Category: Design

5 Home Design Trends That We Don’t Miss


Home Trends

When it comes to home décor trends, there are some that just need to lay down and die. These instantly make a room look dull, dated, and tacky. For your new home design, avoid these tasteless trends like the plague. Your new house will thank you.

Just Skip These Passé Trends for Your Home Design

There are better choices for finishing off your home than these five options. Instead of fads, choose home design trends that are timeless and have staying power.

Fake Wood Paneling

A relic of the ‘60s and ‘70s, fake wood paneling always looks dark, dreary, and dated. What’s more, it never looks like real wood. Most people who encounter this faded trend in their homes are quick to rip it out or paint over it. Both are good ideas, although painting fake wood paneling might be the better choice if you are budget-conscious.

If you do like the idea of wood on the walls, choose real wood, and keep it to an accent wall so it doesn’t feel like you’re living in a cabin.

Chevron

The repeating zig-zag pattern called chevron had a huge surge in popularity a few years ago. Chances are, you could find chevron on everything from rugs and textiles, to curtains and pillows, to patterned chairs, floors, and tile. However, what once seemed fresh and modern now feels played-out and cliché.

If you crave pattern in your home, go for something classic yet visually interesting, like stripes, paisley, or dots, instead.

Faux Finishes

Remember sponge-painting? This look for walls was popular throughout the ‘90s and early ‘00s. It was often done with colors like mauve, hunter green, or a dusty, denim blue. Unfortunately, it never looked sophisticated – just tacky and muddled. What was it supposed to be imitating, anyway?

Beige Everything

Beige walls, beige furniture, beige carpet – it all adds up to a whole lot of boring. Once upon a time, it seemed like most new houses were awash, from top to bottom, in a coat of blah beige. There are far more interesting neutrals to play around with.

However, if you insist on keeping the bones of your home decor neutral-toned, don’t forget to add color through additions like furniture and artwork.

Tile Countertops

Tile countertops are a nightmare in the kitchen. Grout is hard enough to clean in your shower, but in the kitchen, it will collect everything from crumbs to dirt to bits of food. Plus, tile can easily crack, chip, and break. Combined with the grout problem, tile countertops quickly wear out and look dingy – who knows why this ever became a fad?

These days, a much more modern option that is till budget-conscious for your kitchen home décor is a solid surface countertop that mimics the regal look of granite or quartz.

Don’t fall victim to interior design fads and trends that will quickly fade within a year or two. If you really love the look and must include it in your design, choose to add it in a way that’s more temporary, such as with pillows, artwork, and fabric, as these can be switched out far more easily.

The Guide to Trending Kitchen Countertops: Is Granite Still King?


Guide to Trending Kitchen Countertops: Is Granite Still King?

The votes are in. For 2017, designers, tastemakers, and experts will advise you to look beyond granite and instead opt for its newer, cooler cousin: quartz.

For years, granite has reigned supreme as the be-all, end-all for kitchen countertops. It is beautiful, scratch and heat-resistant, and easy to clean and maintain, after all.

However, this tried-and-true stone is seeing competition. Learn about why quartz is the hot, new option place, plus some other kitchen design trends you might want to consider besides granite or quartz for your countertops.

Goodbye Granite, Hello Quartz: The Newest Kitchen Design Trend

So, why is quartz usurping granite for most-loved countertop material? The main reason is durability.

Quartz beats both granite and marble in this area (although the latter two have been the most popular high-end manufactured stones used in the kitchen for years).

Not only is quartz naturally stain-resistant, scratch-resistant, and heat-resistant, it also doesn’t need to be sealed, unlike granite and marble, which require periodic re-sealing to maintain their integrity. On top of these pluses, quartz is also unaffected by acidic foods, which can wear down the finish on other surfaces.

As far as affordability, quartz falls squarely between granite and marble on the price scale (marble is more expensive, granite is slightly less expensive).

