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Reusing Appliances Or Other Materials In Your New Kitchen

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

I recently read an article that I thought did a pretty good job of hitting on some of the hard truths regarding your money as related to kitchen remodels.  The main topic addresses whether it’s a smart move to reuse parts & pieces of your, or someone else’s old kitchen in your new kitchen.  The good news is that it can be done – The bad news is that a few dollars saved on the front end can cost you hundreds or even thousands on the back end.  Here’s a link to the article: “How To Save Money On Your Remodel The Smart Way”

Not surprisingly, I have a few comments on this…

As a kitchen designer there are a few things I want you to achieve when we work together:  1. I want you to remodel your kitchen.  2. I want you to love it and tell your friends about it.  3. I want you to spend your money wisely.  It’s the last one that I think the article addressed well and the one I want to focus on here.

We KNOW that you want your kitchen renovated affordably and quickly.  You, me and everyone else.  Money and time are real things for us and our clients.  I can’t relate to people who have the “money is no object mentality” – I don’t know what to do with that.  So given that there are ways to save money intelligently, there are also ways to save money that are comparable to shooting yourself in the foot.

Reusing elements of your current kitchen can help with the budget but it can also become a real regret.  Some appliances can and should make the transition to your new space.  If they’re newer and are standard sizes there’s a good chance we can reuse them.  Older appliances or odd sizes (24″ wide oven, for example) should be left in the past.  If you are getting hand-me-down appliances from a family member or friend you should ensure that those units are in full working condition and have been removed correctly.  No one wants to be responsible for an oven where the main power line has been cut during removal, for example.

Sometimes appliances and plumbing fixtures just don’t like being moved from their current home.  It may have been working perfectly for years but can present an issue once removed and reinstalled.  Probably the most common with dishwashers.

I agree with the article regarding reuse of a tile back-splash – Don’t do it, it’s going to break, it’s not worth it, NO.  Next.

Reusing counter-tops.  Ugh.  Ya know, it can happen, it’s just not something we want you to get your hopes set on.  First of all, the kitchen layout must remain EXACTLY the same – If the tops require any alteration due to size differences or layout change it’s not worth it.  The removal is another critical aspect here – The tops will most likely break at the sink or cook-top cutout.  Not advisable.

We don’t want you to spend too much, we don’t want you to spend too little.  Stay conscious of your home value, your subdivision, etc., so you don’t over build or invest.  On the other hand, if a kitchen remodel is going to financially hurt you, DON’T DO IT – Wait until you’re ready to do it right and spend your money wisely.

 

Take Those Cabinets To The Ceiling And Get Rid Of The Clutter

Saturday, March 4th, 2017

Look above your cabinets…  Do you have any roosters, baskets or fake plants?  Is there a blank space up there collecting dust?  Maybe you’re ignoring it or planning to get up there with a vacuum in the next few years.  It’s going to be gross!

Does your kitchen look like either of these?  If so, you may be due for a change…


One of this generation’s trends (not “trendy” trend but more of a new way to do things) is to take the upper cabinets to the ceiling.  We don’t literally mean that the cabinet doors scrape the ceiling but the crown molding will be installed so there is no open space between the cabinets and ceiling.  There’s not a great reason not to run cabinets all the way up unless you really see that empty space as a display opportunity.  Most people don’t these days.  In our collective desire to simplify, getting rid of these clutter areas is another way to ease our over-stressed psyches.

If you have an 8′ ceiling the answer is clear.  Go right up to it.  You don’t have the height to lose.  In many older homes an 8′ ceiling is common but rarely is it worth it to raise a ceiling – It costs too much and can create too many other issues – Like you need that kind of stress in your life.  Not to worry, the 8′ ceiling can remain as is and still look great!  The below example has 36″ tall upper cabinets and crown molding installed right up to an 8′ ceiling.

The most common ceiling height we come across is 9′ tall.  In this case, you have a few options.  One method is to use what we call a triple crown (below).  This has a smaller crown molding directly above the upper cabinets and a larger crown up to the ceiling.  In between the two crown moldings is a riser or “furring” panel.  This is merely aesthetic and not functional.  However, it creates a nice classic look and eliminates any need to “decorate” above the uppers.  In this scenario, your main cabinet remains 42″ tall.

