Laminate Floor Installation for Beginners

Laminate Floor Installation for Beginners

Laminate Floor Installation for Beginners and 9 Clever Tips

Laminate floor installation can be easy.

But some beginners can make tragic mistakes.

So we made this tutorial that shares 9 clever tips.

Let’s dive in and by the end you’ll be way more prepared for your laminate floor project.

Tip #1: Acclimate Laminate Flooring

Many homeowners make a fatal mistake: immediately installing laminate floors after getting it.

Let laminate floors acclimate for at least 2 days to the temperature and humidity of the home.

Stack the packages with pieces of wood between them. This allows air to circulate and help the laminate get used to its surroundings.

Tip #2: Clean and Flat Subfloors

Wood subfloors should be dry, clean and flat.

Moisture levels can be checked with a moisture meter and under 14%.

In addition, subfloors should be as flat as possible. Any floor that’s out of level by more than 1/8″ will create problems for laminate flooring.

What can be done?

Either self-level the floor or use a Ardex Feather Finish to address any irregularities.

There’s nothing worse than laminate floors that flex under your foot. Address any subfloor problems before doing any type of laminate floor installation.

Tip #3: Run Laminate Perpendicular to Joists

Most directions recommend running laminate flooring perpendicular to floor joists.

This provides added strength to the floor and helps cut down on bowing in the laminate.

That said, some times it’s not possible to do this. Just make sure the subfloor is flat and the proper thickness, e.g. 5/8″.

Tip #4: Cut Tongue Off First Row

All laminate floors require an expansion joint next to walls or doors.

In order to accomplish this joint it’s often necessary to cut off the tongue of the first row.

This can be done via a circular saw or table saw. But cutting off the tongue enables the expansion gap to be maintained throughout the room.

Tip #5: Chalk-Line the Wall

Walls are NOT perfect.

Therefore we recommend running a chalk-line parallel with the first wall.

Then double checking each the chalk-line to see where the wall is not even.

This will help you plan any scribe cuts against the wall to ensure the first row is installed correctly.

Watch our video to see all 9 clever tips for a solid laminate floor installation…the last one is rarely mentioned in other tutorials and could make or break your project

If you liked these tips let us know in the comments.

Also, add your own recommendations in the comments so others can learn from your knowledge.


Jeff Patterson

This post first appeared on

A Trinity House Restored to New Heights

Like a phoenix, this rowhouse rose from the ashes

Trinity rowhouse renovation

“Before and After” photos by Kingston Ko Photography for Sweeten

Today, we’re taking a look at the rebirth of a trinity townhouse in the Bella Vista neighborhood of Center City Philadelphia. The house, built in the style of a trinity, a slim structure that became popular during a population boom in the early 18th century, caught Nel’s eye while she was looking to purchase her first home. Two years later, the house was severely damaged by a fire that ravaged the entire street, resulting in a total gut.

The 1,200-square-foot home has three stories—plus a basement and roof deck with amazing city views—and had to be rebuilt from the studs up. Nel decided to keep the original floor plans intact—the first-floor dining room and kitchen, second-floor living room plus full bath, and third-floor master bedroom and bath—and bring them back to life.

With her renovation plans in mind, she came to Sweeten, a free platform connecting homeowners to vetted general contractors, to restore the house to its former glory and find a new tenant who would love it just as much as she did.

 home renovation Philadelphia

What motivated you to purchase this trinity house and what led to the renovation?

Nel: In 2014 I was looking to purchase my first home, and when I saw this house I absolutely fell in love with it. The house is a 100-year-old trinity located in the Bella Vista neighborhood of Center City Philadelphia. I’m not sure if you have seen many trinities, but they are a pretty common home type in Philadelphia where the house is three stories tall and each floor is typically a single room. I met Greg shortly thereafter and the two of us lived in the house up until we got engaged in April 2016. We decided to move out because we were thinking about starting a family and wanted to find a home with a second bedroom.

I was a bit attached to this house and since I work in real estate we decided to try our hand at renting it versus selling it. We found great tenants and everything was going well until the fire last October. The fire destroyed six houses—so basically, the entire block! It was heart-wrenching to watch something I had so many happy memories in be destroyed by fire. But, very fortunately, we have been able to rebuild, which actually has been a funny process because we were able to make some of the upgrades and changes we previously wanted to do when we lived there.

trinity house floor plan

(Above) Example of a trinity floor plan that’s similar in size and layout to Nel’s house

Sweeten: What made you choose the neighborhood back when you were looking to purchase a home?