Finally, quartz has become more appealing to the eye in recent years due to new manufacturing techniques. All of the above facets make quartz a shoe-in for the kitchen.

More Trends to Watch: Alternatives to Granite or Quartz for Kitchen Countertops

Love the look of natural stone for your kitchen remodel, but don’t have the budget for them? Try any of these alternative kitchen countertop trends.

Butcher Block

No matter the type of kitchen design you have, butcher block will look classic and timeless. If you are wary because you think this type of counter would be high-maintenance, worry not— scratches can be sanded out easily and sealed with mineral oil.

Concrete

Although countertops made of concrete will need regular sealing, they are a modern option that will be durable in your kitchen. Plus, they can be customized for special configurations, and even have special materials, like seashells or stones, embedded in the surface.

Solid Surface

Solid surface countertops can emulate natural stone surfaces and don’t require sealing. While they are not impervious to scratches or heat, they are a low-cost way to get a high-end look.

Modern Laminate

Modern laminate countertops outdo the laminate of the past by leaps and bounds. New versions are far more durable, successfully mimic the look of natural stone, and require little maintenance and no sealing.

For your home, the right kitchen countertops will provide the look you want and the amount of durability you need. Look to kitchen trends for fresh ideas, whether you want something timeless or totally unique.

Want to get started on a kitchen renovation? Contact us to discuss all of the possibilities.

The 5 Best Interior Paint Colors for Feeling Refreshed and Relaxed


5 Best Interior Paint Colors for Feeling Refreshed and Relaxed

Whether you want to feel serene and relaxed the second you step through your front door, are looking for a calming oasis in your bedroom or need a soothing retreat in the living room, the right paint colors can help you get there.

The best part about these interior paint colors is that they add a touch of style and sophistication to your home at the same time as they provide a calm atmosphere. Choose any of them and feel your blood pressure drop when you spend time surrounded by a beautiful color.

5 Calming Paint Colors for Any Room

Keep your interior décor a haven from the bustle of the outside world by choosing paint colors that remind you of nature. Whether you prefer to keep things warm or cool is up to you, but keep in mind that cool colors read as more refreshing, while warmer shades feel cozier.

1.     Seafoam or Sage Green

For the freshest possible look, you can’t go wrong with green. The key is to keep the shade you choose for walls toned-down, but not so cool that it looks icy. Seafoam or sage green are both fresh interior paint colors that will bring to mind dewy spring mornings or a sun-dappled garden.

2.     Cool & Crisp Grays

Bring the relaxing feel of a rainy day and a cloudy sky to your interior when you paint the walls a soft, soothing shade of gray. With the right tone, gray is anything but boring. Instead, it is sophisticated, soft, and gently fades into the background while providing a touch of serene elegance.

3.     Soft Pale Lavender

If you’re looking for pretty and dreamy alongside refreshing and relaxing, a soft lavender color, such as pale lilac, is the perfect solution. To keep it from looking too sweet, this soft shade should be paired with neutrals and earthy colors, like creams, browns, and whites.

4.     Buttery & Warm Pale Yellows

Yellow is one of the happiest colors, and using a pale version of the shade instantly spells a warm welcome for whoever sets foot in your space. To keep it relaxing, stick to tones of yellow in the pale, warm, and buttery realm. Think about the color of scones with butter – not the hue of sunflowers.

5.     Airy or Watery Blues

Blue colors that evoke the sea or the sky will instantly make any interior design feel calm. For a refreshing feel, go with brighter tones like robin’s egg blue or a beautiful shade of aqua. To make a room feel larger, brighter, and airier, go for shades of interior paint that make you think of the clouds and sky, such as gray-blue or pale blue.

Universal Design for the Bathroom


Universal Design for the Bathroom image 1

Regardless if homeowners plan to sell or stay for years, redesigning a bathroom is a common renovation most people will encounter. Bathroom design holds a key to making homes more usable for not only their present inhabitants and visitors, but also future owners and generations. Designing a space with that philosophy in mind is called Universal Design.

