Monday, October 24, 2016

Battle of the Backsplashes: Glass Mosaics vs. Natural Stone

by Sam Ferris
Read about the pros and cons — and see great examples —

of these two popular kitchen backsplash materials

One of the many great kitchen debates involves backsplashes. Just as they do when considering cabinets, countertops, paint colors and flooring, homeowners care about factors such as cost, maintenance and resale value when they’re shopping for a new design. Glass mosaics and natural stones — such as travertine, marble, soapstone, granite and quartz — are two options that get the lion’s share of attention, so we decided to lay the pros and cons on the table. Use this head-to-head showdown to choose the winner for your kitchen space.

The Case for Glass Mosaics

1. They offer a high-end look. Glass mosaics sure know how to dazzle. They’re much more polished than natural stone, which is undoubtedly why they often feel more luxurious. Certain color combinations and shapes can make an artistic statement, while iridescent and shiny finishes can make neutral tones feel as bold as primary colors.

2. They’re a hot commodity right now. Glass mosaics are trending. Whether it’s because of how sharp they look or because they’re a fresh alternative to traditional choices such as natural stone and ceramic is up for debate, but there’s no denying their selling power. That’s good news if you’re sprucing up your kitchen for resale. If you’re planning to list your home in the near future, a glass backsplash can certainly seal the deal.

3. They’re relatively easy to clean. Grout joints aside, the smooth surface of glass mosaics translates to simple cleaning. It’s a cinch to wipe down, and you don’t have to be as selective with cleaning products as you do with natural stone. However, you can run into higher maintenance with more intricate styles that have excess nooks and crannies or mixed materials such as stone and metal.

The Case Against Glass Mosaics 

1. They can be costly. You might have to crack open the piggy bank when purchasing a glass mosaic. In general, they cost more than natural stone backsplashes. Quality glass mosaics rarely cost less than $10 per square foot. Most cost between $20 and $30 per square foot, with high-end options topping $50 per square foot. These are no small investments, even for kitchens with less ground to cover.

2. They can quickly go out of style. Long-term resale value is questionable when it comes to glass mosaics. Colors and patterns that are in style now probably won’t be in five or 10 years, not to mention that glass mosaics themselves may not be either. Take into account your long-term plans. If you’re not living in your forever home right now, you may want to play it safe with natural stone.

3. They’re seldom unique. Some people would label glass mosaics as cookie-cutter. Yes, some designs are one of a kind — particularly those that are crafted by hand or manufactured with avant-garde techniques. Most styles are mass produced, however, which eliminates the novelty factor. They aren’t like natural stone, which is an innately unique product. On the plus side, with so many glass mosaic styles available, you may just stumble upon one that not many homeowners have.

The Case for Natural Stone

1. It has universal appeal. If you’re remodeling with future resale in mind, a natural stone backsplash should be at the top of your list. Not only are travertine and marble — to name two — timeless, but they’re also well-liked, which gives them top-notch staying power. They will appeal to a large buying audience, whether you’re selling in five, 10 or 15 years.

2. No two stone backsplashes are the same. The beauty of natural stone is that it won’t ever look exactly like your neighbor’s. Variation is an inherent property of stone, even within two pieces of the same color. All of the veins and swirls will belong uniquely to your kitchen. If you’re looking for something to call your own, go with natural stone.

3. It doesn’t cost a fortune. Natural stone is budget-friendly. Travertine, for example,comes in many forms (subway tile, 4 by 4, mosaic), all relatively affordable. 

The Case Against Natural Stone

1. It’s harder to clean. This isn’t to say stone is necessarily hard to clean. It just requires a little more elbow grease than a glass mosaic does. The pits and grooves make it more challenging to wipe down, especially because dirt and scum can get caught in between.

You also have to be selective with your cleaning products. Natural stone can discolor when exposed to certain chemicals. Warm water or a special stone cleaner will usually do the trick, but always check manufacturer guidelines before you bust out your cleaning supplies.

