Category Archives: Tips

Home Design Is Looking Up | Beams

When designing a new home or updating an existing space, there is a lot to think about. People can spend hours mulling over paint colors, hardware options, cabinetry finishes, and other details, but one aspect that is sometimes overlooked is the ceiling.

The ceiling is just as much a design opportunity as elements such as light fixtures or flooring. It can be an unexpected focal point, drawing visitors’ attention upward and adding character to a space.  

What is one of Bartelt. The Remodeling Resource’s favorite ways to add architectural interest to a ceiling?  Exposed beams.  Their original purpose was functional back when timber frame construction was popular.  With new technology, it became commonplace to conceal beams, but now, many homeowners are opting to incorporate beams, whether faux or functional, for their aesthetic appeal and charm.

Style

Exposed beams are a detail that can complement any style.  Opt for reclaimed barn beams with authentic patina and distress marks to achieve a rustic aesthetic.  Don’t have access to antique beams?  Incorporate new beams that are made to look old – hand-distressing, sanding and custom staining.  Do you have a more modern home?  Perhaps, you want to include exposed steel beams.  Or maybe a warm wood beam is the perfect contrast to other contemporary elements.

Elm Grove Kitchen Remodel

Emphasis

Beams are an opportunity to add visual weight and can help ground a space, adding warmth and texture to make a room feel cozier.  For instance, a room with vaulted ceilings can sometimes feel large and cavernous.  Exposed beams can help scale a living area to create more intimacy.  They can also help emphasize architectural details that may be overlooked.

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Cover

Oftentimes, if a load-bearing wall is removed to open up a room, a microlam header is used to support the structure.  Beams can conceal these less attractive details.  Bonus – they help keep spaces open yet separate, delineating rooms and adding visual interest rather than having one open space.

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Warmth

As we touched on earlier, exposed beams can add warmth and variation to a space.  They help soften the formality of a room, and they create dimension, elevating a design without overdoing it.

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An Island of a Different Color

There is no denying the popularity of the white kitchen.  And can you blame homeowners?  It instantly brightens a space and offers a timeless look.  But for some, a white kitchen can be a bit stark or sterile looking.  Those individuals are looking for warmth and texture.  That’s where a contrasting island comes to the rescue.  White cabinetry with a painted or stained island can be the perfect pair to create a space that’s simple and bright yet warm and charming.  It’s an opportunity to add interest and soften the formality of a space.

Contrast

Whether it’s subtle or striking, contrast is a key component to a well-balanced design.  A different colored or textured island is the perfect opportunity to introduce contrast to a space, offering dimension and character.

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Personality

An island can be tailored to anyone’s taste.  Show off your personality with your favorite color.  Add texture with a wood top or natural stone.  Change up the hardware.  The options are endless to showcase your style.

Wauwatosa Kitchen Remodel

Focal Point

Using different colors or materials puts emphasis on the island, creating a focal point without using overly ornate or fussy details.  It draws visitors’ attention to the center of the space and creates a hub for the kitchen.

Wauwatosa Kitchen Remodel

Furniture-Style

A customized island can really take on the role of a piece of furniture.  Because kitchens are often open to other entertaining spaces, it can help the spaces flow better and be more visually appealing to have a furniture-style island.

Elm Grove Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen Zones

You’ve probably heard of the kitchen “work triangle,” a concept that keeps three main work areas – the sink, the range and the refrigerator – in close proximity.  Although this has been a mainstay in kitchen design, it often seems antiquated.  A work triangle is efficient and still useful, but it was developed during a time when the primary activities in the kitchen were cooking and cleaning up.

The role and size of the kitchen have evolved over time, and the space often serves as the home’s hub for both everyday living and entertaining.  Not to mention, there are many more appliances and fixtures used in modern kitchens.  It can be more practical to think of the kitchen in terms of zones.  We explore that idea here!

What Is a Zone?

Consider all the functions performed in the kitchen regularly – food storage, prep, cooking, baking, serving, eating, cleaning, coffee making, entertaining.  This is a great way to begin identifying the zones that will work best for you.  A zone keeps everything you need to perform a specific task together.  The kitchen is truly one of the hardest working rooms in a home, so grouping appliances, fixtures, storage and prep areas according to their use maximizes space and offers convenience while keeping aesthetics in mind.