Nel: The Bella Vista neighborhood is truly one of my favorites in Philadelphia. We have a 100-year-old Italian bakery at the end of our street and so there is always the wonderful smell of something delicious baking in the air. We are also just around the corner from a park with a bocce court, as well as from the 9th Street Italian Market. I love the neighborhood’s vibe and all of the small independent businesses and restaurants that are at our front door.

Sweeten: What’s your favorite part of the house?

Nel: I think one of my favorite parts, aside from the 360-degree views from the roof deck, is the exposed brick wall. It feels like a piece of history which is really neat.

Sweeten: What it was like working with your general contractor?

Nel: This is actually our second renovation in 12 months, but our first time using Sweeten. I can’t tell you how wonderful our Sweeten contractor has been. He took a very stressful situation and guided us through it with ease, and we couldn’t have been happier with how everything has turned out. Greg and I have actually joked about moving back in!

Sweeten: Now that the house is finished, what are your plans for it?

Nel: We are going to keep it as a rental for now and who knows…maybe someday we will live there again!

Now let’s check in with the Sweeten general contractor responsible for this townhouse’s transformation.

Sweeten: What were the challenges you faced while renovating this trinity house?

Sweeten contractor: It was the amount of work that needed to take place in the small footprint of the house. We needed to add new code-compliant systems to a home that was designed to have a small footprint over 100 years ago! Several homes on the same block that were also damaged in the fire were under construction at the same time, so parking was limited. Material deliveries on the small street were very tough, if not impossible. All of the materials for the roof deck and drywall needed to be loaded in by hand. Also, work on the roof deck was held up due to permits.

Sweeten: What was the damage done by the fire?

Sweeten contractor: The entire home was flooded by the water used to extinguish the rooftop fire. The house was dried out and all damaged organic materials were removed prior to us being hired by a restoration company.

Sweeten: What major work did you and your team tackle during the renovation?

Sweeten contractor: We installed all new electric, some plumbing, a new high-efficiency HVAC, insulation, drywall, and new finishes.

Sweeten: Did you encounter any delays during the process?

Sweeten contractor: Yes, the roof deck had to be designed by a licensed architect—we couldn’t replace what was there under the permit for the interior. The drawings for the roof deck also needed to be completed and reviewed.

Sweeten: The results are simply stunning—all of your hard work has definitely paid off!

Sweeten contractor: Overall, it was a great project, Nel was a wonderful client and we couldn’t have done it without Sweeten making the match. We are very proud of the work we did here and how the home turned out.

Thanks to Nel and her Sweeten general contractor for sharing their story, both the good and the bad, and giving us a look inside this reborn trinity!


Renovating in Philly? Check out our guide on kitchen renovation costs—and where that money goes.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, and scope, helping until project completion. Follow the blog for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.

The post A Trinity House Restored to New Heights appeared first on Sweeten Blog.

A Kitchen and Patio Find Renewal as One

A family reenergizes their galley kitchen—and adds an extension!

light green galley kitchen

“After” photos by Pixy Interiors for Sweeten

Project: Turning a “grungy” and ill-organized kitchen into a sunny space for cooking and dining

Before: In 2001, Laura and Tim bought and moved into their first home—a 1929 brick townhouse in Rego Park, Queens. The single-family home measures 1,360 square feet on two floors, plus a finished basement. Having raised their family there—a 15-year old son and a college-aged daughter—the pair were finally ready to tackle some of the issues that had plagued their charming, but problematic, house. The kitchen was falling apart and had also suffered water damage from a leaking shower upstairs. The space needed new cabinets, flooring, and wall treatments. They had recently purchased new appliances but the rest of the space had gotten “old and grungy,” according to Laura.

homeowner in her newly remodeled kitchen

They wanted to create a “comfy, modern kitchen that still matched the period feel in the rest of the house, while providing more storage and better flow.” The kitchen also had a drafty door to the patio, which they never used because of its impractical location. An interior designer friend, Suzy Leon of Suzy Leon Design, Ltd., made suggestions, and one thing led to another—taking the homeowners from a kitchen remodel to a full-blown extension project. Laura and Tim posted their project to Sweeten, and chose this Sweeten contractor to perform the work.

After: The old patio became part of the kitchen and dining space, and skylights were added in the new ceiling to bring in more light. The kitchen is now a beautifully organized and cheerful space for the family. Since it remained a galley layout, the homeowners chose simple textures and light colors to contrast a wide-plank dark wood floor with some grain and character. 

