Thursday, November 17, 2016

Tricks to Hide Light Switches, Outlets and Toilet Roll Holders

by Yanic Simard

Embrace camouflage and other design moves
to make these eyesores virtually disappear


Electrical outlets, light switches and toilet paper roll holders are hard to avoid. Often building codes dictate where these can be placed, which can sully otherwise beautiful backsplashes and other features in kitchens and bathrooms. But all hope isn’t lost. If you prefer to preserve the clean lines of a beautiful backsplash, try some of these methods for keeping these eyesores from sticking out.

In Kitchens

Undercabinet mounting. If you’re undertaking a renovation or a new home build, you can often achieve a clean, contemporary look, such as the uncluttered backsplash shown here, with a little thoughtful positioning.

It may seem as if this kitchen has no handy outlets for modern appliances, but don’t let this point of view fool you. If you look carefully you’ll notice that the outlets and switches have been tucked into the underside of the shelf rather than in the walls. They’re easy to reach when needed but out of sight when not in use.



Similarly, the opposite wall of the same compact kitchen includes some hidden essentials built into the base of the upper cabinetry. In this case, a small amount of cabinet space was stolen to hold electrical work, which allowed space for a flush undercabinet LED strip to brighten the kitchen — a win-win.

You can create a similar effect with most stock cabinets by adding a custom built box at the bottom for electrical and using an extra-long door front to cover both the cabinet and the add-on to achieve a flush look.

Vessels and other decor. If renovation isn’t on the table, you cans still effectively hide outlets. Often all you need is one large storage vessel or attractive vase to hide your outlet when not in use.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

15 Design-Friendly Places to Hide the Cat Litter Box

by Julie Sheer

Built-in solutions include putting it in a cabinet,
under the stairs, behind a wall and inside a window seat

Finding a place for the cat’s litter box is part of cohabitating with a feline friend, but it doesn’t have to be done at the expense of good design.

Keeping the box out in the open makes using the toilet easy for kitty but is less than ideal for everyone else in the house. But is it a good idea to conceal a cat’s box in a cabinet or closet? Opinions vary.

Cats like a litter box in a quiet spot with an escape route — where they can see people or other animals and not feel trapped, according to the ASPCAJackson Galaxy, author and host of Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell, on the other hand, says in the Litter Box 101 section of his website that the cat box must be in “socially important” areas of the home — in other words, right where you can see it, not hidden away.

Experts may disagree on the best place to locate the litter box, but one thing most agree on is that it must be in a spot that can be easily accessed by the cat to use and humans to clean. Not keeping a litter box clean is asking for trouble — including having your furniture used as a toilet.

Here’s a look at how some designers and homeowners have worked litter boxes into their decor.

Inside a Cabinet

1. 
A standard magnetic pet door flap is inset in the handsome panel of a litter box cabinet in this laundry room of a Springfield, Missouri, home. Designer Nathan Taylor of Obelisk Home notes that the porcelain tile floor of the laundry room continues into the litter box area.There’s no external ventilation, but Taylor says the “air mass of the double cabinet provides enough air.”

On the other side of the cabinet is the garage. A small door on that side of the cabinet allows owners easy access to the litter box to clean it from inside the garage.

For homeowners interested in taking on a project like this, Taylor says it could be done in an existing cabinet, similar to installing a cat door in a regular door. “It may require some interior support to attach the back of the cat door,” he says.

2. In this laundry room in Houston, designers at Brickmoon Design created a template that their trim carpenter followed to cut a cat shape on the cabinet door leading to the litter box.

3. The custom-built wall unit in this mudroom in Houston includes a cubby for the cat box. Designer Peggy Hull of Creative Touch Interiors says the cabinet was built based on the size of the homeowner’s litter box.

“The cabinet door was built to allow the cat to go into the ‘mouse hole’ to use the box and then come back out again,” says Hull, who adds that the opening itself allows for ventilation. She says they liked the clean look of the cabinet so decided not to put a knob on it.



4. This photo and the next two show a great cabinet solution for keeping dogs out of the cat’s litter box. The designers at Mosby Building Arts modified a pet-friendly laundry room to keep the family dogs from getting into cat Bubba’s box.

Carpenter Steve Crider cut away the bottom portion of the right cabinet door, which serves as the entryway for Bubba, says Toby Weiss of Mosby. The floor of the cabinet was removed and a sliding tray that holds the litter box was installed on the left side. “After the pieces were in place, Crider brought in Bubba the cat to test for heights and access. It was a success!”

The cat’s private bathroom is easily accessed for cleaning and litter replacement, and there’s extra room for supplies.






The laundry room with hidden cat bathroom also serves as a home office, pantry and pet-feeding area. Weiss says experienced carpenters could do their own version, which is definitely a step above a standard pet flap through the door. In this case, Weiss says, “this was the only solution that gives Bubba full access and privacy, and keeps the dogs from dining out afterward!”

In a Drawer

5. The door in this Wilmington, North Carolina, laundry room was custom-made for the cat. There’s an entry hole in front, and the cabinet pulls open for cleaning the box. A back door nearby helps with ventilation, designer Alice Evans of Dynamic Kitchen and Interiors says. The next photo shows the door in the front of the drawer.

