August 22, 2013

But my friend's "friend" referred him!

Have you ever gotten excited when a friend of a friend of a friend offers you their "expert" plumbing skills at a reduced cost? Who can pass up a "skilled" tradesman at half the cost? And besides, he's a friend right?

So you verbally agree on the work to be done (put a new pipe here & there, hook up the new sink, and turn on the water), and then a start date and time is given. You just need to give him his up-front payment to cover his expenses. The day finally arrives and you can't wait for the work to begin. The start time has come and gone by a half hour and a little disappointment has settled in. But he's a "friend" so you cut him a little slack. When he finally arrives, he seems a bit unprepared, but gets right to work. An hour or so later it appears he needs to run to the store for more parts. Hours later he returns, but shortly after it's quitten' time and states he will be back tomorrow.

A little more disappointment settles in because not much was completed on day 1 and you don't see the end of construction in sight. Meanwhile, you are using other rooms in the house to prepare meals and wash dishes. But hey, this is a "friend" and friends don't let us down. Several more days pass and you are still waiting for that shiny new sink to be installed, but your "friend" promises to return tomorrow. That verbal agreement didn't outline every aspect of the job and there was no completion date so when he gets to it, it will be done.

Wow- a month later your sink is finally installed, it looks amazing and works great. You have paid your "skilled" tradesman the balance of the reduced -cost payment and he has cleared out of your space. WAIT!!! Where's this water on the floor coming from? Why is this pipe leaking? It was just installed and why is the drywall wet???

What could/should you have done differently?

June 6, 2013

Don't Leave Your Child Out On The Curb

When attempting to make pita chips to go with supper, you open your too small cabinet, and a bunch of spices come tumbling down. As you are scrambling around to pick them up, you forget about the pita chips in the oven and burn them to the point that the fire alarm is triggered. When the fire alarm goes off, your dog goes crazy and starts racing around the house, barking hysterically. As you try to let your dog out, the dog trips you and you crash into the chair and hit your head. When you go to the freezer to get some ice for your head, the doorbell rings. You answer the door and find some random jogger guy standing there holding your dog telling you your dog was chasing him.
As you apologize profusely and take your dog back in the house, you see the mail truck across the street and you realize you forgot to put an important check in the mail- and it's due TODAY- so you scramble to get your check in the envelope. You open your overstuffed drawer in the kitchen and ransack through it to find a stamp and after 5 minutes of not finding one, you see the mail truck pass your house.
As you realize you now have to make a trip to the post office AND you'll need to swing through the drive-thru to pick up dinner, the phone rings. It's the school. You have forgotten to pick up your child. Because, let's face it- it's time for a new kitchen.
Don't leave your child out on the curb; remodel your kitchen with Bella Domicile.

What's your story?

February 6, 2013

Your Remodeling Project

Step 3: Implementation and Construction

So you've determined your design style, wants and needs, had several meetings with your design consultant, and even made a payment or two. You've made it all the way through Step 1 and Step 2 of the design process and are ready for construction to begin. This is the part you've been waiting for! But what really goes on during construction?
  1. Prepare for life without a kitchen. Before any demolition or removal of materials starts, you have to plan for how you will live during the construction period. Depending on you timetable, some contractors will set up a temporary kitchen (refrigerator, microwave, and a cabinet or two) somewhere nearby, such as the garage or mudroom area. Other people are content with having a microwave and access to a sink. Whatever the case, you should also take care to remove and carefully pack-away what's in your cabinets, which is why we provide Bella Boxes.
  2. Deconstruction. The contractor will begin the construction process by removing any old materials that will not be used in the new design. Cabinets, countertops, tile and even walls will be torn out or knocked down. Dust will fly as the room is being prepared for a new look.
  3. Construction and installation. Once old materials are removed, new construction can begin. Based on the project, this may include electrical, plumbing, drywall, and other work. The room will be prepped and painted before installing new materials.
  4. Countertop measure and installation. Once the cabinets are installed, the countertop fabricator will come out to take precise measurements for the new tops. From the day of measure, it will take about 2-3 weeks for the countertop to be fabricated and installed. You can begin to use your kitchen again by storing some items in any upper or tall pantry cabinets. Depending on the job, some appliances (refrigerator, range, etc.) may even be hooked up and ready for use. Once the countertop is installed, the bulk of the project is usually complete.
  5. Walk-through with designer and/or contractor. It's helpful to walk-through the remodeled space once it is complete to make a "punch list"- a list of items that may be waiting for completion. This could include items that are on back-order (i.e. some cabinet hardware) or an item that was damaged during the installation process (i.e. a cracked tile). 
  6. Enjoy! Move back in to the space and make it your own!
While this is our final step, it's not really the end of the process. We love to stay in contact with previous clients. One way we keep connected is by delivering a warranty binder, which contains all warranty, cleaning, and care information for your specific products. This is delivered once the space is complete, and is also a chance for your design consultant to see the finished space. We also love referrals- recommend us to your family and friends who may be interested in their own remodeling project!