The cabinets have Shaker-style fronts in a minty green, which “matches the feel of the old house but is also clean and modern at the same time.” A tall pantry cabinet opens to reveal a column of drawers for optimal food storage. The white quartz countertop lightens up the space, and an enormous sink means there’ll be enough room for even the largest pots. The oversized undercounter sink has an instant hot faucet, disposal, and stainless steel finish to match the appliances. At one end, a wine fridge provides extra space for beverages next to the refrigerator. 

“The kitchen came out beautifully! We love the new flow, the light, and the extra space.” Laura reports that the extension is a lovely addition to the house where guests naturally gravitate, and the skylights add light and fresh air. Moving the doorway between the dining room and kitchen improved the flow to the basement.

Due to the domino effect often seen in renovations, the basement also had to be brought up to code—with updates to the bathroom and boiler, as well as the removal of an illegal kitchen on that level. They also took the renovation as an opportunity to install mini-split systems in the whole house so that they would no longer have to deal with inefficient window units. The homeowners love their new space, and are also very satisfied about having addressed their long list of broken or less-than-perfect things in the house. 

Thank you, Laura and Tim, for sharing your home!


Style Finds: Kitchen cabinets: custom. Cabinet paint in #466 Garden Path; interior paint in Chantilly Lace: Benjamin Moore. Schaub and Company Northport hardware in brushed bronze: Flooring in Deerfield Beach: PID Floors. Prolific 33” sink: KohlerBacksplash: 3×12 beveled subway tiles. White quartz slab countertops: Marble Systems. Sliding patio door: Andersen. Solar-powered “Fresh Air” skylights: Velux. Park Harbor Summerlake ceiling light fixture in antique brass: Acrylic Tiffany counter stools, Parsons table (custom height): Room & Board.

If you’d like to get in on the DIY action, read what projects you can take on and what to leave to the pros.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.

The post A Kitchen and Patio Find Renewal as One appeared first on Sweeten Blog.

Molding: From Bare Walls to Crown Jewel

Decorative trim adds timeless character and visual appeal

Renovated dining room(Above) Molding and picture frame molding by Sweeten homeowner

Are you satisfied with the overall look of the rooms of your house? Furniture and decor aside, does it have the character you crave? If not, consider introducing molding. The addition of trim along the ceiling, at the floor, and around doorways (even on walls) will add the depth and distinction you seek. This is true for new and old, modern and traditional houses alike. When introduced with imagination and care, molding also will boost the perceived value of a home.

Sweeten, a free renovation platform connecting homeowners to vetted general contractors, offers an overview of the types of molding available and their benefits. As always, consult your contractor before committing to the molding material to be sure you have a choice that will work in your room’s dimensions and structure.

Crown molding styles

You can add trim to just about any area of a room, from ceiling to floor, and areas in between. Some molding styles will work anywhere; others are designed to fit a specific location. Here’s the rundown:

  • Crown molding – Just as the name indicates, crown molding crowns the room when placed at the seam or transition between the ceiling and the wall. Styles can be very simple or highly elaborate and combined to create a unique and refined installation. You can also work with a fabricator to design and cut from wood the exact look you want, but this will cost more than pre-made (see materials and profiles below).
  • Casing – This trim serves to conceal the gap between the wall and the door or window frame. With regard to doorways, it also helps to stabilize the opening, so this is one trim you don’t want to skip. Casing and baseboard should match or closely resemble each other for a cohesive look that doesn’t dominate a room (particularly one with a crown molding).

Old house open concept(Above) Kyli and Luke’s picture frame molding jazzes up plain walls straight up the stairwell

  • Chair rail – Functioning as both decoration and protection, a chair rail resides about halfway up a wall to protect the surface from dings from furniture placed close by. Decorative options abound here. As a natural separator, the areas above and below the chair rail may be painted a different color, or covered with wood paneling or wallpaper. Another practical benefit: if an area needs to be repaired, you don’t have to replace the surface material—paint or wallpaper—on the entire wall for a perfect match. You can just replace the damaged material above or below the molding.
  • Panel molding – This decorative molding is used to trim out raised-panel wall construction. Beadboard and wainscoting are a couple of examples.
  • Picture frame molding – This molding serves two types of applications. Use it to create a frame (or frame within a frame) on a wall, which can be further defined with paint, fabric, or wallpaper. Or run it along walls near the ceiling to support hooks for picture wires, eliminating nail holes in the wall.

SWEETEN_Nazli_Apartment-05(Above) Nazli and Larry’s panel molding, painted a deep teal blue, gives their dining room personality.

