The rise of the basement: Top tips for a better space

(HIB) – With fewer homes for sale and good returns on the remodeling investment, more homeowners are reclaiming their lower levels and remodeling their basements.

Basements are coming out of hiding these days. And they’re doing it in style, with before-and-after transformations featured everywhere from HGTV to Pinterest and YouTube.

What’s driving this trend? A tight housing market, for one thing. With houses at a premium – and a proliferation of DIY how-to’s – more homeowners are inspired to reclaim their unused space and expand their living area.

A smart, affordable upgrade

Updating your lower level is a sound investment in your home. Remodeling magazine’s 2016 Cost vs. Value Report put the average basement remodel at $61,303, with a 70.3 percent payback – a far better investment return than adding a bathroom or garage.

Props for your property value

Depending on local regulations, the additional space can often be added to your home’s total square footage, making your market listing more appealing to buyers and potentially increasing your property value.

To recoup the most from your remodeling efforts, make sure your design and decorating choices are attractive and functional – not too quirky or customized.

Look up, look down: Banish water all around

Before you begin making decorating choices, tackle any needed repairs, including waterproofing your lower level. It’s a good idea to seal your walls and floors first, and important enough to hire a professional if you’re short on time.

And since below-grade spaces are usually cool, humid and prone to water damage, consider investing in a good dehumidifier and choosing moisture-resistant products.

Elevate your ceiling style

Ugly or damaged ceilings can ruin the look of your newly updated basement space, so take steps to repair or replace your ceiling. Plaster any cracks and replace yellowing tiles.

If you’re updating the ceiling, look for products from companies like Armstrong Ceilings that are specially treated to resist the growth of mold and mildew. From there, the sky – or the ceiling – is the limit. Savvy design choices, like coffered ceilings, or wood planks add style and the results are easier to achieve than most people think.

Stuck with an older, 2-foot x 4-foot dropped ceiling grid? There’s no need to suffer without style. Homeowners can take advantage of today’s beautiful new 2-foot x 2-foot ceiling tiles by adding 2-foot cross tees to their existing grid systems.

Flooring: Think warm and dry

Make sure your flooring choices stand up to moisture, too. Patch any cracks in the concrete floor and consider adding a subfloor if the surface slopes or is uneven.

Many homeowners gravitate to the warmth and soundproofing effect of carpeting in basements. Low-pile or Berber carpets resist wear and are inexpensive options. A moisture-barrier pad between the carpet pad and the carpet adds another level of water resistance and reassurance.

Now is a great time to finish your basement. You’ll enjoy the added living space now, and likely realize a healthy return on your investment in the future.


4 important tips for planning a kitchen remodel

(HIB) – Kitchen upgrades can seem daunting. From full renovations to hardware updates, the possibilities are endless when it comes to creating your dream kitchen. To make the process as smooth as possible, Delta Faucet compiled key tips to keep in mind as you embark on the remodeling journey. These quick guidelines will help you focus on the end result and ensure the overall experience is enjoyable.

Storage solutions

Determine storage needs based on how you work. Take inventory of kitchen tools and accessories to determine your path forward. For example, install a cabinet near the stove specifically tailored for pots and pans, or add a narrow cabinet by the oven to house cookie sheets and trays within easy reach. If you rarely use your food processor or slow cooker, choose a cabinet out of the way to guarantee storage space for the items you will need to access more readily. Plan a designated place for every kitchen utensil and appliance to avoid messy drawers and cluttered cabinets.

An island for your needs

A multifunctional island delivers additional storage and prep space to almost any kitchen. Customize your island area based on your cooking and entertaining style. Make the most out of the space to fit your needs. Avid cooks who prepare many big meals might consider including a prep sink for rinsing fruits and vegetables. Conversely, those who love to entertain can use the island to add counter space for hors d’oeuvres and accommodate bar stools.

Faucet functionality

Few people enjoy rinsing messy dishes, but the proper faucet can make this chore easy and carefree. Blending design and functionality, the Delta Mateo Kitchen Faucet with optional Touch2O Technology is an ideal choice for any kitchen redesign. Touch2O Technology with the TempSense system allows the faucet to be turned on and off with just a touch, simplifying kitchen tasks during food prep and clean-up. An LED light at the base of the faucet changes color from blue to red to alert users to the water’s temperature and avoid surprises. Beyond innovative technology, the faucet’s transitional design – inspired by the Italian countryside – works well with a variety of style preferences, creating a beautiful kitchen focal point.