Another method is to double stack the upper cabinets.  Typically, 15″ tall cube cabinets are stacked above 36″ tall uppers.  The doors of these cube cabinets can either be wood or glass depending on taste.  It gives a totally different effect and could be seen as more of a statement.  Where these smaller, cube cabinets are functional they should not be thought of as storage since they are just too difficult to get to on a daily basis.  This scenario is a more expensive and a little more about the “show”.

If your home has a vaulted ceiling or if it’s just too tall we wouldn’t recommend even attempting running cabinets to the ceiling.  You probably don’t want to be the guinea pig and blaze new trails in cabinet trends by triple or quadruple stacking cabinets.

So there you have Cabinets To The Ceiling – 101.  Where it is acceptable to leave the cabinets pulled away from the ceiling, I would recommend thinking about that area differently and not crowding your head space with too much clutter.

 

Tile Back-Splash “Opportunities” (…I really mean problems)

Sunday, October 16th, 2016

Tile back-splash is one of the most eye catching elements that helps create a beautiful kitchen.  It’s kind of the “icing on the cake” – It can add so much additional beauty and texture, further enhancing the cabinets and counter-tops.  It’s also one of the kitchen’s components that causes the most frustration and anguish during the remodel process.

There is an expectation of perfection when it comes to tile back-splash and at the same time it’s also one of the most difficult areas to achieve it.  This blog is not about the beautiful tile installations that we’ve all seen but about the ones that may have some details that make you question the material or skill level of the installer.

First there is the challenge of walls and sheetrock.  I’m not trying to offend you when I tell you that the walls, ceilings and floors in your house are warped, out of square and out of level.  Get used to it.  Mine are too!  All of our homes are comprised of imperfect rooms sitting on an imperfect foundation with imperfect finishings.  Sometimes the waves created in the back-splash begin long before you see it.

bowed-studs

Studs can be bent or warped leading to sheetrock having the same issue.  However, it often goes unnoticed until the wall gains a visual texture that highlights the flaw.  Sheetrock mud can only do so much and most people would prefer not to go through the trouble of rebuilding walls to eliminate a small bend in a wall.

Hand formed tile is supposed to provide a certain texture that a machine formed tile can’t.  They’re all different, they’re uneven by design, they’re beautifully imperfect.  Given the deliberate imperfection they can still cause quite a stir when installed.  They achieve more of a “living” texture instead of a smooth and level surface that other tiles may offer.  We’ve seen more than one homeowner panic at the site of these tiles once installed.  The good news is that grouting often remedies any issues and brings a continuity that is desired.

Glass tile is great looking until you try to cut it.  The way it was fabricated should be the way it’s installed – A straight pattern works best.  I would never say that glass can’t be cut or installed in a herringbone pattern but the issue tends to be the tiny chips that can occur and grab hold of the grout.  It can lead to an unsightly, messy result.

Many of the intricate patterns and smaller tiles come on a mesh sheet.  The assumption is that the tiles are placed on the sheet with exact precision.  Whether it’s from an uneven tile or uneven placements, the mesh sheets are almost never perfect.  The problem here is that the uneven tiles have to be individually removed and re-installed.  Not the great time saver that you might think the mesh provides.

tile-mesh

Efflorescence – What the what?!?  It’s pretty darn complicated but as far as we’re concerned this is referring to the discoloration of grout due to the crystallization of salts within a stone or substrate.  Essentially it turns grout white and is not always something that can be controlled.  Different batches of grout contain different salt content.  I have no doubt that grout manufacturers test to maintain certain standards but efflorescence still happens.  It’s something we do our best to avoid but can still show it’s ugly head.

There is an entire psychology to tile back-splashes.  We’ve seen clients that have jumped for joy at this stage and some that have jumped right off the deep end.  It’s destroyed lives!  Annihilated civilizations!  Also sent people into pure ecstasy.  …Ok, maybe none of those are true.  I’m taking it to an extreme that reflects the passion encompassed by the topic being discussed.  The point of this blog was not to make excuses for back-splash installations, but to educate.  We are aware that we get to see more types of tile and more installations than most people – It’s part of our job.  With almost anything, there are always elements that can be controlled and some that simply can not – No different than life itself.

