Design trends: Stone, Wood and Brick

Over the last few month we have seen an increasing number of clients who are looking for more rustic finishes and natural materials. Although colors still tend to remain in a soft neutral palette, there is a lot of interest in the texture found in stone, wood and brick. Fortunately, the possibilities of incorporating these materials are endless and manufacturers are helping by supplying some very good practical means of application.


Stacked stone has been gaining popularity for a while. It has a sleek contemporary look and adds a rustic edge to this dining area.

River rock is especially popular as an accent in bathrooms. It lends a natural outdoor element creating a spa- like feel. This bathroom combined the natural elements of stone and wood with a porcelain “wood” tile – extremely practical.


Stained cabinetry and barn wood accents are evolving trends.  This mix of contemporary and rustic is a far cry from the Brady Bunch.

Although painted finishes for cabinetry are still our top seller, there is a new interest in wood varieties.  Walnut is beautiful and for those who love the feel of warm, natural wood, it delivers a subtle vibrancy that works well as an updated alternative to cherry or oak. 


Brick is making a resurgence with its subtle texture and timeless appeal. It works great in a traditional setting and is a hardy, practical surface for a kitchen floor.

Exposed brick on an interior wall is a great way to play up an urban renewal look. If you don’t have brick to expose, no worries, it can be applied and set, adding rustic restoration charm. 

Bathroom Lighting

Bathroom lighting is often put on the back burner when making home improvements, but it is one of the places that a good lighting plan is especially important. There are times when bright task lighting is essential and times when a glaringly bright light in the bathroom is not the best choice – consider a late night call of nature. Having options in lighting, depending on needs and moods, is essential in the design of a new bathroom.

Here are some of my favorite options:

If you have room on each side of your mirror, sconce lighting is both a beautiful design and a good way to light up your face. The bathroom bar across the top of the mirror does not have the same level of design options, but it is a good practical choice. Recessed lights above the mirror are not optimal, because they create shadow, however if there is another good source of light in the room it may be a choice from an aesthetic perspective – some people really are not fans of the bars. Task lighting is important because those tasks that you perform in the bathroom – applying makeup and shaving – are much easier when you can see!

Recessed lighting is nice to have over the shower – and often over the toilet, which tends to be placed in a more private niche if possible, sometimes creating a closet like feel. Good lighting always makes a space more inviting.

Ambient lighting, such as chandeliers and semi-flushed mount fixtures are perfect in bathrooms as practical and lovely design features. Under cabinet baseboard lighting makes a perfect night light.

Make sure that all of your lights are on dimmers, that way you can easily just for tasks or atmosphere.

Below are some examples of bathrooms designed by Creative Contracting.

Spa-like Mood Lighting
Spa-like mood lighting
Elegant Chandelier
Elegant Chandelier
Recessed lights in water closet
Recessed Lights in Water Closet
under cabinet lighting with overhead bars
Under Cabinet Lighting with Overhead Bars



Designing a Nursery

Designing a nursery for a new baby is a very exiting process. Planning an environment for your new little one to experience the world, is an act of love. Safety, security, comfort and happiness should all be taken into account when planning this space for your bundle of joy!


Crib: make sure that your crib meets today’s safety standards. Many family heirlooms have been recalled or do not have today’s safety features.

Changing table: Honestly, babies can be changed anywhere! If you have room for a baby changing station, it is great to have everything all in one place. Changing tables are a comfortable height and offer storage solutions for all of your baby care products.

Clothing storage: If you have a chest of drawers in your baby’s room, please make sure it is anchored to the wall. Toddler’s love to climb and there is nothing more tragic than a death caused by falling furniture. It is a simple fix and it’s a life-saver!

Rocking Chair: A rocking chair in a nursery is a sweet reminder of the wonderful bonding time between a parent and child. Although those times may take place with a colicky baby in the middle of the night, there is also hope that they are magical moments of love and lullabies.



The décor in the nursery is as personal as every family. This is the fun part – be creative and express your love and care through your own sense of style. Consider what your baby will see and determine the placement of art and mirrors with a crib-view in mind. Color and pattern can be soothing or entertaining. Here are some pictures to inspire.

Miles bedroom is stenciled in a gray and chartreuse pattern.
Miles bedroom is stenciled in a gray and chartreuse pattern.


