When it comes to makeovers, bathrooms are currently "king," said Jeff Pike, president and owner of ARA Cabinets 4U of Wheeling and Quality Cabinets 4 Less, an Internet company.
"We have seen a large increase in sales of bathroom cabinets, countertops, flooring, lighting, mirrors, sinks, showers, toilets and fixtures because updating your bathroom costs much less than updating a kitchen. So people are willing to invest the money," Pike said.
And when they are doing those improvements, they are choosing stained or painted wood cabinets. In many cases they are choosing furniture-look cabinets with feet instead of a solid cabinet extending down to the floor, or they are choosing "floating" cabinets that hang on the wall and 8 or 9 inches of air space above the floor.
Granite countertops are still the most-requested countertops since they are less expensive than quartz, he added.
When it comes to bathroom tile, homeowners are primarily choosing porcelain tile in much larger sizes and with much less grout showing for a sleek and contemporary look on both the floor and walls, similar to the look seen in California, Arizona and Florida bathrooms for several years.
"Rectangular planks as large as 12-inches wide and 24-inches high are not uncommon on both floors and walls. Tiles are no longer just square and there really is no rule of thumb about the size of the bathroom versus the size of the tile. We are trying to get our Midwestern people used to these new looks," Pike said.
Accent tile pieces in ceramic or glass are also very popular in showers, particularly the small horizontal subway tiles.
As for tile color, Pike said choices range all over the board, from stark white to dark brown marble.
Marble tiles are sometimes used on shower walls, but they are never a choice for flooring because marble is too soft and stains easily, Pike said.
Generally, he said, the smaller the bathroom, the lighter the tile and cabinet colors. But there is also a trend toward using different colors on the walls versus the floors.
While kitchen remodeling projects are not as plentiful right now, homeowners who are embarking on them are generally choosing to remove old soffits and replace them with taller cabinets that extend all the way to the ceiling with fancy moldings, Pike said.
Hardwood is generally the choice for flooring and the hot choices for cabinets are cherry, maple and painted cabinets with a glaze that darkens the crevices and gives the cabinets a furniture look.
ARA Cabinets 4U has a 5,000-square-foot showroom at 39 S. Milwaukee Ave. in Wheeling.
"We show displays kitchens, baths, countertops and plumbing fixtures and offer samples to help buyers make their choices," Pike said. "Most of our customers bring in photos of their current bathroom or kitchen on their phones, so we understand what they are talking about and they usually also bring some preliminary measurements. We go from there.
"Ours is a one-stop shop. We provide people with a turnkey kitchen or bathroom experience, providing them with everything from flooring to lighting to cabinets. The only thing we don't sell is kitchen appliances," he said."We offer free design services and in-home measuring, but we want people to use our showroom. We are not an in-home sales company."
ARA Cabinets 4U's sister company, Quality Cabinets 4 Less, is designed for homeowners and contractors who know exactly what they need in what sizes and want to order it over the Internet for an average of 11 percent less.
"It is aimed at people who can email in an exact floor plan or list of what they want. They are people who are able to do their own measuring and legwork and are just interested in buying materials. We will deliver and arrangements can be made for installation for an extra cost, but they assume the liability if the measurements are incorrect," Pike said.
Pike founded ARA Cabinets 4U in 1992 after working in cabinet sales and design for another company for 11 years. He added the Internet company last year.
For more information, call (847) 215-1700 or visit www.aracabinets4U.com.