Lighting Up The Kitchen

Lighting that is "layered" for tasks in the kitchen

Lighting that is “layered” for tasks in the kitchen

Here’s the latest on lights for your kitchen.

Don’t hesitate to use LED lighting as you update your home’s lighting, especially in the kitchen. I am always pleasantly surprised how rooms are beautifully illuminated. (and you won’t need to keep changing out the bulbs!)

5 Kitchen Styles – You Decide!


Continuous hardwood flooring (showing hickory species in photo) can blend rooms, making the space appear larger and open.

Continuous hardwood flooring (showing hickory species in photo) can blend rooms, making the space appear larger and open.

Candice Olsen, Divine Design

An extraordinary kitchen of “contrasts” designed by Candice Olsen

TRANSITIONAL STYLE – This is simple really. Don’t throw away all your things …. mixing the old with the new and creating a cleaner-looking kitchen with more storage is the trick to creating this look in your kitchen. For example, even if you will keep your appliances and flooring, try to select a cabinet style with simple lines and upgrade your countertops to a one-color quartz. You might want to take that old closet out and replace it with tall pantry cabinets to organize better.
RUSTIC AMERICAN STYLE – We used to call this “Tuscan” but here in the states we are really into re-purposing materials! So for a really interesting, laid back and casual approach to this kitchen style, I enjoy searching for old barn posts, or using the vintage details in an old century house to gain tremendous texture and aura. A honed slab of granite or a rugged 2-inch thick piece of limestone, soapstone, or wood can be used for countertops. Slate, distressed hardwood, or textured porcelain large tiles are great for the kitchen floor. By all means, go to the flea markets or small stores that sell vintage accessories. In my area, I recommend a resale shoppe called “Life Is Sweet”. Here’s their Facebook
NEW AMERICAN COUNTRY – Your life will reflect this timeless style. A long time ago, we used words like colonial, or Georgian, or early American, but life in casual America has never changed really. However, now I need to plan for more modern appliances and a place to charge those techy devices and cell phones! Using colorful fabrics at the kitchen windows and on the barstools has never been more fashionable…..AND we always seem to dine-in the kitchen with this all American style of stained cabinetry (cherry is nice) and granite surfaces and hardwood floors in maple or oak or hickory and cherry. Because the kitchen is “open” to other rooms, all your collectibles can be displayed as well as kids artwork and family photos. The backsplash can be small mosaics or larger subway tiles and adding color to the walls is always in style.
EUROPEAN CONTEMPORARY – Nevermind that it’s clean … and sharp … and high-tech, this look can be designed in several cabinet finishes and surfaces. There are however two ways to go with color. If I was ever to design a city high-rise loft kitchen and it had a window with a gorgeous skyline view somewhere, I’d probably want to stay with neutral colors on the big items and specify a couple spectacular light pendants to mimic the lights in the city. But if a family wanted to have that magazine picture pizazz, why not eliminate some of the upper wall cabinets and display art on open shelves or hide the big appliances such as purchasing “Refrigerator Columns” by Sub-zero. There are so many choices for a modern style.
CLASSIC TRADITIONAL – If you need to remodel your kitchen in a timeless tradional style, this is a great look that’s “safe” even for when you go to sell your home in a few years. White painted cabinets with a possible stained or color-painted island works, as well as stainless appliances and granite with movement and pattern. Small lamps on the counter’s corner and accessories such as decorative storage jars and beautiful serving bowls with colorful placements can jazz up this look as well as a modern runner rug for in front of the kitchen sink. The new gray neutrals also work well (and yes, beige goes with gray!) See Abby M Interiors blog about this style:

My favorite Designers

Before and After Kitchen

Before and After

The Before and After of this kitchen near Cleveland, Ohio, would make any homeowner proud. The value of their home just went up. The clutter is gone. The cabinets are new. The countertops are granite. The appliances are new. The island adds tremendous flexibility. It’s easy to prep and clean-up. The family entertains with ease. Nice seating. Storage galore!

