Designing Beverage Stations

Incorporating wet bars and cocktail mixing areas have been fairly commonplace for some time but the latest hot commodity are custom beverage stations. These designer drink destinations tend to focus around coffee, soda, and water, all of which can be enjoyed by the homeowners as well as provide a dedicated refreshment area when entertaining.

Coffee Aficionados

For many people, coffee signals the start of each day. And being able to prepare your favorite brew right in your own home is a luxury many homeowners desire. There are a myriad of coffee and espresso makers to fit every type of aficionado not to mention grinders, French presses, pour over carafes, and all the various accoutrements that accompany the creation of a truly memorable cup of coffee.

When designing a custom coffee space, some things to take into consideration include:

  • How much space will be allotted? For some, it will be a niche or built into a cabinet, and for others, it could be an entire dedicated counter area.
  • Will your brewing appliance be a focal point or do you prefer to hide it away?
  • What type of appliance will you purchase? Will it be a typical standalone unit or a gleaming high-end espresso machine? Will it be built into your cabinetry or will it be built into your fridge (yes, you CAN get refrigerators with built-in Keurig machines!)
  • Dedicated storage for cups, grinders, and other brewing utensils as well as coffee pods, beans, syrups, etc. should be considered. Storage should be in close proximity to the appliance to allow for easy, quick coffee creation.
  • Access to filtered water. Depending upon the coffee appliance, some will need to be plumbed directly to a filtered water source.

Harrell Remodeling designer, Gloria Carlson, has worked with a number of clients who are coffee lovers. “I’ve worked with several clients who’ve requested a dedicated space for a high-end espresso machine. These dedicated centers serve as a focal point for the barista of the family and generally have included nearby specialized storage and integrated plumbing for filtered water.”

Specialized Soda Bar

While coffee is the elixir for some, Gloria had another client who absolutely loved soda. They preferred fountain soda versus canned or bottled, and since they also frequently entertained in their home, they decided to create a soda bar for their own enjoyment, as well as that of their guests.

“A lot of thought and planning went into designing the space for this beverage center, especially the cabinet where the syrups, water filter, refrigeration unit, circulating lines and carbonation tank were stored,” Gloria explains. “It needed to be easily accessible and spacious enough to hold all of the ingredients and equipment but also hidden away.”

These clients had a dedicated beverage center that not only included the soda bar gun that offered eight different soda choices (the combining of carbonation, water and syrup is called “brixing” and each type of soda has its own unique settings), but also had a sink, ice maker, and beverage refrigerator to store beer and wine. There was also ample storage for glassware and a dishwasher drawer specifically for washing glasses at the soda counter rather than hauling them back and forth to the primary dishwasher. And, to top it all off, Gloria designed a custom backsplash with vintage soda bottlecaps that served as the focal point (not to mention conversation starter!) of the beverage bar.

Things to consider when designing a beverage center for soda include:

  1. Location: will this be within your primary kitchen space or elsewhere, such as a Great Room?
  2. Storage for glassware, ingredients, carbonation, etc.
  3. Appliances: Will you need a bar gun, ice maker, dishwasher, and/or beverage fridge?
  4. Water filtration system: To enhance the flavor of your beverage, filtered water is a must.
  5. Chiller: Mixing the soda with pre-chilled water ensures it isn’t watered down by ice

Sparkling & Still Water

And then there are the beverage purists, those who want access to filtered water that can be either chilled or hot, sparkling or still. Instant hot water has been around for a while, but built-in carbonated water is a relatively new enhancement to the kitchen. Creating a dedicated water center is made fairly simple when utilizing a specialized faucet such as the Grohe Blue, which provides both unfiltered water for tasks like washing dishes, as well as filtered water for drinking and cooking. Add to that a carbonation device along with a chiller, and you have yourself both filtered, chilled flat and filtered, chilled carbonated water.

Hydro Tap by Zip Water is another new alternative that creates chilled, filtered, sparkling, and hot water all from the same unit. The faucets are designed to be tall enough to fill pitchers and can even be used at an island without a sink beneath, since odds are, this will be providing drinking and cooking water only.

When installing a still/sparkling water beverage center, consider the following:

  1. Location: Will this be at your primary kitchen sink or on an island for easier accessibility by guests?
  2. Type of Faucet: Do you want a dual-purpose faucet (washing as well as consumption) or will it be purely a beverage area?
  3. Storage: If you do want heated, carbonated, filtered, and chilled water, these units will need nearby storage for the chilling or heating tanks, filters and carbonation tanks. It is also worth creating storage for glassware that is near the beverage center.

