Should I Stay or Should I Go


"Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble
An' if I stay it will be double
So come on and let me know …
Should I stay or should I go?"   - The Clash

Ahh, the question that keeps re-modelers awake at night. It may seem like an achievable idea but trying to maintain a normal lifestyle in the middle of a construction zone is a test for most families. Before you commit to this restless journey we encourage you to consider the following complications. 


A general breakdown of the positives and negatives of remaining in your home. 


  • Save the cost of renting
  • Avoid the hassle of relocating your family and items


  • Rise and Shine - Construction days start early
  • Construction is Dirty Business - Prepare for dust and debris
  • Restricted Area - Limited access to parts of your home
  • Black Out - System upgrades will require coordination and may be inconvenient
  • Time is Money - Any delays in schedule will increase the project's price tag
  • Power Tools are not Subtle - Construction sites are extremely noisy
  • Health Concerns - Every remodel comes with a certain amount of risk of exposure to lead and asbestos, especially in older homes


Also of consideration when living in a construction zone is the associated health risks. The severity of this exposure is dependent on several factors including how well the construction area can be sealed and the age of the home being renovated. Homes that pre-date the 1970's are extremely likely to contain lead paint which can pose serious health hazards; especially for young children. If the area of remodel can be completely quarantined then it's worth further consideration, but if your separation plan is a thin plastic sheet, start packing your bags. 

The final significant consideration is all about you; well your sanity. You will have an exclusive front row seat to the destruction and chaos occurring in your own home. Yes, you are excited about a transformation but being privy to the raw construction process may result in more stress than intrigue. This again is dependent on the level of compartmentalization achievable and your temperament. 

If you are asking our opinion here it is - if you have kids, and are renovating your kitchen plus a few other spaces - GO. If you are not remodeling with children in tow and the area of construction can be sectioned off then consider staying. The potential for monetary savings is limited but the metal taxation is real so take some time to think about the trade-offs. 


Still can't decide? Use the diagram below to figure out your situation. 


Considerations When Choosing Switches and Outlets

We recently had a client deliberating what to choose for their electrical switch and outlet trim. They had an aversion to contemporary paddle style light switches feeling that the look was stuck in the '80s. We put together these thoughts and sketches to help them understand the choices available and some of the logic behind layout choices when multiple switches pile up in one location.

Which Style? When considering switch styles (contemporary -vs- classic) it is helpful to think of the choice as less of a style and appearance selection and more of a functional choice.

Contemporary - Architects and designers like contemporary style switch plates (Decora and similar) not because we love the look, but because they allow the highest level of design flexibility and the largest selection for trim styles and functions - there are literally thousands of switch, trim, function and layout options available.

Classic - Classic style switches and outlets require use-specific switch plate covers and are more limiting when it comes to switch, trim, function and layout options. As a consequence they are less common in new construction. We typically only use classic style switches and outlets in remodels and renovations when we want to blend in with existing conditions.


Switch and outlet groupings: Typically, when I have a situation where more than 3 functions or switches pile up in one area, I try to break the functions into sensible groupings and locations. I also tend to want to make them as compact as possible.

For example, let's say that we have a Master bath vanity area with multiple switches and an outlet. We have 4 controls for a Fan/Light/Heat/Night-light combo unit, an outlet, and a switch for a light fixture over the tub. If we were to gang them all up in one box the cover plate would become quite large and what switch goes to which function would be less clear.

If we divide up the functions into separate boxes and use switch size and groupings to create a hierarchy of controls we give the user a better shot at guessing (and remembering) which switch does what.

Here's a sketch of a few layouts to provide an example: