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...

Finish First!

Make the best of your cabinets by selecting a finish that enhances your kitchen style.  Painted finishes come in a wide variety of colors. Paint can be used to accent or fully cover the cabinetry. It works best for maple cabinets because the wood is smooth and uniform, but be aware that the natural grain often shows slightly through the paint. Paint finishes chip, hairline crack, and rub off in high use areas. Adding a tinted varnish to natural wood cabinets can create a look that is similar to painted cabinets, but shows more wood grain and is more durable. Staining enhances the wood pattern, but always has a slightly irregular look. Although the variations seem noticeable on individual pieces, when the cabinets are installed, the total effect is complementary and brings extra depth to the design.  However, here are fewer choices in stain colors and finish types. Glaze is a finish type that has some color, but glazes are transparent or semi-transparent, so the color is lighter rather than opaque. Glazes are brushed on over paint or stain, then rubbed off by hand so the color remains in the corners, recesses, and imperfections of the wood. Glazing creates a unique look, but it can be expensive. Most cabinet manufacturers finish all of their natural cabinets with polyurethane varnish to make them harder and more corrosion-resistant. Polyurethane varnishes create a glossier appearance. Some green manufacturers now offer a water-based, ultra-violet (UV) cabinet finish that contains virtually no volatile organic compounds, and emits no toxic fumes or chemicals into the air. The look is basically the same as polyurethane and...

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...

150 Shades of Gray

Did you know the trend towards gray interiors started in Scandinavia? It wasn’t until about six years ago when the color caught on in the United States. Rather than become passé, the popularity of gray continues to rise. According to Andrea Magno of Benjamin Moore, gray interiors are evolving and they’re seeing an increase of gray on cabinetry and trims. But picking the best shade of gray for your home can be tricky. Since grays have undertones of blue, purple or green, you’ll want the shade that’s compatible with the surrounding tiles, furnishings and fabrics. For instance, there’s a big difference between cool and warm grays.  Cool grays are better for modern interiors while warm grays work better in traditional homes. There’s also a middle ground often referred to as French grays. Traditionally trims around gray are lighter shades of gray or whites. Now we’re seeing more trims in the same or even a darker gray.  Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute agrees. She sees gray with gray trim as a trend and feels people should give more grays a chance. If you’re ready for gray walls, cabinets or trims, it’s best to get samples of your three favorite grays and paint a poster board with each one. Check them out over a period of one day (or more) to see how they appear in varying degrees of light. This way you get it right the first...

5 Trending Accessories For Your Gourmet Kitchen

The kitchen is transitioning from just storage to functional storage solutions.  Homeowners want and expect modern conveniences and at Cornerstone Cabinet Company we are continuing to design with ease and function as a primary goal for your kitchen. Coffee Centers – This two tiered k-kup coffee organizer is used to organize your coffee and accessories. Pantry Storage – Pull out pantries are perfect for organizing and giving you the ability to see and reach those items in the back of the pantry. Base Cabinet – Pull Out This unit features two universal knife inserts, stainless steel utensil bin, and adjustable shelf for lower storage Roll Out Trash / Recycling Centers – Our most requested accessary is the trash/recycle center. There are many options to consider. You have multiple sizes to select from. They can even be designed into a corner. Blind Corner Pull Outs – Dead corners are no more! Here is a solution many feel is better than a lazy susan. The blind corner pull out gives you access, is functional and easy to use. I have to admit as a cabinet maker that I think the design and operation of the mechanisms are cool...

Kitchen Island Storage – How to Make The Most Out Of It

If you’ve just gotten a kitchen revamp then you’ll want to get the most of your new kitchen as you can. You want to make sure you have the Best Toaster, mixer, blender, utensils, etc. the finally give you the perfect kitchen. But how will you make sure everything is stored neatly away? Our previous article on kitchen islands focused on how the island has evolved from an extra table for food preparation to extended counter space that’s now a social hub. Not only do kitchen islands define the rest of the room, they supply easy-to-reach storage for regularly used items. When it comes to design, you can opt for utility, beauty or a combination of the two. Starting with utility, deep pull-out drawers are great for pot and pans. For small items – add customized shallow drawers to organize and store spices and small utensils. An increasingly popular option is drawers with mechanisms that lift smaller appliances. Normally tucked out of site, the mechanized ‘arms’ raise appliances like microwaves or toaster ovens to comfortable levels. The advantage is that these items are only visible when actually in use. If you want your island to be the focal hub for more than just cooking, consider un-kitchen items. Think about art supplies and homework necessities for the kids. Additionally, some homeowners use their kitchen as a mini-office to include taking care of tasks like bill paying. Too often people underestimate their storage needs. Before you start your remodel, think about how you cook, what activities and jobs take place and what gets used most often. And don’t forget the décor....