Monday, August 22, 2016

Porcelain vs. Ceramic Tile: A 5-Scenario Showdown

by Sam Ferris

Explore where and why one of these popular 

tile choices makes more sense than the other

All tile is created equal, right? Not quite. Porcelain and ceramic may belong to the same family, but they’re two slightly different products. One may be more advantageous than the other depending on where you’re installing it. Here we pose five scenarios and explain whether porcelain or ceramic is the better choice.

But before we walk through each scenario, let’s note the key difference between porcelain and ceramic tile. Though they’re manufactured with different types of clay, the Tile Council of North America defines porcelain in terms of water absorption. Specifically, porcelain tiles absorb less than 0.5 percent of water. Ceramic and other non-porcelain tiles absorb more than 0.5 percent water.

Scenario 1: You’re installing tile in a room with high moisture content.

The best pick: Porcelain

Remember, the TCNA defines porcelain as tile that absorbs less than 0.5 percent of moisture. Why doesn’t porcelain absorb much moisture? According to the TCNA, porcelain is naturally dense, which means it’s harder to penetrate. In other words, it’s nearly waterproof. This property makes porcelain a no-brainer for bathroom installations, as well as other areas of your home that are exposed to moisture.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that ceramic is a bad choice for bathrooms. In fact, many homeowners install ceramic in their showers and on their bathroom floors. However, porcelain’s impermeability will ensure you have the best protection against moisture.

Kitchens can also be considered wet zones due to liquids encountered during food prep and clean up, as well as the presence of your sink and dishwasher. You may feel more comfortable with porcelain in the event your dishwasher or sink leaks.

Mudrooms usually bear the brunt of the dirty shoes and feet that enter your home daily. Porcelain is built to withstand exposure to moisture from rain, sleet or snow. You may also prefer porcelain in your laundry room in the event your washer leaks.

Scenario 2: You’re on a budget.

The best pick: Ceramic

Not all porcelain tile is costly, but if you shop around long enough, you’ll start to notice a trend: It’s generally more expensive than ceramic. If you’re on a tight budget, ceramic will fit the bill.

Budget doesn’t mean passé when it comes to ceramic tile. Fortunately, you can still find ceramic tiles that showcase the latest industry trends, such as wood-look tile.

Scenario 3: You’re installing tile in a space with high foot traffic.

The best pick: 

Both ceramic and porcelain excel in high-traffic areas in comparison with other flooring types (such as hardwood, laminate and carpet). But porcelain is a denser tile, and as a result it offers better long-term resistance to scuffs and scratches. Through-body porcelain, where the color on top of the tile goes all the way throughout the tile’s body, is especially scratch resistant. Living rooms and hallways are two of the perfect places to install porcelain. Households with children and pets will appreciate porcelain’s durability.

As the heart of the home, kitchens experience a fair share of foot traffic too. If your cooking space is your home’s social hub and a common gathering place for your family and guests, porcelain is the best option.

Scenario 4: You’re a DIY aficionado.

The best pick: Ceramic

Density isn’t always a perk. Ceramic is easier to cut and install than porcelain is. According to the TCNA, non-porcelain tiles are easier to affix to the floor than porcelain tile. If you’re planning to install tile yourself, especially in a situation where many cuts are required, you could find yourself in hot water. The job could quickly turn sloppy, and you may dish out more money to have a pro correct your mistakes.

Scenario 5: You’re remodeling your patio floors.

The best pick: Porcelain

When it comes to patio flooring, the great outdoors can be unforgiving. This is another scenario where porcelain’s impermeability wins. When ceramic tile freezes, it absorbs moisture. This causes ceramic to expand and break. You could be looking at a flooring replacement much sooner than expected.

If you live in an area that is prone to hard freezes, ceramic tile is out of the question for an outdoor space. If you live in a climate where freezes are occasional or uncommon, ceramic is risky at best. Carefully weigh your decision when deciding between porcelain or ceramic.

