Friday, December 2, 2016

Kitchen Confidential: Painted vs. Stained Cabinets

by Sam Ferris
See the pros and cons of these two popular cabinet finishes

Kitchen cabinets are largely about the finish. Whether you’re buying cabinets for the first time or you’re a seasoned kitchen remodeler, it probably didn’t take you long to realize that stain and paint are two totally different slices of pie. Not sure which one you prefer? Here’s the scoop on the perks and pitfalls of both finishes.

Painted Cabinets

Pro: Paint offers a clean aesthetic. 

Not all roads lead to a crisp kitchen design, but painted cabinetry is one that does. The classic all-white kitchen, for example, wouldn’t be what it is without gleaming white cabinets. However, all paint colors — whites and creams to grays and blues — bring a sleek, clean finish to the table. Paint is perfect for homeowners who aren’t a fan of the character marks common to stained wood cabinets and instead prefer a smooth, flawless finish.


Pro: Paint allows you to get more colorful. 

If you’re thinking of tranquil teal, submarine yellow or lipstick red as cabinet colors, paint is your best bet. Paint sticks to the surface of wood, so it doesn’t get lost in the mix of grains and knots the way a stain does. As a result, paint showcases whichever hue you select and gives you more opportunity to customize the look of your kitchen.


Pro: Paint applies better to MDF.

Choosing medium-density fiberboard (think particle or furniture board) is an effective way to cut cabinet costs. The material also takes paint well. Whether it’s a gray, white or cream color, it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between these materials and real wood when they’re painted.

Con: Paint hides character features. 

Paint is thicker than stain, so it doesn’t get absorbed by wood the way stain does. If you want to see grains and knots in plain sight, you probably shouldn’t go with painted cabinets. Though you’ll still see the grain imprints in woods like oak and hickory, they’ll mostly be hidden behind whichever coat of paint you choose. Some homeowners may see this characteristic as a plus (those who want clean and modern cabinetry, for instance). But those who are fond of wood’s natural beauty will chalk this down as a negative.

Con: Paint tends to cost more.

Painted cabinets aren’t exactly budget-friendly. They can be, but if you’re comparing them with stained cabinets, you’ll find that they often carry a steeper price tag. How much higher? The answer ultimately depends on who’s making the cabinets and where you’re buying them from, but typically they cost about 10 to 15 percent more. That’s hundreds or thousands of extra dollars you’re forking over, depending on the size of your kitchen.


Con: Paint is harder to touch up. 

This one may stir up a bit of debate among designers and homeowners. Paint touch-ups can be tricky. For one thing, you may not always know the exact color of your cabinet. If you’re buying semicustom or prefabricated cabinets, paint companies like Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore may not have an exact match. Cabinetmakers and manufacturers may also apply paints by spraying, a method that looks smoother but is hard to replicate with a touch-up kit. Brushed finishes are better for hiding touch-ups.


Stained Cabinets

Pro: Stain showcases more wood features. 

Stain strikes a good balance between color and texture. This is a definitive plus for many homeowners. Unlike paint, stain doesn’t steal the spotlight from your wood’s natural character. Since it’s thinner than paint, it seeps into the surface, which can enhance the natural beauty of your wood. You’ll definitely be able to admire the wood’s distinctive features.

Pro: Stain is easier to touch up. 

Touch-up markers for stains are easier to find, and even if there isn’t an exact match, there’s likely a color out there that closely resembles your stain. Touch-ups also tend to blend better on stained cabinets, especially ones with a lot of grain.


Pro: Stain usually costs less.

Cost ultimately hinges on several factors, like kitchen size, cabinet construction, manufacturer and so forth. But stain tends to keep costs on the lower side, a huge benefit if you’re flipping a house, remodeling a rental unit or simply don’t want to spend a fortune on kitchen cabinets. It generally costs less than paint, though customized options will be more expensive.

Con: Stain doesn’t look as good on MDF. 

Medium-density fiberboard can offer huge savings on cabinets, but it simply doesn’t take stain as well as it takes paint. Whereas paint rarely looks different on MDF exteriors, stains do. It isn’t as authentic of a look as, say, the oak cabinetry pictured here. You’ll have to seek other ways to lower your cabinet cost if you’re set on stained cabinetry.

Con: Stain shows nearly all of wood’s blemishes.

Some say blemishes; others say character. Again, some homeowners see this as nothing but a good thing. On the flip side, many don’t want to see wood’s imperfections, such as uneven grain distributions and color inconsistencies. Stains take a back seat to the wood they’re applied to, which allows every distinct feature to show — for better or worse.

Con: Dark stains and paints don’t hide dust well.

This is a negative for both dark stains and dark paints. While lighter cabinets can chip and stain more easily, they do a good job at hiding dust. Darker stains and paints, not so much. Dust particles stand out more on dark cabinet surfaces, which can require more upkeep.