  • Baseboards – Besides casing, this trim is the most common. It sits at the juncture between the wall and the floor. The purpose is twofold: to protect against shoe scuffs and to give the floor a finished appearance, hiding any separation that may occur as the room settles. You can go narrow or wide here, as your taste and the room’s style dictate.
  • Medallions – Typically used to conceal the opening through which a light fixture such as a chandelier descends, medallions are also decorative. Available in a range of sizes, apply one or several for pure embellishment on a wall, as an alternative to art.

(Above) Egg-and-dart molding supports a layer of crown molding in Tina and Fletcher’s kitchen

How to use decorative molding

  • Molding most commonly runs along the perimeter of two surfaces to conceal or soften the appearance of the transition between them. Think window frames or crown moldings, described above.
  • It can also be applied to pleasing and elegant effect to top cabinets or a bookcase, for a built-in, bespoke look.
  • Crown molding that is at least a couple inches deep can also serve as a wall shelf or plate rail in a kitchen.
  • Go even deeper and you can employ molding for a fireplace mantel.
  • Drop crown molding a few inches from the ceiling and light it for an extra touch of drama in a living or great room, or a romantic glow for a dining room. There are two-piece molding systems available with lights in the lower molding that project upward, illuminating the upper piece. Your contractor can help you create a similar effect with a strip of LED lights.
  • Also consider UL-Listed hollow crown molding that can hide common household wiring, good for a home office.

crown molding(Above) Crown molding at the top of these twin windows and panel molding below in Janet and Jerry’s brownstone.

Molding materials and profiles

Molding is widely available through stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s as well as lumberyards and some hardware stores. You’ll find a vast selection of profiles—the shape or contour that you see when the molding is seen from its side—from crisp, straight edges to sensuous, elaborate curves. Stock items come in six- or eight-foot lengths.

  • Patterns – what you see from the front—include classic dentil and egg-and-dart, as well as floral and abstract designs.

As for what molding is made of, the most popular options include wood, of course, as well as MDF, plaster, and plastic. All of these materials can be painted, and the woods can be stained.

  • Wood – Wood molding comes in a variety of species, some hard like maple, and some soft like pine. Go for wood if you want to match walls of the same species or seek an effect from a distinctive grain, like that found in fir or oak. Wood takes stains, varnishes, clear coating, or paint. Some manufacturers will offer wood molding pre-primed and ready for painting.

For an authentic, historic look, check out salvage outlets for reclaimed wood molding from old, deconstructed houses.

As a natural material, wood will respond to changes in humidity so it’s not for rooms with a lot of moisture.

crown molding(Above) An elaborate ceiling medallion takes the contemporary edge off this hyper-modern kitchen in Kavi and David’s historic townhouse. Original molding frames the doorway.

  • MDF – Made of wood fibers and resin, medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is a stable yet flexible material, suitable for surfaces that are not completely flat or even. It resists water better than wood and is lighter than plaster but heavier than the plastic options. It should come pre-primed, ready to paint or finish once installed.
  • Plaster – A time-honored molding material going back a couple centuries, plaster offers lots of choice in ornate designs. Since it’s also heavy and rigid, it’s not good for rooms where walls are not plumb. For experienced installers only!
  • Plastic – There’s a range of options within plastics—polyurethane, polystyrene, PVC. All are flexible to conform to rooms with curves. They are also lightweight, and hence easier to handle than plaster and some woods. Of particular importance, plastics are waterproof, and so will not expand, constrict, split, or warp from exposure to changes in temperature or moisture, such as a kitchen or bath. They are also easy to cut and come ready to paint or faux finish.
  • Metal – This material is for rooms with stamped metal ceiling panels.

Installation tips

Unless you are an experienced DIYer, it’s best to work with a pro when selecting the size of molding for a particular application. Do match the molding to your home’s era and décor. Note that mid-century architecture, in its drive to streamline, did away with most ornamentation so it will be hard to find examples from this time. However, very simple trim—molding, baseboard, and casings—can enhance even a very contemporary or minimal space to make the room feel truly finished. Here, paint the trim the same color as the walls.

The array of styles and range of materials make molding a simple and fairly thrifty addition to a room—once you’ve made your selection! It can transform a room without requiring you to move a single wall or replace a bit of furniture. If your home has a historic or traditional heritage, you have much more leeway for choosing different types of molding, including very elaborate styles. Look at pictures of historic homes online or in books for period-appropriate inspiration and guidance.

Looking for more ways to add character to your home? Hardwood flooring provides a classic look that stands the test of time.