2. It isn’t water- or stain-friendly. Stones are naturally porous. They tend to absorb stains and water, both of which run rampant in kitchens. It’s important to seal your stone every couple of years to protect against grease and grime. Even then, some stains will be hard to remove. Some homeowners just don’t have the time or patience for this added maintenance. Devoted cooks might want a backsplash that’s better equipped against staining.

3. It can have too much variation. Natural stone is unpredictable. There’s a good chance your backsplash installation will look a tad different from the sample piece you saw at your local retailer. Variation usually isn’t a problem, and most homeowners choose natural stone for a diversified look. But sometimes you’ll notice colors and patterns that you don’t really care for — and you have to either live with them or start from scratch.

At Cabinet-S-Top, we welcome the opportunity to be your professional and help you create a stylish and beautiful kitchen you can enjoy everyday.  Give us a call at 330.239.3630 or visit our showroom located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256 ~

Monday, October 10, 2016

Kitchen Confidential: 11 Ways to Design With Black

 by Sam Ferris

From baseboards to countertops, go 
bold by adding black finishes to your kitchen

Black finishes are no stranger to kitchens, but they’re definitely trending right now. Homeowners are rolling out inky hues on just about every surface, from window trims and baseboards to cabinets and countertops. Whether you want to play it safe with decorative pieces or go all-in with pitch-black flooring, you too can get a taste of the dark side. Here are 11 ideas to get you started.

1. Light fixtures. We all know lighting plays a key role in just about every kitchen, but so can the color of your light fixtures. A spherical chandelier with a wrought iron finish may turn out to be both the centerpiece of your dinette area and your entire kitchen, as can a trio of black pendant lights above an island. The traditional Austin, Texas, kitchen seen here combines both in classic fashion.

2. Accent pieces. If you’re nervous about going black, small decor pieces can make the plunge a lot less intimidating. They’re easy and inexpensive to swap out and won’t completely alter your kitchen’s aesthetic. Lamp shades, vases, antique timepieces, picture frames, artwork and place settings are just some of the ways to throw a little chic black into the mix.

3. Furniture. Even though furniture involves more commitment than decor does, it’s still a relatively safe way to venture over to the dark side. While larger furniture pieces are by no means inexpensive, it certainly costs less to change out black furniture than to change out countertops, backsplashes and cabinets. Less costly pieces include dining chairs and bar stools. If you’re more adventurous and willing to spend a bit, try an all-black dining table.

4. Hardware. Even the tiniest of kitchen accessories can don a black finish. Cabinet hardware is no exception. There’s more than one finish to choose from, including iron, nickel and oil-rubbed bronze. Iron hardware is perfect for traditional-, Spanish- or Mediterranean-style kitchens, as is oil-rubbed bronze, which brings a bit of warmth to the table. Sleek black nickel hardware adds a polished touch to contemporary and modern designs. Opt for large pulls to show off more black.

5. The island. Say what you want about black cabinetry, but there are few better ways to get a look that’s as smart and sophisticated. Painted black island cabinetry can fulfill so many different design desires. It can wow in contemporary kitchens that have a clean white palette or add a little bit of charm to farmhouse and French country designs. Let your black island stand alone as an accent piece or paint another one of your cabinets to match it.

Consider adding a touch of gold to dark cabinets with a vintage finish. It’s one way to go black but still incorporate some color and warmth into your design.

6. Backsplashes. If you’ve ever shopped for a backsplash, you can imagine all of the creative black designs available. These include classic options like subway tile, and various materials, such as ceramic, porcelain, glass and even natural stone.

A black backsplash doesn’t have to be loud. If you’re not a fan of solid black mosaic or ceramic tile, choose a style that blends black with one or more other colors for a softer look. This Shabby Chic-style kitchen’s mosaic backsplash coordinates with the solid black countertop but also has lighter colors in it.

7. Countertops. If you think black cabinets and backsplashes are too bold, your counters are a good middle-of-the-road option. Black countertops can tie together a crisp black-and-white color scheme, and you can find them in a variety of materials, including granite, quartz and soapstone.

