Mini Blog- Countertops

The options for countertops have grown exponentially in recent years with the help of technology and creativity. There is so much more than the laminate and granite of years past, including quartz, concrete, wood, solid surface, stainless steel, or even a combination, as well as, many more. Each option has its own benefits, as well as, its own disadvantages. The trick is finding the right option to suit the needs of the client and the design style. One option may work for one space, while another may not. In some cases, the client may want multiple countertop materials and the challenge is combining them in a way that looks purposeful and cohesive.

As with many other things in the design world, the options seem endless. The key is to steadily narrow down the options that are available. The easiest way to start is by looking at the budget for the project. This could narrow down the possibilities fairly quickly if the countertop budget is low. If the budget is larger then maybe the lower end options are ruled out. The next thing to consider is durability. How much is the space used? Does the countertop need to be durable? Lastly, the look of the countertops and how they will relate to the overall design of the space.

Laminate countertops are one of the most cost effective options because they are made of layers of plastic that have been bonded to particle board. This allows them to be made in a variety of colors and patterns. They are also more easily installed. The downside is that they are less durable and will have to be replaced more frequently. Granite is a natural stone, which means that it is porous and requires sealing. Poor maintenance of this stone will lead to staining and bacteria growth. This material is more durable than laminate because it is scratch and heat resistant, however it could chip or crack over time.

Quartz is different from granite because it is an engineered stone. It is made of 93% quartz composite and 7% binder, which makes it scratch resistant, stain resistant, and extremely durable. There is also a great variety of colors and finishes thanks to today’s technology. The downside is that they aren’t as heat resistant as granite and some of the other options and they tend to be more expensive. Concrete countertops are often formed on site or in a shop and are custom. This makes them just about as strong and as expensive as quartz, but they require the same maintenance that granite does to keep them free of staining. However, they will not chip or scratch.

Wood, or butcher block has always been a very popular choice when it comes to countertops. They are ideal for those who love to prepare food and bake. They can be sanded and refinished after years of wear, which makes them very eco-friendly and require less replacement. They do need to be sealed to avoid bacteria, and water damage. Stainless steel countertops are one of the most durable, and easy to keep clean, but unfortunately they are also one of the most expensive. They also create a sterile feeling in a space that is normally supposed to feel warm and inviting.

Last, but not least, would be solid surface. These countertops are about mid-range on the price spectrum. They are a very strong material that is seamless and non-porous. They also require much less maintenance than granite and concrete. However, they are not scratch and heat resistant like the quartz is, which could lead to more wear and tear over time.

There are still more options for countertops out there than the ones mentioned here. These just happen to be the ones that are most commonly used. Some other examples are tile, resin, marble, recycled glass, and even lava countertops. Just like with these options each one has their own benefits and weaknesses, which is why it is important to know the differences when specifying a countertop for a kitchen or bathroom application.

May Home Inspiration- Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning

It’s that time of year again! The weather is finally getting nicer here in Western New York, which means it is time to do the cleaning and organizing that was put off during the winter months! Winter tends to be the time when everyone goes into a hibernation-like state. Things tend to pile up when your stuck inside. And often, when the weather is less than desirable it can affect our motivation. Spring is the time most people awaken from their slumber and are ready to accomplish anything!

Spring cleaning your home is the perfect thing to do that will kick start the warmer months ahead. This means steadily going room by room and clearing out everything that isn’t useful or is cluttering up the space. After the harsh, cold months of winter it can also be therapeutic to open the windows for the first time that year and let in that much needed fresh air. I know that this is not necessarily fun for everyone, but try not to cram all of this into one weekend. Go step by step and try to spread out the tasks over a few weeks. It is more important to be thorough than it is to be fast. Spring cleaning will give your home that necessary cleansing so that you can focus on the beautiful weather and enjoying everything that summer has to offer!

Photo Credit: http://www.foundrentals.com/blog/2015/11/30/found-home/

General Tasks

First, go through every room in the home and do a general cleaning. This will allow you to get the more basic tasks out of the way so that you can focus on the specific room tasks. This will help keep the job from feeling less daunting. Begin at the entry and clean the things that tend to get forgotten. Work your way through the house systematically by starting each room at the top and working your way down.

Start by washing the walls and removing those cobwebs that we all know collect in the corner then move on to the lights and ceiling fans. By doing this all the dust and dirt will fall to the floor. This keeps you from having to redo the floors later. Next, clean light switches, heating vents, and door knobs before moving on to the floors and baseboards. Dust all baseboards and then sweep and wash the floors, including any carpets or area rugs. Do not underestimate what this will do for each space! Everything will look and feel so much better. Now the focus can shift to individual areas and their unique tasks.

Photo Credit: https://stylebyemilyhenderson.com/blog/portland-project-the-entry-staircase-reveal

Living Room

Once those general cleaning tasks are complete the focus can move to more area specific tasks. In a home each room has a unique purpose, therefore it only makes sense that each room would require something different in terms of cleaning and organizing! The living room is a high traffic area in any home. It is where everyone congregates and spends time together, whether its playing games, watching movies, or just enjoying each others company. That is what this space tends to need a bit more TLC than others.