What is a Universally Designed Bathroom?

Universal design is sometimes mistaken to be solely intended for handicapped accessibility, but creating a space that will be suited for all ages or abilities is what gives Universal Design its name.

Effortless use and accessibility for family members of any size or condition will create bathroom designs that minimize lifting, reaching and other movements that could have a potential to cause bodily injury or difficulty.

Even if disabilities are temporary, a Universal Bathroom Design will ensure your family, future residents or visitors will be able to powder their nose with ease.

8 Universal Design Features for Bathrooms

Before falling in love with sink styles, faucet features or other visually stunning choices, consider how your decisions can address universal concerns while still creating a one-of-a-kind space you’ll love. Give thought to these 8 features:

1)  Location:  Including a bathroom on the first level of a home ensures that the challenge of stairs isn’t an issue. Larger pantries, closets, areas under stairs or portions of ground-floor rooms may provide the ideal spot for your new powder room.

2)  Lighting:  If possible, installing windows or skylights in bathrooms can provide increased natural visibility. Motion-sensing light switches eliminate the challenge of hunting for switches in the dark. Well-lit showers are a must – limiting the potential for slips in wet areas. Soft lighting that decreases glares and shadows will help people of all ages and mobility to navigate the bathroom with ease.

3)  Clearance:  Using 34”-36” entrance doors will also allow better access for mobility devices. Small bathrooms may be your only option, but when possible, provide ample clearance for turning and movement for canes, crutches and wheelchairs.

Bathrooms should be at least 60” x 60”, but ideally larger for those requiring transfer assistance from a wheelchair to a toilet or a shower. Whenever possible, install walk-in showers so the hurdle of a tub’s side is removed.

4)  Flooring:  Non-slip materials are a must for bathrooms, as falls in these areas can be potentially life threatening. Ceramic tiles aren’t an ideal choice, but if elected should be smaller tiles to allow for more non-slip grout areas. Use textured ceramics that are safer than highly glazed products.

Other great options for safer bathroom surfaces include non-slip vinyl, cork and bamboo flooring.

Universal Design for the Bathroom image 3

 

5)  Counter & Sink Heights:  Consider knee space at sinks for those in wheelchairs. There are beautifully designed wall-mount and pedestal sinks that could allow a wheelchair user to conveniently move closer to wash their hands and face or brush their teeth.

Certain sink designs with bowls above counters may also not be good choices for small hands and arms trying to reach above them to operate faucets.

Universal Design for the Bathroom image 2

 

6)  Faucets & Hardware:  Imagine someone trying to use sinks, toilets, doors and other access points with a closed fist. Choose hardware that can be easily used by small hands, those with arthritis or operated easily with one hand.

Likewise, touchless faucets, automatic flush toilets and lever door knobs will ensure challenges are minimized. Pay careful attention to position access points on faucets, toilets and showers to ensure that they can be reached standing or sitting, regardless of age.

7)  Toilets:  Comfort-height toilets are typically 2” taller than regular toilets and make the transition from a wheelchair easier. Be sure there is 30”-48” of floor space on at least one side of toilets for wheelchair transfers. The higher seat surface will also make it easier to access and exit for those with back or leg pain, or those who could be temporarily injured and using crutches.

8)  Storage:  For frequently needed items such as bathroom tissue, linens or toiletries, provide storage areas below your waist. Make it easy to find these items under or on top of vanities, or in adjacent cabinetry.

In the shower, include ample shelving for soaps, shampoos and razors. These shelves and compartments should hold these items securely.

Understanding and implementing smart Universal Design features will ensure that your home is easier to resell, and that its bathrooms are perfect for you, your family and friends, regardless of what life throws at them.

 

*Photos used in this article are stock.

