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Chip Wade

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A clever design for life with kids: This North Druid Hills room is for work and play

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Child room

Contemporary designs aren’t all sparse, cold, and full of sharp edges and expensive white sofas. In fact, this transformation of a 1950s ranch near North Druid Hills included a living space centered around life with kids—including reading “towers” and hidden storage.

The mother requested a space to work where she could keep an eye on the family’s two rambunctious boys. First, our team opened the floorplan by removing the dividing walls between the front and back living rooms and the dining room. We refinished the existing hardwood floors with a dark, saturated walnut stain that has crisp contrast with the high paneling. But our main efforts were poured into creating custom elements like the children’s individual workspaces and reading nook “towers” built around a central desk. This unique structure gives a great architectural anchor to the front wall of the open concept but provides practical function to a modern lifestyle. With hidden storage built into the unit, cleanup is an easy task. The parents get a clutter-free, visually interesting living space, and the young boys are able to play in their towers or work at their individual side desks, all without being underfoot.

Chip Wade, an Emmy-winning television host/producer, Georgia Tech engineer, HGTV designer, and third-generation craftsman, helps people make home purchasing or improvement decisions. His firm, Wade Works Creative, offers services in residential and commercial design, architecture, realty, and creative construction.

This article appears in our Spring 2018 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.

The case for combining your bathroom and bedroom into one big space

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Lobby bathrooms

When designing a master suite, builders usually prioritize the bedroom, restricting the bathroom’s square footage, function, and layout in order to make the sleeping area larger and more prominent. But if you step back and think practically, the bedroom only contains the bed—while the bathroom and closet hold everything else. So the traditional floorplan is not always the most efficient. A lobby-style setup, which combines the two rooms, may be more effective and luxurious.

One of our recent projects in Avondale Estates benefited greatly from this approach. The open-concept bathroom contains two custom, steel-framed walnut vanities. One vanity features dual sinks and floating mirrors that face a full-height exterior window. The opposite vanity has a solid countertop and a glass partition that both defines the dressing area and provides a mist barrier from the adjoining walk-through shower.

Lobby bathrooms

The generous space between the vanities is reminiscent less of a bathroom and more of a finished living space, easily accommodating two individuals during the morning rush. This level of comfort, sophistication, and space planning creates a resort-style feel that can revolutionize how you experience your master suite.

Focusing on fewer elements also affords a higher level of luxury and function. The interiors of these vanity cabinets, for example, offer many specialty features. Eliminating the dividing wall to create an open shower has a dramatic visual impact.

Transforming your home is possible without additional square footage. For some residences, one of the best options is simply swapping bedroom and bathroom locations. Escaping the confinement of the standard layout can be pivotal in turning your master suite into a retreat that works for you.

Chip Wade, an Emmy-winning television host/producer, Georgia Tech engineer, HGTV designer, and third-generation craftsman, helps people make home purchasing or improvement decisions. His firm, Wade Works Creative, offers services in residential and commercial design, architecture, realty, and creative construction.

This article originally appeared in our Fall 2017 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.

Why you should hire a designer for home improvement projects

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Backyard after
After home improvement

Photograph courtesy of Wade Works Creative

While budget, time, and ability are legitimate constraints on home improvement projects, often it’s a lack of creativity that limits the possibilities. After managing more than 1,000 renovations, I have found that homeowners’ most common mistake is launching a project without having a full plan in place. You might be thinking: Well, that would be great, if I just had enough money to hire a designer. But when you hire capable, experienced professionals with the right skills, you should recoup their fees, with money to spare, from structural efficiency and functional improvements—not to mention you’ll end up with a more personalized, higher-quality final product. If you are spending more than $10,000, you are doing yourself a disservice by not hiring a professional to create a comprehensive plan. This is especially true for outdoor living spaces.

For example, above is a project we did for a family of four in North Atlanta. Tucked away in an unassuming cul-de-sac, this 1.5-acre property is heavily wooded, with a seemingly unfortunate negative grade toward the house. The family was at a loss for how to transform their backyard.

Instead of generic landscape advice—Let’s put a nice pergola and some pavers down, maybe a small outdoor kitchen—our team focused on destination spaces. We saved money by not trying to manicure the entire lot. First, we identified the family’s functional requirements: a place for entertaining, a quiet reading spot, and a play area.

Backyard before
Before home improvement

Photograph courtesy of Wade Works Creative

Simple design concepts transformed this unassuming yard within a modest budget. We repeated geometric elements to connect different spaces, but also to make construction efficient. More than 15,000 blocks of prefinished Austrian spruce were used to create three structures in a matter of days: a 25-foot-diameter pavilion with in-ground fire pit, a floating reading pod, and a matching playhouse. Removing only two large trees provided enough sunlight for a central lawn, while flowing block fences linked all the structures. Concrete and foam “gymstones’’ in slate gray and citron added impact, completing the backyard oasis.

Chip Wade, an Emmy-winning television host/producer, Georgia Tech engineer, HGTV designer, and third-generation craftsman, helps people make home purchasing or improvement decisions. His firm, Wade Works Creative, offers services in residential and commercial design, architecture, realty, and creative construction.

This article originally appeared in our Spring 2017 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.

Tricks for keeping connected spaces cozy, from HGTV’s Chip Wade

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1016_wadekitchen_courtesy_oneuseonlyKeeping family together is the goal of most open-concept projects. However, maintaining style and warmth can be an unexpected challenge in cavernous, undefined spaces. Too often the tendency is to combine as many living spaces as possible without considering how they will interact. Here are a few tricks for keeping things cozy:

Look up
Localized ceiling treatments like the faux coffered skylights, pictured above, are one of the best ways to define a singular area within a larger open space.

Central island
An island or work surface full of functional features can help unite separate sections. For example, consider moving the kitchen island closer to the living room. A sofa can be placed directly against it (see above), eliminating an awkward walkway and allowing room for bar seating on the sides.

Work it
If you are building a new island, incorporate practical features that encourage daily use and create a hub of activity. The granite top above contains a motorized computer work station beneath a wooden panel that rises up and out of the counter with the press of a button.

Stylish details
Also in the renovation above, natural ash wood beams conceal necessary structural elements, while black cabinetry and brushed brass accents add sophistication. With darker cabinetry colors, it’s best to select lighter flooring to create a tailored, high-contrast sight line.

Chip Wade, an Emmy-winning television host/producer, Georgia Tech engineer, HGTV designer, and third-generation craftsman, helps people make educated home purchasing or improvement decisions. His firm, Wade Works Creative, offers services in residential and commercial design, architecture, realty, and creative construction.

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.

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