Pewaukee Lake Kitchen Remodel

Example Zones

  • The Prep Zone – Chopping, mixing, blending, peeling – ample counter space is the key to success in your prep area. It’s helpful if it’s near the refrigerator, pantry and other storage, ensuring easy access to ingredients, small appliances and utensils.
  • The Cooking Zone – This is a busy spot. It often features the range or cooktop, wall ovens and warming drawers.  Ideally, it is adjacent to the prep zone, and it’s a bonus if it is near the dining space.  Many homeowners opt to have ample storage for trays, cookware, spices, cutlery, utensils and pot holders.
  • The Clean Up Zone – This area typically includes the sink and dishwasher with garbage and cabinetry strategically placed nearby to streamline clean up and unloading. Cleaning up isn’t the most exciting kitchen function, so the more efficient the process the better.
  • The Kids Zone – If you have children, it can be helpful to plan the kitchen with them in mind. Create room for the kids to do homework or have an after-school snack.  Easy access to kid-friendly glasses, plates and food gives them some independence.  This zone allows for family time, but it also keeps them out of the working part of the kitchen.
  • The Guest Zone – This can take many forms. Perhaps, it’s as simple as adding an island with comfortable seating to delineate the prep zone from the “hang out” area.  It could also be a beverage station with a refrigerator, bar sink, glass storage, ice maker and counter space for drink mixing.  Some homes even have a small sitting room off of the kitchen.

Zone options are truly endless, so when planning a kitchen, we always make sure we have a clear understanding of how people live in their homes.  Function always comes first in kitchen design.

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Zone Staples

  • Counter space – Not only is a landing area essential from an efficiency standpoint, but it is also an important safety feature. Cooks should be able to quickly set down hot items without trekking through the entire kitchen.
  • Storage – Ample storage is a vital component in any zone. Drawers, dividers, roll-outs and appliance garages help keep everything within arm’s reach of where it is needed.
  • Proximity – Rarely does a zone operate independently.  It’s important to think about the kitchen workflow, so you can keep certain areas adjacent to one another.Elm Grove Kitchen Remodel

Texture | Adding Subtle Interest to Your Home

We talk about it all the time – how can we create a space that is timeless yet intriguing?  We are believers in creating simple spaces with subtle details, so a home can stand the test of time but also stand out.  How can you create a unique space, a room that shows off your personality without falling into a fleeting trend or adding too many ornate elements?  There are many ways, but today we’re focusing on a big one: texture.

What is Texture?

Texture doesn’t just refer to materials that are rough or bumpy.  It takes many forms and can evoke different feelings.  Organic or natural materials can create an intimate space while items with a smooth texture lend themselves to a sleeker look.  Texture offers both a tactile and visual experience, and we often layer different textures to showcase an architectural detail, communicate a specific style, differentiate design elements, and add depth and dimension.  It can elevate a design without overdoing it.

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What Is the Impact of Texture?

Texture serves many roles.  It can add visual weight to a space, drawing attention to specific details – a vaulted ceiling, a fireplace wall, an arched opening, a built-in nook or window seat.  In a monochromatic color scheme, texture is a tool to introduce subtle variation and interest.  It can also add warmth and contrast to a space.

Elm Grove Kitchen Remodel

How Can You Use Texture?

There are endless ways to incorporate texture into your home.  Painted brick, v-groove or shiplap add dimension to a monochromatic design without straying from the color scheme, keeping the space neutral and serene while adding interest.  Natural stone, metals, and wood can balance a cooler palette.  Wallpaper is a great option for an accent wall.  You can also use juxtaposition to make elements “pop,” placing a rough surface near a smooth texture.  Architectural details are another opportunity to add texture – crown molding, a tray ceiling, beams, wainscoting, paneled openings.  However you decide to use texture in your home, it is important to remember the power of restraint.  Implementing too many textures can become distracting or overwhelming.

