How to Choose Furniture for your Living Room

How to Choose Furniture for your Living Room

No matter how much time and money you plan on spending, furnishing your living room should be fun first and foremost. Your primary goal is to make this particular area inviting and livable as much as possible. After all, this is the room where your family and your guests will be spending the most time, chatting, watching TV and having fun in general.

The best thing about living room furniture is that it’s not just functional, but has a decorative aspect as well. This gives you a lot of room for experimenting by choosing different finishes, accents, colors, and textures.

Interior Design: Living room

But that doesn’t mean that you can buy just any piece of modern furniture you find. When choosing contemporary furniture, planning is the key as the experts at Hold It Contemporary Home advise. To help you find the perfect furniture that will look great in your living room, we’ve compiled a list of tips you should follow.

1. Choose the Theme

First of all, pick the design theme you want for your living room. If you already have one or two statement furniture pieces, that’s a good place to start. Design the rest of the room around them. If you are building from the ground up, start with choosing a color focus, the style, the material focus or just match the pieces that work best for you. When choosing contemporary furniture, there are no limits but your imagination.

2. Discover the Purpose

Once you have an idea on the theme, think about what you’re going to use the room for. Are you going to throw parties? If so, you can use contemporary pieces as great conversation starters and can benefit from its inviting nature. If you plan on making movie nights you will need comfortable sofas and functional side tables instead of statement pieces. If you have pets or kids, consider materials that are durable and require low maintenance.

3. Start with the Basics

Once you’ve figured out the theme and the purpose, move on to picking out the pieces. Start with the basic pieces like the sofa, center table, armchairs, side tables, and media devices. These are likely going to be the most prominent pieces, so once you’ve chosen these pieces of furniture you can build the living room around them.

4. Come up with a Sketch

Next, start taking measures. Get a tape measure and measure the living room, including any recessed areas. They can be used for small furniture or decorative pieces. Once you have the numbers, sketch out the living room and start adding furniture. Think about all the elements you want to include and see if you can fit them all into the available space.

5. Determine the Focal Point

The focal point of any living room is usually its center. You will place all the other furniture pieces around this focal point. If you choose a sectional sofa as the furniture piece, you will need a couple of side tables as well as a coffee table.

Be Careful What You Buy

Living room furniture is not something you should be stingy about. Since you are going to be spending a lot of your time here, you want durable, high-quality furniture that can stand the test of time as well as any other tests you put it through. Contemporary furniture stores offer a warranty so that the sofa you choose as your focal point does not break down, living you with an incomplete living room.

Installing a Curbless Shower

Installing a Curbless Shower

Whether it’s part of a complete wet room or installed as a standalone feature, a curbless shower combines easy access for those with limited mobility, convenience for other users, and a look that is trendy, sophisticated, and attractive.

The trick to installing one of these water features is to ensure the moisture stays inside the shower.

Once upon a time, creating a reliably waterproof enclosure for a curbless shower was no small chore.

It meant putting a lot of work into creating a custom shower pan. This kind of project was usually above the skill level or desire of the weekend DIYer, and it generally meant hiring a contractor.

Now you can buy curbless shower-pan kits that make installation a breeze.

The manufacturers have thought through all the issues that can arise and have developed the kits and shower pans to be as foolproof as possible, while also meeting prevailing codes and best standards and practices.

Installing a curbless shower using one of these kits is a realistic project for any home handyperson with even moderate DIY skills and a weekend to spare. These pans come with preconfigured slopes to ensure optimal drainage away from the shower’s edges.

The product we used for this project, the Tuff Form kit from Amazon, includes an offset drain hole that offers the option of rotating the pan in the event of a joist or mechanicals that are in the way.

This product is offered in nine different sizes and can be cut with a circular saw to just about any shape including more unusual, curvy shapes for a truly custom look. Curbless shower-pan manufacturers also sell pans with trench drains for an even sleeker look.

The pan we used for this project is typical of the prefab curbless pan construction; it can support 1,100 pounds even though the pan itself weighs less than 70 pounds.

It sits right on floor joists, with the addition of blocking to support the area around the drain and to provide nailing surfaces around the edges.

Kits like these offer advantages beyond the ease of installation and a thoughtful configuration of parts. Usually, the plumbing can be completely adjusted and connected from above, so you won’t need to work in the basement or crawl space, or open up the first-floor ceiling to install a second-floor shower.

The kits themselves generally include almost everything you’ll need for the installation.

