Monday, November 26, 2012

How to Pick a Shower Niche That's Not Stuck in a Rut

by John Whipple
Forget "standard." When you're designing a niche, the shelves and spacing have to work for your individual needs

Shower niches are more complicated than they look. Every decision for shelving, sizing and materials makes a difference in function and style. Is glass or Caesarstone best? How many shelves are needed, and how should they be placed? These examples can help you make the right decisions.

 True to the golden ratio, dividing shelves into thirds tends to look best. When it comes to niches, I'm a firm believer in following this rule.

Tip: Most glass looks slightly green. If you want a whiter glass, choose a low-iron version, like starphire glass.
This shelf makes use of three stone shelves rather than glass.

So, which is better? Personally, I like the look of glass. But if a shower niche is getting soaked and taking on soap spray every day, a stone surface will look cleaner longer.

Tip: Make sure the bottom of the niche and any shelves are slightly tipped toward the shower so they drain. Shower niches are super useful, but if they hold water after every shower, they won't look great for long.
Like it? Save it to your IdA niche installation often depends on the tile choice and how the edges of those tiles look. Many times we miter the edges of the tile to eliminate the plain edge that many tiles have.

Here's an example of mitered tile corners. The top shower niche was built larger and then divided with a glowing shelf of starfire glass.

Tip: Starphire glass scratches easier than regular glass. Take extra care cleaning and working with this glass.

The scale of this niche is excellent. Notice how the shower niche has 11 glass tiles on the back. The glass shelf sits on the seventh tile down from the top — almost two-thirds of the way down. Sometimes this doesn't work out when you get onsite, but here the scale is superb.

Tip: Make sure you measure your favorite shower products. A nicely designed shower niche is great, but if your shampoo bottle of choice does not fit, it won't be of any help.

If you sit on a bench, you probably want to access to your stuff. Keep things in reach and plan the niche placement to work for you and your kids.

Tip: If you have kids, assume that they will try to climb anything that looks like a ladder, so keep your shelving secure. Installing the glass or stone first in the niche and then setting the tile around it is far safer than siliconing a glass shelf into a finished tiled niche.

What a feature! This corner bench is obviously the focal element in the shower. When planning your main design points, a shower niche should not compete with your space's design. The use of glass in this niche makes for a subtler look.

Tip: Glass is usually affordable. But make sure you order your niche shelving with other glass items to get the most bang for your buck. If you're using three shelves in a niche, ask your contractor to order four. It's always nice to have a backup in case something breaks.
This is a great use of space. Many of the little things needed in a shower can fit in a small niche. The low glass shelf doubles the footprint and creates extra room for lotions and potions.

Tip: Make sure the glass is tempered so it's safe in case of an accident.
I love the contrast of this shower niche. This hardworking spot is great for a squeegee. The shorter wall (often called a pony wall) hides the niche from the other parts of the bathroom. Some homeowners don't like to have their shower products on display. Hiding your niche down low like this can be a great solution.

Tip: If the niche ends up on display, then make it a gem!

The large glowing niche in my daughter's bathroom has a one-third split. The smaller top niche won't collect water — it's a great spot for a bar of soap.

Tip: When working with slabs for niches, you will need to specify to the stone supplier that the pieces be double polished, meaning both the top and bottom get polished.

At Cabinet-S-Top, we specialize in designing baths and showers accented with beautiful niche's that will work for your individual needs.  Stop by our showroom located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256 or give us a call to set up an appointment 330.239.3630.



Monday, November 19, 2012

Kitchen Solution: The Open Island

by Becky Harris

No Room for a Big Island?
Here's How to Create More Working Space Anyway

Do you long for a kitchen island, but fear that your kitchen is too small to handle one? Like me, you may have had a large, clunky, massive image of a kitchen island in your head. This may not be the case.  There are a slew of islands that resemble tables and free-standing industrial counters. These models have a lot of advantages. While they don't have as many storage options as their clunkier island brothers, their open shapes take up less visual and physical space.
If all you really need is an extra surface for working and gathering, and perhaps an extra shelf, here are some options to consider for your kitchen.
In this petite kitchen the open island provides an extra prep surface as well as a shelf underneath. It's the perfect size for a small kitchen.
If you think that your kitchen may be too narrow for an island, consider a long narrow table like this one.  
An island with metal legs and a laminate top keeps this kitchen light and airy, thus (the open shelves used in lieu of traditional cabinets have a similar effect).  This is a great example of modernizing the cottage style.