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Roll Call: A Look at Wallpaper

When you think of wallpaper does your mind drift back to the patterns and materials of a bygone era?  “Sometimes when I suggest wallpaper in a space, I brace myself, wondering if my clients are going to toss a pen at me,” says Heather Scott, Interior Designer at Bartelt.  “They are still recovering from the removal of their 1990s wallpaper.”  But in recent years, we are seeing this design element make a major comeback.  With a wider selection and creative applications, wallpaper can be a fun detail, adding dimension and interest to a space that oftentimes paint cannot achieve.

Why Wallpaper?

Wallpaper isn’t tied to one particular style.  With so many options – fabric, grass cloth, metallic, cork, subtle patterns, graphic or geometric designs – wallpaper can complement a contemporary space as well as traditional homes and everything in between.

Beyond its versatility, wallpaper is an easy way to add texture or drama to a space.  Use it on an accent wall.  Highlight an architectural detail.  Put it in an unexpected spot such as on the ceiling or in a window nook.  Wallpaper allows you to enhance a space’s style without adding more stuff to a room.

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How Do I Choose Wallpaper?

The first step in choosing wallpaper is evaluating its role in your space.  What is your design goal?  Are you adding depth and texture?  Do you need a pop of color?  Are you trying to soften a space?  Do you want to create that “wow factor?”  Answering this question will determine the type of wallpaper that will work in your home.  If you’re trying to make a statement, a subtle pattern probably isn’t the best way to achieve that.  If you’re looking for another layer of texture, perhaps a natural material will suit your space.

Another good practice is to start a collection of inspiration photos to determine what you’re naturally drawn to.  This will help you see if certain patterns or themes emerge.  It’s important to make sure the wallpaper matches your style rather than a fad, so you won’t grow tired of your choice.  Houzz, Pinterest, home blogs and magazines are great design sources, and a professional interior designer can help you pull it all together.

Our last piece of selection advice is to pick up large samples to bring home and put on your wall.  Then you can decide if the wallpaper complements the colors, patterns and furniture in the room.  Leave the samples up for at least 24 hours, so you can see how it transforms throughout the day as the light changes.

Where Should I Incorporate It?

There are really no rules when it comes to wallpaper placement, but we often see it in rooms where you don’t necessarily spend a majority of your time to avoid “wallpaper fatigue.”  Bedrooms, guest rooms, formal dining rooms, libraries, hallways and powder rooms are all common spots to spice things up with wallpaper.

Why is an Interior Designer an Important Part of Your Project?

Choosing products and materials can be an overwhelming process, sometimes extending the project’s timeline or overreaching the budget if not done properly.  An interior designer works with homeowners to choose items based on quality, function, price and style, helping you bring your design goals to life.

At Bartelt, our in-house interior designers serve many roles – creator, project coordinator, a friendly ear – to guide you each step of the way and make the remodeling process enjoyable.  Why is it important to look to a professional interior designer for direction?  Let’s examine!

They have a process.

Your interior designer has a proven process to guide you through your project and selections, keeping you organized and using tools to help you visualize and understand how everything fits together.  They’ll ask the right questions to hone in on your style, and they’ll help you make decisions at the proper time in the project’s progression.  The designer is there to coordinate all the moving parts and make sure details don’t get missed.  There are a lot of steps between preliminary design ideas and the final space.

Pewaukee Kitchen Remodel

They keep you on track.

Your interior designer can help keep your project on time and on budget (they may even end up saving you money).  Homeowners don’t always realize the incredible amount of decisions that need to be made.  That’s where your designer is a huge asset.  They help you sort through all the options – lighting, paint colors, tile, flooring, countertops (this list goes on!) – and ensure that your selections are cohesive and within your allowance, leaving less room for errors and unnecessary spending.

They’ll also hold you accountable to make decisions in a timely manner, so your project’s timeline doesn’t get derailed.

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They bring a new perspective.

A fresh eye is important!  It can be hard to step back and look at your home from a different perspective.  You often get accustomed to the layout, color scheme and other details.  An interior designer has a trained eye and can see the potential in your space and offer creative solutions that you may have never considered.

Beyond offering ideas you may have not examined, they can also share options you may not have known even existed.  Continuing education is an important aspect of the designer’s job, and they have a great pulse on new materials, tools and methods.

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They can bring you back down to Earth (if needed).