Quick and easy design upgrades

When designing the kitchen of your dreams, take into consideration that tastes and styles are ever evolving. Peel-and-stick backsplashes are budget-friendly as well as quick and easy to install. If your favorite finish or pattern preference changes in a few years, simply replace with a new design for an appealing refresh.

Take the time to plan appropriately with these four tips in mind and you will create a space perfectly tailored to all your kitchen needs. For more information, visit


5 residential design trends in hardwood

(HIB) – Hardwood may be one of the oldest building materials known to man, yet architects, designers and homeowners are always finding fresh ways to use it in the modern home. What’s the appeal? Flexibility and variety, for starters.

“We’re constantly delighted to see how traditional woods like oak and walnut are being employed with renewed flair and imagination,” says Linda Jovanovich, of the American Hardwood Information Center, “Subtle tweaks can make something familiar, look innovative. The current trend is to take a classic hardwood application, like paneling or flooring, and give it a stylish, up-to-the-minute twist. Here’s a look at what’s trending.”

Wide-plank flooring

Perhaps no recent trend has been more influential than the use of wide-plank hardwood flooring. Traditional plank widths, ranging from 2 1/4 to 3 1/2 inches, are still popular. But today’s homeowners often ask for widths between 5 and 7 inches, and there is even demand for up to 10 or 12 inches. “Wider floorboards can make a space look larger and more modern,” says Melissa Morgan of M Interiors in San Antonio, Texas, who has used the generously proportioned planks in traditional and contemporary homes. “With fewer seams, these floors can be treated like a canvas: ebonized oak or walnut for a sleek, dark look; light woods like ash or maple for a chic, urban vibe; weathered-gray tones for a slightly rustic affect – the possibilities are endless.”

Wood ceilings

It used to be that hardwood planks primarily went on floors or walls, but today they’re appearing on residential ceilings too. “Simple poplar beadboard, painted white or with a light natural stain, looks crisp and airy overhead, adding visual interest while remaining quiet and unassuming,” says Rebecca Ascher, Ascher Davis Architects in New York and Newport, Rhode Island. “For a more assertive affect, I might specify tongue-and-groove walnut or hickory, characterful woods that provide a degree of drama. For that reason, they’re best reserved for large, high-ceilinged rooms that are not easily overwhelmed. In smaller, lower spaces, a ceiling with too much personality can feel oppressive.”

Mix and match

Architects and designers, who once avoided using different varieties of hardwood in a single residential space, now mix and match them with newfound enthusiasm. Clearly contrasting wood tones – blond maple and black walnut, for example – create a striking effect that can work well in both traditional and contemporary settings. This is particularly true in kitchens, where a favorite configuration features upper cabinetry in a light-color wood such as birch, and lower cabinetry in a dark-color wood like cherry. The result is a space that has strong visual interest, and is light and airy, yet solidly grounded.

Gray stains and finishes

Gray is a classic “neutral” that never truly goes out of fashion. It’s currently one of the most popular colors, ranging from pale smoke to deep charcoal, showing up in hardwood flooring, paneling and cabinetry. “Whether light or dark, gray stains bring out any wood’s natural grain and texture,” says New York interior designer Laura Bohn. “Grays are versatile and timeless – quiet and soothing colors that recede into the background without losing personality or becoming faceless. That’s why they work in any style d├ęcor, yet always look modern.”

Distressed hardwoods

Homeowners drawn to the popular look of weather-beaten rustic and elegantly timeworn are turning to distressed hardwoods – new product to which scrapes, nail holes, notches, saw marks and other signs of wear and tear have been carefully applied, often by hand. Manufacturers are able to reproduce convincing facsimiles of anything from the burnished walnut floorboards of an 18th century salon to the rugged oak-plank siding of a 19th century Pennsylvania barn. It’s a distinctive look that offers a wide range of aesthetics.

Visit for more about residential design trends and other applications and products using American hardwoods.