Creating a Custom Backsplash

Whether you like simple white subway tile or an intricate mosaic tile, when adding a backsplash to your kitchen you are creating an element in the space that is custom to you and your likes. With so many different options available from stone to glass and everything in between, you can create a look that’s simple or one that’s artsy and colorful.

In this month’s newsletter, we’ve collaborated with Nova Tile and Stone in New Egypt, NJ to give you some ideas on what you can do to spice up the look of your kitchen. Everyone would like to create a one of a kind space, so when it comes time to think about the finishes you want and how you want your room to feel when you walk in it, don’t forget to enlist the help of a tile and stone specialist. These professionals know what works well together and what may not. They can ensure that you can find a design element that fits your needs and will make a large impact in your space all while staying within your budget. You don’t need to have a large budget to create a custom backsplash look!

With the evolution of DIY and the overabundance of home renovation projects we see on TV today, its important to remember to “Invest in your Nest”. Enlisting the help of design professionals is the best way to make sure you get the custom look you want without having to worry about the overwhelming decisions that need to be made. Changing a kitchen backsplash is a small design and construction project, but can add so much character to a space. Three items to consider are:

Color – does it lighten up your space and compliment the counter and cabinet tones? Is your grout color blending with the tile or a different hue to make the tile pop?
Pattern – will the new pattern emphasize a horizontal look, create vertical lines to show height at key openings or have a mix of both elements? A band of a different color, style or size can act as a decorative break in the main tiles and behind the stove is a great place to mix up the colors, patterns and textures to create a special touch of your own.
Texture – Do you prefer a rough antique tile look or a glass tile with a smooth  feel to it? This will depend on the location to the elements of the stovetop and cleanability. Small glass tiles are very popular right now and super easy to wipe down.
“Fall in Love with the Process and the results will come.”
– Eric Thomas
When your home renovation is complete and you can sit back and enjoy the results, you will be happy you decided on a custom backsplash. This is the fun part, so enjoy the process and make it your own! You wont be disappointed!
We at PDRdesigns are committed to treating everyone with respect and honesty. We would be honored to help you design your dream space! Please contact us with any questions you may have or to schedule a meeting to go over your next home project!Paul Rugarber , owner of PDRdesigns, LLC is an architect specializing in home renovation and additions with extensive expertise on waterfront designs. You can reach our office by calling (732)-830-3366 or you can visit us on the web at
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The Laundry Room

Laundry Room
“The Forgotten Room”
With school back in session and kids sports schedules in full force, we would like to talk about the laundry room and how to make a not so enjoyable chore more enjoyable. With the right design elements you can create a laundry room that you actually look forward to being in. We all know that with the hustle and bustle of the busy family, we are always looking for ways to make the everyday tasks a little easier. How can we simplify things and stay organized?

“A place for everything and everything in its place.”
– Benjamin Franklin

To some this may be a second thought room, but to anyone that is responsible for this daunting task, this room needs to be a priority! When designing the location and lay out of your laundry room, you should consider where it’s most convenient for your family’s needs. Some choose to have the laundry room on the first floor next to the kitchen while others prefer it on the second floor near the bedrooms, making it easier to put clothes away. Whichever location works best for you, making this room inviting and organized is very important. Allowing enough space for cabinets and storage will create a simple clean look. Sinks,a counter area for folding, drying racks, and even a window ledge for plants are also among clients wish lists. Light cabinetry and cool wall colors create the sense of a fresh and clean area and one that you are excited to be in. This room does not need to be a large space to make it work. With the right layout and use of floor and wall space, a small laundry room can be just as inviting as a larger one.

While the Laundry Room may not be the first choice of rooms you choose to renovate or add on, we can assure you that with all the time spent doing laundry these days, this room is just as important as the next.

Remember, a small change can make a large impact.

We at PDRdesigns are committed to treating everyone with respect and honesty.We would be honored to help you design your dream space. Please contact us with any questions you may have or to schedule a meeting to go over your next home project!

Paul Rugarber , owner of PDRdesigns, LLC is an architect specializing in home renovation and additions with extensive expertise on waterfront designs. You can reach our office by calling (732)-830-3366 or you can visit us on the web at

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The Perfect White

“Creativity is Contagious, pass it on.”
– Albert Einstein

The kitchen is the heart of the home. Where memories are made and traditions are passed on. Kitchens are becoming larger and often include an island or peninsula with stools, as well as a table for everyday meals. The latest trend is eliminating the dining room altogether and creating a large open kitchen perfect for entertaining. Cabinetry and wall colors are key when designing your kitchen and creating the atmosphere perfect for your lifestyle. Over the years, white kitchens have become increasingly more popular because of their timeless simplicity. When you add pops of color to white, it can be very warm and inviting.

This month we sat down with Wendi Smith, Interior Designer and owner of Leftover Luxuries and asked her about white as a color and how it works in kitchen design.