We all have big plans for our homes, and let’s face it – sometimes, we need a reality check.  Your designer will help you set realistic goals and educate you on any design limitations.  They can also help you practice restraint, or in other words, learn how to “edit.”  What’s important to incorporate into the design?  What isn’t necessary?  Where can you take design risks?  Where should you keep it simple?  This will ensure your final space is practical while still showcasing your personality and unique style.

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LAYERING | A Well-Lit Kitchen

When making plans for that new kitchen, it’s important to think about how you’ll be using the space and where specific light sources will be needed.  A well though out lighting plan has many layers to it.  Let’s explore those layers to help you create a cohesive and functional kitchen.

A M B I E N T | Lights for Navigating

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Recessed cans, chandeliers, wall sconces, flush mount fixtures, even natural light – ambient lighting is your foundation, a general “blanket” of light for your kitchen.  It helps you navigate your space (without running into things), and it’s really the first step to your lighting plan, serving as the base for all other layers.

T A S K | Lights for Doing

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Task lighting may arguably be the most important layer.  It helps you complete specific jobs, like meal prep and cooking, in the kitchen.  Under cabinet lights over the countertop, pendants above the island, lights at the range – it’s important to see what you’re doing especially when working with sharp knives and other potentially dangerous tools.

A C C E N T | Lights for Feeling

Herringbone Tile Layout

Accent lighting sets the tone for your kitchen, creating a warm and inviting space.  It’s often known as the decorative layer.  It can also be considered task lighting, but it demands a bit more attention – in-cabinet lights to display dishes or collectibles, beautiful pendants, and other fixtures to highlight a unique aspect of the space.  They round off the room to make it feel complete, and with so many options, it’s a great opportunity to really show off your personality.

M O O D | Lights for Changing

Wauwatosa Kitchen Remodel

Throughout the day, your lighting needs change.  During the day, natural light is often sufficient, but as the day progresses you’ll need help from your fixtures to illuminate the space for cooking and cleaning.  Entertaining?  You’ll want to set the mood.  That’s where dimmers come into play.  Dimmers can be incorporated into all layers of lighting, so you can adjust the light for your specific needs.  For instance, they’re a great option at night or in the early morning when you’re not quite ready for bright lights.

Now that you’re familiar with the various layers of light, it’s important to note that you don’t have to use separate fixtures for each layer.  There’s often a lot of overlap.

Happy light planning!

White & Wood Kitchens

We see white kitchens everywhere!  They are clean, airy and timeless.  But for some, they can be a bit stark.  Those homeowners are looking to add warmth and texture.  That’s where wood comes to the rescue.  White and wood can be the perfect pair to create a space that’s simple and bright yet warm and cozy.  It’s an opportunity to add natural texture and soften the formality of a space.

How can you incorporate wood?  Here are a few ideas.

  • Beams
  • Countertops/Butcher Block Tops
  • Mixed Cabinetry (i.e. stained island)
  • Doors (i.e. barn or French doors)
  • Open Shelving
  • Range Hood

Let’s look at some examples!

Wauwatosa Kitchen Remodel

The dark stained island and the walnut top on the raised portion of the island add a warmth and richness to this classic kitchen.

Wauwatosa Butler's Pantry

The contrasting cabinetry in this butler’s pantry creates an unexpected focal point.

Wauwatosa Kitchen Remodel

This beautiful oak floor adds subtle texture and warmth.  It’s a great contrast to the white cabinetry, cool gray tones and marble top.

Hartford Kitchen Remodel

With a distressed cherry island top, this farmhouse kitchen is a balanced mix of rustic and refined.

Elm Grove Kitchen Remodel

Oak floors, beams, open shelving and a distressed cherry island top – this kitchen blends clean lines and natural texture perfectly.  The warm wood tones also offer an intimacy to the large space.

Elm Grove Open Shelving

Here’s a close-up on those lovely wood shelves.  They make a statement, but keep the space feeling open and airy.

Elm Grove Barn Doors

One more view of this kitchen shows off the beautiful custom wood barn doors.  They are nod to the home’s barn past and add charm to the space.

The Beauty of Built-Ins

Whether it’s a window seat, bookshelf, bed, or bar, built-ins lend character and function to a home.  We love that they can be tailored to specific needs and that they offer a cohesive and seamless look.  Built-ins are a great opportunity to take advantage of every nook and cranny and can really maximize your space!  Let’s look at some examples.