Macy's Nursery is painted in pearlized pink checkerboard
Macy’s Nursery is painted in pearlized pink checkerboard

Discovering Independence Through Home Remodel

disability300x210jpgOver the years, we’ve had occasions to work with people who have special needs. Remodeling to make their life more comfortable and their living space more functional is probably the most rewarding type of work we do. We have built ramps for people who were wheel chair bound. In one such case we constructed an entrance with a ramp for a victim of gun violence who was permanently paralyzed. Working with state and federal agencies, we were able to help the family get the funding they needed to stay in their home and make it accessible. We have also installed elevators for people with MS and created threshold free showers for people who have limited mobility. It is always gratifying to see the real effect these projects have on the lives of our clients. One of our favorite projects over the years was the home addition we did for Gretchen Stoffel. Born with a rare genetic defect, Gretchen is legally blind and deaf, has limited mobility of her arms and sleeps in a special oxygen chamber. She is also brilliant (in our opinion!)and an extraordinarily charming woman. She has a rewarding job and was able to finance, on her own, an apartment addition over the garage of her parents’ home. It gave her the independence she desired as an adult living at home. With easy access between the original home and her new apartment, the care she needs is only feet away, yet she is in a truly independent living area. Please take the time to view this video of how Gretchen and her wonderful family worked with us to create the home of her dreams.






Fall Color Trend – Oxblood Red

It’s October – we’ve arrived at the time of year when we are ready for cozy sweaters, football and outdoor fire pits. I know we spend the winter months dreaming of warm summer days spent lounging by the pool or at the beach – but we’ve been there – done that. We are as ready for the change in weather as we will ever be – we are the natives of the North East – and we love our seasonal changes!
It is a good thing to carry those seasonal changes into the home. Changing accessories seasonally brings new life to your home and echoes the time of year. This year a new color trend accent is Oxblood Red.

Add a pop of color!
Add a pop of color!

bewitched-benjamin-moore Benjamin Moore Bewitched

Oxblood is a deep shade of red with black undertones. It is a strong color, but works well with most neutrals. It is a great way to add some warmth to rooms that are painted gray or taupe. The “grieges,” super neutral and calming, can use a bit of spice for the fall!

red-accesories A pop of color in a small accessory can warm a room.

If you are working with a neutral base color in a room, don’t be afraid to reflect the outdoor color changes inside your home. Burnt-pumpkin orange, dark “Indian Corn” colors such as eggplant purple and deep reds, can warm up your home if your neutrals are creams or grays. Embrace the season and enhance your home with some autumn colors!

Bathroom Luxuries

Bathroom Luxuries

There’s no place in the home that has the same level of personal intimacy as the bathroom. Chances are, especially if you live in a busy household, the only time you may find yourself alone is in the bathroom. Because it is a sanctuary for private time, why not make it a place that you can enjoy aesthetically? Today, with our hectic lives, the bathroom is becoming for many an in- home spa.
Here are some extravagances you may wish to consider.

Heated Floors and Towel Bars:
Once you have had these luxuries they seem to become “must-haves” in a bathroom remodel. The ultimate luxury of grabbing a warm towel the second you step out of the shower is a true indulgence – as are those heated floors on cold bare feet!
Heated Towel Bar

Soaking Tub: Unwind, relax and take a time-out – with or without a book.DSC_8727
Shower sprays/ Rain head
If you do not live in a tropical island, imagine you are indulging in a tropical rain shower in the comfort and privacy of your own home. For those who long for the feel of a gentle rain – plan your escape.Body spray and rainhead
Sauna: Relax your tired muscles and rejuvenate. Many believe the sauna is a great way to release toxins and establish overall well-being.

Soothing color palettes –
Everyone has their own colors that make them happy. Choose a color that will make you feel good when you step into your bathroom every morning.

Facts and Myths about Wine Storage

For the growing number of wine enthusiasts there are a number of questions about the proper way to store wine. There are also questions as to when wine is at its peak and when it is best to uncork it for the ultimate tasting experience. Only 1% of wines actually improve with age – the other 99% are meant to be consumed within 5 years. To maintain the quality of wine it is best to store it at a consistent temperature. It is generally considered that wine storage is best kept at 45-65° Fahrenheit with 55° being close to perfect.