TOOLS & MATERIALS

  • Curbless shower kit
  • Circular saw
  • Jigsaw or handsaw
  • Caulk gun
  • Torpedo level
  • Cordless drill and bits
  • PVC cement and brush
  • Screwdriver
  • Speed square
  • Putty knife
  • Palm sander and 120-grit pad
  • Scissors
  • Rubber gloves
  • Synthetic paintbrush
  • Roller and roller handle
  • Caulk/ construction adhesive
  • Blocking
  • Sealant
  • Waterproofing tape
  • Membrane
  • Ear and eye protection
  • Work gloves

WET ROOMS AND UNIVERSAL DESIGN

Because a wet room allows the bathroom to be designed with fewer barriers and a single-level floor surface, these rooms are natural partners to a universal design approach.

If you’re thinking about converting a bathroom to a wet room, it’s worthwhile to consider a little extra effort to make the space as accessible as possible for the maximum number of users.

Walls. Where codes allow it, consider using thick plywood rather than cement board for the wall subsurfaces. Plywood allows for direct installation of grab bars without the need for blocking or locating studs.

If you’re set on using cement board, plan out locations for grab bars near toilets, behind and alongside bathtubs, and in showers.

Most codes specify that grab bars must be able to support up to 200 pounds—which usually means adding blocking in the walls behind the grab bars.

Shower stall. One of the benefits of adding a curbless shower is easy wheelchair (or walker) access. For maximum accessibility, the shower area should be at least 60″ wide by at least 36″ deep (60″ by 60″ is preferable).

This allows a wheelchair user to occupy the stall with a helper. And, although the idea is a wide-open shower space, it’s always a good idea to add a fold-down seat. This allows for transfer from a wheelchair or a place for someone with limited leg strength and endurance to sit.

How to Install a Waterproof Sub-Base for a Curbless Shower

1. Remove the existing flooring material in the area of the shower pan (if you’re remodeling an existing bathroom). Use a circular saw to cut out and remove the subfloor in the exact dimensions of the shower pan. Finish the cuts with a jigsaw or handsaw.

2. Reinforce the floor with blocking between joists as necessary. Toenail bridge blocking in on either side of the drain waste-pipe location, and between joists anywhere you’ll need a nailing surface along the edges of the shower pan. If trusses or joists are spaced more than 16″ on center, add bridge blocking to adequately support the pan.

3. Set the pan in the opening to make sure it fits and is level. If it is not level, screw shims to the tops of any low joists and check again; repeat if necessary until the pan is perfectly level in all directions.

4. Install or relocate drain pipes as needed. Check with your local building department: if the drain and trap are not accessible from below you may need to have an onsite inspection before you cover up the plumbing.

5. Check the height of the drain pipe. Its top should be exactly 23⁄8″ from the bottom of the pan—measure down from the top of the joist. If the drainpipe is too high, remove it and trim with a tubing cutter. If it is too low, replace the assembly with a new assembly that has a longer tailpiece.

6. Lay a thick bead of construction adhesive along with the contact areas on all joists, nailing surfaces, and blocking.

7. Set the pan in place and screw it down using at least 2 screws along each side. Do not overtighten the screws. If you’ve cut off the screwing flange on one or more sides to accommodate an unusual shape, drill 1⁄8″ pilot holes in the cut edges at joist or blocking locations and drive the screws through the holes.

8. Disassemble the supplied drain assembly. Be careful not to lose any of the screws. Place the drain tailpiece on the waste pipe under where the pan’s drain hole will be located and measure to check that it sits at the correct level. Solvent-glue the tailpiece to the end of the waste pipe.

9. Position the supplied gaskets on top of the tailpiece (check the manufacturer’s instructions; the gaskets usually need to be layered in the correct order). Set the drain flange piece on top of the tail and into the drain hole in the pan. Drill 1⁄8″ pilot holes through the flange and into the pan. Screw the flange to the pan.

10. Thread the tail top piece into the tail through the drain flange. Use a speed square or other lever, such as spread-channel lock pliers, to snugly tighten the tail top piece in place.

11. Install tile underlayment for the rest of the project area. If the underlayment is higher than the top of the pan once it is installed, you’ll have to sand it to level, gradually tapering away from the pan.

12. Scrape any stickers or other blemishes off the pan with a putty knife. Lightly sand the entire surface of the pan using 120-grit sandpaper to help the sealant adhere. After you’re done sanding, wipe down the sanded pan with a damp sponge. Make sure the entire area is clean.

13. Seal the edge seams at the wall and between the pan and subfloor with waterproof latex sealant. Caulk any pan screw holes that were not used.

