With cooking a favorite pastime these days, there's a big demand for high-end, high-tech appliances that save time and give fabulous results. Lynn Kislin of Appliance Gallery points to the new MasterChef convection speed oven as the perfect example.
"One of the greatest features that it has both an infrared broiling system and a microwave function," says Kislin. "If you want to cook something small like a baked potato, popcorn or a chicken, you can use the microwave. You can cook a chicken in just 20 minutes and it will come out brown and crisp on the outside and moist inside."
Convection steam ovens are also high on Kislin's "must-have" list. Once available for commmercial kitchens only, now homeowners can take advantage of the oven's features, which include the option of cooking with steam only, or a combination of the two. "It's perfect for fish because it holds the odor and doesn't dry out the fish," says Kislin.
For a kitchen that pushes the envelope for artistic creativity, T2theS is earning a reputation for their custom, modern kitchens like the "all-black" kitchen they recently did that features dyed Koto wood cabinets and countertops made with concrete. "Concrete is an interesting material because we can design a chunky countertop and incorporate different colors and finishes, resulting in a marble or terrazzo look," says Derek Grasso. "The result is really spectacular."
Quartz counterops are also very "in." Dan O'Donnell of Cutting Edge Granite reports that Consumer Reports just ranked quartz number one for kitchens and batchs for the third year. Why quartz? "It's one of the most abundant materials on earth, so it's environmentally friendly," says O'Donnell. "It is also non-porous, stain-resistant and extremely durable - harder than a knife blade and virtually maintenance-free." Quartz has the appearance of natural stone and comes in a variety of colors, from white to cream, terra cotta, green, broen, grey, even blue.
Bathrooms Go High-Tech and Sensual
With our busy, stressful lives, it's essential to have an area at home to unwing and relax. Nowadays, it's the bathroom that is serving as a tranquil retreat, says Patty Figiel, a certified kitchen designer with Leverette Home Design Center.
To create a spa-like ambience, consider a free-standing bathtub with a sleek, contemporary design. Sherell White of Herman Home also suggests a Jacuzzi tub or a luxurious shower that features the heavenly sensation of rain panels and a body jet for a wonderful at-home massage.
Technology is helping redesign today's bathrooms, which are often filled with high-tech toys, like Kohler's new Numi smart toiler. This is a toilet with amazing multi-tasking capabilities, all controlled by a detachable remote, says Nathan Parker of Ferguson Kitchens and Bath. "The Numi has a heated seat and foot warmer, automatic sensors that open and close the lid and flush the toilet," says Parker. "There's even an area to hook your iPod into it."
Set the Mood With Light
Lighting can make a remarkable difference in a room. Just ask Carmen Ulgade Vazquez of Lights and More. The right lighting will depend on the "ambience you want to create, the personality of the homeowner and the room," she says.
While LED lights are the number one choice for energy-efficiency, Vazquez points out that they give off a "cool" light. On the other hand, fluorescent light has a bluish glow, while incandescent is yellow. Halogen is used more as a soft accent, as in a wall sconce. For the kitchen, Vazquez recommends using all of them to achieve a "layered" effect that will give a cozy, warm feeling to the room combined with sufficient bright light for the workspace.
What's new in lighting fixure design? The trend is toward a blend of traditional and contemporary, like a modern lamp shade on a traditional base, says Vazquez. A chandelier may have the traditional curved arms and lots of crystals, but the overall design is more modern and clean.
Windows, Doors & Gates Add the Finishing Touch
Window coverings have a lot of tasks to accomplish: privacy, light control, glare and heat reduction, energy efficiency. Motorized solar screen shades are one of the latest products that do all of these things, says Judy Dechant of Mar-Go Interiors. "They come in an assortment of colors, textures and weaves, plus you can operate them with a remote control or integrate them into a home automation system," says Dechant. She recommends using the shade as a first layer, then dressing up the window with drapery panels or a top panel in a fabric that ties into the color scheme of the room. "Draperies soften the look of the window and add a nive touch, almost like a piece of art, especially if you have a whole wall of windows," she says.
The right type of door is also vital to creating that "WOW" factor for your home. Mark Leek of DoorPro Entryways recommends replacing old drafty, sliding glass doors with custom, energy efficient French doors. "The new French doors have a lot more aesthetic value and a higher wind-load capability," says Leek. "They're also much more secure." Personalize your French door with an etched design of your choosing or incorporate mini-blinds within the glass for more privacy.
Nothing puts the finishing touch on the exterior of a home like a beautiful hand-crafted ornamental gate. "When people drive by, you want something unique, artistic and creative, something that will complement the style of the home," says Dominique Martinez of Rustic Steel Creations. The company can also fabricate custome steel and iron staircases, sculptures and furniture.
When it comes to the interior of the home, Tampa Bay residents have a broad range of styles to choose from. Contemporary trendsetters like Herman Home are moving toward nurturing environments that reflect a simplified, clean-lined approach, especially as more people scale back and remodel outdated spaces, says designer Sherell White. "We're creating the illusion of more space by avoiding visual clutter and raising the hight of draperies to the ceiling, floating cabinetry and using furniture with legs."Earth tones of green, blue and chocolate brown add to this sense of relaxation and calm.
Home Resource takes contemporary a step further with its European-designed furniture from names like Cor, Interlubke nand Moroso. General manager Eric Cross reports that mixing contemporary with something traditional, especially antiques, continues to be a focus this season, and so is using a neutral color scheme with a "spot" of color or geometric patterns and stripes in pillows.
A coastal, tropical look is always popular here on Florida's Suncoast and two local stores carry this style. Drama Home Furnishings offers custom coastal furniture made by a private label company in Ocala, and custom upholstery, slipcovers and window treatments made on-site at the store. New this fall: beautiful area rugs that can be designed with Florida motifs of seashells, coral and palm fronds or high-end braided rugs in bright colors and contemporary designs, says owner Warren Waldo.
The Bronze Lady also carries the coastal theme, but here the focus is more on a timeless West Indies and Tommy Bahama look with lots of tropical colors in cream, yellow, light green and blue, says Carol Brawner.
For those who prefer a more traditional look, Annabelles Home Furnishings has an excellent assortment of collections that reflect the dark woods, leather and metal touches found in Mediterranean and Tuscan-style designs. Sherri Johns, sales manager, reports that the new colors this season include chocolate brown, blues and turquoise, while animal prints are still very popular for accent pillows.
No dream home would be complete with the latest automation to control the lights, alarm system and window shades, or a home theater system featuring the new 3-D projection screens. Brian Henriquez of Suncoast Power Solutions offers these products, along with residential solar energy systems and Big Ass Fans, a commercial grade ceiling fan perfect for cooling large residential rooms with high ceilings.