Refer your renovating friends to Sweeten and you’ll both receive a $250 Visa gift card when they sign a contract with a Sweeten general contractor. 

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, and scope, helping until project completion. Follow the blog for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.

The post Molding: From Bare Walls to Crown Jewel appeared first on Sweeten Blog.

Best Bathroom Inspirations Seen at Maison et Objet 2020

Best Bathroom Inspirations Seen at Maison et Objet 2020

Best Bathroom Inspirations Seen at Maison et Objet 2020:  this event presents the newest innovations in interior design and the most amazing brands. But more than a big furniture display, Maison et Objet comes with a fresh set of inspirations and trends for this new year.  Check here some top companies present in the tradeshow, as well as some great furniture ideas for your bathroom space!


antoniolupi its a Italian company that works in bathroom luxury furniture market. 

Continue reading Best Bathroom Inspirations Seen at Maison et Objet 2020 at Maison Valentina Blog.

Schluter System Install Mistakes

Schluter System Mistakes to Avoid

Schluter System mistakes are costly.

These systems are great at waterproofing showers or bathroom floors.

But they’re also expensive. If you install them incorrectly you’ll be wasting money.

Read and watch this quick tutorial to understand the proper way to install Schluter products.

Our last tip is crucial.

Tip #1: Framing

Stud framing is important for Schluter KERDI-BOARD. Depressions or bows in studs will affect the boards.

This same principle applies to any 1/2 inch backer board. Even cement board needs proper stud framing.

What should you look for? It’s simple,

  1. Even studs
  2. Plumb studs
  3. Studs that are 16 inches on-center

How can you fix these problems?

Uneven studs can be resolved by nailing the appropriate thickness of plywood to the surface, e.g. 1/4 in plywood.

Sistering new studs to old studs is also a great way to make them plumb and 16 inches on-center.

Tip #2: Screws

Most Schluter System kits only come with 100 screws and 100 washers. You’ll likely need more.

Thus, buy another set of 100. That way you won’t run out and can also abide by Schluter’s screw schedule for KERDI-BOARD.

How many screws are needed for KERDI-BOARD?

That depends on the number studs but is easy to calculate.

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Schluter requires screws ever 12 inches along vertical studs
  2. Horizontal surfaces require screws every 6 inches, e.g. ceilings

Count the number of studs or joists, e.g. 14 total studs.

Measure the total length for each stud, e.g. 96 inches.

Divide the total length for each framing member by 12, e.g. 96/12 = 8.

Then multiply this last number by the total number of studs, e.g. 8 x 14 = 112.

That’s the minimum number of screws and washers needed.

Tip #3: Trowels

Schluter Systems need thin-set mortar.

Therefore, you’ll also need a variety of trowels for proper installations.

For example, KERDI-BOARD requires all screws and washers to be covered with KERDI-BAND. This requires the use of either the KERDI trowel or 1/8 inch x 1/8 inch square notch trowel.

Furthermore, DITRA and DITRA-HEAT require different trowel sizes.

Simplification is awesome. Here’s a list of all the trowels required for Schluter Systems:

Some product links may be Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.

Tip #4: Thin-Set Buildup

Thin-set buildup is a problem with Schluter Systems.

It never seems like a big deal until tiling the shower or floor.

Shower benches, niches, and corners are particularly susceptible to thin-set buildup.

What can you do to prevent this problem?

First, use the correct trowel size per Tip #3.

Second, watch out video below.

It has several tips for how to prevent buildup and what to do if you encounter it during tile installation.

What’s Next

Are you attempting a DIY bathroom remodel?

Check out Bathroom Repair Tutor where we have detailed tutorials and support inside our private Facebook Group.

We make bathroom renovation easier and enjoy helping members build amazing bathrooms.

Enroll Today


Jeff Patterson

This post first appeared on

3 Amazing Reasons Why you Should Visit M&0 2020

3 Amazing Reasons Why you Should Visit M&0 2020

3 Amazing Reasons Why you Should Visit M&0 2020: Maison Valentina is once again present in Maison et Objet Paris! This time present with our partner brands in three different stands to show you all the amazing combinations and products you can use in your bathroom! Check all the details below!


Brabbu – Hall 6 –  Stand H26-I25


This year, at Maison et ObjetMaison Valentina is presenting its decadent Petra Bathtub – a beautiful mix of lacquered wood and marble – as well as its Metropolitan Washbasin, an extremely refined piece crafted in the same materials as the Petra, which gives this display an astoundishing coherence, and yet, it’s anything but plain.

Continue reading 3 Amazing Reasons Why you Should Visit M&0 2020 at Maison Valentina Blog.