The Opportunity Wall

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

This is not a technical term.  In fact, I’ve never heard anyone else say the phrase in regards to kitchen design.  It’s something I found myself saying over and over again when I saw a wall that I wanted to take for a specific purpose.  Most of us have a wall in our kitchen that screams, “Show me off,” “Do something with me,” “I could be so much better!” – The opportunity wall.

As kitchen designers we see it immediately after walking into a kitchen for the first time and almost everything else falls into place based on this wall.  Sometimes it’s easy to make work and sometimes it takes a little more finesse.

In the above example we all felt it was best to split the windows in order to have them flank the range and hood.  This was the ultimate opportunity – Pretty hood and back-splash as well as windows to bring in some of the outdoors.

The pictures above represents a small struggle between the homeowner and myself.  It was a bridge that needed to be crossed lightly but I felt very strong about getting rid of the window on the back wall.  Keep the window and the kitchen doesn’t make much sense – Delete the window and everything falls into place.  It was worth it in the end to push a little bit – We all ended up very happy.

The opportunity wall doesn’t only have to be pretty (although it’s one of the goals), it should also add functionality to the kitchen.  Perhaps it provides more counter-top where you need it, creates a better work flow or let’s you vent your hood directly to the outside.  It should be the wall that gives you the chance to have a great work space but also the wall that let’s you have some fun and let your kitchen do some showing off.

 

 

Think Inside The Box (it’s what your kitchen wants)

Monday, March 28th, 2016

How many times have you heard someone say, “Think outside the box”?  Whether as a motivational tool used in business or someone using it as a clear cliché, we’ve all heard it more times than we can remember.  We also know what it means:  Be creative, get out of your rut, look at the problem from a different angle.  Inspired by the “9 Dots Puzzle”, a simple (once you know the answer) test forcing one to solve the problem by going outside the perceived box, the phrase is meant to inspire not only creative thinking but a constant flow of new and unique ideas.  This hopefully explains the random graphic on the previous blog page.

So when referring to your kitchen why am I saying, “think inside the box”?  Is it to crush your creative spirit or to ensure that no one gets a kitchen better than another?  Big negative.  It’s for the simple reason that kitchens love to be in square or rectangular shapes.  The same reason bedrooms, living rooms and most other rooms in your house are square – They simply work.  I bet the rooms that don’t match this simple frame have been viewed as “oddly shaped”, possibly providing a conversation or two about how to improve them (improve = more functional, getting the most use out of the space, visually appealing).

Kitchens don’t particularly like outside angles, segmented sections of a room or lots of 45 degree walls.  They lead to an inconsistent space resulting in decreased workflow and visual appeal.  We want larger runs of cabinets in lieu of many smaller ones.  Planning is easier with 90 degree corners where all available space can be used vs angles where there will most likely be a loss of function.  We want to get to different appliances with ease and not have to turn a corner to access the fridge.

As with most things in life there are exceptions.  Sometimes you have to deal with what you’re given and make the most out of it.  However, given the opportunity to layout your kitchen space, think inside the box as it will provide both aesthetic and functional benefits.  Then dive into the box – Make it your own and get creative.

 

Walk-In Pantries

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

walk-in-pantry

I bet your walk-in pantry looks just like the one in the photo.  Right…  Mine too.

What we see on Houzz and Pinterest may be incredibly awesome but they’re typically designed for someone else.  Someone who lives very different than you and I.  These are not the walk-in pantries I want to talk about.  You’ll find that blog @ milliondollarpantries.com (totally made that up).

Most of us that have walk-in pantries have much smaller, less glamorous spaces that may appear to be providing great storage until you break the space down a bit.  The ones we commonly see in homes are usually dominated by negative space (the space our bodies take up); shallow, wire shelves and a lot of air leaving us with less actual storage.  Even the wall thickness may be robbing us of space we could be using.  The truth is that they were built in order to reduce the amount of kitchen cabinets, counter-top, etc., reducing costs for the builder.

