Good help is hard to find. This is perhaps truer today than it has been at any time in recent memory. As of May, 2019, the unemployment rate in the U.S. has fallen to 3.6%. Significant job gains have been reported in various sectors nationwide, including in construction. While low unemployment and a strong jobs market generally add up to great news for the economy, these factors can pose a problem for those looking to undertake home improvement projects. After all, when you seek to hire professionals to help install new flooring or home décor, you effectively become the employer – and thus face the same hiring difficulties as employers the nation over.
So what to do? Put your dream project on hold?
Certainly not. With a strong economy and soaring consumer confidence, now is arguably the ideal time to dive in. The labor shortage needn’t create obstacles to the timely, cost-effective completion of your flooring or home décor project. It just requires a little extra consumer savvy.
So what’s the key? Buying easy-to-install products from a manufacturer that provides excellent customer support.
A Streamlined Process
All home improvement projects can be roughly broken into three stages: planning, purchasing, and installing. However, working out the details of your project directly with a reputable manufacturer means consolidating the planning and purchasing stages. It also means eliminating miscommunication and the additional time and cost associated with it.
As with the childhood game of “telephone,” the more people you have in the chain of communication, the greater the chances an important detail will get overlooked. Speaking with knowledgeable customer service representatives at the place of manufacture, or even with the technical designers themselves, helps to ensure that you can work out the details of your project without anything getting lost in translation. They can recommend the best materials and dimensions for your unique needs. This, in turn, simplifies installation, and guarantees you get a final product that will perfectly suit your space for its lifetime.
Purchasing customizable, prefinished products from professionals like those at Oshkosh Designs means you can work out exactly what you want ahead of time with trained customer service. These representatives know their stuff – it’s what they do, after all. They work closely alongside technical designers and production staff, keeping everyone on the same page for the duration of the project.
Furthermore, this coordinated effort streamlines the process, making turnaround times extremely fast. Even fully customized pieces are shipped in two to three weeks once confirmed. And because these products are so easy to install, contractors will be in and out, meaning your space will be back in order with a striking, one-of-a-kind piece installed in no time.
Nice Work If You Can Get It
You don’t need a degree in economics to see that, the simpler a job will be, the faster and more cost-effectively it can be accomplished. And putting in a ready-to-install product is about as simple it gets.
This could well shorten your wait time when contracting with an installer as well. After all, it is easier to hire someone for a 4-hour job than for a 4-week job.
And a more simple installation will certainly keep costs down. Complicated projects require a crew, but most ready-to-install pieces can be put in by a single worker or two.
On top of that, an uncomplicated job widens the pool of potential installers you can hire. Put simply, it’s harder to screw up. Any installer worth their shingle can follow a step-by-step set of instructions. And that’s what you get when you order customized pieces from a company like Oshkosh Designs.
The “Wow” Factor
Perhaps it goes without saying, but quality, artisan-made products look great. Purchasing customized pieces from expert craftspeople like those at Oshkosh Designs guarantees that you won’t get the cookie-cutter, assembly line look. You’ll instead have a one-of-a-kind piece to complement your space and show off to your guests.
For installers, this is an inviting prospect as well. The intricate detail and beauty of a hand-crafted piece is an added bonus when compared to the ease of its installation. An installer may then show off their handiwork and look good in the process. From manufacturer to installer to customer, it’s a win-win-win.
Do It Yourself
If you’re uncertain about hiring someone and you’re handy with tools, you can also undertake the installation yourself. Oshkosh Designs offers easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions for the secure installation of all products.
We help the installer along by providing a template, router bit, and adhesive with every medallion order up to 60 inches. Most installations require a router and a few common household tools. Additionally, our outstanding customer support team is on hand to answer any questions that may arise.
If you wish to undertake a larger-scale parquet floor or wood wall project but would like to keep the labor to a minimum, Oshkosh Designs can accommodate. We offer several options that feature our patented Catena Tab-Fit System. These interlocking wood segments fit together like puzzle pieces and screw in place. They’re designed to fit securely with minimal alteration to the existing structure and no routing needed. It’s the ultimate in easy-to-install craftsmanship!
Of course, if you have a more complicated product to install or you’re not confident in your woodworking skills, it’s best to hire someone. There’s no sense trying to save a few dollars up front only to have to pay handsomely for repairs later on. When in doubt, call a certified professional.