A Mom and Daughter Remodel Their Forever Home

By cleverly using limited space, a first-time renovator nails it

When Martha, who works in preschool special education, first saw the Hamilton Heights co-op in upper Manhattan she would eventually buy, she passed because it needed a lot of work. She continued looking, searching for a permanent space to share with her daughter, Sofia, a 4th grader. But after a year and no luck, when her realtor encouraged her to take another look, a lightbulb went off. No longer daunted, Martha embraced the possibilities of the apartment’s pre-war flourishes, including 10-foot ceilings, french doors, and transom windows.

To transform the 700-square-foot apartment, Martha, a first-time renovator, posted the project on Sweeten, a free renovation platform connecting homeowners with vetted general contractors, chose her contractor and got down to business creating their home.

renovated kitchen

“After” photos by Miao Jiaxin for Sweeten

Guest blog post by Sweeten homeowner Martha

We were living in a great apartment nearby for four years. But after my divorce, I knew I needed to find something to purchase in order to control my housing costs. Since I’m a full-time, working, single parent, the more I can get my costs under control, the better off we’ll be in the long term. I had an amazing real estate agent who looked at places in my price range for a full year.

Living room and bedroom

The apartment I ended up buying was the first home I saw when I started my search! But it needed so much work that I automatically said no and we moved on. After my realtor encouraged me to take another look, I saw it with new eyes. I saw the potential in it, and not just the work that needed to be done.

One of the biggest challenges was that I had a tight timeline—I was paying rent along with a mortgage plus maintenance, and I couldn’t afford that for long. So I had to use only materials that were in stock. It was limiting, but I think we made do! I wanted to open things up and make a home that was cozy and colorful, that would reflect our personalities and be welcoming.

The first few days during the demo were the best part of the process, because I could finally see what things were really going to look like.

The highest priority with the renovation was to cure the ugliness! The apartment hadn’t been touched since the ’70s. There was fake wood paneling in the hallways, old linoleum plunked down over the amazing original hardwood floors, and layers and layers of paint. The space was tight and there was a lot of wasted space in the kitchen that I wanted to find a way to utilize.

The first few days during the demo were the best part of the process, because I could finally see what things were really going to look like. I was most excited to take down the wall between the kitchen and the living room. It made all the difference in creating an open, warm area. Once we knocked that down, it gave us space for a table and chairs that we wouldn’t have otherwise. 

kitchen renovation

In the kitchen, we installed new custom cabinets, plus more cabinets next to the stove. I went for a 30-inch stainless-steel farmer’s sink, quartz countertops, and a new stove. My favorite thing in the whole house is the kitchen backsplash; I love that funky design.

My contractor really wanted me to lay a new floor on top of the old one. But I loved the color variation in the original wood so I insisted it stay. We kept all the original flooring, just refinished and stained.

The biggest challenge was that the apartment has zero closets. I didn’t have the budget to build them so we bought a couple of big wardrobes and a funky metal gym locker for a linen closet and made it work. At least we had more vertical space to work with because after we removed the dropped ceilings, we gained at least two feet!

I’m a first-time renovator, so I really needed someone who would listen, do good work, deliver on time, and stay within budget and I got all of that. My Sweeten contractor was great and I really had no headaches with my renovation, which is amazing! He was really communicative, and anytime something needed to be changed or wasn’t going to work according to plan, he explained everything to me. Then we worked towards solutions together, which was so helpful. It went as smoothly as one could ask for.

When you’re renovating, remember that there will inevitably be something or some things that don’t go according to your plan. Try to see the big picture and not freak out about the details.

I wanted our forever home to be a place of joy that you can see. Our home makes me feel free.

Thank you, Martha and Sofia, for sharing your new home with us!


KITCHEN RESOURCES: Floor tiles, backsplash, lighting, paint: Home Depot. Cabinet hardware: Hobby Lobby. Faucet, fan: Wayfair.


BEDROOM RESOURCES: Fan: Wayfair. Paint: Home Depot.

Sweeten founder and CEO weighs in on what to know before renovating a brownstone.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.


The post A Mom and Daughter Remodel Their Forever Home appeared first on Sweeten Blog.

How Long Does a Kitchen Renovation Take?

A step-by-step guide and timeline for a kitchen renovation


(Above) Katherine + Chris’ kitchen renovation

One of the most common questions that we at Sweeten hear from homeowners is “How long does a kitchen renovation take?” This usually comes right after “How much is it going to cost?” (As part of its free service matching homeowners with vetted general contractors, Sweeten developed a kitchen cost guide to help.) Our handy Renovation Checklist tells you what you need to do—but how long does it take to do it all?