Sometimes we can achieve more efficient storage and a larger kitchen by eliminating the walk-in.  It’s not the right thing for every kitchen but look at the example “before and after” pictures below.  The deletion of the pantry was one of the major contributors that gave us a much improved layout and larger kitchen.

Thacher_before (4) Cabinet pantries

The same concept applies to both walk-in pantries and standard, non-walk-in pantries built out of studs & sheetrock.  Cabinet pantries have the flexibility to have roll-out shelves and other customizations inside.  The most popular option is installing simple roll-out shelves which means that you can pull the contents of the pantry out to you instead of having to dig through the back to see what’s been hiding there since the 90’s.  Other customization options like vertical storage or areas for small appliances are easy adds as well.  Like the above “after” photo, cabinet pantries also provide a cohesive look which adds to the feeling of a larger space since they have cabinet fronts just like the rest of your kitchen.

Look Up! – Decorative Ceilings

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Ceilings need love too. We spend all our time and energy on the elements that are in our sight line. We may even spend hours stressing over the difference between Provincial and Special Walnut stain colors for our hardwood floors. But enhancing the lighting is about the farthest people go to dress up the ceiling.

Lionel Richie was the last person to publicly praise the ceiling. He danced on it! We can have some fun with it too.

The ceiling is another canvas where you can spread your wings and take the look of your kitchen to the next level (yeah, I said it).  The most common method is to add some faux beams.  They can be in any configuration but keep in mind that too many can just be too many.  Use them tastefully and keep it somewhat simple.

Mansel_after (43)

Simple pine boards can complete the feeling of a “modern farmhouse” as in the picture below.  It’s easy to do and works in almost any shape kitchen.

Owens_after (30)

Providing a totally different look, a semi coffered ceiling really dresses things up for bottom-to-top visual candy. It can be a bit of a trick to pull off if you don’t have a square or rectangular ceiling but as you can see in the below picture, it can still work.

Bisciotti_after (15)

Sometimes you’re forced to integrate a design element that you may not have initially considered.  The kitchen below had a not so attractive beam running through it.  None of us wanted to alter the beam due to cost.  So instead of worrying about concealing the beam, we enhanced it.  We simply wrapped what was already there with cedar planks.  It ended up working with the vibe of the space and provided a solution to a potentially costly problem.

Gibbs_after1

This next example may or may not be your cup of tea but it should not be discounted as a valid option.  This is what we call a “flyover”.  Although not that common and fairly laborious it does a good job of making a statement and helps capture a certain style.

Berger-Meador_after (3)

 

Any of the above could be combined to create a stunning ceiling.  They could also be combined to achieve a visual nightmare if overdone.  We want to avoid creating a cave like effect or any feeling where the ceiling seems so heavy it’s going to fall on our heads.  Many aren’t comfortable spending money on what some think should be a simple clean surface and that’s OK but it’s good to know that there are tasteful ways to address this space.

Wood Countertops – A Touch Of Warmth Or a Grand Statement?

Friday, February 20th, 2015

Sometimes it feels like granite and quartz based countertops are the only choices out there. Not the case. Wood countertops are another beautiful and functional surface that be used as much or as little as you like.

Sometimes used as an accent, sometimes as a chopping block – There are no rules to how wood can be used. They can be a stand alone counter at an island or they can meld with other counter materials. It’s really game-on only limited by your imagination.

Gibbs_after5

Our friends at J. Aaron Custom Wood Countertops have a wealth of knowledge on their website. Specifically, their blog goes into many of the ideas as well as common concerns when using wood tops. It is a great resource that will help in deciding whether wood is right for you and your family.

Is it safe to have a sink in a wood top as in the picture below?

wood top with sink

Maybe your family is a bit “outgoing” so you’re concerned that the wood will take too much of a beating. Perhaps a distressed finish is the right way to go so you don’t freak out with every new dent and ding…

Owens_after (33)

Perhaps an accent piece with a wood top would enhance your space and create more of the “pretty” that you’ve been longing for.