Project Spotlight: A Country Farmhouse Kitchen


We were recently honored to have one of our kitchens featured as “Kitchen of the Week” on Houzz.com.  We built a beautiful country farmhouse style home in southern Lancaster County. Photos of the kitchen caught the eye of an editor at Houzz, who in turn did a feature story on the kitchen. The homeowners worked with Phil Clemmer of Swartz Kitchens and Baths on the design of the kitchen. The end result was a breathtakingly beautiful kitchen that will serve the owners well for years to come.

Project Spotlight: A Country Farmhouse Kitchen

Project Spotlight: A Country Farmhouse Kitchen

Classic white cabinets with glass insets, soapstone countertops and reclaimed hardwood floors give this kitchen the feel of an old farmhouse. The custom cabinetry with finished interiors includes specialized drawers and cabinets, including built-in trash cans next to the sink. A soapstone sink sits under a bank of extra tall windows that overlook a patio and backyard. The tall, clean-lined cabinets and walls of windows give the kitchen a bright and airy feel.

Project Spotlight: A Country Farmhouse Kitchen  Project Spotlight: A Country Farmhouse Kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The large island seats four, includes plenty of storage and incorporates built-in shelves at the end to hold cookbooks. The soapstone surface creates an ideal space for prepping and serving. Three pendant lights provide additional illumination to the recessed can lights.

Kitchen Trends to Watch in 2017


Kitchen Trends to Watch in 2017

 

The kitchen is the center of our homes. The smells from something delicious baking in the oven or simmering on the stove are comforting, and the conversations that happen there can be the most memorable ones from our day. It’s no wonder the kitchen continues to be the top renovated space in homes, according to the 2016 Houzz & Home Report.

As we move into a new year, 2017 brings with it many new kitchen looks that homeowners are eager to try out. Their primary goal? To keep their kitchens functional but cozy, ready to host a gathering of loved ones.

Here are just a few of the latest trends. Which one will take your kitchen to the next level?

Wood Paneling or Shiplap

Homeowners are in love with farmhouse design kitchens, and wood paneling, especially white, will be a top trend incorporated into kitchens, on backsplashes or ceilings. Its vintage, clean look brings a kitchen together with a nod back to past times.

Tuxedo Cabinets

Black and white is a timeless color palette, and it has found its way to the kitchen. While there’s no need to interpret this trend strictly with those colors, homeowners find their kitchens come together nicely when they stick to basic colors that match others easily. A crisp, elegant look is simply achieved when tuxedo cabinets take center stage.

Farmhouse Sinks

A farmhouse, or apron-front, sink can be a unique focal point for a kitchen. Not only does it make a statement on its own with its many design options, but it is the most functional sink a kitchen could have. Gone are the hard-to-clean seams that trap food and dust.  Debris from countertops can be swept directly into the sink to be washed away. The sink itself is large and can attend to any cooking or washing need.

Kitchen Trends to Watch in 2017 A New Kind of Functionality

Many homeowners find themselves wanting their kitchen basics – their cabinet doors and drawers, for example – to work better. Kitchen storage manufacturers are moving toward solutions to this problem with unique options. For example, touch-activated doors to cabinets can be installed, making belongings easier to reach as the door simply elevates out of the way. New drawers can be installed with technology that prevents them from slamming shut, as well.

Unique Countertop Options

Kitchen countertops no longer look drab and outdated. The sky is the limit for countertop materials, and they are being used as statement pieces in the kitchen. From stainless steel to concrete and even butcher block, almost any resource is possible when adding a one-of-a-kind element to the kitchen.

Large Kitchen Islands

Kitchens are gathering places, and multi-functional kitchen islands continue to be a must-have trend for 2017. Long, spacious kitchen islands are taking their places in the center of a kitchen – blurring the line between the kitchen and the dining area. They’re perfect for the center of a party, discussion as a meal comes together, and as a game and homework hangout for young children and teens alike.

Hidden Appliances

While stainless steel appliances will continue to be a popular choice, you’ll start to see more “hidden appliances” in kitchen design – such as microwave drawers or covered refrigerators – that make the home feel more cozy.