Do you love handcrafted coffees, perfectly chilled sparkling water, or maybe an ice-cold soda mixed just the way you like it? The creative, top-notch design team at Harrell Remodeling can make your drink-of-choice dreams come true! We invite you to set up time to meet with Certified Kitchen Designer, Gloria Carlson, or another of our designers at our Los Gatos or Palo Alto showrooms to discover the possibilities in your home!

Harrell premier designer, Gloria Carlson, has two degrees from Stanford University. She began her career in Speech Technology, but left to raise two children. After remodeling her home in 2001, she realized that design was her passion. She went to work for her contractor and returned to school to study Interior Design at Cañada College, where she specialized in Kitchen and Bath Design and Green/Sustainable Design. Gloria quickly realized that the kitchen was her favorite room to design, and decided to focus her years of training on this specialty, including multiple examinations from the National Kitchen and Bath Association, and earned the title of Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD). Before joining Harrell Remodeling, Gloria worked as a Designer in a Kitchen and Bath showroom, and now she enjoys designing projects of all sizes, from a small bathroom update to whole house interior and exterior remodels and additions.

Gloria prides herself on listening to her clients and providing designs that are appropriate to their lifestyles and their homes. She possesses a practical approach to her projects, creative style, and responsiveness to her client’s needs. She also is very attentive to both budget and detail. “Remodeling one’s home can be stressful, so I try to make the process as fun as possible,” says Gloria. “I listen carefully to the homeowner’s desires, whether functional, aesthetic or budgetary, and come up with a plan that will work for them. Then, throughout the project, they know they can count on me to respond quickly to questions and help with decisions.”

Gloria has won multiple awards for her designs from the local chapters of NKBA, NARI, ASID and IFDA. Outside of work, Gloria loves to play tennis, and being a “foodie”, enjoys everything epicurean.

Incorporating Universal Design in a Bathroom Remodel

Harrell Remodeling Senior Designer, Genie Nowicki, has been passionate about Universal Design for over twenty years.

“I’ve always believed that it just makes sense to design homes to be comfortable, safe, and accessible for everyone,” Genie comments. “And with the selection of products in an amazing array of designs and finishes, it is easier to create residential spaces that are beautiful and meet your family’s current and future needs and style, without feeling clinical.”

Universal Design concepts can be tastefully applied in every room in the home but bathrooms are one of the primary spaces in which many homeowners first incorporate these measures. Even if a homeowner doesn’t want to undergo a complete bathroom remodel, there are many opportunities to apply Universal Design.

“When redesigning a space for the safety and accessibility of everyone in your home, I encourage my clients to choose low maintenance materials, install proper lighting on dimmer switches, and always keep in mind the potential future needs in the space,” Genie states.

8 Key Universal Design Elements For Bathrooms

1. Curbless Showers
Luxury hotels and spas have installed these spacious showers for their clientele, bringing them to the forefront of the public eye as a desirable feature. With wide entryways and little to no transition into the shower itself, curbless (or low curb) showers offer comfort and accessibility, especially for those with physical limitations or family members using ambulatory devices.

Low maintenance linear drains used in curbless showers are available in a variety of styles and finishes, and are a great option for allowing water to drain properly.

If a roll-in shower isn’t feasible, installing a low curb acrylic shower pan is another viable option that offers increased accessibility.

2. Wall Hung Toilets
Used and perfected in Japan and Europe, wall-hung toilets can be installed at any height and are available in a variety of styles and colors. These toilets make the bathroom much easier to clean and create more space, since the water tank is placed inside the wall. Plumbers can easily access the tank via the wall-mounted flush plate should a repair arise, but overall, these products are extremely reliable and efficient.

3. Roll-Under Sinks/Vanities
For people who are unable to stand or have balance issues, the ability to sit at the sink is vital. To allow proper access, the vanity should be 32 to 33 inches high and there must be a barrier around plumbing to serve as protection against hot water pipes.

4. Fixtures, Hardware & Mirrors
Sink faucets should have lever handles, be automatic, or activate by touch. In showers, install a handheld showerhead on a bar for adjustable height, or if fixed, placed at a reachable height. You can also install a fixed showerhead at a comfortable height for use by other family members. Temperature and volume controlled shower valves with lever handles allow each person to choose a comfortable water temperate and water flow. Fixture placement is another consideration and often, situating a sink or tub faucet to the side allows for better reachability.

Door handles should also be levers to enable those with any type of grip issues to easily open and close doors. Mirrors can be hinged or run down to the top of the counter so people who are seated are able to see themselves.