Finally, buying customized products narrows the margin of error for the installer. A premade, off-the-rack piece may need to be modified to fit a space, or a space modified to accommodate it. Not so with custom work. The piece is literally made for the space. And since the majority of measurements have already been taken when ordering your inlay, it reduces the number of preparations the installer has to make.
With custom work, you’re obviously not limited to the specifications given in a product description. Love a design but see that the dimensions are too large for your space? Order it smaller! Smitten with a pattern but not crazy about the color? Change the material! Have your own unique design that you’d love to see made into a reality? Send it over!
Before production begins, we’ll send you a detailed technical drawing specifying the exact dimensions and materials to be used for the project to be certain that everything is just right. You’ll know exactly what you’re getting – and getting exactly what you want.
To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with standard inventory. But when your vision doesn’t fit neatly into a box, it’s reassuring to know that you have the option of customizing. It guarantees you get just what you want – a memorable, eye-catching product that will last a lifetime.
Labor of Love
The key to any successful home improvement project – from planning to purchase to installation – is finding professionals who care. At Oshkosh Designs, we want you to be satisfied with every stage of the process. So contact one of our customer service professionals today to see how you can make your dream project a reality.
Experienced, knowledgeable, friendly help is easy to find – right here at Oshkosh Designs.
Nothing in a home says “class” like stonework. Whether it’s a stone tile backsplash or a marble medallion, a well-placed stone piece always seems to impress. And while we often associate stone with the grandiosity of a cathedral or palace, recent trends in home design and advances in stonecutting technology have put intricate stonework well within the reach of the modern homeowner.
Humans have been using stone as a building material for thousands of years. As it is among the most durable of construction materials, it suggests strength and permanence. There’s a reason it’s so often used in churches, courthouses, and capitol buildings. It’s as though stone gives us the feeling of being connected to something bigger than ourselves.
In more practical terms, stone is a great building and decorating material owing to its strength and durability. As such, it is very easy to maintain and the day-to-day upkeep is minimal.
Stonework is very easy to clean. Sweeping, dry-mopping, and wiping or mopping with plain water should be sufficient to remove most dirt and debris. A commercial cleaner may be used occasionally, though be sure the label indicates that it is safe for use on stone.
Never use acidic cleaners, including natural acids like lemon juice or vinegar. These can eat into calcium-based rock, which will mar the finish and potentially cause cracking over time. You should also avoid powdered cleaners, especially on softer varieties of stone, as they are abrasive.
When choosing which stone piece is right for your home or office, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the common types of stone, their characteristics, and their associated terms. For more information, be sure to consult with the professionals at Oshkosh Designs.
Types of Finish
Stone pieces come in a variety of finishes. You will often see stonework designated as either “polished” or “honed.”
Polishing is easy enough to understand. In this process, the stone is buffed to a mirror-like sheen. This is most often performed on naturally lustrous stone varieties such as marble and granite. This sheen may be dulled by friction and abrasives, so you may wish to avoid installing polished stone in high-traffic areas such as entryways and staircases.
By contrast, honing is the process of grinding away the surface of a stone to create a smooth, even, matte finish. This process exposes some of the rock’s pores and removes some of its natural sheen. Honing does not dull the appearance, however. On the contrary, honing can bring out the natural color and character of stone. You might think of it as the difference between a gloss print and matte print photograph. Honed rock is often a good choice for high traffic areas like staircases and entryways, as it doesn’t show dirt the way polished stone does.
Common Stone Varieties
One of the most prized of all building materials, marble is a metamorphic rock mostly composed of calcium. It is dense but soft, making it easy to shape yet resistant to shattering. Marble has a low refraction index, which means that light can penetrate its outermost layer before being refracted. This gives the rock an almost lifelike appearance. Sculptors have prized marble for its natural glow and workability since ancient times.
Marble naturally occurs in a wide variety of colors, including white, black, green, brown, red, cream, brown, pink, and yellow. Mineral streaks in various varieties can add additional character and color.
The word “granite” derives from the Latin word for grain. One look at granite and it is easy to understand why. Granite has an attractive speckled or granular appearance. It is an igneous rock composed primarily of quartz and orthoclase or microcline and is extremely strong and hard. It has thus been favored by builders for millennia.