Kitchen Trends to Watch in 2017 Home Automation

Technology available for today’s homes is incredible, and you can now have smart-home technology integrated into every corner of your home, including the kitchen. Lighting, security, audio, video, motorized shades and temperature control can all be controlled with your tablet or smartphone.  More kitchens have smart-home technology built in – for watching television, looking up recipes (on a big screen) or piping in music while creating culinary masterpieces.

Smart Kitchen Appliances

We are living in a time where smart kitchen appliances are now commonplace. There are a whole host of options, from refrigerators that are connected to the internet to ovens that are connected to engineers so they can diagnose issues remotely. Other clever kitchen gadgets include a smart coffee maker by Firebox that allows you to brew (and grind) coffee on demand, the Somabar that helps you make the perfect-tasting cocktail and the Tefal Actifry Smart XL – a Bluetooth-powered fryer that takes recipes directly from your smart device to prepare the perfectly fried dish. (Source: Connected cooking: The best smart kitchen devices and appliances)

Mixed Hardware Fixtures

Gone are the days of monochromatic kitchen hardware. With so many finishes – stainless steel, rose gold, copper, pewter, black steel – on the market, homeowners more than ever are encouraged to be creative by mixing up kitchen hardware and finishes.

If, after reading this article and seeing some of the many new kitchen products available, you are ready to sketch out plans, let us help you redesign your kitchen to make the most of your space and to fit your family’s needs.

 

10 Kitchen Cabinet Paint Trends


metzler-cabinets

If you are looking for something different than stained cabinetry for your kitchen, you may want to think about painted cabinets. Painted cabinets are taking over kitchen design – for good reason. They add a pop of color and vibrancy to the space.

Here are a few colorful – and a bit different – kitchen cabinet paint choices.

Deep Ocean. Inspire your nautical and coastal theme of your home in your kitchen.

Teresa’s Green. A complement to everything in your kitchen and with black and white countertops you can’t go wrong.

Midsummer Night. A mix of contemporary and old-world charm.

Mercury. A medium pale gray goes well with contemporary and traditional style homes. With the infusion of stainless steel appliances and marble countertops, this may be the right color for you.

Courtland Blue. With a tinge of blue, this gray colored cabinet is perfect selection for small kitchens – where you can place the Cortland Blue on the lower cabinetry and white on the top. If you have a larger kitchen, you may be able to use this color for cabinetry throughout your space.

Black. If your kitchen is open, black cabinetry will create a drama effect. Black pairs well with stainless steel appliances and a copper tile back splash.

Hazy Skies. This color reminds us of a frothy latte; it’s not too dark nor cold. Instead, it’s perfect to use this on all your cabinetry no matter where it is placed.

Hillside Green. If cooking and gardening are your two favorite hobbies, then this color will be perfect for you and your kitchen. This warm sage green color will make your kitchen feel cozy and fresh.

Charlotte’s Locks. For a dash of personality and warmth this burnt-orange color will surely shock your kitchen. Use this as a backdrop to your cabinets with glass doors to make your dishes stand out.

Soothing Green. This green mimics nature and is a happy color where the color isn’t tinted a dull gray. When natural light hits it, there is almost a yellowness to it and when the sun goes down there is a blueness.

As you can see, there are many shades you can use on your cabinets if you want to personalize your kitchen and have it be the (wow!) talk of your neighborhood.

Elements of Kitchen Island Design


 

Metzler Blog Elements of Kitchen Design

Fads come and go and trends change, but some kitchen additions stand the test of time. Kitchen islands are one such design essential. According to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders, more than 70% of buyers want an island in their kitchen, and of those, 50% consider it a must-have.

A carefully planned kitchen island brings guests, family members, and the cook together. The cook no longer must be secluded in their tasks while guests mingle elsewhere. Parents can balance the duties of meal preparation while children congregate to complete homework or create crafts. The island is the reason why the kitchen has become one of the favorite and most-used rooms in the home.