If you want a subtler way to introduce black into your countertops, shop around for a style that has movement and veining. You can also mix colors and styles. This contemporary kitchen features dark perimeter countertops but maintains a light and airy design with a white island countertop.

8. The range hood. Black appliances are totally out of style, right? Not quite. Metallic hoods are one of 2016’s hottest kitchen trends, and this includes black metal finishes. Whether it’s made of stainless steel, painted wood or metal, a black range hood can hold its own in a kitchen full of high-end finishes.

9. Window trim. This option comes with a fair share of flair. Outlining your windows with a deep black hue, or using black on the baseboards or crown molding, creates depth and dimension and is undoubtedly a statement-making design choice. Start with one of your windows and see how it transforms your kitchen.

10. Cabinets and shelves.Cabinets and shelves aren’t just for storage and display; they can be accent pieces too. This Scandinavian kitchen features open shelving with a painted black interior, which accentuates the shape of the island. If you have floating shelves, you might like the contrast of black shelves against a light wall or backsplash.

Have open or floating shelves? Squeeze a little bit of black into your kitchen by choosing dark shelf supports or corbels. They deliver a lot of visual impact against a white backdrop.

11. Flooring. It’s a decision many homeowners wouldn’t dare to make, but installing a black floor can be well worth it. A dark tile floor can ground your kitchen design and create a little drama. Pieces with lighter finishes will also appear bigger, better and bolder against a rich black backdrop.

Maintenance is the other important consideration aside from aesthetics. Dust and dirt tend to show more on darker surfaces, so stay away if you want to do less upkeep.

You can tone a black hardwood floor down a notch by adding texture via grains and knots. Grains may even bring in a bit of white to soften the color of your floor.

Love black hues in the kitchen?  At Cabinet-S-Top, we can help you create with just a splash of color or help you go bold to make a statement.  To get started, stop by our showroom located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256 ~ 330.239.3630 ~

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

10 Statement-Making Mirror Styles for the Bath

by Laura Gaskill

Framed in carved wood, warm brass or Venetian detailing,these bathroom mirrors are lovely to wake up to

Why settle for a standard-issue mirror when the alternatives are so beautiful? Swapping out a plain wall mirror or medicine cabinet in favor of something with more presence is a budget-friendly way to make over the bathroom or powder room without investing in a full remodel. From chunky and rustic to intricate and refined, these 10 mirrors can make your bathroom the fairest of all.

1. Carved wood. An uncommon carved wood mirror found at an antiques shop makes a stunning focal point in this bathroom. Of course, yours doesn’t need to be antique to make an impact — any mirror with a substantial carved wood frame will do wonders to warm up the bath. As long as the room has proper ventilation, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about steam damaging a wooden mirror frame, but if you’re concerned (or if it’s a pricey antique), stick with the powder room, where there’s less moisture.

Tip: If your mirror is quite wide, try hanging a pendant or a pair of pendants from the ceiling instead of the usual wall sconces to save space. Clear or tinted glass (rather than an opaque fixture) is best if it will hang in front of the mirror.

2. Driftwood. Organic, beachy and statement-making, a great big driftwood mirror is sure to become the focal point of the room. Look for one that is about three-quarters as wide as the vanity, with a nice thick frame. It’s best if it looks a bit wild.

3. Venetian. Elegant and refined, a Venetian mirror makes an especially lovely choice for a small bathroom, where a mirror with an oversize frame may overwhelm the space. And remember, a bit of contrast is a good thing — pairing the curving shape of a Venetian mirror with crisp, modern fixtures creates a welcome balance.

4. Bright brass. Bright, warm metal finishes like gold and brass look fresh and modern in a slim-framed mirror like the one shown here. Combine a brass mirror with a concrete sink and a low-profile faucet in black or brass for an of-the-moment look that also has staying power.

5. Antique brass. Less trendy than bright brass, mirrors with an antique brass finish are warm and timeless yet still current. Instead of going matchy-matchy, consider mixing things up with black fixtures, such as the oil-rubbed bronze faucets shown here.