14. Cut strips of waterproofing tape to cover all seams in the tile underlayment (both walls and floor). Also, cut strips for the joints where walls and floor meet. Open the pail of liquid waterproofing membrane and mix the liquid thoroughly. Beginning at the top and working down, brush a bed of waterproofing liquid over the seams. Before it dries, set the tape firmly into the waterproofing. Press and smooth the tape. Then brush a layer of waterproofing compound over the tape

15. Trace a hole in the center of the waterproof drain gasket using the bottom of the drain clamping donut. Cut the hole out using scissors. Be careful cutting the gasket because it is a crucial part of the drain waterproofing. Check the fit with the gasket against the underside of the clamping donut top flange.

16. Apply a thin coat of the waterproofing compound around the drain hole and to the back of the drain gasket. Don’t apply too much; if the waterproofing is too thick under the gasket, it may not dry correctly.

17. Put the gasket in place and brush a coat of the waterproofing over the gasket. Screw the clamping donut in place on the top of the drain and over the membrane. Hand-tighten the bolts and then cover the clamping donut with the waterproofing compound (avoid covering the slide lock for the drain grate).

18. Use a roller to roll waterproofing compound across the walls and over the entire pan surface. The ideal is 4mm thick (about the thickness of a credit card). Allow this first coat to dry for 2 hours, then cover with a second coat. This should conclude the waterproofing phase of the project, and you’re ready to begin laying tile once the waterproofing compound has dried thoroughly.

How to Install Tile for a Curbless Shower

TOOLS & MATERIALS

  • Ear and eye protection
  • Work gloves
  • Tile
  • Spacers
  • Thinset tile adhesive
  • Trowel
  • Pencil
  • Tile saw or nippers
  • Grout
  • Towel
  • Sponge

Installing Steps

1. Set the floor tile first. Begin by placing a sample of the floor tile directly next to the drain so you can set the drain grate height to match. The adjustable mounting plate for the grate should be flush with the tops of the tile.

2. Begin laying floor tile in the corner of the shower. Lay a bed of thin-set tile adhesive, using a notched trowel. The thinset container should specify the notch size (3⁄8″ square notch is common).

3. Place the corner tile into the bed of thin-set and press it to set it. Don’t press down too hard or you will displace too much of the material. Continue laying tile, fanning out from the corner toward the drain opening. Leave space around the drain opening as it is likely you’ll need to cut tiles to fit.

4. Install tile so a small square of the untiled area is left around the drain opening (which, in the system seen here, is square, making for an easier cutting job)

5. Mark the tiles that surround the drain opening for cutting. Leave a small gap between the tiles next to the drain-grate mounting plate.

6. Cut the tiles along the trim lines using a tile saw. If you are not comfortable using a tile saw, score the tiles and cut them with tile nippers.

7. Apply thin-set onto the shower pan, taking care not to get any on the drain-grate mounting plate. You may need to use a small trowel or a putty knife to get into small gaps.

8. Set the cut tiles around the drain opening, doing your best to maintain even gaps that match the gaps in the rest of the floor. Once you’ve finished tiling around the drain, finish setting floor tile in the rest of the project area.

9. Let the floor tile set overnight and then apply grout. Using a grout sponge, wipe the grout over the gaps so all gaps are filled evenly. After the grout dries, buff the floor with a towel to wipe up excess residue.

10. Snap the grate cover into the cover mounting plate (if you’ve stuffed a rag into the drain opening to keep debris out, be sure to remove it first). The grate cover seen here locks in with a small key that should be saved in case you need to remove the grate cover.

11. Begin setting the wall tile. Generally, it’s easiest if you start at the bottom and work upward. Instead of thinset adhesive, an adhesive mat is being used here. This relatively new product is designed for walls and is rated for waterproof applications. It is a good idea to use a spacer (¼” thick or so) to get an even border at the bottoms of the first tiles.

12. In the design used here, a border of the same mosaic tile used in the floor is installed all around the shower area to make the first course. Dark-brown accent tiles are installed in a single vertical column running upward, centered on the line formed by the shower faucet and showerhead. This vertical column is installed after the bottom border.

13. Next, another vertical column of accent tiles is installed on each side of the large, dark tiles. These columns are also laid using the floor tile, which connects the walls and floor visually in an effective way.

14. Finally, larger field tiles that match the floor tile used outside the shower area are installed up to the corner and outward from the shower area. Starting at the bottom, set a thin spacer on top of the border tiles to ensure even gaps.

15. Grout the gaps in the wall tiles. It’s usually a good idea to protect any fittings, such as the shower faucet handle escutcheon, with painter’s tape prior to grouting. If you wish, a clear surround may be installed to visually define the shower area, as in the photo to the right, but because the shower pan is pitched toward the drain it really is not necessary.