Furniture in this space can certainly take a beating. Kids, pets, and everyday messes build up and things can get pushed off. This is the perfect time to take care of all of those things. Start with spot cleaning the couches and chairs then follow with the vacuum. Be sure to dust any hard surface that can collect dust. Also, wash any linens or blankets that might need it! Go through any magazines and other things that could use a good purge!

Photo Credit: https://www.mcgeeandco.com/products/jensen-coffee-table

Kitchen

The kitchen is ground zero for all of those other messes that occur in the home. Those stains and crumbs all originate in the kitchen. The kitchen also tends to be a dumping ground for all of the miscellaneous things that have no home. Mail gets left out, things don’t get put away, leftovers never get thrown out, and the mess just piles up. The kitchen tends to have many different places that can become disorganized quickly. One of those places includes the black hole we all know as the refrigerator. One of the first things that needs to be done in the kitchen is cleaning out the refrigerator. Throw out anything that has expired or donate what will never get used and wipe everything down thoroughly. Don’t stop there. Clean the outside of the refrigerator and all other appliances. Then pull everything out and clean underneath.

The next step is cleaning and organizing the pantry. This can very easily get unorganized when cooking and preparing meals. Have a method to the madness. Try to keep all similar products together and maximize the space as best you can. If you are feeling really ambitious, then place everything in clear containers and label them for a pristine pantry. Be sure to wipe everything down; inside and out. This includes the cabinets, shelving, and the back splash.

Photo Credit: http://www.rusticpassionbyallieblog.com/farmhousekitchens/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=pinterest&utm_campaign=tailwind_tribes&utm_content=tribes&utm_term=392074700_12917358_335567

Bedroom

The bedrooms are one of the easier rooms to clean. Most people are not in the bedroom unless they are sleeping or getting ready. Unless you tend to dump everything in the bedroom so it is “out of sight, out of mind”, then you shouldn’t have to do much to get this room feeling fresh and clean! The bed linens should be washed every few weeks so I would take the time to do that while you are doing the rest of your spring cleaning. While everything is being washed and dried, clean out the dresser, nightstand and under the bed.

Don’t be afraid to move things out of the way to get the nooks and hard to reach areas that you may miss when cleaning weekly/daily. Once that is complete it is time to tackle the most difficult part of the room; the closet. Go through everything that you own and if you do not wear it or it doesn’t fit then donate it! Take this time to complete other daunting tasks, such as flipping the mattress. Once that is complete the bed can be made and everything can be organized.

Photo Credit: http://jennysteffens.blogspot.com/2016/10/our-bedroom-tour-autumn-accents.html

Bathrooms

The room in the house that no one wants to clean, but has to. Between the moisture and everything else the bathroom is a breeding ground for soap scum, mold, water spots, and much more. The bathroom should be thoroughly cleaned at least once a week. The vanity top needs to be cleaned. The floor, shower, and toilet all have to be scrubbed. However, there are a few things that can be done less frequently.

A few of those things include wiping the inside and outside of the vanity cabinet with a wet cloth, cleaning the grout, clearing the shower and sink drains, and replacing the shower curtain (if you have a curtain). The bathroom closet or linen closet can also be organized. Try to get rid of anything that is just taking up space and is not being used. If you have any small samples or travel sized hotel toiletries that can be donated try to do that before you throw anything away, unless it has already been used (that’s just unsanitary).

Photo Credit: https://decorlogix.com/keep-your-bathroom-neat/

The best way to go about your spring cleaning is by making a list of the things that you wish to accomplish for each room or area of your home. Then make a general list of things that need to be done for most, if not every, room in the house. One of the things that usually needs to be done for the entire house is cleaning the windows inside and out. Or maybe some other things make it to your spring cleaning list, such as cleaning the garage or basement. No matter what is on your to do list, just take it slow and don’t rush. Good luck and happy cleaning!

December Home Inspiration- Emerging Trends

Emerging Trends

December is the time to reflect upon the past year and look forward to the next. This is a popular time among design experts and professionals to think about the new trends that will be coming in the new year. A new year means fresh ideas and new designs. Most trends tend to fade within a year or two, while some can re-emerge after years of being dormant. In any case, this next year will be no different in terms of emerging and fading trends.

2019 will filled with a much more calming, natural color pallet. Some things that will be emerging are more neutral wood tones, meaning that the age of the bright cherry cabinetry has come to an end, for now….. Oak is even making a comeback, but not in the way that you are thinking! As far as color goes, the predictions have been leaning towards the warmer tones of the color spectrum.