Whether your looking for tile to install on a backsplash, floor or shower, Cabinet-S-Top has a wide variety of porcelain and ceramic tile to choose from.  Visit their showroom located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256 to check out their large selection.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Kitchen Confidential: 7 Ways to Mix and Match Cabinet Colors

by Sam Ferris

Can't decide on a specific color or stain for your kitchen
You don't have to choose just one

There are as many ways to add color to your kitchen as there are hues to choose from, but cabinets will always be prime real estate for a zap of personality. While many homeowners settle on just one shade, choosing multiple cabinet colors can give your space a designer edge. (It’s also a godsend if you’re indecisive.) If you’re searching for ways to blend two or more color tones into your kitchen design, check out these seven ideas that offer a blueprint for mixing and matching cabinet colors.

1. Turn your island into an accent piece. It’s a classic way to incorporate a second color into your cabinet design, no matter what the style of your kitchen is. It can spice up clean, contemporary designs without adding unnecessary detail, or it can add another layer of color to complement wall paint and decor in traditional designs. The options are especially endless when you go with white or off-white for your main cabinets.

That said, white kitchens aren’t for everyone. If you prefer deep wood tones, you can still use your island as an accent piece without white cabinets. This traditional Texas kitchen creates a down-to-earth country feel by coupling alder wood cabinets with an olive green island finish.

2. Use three complementary colors instead of two. If you’re not satisfied with just two hues for your kitchen cabinet design, keep flipping through the color swatches to find a third color. Not only do three shades give your kitchen more of a designer feel, they also evenly distribute color throughout the space.

White is a good starting point because it pairs well with other neutrals as well as bold primary colors. Mark English Architects chose to balance this modern kitchen’s white cabinets with both tall black cabinets and a smack of high-gloss orange cabinets.

Not every three-toned cabinet design needs a primary color, so feel free to stick with neutral tones, especially in industrial and rustic designs. This San Francisco kitchen stays true to its farmhouse roots with a rural color palette that includes white, brown and dark gray.

3. Accentuate a single cabinet piece. The island doesn’t always have to be the showpiece of the kitchen. It certainly isn’t the only cabinetry that can flaunt a splash of color. Wooden hoods, glass wall cabinets or even sink and range base cabinets are hot spots for a dab of baby blue or rustic red. It’s an unconventional way to design colorful accent pieces that aren’t overly fussy.

4. Choose a different color for your uppers and lowers. Designating one color tone for your upper cabinets and another for your lowers is a way to inject color into your kitchen and maintain an organized design. Choose a darker color for your lower cabinets to ground the design, then experiment with lighter shades like whites and grays on the upper. This prevents the design from feeling too top-heavy.

5. Add a stain or glaze to one of your cabinet colors. While an antique finish or charcoal glaze can add extra oomph to your accent color, it can also soften your main cabinet color. This rustic kitchen’s antique white cabinets allow the dark island stain to command its fair share of attention in a space full of visual intrigue.

6. Play with texture. Mix different colors with different textures, as this transitional kitchen does. It combines a midnight blue painted finish on its upper cabinets with a grainy wood veneer on its lower cabinets. Exploring textures like wood and metal along with color can give you a kitchen design that breaks the mold.

7. Break the rules. Yes, it’s OK to toss the rules of design aside (for a moment, at least) and let your creativity run wild. Design with daring color combinations, or opt for singularity instead of contrast. Put color in places it shouldn’t be, such as single drawers or cabinet doors. This eclectic kitchen does just that, integrating seven color tones into a unique puzzle-piece design.

Not many designers would think to incorporate three color tones from the same family in their cabinet design, but Brian O’Tuama Architects did in this contemporary kitchen. The spectrum effect is truly one-of-a-kind, and that type of creativity can help personalize your own kitchen space and make it yours.