6. Tilted. Metal-framed tilted mirrors that look as though they could have been pulled from an old-time apothecary are satisfyingly simple. Work them into a traditional, modern or industrial look — this unfussy style goes with just about anything. 

7. Sunburst. Cheerful and shiny, a sunburst mirror would make a fun choice for a powder room. Depending on the style of sunburst you choose, this look can read midcentury (like the one shown here), elegantly Art Deco or traditional-with-a-twist.

8. Nailhead. A shapely mirror frame accented with nailhead trim is an undeniably glamorous choice for the bathroom. Select a frame that really fills the space above the vanity (but does not extend beyond the edges) for a bold look.
9. Nautically inspired. Simple round mirrors hung from rope bring to mind a ship’s portholes. A nice choice for a crisp, modern space or any home near the sea, these round mirrors look equally smart as a single or in a pair above a double sink.

10. Mismatched cluster. Want a creative, economical way to fill up a large wall space over a double-width vanity? Try hanging a collection of small mirrors as you might hang a salon-style art wall. Aim for a mix of frame shapes and finishes for an eclectic look, and fill in any awkward gaps with tiny mirrors.

When your ready to remodel your bathroom, Cabinet-S-Top's designer can guide you to create the space you envision.  Located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH 44256 ~ 330.239.3630 ~

Monday, September 26, 2016

Kitchen Confidential: Walk-In Pantries vs. Cabinet Pantries

by Sam Ferris

We explore the pros and cons of
these popular kitchen storage options

It’s only natural to debate whether to go with a walk-in or cabinet pantry when you’re building a new home or redesigning your existing kitchen. Some homeowners want a roomy nook with wall-to-wall shelves and customized inserts, while others are satisfied with just a few shelves and pullouts tucked inside a kitchen cabinet. Here are the pros and cons of both styles.

Walk-In Pantries

Pro: They have more storage capacity.

Walk-in pantries are a home chef’s best friend. They take the cake when it comes to sheer volume of storage space. With multiple walls of floor-to-ceiling shelves, they’re big enough to store dozens of ingredients, cookbooks, snacks, pots, pans, medium to large cooking appliances and more.

Con: Storage is more spread out.

Bigger isn’t always better, especially when you’re in the mood to whip up a quick dinner. It may take a few extra minutes to gather your ingredients in a large walk-in pantry. You may have trouble remembering where you put your sugar and flour. Walk-in pantries are also some distance away from appliances and prep space, which can reduce efficiency when you’re cooking. Some homeowners prefer the convenience of having ingredients on hand in their kitchen.

Pro: They can be better organized.

Cabinet pantries aren’t inefficient by any means, but walk-in pantries let you get a little more creative with your organization techniques. You can sort your items by row or column, by food group and so on. Consider dedicating a column of shelves to nonrefrigerated fruits and veggies or your most-used oils and spices. You may even have room to house your baking sheets with built-in tray dividers.

Con: They can require more upkeep.

Unfortunately, a highly organized pantry comes at a price. You know the drill: More space plus more shelves equals more to keep clean and tidy. It takes time and effort to dust off dirty surfaces and declutter shelves. If you’re looking to cut back on your weekly to-do list, you may prefer a cabinet pantry with less storage and less upkeep.

Pro: They can store bigger appliances with ease.

Cabinet pantries can house toasters, coffee makers and mixers too, but it’s usually at the expense of valuable storage space. Walk-in pantries can comfortably fit larger appliances like microwaves, slow cookers, juicers and deep fryers, freeing up counter space and ensuring they’re ready to grab when you need them. Some pantries may even have enough space for a second refrigerator.

Con: They take up a lot of space.

A major downside to walk-in pantries is that they require a lot of space to be functional and efficient. If you’re designing a new kitchen or remodeling an existing one, you’ll have to shrink your kitchen’s footprint to accommodate a walk-in pantry. This can be an issue for homeowners who are short on space to begin with and want to maximize the size of their kitchen.