Here’s what she had to say.
“White is truly a color; white isn’t just simply white anymore! But whites can be tricky; so many of them have an undertone, and if the paint is not mixed correctly, the end result may not be what you were looking for.

I LOVE layering white in a room. White really does need more white! On the walls, ceiling and floors, it is important to layer the room with more touches of white through accessories, mirrors, upholstery, lighting and furniture then add splashes of color through pillows, lamps, throws, and even the warmth of rich woods. I also love using gold in a white room. And whites should definitely be used in rooms with lots of light.

I love to use white on architectural features, moldings and textured ceilings. Normally a flat finish is preferable on ceilings—imperfections do not stand out as much—but a ceiling with a great design like coffers, trays or even something as simple as beadboard or planks of wood definitely calls for a semi-gloss finish. And semi-gloss should always be used on trim; I prefer the oil-base option for this application.

As far as specific whites, you can never go wrong with Benjamin Moore’s White Dove (OC-17). It is a very soft, warm white with just a hint of gray. I also love doing a fifty-fifty mix of two whites—White Dove and Decorators White. It truly makes a lovely, splendid creamy white.”

Now that you have some information on how overlaying whites and adding color to a white kitchen would work for your design, we encourage you to visit websites like Houzz, Pinterest, and Google Images for some ideas to help you create your own “perfect white kitchen”.

A warm thank you to Wendi Smith, Interior Designer and owner of Leftover Luxuries for her design expertise and addition to our newsletter this month. For more information about creating a custom design look for your home, visit Wendi’s website at

“Less is More”
– Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
We at PDRdesigns are committed to treating everyone with respect and honesty. We would be honored to help you design your dream space! Please contact us with any questions you may have or to schedule a meeting to go over your next home project!

Paul D. Rugarber, owner of PDRdesigns LLC, is an architect specializing in home renovations and additions with extensive expertise in waterfront designs. You can reach our office by calling (732) 830-3366 or visit us on the web at


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Making Your Great Room Truly Great

“Tomorrow, you may roam; but while you’re here, just feel at home.”
The “great room” is such an amazing name! Who wouldn’t want to be in a room like that? This should be a room that welcomes, inspires, and comforts you – a gathering space where friends and family are drawn and feel at home. So how do we create this evocative “great room”?
I like to begin by deciding what location on the site will invite the best views. Perhaps you have an ocean or river view, or a pool or yard you’d like to see. Sometimes it might simply be avoiding the view you don’t want to see! The views into the yard need to be considered – specifically, how you want to frame those views. What style window and/or doors, and what size and layout would work best? Basically, how much glass and what shape will make a huge difference in the feel of the space, and will also dictate how much the outdoors becomes an extension of the room. Other design items that can be considered are ceiling designs, such as a simple crown molding, applied trim, coffer details, or wood beams – these can draw the eye upward or add that “wow” factor.

How can you create the great room that you love? One of the most unifying and comforting pieces is a fireplace. This can be wood-burning for the hearty, adventurous type, or gas-burning when that is more practical. The fireplace serves as an anchor in the room, and with the right design, can be a true joy to behold.

Now, think about which rooms you want adjacent to this space. The most popular layout is open to the kitchen, the other common gathering space for family and friends. This connection makes sense and allows for a smooth flow, both of people and of conversations.

Cabinetry and shelving are another option that adds style to your space. I advise selecting books and family pictures you love. Shelving and cabinetry can be as simple or ornate as you choose; it’s up to your taste and the feeling you want to create.

Flooring for the great room presents another opportunity to do something different. Whether you like wood and want a simple border with another color, or a pattern, or possibly tile designed to look like wood, make sure it complements the style you are creating and welcomes you to the space. Throw rugs are a great way to add charm and fresh texture to your room as well.

Whatever you choose for your great room, make sure it is you. This is your house – your personal space – so let it be an extension of your personality! That’s the only way you will truly enjoy it. We look forward to the opportunity to help you design your dream space! Call us at 732-830-3366 or email to get started today.
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Design Your Dream Retreat: The Master Bedroom

“My bedroom is my sanctuary.”
Vera Wang
Many years after I built my house, my master bedroom was still not completed. The trim was put up quickly just to get it in and the walls were only partially painted. Finally, one day I was fed up of going to bed and waking up to see an unfinished room! I needed a place to relax – an escape – so I decided to finally create the retreat I’d always wanted. I added a small bar for morning coffee or a nightly glass of wine. I installed beadboard and trim on the ceiling. I added lighting, picked up a few new pieces of furniture, and repainted the walls and ceiling. What a difference it made – both for the room and for my attitude! Now, every night, I see a calming, relaxing space before I go to sleep. When I wake, I look around and find myself thankful for my peaceful retreat and ready to start the day.
I’m by no means the only person who’s had this issue. In fact, it’s one that plagues many people. They’ll update rooms in the rest of the house, but they never get around to the master suite – after all, this is an area “nobody sees,” so they focus on the entertaining and “public” spaces first. The master suite is the one area where you should always feel truly relaxed, and yet many people feel the least relaxed there because it has been neglected and stuffed full of furniture and other odds and ends over the years!
The best way to start this project is to take pictures of your existing room. Then, grab a Sharpie and start marking anything that detracts from the space with a big X! Don’t get caught up thinking about “where will it go, we have no other place to put it” right now. At this point we’re focusing on the end result, the solution, not the problems.