Cabinet-S-Top's professional designers can help guide you through the choices available for your kitchen remodeling project.  Give them a call at 330.239.3630 to set up a time to meet.  Their one-stop showroom is located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256 ~

Monday, August 1, 2016

13 Ideas for Creative Corners

by Sam Ferris

Here are clever ways to make the most of kitchen corners to get extra storage and additional seating

Whether you’re working with a professional or tackling the process on your own, designing a kitchen can involve a lot of decisions. Kitchen corners are one area where it’s easy to get stuck. You may want to save money with a standard cabinet. You may want swinging pullouts to eliminate bending and reaching. Or you may not have the space for either option. If you’re struggling to make up your mind or are unsure of where to start, don’t stress. These 13 solutions will help you pick out the most efficient and functional option for your kitchen.

1. Blind corner. Considered a standard solution for kitchen corners, a blind cabinet allows homeowners to access the void created when two walls of cabinetry meet at a corner. This space is accessible via a single cabinet door. 

The downside, of course, is that while you may be able to access this space, it isn’t always easy to do it. You often have to get down on your hands and knees and reach into the back of your cabinet to find what you need. Because of this, these spaces often become junk bins that are left untouched for years.

If you’re on a tight budget, blind corners can knock a few numbers off your bill. They’re less expensive than customized corner options like lazy Susans and swinging pullouts.

2. Lazy Susan. This classic storage solution lets you place dishes, strainers, pots and pans on turnstiles and access them with a twirl of the finger. It doesn’t completely eliminate bending and reaching, but it does make the space easier to access and, as a result, more functional. The biggest drawback is that storage space can get tight.

3. Drawers. Two, three- and even four-drawer corner cabinets offer quick access to your stored items, along with plenty of storage space (especially in pieces that have deep drawers). Their accordion-like appearance can also add an interesting dynamic to your cabinetry’s aesthetics.

4. Swinging pullouts. Another way to store bulky pots and pans, swinging pullouts outperform lazy Susans by bringing your cooking utensils out of your cabinet and right in front of you, significantly reducing the amount of bending and reaching. Your storage space is limited, but the accessibility and convenience may be well worth the sacrifice. These are considered upgrades and cost more than a standard blind cabinet.

5. Diagonal cabinet. These can be prefabricated boxes or custom-built. You can even insert a standard cabinet box at a 45-degree angle if there isn’t a prefabricated cabinet available. 

Diagonal corner cabinets are a nice visual break and can add dimension to your kitchen. They often utilize the entire corner space, but as with blind corner cabinets, you will have to reach back into the recesses of the cabinet to find your dishware.

6. Sink base. It may not maximize space, but a corner sink base just might be worth it if there’s a view involved. The extra counter space behind your sink can house your finest decor (and show it off to the neighbors, too).

7. Dead space. Maximizing space is always preferred to wasting space. However, leaving dead space may be the best option for your kitchen, especially if you’re renovating an older home with a dysfunctional layout. Sometimes you won’t be able to fit in a prefabricated corner cabinet. Dead space can also be your best bet if you’re trying to save money on your cabinets or are flipping a low-value home.

8. Sitting area. If you’re willing to give up some storage and counter space, a built-in banquette is a creative way to make your cabinetry feel cozy and inviting, as well as add seating space. Your cushions, pillows and linens can complement your kitchen’s decorative scheme.

9. Built-in pantry. If you want to keep your cooking ingredients within reach, you can insert a custom-built corner pantry into your kitchen design. This transitional kitchen has a pantry placed at an equal distance between the range and sink, which can speed up food prep time for some homeowners. The major sacrifices here are counter space and affordability.

10. Standard cabinet. You don’t always have to install a corner cabinet. Sometimes you won’t have the space to fit one in (as in the kitchen above). Or you may simply want an open cabinet design. This is where a standard cabinet can be the best choice for your layout and needs.

It won’t present any accessibility problems, though some homeowners may miss the extra storage space that corner cabinets provide.

11. Appliance garage. Storing a blender, mixer and toaster on your counter can be an unpleasant sight. At the same time, these appliances can be heavier than other types of cookware, so storing them below your counter can be a pain for your back. Appliance garages solve both of these problems. You can hide appliances behind a lift door and slide them out when you’re ready to whip up dinner. You’ll give up counter space, but it will help keep your remaining space clutter-free.