Ready to make some changes to your own kitchen? Call us at (608) 271-8241 or stop by our showroom to set up your consultation today!

December 11, 2012

Your Remodeling Project

Step 2: The Design Process

After putting thought into Step 1 of your remodeling project that was discussed in our last blog posts, you should be more prepared to proceed with the rest of the design process.  Step 2 gets into the nitty-gritty details of your project, and encompasses everything from determining specific door styles and finishes to signing off on labor contracts and beginning to make payments.  This part of the process can be one of the most meticulous, but here are the main steps to be aware of.
  1. Review plans and drawings.  After listening to your project scope, ideas, wants, and needs, your designer will prepare a preliminary drawing for you to review.  Remember that nothing is set in stone at this point, although it will usually give you a general direction in terms of design and layout.  When reviewing these plans with your designer, keep in mind the way that you intend to use the space, and make changes accordingly.  Don't be shy if you have questions or changes that you would like to see.
  2. Make first payment(s).  Step 2 of the process also involves collecting the first payments for the project.  This is often in the form of a design retainer in the early stages, and later will require a down payment to begin ordering materials and scheduling project labor.  Your designer will better educate you on the timing and amount of these payments.
  3. Choose materials.  Begin to think about the specifics of your project.  Now is the time to make selections regarding finishes, wood species, countertop material and color, door hardware, and tile.  Keep the design style and priorities you set during Step 1 of this process in mind.  Making these choices helps to further set your vision for the space and helps your designer to give you the most accurate drawings and quotes possible.
  4. Revise plans and drawings.  More often than not there will be changes to the original design.  Your designer will help you think about accessories and other options that are right for your lifestyle.  Think about how you want to store certain items: pots and pans, knives and other cutlery, even kitchen towels and linens. 
  5. Sign off and release drawings.  Usually when making the down payment you will also be asked to sign off on the quote, drawings, and other paperwork.  At this point, most decisions have been made, and the order is ready to be placed.  Your designer will also release the drawings to you, which you can take home and show off to all of your friends and family! 
Keep in mind that the timeline for the above steps depends on how quickly decisions are being made and when meetings can be scheduled.  Being decisive is to your benefit if you have a specific project timeline in mind.  Also remember that the more prep work you can do during Step 1 is to your benefit, as it should continue to influence your design and decisions during this phase of the process.