Typically, we suggest that after closing on your apartment, you allow three weeks to four months for the completion of your kitchen renovation, depending on complexity, the size of your space, and scope.

For example, if you are 1) not altering the footprint, 2) not changing or adding electrical or plumbing, and 3) using stock cabinetry and appliances, it’s reasonable to expect that your renovation will be in done in a few weeks. If, however, you are moving your kitchen from one part of your home to another, requiring both city permits as well as board approvals, and using imported custom cabinets—you should give it several months. As you’ll see, the wide range is due to the fact that there can be many moving parts and multiple parties involved. Certain aspects may be beyond your control. Sweeten, a free renovation service matching homeowners with vetted general contractors, breaks down a kitchen renovation step-by-step.


While the attention is usually on the most visible construction phase, a lot needs to happen before picking up that sledgehammer. Here, the details on each box that needs to be ticked before you break ground on the project.

STEP 1: Close on your property (1-3 months)

While some homeowners already own, a significant number of homeowners are in contract or preparing to close on a property when they begin the process of planning a renovation. The best advice is that you should wait until you have closed on the property, with keys in hand, before doing anything. If you’re in a hurry—at least wait until you’ve signed the contract before beginning the design process.

STEP 2: Post your project (1-3 days)

First things first: Post your project to Sweeten and begin soliciting bids. On the Sweeten site, add some details about the space you want to renovate, your inspiration photos (optional but useful for us finding you contractors who have done similar styles), and any other information that would help Sweeten match you with the right contractors. You’ll receive 3-5 matches within three days, with links to check out contractors’ profiles online. Now’s your chance to take a look at reviews from clients and photos of their past projects to see whether they might be a good fit.

STEP 3: Schedule site visits and solicit bids (1-3 weeks)

After you’ve previewed the Sweeten contractors’ profiles, decide who you’d like to set up a meeting. An on-site visit is the best way for a contractor to understand the scope of the project, the physical possibilities, and limitations of the space, and for the two of you to see if you hit it off. After you schedule your on-site visit, check out our blog post about how to prepare for the meeting. You should expect a written bid within 5-7 business days after your visit.

STEP 4: Level bids and choose a contractor (1-2 weeks)

Once all the written bids have come in, it’s time to compare and contrast! This primer on leveling bids might come in handy. If you have follow-up questions, now is the time to ask. You can also schedule time with Sweeten to walk you through the various bids and weigh in on the selection.

STEP 5: Sign a contract and finalize construction schedule (1 week)

Once you’ve decided on a contractor, he or she will put together a contract for you to review. This will typically include a description of the work to be done, an outline of the costs, as well as the timing of payments throughout the project.

STEP 6: Obtain permits and approvals (ranges widely)

Of all the steps where hiccups or delays might occur, this is it. Obtaining the correct permits and necessary approvals have held up many a renovation, but don’t be daunted: our expert contractors are well-versed in navigating these processes and often can advise you on how best to achieve your renovation goals with the least amount of hassle. If you’re moving plumbing or gas lines, you’ll need an architect and additional DOB permits. Sweeten homeowners have reported obtaining approvals in as little as two weeks—but it’s more common for it to take a couple months.

If you live in a stand-alone house, you won’t need to worry about building board approvals, but you’ll still need the requisite city permits for any electrical or plumbing work to make sure that everything is up to code.

STEP 7: Source materials (ranges widely)

If you are responsible for sourcing all or some of the materials in your renovation, be sure to place the orders as soon as the design plan is finished. Certain items have long lead times, and you don’t want that one faucet to hold up the entire renovation. If time is a concern, look at what’s currently in stock and ready to ship. Speak with your contractor about timing the product delivery to coincide with time of installation.

STEP 8: Tell your neighbors you’re renovating (15 minutes)

Be a good neighbor and warn yours that a renovation is beginning imminently. Tell them what to expect and how long the project is slated to last. It’s always easier to stomach the disruption when you know there’s an end in sight! It doesn’t hurt to bring some sweets, a bottle of wine, or a gift card for a local coffee shop. When the reno is over, invite them over!


Note: While most of the steps under “Construction” are your contractor’s responsibility, it’s important to understand what should be happening when. The most crucial steps you’ll be in charge of here are making scheduled payments to your contractor (as they are outlined in your contract), and keeping your schedule open for several hours a week to answer a myriad of questions about details or changes that come up over the course of construction.