Photo Credit: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/66/d7/f6/66d7f63c88c69e7775b1a45ba71eafba.jpg

Neutral Wood Tones

White kitchens are at their peak of popularity, but they are slowly losing steam and while they will always be a classic some people are looking to break up all that bright, stark white. In the past this has been done by using contrasting countertops, backsplash, flooring, or wall color. This next year will welcome a growing trend of using neutral wood tones to bring some interest and texture into a space. This can be done by changing up the color of the cabinets, having some stand out and make a statement. In the photo to the right, the designer changed up the hood, sink base, and the floating shelves.

These wood tones are also gaining popularity on their own as well, with many people ditching the once popular cherry cabinetry in favor of something more natural and subtle. This color pallet is most likely stemming from the current interest in saving the environment, even though the wood stain that you chose will not help save the earth from global warming.

Photo Credit: https://www.instagram.com/p/BrfbJzMFiUR/

Warmer Color Pallet

The color pallet is also shifting slightly in terms of tone. The colors are now moving towards the warmer end of the spectrum. Even the more neutral gray that has taken center stage in more recent years is shifting from cooler grays to warmer grays. Most people are probably wondering how long that trend will last, and while it has shifted slightly it seems to be sticking around for a bit longer. This warm, neutral will pair nicely with the subtle wood tones for an accent.

There will also be other colors taking center stage this year. Hopefully we will find less white and gray and more of these incorporated in interiors. Navy blue has been on the rise for quite some time and it seems to be no different in the coming year. Now it is being seen more in kitchen design, which can be seen as being at its peak in popularity by including it in something that is as semi-permanent as cabinetry. Hunter green, cavern clay, and living coral are all predicted by various color experts to be very popular colors this year. All of them tying back to nature in some way.

Photo Credit: https://www.durasupreme.com/blog/ideas-creating-breakfast-beverage-baking-centers-your-kitchen#.XC4wC1xKhhF

Oak’s Comeback

All things old do in fact become new again! However, this time there is a twist. Whenever someone thinks about oak the first thing they picture is the builder grade oak cabinets that went into every home in the 90’s. These are not those cabinets. Not only has it made a comeback, it has also gotten a makeover! The oak we all know and hate has a orange hue that works with very few color schemes. The new and improved oak has a much more subtle look to it! This helps the character and texture of the wood to stand out more.

Oak is also a wood that has become very versatile because it has a very nice texture that is most commonly used in more rustic/farmhouse kitchens, but has been seen lately in the contemporary market because it brings some interest to the clean, linear look of that particular style. Painted oak has also gained popularity because it is normally more cost effective than maple and has a more distinct look to it.

Photo Credit: http://www.homebunch.com/transitional-custom-home-design/

Introducing Black

Black is becoming much more popular in interiors in a big way. It is being used with white for a dramatic contrast then paired with rustic, warm wood finishes in order to tone it down and make it feel more natural. This also reduces how dark it makes the space feel, which is often why so many fear its use in their spaces.

The best part about black is that there is no hue to it, just like white and gray, which makes it the perfect neutral. It can also be used many different ways in as much or as little as necessary. It can be used as the main color of the kitchen cabinetry or it can be used on the island as an accent. It can be used on the fixtures in the kitchen or bathroom to make them stand out. It can even be used as a decor accent in other areas of the home.

Photo Credit: https://honestlywtf.com/home/black-kitchens/

We have a lot to look forward to for the coming year! 2019 will be a year full of new and beautiful interior design. Colors are shifting to more warm and natural tones that mimic nature more. It is clear where our focus will be for the coming year. Aside from the aesthetics of design there will also be far more environmentally friendly design practices taking place as well.

Mini Blog- Kitchen Storage & Organization

Everyone wants their kitchen to be beautiful. After all, you don’t want to spend your hard earned money to create an ugly kitchen! However, in the journey to create this aesthetically pleasing space some homeowners forget about or sacrifice the functionality of their space.

A prime example of storage and organization in a kitchen would be the pantry. The pantry has many different forms now, including the freestanding pantry, built-in pantry, walk-in pantry, cabinet pantry, and the butler’s pantry, which is still called that even though the majority of us no longer have a butler in this day and age. Unfortunately, not all of us have the space for the gorgeous pantries above and some do not have room for a pantry at all! This is when we have to get creative with our storage solutions elsewhere!

In a kitchen with a limited amount of space for storage it is important to make the most of the space that you do have. This can be done by being creative with space that isn’t normally used, such as the wasted space underneath the cabinet. Or by making better use of one of the most difficult storage spaces in the kitchen; the corner. By using a corner drawer base you make the most out of that awkward corned by making it so much easier to access.

With all the advancements that we have today it is no wonder that our kitchen’s would follow suit. There are so many different things that have been added to kitchen design in order to help make things more user friendly and functional. Fillers and dead space can now be turned into spice pullouts in order to make that space usable. There are now inserts for drawers to better organize china and flatware, to get electronic devices off of the counter, to organize plastic containers, and to organize pots and pans.  

In terms of kitchen storage and organization we have come a long way. What are some of your favorite ideas? Let us know!