How to Start Over After a Flood or Fire (Natural or Unnatural Disaster)
I’ve received dozens of emails over the years from readers who are picking up the pieces after a natural disaster, in particular, hurricanes and fires. The gist of these emails is usually ‘how do I start over when I’ve lost everything?‘ Well first, you start with a stiff drink (or two). Next, you keep on reading…
One of my E-Design clients gave me permission to use the above photo of her home…hard to fathom
Because of this need, I’ve decided to come up with a ‘how to start from scratch’ blog post. Now, of course, this can also be applied to those of you who are building or renovating a home by choice, but it’s specifically directed to those of you who are literally…picking up the pieces.
While the colours are certainly on-trend, the health hazard of mould? Not so much.
Are you ready Betty? (which would be awesome if you really ARE Betty).
First, I’m going to give you a ‘what comes first’ list, showing you how to choose products in their order of importance. Their importance is based on how one thing relates to another and of course PRICE. Of course, each room will have different products/needs, but here are the basics…
WHAT COMES FIRST WHEN DESIGNING A HOME?
1. COUNTERTOP (kitchen and bath)
Hands-down, the countertop is THE most important choice to make as all of your decisions will flow off of it.
2. FIREPLACE STONE OR TILE
The product you put on the fireplace should be well-coordinated with the kitchen countertop, even if they’re not in the same space! The exception would be if the fireplace is downstairs and the kitchen is upstairs. You’ll still want a familiar palette, but they don’t need to be so closely coordinated.
Whether you’re doing wood floor, carpet, LVT or tile, flooring is DEFINITELY one of the more important choices.
4. CABINET & VANITY STYLE & COLOUR
Because you’ve picked your countertops and flooring already, you then coordinate the best cabinet colours to these finishes.
If you choose white for your cabinets, this will also be the white that goes on your trims, doors and ceilings.
5. BACKSPLASH IN KITCHEN / ACCENT TILE IN BATHROOM
While some people choose the backsplash FIRST as a jumping-off point or inspiration, it’s IDEAL if it comes after the other surfaces. Why? Because it’s less expensive to replace and there are often MORE backsplashes you’ll love compared to how many countertops you’ll love.
6. COORDINATING PAINT COLOURS FOR WALLS Paint colours that coordinate with the above
7. PLUMBING FIXTURES & CABINET HARDWARE*
8. LIGHT FIXTURES & DOOR HARDWARE*
*The only things in the above list that could be shifted to the top (if you’re down to studs and potentially reconfiguring things) is plumbing and lighting fixtures. For lighting, you’ll want to decide which lights are pot lights/hanging/wall, this way the electrician can know what type of junction box to use/placement. For plumbing, you’ll need to decide ‘placement’ (ie: rain-head shower, freestanding tub, etc…)
Now really, just that list ALONE will save you a lot of stress, but really, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty as the devil is in the details!
You’ll be flying through products and pamphlets like it’s NOBODY’S business. A week from now you might not remember the name of the countertop you picked or the specific brand of the tile flooring you choose (or your own name). It’s important to keep track of what you need to choose/have chosen and to do this effectively, you’ll need the following:
- BINDER. This will be your bible. Fill it with a few dozen sheets of lined paper.
- DIVIDERS. As many as you need to compartmentalize the spaces in your home.
- BOX. Whether it’s a simple cardboard one or a pretty one, a box that is approx 18×18 will be SUPER handy for all of your samples. This is their home, make sure they sleep there every nite so you aren’t searching hell’s half-acre every day for bits n’ pieces scattered around.
- Three pens that live in your binder or in your box.
- A flask – fill as needed.
TIP: Get a bright coloured binder/box so that it is easy to see whether you are at home, in the car or at a store.
Trust me, this will save a lot of stress and time. EVERY area/room in your home should have its own divided section in the binder (main living areas/bathrooms/bedrooms) and you can divide it even more from there if you’re super anal like me.
HOWEVER, the most important page in your binder will be the very first page – The Master Page. On this page, you’ll have a list of each room and under each room and a list of the products/finishes you need to choose. When you’ve made a FINAL choice, you will put the details re: product name/number/price/supplier.