November 12, 2012

Your Remodeling Project

Step 1: Getting Started

One of the things I hear most often from people who walk through the doors of our showroom is "I don't even know where to start!" True- a designer's dream can be everyone else's nightmare! Trying to begin a building or remodeling project is a daunting task, which is why breaking it down into baby steps helps make everything more manageable. Here are a few ways to prepare for your next project today, so you don't have to put it off any longer.
  1. Determine project scope. Chances are that there are a few- or many- things you would like to change about your home. However, for most people an entire home remodel isn't feasible, either financially, logistically, or both. Try starting with the more public areas of your home: the kitchen, main living area, and even bathrooms. These are the areas that guests will typically see, and the ones that you will be the most excited to show off! These are also the spaces that you will be using most often yourself, so being happy and comfortable in these areas is crucial. 
  2. Figure out your design style. Gather ideas and images from a variety of sources: magazines, television shows, and websites. One of my favorite resources is, which has a treasure-trove of photos from real-life projects done by designers, remodelers, and builders. Once you have a collection of images, you will often notice a common theme. This will help you determine what to look for in furnishings and materials. These images are also invaluable to your designer when you begin discussing your wants, needs, and overall vision.
  3. Set priorities. Most people don't have the luxury of an empty, clean-slate of a room to work with. View the space with a critical eye for what can and can't be re-used. Maybe your cabinets are in great shape, and your kitchen just needs a face lift with new countertops, hardware, and fresh paint. Or maybe your kitchen needs a complete overhaul now, while your bathroom can wait a few years. 
  4. Create a budget. Too often a budget isn't even considered, and ends up either draining your bank account or stalling the project altogether. Determining a reasonable budget is helpful to everyone involved- you know what kind of investment you are willing to make and so does your designer. This helps your designer further in steering you to the right kinds of products and materials for your specific project. When a budget isn't specified, it often ends up wasting time and resources for everyone involved. 
While your designer can help you with the above steps, these are great things to have considered before your first meeting. It's always helpful to have a general idea and project scope in mind from the beginning, while the details will be worked out later.

Want to take the first step with your design project? Call us at (608) 271-8241 or stop by our showroom to get started!

October 23, 2012

What I Would Change

As a designer currently living in a rented apartment, there are lots of things I would change about my living space if given the chance. Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of these things are in the kitchen. My guess is that it's the same for a lot of people out there-whether renting or not. And, being a designer, I get to see the possibilities for what could be on a daily basis. Here are five, fairly basic things that I would change about my current space if my lease (and budget!) allowed:
Drop-in on the left, undermount on the right
  1. The sink. Our current sink is a drop-in, stainless steel sink. Nothing fancy. I would love to be able to make the switch to an undermount sink. We would gain precious counter space (even inches matter in a small space!), and not have to deal with cleaning the unsightly top lip of stainless steel. An undermount sink also provides a cleaner, seamless look.
  2. Soft-close drawer glides and door hinges. No more rattling drawers and banging doors? Yes, please.
  3. More drawers. Speaking of drawers... I could use more of them! I only have 3 measly drawers right now, which is hardly enough to hold all of my dish towels, flatware and miscellaneous cooking utensils. Plus, I would much rather pull open a drawer than be digging in the depths of a cabinet every time I need a pot, pan or mixing bowl. 
  4. The layout. Okay, this is not actually a minor change. However one of my biggest frustrations is not being able to open the refrigerator door when the dishwasher is open (or vice versa). Why? The appliances are located directly across from each other, with minimal clearance between. It's impossible to have both appliance doors fully open at the same time. This would be a big change that would save myself and my husband a lot of time and irritation. 
  5. The hardware. The knobs on all of the doors and drawers are a bright, shiny brass. While I don't personally care for brass, what's more annoying is that they show every fingerprint, mark, and drip they come in contact with. Switching out the existing knobs would give the kitchen space a little more personality, and be easier to take care of, too. 
Ready to make some changes to your own kitchen? Call us at (608) 271-8241 or stop in our showroom to set up your consultation today!

May 7, 2012

A diagnosis of multiple sclerosis leads to the need for wheelchair accessible features for a Madison area cooking fanatic. "Hammer with a Heart" comes through with the help from Bella Domicile and others.

Project Home started "Hammer with a Heart" 11 years ago and was able to help 8 families this year with home repairs. Bella Domicile was happy to donate the kitchen cabinetry for the home owned by Zanne Gray.

Zanne, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, is only able to move about with a wheelchair. Her home was not wheelchair accessible, which made even cooking a hard task. Because cooking was such a big part of Zanne's life before the diagnosis, we wanted to get her into a kitchen she could use. We worked with one of our manufacturers, Cardell Cabinetry, to donate handicap access cabinets for the whole kitchen. This included a custom cabinet and raised dishwasher for easier access.

For individual who find themselves facing difficult health crisis or a tough financial situation, their home is often the last thing they can think about. "Hammer with a Heart" by Project Home fills this void for area families. Bella Domicile is honored to be a part of it.

We hope to post before and after photos soon.