Cabinet Pantries

Pro: Storage space is more centralized.

Whereas walk-in pantries feature several walls of shelves, cabinet pantries confine all of your snacks, ingredients and small appliances to a single space. You don’t have to spend time searching through several walls of shelves to find what you need. Less time looking means more time cooking.

Con: They have limited storage space. 

A single cabinet devoted to pantry storage won’t be enough for some homeowners, especially avid cooks. While you can fit larger appliances inside a cabinet pantry, they use a good chunk of the limited space. One way to get an excellent storage capacity with cabinet pantries is to insert more than one into your kitchen, but that will eat up more counter space.

Pro: Storage is more accessible.

Having your pantry smack dab in the middle of your kitchen will cut down on the time you spend walking to and from your pantry. Placing it next to your refrigerator and across from your range will create hyperefficient workstations.

Inside features can also increase your cabinet pantry’s accessibility. Pullout drawers, for instance, allow you to see every snack and ingredient at once, which reduces the amount of time you’ll spend rummaging. They’re easy on your back too.

Con: They’re an added cabinet expense.

If you’ve ever tackled a full kitchen renovation, you’re aware that cabinets aren’t cheap. Cabinet pantries cost significantly more than standard base or wall cabinets, primarily due to their height and any custom features they may include (such as pullout drawers and spice racks).

Pro: They don’t take up a lot of space.

Cabinet pantries are on the smaller side compared with walk-in pantries, which require a large footprint. Most measure 24 to 36 inches wide. They’re an efficient storage solution for small or medium-size kitchens, providing a little extra shelf and drawer space without giving up too much in return.

Con: They take up counter space.

You’ll definitely lose some counter space, no matter how small your cabinet pantry may be. If you’re designating multiple cabinets as pantry storage, be prepared to give up a significant amount of prep space. Either way, it’s important to navigate the delicate balance of storage and counter space with due diligence. This loss is felt less in larger kitchens but can impact the way a smaller kitchen functions. Consider the size of your kitchen and the way you cook when deciding.

Need help with your kitchen remodeling project?  We can design and configure the best layout for your kitchen.  Stop by Cabinet-S-Top located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256 ~ 330.239.3630 ~

Monday, September 19, 2016

Design Tips to Energize Your Bathroom

by Yanic Simard

Incorporate some — or all — of these ideas to keep your space from feeling too clinical and boring

Modern bathroom design is often all about going minimalist with clean finishes for a spa-like feel. But sometimes the look ends up feeling clinical. To make sure your space feels just as inviting as the rest of your home, try some of my favorite bathroom design tips to create a sense of warmth and personality while achieving spot-on style.

1. Pattern

Bathrooms often are devoid of interesting patterns, which is a shame, because energetic patterns can add life to any room. Consider adding a patterned drapery panel or playful towels, or simply hang a colorful print (or wallpaper sample) in a frame as artwork. These low-commitment ideas allow you to keep a classic color scheme for the fixed elements while dabbling in color trends as the mood strikes.

A horizontally striped shower curtain is a foolproof way to add some pattern and excitement in a bathroom of any size, style or budget. Try a gray-and-white stripe to match any palette …

… or navy and white to capture a timeless nautical spirit.
2. Tile Baseboard

Accent tiles aren’t only for the shower. Adding an interesting “baseboard” of charming tile helps keep water from splashing on the bare walls (from the occasional spill or leak) and adds a touch of visual interest in a quirky, unexpected place. Plus, it’s a great way to introduce a touch of pattern in a low-maintenance and moisture-proof way.
3. Anchor With Color

Having lighter colors at the eyeline will help a bathroom feel clean and airy, but try balancing them with a deep color lower to the ground (such as below a chair rail, as in this photo). This adds a sense of richness that helps keep the space from feeling too stark, without making it overwhelmingly dark. Plus, it beautifully sets off classic white fixtures.