12. Easy-reach cabinet. These have a double door front that opens like an accordion, displaying both sides of your cupboard at once. They take full advantage of available corner space. You won’t have to dig deep into a blind cabinet while you’re standing on a step stool. Naturally, easy-reach cabinets are more expensive than standard blind cabinets. Make sure you budget for this type of upgrade.

13. Open shelving. Wrapping shelves around your wall corner will give you access to the entire space and cut costs in the process. Open shelving is also a minimalist feature that works well in modern, contemporary, industrial and farmhouse designs. The major con is that it’s extra work to keep the shelves clean and organized.

Ready to start your kitchen remodel?  Stop by Cabinet-S-Top located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH and meet with one of their professional designers to discuss what is the best option for your kitchen.  330.239.3630 ~

Friday, July 29, 2016

Style Your Open Kitchen Shelving Like a Pro

by Laura Gaskill

Sloppy, haphazard open shelves? Not a chance when

you follow these dos and don'ts for arranging items

We've all admired pictures of perfectly styled open kitchen shelving — those neat stacks of dishes are so appealing, and going without upper cabinets promises to bring an airy feel to small spaces. But how practical are open shelves to maintain? What are you supposed to put on them? And where do you put everything else? If you would love to try open shelving in your own kitchen but are not sure where to start, here's help. We've got all of the dos and don'ts about styling beautiful and practical open shelving.

 Do: Start on empty. It is simply impossible to see what you are doing if you try to style your shelves when stuff is already on them. Yes, it's a project to completely empty shelves, but it will be worth it. And if it seems overwhelming, just work on one shelf at a time. Remove everything and wipe down the shelf before you go on. 

Do: Borrow goods from the pantry for graphic appeal. Anything with a cool label (like the San Pellegrino bottles shown here) can work as a decorative element in a group — think cans of imported tomatoes, pretty tea tins and jars of jam. These items are ideal for stashing on upper shelves, because you won't need to access them that often.

Do: Think about what you use daily. As for the lower shelves, be practical about what you choose to place there. This is a good spot for favorite coffee mugs, everyday plates and bowls, and basic water glasses and wineglasses. If you find that not all of your everyday stuff fits on your shelves, put some away. Do you really use 30 mugs or wineglasses daily?

Don't: Put extremely heavy items on top shelves. Even if you rarely use that big, heavy pot or casserole dish, think twice before hoisting it onto the highest shelf. Lifting and lowering heavy items from high places can be unsafe, and even if your shelving is strong, open shelves in general are not meant to hold as much weight as regular cabinetry. Be on the safe side and stow your biggest pots down low.

Do: Look for serendipitous color connections. Pay attention to color in the kitchen — can you find a thread of a certain hue running through it? The colors of cookbook spines, teacups, food packaging and fruits and veggies can all become part of an intentional scheme.

Do: Edit what you put on display.Ideally you will have a mix of open shelves and closed cabinets, so not everything you own will need to be on display. Remember that as you are filling those shelves.

Stick with a matched set of dishes and glassware, or at least keep your choices to coordinating colors. Remove one-offs that look out of place, freebie cups, cluttered-looking kitchen tools and anything with dangling cords — those things should go into cupboards and drawers, not be out in the open.

Don't: Overstuff a small kitchen.Open shelving can be a godsend in a small space, making your room appear significantly larger than the actual square footage.

Although it may be tempting to cram shelves full, overstuffed shelves defeat the space-enhancing effects. In a small space, you must be extra vigilant about editing the items on those shelves. Stick with one color (you can't go wrong with white) and pare back to only the essentials.

Do: Make stations. Consider kitchen tasks, like baking or making coffee, when filling your open shelves and group items accordingly. It's convenient to have all of the necessary items in one spot, and grouping things this way usually works well visually, too. For instance, stack cake stands, pie dishes, ramekins and mixing bowls on the shelf above where you store your mixer.

