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DESIGNfirst Builders Blog Near Chicago, Illinois

6 Ways to Bring the Outdoors Into Your Kitchen Design

Do you want to create a kitchen that reflects your love of nature and the outdoors? While the kitchen may not seem like the most obvious room for a nature-based design, anyone can incorporate a number of elements that will bring the outdoors into their cooking zone. Here are six things you might try.

1. Natural Lighting

What could be more natural than sunlight? Open up your kitchen through the use of large windows, sliding glass doors, skylights, and an open floor plan layout. Not only will the sun shine in and light up the space with healthy, radiant light, but you’ll also add views of all the surrounding nature.

2. An Outdoor Kitchen

Does your kitchen have access to the backyard? Then you have the opportunity to truly bring the outdoors to the kitchen by including the actual outdoors. Create a wide and inviting transition through a window wall, sliding doors, or French doors and open it up to a protected outdoor entertainment zone.

An outdoor kitchen attached to the main kitchen can serve as a dining area, barbecue spot, pizza-making station, bar, or breakfast nook. Or you can simply use it to expand the capability of your main kitchen by placing overflow tasks outside.

3. Woods and Stone

Fortunately for nature lovers, the kitchen does offer a good canvas on which to use natural materials. Opt for natural materials like stone and wood for your flooring, cabinetry, countertops, and islands.

Stone surfaces provide a unique natural appearance and come with kitchen-friendly traits like heat resistance, nonporous surfaces, and durability. Wood floors come in many shades and textures for any kitchen.

4. Live Greenery

Have you considered how you might include live plants and flowers in your kitchen design? For many homeowners, adding indoor greenery is more of an afterthought — just a matter of placing pots around the room. But if you want to have thriving plants in the kitchen, plan for their presence during the design phase.

Add places in your design to hang indoor pots or install shelves on which to keep plants. Make sure windows provide light to the right areas. Plan how you can bring in enough direct and indirect sun to help plants thrive. Or add a greenhouse window or even a bay or bow window to keep even more live plants in the kitchen.

5. Colors from Nature

Look to the natural world to provide color inspiration for the kitchen. Look around at the common colors of nature in your area. Do you enjoy the lush greens of the woody forest? Chilly whites of an Illinois winter? Soft blue shades of water? The colors of a beautiful sunset? Colorful florals? No matter what facets of nature inspire you, let these inspire your kitchen palette.

6. Hidden Technology

The kitchen is often a showcase for modern machinery and appliances, including stainless steel refrigerators and countless countertop gadgets. But if you want a more organic feeling, put away the high-tech equipment.

Simple additions like appliance garages hide your modern food processors, blenders, and coffee grinders. Include a built-in cabinet to make the microwave more discreet. Consider a cabinetry façade for the refrigerator or dishwasher. Use appliance lifts to hide away small appliances like mixers. By putting these items away, you can then emphasize natural materials instead.

Which of these natural inclusions could make your new kitchen look and feel more organic? No matter what appeals to you and what fits your budget and space, start by consulting with the team at DesignFirst Builders. We’ll put our 15 years of experience to work creating the kitchen that works for you. Call today to make an appointment.

5 Tips for Success When Financing a Kitchen Renovation

If you want or need a kitchen renovation but lack the cash to pay for it up front, financing is a good alternative. Financing a big remodel project can be affordable while allowing you to protect the value of your home through proper maintenance and updating. But before you start your project on borrowed funds, follow these tips to ensure the best success and avoid financial surprises.

1. Make a Budget First

Before you find out how much you can borrow, find out how much you actually need. Most borrowers qualify for a higher amount than they ask for, but this can result in overspending. Having what feels like a blank check can easily cause you to take on more than you planned or more than you can actually handle.

Instead, meet with qualified contractors who specialize in kitchen remodeling to determine a realistic but flexible budget and a feasible project size before you seek out a loan. Then, only borrow what you need for this project.

2. Minimize Delays

When you finance a renovation project, you usually begin paying back borrowed money right away. Get the most value from that money, then, by minimizing the period between borrowing and enjoying the fruits of your labor. Have your project ready to go before you receive those funds. Choose materials that don’t come with long delays. And avoid surprising your contractor with unexpected changes.

3. Know Where to Splurge

One key facet of a good kitchen renovation is knowing where to spend more and where to spend less. When you’re financing the project, spending money in the right areas is even more important so you get the most for your investment.

For instance, good quality appliances appeal to many home buyers but splurging on expensive hardware may not be worth your money. And if you really want those gorgeous countertops, you might be able to save money by not moving the plumbing. Planning your splurges and compromises ensures you get enough to make you happy even if you can’t have everything you want.

4. Make Value-Based Changes

The purpose of a kitchen remodel is twofold. First, it should make the kitchen more appropriate for your own use. But it should also help protect the value of your home. Aging kitchens are a big drawback for home buyers, so updating this room maintains your financial investment. However, a renovation that is too personalized or is over the top for the neighborhood can also reduce the home’s sale potential.

The best way to boost the property’s value via a kitchen remodel is to consult with experienced kitchen contractors who know what people want and what brings the best value for your money.