Using an experienced kitchen designer or architect will ensure that function is maximized and convenience is enhanced. As you explore the many possibilities for your kitchen island, ask these 6 key kitchen design questions:

1) What’s the purpose of my kitchen island? The fundamental reasons for the island will drive most of the design decisions. Kitchen islands can be used for a combination of functions such as: prep work, cooking, storage, entertaining, homework and crafts, and dining.

Consider the opinions and behaviors of the entire family. Understand that as time progresses over the next decade or two, the uses of your kitchen may also change.

2) What layout is best for my kitchen island? After defining the main purposes for your island, layout requirements will emerge. Many kitchen islands will become part of the kitchen triangle, locating the cooktop, refrigerator, and sink in convenient proximity. Likewise, adjacent areas such as living rooms will influence the location of seating areas within your kitchen island.

Islands will drastically range in shapes depending upon their function and will be impacted by the surrounding kitchen. Working sides of the island should have approximately 42”-48” to allow room for opening larger appliances and storage, as well as room for two people to easily pass by. Islands can range from simplistic rectangles to multi-sided and asymmetrical.

3) Which appliances will be included in my island? Appliances and sinks will require a larger island for the most part. An island can include cooktops, ovens, sinks, dishwashers, or even small refrigerators. When considering your overall kitchen design, choose the top items to include in your island, as not all may fit.

Adding a cooktop in an island will require an overhead vent hood to be installed. Incorporating a sink into an island will require some additional plumbing for the water source, drains, and air vents. Your kitchen designer will help guide you through these choices and explain how they may influence your overall cost.

Metzler Blog Kitchen Design

4) How can my kitchen island provide storage solutions? If the space permits in good proportion, kitchen islands can house many items behind doors, in drawers, or on display. A large island could include two standard 24” cabinets back to back, stowing away a multitude of lesser-used small appliances, containers, cookware, trash receptacles, linens, or serving dishes.

Kitchen islands may also conveniently store cooking utensils and serving dishes nearby for easy access. Some home gourmets also love to display cookbooks, wine bottles, or stemware on exterior shelves or overhanging racks.

5) How high should the surface of the island be? Kitchen island surfaces used for traditional counter space or prep work are typically 36” in height, similar to adjacent counters. However, if your kitchen island will also serve the functions of entertaining guests or have part of its surface used for dining or seating, consider a second, higher tier of 42”.

Separating these two surfaces will easily define the different areas of the same island. Taller bar stools can be used with the higher counter allowing guests to have their own space while enhancing the look of your island. The counter overhanging these seating areas should allow for a 15”-18” offset to give legroom and a space to slide stools underneath when not being used.

6) Will my island match or accent the rest of my kitchen? Originally, kitchen islands matched the surrounding countertops and cabinet stains and paints. However, modern trends have used kitchen islands not only as a utilitarian addition, but also as an aesthetic enhancement.

Since islands are central to position and usage in the kitchen, they can be a great opportunity to create a gorgeous focal point. Whether bold or subtle, using a different cabinet color and/or countertop material can draw guests into the kitchen and unite other accents in the surrounding room.

A well-thought-out kitchen island will make your kitchen truly unique as it becomes the heart of your home. The five senses of your family and guests will be excited as they gather to eat, drink, and be merry together for years to come!

Surface Selections: Countertops


 


Countertop surfaces are a core element of today’s homes and are being designed into many more rooms than only the kitchen and bath. They are now used in most every room of our home: wet bars, laundry rooms, crafting spaces, garden potting benches, electronic charging stations and more.

With so many surface options available today, countertops can be a tricky item to select, particularly for the rooms where they become a major design element, such as in the kitchen or master suite. Additionally, you may be tasked with selecting a few different types of countertops to create the look you want.