Do: Stack 'em up. Keep your arrangements visually interesting by stacking and piling small items together. Teacups and saucers look more appealing in slightly tipsy stacks than in regimented rows. Stack bowls atop plates, and smaller platters on large; stick utensils upright in a glass or vase.

There are no hard and fast rules to styling; just play around and see what looks right to you.

Do: Focus on one or two materials. Wood, ceramics, glass, metal — too many materials in one arrangement can look cluttered and unfocused. Stick with mainly one or two for a sleek, chic look.

Don't: Set out glass if you live in earthquake country! If you live in California or another region where earthquakes can be an issue, lots of glass on open shelving can be a recipe for disaster.

Keep your glassware behind closed cabinet doors, preferably ones with magnets or another safety system that will prevent the doors from flying open in an earthquake. On open shelves consider installing a small lip to keep items in place during small quakes.

Do: Seek out pretty storage containers. It can be quite handy to have frequently used dry goods within reach on open shelves, but original packaging is hardly ever attractive and is often messy.

Neaten things up and help your supplies stay fresh longer by decanting ingredients into sturdy, airtight glass containers. Even basics like oats, flour and rice look sort of artsy in simple glass jars lining a shelf.

Do: Consider proximity. Shelves near the dishwasher? Use them to store your everyday dishes, and you won't have to make a big trip to put them away. Shelves near the stove? Stock them with frequently used cooking tools and spices. Keeping what you need at hand will make cooking and washing up an easier, more pleasant experience.

Don't: Neglect to dust. It's a fact: Open shelves collect dust and even grease if they are near the stove. Storing frequently used items on open shelves will eliminate some of the need to dust and clean, since you will be regularly using and washing these things anyway. But higher shelves and less-used pieces will get grimy over time. The best approach is to try to stay on top of it by dusting and wiping down surfaces regularly.

Do: Use decorative details judiciously. Open shelves are a natural place for injecting some personality into your kitchen; just don't go overboard. A few framed art prints tucked behind the dishes as seen here, a plant (fresh herbs would be most welcome) and perhaps one or two decorative objects are all you need.

Not sure if you've gone too far? Use this rule of thumb: If you cannot easily get to something you need because your decor is in the way, it's too much.

Don't: Worry about filling the highest shelf. In kitchens with a superhigh top shelf, it can be hard to know what on earth to put up there. I say don't worry about it — just leave it bare. Sure, you could put plants there (but they'd be hard to water), fake plants (but they might look tacky), cookbooks (how would you reach them easily?) or decorations (which would only gather dust), but why? An empty shelf is easy to clean, makes ceilings look higher and makes a room look less cluttered.

Do you have open shelving in your kitchen? How do you feel about it?

Cabinet-S-Top, 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256
330.239.3630 ~

Monday, July 11, 2016

A Guide to 6 Island Styles

by Sam Ferris

L-shaped, galley, rolling or curved?
what kind of kitchen island might be right for you

If you stay up to date on kitchen trends, you already know that islands are a hot commodity right now. We could list all the reasons why, but we’ll keep it short and sweet: Homeowners love the extra storage, seating and workspace. Learn which style is the perfect ingredient for your kitchen with this guide to six popular designs.

1. L-Shaped

This type of island can ebb and flow with the shape of your kitchen or fill in the blank space with more storage and prep space.

Pros. L-shaped islands tend to be large with correspondingly generous storage. Their sprawling design ensures that workspace isn’t crowded, a huge perk for households with avid chefs or more than one cook. You won’t have an issue finding room for bar-style seating. If you aren’t a fan of clean lines, L-shaped islands bring some intrigue to the table.

Cons. While L-shaped islands may be larger and provide more prep space, they aren’t exactly open-concept. They can chop up your kitchen design, which can hamper efficiency during meal prep. The shape may be too spread out for some homeowners, and it doesn’t always maximize storage space since corners tend to decrease accessibility.
2. U-Shaped

U-shaped islands may be a chef’s dream. Three walls of cabinetry and appliances are enough to increase the efficiency of any kitchen.