Granite is quite lustrous and can be polished to an almost mirror-like sheen. Pure granite is white, pink, or gray in color. It is generally more resistant to scratching than softer materials such as marble or limestone.
Limestone is a sedimentary rock, and so is composed of layers of sediment – often fossil remains. Limestone is made up primarily of calcium and magnesium carbonate. It is usually light in color, often white, gray, or tan, and will sometimes contain grains or streaks. As stone goes, it is fairly soft, and so may be prone to scratching.
Slate is a metamorphic rock usually derived from shale. It is strong and durable, with many construction applications. It tends to cleave in relatively flat slabs, making it ideal to use for shingles and tiles. Slate is grainy in appearance and occurs in a variety of colors, from green to red to gray, or even black.
Travertine is actually a form of limestone, composed primarily of calcite and formed by underground streams. It is porous and, while often honed, also polishes well. It has a variety of construction applications and is commonly used for tiles. Travertine is usually light in color, ranging cream to brown, containing veins or bands of contrasting color.
If you’re wondering where you should place a stone piece in your space, the short answer is: anywhere! It’s true that a stone inlay can look great in just about any room in the house. There are several places, however, where it can be functional as well as attractive.
The kitchen is one place where stone works particularly well. Because it is easy to clean and (to a point) water resistant, polished stone makes for a natural choice of material for kitchen backsplashes. Oshkosh Designs offers a variety of attractive backsplashes to protect the walls behind sinks and stovetops.
Stone features can also add style and class to bathrooms because, again, stone is mostly water resistant. Adding a stone border around a bathtub or a backsplash behind a vanity can leave a charming impression in an otherwise unremarkable space.
Placing stone borders around fireplaces and mantles is a time-tested decorating tradition found in some of the finest homes around the world. Stone, of course, works well in this application as it is non-combustible. Before installing any materials close to heat sources, however, be sure to consult your local fire-safety professionals and building codes.
Another of the great things about using stone in decorating is that it fits well with other materials. With modern advances in technology, such as waterjet cutting, it is relatively easy and cost effective to cut intricate designs that allow the incorporation of metal and glass into a design. These combinations can be downright stunning.
Stone inlays also create an attractive and eye-catching contrast when set in wood floors. Installing decorative stone accents and borders in wood floors is relatively simple and can easily be performed after a floor is already installed.
As should be clear by now, it’s hard to go wrong with a stonework piece in your home or office. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek out additional guidance. For more information, or for assistance with choosing a stone inlay, border, backsplash, or decorative accent, don’t hesitate to contact the experts at Oshkosh Designs. Our expert artisans are waiting to help bring you that feeling of permanent satisfaction that only quality stonework can bring.
If you’re looking for inspiration as you consider a home makeover, look no further. Oshkosh Designs has been keeping an eye on what’s hot in the flooring and design world, and we’ve put together a collection of the latest fashions for 2019 and beyond.
If there’s a word that could sum it all up, it’s “simplicity.” Making loud statements and clamoring for attention can be left to technology and the media. At home, it’s all about peacefulness and sanctuary. To achieve this calming effect colors have become less flashy, textures more subdued, and patterns less cluttered. Additionally, looks that are vintage-inspired tend to borrow from the fashions of simpler times. Here’s a look at where these design trends are now, and where they’re headed.
The trend towards greater simplicity in home décor seems to reflect a desire to get back to what’s really important in life. As designs that evoke the peaceful feeling of simple living grow in popularity, it should come as no surprise that the farmhouse look, or rustic chic, continues to be popular. This trend has been around for a while, so unfinished beams, wide planks, shiplap, and whitewashing no longer come across as calculated and deliberate. All the better: this allows for a more nuanced incorporation of the look. Colors are muted and less distracting. Texturing is becoming more subtle and less pronounced. Wide planks and unapologetic use of character grade lumber continue to be popular, thus highlighting the natural characteristics of wood.
The desire to get back to essentials and recreate the vibe of less complicated eras can also account for the enduring popularity of the vintage look. Simple patterns on floors and backsplashes, as well as areas of uniform color that evoke the 50s and 60s, remain fashionable. The minimalism of the 1980s is also making a comeback, including uncluttered geometric patterns and the sparing use of black-on-white accents. Here again, the trend is away from bold, attention-grabbing looks and toward a more tasteful incorporation of these concepts.