Karp_after (39) -1

Check out J. Aaron’s blog here: http://www.jaaronwoodcountertops.com/blog/

The Power Of Negative Space

Monday, January 19th, 2015

We’ve all seen works of art and illusions that use negative space. Negative space is defined as “the space that surrounds an object or an image” and can be as important as the subject of a composition itself. It helps define boundaries and can bring balance to a work of art. Much like the space created in the attached drawing or the power of silence in the middle of a song – It creates tension and excitement and can elevate the appreciation of a subject matter. Let’s take a moment to discuss a simple topic in astrophysics, matter vs. anti-matter… No wait, let’s not.

Why the heck are we talking about this?

I was standing in a kitchen this morning with a potential client discussing a new layout for her space. I found myself saying the same thing I’ve said so many times before in tight kitchens, “We need to increase the negative space in order to enjoy the positive.” The positive space would be the cabinets, counter-tops, etc., the work space, the storage. The negative space is where we walk, we stand, the space our bodies take up while walking, working or entertaining in our kitchens.

One of our goals is to increase the negative space in a kitchen while enhancing the functionality and visual beauty of the kitchen as well. As an example, we often delete peninsulas in order to reconfigure kitchens for an island. Done right this leads to increased storage and counter space while providing an additional walkway into the kitchen. We want a family to be able to gather and not feel crowded while maintaining good traffic flow. Elbowing each other in the ribs may be your idea of an action packed family get-together but I like my space.

Let the places where there is “nothing” highlight where there is “something”. Increase the negative to enhance your appreciation of the positive.

Framed Vs. Frameless Cabinetry

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

What’s the difference in these two methods of cabinet construction? Most people aren’t aware that different types exist. I bet if they were made aware they would be more careful before remodeling their kitchen.

“Framed” cabinets, or “face frame” cabinets have a wooden frame around the cabinet opening. The hinges are mounted to the frame and a lip is created around the perimeter of the opening. There is often a center stile in between the doors of any double door cabinet. This used to be more of an American standard.

“Frameless” cabinets lack the wooden frame on the front of the cabinet box. The doors are a true full-overlay so you aren’t looking at a lot of flat wood – You get more of the visual since the doors and drawers typically have the detail. You could say they are more sleek as the doors and drawers cover the entire cabinet box. There is not a frame to hinder the access of the interior like framed cabinets have so they are also called “full-access” cabinets. This also pertains to the drawers where you get more width than a traditional framed cabinet. Frameless cabinets also lack the center stile in between double door cabinets – This makes most people happy.

Framed vs frameless

If there is one element of frameless cabinets that gives people pause it would be the edge banding which is often PVC. Even though the interior may be a maple or birch wood, the edge that sits behind the door is not. However, cabinets that are stained or painted on the inside to match the exterior (behind glass doors or in an open shelf unit) often have veneer edge banding for a better match. Inevitably there will be an area in your kitchen where the two types of edge banding come together – They may look a bit different – This is the main downside of frameless cabinetry. In my opinion, this is a trade off that is well worth it.

The cost difference is a bit of a gray area. Most cabinet dealers sell frameless cabinets for more money. This is where we disagree with most of the world – Assuming that they are both “all-wood” construction, frameless cabinets should cost less. There is simply less material, less wood in them. We do not charge more just because we can – Though they are more desirable. They are less money and, in our opinion, provide better storage and an overall better look.

Kitchen Accents – The Finishing Touches

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Let me ask you something, but you have to promise that you won’t look – that’s cheating… Tell me, what does your current hardware in your kitchen look like? Do you have knobs or pulls? Do you have both? How about your backsplash; is it less than stellar? What about your wall color; or does your kitchen even have enough wall space to impact the overall look? What about your faucet style? Or your light fixture? Describe those to me… Most of the time, people can’t even answer those questions because those are the things that go unnoticed in our daily life – that is unless you spend hours studying your kitchen and all of it’s features, and I’m assuming your neighbors have something better to do than question you about the style of knobs you chose.

To be perfectly honest, the importance of style for all of these items is pretty irrelevant when it comes to function; however, it does contribute to the overall aesthetic of the space. These details are important but they often go unrecognized as an individual piece. Rather, they come together to create a compilation giving the space its overall style when it’s all said and done. In reality, the most permanent pieces of your kitchen would be your cabinets, followed by countertops and possibly flooring. While replaceable, those tend to be the most expensive so it makes sense to keep those longer. But when it comes to everything else (such as paint, backsplash, and hardware) those costs are not nearly as significant.

