These tips came from our newsletter, The Builder's Notebook, a publication produced by Winfield Construction Company. If you would like to sign up for the newsletter go to Contact Us and select TIPS on the email form.

List Your Peeves

How does your present kitchen measure up? Is it beautiful, energy-efficient and convenient? Or could it use some help?

Make a gripe list. Write down the inconveniences on paper.

Do you spend too much time bending and stooping? Do you have to dig for pots and pans in dark corners of lower cabinets? Do you have enough storage space? Do you need more light? Where is the recycle bin?

Keep the list in the kitchen for easy updates as they occur while you are working in the kitchen. When you are ready to remodel, give that list to the designer.

You know best what your present kitchen lacks. The planning stage is the time to define your objectives and find solutions.

Kitchen Design

By positioning your sink, range and refrigerator on points of an imaginary triangle, kitchen work can be done more efficiently. This concept was established in the Fifties, and it still holds true today. You can plan better, even in a small kitchen, by using this guideline.

The primary work center is placed within the triangle to save steps to major appliances. When placing appliances, think about frequency of use. If you use the microwave more than the wall oven, bring the microwave into the core workspace and put the wall oven slightly outside the busiest area. Make sure the microwave is at a safe height for family members and allow space on the countertop for hot dishes.

Kitchen Upgrades

More than any other rooms, kitchen and bathroom remodels add value to your home.

Design is the key to successful kitchen upgrades. To make unused space accessible look to roll-out or adjustable shelves within cabinets. To ease clean-up time, consider under-mounted sinks and no-threshold acrylic floors. Effective placement of appliances reduce steps and provide a more enjoyable cooking experience.

And don't forget lighting. New product designs enable installation of larger windows to bring natural light into the design. Effective placement of light fixtures makes a safer and more convenient work environment. Lighting adds dramatic elements and beauty as well.

Energy efficient appliances and non-toxic, environmentally-friendly materials reduce pollutants and improve indoor air quality.

Upgrading the kitchen can be the most cost-effective way of saving energy and time. Good planning will keep construction costs to a minimum.

Ideas for the Bath

White is still the dominant color choice for the bathroom, but accent colors add richness and elegance. Polished stone or marble countertops add subtle hues that can be carried through in matching tones for soffits and backsplashes. Fixtures expand a decorating motif and many shapes and styles are available from sleek modern lines to old-fashioned.

Features such as two sinks or a separate tub or corner shower save space, add convenience and personalize the bath to accommodate your lifestyle.