5. Bathtubs
Bathtubs that meet Universal Design standards typically are walk-in units, meaning that the user must get into the bathtub and wait for it to fill as well as wait for it to drain completely before exiting. It’s important to ensure your water heater meets the fill capacity of the bathtub: if your tub holds 60 gallons but your water heater is a standard 50 gallon, you will run out of hot water before your bathtub is filled. Some walk-in bathtubs have inline-heating units to keep the water warm but taking into account the fill and drain time is a primary consideration before choosing to install a walk-in unit.

6. Grab Bars
Grab bars are a critical need in bathrooms and there are many finishes and styles from which to choose. Designed as a single solid metal unit, grab bars are firmly attached to wood bracing concealed inside walls. During a remodel is the best time to prepare the space for installation of these stability bars. Grab bars often evoke images of hospitals or commercial spaces but today, these products come in a myriad of decorative styles and finishes.

“I always recommend preparing a bathroom space for grab bar installation, even if the homeowner isn’t ready to install them at this time. I often install grab bars for use as towel racks to serve a dual purpose. In talking with clients, I’ve discovered that many people use towel bars to assist in balance or to help them rise from a seated position, so using a grab bar is a safer selection,” Genie explains.

7. Flooring
Textured, non-slip tile is a must in bathrooms while using tile or stone baseboards offers a cohesive yet low-maintenance appearance. The options are endless, allowing you to find a flooring that is visually appealing and safe, and fulfills the principles of Universal Design.

8. Storage
Since a roll-under sink may eliminate below-sink storage to allow for access to the vanity, having some storage at levels reachable by those who are seated is a must. While the area above a toilet does provide the opportunity for more storage, it is difficult to reach.

Universal Design principles can be integrated into a bathroom as small as 5’ X 8’. With the advent of new, decorative products, Harrell Remodeling can achieve the desired design aesthetic while creating a fully accessible space to meet our clients’ evolving lifestyles.

Have you been considering a bathroom remodel? Would you like to learn more about how to seamlessly incorporate products that make your bath functional, safe, and beautiful? We encourage you to schedule an appointment with a member of our design team.

Genie Nowicki, senior designer, holds numerous certifications in design, and is a renowned authority of Universal Design, and the recipient of multiple awards. Genie joined the Harrell Remodeling team after years of running her own successful design business. Beginning her career in the world of income tax planning, she made a career leap in 1990 to the equally “detail and code-filled world” of kitchen and bath design. Genie obtained her Certification in Professional Kitchen and Bath Design in 1992 and achieved her Certified Kitchen Designer (CID) and Certified Bath Designer (CBD) status in 1996. After passing another rigorous examination, she became a Certified Interior Designer (CID) in the State of California in 2002 and a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) in 2006. Her experience has included residential interior design, kitchen and bath design, barrier free/Universal Design, lighting design, and participation in numerous showcase houses in the Bay area, as well as several commercial projects. Genie prides herself on listening to her clients and providing timeless design work that is appropriate to her clients, their lifestyles, and their homes. Her excellence in design has been recognized with awards, projects published in local and national magazines, and a Sunset design book, and an article she wrote was featured in the Fine Homebuilding Kitchen and Bath Annual Issue.

3 Minutes with Employee Owner/CEO, Ciro Giammona

I enjoy making and fixing things. Ok, breaking things can be fun too. My interest and passion for remodeling started at age 4 as I followed my Grandfather (a carpenter) around, watching him work on his own home.

In high school my favorite classes were physics, electronics, and auto shop. I learned to develop black and white photographs. I rebuilt the engine in my ’62 Impala. Then I fell in love for the first time: with a guitar.

Who knew you could play any Credence Clearwater song with 3 chords? I co-founded a rock and roll band and played professionally for a few years. I studied recording arts in New York, and landed in a recording studio in San Francisco. Meanwhile, I met the wonderful woman who would become my wife, and we put down roots.

I became an electronics tech, and we bought our first home, a fixer-upper. We remodeled the kitchen, the bathrooms, refinished floors, installed trim, wallpaper and paint. The remodeling bug bit me.

We sold that house, quit our jobs and bought a second fixer-upper and did it all over again. Then a third, until our two wonderful kids came along. I became a production manager for another Bay Area remodeler, and eventually earned my General Contractor’s License and started my own business, doing marketing, estimating, sales, production and business management. Wearing so many hats took its toll, but fortunately, I found Harrell Remodeling where I could lend my talents without burning out.

With the generosity of our company founders Iris Harrell and Ann Benson, I was thrilled to be part of the team that brought Harrell Remodeling to 100% Employee Ownership. I am pleased to serve as a Director of the California Center for Employee Ownership.

I’m a NARI Certified Remodeler, blessed to be a Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum, and I serve on the Board of TheatreWorks, Silicon Valley’s own world-class regional theatre. I still play guitar and sing (as I have for over 30 years) with the E-Ticket Band.