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Plan basement Layouts and Installations

Plan basement Layouts and Installations

Minimalist Approaches

The most common approach to basement remodeling includes installing flooring, wall, and ceiling surfaces that look very much like those in upstairs rooms. We are creatures of habit, comfortable when surrounded with smooth walls covered with paint, paneling, or tile, as well as floors that are tile, hardwood, or carpet.

But there’s another way of thinking about a basement: It need not be like all the other rooms in the house, and may actually have a sort of rustic (or industrial or Bohemian) charm if treated more lightly. The idea is to “let a basement be a basement.” Once you achieve this attitude, all sorts of funky elements—pipes, ducts, exposed joists and beams, rough masonry walls and floors, and even some appliances—no longer appear as eyesores. Instead, they achieve (in one’s mind, anyway) the status of “utilitarian beauty.”

In this basement, a hardwood floor was laid, but the walls were simply spray painted; ceiling joists are left exposed, and electrical supplies are on display. Rather than hiding large ducts, they are celebrated for their shininess. Overhead canister lights are also left exposed, as is the wiring leading to them. A wall of glass block adds to a Euro style.

Perhaps the greatest virtue of the minimalist approach is that it can save tons of money. Moving pipes and ducts, framing walls and floors, and installing drywall surfaces, as well as finished-looking lights and plumbing services, consumes lots and lots of time and materials. And, in many cases, such hardcore remodeling is strictly cosmetic and does not actually make a basement more comfortable or usable. Plus, strategies like leaving walls and floors unfinished or merely painted ensure against expensive damage in case of a flood.

All that money you save can go toward things that make a basement memorable, such as artwork for walls, fancy rugs, and fun stuff like a pool table or wine cellar. However, do not neglect safety and comfort concerns. If you have nonmetallic cable for wiring, it should not be in easy reach. Perhaps replace it with solid conduit , or cover it up with a simple frame and drywall or paneling. And if your walls and floors get very cold, you may choose to insulate and seal them up. Window and exterior door replacement may also be a good idea.

Even exposed black steel gas pipe can be appealing, especially if it is neatly installed and clean. Here, the excess pipe dope or Teflon® tape has been carefully removed.

Often the minimalist approach involves spray-painting walls and ceilings (including pipes). If a concrete floor is relatively uniform in appearance, acid staining may look great. If it varies in texture and has other imperfections, consider simply painting it.

Layout Considerations

Getting Ready

Before you start planning room types and sizes, open up your space by clearing out all unnecessary stuff-including all those storage items that you can put elsewhere. Take steps to ensure that space is dry and will stay dry, as discussed previously. If your basement is riddled with posts, or your large appliances are sitting in the middle of the basement, planning around these obstructions can be complicated and frustrating. You may want to install new beams and remove posts to give you a clean slate on which you can make your plans.

Keeping Clean

Doing construction work in a basement can be dirty and dusty, so one of the first orders of business is to figure out how to handle the mess. It has been said that the first tool a remodeler should buy is a high-quality Shop-Vac® with a really good collection system. You may not opt for the high-end setup shown below, but at least get a large-capacity vacuum with a HEPA filter and plenty of dust collection bags. Plan to clean often—at the least, at the end of every workday.

A great dust collection system often starts with a high-quality shop vacuum. But even if you have a standard Shop-Vac, the addition of a secondary unit, like Oneida’s Dust Deputy® will greatly increase its efficiency. This unit spins dust cyclonically and removes most of the dust even before it reaches the vacuum.

As much as weather permits, open windows and put outward-facing fans in them. Simple inexpensive box fans can do a remarkably good job of lessening or eliminating airborne particles.

Safety Alert: Before removing a basement wall, be sure it is not load bearing. A bearing wall runs perpendicular to the joists in the basement ceiling and supports them where needed.
If you want to remove a bearing wall, you will need to replace it with a beam that is approved by your building department as strong enough.

Construction dust—and especially drywall dust—has an amazing ability to seep through even tiny cracks and infiltrate other rooms. How it travels upwards we may never know, but it does. Whenever possible, use plastic sheeting and tape to seal off areas of the house not being worked on.

You can prevent marital and familial hard feelings by carefully taping off “innocent” rooms that are not involved in the construction. It can be an annoyance to keep these areas sealed every day, but it’s well worth the effort: Cleaning infiltrated dust can be a major job in itself.

Working with Your Building Department

Local building codes cover many operations you may perform while remodeling a basement, from structural support to insulation of outside walls, electrical and plumbing installations and more. Though your basement may seem out of sight, it is recommended that you consult with your local building department before starting work. Building codes may seem strict, but they are designed to keep your basement safe and secure.

