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Useful Vs Useless Counter-Tops

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018

One of the most common items on homeowner’s wish lists is the desire for more counter-top space.  While no one wants exposed clutter out in the open for everyone to see, there is still a desperate need for more work space.  The trick here is in the “work space” not just more counter-top space.

There’s not much need for counters that we can not use as part of the kitchen.  If we have 40 square feet of counter located on the other side of the kitchen as the cook-top or sink area it quickly becomes a drop zone for the family.  We also affectionately refer to this area as the family “crap catcher”.  A bit crass but yet every family knows exactly what area in their kitchen this is referring to.  It’s OK, we all have one.

Our goal is to improve counter-top space WHERE YOU NEED IT MOST.  Check out the below examples:

There is quite a lot of counter-top in the above photo.  Unfortunately it’s not where you need it.  The sink has useful space flanking it but the cook-top was totally robbed of fulfilling it’s full potential.

Then there’s this classic arrangement above.  No counter-space, a wall (oven tower) built next to it, no chance for success.

It is our job as kitchen designers to make sure that we are getting you the quantity of counters you need but also the quality.  The kitchen must be laid out in a way that maximizes the square footage of the space but more importantly makes the most out of the square footage gained.

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.

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)

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.