Pros. Both highly functional and uber-spacious, U-shaped islands are perhaps the largest and most accommodating. Extra storage space? Check. More workspace? You got it. Room for seating? There’s even that too. They can house more than one appliance if they’re big enough. You may not have to leave your island when you’re prepping food.

Their sheer size can also be the U-shaped islands’ biggest downfall. Some homeowners may find cooking and cleaning less efficient, and may hate going the distance from one side to the other. These islands are bulky and can close off your kitchen from the rest of your home. The double corners will sacrifice accessible storage space unless they feature a Lazy Susan or swing-out device.
3. Galley

With fewer frills and a straightforward design, galley islands are built to be workhorses. They can be a good fit for any type of kitchen layout, assuming that there’s enough space for one.

Pros. Often considered the quintessential island design for open-concept kitchens, galley islands ensure that your space has flow and remains efficient with their streamlined design. They usually maximize storage space because there aren’t any corners or curves. Appliances and stored items are always accessible. The design also favors bar-style seating.

Cons. Yes, galley islands are simple and efficient, but some homeowners may think they’re boring. They certainly won’t wow the eye unless they’re larger than life or have an intricate exterior. Sometimes they’re too small to comfortably fit an appliance, which can create problems with your layout.
4. Circular

If you’re looking to add personality to your kitchen layout, a circular island may be for you. The design can go full circle or feature a half-moon.

Pros. Circular islands add an interesting visual dynamic to kitchens. They’re a go-to option if you don’t want a run-of-the-mill island design. Like L-shaped islands, they’re packed with prep space. There’s more than enough room to operate during meal prep. Circular designs can incorporate expansive seating areas that leave enough room for four-plus guests to comfortably eat and socialize.

Cons. Prep and storage space aren’t always efficient with circular islands. Your counter is spread out and curved, which can limit the way you cook. Storage units can be harder to access in some designs (they may be underneath a countertop overhang, for instance). Plan on wasted storage space unless your cabinets are customized to include creative options.
5. Rolling

No room for a built-in island? No problem. Rolling islands are a convenient alternative. You can whisk them around as you roam your kitchen and then tuck them neatly aside when you’re finished cooking.

Pros. Rolling islands are the crème de la crème in versatility. A godsend for smaller kitchens that lack adequate prep space, they can function as a worktop, food tray or a spare surface to place your ingredients. Depending on their size, they’re easy to stow and move. Best of all, they’re extremely affordable compared with cabinetry.

Cons. Whipping up meals on wheels isn’t for everyone. Rolling islands are small and compact, which simply won’t work for some homeowners, even ones who are short on space. They can be a hassle to roll out during meals or to store. Bigger designs may be hard to move for some homeowners. They offer little to no storage.

6. Furniture-Style 

A unconventional choice, furniture islands can make your kitchen feel like your home’s premier hangout spot. Wide-ranging options include an antique chest of drawers and a custom piece designed by a local carpenter.

Pros. It doesn’t matter if it’s custom-built, an age-old heirloom or store-bought — a furniture piece adds character to your kitchen. It’s one way to put your personal touch on your space and make it your own. The detail and decorative nature of the furniture will catch the eye of guests. These pieces usually aren’t bulky and fit seamlessly within your kitchen. Open-style designs can create fine displays for your decor.

Cons. Furniture pieces weren’t always built for storage, so that antique you had to have may not hold much of your cookware. There’s also the issue of durability. Older pieces may not last in the hustle and bustle of a modern kitchen. Wear and tear can take its toll. Furniture tops can’t take a beating the way granite or quartz can.

Need help deciding on the fit and function of an island for your kitchen?  Stop by Cabinet-S-Top's designer showroom and meet with one of our expert designers to get started.  Located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256 ~ 330.239.3630 ~