Wine refrigerated coolers are a great option to maintain this consistent temperature and there are many styles and sizes available. Under- counter options are very popular and can easily be installed in a beverage center. Other benefits of a wine fridge include more storage left in your refrigerator when you are hosting parties!

Creative Contracting Design with wine fridge and beverage center
Creative Contracting Design with wine fridge and beverage center

If you are storing both red and white wine – no worries! Both should be stored at the same temperature – but they should not necessarily be served that way. Allow your red wine to decant to room temperature for the most flavor. White wine is best served opened directly from the wine fridge while it is still a bit cool.

Red and white wine

If you are a wine collector who has more wine than a refrigerator can handle, you may opt for a true wine cellar. Wine cellars are a beautiful way to showcase your wine as well as to store it. A wine cellar cooling unit, similar to an air conditioner, is installed in the cellar to provide the best temperature for wine. The biggest difference between the cooling unit and a home air conditioner is that an air conditioner usually includes a dehumidifying component which removes moisture from the air. This can be harmful to valuable bottles of wine because it can dry out the corks and damage the wine. To maintain the optimal environment for your wine, it is best to have a consistent temperature and humidity. For more information check out this article on Vine Pair.

Creative Contracting designed Wine Cellar
Creative Contracting designed Wine Cellar

Why we Love Convection/Microwave Ovens

Everyone loves convection microwaves. They are a great option if you do not have room in your kitchen design for a second oven, because they can take the place of both microwave and oven. Microwave convection ovens have been around for a long time and used commercially. They cover every possible cooking need you have in the kitchen – baking, microwaving and even grilling. The functionality of it allows you to clear your counter space of toasters and toaster ovens. A convenient size, they can fit above an oven or tucked into an under counter space or shelf. I look forward to using mine when I’m just cooking for two – it’s much more efficient than heating up the oven and it is also great as an added cook source when I’m entertaining a crowd. Perhaps the best feature is being able to reheat leftovers without that soggy microwave consistency – reheated pizza can be crispy because of the convection feature. And speed!- the combination of quick cooking microwaves makes dinners heated quickly taste like they’ve been cooked in a traditional method – great for those nights when you run late at work. To learn more about cooking with convection/microwaves – check out this interesting you tube video.

Top Picks for Kitchen Faucets

When remodeling a kitchen, there are many selections that need to be made to pull everything together. For some, the choices are overwhelming. Although choosing a sink faucet may see like a “no-brainer” initially, the faucet really sets the style for kitchen hardware and even lighting selections. Designers like to think of kitchen hardware and faucets as the jewelry which adds a distinct personal statement to the style of the kitchen.

Here are some of my favorites:

The Rohl farmhouse sink is a classic as far as sinks go. The Rohl bridged faucet is a beautiful choice for a very traditional, elegant kitchen. The most popular choices for finish are chrome, satin nickel, polished nickel and Tuscan bronze. The faucet is also available in polished brass (Inca brass) – so be prepared to see a design trend back to brass. I really like the satin nickel in this line, which gives the feel of a true aged silver. I also love the polished nickel which has a warmer undertone than the chrome. Be prepared to pay extra for finishes other than chrome in any faucet you select. The Tuscan bronze in this line is a “living” finish, which means the color will change with use and is not covered under warranty. It will age naturally and may have some oxidizing which can create some green tones. If you like the old-world feel of a handcrafted metal – the bronze may be a good choice. If you want no-fuss, stick with the chrome. rohl farmhouse sink and faucet

Tuscan Brass
Tuscan Brass

Polished Nickel
Polished Nickel

If you want to add a contemporary edge to your kitchen, my favorite faucet is the Brizo Venuto. It is available in a hands-free touch option, which is a great feature if you are a hands-on cook! Its slim line and profile is elegant and simple. The designer of this faucet, Judd Lord, was inspired by a trip to a Milan Sake Bar and the elegant shape of Japanese hair sticks. This faucet is available in stainless steel, chrome and black finishes. Brizo is the designer line of Delta.

Brizo Venuto

I’ve shared a few of my favorites and I hope I’ve given you some food for thought. There are so many options in kitchen faucets that it’s worth the time to take a look at a design and finish that will compliment your style. After all, if you’re working at the kitchen sink, it helps if it’s beautiful!