You will probably need to schedule inspections of various types at various stages of work, for instance:
framing, rough electrical, rough plumbing, finish electrical and finish plumbing. The building department may require that some of the work be performed by a licensed electrician or plumber.

If you’re tempted to skip the building department, keep in mind that when you go to sell your home you could get into trouble. And if you are caught working without permits, the inspector may make you tear up walls or the floor to uncover the work they need to inspect—a very expensive and diffi cult proposition.

Planning and Drawing

Use a computer program or just a pencil, graph paper, and straightedge to plan your room(s). Start by carefully measuring your available space. Make a scaled drawing of the empty space— including all the little obstructions and bump-outs—and make a number of copies, so you can sketch onto them.

Overall Plan

An overall plan shows where all the stuff goes. Be sure to take into account the full thickness of walls—which may be as thick as 8 in. around the perimeter, depending on how you construct them. Also include doors (and the way they swing), windows, major appliances, shelving units, and bathroom fixtures.

Make an overall plan view (top view) drawing, showing where all the important things go. A family room may have wide open spaces, so you can later put in a pool table or exercise equipment. A bathroom and utility room, on the other hand, have elements that need to be precisely planned.

Individual Plans

Also make detailed drawings of the bathroom, utility room, laundry room, and any other room where the precise placing of appliances and fixtures is important. In addition to a plan view drawing, side views (elevations) help you visualize the final look.

Laundry room

A side-view drawing—either computer generated like this one or drawn by hand—helps you gain a greater feel for how spacious or cramped the folding table, shelving, and other elements will be.

Bathroom Plan

This bathroom plan-view drawing includes not only the toilet, sink, and shower unit but also a towel bar, a niche in a shower wall, and recessed medicine cabinets. Precise dimensions help to place elements where they will be comfortable to use without wasting space.

Bath Elevation

This elevation-view bathroom drawing is so detailed that it shows the shower tiles to scale, to get a complete feel of the room.

Electrical Plan

Also make an electrical plan showing the locations of light fixtures, switches, and receptacles.

Drowing Symbols

Architects and builders use many symbols to represent various elements in rooms. Here are some of them.

Working With Subcontractors

Plumbers, electricians, drywallers, framers, and other tradesmen all can do their work faster than you can—unless you are one of them. You no doubt want to save money by doing much of your own work. But even professional contractors often hire “subs” because it just makes things go more smoothly.

Permits

You can be the general contractor on the job, or you can hire someone else to do that. If you hire, say, a plumber to run the rough plumbing or drywallers to hang and finish the drywall, they are your subcontractors. Be clear on which permits you need to pull and which they need to. Plumbers and electricians usually pull their own permits and are present for the inspections.

Bids and The Contracts

You may have heard that you should get three bids on a job and go for the one in the middle. That’s not always true, but it often is. Don’t just shop around for the cheapest price, or you may get shoddy work. Vet the subcontractors: Take the time to ask around and find out if a sub is reliable, if his work stands the test of time, and if he will do the job when you want it done. Many subs do good work but take on so much work that they may be weeks late in getting to your job. The contract does not need to be elaborate, but it should specify:

  • The exact materials to be used, including brand names.
  • A payment schedule that holds back a significant sum until you are completely satisfied with the work and it has been inspected and approved.
  • Which materials they will supply and which you will. For example, you may provide the sink, toilet, tub, and light fixtures, and subs may provide pipes, cables, and all the behind-the-walls stuff.
  • A schedule of when things should be finished, and penalties if work is not done in a timely manner. This does not have to be punitive and unfriendly, but if the sub is weeks late, he should feel a wallet pinch.
  • A statement of who will actually do the work. You don’t want the sub to sub-sub it out to someone you don’t know.

The Order Of Work

To keep the job going at a reasonable pace, start out with a loose schedule of when things will happen. In general, a basement job follows this path:

  1. Making repairs to the concrete surfaces, and taking steps to ensure dryness
  2. Moving large appliances and heating units, if needed
  3. Lowering the floor and/or moving up pipes and ductwork, if needed
  4. Getting permits
  5. Making structural repairs and installations, such as to beams and posts
  6. Insulating the exterior walls
  7. Framing exterior and interior walls
  8. HVAC installations
  9. Rough plumbing
  10. Rough electrical
  11. Insulating between studs, if any
  12. Installing windows
  13. Hanging and finishing drywall
  14. Installing doors
  15. Finish carpentry—trimming doors, windows, and base
  16. Painting and staining
  17. Installing subflooring and flooring
  18. Finish plumbing
  19. Finish electrical
  20. Installing bathroom accessories
  21. Installing door handles, thresholds, and transition strips; paint touchup