Stop by Cabinet-S-Top's showroom located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH and meet with one of our award winning designers to help you make the right selection of cabinets for your home.  330.239.3630 ~ www.cabinet-s-top.com



Thursday, November 17, 2016

Tricks to Hide Light Switches, Outlets and Toilet Roll Holders

by Yanic Simard

Embrace camouflage and other design moves
to make these eyesores virtually disappear


Electrical outlets, light switches and toilet paper roll holders are hard to avoid. Often building codes dictate where these can be placed, which can sully otherwise beautiful backsplashes and other features in kitchens and bathrooms. But all hope isn’t lost. If you prefer to preserve the clean lines of a beautiful backsplash, try some of these methods for keeping these eyesores from sticking out.

In Kitchens

Undercabinet mounting. If you’re undertaking a renovation or a new home build, you can often achieve a clean, contemporary look, such as the uncluttered backsplash shown here, with a little thoughtful positioning.

It may seem as if this kitchen has no handy outlets for modern appliances, but don’t let this point of view fool you. If you look carefully you’ll notice that the outlets and switches have been tucked into the underside of the shelf rather than in the walls. They’re easy to reach when needed but out of sight when not in use.



Similarly, the opposite wall of the same compact kitchen includes some hidden essentials built into the base of the upper cabinetry. In this case, a small amount of cabinet space was stolen to hold electrical work, which allowed space for a flush undercabinet LED strip to brighten the kitchen — a win-win.

You can create a similar effect with most stock cabinets by adding a custom built box at the bottom for electrical and using an extra-long door front to cover both the cabinet and the add-on to achieve a flush look.

Vessels and other decor. If renovation isn’t on the table, you cans still effectively hide outlets. Often all you need is one large storage vessel or attractive vase to hide your outlet when not in use.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

15 Design-Friendly Places to Hide the Cat Litter Box

by Julie Sheer

Built-in solutions include putting it in a cabinet,
under the stairs, behind a wall and inside a window seat

Finding a place for the cat’s litter box is part of cohabitating with a feline friend, but it doesn’t have to be done at the expense of good design.

Keeping the box out in the open makes using the toilet easy for kitty but is less than ideal for everyone else in the house. But is it a good idea to conceal a cat’s box in a cabinet or closet? Opinions vary.

Cats like a litter box in a quiet spot with an escape route — where they can see people or other animals and not feel trapped, according to the ASPCAJackson Galaxy, author and host of Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell, on the other hand, says in the Litter Box 101 section of his website that the cat box must be in “socially important” areas of the home — in other words, right where you can see it, not hidden away.

Experts may disagree on the best place to locate the litter box, but one thing most agree on is that it must be in a spot that can be easily accessed by the cat to use and humans to clean. Not keeping a litter box clean is asking for trouble — including having your furniture used as a toilet.

Here’s a look at how some designers and homeowners have worked litter boxes into their decor.

Inside a Cabinet

1. 
A standard magnetic pet door flap is inset in the handsome panel of a litter box cabinet in this laundry room of a Springfield, Missouri, home. Designer Nathan Taylor of Obelisk Home notes that the porcelain tile floor of the laundry room continues into the litter box area.There’s no external ventilation, but Taylor says the “air mass of the double cabinet provides enough air.”

On the other side of the cabinet is the garage. A small door on that side of the cabinet allows owners easy access to the litter box to clean it from inside the garage.

For homeowners interested in taking on a project like this, Taylor says it could be done in an existing cabinet, similar to installing a cat door in a regular door. “It may require some interior support to attach the back of the cat door,” he says.

2. In this laundry room in Houston, designers at Brickmoon Design created a template that their trim carpenter followed to cut a cat shape on the cabinet door leading to the litter box.

3. The custom-built wall unit in this mudroom in Houston includes a cubby for the cat box. Designer Peggy Hull of Creative Touch Interiors says the cabinet was built based on the size of the homeowner’s litter box.

“The cabinet door was built to allow the cat to go into the ‘mouse hole’ to use the box and then come back out again,” says Hull, who adds that the opening itself allows for ventilation. She says they liked the clean look of the cabinet so decided not to put a knob on it.



4. This photo and the next two show a great cabinet solution for keeping dogs out of the cat’s litter box. The designers at Mosby Building Arts modified a pet-friendly laundry room to keep the family dogs from getting into cat Bubba’s box.

Carpenter Steve Crider cut away the bottom portion of the right cabinet door, which serves as the entryway for Bubba, says Toby Weiss of Mosby. The floor of the cabinet was removed and a sliding tray that holds the litter box was installed on the left side. “After the pieces were in place, Crider brought in Bubba the cat to test for heights and access. It was a success!”

The cat’s private bathroom is easily accessed for cleaning and litter replacement, and there’s extra room for supplies.






The laundry room with hidden cat bathroom also serves as a home office, pantry and pet-feeding area. Weiss says experienced carpenters could do their own version, which is definitely a step above a standard pet flap through the door. In this case, Weiss says, “this was the only solution that gives Bubba full access and privacy, and keeps the dogs from dining out afterward!”

In a Drawer

5. The door in this Wilmington, North Carolina, laundry room was custom-made for the cat. There’s an entry hole in front, and the cabinet pulls open for cleaning the box. A back door nearby helps with ventilation, designer Alice Evans of Dynamic Kitchen and Interiors says. The next photo shows the door in the front of the drawer.

