Kitchen Countertop Options

Choosing a kitchen countertop isn’t all about looks! Durability, maintenance and cost are all factors.  If you select a favorite and it doesn’t fit your lifestyle, chances are that there is a similar style in another material that will work.  However, regardless of whether it is granite or concrete, you must care for it appropriately to maintain its beauty. According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, granite is the top choice in kitchen countertops.  It is available in a wide variety of colors and no two pieces are ever exactly alike. Granite can be polished to darken and shine the stone or honed to make it soft and matte. Similar natural stone materials, like marble and limestone, are softer than granite and require more delicate use. Quartz, a combination of mineral, color, and resin, is not cheaper than natural countertops, but is a durability superstar.  Hot pots, serrated knives, abrasive pads, and most stains are no match for quartz. All natural stone countertops must be sealed periodically to keep them looking great, but quartz does not require sealing. Concrete countertops are gaining popularity because they can be completely customized with pigments. Concrete is available in several different finishes: trowel (smooth), ground (sanded to expose the sand aggregate) and pressed (a tool is used to reveal marble-like veining). Extreme changes in temperature may cause concrete to warp or curl, damp sponges left on the countertop can cause discoloration, and acidic spills may mar the surface. To keep concrete countertops in shape, seal them four times per year and wax them with a paste every two to three months. Wood...

Cabinetry Options to Organize and Update Your Garage

Once a cavern-like space to park cars; garages are now an extension of the home’s livable space.  Epoxy floors cover concrete slabs and customized cabinetry creates an in-home look over “big box store” plywood cabinets. Along with cars, garages can be play areas for kids and home gyms. Your cabinetry helps you accommodate whatever activities your family enjoys. When it comes to the traditional workshop, pull-out base cabinets, organizer inserts and right-height countertops still work for home projects.    But there’s more. For the sports-minded family, tall cabinets are ideal for large items like skis. In Arizona where ski clothing has a short season, closet style cabinets are ideal. Use hooks for rackets and other sports items that can be hung. Overhead cabinets are always good for items that are used less frequently. Another benefit is that they keep things out of easy reach for children. If you want to store items that are more valuable, consider cabinets fitted with locks. And to make the garage more versatile, consider movable cabinetry. For example, cabinets on castors can convert a workshop area into a game room. Since garages are more exposed to the elements than the indoors, you’ll want to protect the surfaces with a weather – resistant material. This way the garage looks good with cabinetry that lasts longer. Little defaces a home more than a disorganized garage. Customizing your cabinetry increases organization, adds storage and allows you to increase your homes livable space without a major...

Create Your Dream Kitchen With Universal Design

Kitchens continue to evolve as the center point of homes. Since it’s where families tend to gather, Universal Design makes it easy and inviting. Let’s start with your cabinets. Probably one of the easiest ways to make cabinets look great is to use C and D-shaped hardware. Larger is better and this hardware not only looks great but simplifies opening doors and drawers.  “Push-door” cabinets offer another alternative. To open the door, all you have to do is press it. The door opens about an inch so you can reach behind it to fully open it with your fingers. It’s done with a spring-loaded push latch and is ideal for that clean cabinet look. Instead of placing dishes on shelves, think about drawers. Drawers are great for heavier items - like dinner plates. Drawers pull out all the way and come with pegs to keep dishes separate from each other. Other options include: Plate racks which place frequently used items at a convenient reach level. Foot activated roll-out bins for trash and recycling. Hands free and no bending! Lazy susans in corner cabinets which bring previously hard to reach items to the front for easy access. Roll out shelves that take advantage of small spaces while making items like spices, canned goods, etc. Induction stove tops are safer because they heat pans with a magnetic field. Burners don’t get hot until you place a pot or pan on them. You control how much heat you need while cooking and once the pan comes off the burner, it cools off immediately.  Traditional oven doors open from the top, requiring the...

Vanities for Small Bathrooms

Even in grand homes with a large master bath, there is likely a guest bathroom or a powder room with minimal square footage. Cramped bathrooms can feel open and airy with the right layout and well-proportioned vanity choices. The best vanities for small baths make a statement without compromising storage needs. Consider a floating vanity to make the room feel bigger by providing more visual space underneath. (A raised style makes the floor easier to clean, too!) Perhaps add a tall open towel shelf over the toilet to allow more personal items and cleaning products to be stashed in the vanity cabinetry. Choosing a vessel sink can add a few inches to counter-top spaces. Building the lighting right into the vanity and mirror also gives off plenty of lumens for tasks without the need for an additional light fixture to ruin sleek, magnifying lines. A corner vanity can be another chic solution to a small bathroom challenge. In any case, it is important to balance small vanity surface area above with ample drawer room below because hinged cabinets may not have enough available space to fully open the doors. If you must try to squeeze in a double vanity, try one long, narrow sink with faucets mounted at each end. One large mirror above the double vanity is a great aid to give the illusion of a bigger, brighter space. Also consider making the double vanity multi-level so that one side of the counter is low enough for kids to use easily without the need for a step-stool. A small bathroom doesn’t have to be claustrophobic. Consult the design...

Why Glass Cabinetry is Versatile and Timeless

There are some cabinets that never go out of style. Shaker cabinets are a prime example. Certain types of glass cabinet doors are another.  Glass is so versatile! Open shelving can soften the overall appearance. “Push-door” mechanisms on glass door cabinets keep that sleek, clean appearance. But if rustic, farmhouse and more traditional looks are what you’re seeking, glass really shines. Glass doors give you a way to decorate with dishes, decorative items and even some greenery. Glass doors add softness with back lighting. These cabinets are the perfect compromise between solid cabinetry and open shelving. For beautiful dishes or favorite decorations, they let you display everything with the additional advantage of keeping out dust. You also have a lot of variation based on the type of glass you choose. Transparent glass is the most common and the most versatile as it suits all types of kitchens. The biggest drawback is how easily it shows fingerprints. Frosted glass is blasted with sand or grit. Frosted is not the same as opaque. It hides little details but the silhouettes of items are still visible. It can be even be etched with custom patterns and designs. Additional options include molded or embossed glass to produce textures. These include rain, ribbed, pebbled, grooved or beveled glass. These options aren’t as susceptible to showing marks or fingerprints. What’s important is that you love the texture you pick. Some designs become outdated quickly. Seeded and leaded glass add an artistic look but again, any specialized choice needs to be personal as these looks are subject to outdating. Glass door cabinetry has the ability to...