If you are looking for a place in your kitchen to dress it up, make it trendy, or give it your own personal style then these finishing touches are the place to do it! If it’s resale value you are worried about you should keep in mind, these are things that other people can easily fix if they are not happy with it. I’m not saying go crazy with color or have decorative fish tiles on your backsplash, but make it your own! Don’t obsess about how perfect it is and think that you are married to this exact kitchen forever. Everyone at some point or another feels that their space will need a change here or there, and after you get ten to fifteen years of use out of all of these finishing touches, it’s okay to consider replacing them and giving your space a whole new vibe without having to remodel the entire thing again! You could even consider changing out drapery, adding jars or a cute colorful mixer, or even setting out some fresh flowers to liven up your space. The personal touches don’t have to stop with the permanent things. Remember, what makes a home is the people who live in it, not just the function of the space.

At the end of the day if you’re having trouble deciding on finishing touches, my advise to you would be to follow your gut feeling and don’t over think it. Do what you like and what makes you happy! That’s what will take any ordinary kitchen and turn it into YOUR kitchen. Don’t worry about what others think, because at the end of the day they don’t have to live with it – you do! So make it yours! Spice it up, add some character, and don’t look back! After all, they’re just finishing touches.

Kitchen Accents

The Blessing And Curse of Houzz & Pinterest

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Too many ideas
Over the past few years these websites have stormed onto the design scene providing some fun eye candy, new concepts and inspiration. They have also broken budgets, confused people and possibly broken up a marriage or two. Many of the kitchens on Houzz are beautiful! They are also too expensive for most of us or simply impractical. These sites are great resources when wanting to find inspiration but it’s easy to lose yourself in the inescapable vortex of pretty colors and neat ideas. You probably won’t be able to recreate that exact picture that you fell in love with online unless you are willing to have a space that shatters your “real world” budget and leaves you with a new job of maintaining, baby-ing and stressing.

The internet is great for viewing ideas for reference; however, it is also great for viewing expensively staged homes that are not lived in with kids, dogs, and a messy husband. The ideas should be borrowed and integrated into your lifestyle – That may mean changing them – It may also mean ditching them. Not every idea can be executed in your space no matter how hard we try. However, when one idea is abandoned another may come to life.

Remember, you don’t live in a magazine and no one should expect you to! Bottom line – Brainstorm and get amazing ideas where ever you please, but DON’T stress yourself out and obsess about the little details that may go unnoticed – You may miss practical ideas that are equally good solutions. This doesn’t mean you have to settle, but keep your goals realistic and within reach. Your home is yours, so make it that way and accommodate your needs in the best way possible for your life and your family.

Kitchen Soffits

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Do you have a home built in the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s? Chances are you have an 8′ tall ceiling in your kitchen AND often a bulky overhead soffit or bulkhead located directly above your upper cabinets? For whatever strange reason, this was all the rage in building during these three decades. If you’re considering a kitchen renovation, investigate having this “design element” removed. The likelihood of it containing any plumbing pipes or HVAC ducts is often low and it’s removal allows for extra cabinetry height and the addition of decorative moldings. Not only does this alteration distinctly transform the look of your kitchen into the modern era, it also allows for cabinet storage that you didn’t have previously. With a 9′ ceiling, this would allow for what is called “double stacked” cabinetry – great for display if glass fronted or for tucking away seasonal items if solid wood. With an 8′ ceiling getting rid of the soffit simply provides taller upper cabinets and an improved look. I can’t recall a renovation in many years where we didn’t pull out the soffit – it’s often the easiest visual change we can make in a kitchen renovation.

