Renovation Bells & Whistles by Baruch Tenenbaum


Renovation Bells & Whistles by Baruch Tenenbaum

Renovation Bells & Whistles

by Baruch Tenenbaum

When building or renovating a home, you have an opportunity to make your living space into a place you can truly enjoy. You may want to consider adding modern features that will increase your comfort and enhance the aesthetics of your home. Since you’re already going to be opening floors or adding drywall, here are a few suggestions of additional ways to treat yourself.


If it was good enough for the Romans, it could be good enough for you! Radiant floor heating creates a comfortable radiant heat, far superior to the heat from A/C units or space heaters, and much more energy-efficient than radiators—without taking up an inch of space in your home. Warmth is supplied by hot water tubes or electric wires buried under the floor tiles. The only visible evidence of the unit is a thermostat/control panel for each of the zones where the heating is located. Usually each bedroom is controlled individually, and the salon/kitchen/hallway are grouped together as one zone. You can also set up a system of timers for each of the zones in your house.

As the tubes or wires heat up, they radiate heat upwards and warm objects they strike, which in turn radiate that captured heat. Compare this to conventional convection heating where the air is heated and then circulated in the room: you feel warm because the air is warmer. However, hot air rises, so you might experience the top half of a room being toasty warm, or even stuffy, while you find yourself needing a pair of extra socks against the cold air in the bottom half of the room. Radiant heat is more consistent. It rises from the bottom up, but spreads evenly over the entire floor. You will no longer need to rely on rugs or slippers to spare your feet the shock of a cold tile floor in wintertime.


You can add flair to your living room or even your bedrooms by introducing a decorative geves design. Throw in some lighting, and now it’s functional as well. The days of the large 20cm diameter ‘high hat’ spotlights are long gone; the current trend is for more refined and subtle lighting. Taking this one step further are gypsum recessed lights, or plaster spotlights. They are spotlights that seamlessly integrate into the surrounding ceiling. There are no ‘trim’ pieces that sit on the geves ceiling; instead, the fixture is made out of gypsum, and once taped and painted, all you see is the light coming out of the recessed portion of the fixture.


The latest trend in lighting are LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights. They are energy efficient and consume 90% less power than traditional incandescent bulbs, translating into decreased power costs. They are often used as under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen. Their sleek profile makes them highly discreet. They can also be incorporated into a geves design where a ‘strip’ of LED lights is located on a geves shelf. Because you are looking from below, you don’t notice the fixture (LED strip)—you only see the light emanating from them. Another option is to place the LED strip within the recess of a geves shelving unit. Install a piece of glass in the unit, and you now have a cool backlighting effect illuminating the glass.


If you’re renovating your kitchen, there are many extras you can add. Aside from the common built-in oven, you can add an integrated dishwasher panel: fit the front of the dishwasher with a cupboard door that matches the rest of the kitchen cabinetry. You can also install an instant hot water machine that dispenses boiling hot water—say goodbye to your kettle and hello to more counter space—or an instant chiller (freezing cold water dispenser). Both these machines are under-sink units, and all you see is the water tap. They can be combined with a filter as well.

Why throw out your food scraps when you can install a garbage disposal unit under your kitchen sink? An InSinkErator or garburator is an electrically powered device, located between the sink's drain and the trap, that shreds food waste into pieces small enough to pass through the waste plumbing lines. You won’t have to worry about clogged kitchen lines again!


If you’re renovating a bathroom, consider incorporating some niches in the bathtub or shower stall area. They are usually first built out of water resistant drywall, a.k.a., greenboard, or cement board, and then covered with tile. They produce an aesthetically pleasing highlight in your bathroom to display your rubber ducky collection or store your soap and shampoo.

Instead of installing a square or circular drain in the center of your shower stall, consider a slot drain. It is a sleek-looking, narrow, rectangular drain with a chrome cover. Besides the aesthetics, it has the practical advantage of allowing the shower stall floor to be sloped in one direction.

Rain shower heads offer a luxurious alternative to your run-of-the-mill shower. The heads are usually larger and hang directly overhead, simulating the experience of showering in the rain.

These are just a few suggestions for the comforts you can treat yourself to in the process of a renovation. Dream big, and enjoy!

Baruch Tenenbaum can be reached at 050-6740-1976