5. Avoid Scope Creep

Scope creep occurs when a remodel starts out with one set of parameters but gradually, adjustments expand it in small but potentially costly ways. The scope of your renovation can creep outward if you alter decisions already made or if everyone isn’t on the same page about aspects of the project. It can also by spearheaded by a well-meaning contractor.

While some change is to be expected once you start a remodel — and is why you need a buffer in the budget — avoid allowing it to expand more than you can afford. Financed projects often have a firmer budget, so you may need to work more actively to prevent unwanted creep.

Want to know more about using your home renovation financing in the best way possible? Start by consulting with the kitchen remodeling pros at DesignFirst Builders. We will assess your current kitchen, your goals and needs, and your budget to find the best places to put your money. Call today to make an appointment.

9 Ideas for a Luxurious Bathroom Remodel

When it comes to a beautiful bathroom, thoughtful, elegant details separate a truly luxurious space from a run-of-the-mill restroom. A spa-like space can elevate the look and feel of your home and provide a dedicated place for you and your family to melt away the stress of day-to-day life.

What makes a luxurious bathroom? Design a truly gorgeous, high-end bathroom with these tips in mind when you remodel the space.

1. Underfloor Heating

Never step onto a cold bathroom floor again with a cozy heating mechanism installed beneath the floors of the room. Underfloor heating places radiant heat technology under the surface of the floor to warm not only the ground beneath your feet, but the room as a whole, as well.

2. A Freestanding Bathtub

Give your bathtub an elegant upgrade and take a page from the books of classic design. A freestanding bathtub is a great option to incorporate in a bathroom remodel, especially after the previous wall-mounted tub and shower combination is torn out to make way for a new, improved bathroom centerpiece.

3. Floor-to-Ceiling Marble

Nothing says elegance like marble, but your marble tiles don’t have to remain limited to just the floor of your bathroom. Upgrade the look of your space and install a seamless marble tile from the floor to the ceiling. Further customize the look with whatever shade of marble suits your style, from bright white slabs to smaller, dark-hued squares.

4. A Laundry Chute

Sometimes the mark of luxury is convenience, and few things are more convenient than a built-in way to transport dirty clothes and towels to keep them up and off the floor. Have your contractor inspect the area to make sure there is an unobstructed pathway free of plumbing, wires, and other building materials between your bathroom wall and the floor below.

5. A Double Walk-In Shower

For an elevated shower experience, consider the addition of two shower heads to a walk-in shower as opposed to a single fixture. You can opt for a single fixed head jutting from the wall or ceiling and a handheld option, or you can even mount two fixed heads on opposite walls for a truly enhanced shower setup.

6. A Place to Sit

Whether you have a designated seating area installed or you’re simply mindful of the way the blueprint of your bathroom could accommodate extra seating when you begin your redesign, some of the most comfortable and indulgent-feeling bathrooms have a place to kick back and relax in luxury while listening to music, doing your makeup, or reading a book while the bath fills up.

7. Brass Fixtures

Metallic towel racks, showerheads, faucets, and tissue holders are standard in a bathroom, but the chrome or brushed nickel finishes that are typically found in bathroom hardware hardly stand out or make an impact. Consider adding beautiful brass, or even copper, hardware to your new bathroom for a look that appears opulent and unique.

8. A Dimmer Switch

Dimmable mood lighting is often installed in living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, and bedrooms, but the bathroom is the perfect location for soft lighting. Warm baths and hot showers after a long day are the perfect ways to relax, and dim lighting only enhances the relaxation factor in the space.

9. A Fireplace

The bathroom isn’t the first place you’d consider installing a fireplace, but it’s an extravagant way to upgrade your bathroom and make it an even more serene place to relax and unwind. A professional contractor can help to make sure the fireplace is installed in accordance with local codes, and soon you’ll be lighting up an electric fire and soaking in a warm tub next to a cozy, contained flame.

If you’re ready to get started on your luxurious bathroom remodel, the experts at DESIGNfirst Builders are here to help. Call today to discuss these and any ideas you have to make the most of your new, upgraded bathroom.

5 Assumptions to Reconsider About Your Pantry

The pantry is an essential part of any kitchen. But an effective pantry for modern homeowners is more than just a closet with shelves. To design the perfect pantry for your lifestyle and house, you may need to rethink some common assumptions about pantry design. What are some of these ideas that deserve more consideration? Discover a few of the most important.

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Enlarging Your Kitchen? 5 Times to Consider a Bump-Out Addition

Does your small kitchen need a makeover that makes it larger and more functional? While many homeowners plan an addition to expand their kitchen, not every kitchen needs a full addition. Sometimes, a bump-out addition may be a better choice. When might this limited addition benefit your home? Discover a few scenarios where the bump-out is ideal for them.

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remodeled Home office

Creating a Home Office? Consider These 3 Factors

The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled an increasing number of individuals to work from home. If you count yourself among them, the stress of trying to work productively in the middle of a bustling household may have tempted you to add a new space to your home, one dedicated solely to office work.


Whether you aim to build an office onto your home or you’d rather remodel an existing room, you’ll want to make sure you’ve spent that time, money, and energy on the creation of a space that will promote mental focus, productivity, efficiency, and workplace wellness. Start with these three key considerations.

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