Patterns tend to be simple, orderly geometric shapes incorporated in a way that is not overpowering. Chevron and herringbone patterns continue to be prevalent. Often, homeowners will use these in one area, such as on a kitchen floor or backsplash, and repeat the pattern subtly on drapes, lampshades, or even pieces of wall art.
Such patterns tend to work better in smaller spaces. The design can thus give the illusion of added three-dimensional space. In larger rooms, however, these patterns can make the space feel busy or cluttered. Avoid this by using wood species with less or more subtle graining, or by including patterns on, say, an accent wall. Another idea would be to incorporate patterns into a simple accent inlay or with a hardwood border.
Many homeowners utilize area rugs and stair runners as a way of adding patterns or color without these effects becoming overpowering. These also serve to define a smaller space in an open floor plan. A similar, low-maintenance way to achieve this effect is to frame in a medallion or add a simple inlay border to offset the space and create unity without clamoring for attention. Defining the important spaces in a home, such as family rooms and dining areas, highlights the importance of personal connections over material possessions.
It’s no secret that the use of grays has been immensely popular over the last decade. This trend shows no sign of slowing. After all, grays tend to be subdued and don’t distract from the important features of a space. When painting or finishing floors and walls, many will opt to mix in some gray with browns and other colors to help mute the effect. Whitewashing floors and hardwood beams continues to be popular as well.
Interestingly, both very dark and very light floors continue to be fashionable. While this may sound contradictory, there is a consistent theme: whether floors are light, dark, or gray, it is cool color tones that dominate. Warmer colors – those with red or yellow undertones – are not in style. If you’re reading this and worried because you have warm tones in your woodwork, not to worry. These can be balanced out with cool-colored furnishings and décor.
As homeowners and retailers become more environmentally conscious, they’re beginning to steer away from materials that increase their carbon footprint. Generally, there is more interest from consumers in using sustainable materials. When purchasing wood, one wants to know that they’re getting materials that were responsibly harvested. This goes for both exotic and domestic species. Oshkosh Designs purchases all our wood from FSC Certified suppliers, guaranteeing the wood we purchase is from forests around the world that are responsibly managed. To this end, the use of reclaimed wood continues to be popular as well.
The use of materials containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is also decreasing. For this reason, carpets and finishes that contain VOCs are less popular, while the use of waxes or oil-based finishes for hardwood floors is on the rise. Although this is more expensive and requires somewhat more maintenance, the natural patina that is created over time when wood is finished with linseed or grapeseed oil is exquisite.
Made in the USA
Along with a greater concern for the environment, homeowners are also showing more interest in purchasing goods produced in the U.S. This goes for both materials and manufacture. Purchasing American-made products, like those made by Oshkosh Designs, helps ensure responsible harvesting practices for wood, and also contributes to domestic economic growth. There is thus a greater interest in using domestic hardwood species, including oak, maple, hickory, which are abundant in the U.S.
One of the trends whose endurance is unquestionable is the widespread use of materials that appear natural. Just about everyone wants the look of hardwood and stone. Their popularity is so universal that many companies are going out of their way to produce vinyl or laminate planks and tiles that mimic the natural character of wood and stone. These include adding distressed marks and variations that have slightly less of the assembly line about them.
Though many manufacturers go to great lengths to make their artificial materials look natural, there is no substitute for the real thing. The timeless beauty of real hardwood and stone continues to be sought after by homeowners and designers alike. Not only are these materials naturally pleasing to the eye, but they tend to age well, have impressive lifespans, and add value to any space where they’re installed.
Inspiration and Custom Design
With all the emphasis on simplicity, it might be tempting to say that the above suggests we’re headed towards blandness and uniformity. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Even within the parameters of subtlety and simplicity, there are endless variations to choose from.
In fact, we are arguably headed towards greater variety in home design than ever before. There has never been such a wealth of options to choose from, and customizing a space to your unique taste has never been easier. And since the expert artisans at Oshkosh Designs are just a click or call away, expressing your unique taste with custom-made, one-of-a-kind home installation pieces has never been simpler. And simplicity is what 2019 is all about.