This table-like island has high farmhouse-table style, adding traditional lines and materials to a modern kitchen.
Technically, this is a kitchen peninsula because it's connected, but this piece could be used as an island and float wherever you want it. The metal finish adds commercial-kitchen style to this summer home.

Kitchen expert Rebekah Zaveloff says "I love open kitchen islands for smaller spaces because you don’t need an extra overhang like you do when there’s closed storage...I love the easy access to everyday salad bowls, pots and pans." 
This vintage cart adds character, patina and personality to this kitchen.  This designer has done a great job of using just the right number of vintage objects, such as the enamel Morton's Salt sign, vintage clock, counter stool and cart.  These items add the right balance of well-worn character into the light kitchen, without stepping into vintage overload.
This island had some drawers for extra storage and still keeps a more open feeling. I like the contrast of the blue paint with the rich reclaimed wood.
This island is perfectly scaled to fit in the long but narrow kitchen.  A good test for gauging measurements and placement is to open your oven, dishwater, cabinets and refrigerator to make sure there is enough clear space in the center of all of them.

 At Cabinet-S-Top we can help you decide what style of island will work in your kitchen.  Give us a call, we specialize in maximizing your kitchen and creating more work space for you to use.

1977 Medina Road
Medina, OH  44256


Monday, November 12, 2012

Kitchen Design: Baking Stations Make Cooking More Fun

by Vanessa Brunner
Get inspired to cook (and simplify holiday prep)
with a dedicated space for baking

As soon as Halloween is over, it seems Thanksgiving and Christmas are instantly upon us. The weather cools and the aromas of sweet and savory treats fill the kitchen. But it can be a struggle to separate holiday baking from both day-to-day meal preparation and entertaining needs. Setting up a separate baking station is a great solution that can be surprisingly affordable and easy.

1. Plan for function.
Ideally, your baking station should be a little lower than your standard countertop, which makes it easier to roll out dough or knead bread. A setup like this one separates the baking area from the rest of the island. This little baking corner also has an amazing mixer lift, which keeps the owner's KitchenAid out of the way, yet ready to use at a moment's notice.



Look for a surface designed for baking. Traditionally, marble has been the baker's choice. The hard surface is easy to clean and stays cool, a plus when working with pastry doughs.

2. Decide how much space you need.
Before deciding where you want to tuck a baking area into your kitchen, figure out exactly how much space you'll need. Pull out all of your baking supplies and put them in one place. Odds are you have more than you think.
If you don't have enough room for everything in your baking area, divide your supplies into those you use frequently and those you only use occasionally. The latter can be stored elsewhere.
3. Consider your options.
Try a roll-around cabinet that tucks underneath your countertop. It can be moved to where it's needed, then hidden away when not in use. Drawers and shelves provide storage for baking pans and utensils.


Find a side table to use as a temporary baking center. Place it next to your oven for easy access or put it at the end of an island so you can roll out dough and cut cookies even while entertaining guests. Like the roll-around cabinet, a separate table can be easily moved out of the way when it isn't needed.
Turn a large cabinet, hutch or buffet table into a baking station. Add a marble countertop, make sure an outlet is nearby and you're all set.
 4. Designate an area.
Keep your baking station near the kitchen work triangle of sink, oven and fridge. Not only is this incredibly convenient, it helps divide your kitchen into separate areas for cooking and for dining and entertaining.


5. Keep things organized and easy to access.
Keeping all your baking supplies in one place means you can grab anything you need at a moment's notice. Open cabinetry is a bonus when you're searching for that last ingredient.