W I N D O W   S E A T S

Window seats are versatile.  Incorporate them into a dining room, office, bedroom, family room, or hallway.  They are the perfect opportunity to make the most of otherwise wasted space and insert extra storage.  Plus, who hasn’t dreamed of having a window seat?  It’s a great place to curl up with a book or sip a cup of coffee.  And it can be a beautiful way to frame a view.

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B O O K S H E L V E S

Built-in bookshelves are multi-purpose – a place to store items and a lovely way to display decor, books, and collectibles.  They truly give a room a finished and sophisticated look.

Wauwatosa Family Room Remodel

Fox Point Library Remodel

B E D S

A built-in bed is ideal for kid or guest bedrooms!  They can be tucked into an alcove or under a slanted wall. Let’s not forget to mention how cozy they are!  Bonus – they can offer extra storage.  Check out those built-in bookshelves and drawers!

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M E D I A   C E N T E R S

Like all built-ins, a built-in media wall subdues clutter and makes a space feel more substantial.  It can also serve as the anchor of the room.  This example mixes in shelves, reclaimed windows, and drawers to break up the size of the wall, add interest, and offer even more storage.

Side note – the built-in cabinetry in the foreground of this photo was incorporated into the design to not only display the homeowners’ vintage treasures, but to also define two rooms while keeping them open to one another.

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B A R S

A built-in wet bar often serves as the home’s entertaining hub.  The great thing about a built-in wet bar?  You don’t necessarily need to have ample square footage.  Big or small, a wet bar has a lot of utility in a home – extra counter space, glassware storage, an additional sink, cocktail mixing station.

Wauwatosa Family Room Remodel

B A T H R O O M   S T O R A G E

Built-in shelving, vanity towers, medicine cabinets, niches – built-ins definitely take on a large role in a well-organized and timeless bathroom.  Because bathrooms are often small, these options offer storage and style without sacrificing floor space.

Fox Point Bathroom Remodel - Vanity Towers

L O C K E R S  / /  C U B B I E S

Custom cubbies or lockers help everyone keep their belongings organized and out of other areas of the home.  Add a bench, and you have yourself the perfect “launch pad” to get your family out-the-door.

Wauwatosa Mudroom

An Ode to Herringbone

You’re looking for timeless options in your home – something that won’t be dated in a matter of a few years but still adds style and intrigue to your space. May we suggest herringbone? Before we dive into the reasons we love herringbone and show you some of our fabulous examples, let’s look at a simple definition:

[ H E R R I N G B O N E ]

NOUN | ˈher-iŋ-ˌbōn, ˈhe-riŋ-

Herringbone is a pattern made up of 45 degree angles that form a ‘V’ shape.

Now, why do we love it?

[ S T Y L E ] Whether used with simple materials or something more dynamic (such as marble), laying tile or wood in an unexpected pattern like herringbone adds an element of style and elegance. For instance, if this tile was laid in a standard grid or running bond pattern, it may not have been as interesting or unique.

Family Room Tile

[ T I M E L E S S ] Herringbone seems to be a pattern that stands the test of time. Perhaps, it’s the fact that it adds subtle interest and doesn’t overwhelm a room. You don’t grow weary of it like trendy or ornate details. It also isn’t associated with a specific time period, so in a couple of years, people won’t be saying, “That’s so 2017.”

Fox Point Kitchen Remodel

[ T E X T U R E ] If you’re looking for texture, herringbone may be the answer! Again, it’s an understated detail, adding just enough variation to create warmth and character in your home.

Wauwatosa Kitchen Remodel

[ M O V E M E N T ] Herringbone adds movement. It commands visitors’ attention and guides their eyes through a room, giving the illusion of more space.

Wauwatosa Sunroom Remodel

[ V E R S A T I L I T Y ] Herringbone isn’t reserved for one particular style. It can complement a contemporary space as well as traditional or rustic homes.  It also has various applications in the home – giving contrast to a traditional subway tile, spicing up the interior of a fireplace, adding texture to a hardwood floor, highlighting a niche in the bathroom, offering dimension to a tile floor. There are no limits!

Wauwatosa Family Room Remodel