I love “Wow” before-and-after photos!

Can you achieve a renovation of this caliber on a budget? I think so. Here are 3 things to keep in mind when considering a total “gut” kitchen remodel.

1) Where your house is located will have an impact on which projects to tackle. However, an updated kitchen always adds an immediate value, especially after a depressed housing market.

2) Depending on the values of other houses in your neighborhood, a total kitchen remodel (rather than a partial) will most likely set your home apart from them. I just talked to a couple who purchased a house based solely on the fact that the kitchen was totally renovated and updated to an “open floor” plan (walls had been taken out) and they could simply move-in and know that the value already exists.

3) Staying on a budget is important. The material and product choices today afford great flexibility in kitchen remodels. For example, the recent kitchen remodel I’ve posted in this blog had moderate selections in their new appliances, keeping several thousand dollars available for granite counters. That’s just one area where a budget can be maintained. Another is new cabinets. I’m not a big fan of refacing existing cabinets … there’s just too many manufactured cabinet lines out there with all the upgraded and latest hardware and drawer and door construction features at modest prices.

Stay tuned in to my blog as I review current kitchen designs and products.


Choosing a Refrigerator – 6 Tips

French-Door Styling in refrigerators are still popular ... and stainless finishes are never trendy.

French-Door Styling in refrigerators are still popular … and stainless finishes are never trendy.

Buying a refrigerator is hard. The selections are overwhelming. The prices keep going up. There are so many brands and all the ads sound appealing because every brand competes for your business! Since you’re reading my own blog about kitchens, I figured that some of my tips ( even if I sound opinionated ) might help someone who has this daunting task ahead of them! Here goes:

1) Ask your friends, family, neighbors or anyone you know who has purchased a refrigerator in the past 2 years. Seriously, I think it’s the first step in your research before you start shopping. Opinions count.. and people either love or hate their refrigerators. Write the brands, model no’s, manufacturer, style and (if they divulge) price that was paid. Also ask people if they have had to call for service (not necessarily a bad thing) and how that all went.

2) Research online. Do your homework on different makes and models and see what each offers in size, configuration, and style. Save money by not traveling everywhere around town at first. I love love love the internet for research on refrigerators.

3) Prepare your opening and prepare for delivery. Sizes are SO important, especially if you’re remodeling and especially since refrigerators are being built taller. Don’t be surprized by the dimensions of the unit …. prepare for the delivery as well. I’ve seen homeowners not being prepared for getting a new fridge INTO their house (including making a turn or going up steps, header blockages and door trims with narrow doorways.

4) Don’t buy a fridge based on cubic feet alone. So many times, it doesn’t tell the story of how food will be stored. I encourage my clients to bring their containers or must used items that they keep in their refrigerators … and test out models at showrooms by trying out the way door shelving is configured and how easy it is to see items in the back. Accessibility is really important. That’s why I always recommend counter-depth styles.

5) Don’t be afraid of stainless finishes … it’s really not that hard to maintain. The only newer finish that has come on the design scene recently is “Ice White” which is a type of white metallic color. Whirlpool introduced it mid 2012. We’ll see if it catches on.

6) Look for the best quality hinging possible, and consistent temperature control. Air purification is one of the best improvements in refrigeration. Look for it in lines like Subzero with features like a NASA designed filtration system that replenishes the air every 20 minutes while eliminating bacteria, odors, and microscopic contaminants. Or there is a less expensive Whirlpool fridge with a replaceable air filter that Whirlpool claims “lets air actively pass through the filter, helping neutralize odor and bacteria. It reduces odors 15 times better than baking soda. Replace filter every 6 months.”

I recently had a good laugh while listening to Brian Regan’s humorous sketch on “buying a refrigerator”.

He had a good point …. refrigerators keep things cold! Simplistic, but it’ll keep you from getting too crazy when shopping for your new fridge!

Best of luck.