This photo shows the front of the laundry room cabinet where the cat enters.


6. Here’s another drawer that accesses a litter box through a mouse-hole-shaped entry. This one’s in the mudroom of a custom home in Texas.
Behind a Wall

7. 
This attractive accessway to a litter box was incorporated into the whole-house remodel of a brick Colonial in Lincoln, Massachusetts. Molding above the baseboard frames the entryway through which the cat accesses a tunnel to the basement, where the litter box is.

This keeps the homeowners from having to leave the basement door (to the right) open. Keep in mind when taking on a project like this that it’s probably best done by a carpenter or skilled handyman, because cutting through a wall is serious business and requires the right tools and skills.

8. Installing a cat potty area in the bathroom kind of makes sense. This version was done while the bathroom was being renovated in an Osterville, Massachusetts, home. The concealed litter box can be easily removed by reaching inside, designer Amy Britton of Artisan Kitchens says.

The bottom and sides of the enclosure are lined with galvanized sheet metal with sealed seams to prevent “accidents” from soaking into the sheetrock. Ductwork inside connects to a standard ceiling fan, which can be flipped on to remove kitty odors.




Under Stairs

9. 
Here’s a clever through-the-wall design (this photo and the next two) that keeps the litter box and food bowls out of sight behind a dining room wall. During their Paris apartment’s renovation, the architect-designers of A+B Kasha Designs discovered their new puppy was a bit too interested in the cat’s food and litter box, Alon Kasha says. So they incorporated the cat space under the staircase, building a door with a hole in it for their cat, named Pounce, to crawl through, and a perch for him to jump onto to get there.

Pounce’s routine goes like this: He jumps up onto the ledge, goes through the hole, onto the food ledge inside, then walks on top of the litter box to the back, where he jumps down and goes into his box.
The deeper ledge inside holds his water and food bowls. “All we do is open the door to restock,” Kasha says. There’s a vent to the outside back wall at the end of the space, which is about 5 feet deep. “To clean the litter, we open the door and pull out the litter box. It all works great. No odors,” Kasha says.

10. One smart way to utilize unused space is under the stairs, which is what the builders at Maplestone Construction did when they created a discreet litter box area in this home in North Carolina (this photo and next).

The mouse-hole-shaped entry leads to the box and play area. The garage is on the other side of the wall, where the box can be cleaned.

11. Adding storage under a staircase during a remodel is the perfect time to incorporate a hidden cat box area. That’s when this enclosure was added to the custom birch plywood drawer system in this basement in West Grove, Pennsylvania.

Designer Pete Cooper of Spring Creek Design says he likes to look for unused nooks of space for cat enclosures. “Under the stairs is a great example of a small pocket of essentially unusable space that is just right for the cat. This particular box was built to take advantage of such a space,” he says. The front panel is removable for access and is secured with magnets.

Cooper says he started integrating cat enclosures into basement finishing projects when cats — whose boxes are often relegated to the basement — were displaced. Other cat box projects he’s worked on have included electrical outlets for self-cleaning litter boxes and night lights “for scaredy-cats.”

12. The homeowner of this Louisville, Kentucky, home hid the cat’s litter box and food bowl in a closet and installed an entry arch beneath the stairs (this photo and next). The closet is accessed all day, which helps with ventilation, the homeowner says.

The “Indoor Access Arch” from Doctors Foster and Smith is the perfect size to let the cats in but keep the cocker spaniel out, she says.
Under a Bench 

13. 
Designer Tami Holsten of Bear Trap Design got super creative when custom-building this litter box hidden in a bench in a laundry room in West St. Paul, Minnesota (this photo and next).

“The space is limited so I needed to be creative and find the ultimate litter box hideaway for their two cats, Bud and Stella,” Holsten says. The bench seat lifts for easy access to the box, which the cats enjoy for its privacy, she says.

As a surprise for her clients, Holsten took the bench’s front panel with the mouse hole cutout to a local artist, who illustrated it with a mouse zooming on an orange motorcycle, with the exhaust spelling out the name of one of the homeowners, who drives a motorcycle, loves the color orange and is “king of the laundry room,” Holsten says.

There’s no need for extra ventilation and the system “works like a charm,” Holsten says.

14. Here’s another bench where the storage area was converted to a litter box space. Entrance and exit holes for the cat were cut into the base of the window seat.

The litter box is accessed by lifting the top of the bench, which also holds supplies.
In a Dedicated Room

15. 
Sure, there are plenty of ways to tuck away the cat box in a cabinet or closet, but why not put it in its own room? That’s what the designers from Buckeye Basements did in this Columbus, Ohio, remodel. The cat boxes sit behind a handsome glass pocket door. An exhaust fan activated by a light switch helps with ventilation and a shower drain pan makes cleanup easier.

Wish to incorporate one of these designs into your next remodeling project?  Contact Cabinet-S-Top to consult with one of their designers to get started.  Located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256 ~ 330.239.3630 ~ www.cabinet-s-top.com