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.

February Home Inspiration- Taking Design Risks

Taking Risks

The White Shaker Kitchen, a popular and timeless design style, however, it has become so popular that it has become static. When going with a white shaker, people tend to make more subtle design choices. This is normally because they are worried that if they make a choice that is more unique or different that it will go out of style in a few years and make their new kitchen feel dated. However, I like to tell clients that as long as they love it, it will never go out of style to them.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with a simple White Shaker Kitchen. It is classic, neutral, and will never go out of style. However, the design is all about the details. A design can be enhanced tremendously by making some minor, but bold design choices. For example, switching things up and doing some contrasting cabinetry can certainly spice up an otherwise monotonous kitchen. By thinking outside the box the world of kitchen design gets much more interesting. The possibilities are endless.

Photo Credit: https://thefreshexchange.com/a-simple-kitchen-update/

Contrasting Cabinets

By thinking outside the box, a homeowner can take an ordinary design and make it extraordinary! Contrasting cabinets is one of the easiest ways to add some flare to your kitchen. Some common ways to do this are to have a contrasting island or hood. Another way could be to have the wall cabinets and base cabinets different finishes.

This effect will bring some much needed diversity to any kitchen. This can also be done by simply changing the color of a painted door or by switching things up with a stained door to add some warmth and texture to the space. Either way, the space will pop with the added interest.

Photo Credit: https://www.instagram.com/p/BkdoBMLlK6u/

Interesting Backsplash

Backsplash is another area that holds serious potential. The classic 3 x 6 subway tile is a classic choice, but it has also become the safe choice! Even in the world of subway tile there are hundreds of different options that create a different look. From beveled subway tile to hand formed subway tile, the options are endless.

There are also other options out there that can spice things up a bit. One of the things missing from the average white shaker kitchen is texture. Texture can add so much visual interest to a design and break up some of the more monotonous finishes. Faux brick, for example, is a great way to bring some texture and color to a bland white kitchen. There are endless options out there for backsplash, including tile, metal, wood, stone, and more! So get creative!

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

Unconventional Countertops

Just like with back splash, there are many different options for countertops as well. Most commonly people tend to lean towards Granite and occasionally Formica, but thanks to the advances in technology there are so many different options. Quartz is now one of the most popular materials for countertops because of how durable and low-maintenance it is. Quartz has also advanced so much that it can now look similar to other less durable materials, such as marble.

In addition to the materials mentioned above, some other materials that can be used for a cooking surface include, concrete, butcher block, and stainless steel. Although these options are a bit unique that is exactly what will make a plain white kitchen stand out a bit. These options will add interest and further enhance the overall style that the homeowner is aiming for.

Photo Credit: https://onekindesign.com/2015/04/24/40-amazing-and-stylish-kitchens-with-concrete-countertops/

Ceiling Features

The ceiling is one of the most forgotten feature of any room. It is not often not even thought of as something that can be changed or designed. It is something that should always be thought of in terms of the design, but that does not necessarily mean that it always has to change. The best time to think about having a detail on the ceiling is when the space feels empty with out it. In a kitchen that has very little detail, it can turn it into something beautiful and interesting.

Ceiling details are also brilliant ways of adding texture to a space. The feature can be something that is simple and just enough to complete the look or it can be dramatic to make it a focal point of the room. For example, rustic beams on the ceiling is a rather simple look, but when paired with ship lap running perpendicular it makes a statement and adds more depth. These touches wrap up the look nicely and complete the design by adding a unique touch. Without adding some detail to the ceiling in a plain kitchen it looks somewhat unfinished.

Photo Credit: https://www.goodnewsarchitecture.com/2018/03/24/how-to-maximally-generate-kitchen-island-decoration-in-your-house/

Open Shelving

Last, but not least, is another way to add interest into an otherwise ordinary kitchen. Open shelving is a perfect way to break up wall cabinets or to get some storage into an otherwise difficult space. They can store dishes or can be a place to house a small kitchen garden. By placing shelving in the space means that you have thought more about the overall design and style of the space instead of just following the norms. Open shelving is both functional and beautiful.

There are different ways to incorporate open shelving into any space. Floating shelves are perfect for the person who wants a very polished, clean look. Shelves with brackets are ideal for a more organic, modern approach. As far as placement goes, they can be used in a corner where it is normally very difficult to reach or they can be used in place of a standard wall cabinet. To be very bold some people will even replace all of the wall cabinets with the open shelving. Either way, the kitchen will be far from boring.

Photo Credit: http://www.homebunch.com/florida-new-construction-family-home/

Lets face it, the White Shaker Kitchen is here to stay, but with these tips hopefully we can bring some fun twists to the tired classic! When designing your space, don’t be afraid to take some risks. They can be big or small, but as long as you love it you will never regret it; no matter how much time passes!