Full list also includes lighting/plumbing/countertops/flooring/doors
Would you like to make your life easier? Send me an email (email@example.com) and I’ll send along a complimentary copy of my Excel ‘Master List of Products’. It lists each product and the details you’ll need to know – you can add to it, edit it, and customize it to your personal needs. This doesn’t cover exterior (yet), but it’s a great head-start!
EVERY product you pick should be written in your book. Any sample you can get your hands on should be in the box. Trust the Ginger…
If you’re not quite sure which direction to head in, a GREAT place to start is with TEMPERATURE. Just knowing whether you like warm colours, cool colours, or something in the middle can help with your product choice and how you explain your preferences to the supplier/salesperson.
- Warm colours are neutrals such as beige, brown, cream and some shades of greige & taupe (greige and taupe are VERY subjective as to whether they’re warm or cool – meaning it can come down to personal opinion). These neutrals can be pretty neutral or have subtle ‘coloured’ undertones in them.
- Warm colours can also be more obvious such as orange, red and yellow.
- Cool colours are neutrals such as white, gray, charcoal, black and some greige & taupe paint colours (again, greige/taupe are subjective to who’s looking at them). These neutrals can be pretty neutral or have subtle ‘coloured’ undertones in them. And remember, every neutral will have undertones.
- Cool colours can also be more obvious such as blues, greens and violets
And, of course, since you are doing a WHOLE HOME (or a whole lot of one) you can DEFINITELY mix n’ match. You might prefer warmer colours in your main living areas, but cool tones in your bedrooms and bathroom – it’s really up to you! The key is to be aware of your preferences.
TIP: Go to the paint store and grab colour chips that strike your fancy. These aren’t your forever colours, they are just the colours that ‘grab your eye’ and can give a designer/supplier a great idea of your tastes. Tuck these in a ziplock bag in your box or tape them onto a page in your binder.
WHAT’S TRENDING IN PAINT COLOURS RIGHT NOW?
Oh sure, there is still a LOT of gray going on, but trends are definitely changing. In my Online Consulting experience, I’m seeing a split of approximately 25% gray, 25% cream/beige/tan and 50% greige/taupe.
Another big hit are cool colours (blue/green/violet) that have a good degree of gray in them, particularly blue/green/gray blends.
If you prefer the warmer end of things, consider more MODERN approaches with neutrals that don’t have a TON of undertone flashing through.
If you prefer cool colours and want an updated home, you might want to consider grays that lean a bit warm vs grays that are cold or icy looking.
WHAT’S NOT TRENDING IN PAINT COLOURS?
- colours without gray or brown in them (strong colours)
- light cold gray paint colours
- overly warm colours
- yellow isn’t a big hit, nor is pink (as a colour OR undertone)
Sometimes it’s easier to refine what you DON’T like, rather than what you do. This will be important when it comes to choosing countertops, tiles, paint colours, etc…
For example, I could say that I don’t like pink, red, blue or colours that don’t have a gray/earth-toned base. Of course, this leaves the door WIDE open to what I do like, but I’ll know that when I see it, the key is to avoid what you DON’T like and relay that info to the salesperson/supplier.
Does this seem like a small detail? It’s not! Look at what metal finish relates to…
- cabinet hardware
- door hardware
- misc items such as fireplace surround or appliances
Today’s trend is to mix metals, and while you CAN, it’s not that easy and can look a bit hodge-podge (super technical term). So, to keep things SIMPLE, here are the finishes that tend to mix n’ match well.
COORDINATING METAL FINISHES IN THE KITCHEN
- black and ANYTHING/polished nickel, brass, oil rubbed bronze, chrome or gold
- polished nickel/black
- gold or brass/black
- oil rubbed bronze/black
Chrome is usually the most affordable finish when it comes to faucets and the LEAST popular choice for hardware. It works with stainless steel sinks and polished nickel hardware.
METAL FINISHES IN MAIN LIVING AREAS
For permanent fixtures lighting/fireplace surrounds/drapery hardware/door hardware) I’m inclined to stick to ONE finish. If I want a bit of variation, I’m more inclined to add it via accent pieces.
MIXING METAL FINISHES IN BATHROOMS
Chrome is usually the most affordable finish for bathrooms. Oil rubbed bronze and black are often a premium.