Next, look at websites and/or magazines to determine what you like. Consider colors, textures, bedspreads, curtains, and storage ideas. There’s no need to copy a room you like exactly – get creative! Mix and match elements from different pictures to create your unique, personalized space.

Now that you have an idea of what you don’t want in the room and what you want the room to look like, tackle those items that you need to get rid of. Can they be stored somewhere else in the house? Would they work in a different room? Consider investing in a storage facility or donating/selling items that have been gathering dust. Ultimately, you want to be sure that they are out of the way and no longer cluttering up your relaxing retreat.

Determine what you like and set about repainting, changing the curtains, getting a new bedspread, and find new storage solutions for all those unnecessary items. Clear the dressers and buy some decorative candles and new picture frames. Add a throw rug in for a splash of color. Only allow items that are needed for the room to function and you to feel relaxed in there. Your comfort is the goal.

Now that you understand what is involved, start planning that room – open a bottle of wine and let the ideas flow.  Set a timeframe for completing your project and stick to it.  This is an awesome project because every night you can relax and enjoy your new retreat!

We look forward to the opportunity to help you design your dream space! Call us at 732-830-3366 or email to get started today.

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Designing Your Dream Outdoor Kitchen

An Excerpt from Paul D. Rugarber’s Forthcoming Book,
Architecture to Construction and Everything in Between

“To sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure, is the most perfect refreshment.”
– Jane Austen

Outdoor kitchens and grilling areas have gone from luxury pieces that only a few homes had to popular space additions. For many homes, the backyard has become an extension of the indoor living space.  Creating unique and relaxing exterior spaces enhances the home and provides a place to enjoy the outdoors while entertaining family and friends.  You will need to create a list of items that you want incorporated into the design such as a grill, counter space, storage, refrigerator, sink, fire pit or fireplace, pizza oven, pergola, umbrellas, and seating for guests.  Add lighting for use at night and speakers for some relaxing music.

The location of the space will be tied to the amenities you would like to have in your outdoor kitchen project.  Most towns will allow a patio, grill, and cabinetry to be located almost anywhere, as long as the grill is kept away from combustible materials.  If you are planning to add a roof or pergola to this space, there will be more stringent guidelines to follow.  As with all projects, if you are not sure, consult the local zoning office to see what codes you need to be aware of that may affect your design and location.  Your next thoughts should be what you want to see while you are in this space. Is there a pool you would like to face, attractive landscaping to look at, or – on the other hand – possibly a neighbor you do not want to see?  Screening can be incorporated to obscure unwanted views, and seating/bar space can be set up to direct your gaze to the pool or yard.

The material selection is critical to this type of project so that it does not become a maintenance nightmare.  The area near the grill will be susceptible to grease stains, so pavers or concrete with a sealer is a better choice than wood decking.  Cabinetry needs to be weather resistant, so choose materials like plastic, concrete, or stone. The countertop material will get the most use and needs to be highly durable.  Granite, other natural stones, or manmade synthetics are a good choice; the darker the color the better, as it will not show stains from food or nature.  Apply a sealer each year to keep your beautiful top looking fresh.  If you are using metal doors or drawers, get good quality units made from stainless steel.  Using the correct materials will ensure that your gorgeous project will last for years to come!

As always, proper planning is the key to success with your project.  Look online or in magazines and books for ideas, get creative, and have fun with it!  Remember you are the one using it, so create the space you want and your outdoor space will be a success.  Your new outdoor kitchen will add to the value of your home and provide you with years of enjoyment!

We look forward to the opportunity to help you design your dream space! Call us at732-830-3366 or email to get started today.

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Why Do I Write?

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
Benjamin Franklin
In today’s post I wanted to do something a little bit different. I wanted to tackle the topic of why I write and produce this blog, and eventually the book I’m working on, to help you better understand my motivation. It really all comes down to consumer education and helping others.

As a client, you are most powerful when you have knowledge readily available, constantly at your fingertips. By reading these articles, you will find yourself more informed about what you need to do and what you can expect from your professionals during the process. It amazes me that some people will begin a major financial investment such as the construction of an addition or a new home without the proper knowledge to complete it successfully.

I began writing articles and my book because I realized that clients and homeowners have the same questions about every project. I wanted to be able to provide answers in writing that they could reference at any time, to help them throughout the process. That was, and still is, my main writing goal.

I want to thank everyone for taking this journey with me and for all the encouragement and support I have received through the years.

I also want to thank all of our veterans and servicemen on this Memorial Day weekend for protecting our great country and making sacrifices for all of us!

Enjoy the articles and let me know if you have any questions.

God bless!

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