Let’s take a look at some of today’s popular countertop options:

Natural Stone

Natural stone is a beautiful choice for any kitchen or bathroom and comes in a wide range of colors: whites, beiges, browns, grays, blues and nearly black. Because no piece of stone is the same as the next, this makes a natural stone countertop a unique focal point of any room. Many homeowners enjoy the experience of visiting the stone supplier and hand-selecting the slab that will eventually make its way into their home.

While natural stone is a more expensive countertop choice, it is durable, heat resistant and relatively low maintenance. Because resealing annually is recommended to help prevent stains and bacteria growth, most of our clients opt to add DuPont StoneTech Professional sealer, which comes with a 15-year residential warranty. A natural stone countertop can easily last the lifetime of your home and increase the overall home’s value, too. There are many forms of natural stone that are popular today, including granite, marble (rising in popularity in both kitchens and bathrooms), soapstone and limestone.

Quartz

This attractive countertop alternative is giving granite a run for its money. Quartz is actually an engineered product made from approximately 94 percent ground quartz and 6 percent acrylic or epoxy binder. Natural quartz is a very hard material, which makes quartz composite an extremely durable, non-porous surface that is resistant to stains, scratches and heat.

Because quartz is manufactured, the color options are nearly limitless – from vibrant colors to soft, earthy tones. Until a few years ago, one of the biggest detractors of quartz was that it lacked the patterns and color variations, but no more. Today, quartz comes in multi-hued slabs with flecks, swirls and random patterning – making this engineered product look similar to natural stone. Recognizable brand names include Cambria, DuPont’s Zodiaq, and CaesarStone.

Solid Surface

This manmade product is exceptionally durable, easy to maintain and has a clean, smooth feel to it. Homeowners who like the durability of stone, but don’t like the natural variations that come with it, often choose a solid surface countertop because the color and texture is consistent throughout. A recognizable brand name is Corian.

Laminate

Today’s laminate countertops can mimic the look of pricey stone and solid surface countertops for a fraction of the cost. Laminate is manufactured from a combination of plastic and paper and formed into a thin layer that is laminated onto particle board.

Laminate is versatile and is often the go-to choice for countertops in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, workrooms and has even been used as the surface for shop or crafting tables. It comes in a wide range of colors and wood grains, is easy to keep clean (no special products or maintenance requirements), but – you need to know – is susceptible to chips and scratches. Formica is the most recognizable brand name.

Concrete

Concrete is another countertop option that is growing in popularity for residential use. While shades of gray and earth tones are the typical choices, concrete can actually be mixed into a wide range of colors. What makes this surface so much fun is that it can be ground, polished or stained and embedded with items, such as stones, glass or seashells, to create a one-of-a-kind design.

Wood

While not generally used for an entire room, wood countertops are being integrated as a part of overall countertop design – the most common use is for kitchen island countertops. Wood comes in a nice variety of colors, species and finishes, and brings a natural, warm feeling into the space. The most popular wood choices are maple, bamboo, black walnut and cherry, but regional species, such as mesquite in the southwest, can also be a go-to choice.

Wood is less expensive than stone, is warmer to the touch, and is quieter and more “forgiving” if something falls onto its surface. However, it does require more maintenance than most surfaces, as it needs oiled a few times a year to preserve the color and finish; it does also need to be kept dry.

Metal Countertops

Long used in professional kitchens, metal countertops (stainless steel, zinc and copper) give a room a cutting-edge, sleek industrial look. Unlike stone, metal is nonporous (which means it is stain-resistant and antibacterial), doesn’t require sealing and can be cleaned easily with just soap and water.

Zinc and copper countertops will oxidize, forming a patina, and to keep them pristine require a significant dedication to polishing regularly. However, many homeowners enjoy the patina and even find ways to quicken this process to achieve this weathered look.

As you can see, many countertop options are available in today’s market, and each one comes with its pros and cons. What is most important is that you work with your design professional to select the right countertop to fit your lifestyle as well as your budget.