And this isn’t set in stone. If you want to do chrome/nickel in your bathroom with black elsewhere – fill ‘yer boots (I did in my own home!). This is just a basic finish guideline for you to work off of with the goal of creating some sort of consistency and flow throughout your home.
Use THE 80/20 rule if you want to mix metal finishes – 80% your dominant finish, 20% secondary finish.
WHAT’S TRENDING IN METAL FINISHES RIGHT NOW
- definitely black, although polished nickel is still going strong (and they can be used together)
- you WILL see gold in certain circles but it’s a HUGE trend and isn’t an easy one to do WELL, so think twice…
WHAT’S NOT TRENDING RIGHT NOW
- 1990s brass
- oil rubbed bronze mixed with nickel (nevvvvver)
Forget paint colours for now, those are the LAST things you should worry about. What you want to do is choose the products that are:
a) the most expensive and
b) the hardest to pick based on a limited selection
For example, while there are MANY paint colours I could fall in love with, there are only a few countertops I could see myself committing to.
TIP: Quotes are free (and if not, then I would look elsewhere). For the big dollar items get at least TWO quotes. Tell each supplier you are getting multiple quotes so they know to bring their ‘A’-game and don’t just assume they have your business/money.
Also, don’t just choose the cheapest because it’s the cheapest, choose the company/brand that stands behind their product, has a good reputation and that you are 100% comfortable with.
Main Product #1 Countertops
Sure, there are hundreds upon hundreds of countertops to choose from, but realistically there are only a HANDFUL that you could actually live with. And if you are going with quartz or granite, it’s also one of your PRICIER products.
But before you can choose your countertop, you need to figure out what TYPE of countertop you like – and hopefully, it falls within your budget. Now pricing can vary from region to region, but here’s some basics…
Laminate (often called arborite or formica) is the most affordable countertop product. And it’s come a LONG way, so don’t judge it till you see it! In particular, Formica’s 180 Collection.
- This isn’t your Grandma’s laminate countertop. Today’s laminate/arborite countertops can be pretty awesome looking
- Where I live, the average full kitchen countertop is approx $1500 / bathroom $400
95% natural stone, 5% manmade. It’s pretty darned durable. It’s only hold back is that you wouldn’t put a super hot pot on it (which I just naturally cringe at doing with any product). It can heat up that 5% resin and cause discolouration. Really though, it’s an exceptional product and for what’s trendy, I would choose it over granite ANY day.
- Quartz can be anywhere from 3-4X expensive as laminate, depending on where you live and which brand you buy. With quartz you DO get what you pay for, so be careful
- Where I live, the average cost for granite in the kitchen is $5000-7000. Lower quality quartz can come in approx $3000 in some areas
It’s all natural baby! Granite is pretty darned hardy…as long as it’s sealed. You don’t have to seal quartz – you DO have to seal granite…and reseal it.
- Granite can be anywhere from 3-4X as expensive as laminate, depending on where you live
- Where I live, the average cost for granite in the kitchen is $5000-7000
And of course there are other products like marble, butcherblock, concrete, etc…but those 3 are absolutely the top contenders.
Once you’ve decided the TYPE of countertop you want, narrow it down to the 2-3 that speak to you the MOST based on your fave neutral colour. Why neutral? Well, of course, there are blues and greens and other glorious colours out there, but if you want a countertop that is easy to coordinate with, that will have more of a decorative lifetime – neutral is the way to go.
Once you have your 2-3 faves, do your research. Bring them home, look at them at day and night, as well as on Pinterest.
What is Trending in Countertops Right Now?
- Quartz has definitely jumped ahead of granite with my clients. This is because it’s hardy, doesn’t need to be sealed and is offered in a WIDE array of patterns/styles – some that mimic granite!
- For quartz colour, it’s defintely white with gray veining. I’m also seeing some softer grays and greige’s
- Granite that mimics marble (white with gray)
- Laminate that looks like marble or quartz
- Laminate that has a more simple, not busy look to it
- Sheen that mimics a lot of quartz/granite countertops (non-honed ones)
What is NOT Trending in Countertops Right Now?