STEP 9: It’s demo time (1-2 days)

Out with the old! Now that you’re done with the paperwork, it’s time (for your contractor) to pick up that sledgehammer. Be sure items that are staying are protected with tarp or plastic while the crew gets to work tearing out everything else. Depending on how large your kitchen is, and how extensive the renovation, this shouldn’t take more than a day or two.

STEP 10: Reroute plumbing and electrical (1-4 days)

Now that you’ve stripped the space down to the studs, it’ll be easy to get new plumbing or electrical where it needs to go. Consider whether any plans need to be altered now that you can see what’s behind the walls.

STEP 11: City inspections and sign-offs (1 hour on-site)

If you needed city permits, you may need to have inspections and a final sign-off as well prior to closing up the walls, particularly with gas lines. (Check out what the city has to say about plumbing permits here, and electrical permits here.) While it may take the inspector an hour to do his job at the site, scheduling the actual appointment could take days or weeks.

While a master plumber is typically allowed to sign off on pipework for water lines in the case of a no-show by the city inspector, an inspector must examine and approve any work on gas lines. You are not allowed to close up the walls and move onto the next phase of the project before this inspection happens.

Note: With electrical work, inspectors generally are scheduled for visits once the project is 100 percent complete, and they will check the electrical panel, junction boxes, and outlets. Sometimes, because of city bureaucracy and delays, your electrical inspection may be rescheduled two or three times. Check with your contractor or architect about this.

STEP 12: Installation – floors (1-5 days)

To prevent having to redo the floors if you decide to reconfigure your cabinets in the future, make sure that the flooring is consistent throughout the space, even if some of it will be hidden.

STEP 13: Installation – all other material including cabinets and appliances (1-10 days)

Installation of all other materials is usually in this order: cabinets, appliances, fixtures and lighting, counters, backsplash, and cabinet hardware. Aspects of this may vary, depending on site conditions, and the arrival time of the materials.

STEP 14: Clean-up (1 day)

Typically, contracts allow that the space is left in “broom-swept” condition. However, you may want to hire post-construction cleaning specialists to make sure that your new floor is clean enough to eat off.


STEP 15: Final walk-through with contractor (30-60 minutes)

Review the work with your contractor: try all the drawers and doors, look closely at the edges and finishes, and make sure everything is working the way it should. If there are any problems, point them out and add them to the punch list. The contractor will either fix it on the spot (if it’s minor) or set up another time to return. Sweeten’s founder + CEO, Jean Brownhill advises to keep notepads in each space, and do not speak to your contractor for two weeks during this time, but take notes of what needs fixing as you live in your new home.

STEP 16: Punch list items (1-10 days)

Depending on what the items are—this could be anything from straightening a cabinet door to waiting on installing that last out-of-stock item—it could take anywhere from a day to several weeks. When it’s on the long side, though, that is usually due to backordered items. Otherwise, your contractor should be able to return and fix everything in a few days.

STEP 17: The final payment (10 minutes)

You’ve been making installments throughout the renovation, but when the last item on your punch list has been addressed, it’s time to pay the remaining percentage to your contractor and say goodbye.

This timeline is meant to give you a detailed look at the various aspects of renovating and a range of how long each step should take, taking into account factors that may be outside of both your and the contractor’s control. In general, Sweeten renovators report that their kitchen renovations are completed between three weeks to two months (depending on the level of complexity). The key to staying on track is isolating the steps that you think might be obstacles and allotting more time to get them done.

If you’re still stuck on that first question of “how much is it going to cost?” check out our guide on kitchen renovation costs.

Refer your renovating friends to Sweeten and you’ll both receive a $250 Visa gift card when they sign a contract with a Sweeten general contractor. 

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, and scope, helping until project completion. Follow the blog for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.

The post How Long Does a Kitchen Renovation Take? appeared first on Sweeten Blog.

Luxurious Bathroom Sets at IMM Cologne 2020-Maison Valentina Steals the Show!

Luxurious Bathroom Sets at IMM Cologne 2020-Maison Valentina Steals the Show!

Luxurious Bathroom Sets at IMM Cologne 2020 – Maison Valentina Steals the Show! – The 2020 edition of IMM has just started! As one of the leading interior design events of the year, the fair showcases furniture and products for every spot in your house – from the living room to the bathroom. At this year’s edition you’ll be able to find some stunning bathroom sets from top design brands, like Maison Valentina!  

Continue reading Luxurious Bathroom Sets at IMM Cologne 2020-Maison Valentina Steals the Show! at Maison Valentina Blog.

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