Create a space for everything and keep everything in its proper spot. Flours, grains and sugars belong in airtight containers. Organize spices on a rack or tray — and keep them away from direct heat from the stove.
Find a place nearby for cookbooks and recipe cards. If you refer to recipes online, you can also save shelf space with a stand for your laptop or iPad.

Let Cabinet-S-Top inspire you to cook by creating a dedicated baking space in your kitchen.  To get started, stop by our showroom located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH or give us a call 330-239-3630.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Make a Powder Room Accessible With Universal Design

 Courtesy of:  Anne-Marie Brunet
Right-size doorways, lever handles and clearance around the sink and
are a great start in making a powder room accessible to all

Including a powder room on the main level of your home ensures that anyone, regardless of age and mobility, has access to a sink and toilet without having to climb stairs. In a two-story home, a powder room or a full bathroom on the main level is also important if someone sustains a serious injury or a progressive disease takes its toll. It ensures that everyday grooming activities, some of which we might take for granted, can continue without interruption and embarrassment. 

A closet-size powder room carved out from underneath the stairs might do in a pinch, but one that size is usually too small to accommodate those with mobility devices. If you have the option of adding on or remodeling, consider making the
 powder room at least 60 inches wide and 60 inches deep, with a toilet and sink offset from each other. This allows the minimum code 30-inch space for the toilet and a 30-inch space on one side of the toilet for those requiring transfer assistance. As necessary, these guidelines will require adjustment depending on the user. If you do have the space and the budget, a full size bathroom on the main level is the way to go. This provides the most flexibility in the off chance that you or a loved one does sustain a major injury, and can no longer get to another level.

Accessing the powder room is the first hurdle. Aim for doorways that are minimum of 34 to 36 inches wide to facilitate mobility aids, such as wheelchairs and walkers. Pocket doors work well, because they don’t take up any room in the powder room or in the hallway, allowing for maximum floor space for easy navigating. 

If there isn’t any room to enlarge the door opening, and a swing door is the only option, 
consider installing swing-away hinges to maximize the opening and having the door open away from the toilet. These features will allow for the necessary room for someone to turn around without first having to close the door.

For conventional swing doors, opt for lever handles. Individuals with arthritic hands or limited dexterity can operate lever handles much more easily than round knobs or latch-type handles, which require more pressure to grasp and turn.

Depending on the type, vanities can offer much-needed storage in a small room. Wall-mounted vanities, depending on the height of the cabinet, offer leg clearance for those in wheelchairs. Pedestal sinks also work well. This vanity with angled sides offers more floor space for those navigating with a wheelchair or walker, and is situated far enough away from the door to minimize obstructions.

Vanities that have a slanted front  offer greater flexibility for wheelchair users, as they allow them to get closer to the fixtures. The decorative slanted cover for the plumbing means users won’t get burned by hot pipes, and there's bonus storage space.

If space is limited or you require greater clearances, a pedestal sink might be the way to go. Pedestal sinks offer the user, especially those in a wheelchair, an easier approach from either the front or the side. It might also allow space for someone else to stand nearby. Pedestal sinks also offer undersink space to keep a step stool close at hand for toddlers and young children.

A vessel sink, either sitting on the countertop or recessed into the countertop, can offer design and accessibility alternatives. Leaving the space open beneath the counter allows for leg clearance for those in chairs. Modifying the depth of the counter allows users in wheelchairs or small children to reach the fixtures easily. Also consider the height of the overall countertop and bowl, and adjust to fit users of varying heights.

Opt for a comfort-height toilet, usually 2 inches taller than a regular toilet, to make transferring from a wheelchair easier. Allow enough clear floor space on one side of the toilet for those who require a transfer or need a place to park their walker. Aim for at least a 30-inch width and a 48-inch length on one side of the toilet. This also allows room for an aide. And don't forget to add grab bars at the back of and on one side of the toilet for both the user's and assistant's safety.

At Cabinet-S-Top, we have Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists that can help you design a bathroom that is an attractive, stylish space that everyone, regardless of age, size or ability can live in or visit.  

Stop by our showroom located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH or feel free to give us a call at 330-239-3630.  We are here to help!