- Colour – any type of definitive colour (beyond small scale)
- Super busy, graphic design – other than countertops that mimic marble
- In laminate, the matte finish is not trending
Main Product #2 Flooring
You are probably picking 2-5 flooring surfaces for your home. For example:
- Living areas: laminate, engineered or hardwood (or carpet)
- Kitchen: The above products or tile/vinyl
- Bedrooms: The above products or carpet
- Bathrooms/Utility Room: Tile or vinyl
The above flooring is in our own home and I think it looks PRETTY damn good! It’s laminate that was approx $2.25 sq ft (USD).
Again, hundreds of products to chose from, but only a FEW that you will desperately fall in love with.
- For each flooring area of your home, write down which product you are going with
- For each product write down any details that are important to you
Why the details? Because when you’re swimming in samples, you can show your supplier your list and they can help you narrow your choices down. And this doesn’t need to be a HIRED pro (like me), it can be the person who works at the tile store or the paint store.
TIP: When it comes to longevity of style, ‘medium-toned anything’ is usually the best way to go. Medium toned, wood, tile or laminate is a more safe bet than ones that are overly light or overly dark.
What is trending in flooring right now?
Laminate, LVT, and solid or engineered wood are FAR more popular than carpet – even in bedrooms!
- Wider planks (approx 7″)
- Wire-brushed or slightly distressed looking finish
- Lighter woods and medium toned woods
- Brown or brown with gray mixed in
- Gray IS on the way out…slowly but surely
- With laminate, don’t buy it if it’s less than 10mm thick
Tile is also far outweighing traditional sheet vinyl/linoleum type products.
- 12×24 is the most popular size
- Tiles with some visual interesting but nothing overwhelming
- Grays and greiges
What is not trending right now?
- Smaller wood strips (5″ or less)
- Woods that have a stronger colour to them ie: yellow/orange/red
- Definitely no 12×12 tiles – that’s a hard no
And remember, the key is to NOT have this info swimming around in your noggin’ – get it down on paper in your binder. And maybe you don’t know the details right now and you only know the basics, but the more you have on paper, the less you’ll have to think about.
Let me repeat that last part as it’s SOOO important…
The more you have down on paper, the less you’ll have to think about!
Main Product #3 Fireplace Stone
This can be another big budget item and needs to be coordinated to the countertop – even if they aren’t in the same room!
Figure out whether you want real-stone, manufactured stone, brick or even shiplap. When you go to the supplier, get pamphlets, hole punch ’em and tuck them in your binder!
What is trending in fireplaces right now?
- Long, linear gas inserts OR large square ones
- Stone and whitewashed bricks
- Shiplap, but more as a secondary detail in addition to some stone (ie: above the mantel)
What is not trending in fireplaces right now?
- Brick that doesn’t have some sort of whitewash on it
- Smaller ledgestone – the bigger stones are more popular
Main Product #4 Cabinetry
Cabinetry is another big dollar item and it’s also one that takes time for order/delivery, so you want to get the ball rolling sooner rather than later.
- Decide what style of cabinet you want – shaker style, flat, raised panel, etc…
- Decide what paint colour/stain you would like. Start with the kitchen and then work out to the bathrooms
- The details ADD-up, so if you want all of the fancy tricks like spice drawers and lazy susans that do pirouettes – then you’ll be paying for them, so make sure you only get what you REALLY need/want
TIP: The cabinet profile with the LONGEST style-lifetime will be shaker style
What is trending in cabinets right now?
- White for sure is the big one
- I also have a lot of clients going back into the light and medium toned woods
- You’ll also see some mix n’ match such as white perimeter cabinets and gray or coloured islands (this trend is still kickin’ but it’s day will come)
- Shaker profile – 90% of the time (top right)
What is not trending right now?
- Traditional oak or cherry
- Dark stains
- Cathedral or arched cabinet profiles (bottom 2 in the above image)
So THOSE 4 things are the big-budget items and need to be chosen before ANYTHING else. Don’t think about the backsplash, don’t think about paint colours or specific lighting fixtures – pick those 3 main things and then…keep on readin’.
This was a tough one to write. How much is TOO much info? Hopefully, these tips and ideas will get you well on your way to pulling things back together.
Want some help?
Check out my E-design and Online Colour Consulting for some hands-on, affordable advice!
I also have some GREAT ARTICLES for reference, so if you need more info on the above steps and ideas, you might find what you need here…
Paint Colour Ideas