Day_J_before (1)
Day_after (8)

Kitchen Lighting

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Does the bad lighting in your kitchen drive you crazy? Does the lighting always seem to come from behind you and you create an inescapable shadow over whatever you’re trying to prepare? Did you know that there are three types of lighting important to a well functioning kitchen? Ambient lighting, task lighting & accent lighting. A fourth if you count natural lighting from windows or skylights. Muted overhead lighting like the builder’s special fluorescent box create shadows – without any directional task lighting, this can be both annoying and potentially dangerous while cutting up your carrots!
Carneal_before (5)
A well designed kitchen takes lighting into account by incorporating all types of lighting like overhead recessed can lights, under cabinet task lighting, accent lighting like pendant lights over an island or illumination of a glass front cabinet. Not only is a good kitchen lighting scheme functional, but the visual warmth added is often the difference between a good renovation and a top-notch magazine-photo-ready renovation.
Carneal_after (9)

The Dilemma Of The Three R’s (reface, refinish, replace)

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

You’ve probably heard that refacing or refinishing your old cabinets will save you tons of money. You’ve noticed that your old cabinets are all wood and you think they have “good bones”. Maybe you’ve heard that “they don’t build ’em like this anymore”. They might have had good bones once and no, they don’t build them like that anymore – They’re much better now but we’ll come back to that later.

Platinum Kitchens chooses to avoid two of the R’s and recommends replacement as the better solution:

Refacing – This is where your old cabinets get new door and drawer fronts and the cabinet boxes themselves may get veneer coverings on the face frame and sides. New crown and other moldings can sometimes be replaced and upgraded. This is extremely labor intensive both during the initial install and requires a great deal of service / maintenance. Refacing costs only slightly less, equal to or even more money than new cabinetry depending on who’s providing the quote. Over time the veneers peel leaving you with a new aggravation and less money to redo your kitchen the way it really should have been done from the start. One of the main gripes about refacing is that the configuration and overall usefulness of the kitchen doesn’t change, or if it does, you’ve spent way too much money to maintain some old cabinet carcasses.

Refinishing – Painting or having the existing cabinets faux finished would fall into this category. It is a quick fix and sometimes equates to (sorry I have to say this) putting “lipstick on a pig”. This offers no new functionality only a new look. The new finish looks great when first completed but quickly chips, scratches or peels.

Old cabinets

Let’s look at the above photo. Had these homeowners gone the path of refacing or refinishing they would have had to address a few important questions:

1. What do we do about the soffit above the cabinets? – Unless you’re getting new cabinets the soffit has to stay but who wants to go through this expense and keep a useless soffit that is taking up storage and visual space?

2. Can we do a 24″ deep fridge surround for a better look and the ability to actually use the cabinet above the fridge? – The answer is “no” if you decide to keep the cabinets.

3. We would like to gain access to the dead corners of our current layout. Can we do that? – Again, the answer is “no”. Unless you are going to change out the cabinets for better functionality these corners remain difficult to access.

4. Can we make better use of the space taken up by the face-frame of the cabinet? – Not with new fronts or new paint. That only changes the exterior not the interior.

One of the other options with both of the above methods is that homeowners often choose to get new granite counter-tops and back-splash at the time they are refinishing or refacing. If, after a few years, it is discovered that one of these two methods was not the correct path and you’re ready for new cabinets you will find that the new counter-top and tile back-splash may not be able to be salvaged. Granite does not like to be moved once installed – It can break around the sink cutout or suffer other damage. Tile often breaks as the counter-top is removed.

New cabinets offer a new look, new storage solutions, a possible new layout and a new level of quality. Good quality cabinets are well constructed and, if KCMA certified, undergo multiple tests each year to ensure structural integrity as well as a durable finish. Chances are strong that your old cabinets have served well but they have done their time. For a real change and cost effective improvement, replacing your cabinets provides enhanced functionality as well as adding better value to your home.

The “Work Triangle”, The “Work Square”… How About The “Work Pentagon”?

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Who hasn’t heard of the legendary work triangle? It’s an important concept in kitchen design. After all,it’s been around since the 1940’s! But do you think your kitchen is the same as it would be in the 40’s? Probably not. You can go to Wikipedia and read all the in’s and out’s, history, origins and rules of the kitchen work triangle so I wont bore you with all those fascinating details (read as sarcasm). I’m simply throwing out that the concept of the triangle may not be the gospel for today’s spaces.