A Kitchen Design Recipe for Foodies


 

While most consider eating a necessity, you consider cooking an art and your kitchen a studio. Most homeowners rate building a kitchen as one of the more important decisions in their interior design process, but for the foodie, the kitchen is the heart and soul of your home.

A foodie will spend more time using a kitchen than the typical homeowner, so it’s essential that design is equally focused on the weight of functional use over mere aesthetic qualities. This factor will drive creating a space that incorporates the usability of a commercial kitchen into the intricate beauty of residential design.

7 Ingredients for Kitchen Design: A Recipe for Foodies

1)      Ingredient Storage: Accessibility is everything to the home gourmet chef. Purposefully locating convenient storage areas will help cooks find even the most obscure ingredients in a short amount of time. Open shelves in a walk-in pantry, interior-lit cabinets with open or glass fronts, built-in herb gardens, and quick-access ingredient drawers or racks allow the chef to find and transfer the essential ingredients to their respective workstations.

2)      Tools & Gadgets: Creating uniquely organized storage solutions for utensils, cookware and kitchen gadgets is key. Preferences will vary on whether these items should be visible or stowed away nearby within their own compartments or drawers. Locating these areas conveniently near workstations will save the cook time and aggravation when searching for the right tool.

3)      Surfaces: Choose countertop, cabinet, appliance and backsplash materials that can be easily cleaned and will withstand increased usage versus a typical kitchen. Design countertop edges to reduce spills from dripping down to cabinets below. Don’t neglect the impact that lighting will play on illuminating surfaces. Incorporate overhead and under-cabinet fixtures to improve work area visibility.

4)      Sinks & Faucets: Depending upon the use, it may be a great idea to install an additional sink and water source at more than one location in the kitchen. Separate prep areas may have increased functionality if fitted with areas for soaking or washing, versus transporting items back and forth across the kitchen. Install detachable faucets to create more versatility in cooking and cleanup.

5)      Waste Solutions: Be sure that your disposal preferences are considered in kitchen design. Strong beliefs about what to do with waste should lead to the inclusion of compartments for composting, recycling, disposals, compactors and traditional refuse containers. 

6)      Appliances: Whether traditional appliances or an added supplement, carefully consider these options in the kitchen. Appliance prices are often driven by durability and features. Determine which features are worth spending the money for.

a)       Ranges & Hoods: Gas heat will provide the most control. A varying range of BTUs will provide flexibility for different cooking tasks. Always take into consideration the limits and requirements for exhaust hoods and design with the appropriately sized hood for the space and home, installing them at the ideal height over the surface.

b)      Ovens & Warmers: Not only do features drive cost, but insulating capabilities of doors and exteriors are essential factors when choosing the right oven, so not to lose heating power. Explore if the popular double oven is the best choice for your needs. If space is limited, substituting the second traditional oven with a convection or microwave oven, or a warming drawer, may serve a greater purpose.

c)       Dishwashers: If you use a lot of utensils and larger cookware and prep items, you will want them to be clean for your next cooking task. Choose a dishwasher with creative options for utensil drawers or holders and that also allows for adjustable spaces for large bowls and pots.

d)      Refrigerators & Freezers: If there isn’t room for a larger side-by-side unit, or if supplemental cooling options are needed, utilize a portion of cabinet space for optional built-in cooling drawers or small freezers.

e)      Miscellaneous Appliances: Your specific cuisine interests may also drive the additions of features such as rotisseries, woks and other enhancements. Discuss the usage frequency of these items and determine where they rate in design priority over other, more crucial elements.

7)      Inspiration: Even though function can win over aesthetics in designing a foodie kitchen, discover what fuels your culinary passion. Strategically add windows, art, décor and music devices to be your muse for your next greatest creation.

Passionate thought and attention to preparing the perfect meal is what separates a foodie from a recreational cook. Your heart should beat with the same enthusiasm about designing the space where you create your masterpieces. Let us help you design a space that inspires your gifts and fuels your passion for food! Bon appetit!