This photo shows the front of the laundry room cabinet where the cat enters.


6. Here’s another drawer that accesses a litter box through a mouse-hole-shaped entry. This one’s in the mudroom of a custom home in Texas.
Behind a Wall

7. 
This attractive accessway to a litter box was incorporated into the whole-house remodel of a brick Colonial in Lincoln, Massachusetts. Molding above the baseboard frames the entryway through which the cat accesses a tunnel to the basement, where the litter box is.

This keeps the homeowners from having to leave the basement door (to the right) open. Keep in mind when taking on a project like this that it’s probably best done by a carpenter or skilled handyman, because cutting through a wall is serious business and requires the right tools and skills.

8. Installing a cat potty area in the bathroom kind of makes sense. This version was done while the bathroom was being renovated in an Osterville, Massachusetts, home. The concealed litter box can be easily removed by reaching inside, designer Amy Britton of Artisan Kitchens says.

The bottom and sides of the enclosure are lined with galvanized sheet metal with sealed seams to prevent “accidents” from soaking into the sheetrock. Ductwork inside connects to a standard ceiling fan, which can be flipped on to remove kitty odors.




Under Stairs

9. 
Here’s a clever through-the-wall design (this photo and the next two) that keeps the litter box and food bowls out of sight behind a dining room wall. During their Paris apartment’s renovation, the architect-designers of A+B Kasha Designs discovered their new puppy was a bit too interested in the cat’s food and litter box, Alon Kasha says. So they incorporated the cat space under the staircase, building a door with a hole in it for their cat, named Pounce, to crawl through, and a perch for him to jump onto to get there.

Pounce’s routine goes like this: He jumps up onto the ledge, goes through the hole, onto the food ledge inside, then walks on top of the litter box to the back, where he jumps down and goes into his box.
The deeper ledge inside holds his water and food bowls. “All we do is open the door to restock,” Kasha says. There’s a vent to the outside back wall at the end of the space, which is about 5 feet deep. “To clean the litter, we open the door and pull out the litter box. It all works great. No odors,” Kasha says.

10. One smart way to utilize unused space is under the stairs, which is what the builders at Maplestone Construction did when they created a discreet litter box area in this home in North Carolina (this photo and next).

The mouse-hole-shaped entry leads to the box and play area. The garage is on the other side of the wall, where the box can be cleaned.

11. Adding storage under a staircase during a remodel is the perfect time to incorporate a hidden cat box area. That’s when this enclosure was added to the custom birch plywood drawer system in this basement in West Grove, Pennsylvania.

Designer Pete Cooper of Spring Creek Design says he likes to look for unused nooks of space for cat enclosures. “Under the stairs is a great example of a small pocket of essentially unusable space that is just right for the cat. This particular box was built to take advantage of such a space,” he says. The front panel is removable for access and is secured with magnets.

Cooper says he started integrating cat enclosures into basement finishing projects when cats — whose boxes are often relegated to the basement — were displaced. Other cat box projects he’s worked on have included electrical outlets for self-cleaning litter boxes and night lights “for scaredy-cats.”

12. The homeowner of this Louisville, Kentucky, home hid the cat’s litter box and food bowl in a closet and installed an entry arch beneath the stairs (this photo and next). The closet is accessed all day, which helps with ventilation, the homeowner says.

The “Indoor Access Arch” from Doctors Foster and Smith is the perfect size to let the cats in but keep the cocker spaniel out, she says.
Under a Bench 

13. 
Designer Tami Holsten of Bear Trap Design got super creative when custom-building this litter box hidden in a bench in a laundry room in West St. Paul, Minnesota (this photo and next).

“The space is limited so I needed to be creative and find the ultimate litter box hideaway for their two cats, Bud and Stella,” Holsten says. The bench seat lifts for easy access to the box, which the cats enjoy for its privacy, she says.

As a surprise for her clients, Holsten took the bench’s front panel with the mouse hole cutout to a local artist, who illustrated it with a mouse zooming on an orange motorcycle, with the exhaust spelling out the name of one of the homeowners, who drives a motorcycle, loves the color orange and is “king of the laundry room,” Holsten says.

There’s no need for extra ventilation and the system “works like a charm,” Holsten says.

14. Here’s another bench where the storage area was converted to a litter box space. Entrance and exit holes for the cat were cut into the base of the window seat.

The litter box is accessed by lifting the top of the bench, which also holds supplies.
In a Dedicated Room

15. 
Sure, there are plenty of ways to tuck away the cat box in a cabinet or closet, but why not put it in its own room? That’s what the designers from Buckeye Basements did in this Columbus, Ohio, remodel. The cat boxes sit behind a handsome glass pocket door. An exhaust fan activated by a light switch helps with ventilation and a shower drain pan makes cleanup easier.

Wish to incorporate one of these designs into your next remodeling project?  Contact Cabinet-S-Top to consult with one of their designers to get started.  Located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256 ~ 330.239.3630 ~ www.cabinet-s-top.com