The triangle was formed to create a flow between three key points in the kitchen; the sink, the fridge and the stove. But kitchens were smaller with less appliances. Now we have microwave ovens, double ovens, etc. So if you have a microwave do we need to have a work square? Or even a work pentagon if we have double ovens? Possibly a work octagon if you have a second sink, pot filler, cappuccino machine? So that may be a bit ridiculous but there is point to all this …somewhere…

The flow of the kitchen needs to work within the geometry of the walls and for you, the homeowner. Don’t get stuck on the concept of the work triangle. Anyone can draw a triangle out of any three points in space. It may not be a perfect or even a good looking one but a triangle nonetheless. As kitchen designers we look out for a certain flow that comes down to, no more than, common sense. It is based on listening to the homeowner and keeping with the geometry of the area (unless walls are being knocked down). Do you cook a lot? How do you like to work? Do you like to entertain? What appliances do we want to incorporate into the design? The answers to these as well as the structure we’re dealing with help us determine the final design that is right for your kitchen.

Not Sure How Big Your Island Should Be? Make A Template.

Monday, March 17th, 2014

island template

Some of us have a gift for visualizing what’s not there. Most of us don’t. Many people need some sort of aid to help them see “what could be.” Here at Platinum Kitchens, we love our design software – It helps us get our vision across to a client who may not be seeing the same thing in their heads as we are in our’s. However, sometimes even our software doesn’t quite paint the picture it should. On occasion people need a little more.

Since islands are so desirable due to functionality and aesthetics, we try to maximize island size. Often times a kitchen will already have an island but we feel that it’s 90 degrees in the wrong position. Other times the kitchen has a peninsula (connected to a wall) but has enough room for an awesome island (not touching any walls). Of course, we draw these designs up and show them to clients but sometimes the homeowner will have to make a template to get a better feel for the proposed island. That’s the case in the above photo. While a template doesn’t provide an accurate sense of volume it does show walk spaces and work surface. It may provide enough information for you to feel confident pursuing a specific direction.

So You Think Your Kitchen’s Small?…

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Mistretta_before (4)
Mistretta_after (7)

This is to show you that there is probably something that can be done with your space too. This kitchen was defined by a peninsula that stuck out into the room, cutting the space in half. With some imagination and creativity this space was opened up to become a really nice space. We didn’t need to blow out the exterior of the house just had to look at things a bit differently. Moving appliances around and using walls more efficiently gave this homeowner a great kitchen to cook and entertain in.

Is your kitchen being defined by what you see or what could be?

Granite vs Quartz products – In layman’s terms

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Have you heard that granite is no longer a viable counter-top option? Well it’s not true. There are many more choices now than ever before but that does not mean that granite is “out” or ever going out for that matter. Granite is still used primarily over quartz products due to the beauty and affordability but engineered quartz does bring strength and a distinct look as well.

There are pros and cons to all materials but let’s look at the main two that are being used:

Granite is a natural product from the earth. It’s been cooking up for a few million years. It’s beautiful and strong but does need to be sealed and can have fissures that occur from the “movement” in the stone. Those that are looking for a real statement may tend to like granite more because of the rivers and flows in the stone.

Quartz based products are about 97% real quartz, very strong and do not require regular sealing. There are some stunning options for colors but they can tend to get very expensive very fast. Quartz products are typically better for those that are very rough on their counter-tops or people who prefer less “crazy” that might be found in granite.

We like to use a sealer called Drytreat (www.drytreat.com) on granites and marbles. This is a 15 year sealer which levels the playing field for granite. All counters can stain but with the sealing taken out of the equation, granite becomes a better contender against quartz products.

While they both have their strengths and weaknesses it comes down to the look that you are going after. Personally, I like the “crazy” that natural stone offers but also like playing a natural stone off of a engineered stone for an awesome contrast.

Kitchen Design Secret: Microwave drawer

Friday, June 28th, 2013

kvc_microwave_under-counterPKD tip for July 2013: Another ingenious appliance invention has yet again made life easier for both homeowners AND kitchen designers! The microwave drawer is the perfect solution for open concept kitchens shy on upper cabinets and in smaller kitchens lacking countertop space. Instead of the traditional hinged style, the appliance opens just like a cabinet drawer – and has easy access top mounted controls. Consider integrating one into your future kitchen renovation!