If your bathroom has a large amount of wall space eaten up by tile, windows or mirror, try a dark color on the remaining plain walls. This helps the more interesting features to advance and the plain walls to recede, for a more dynamic look and lots of rich character.
4. Divider Screen

Screening out the toilet puts the visual emphasis on areas like a beautiful vanity, but dividing the space can cause visual shrinkage. Try an airy divider screen to divert the eye without completely closing in the walls. You can have a lattice-like screen installed (painted to match the door frames and baseboards) or use a free-standing room screen to achieve a similar effect.

5. Off-White

A white bathroom doesn’t have to be strictly stark white. Try mixing in some creamy off-white in elements like wallpaper, towels or small accessories, to make white porcelain look white while softening the look of the overall palette with less clinical, more lived-in tones.

6. Detailed Mirror

A plain slab mirror can be beautifully functional in a modern bathroom, but if you’re looking to add some personality, a statement mirror frame is a great place to start. Choose one that’s thick or interesting, or make a fun one yourself by painting or adding gold leaf to a plain frame to add drama.
7. Hanging Mirror

Go a step more dramatic with your mirror and hang one with a chunky strap from an equally substantial hook. You can also layer this look by hanging a bold frame at eye level over a flat rectangular mirror slab as a quick upgrade to an existing mirror. Have nowhere to attach the frame because a tile or glass is in the way? Ask your contractor if a mirror or frame could be hung from your ceiling instead.
8. Étagère

A free-standing open shelving unit adds essential storage and some personality for a more lived-in look than built-in shelves (which some people find have a drier vibe, but ultimately it all comes down to preference). Refer to my bathroom styling guide for tips on how to keep open shelves arranged attractively.

9. Natural Materials

Bathrooms usually feature a lot of crisp materials that, while waterproof, are sometimes a little visually cold. Natural materials reintroduce some warmth and a sense of human touch, so look for places to add wood, organically shaped stone or woven baskets.

Animal-inspired prints also bring in a sense of life, as do shades of natural green and blackened bronze.

Tip: Towels with a fringe add a sense of personality and fit well with the traditional-meets-modern elements of a wood vanity.

10. Vessel Sink

Notice how many spaces in this article have an eye-catching vessel sink to make the space feel more enticing. Switching away from the typical porcelain makes an evocative statement. Consider natural materials and imperfect shapes, like a carved wood, stone or blown-glass sink.

If you do prefer the look of crisp white porcelain, consider a vessel sink with a tall faucet tucked behind it, especially in a finish like bronze or brass.

Also consider a trendy yet classic farmhouse-style sink, with a raised back to frame a faucet or two. This eclectic look has a homey yet sophisticated appeal.
11. Tile

Want to get really creative? For a unique bathroom look with plenty of personality, mix different-color tiles together to create a mosaic design on an accent wall, even incorporating mirror elements. This takes some planning and usually costs extra to have installed, but you can achieve a dramatic effect from simple tiles that cost just a few dollars a square foot and skip the pricey materials like marble.

Try this especially with plain porcelain subway tiles, throwing in a few leftover or retired sample tiles scooped up at a showroom at a bargain price to add personality and a look unique to you.
12. Hardware

Just as in the kitchen, cabinet hardware often goes overlooked as a detail worth upgrading. Fun or quirky knobs (especially in a bathroom with only a few drawers or doors) add an interesting personal detail that you can always change inexpensively down the road.

If you don’t love your playful knobs in a few years, you can always move them to a child’s room or resell them, and put back the default knobs, or treat yourself to new ones.

 13. Dramatic Ceiling

If you can’t find the right spot to add drama, try looking up. A single roll of wallpaper is often enough to make over a bathroom ceiling, and since bathrooms are often taller than they are wide, adding a little interest overhead will only help make the room feel intimate and more well-proportioned.

14. Dimmer

Finally, capping your look with a dimmer system gives you the option to switch between bright, intense lighting when you need to start your day with a wake-up call (and for cleaning day), and more relaxed lighting as you unwind in the evening.

Ready to get started remodeling your bathroom?  Stop by Cabinet-S-Top's designer showroom to get started.  Located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH 44256 ~ 330.239.3630 ~