Monday, June 23, 2014

How to Keep Your White Kitchen White

By Becky Dietrich

Sure, white kitchens are beautiful — when they’re sparkling clean.

Here’s how to keep them that way

Love white kitchens but you have concerns about how to keep those beautiful kitchens clean?  One customer bemoaned such hard-to-maintain materials, saying that “real cooks” would question someone’s sanity for using such fussy finishes  The truth is, you don’t need to be nuts to own an all-white kitchen. Just a little diligent, and armed with the tips below.

This is the perfect white kitchen because it looks like no one ever cooks here. And that is, of course, the very best way to keep that white kitchen sparkling. If, however, you insist on actually using your kitchen, you are likely to encounter yellowing cabinets, accumulations of grease, and stained and marred sinks and countertops. What fun.

Why do those sparkling white cabinets start to yellow? The first culprit is exposure to direct sunlight, which tends to jaundice or fade painted wood (and laminated surfaces). You should consider draperies, blinds or window film to shield your cabinets from direct sunlight. 

The second culprit is actually using your cooktop. As soon as you start cooking, those mouthwatering aromas rise into the air in the form of microscopic food or grease particles, and since they have to land somewhere, why not on your white cabinets? The result? Cabinets that turn yellow.

To prevent this, you can’t let grease accumulate on your cabinets. As soon as you begin boiling, broiling or deep-frying, turn on the exhaust fan or range hood to filter out at least 
some of those minuscule bits before they reach the surrounding surfaces.

Writer Lorna Hordos suggests removing a yellow tinge this way: Wash your cupboards with a fizzy mixture of 1 cup vinegar, 2 cups warm water and 1 tablespoon baking soda. To keep cabinets white, give them a monthly “bath” with a solution of warm water and a grease-busting dish soap.

Then there is the inevitable muck and grime that accumulate from oil and grease splatters, and food and beverage spills. Do not use abrasive cleansers or scouring pads on painted cabinets, as they can scratch or dull the finish. A soft cotton cloth dampened with warm water is usually sufficient to clean your cabinets looking white.

If more thorough cleansing is required, use a solution of mild dishwashing liquid mixed with warm water. After cleaning, wipe all surfaces with a clean, damp cloth. Dry immediately using another soft, clean cloth.

Remember not to let those stains linger. Prolonged exposure to spills can cause permanent discoloration or damage to your cabinets’ finish.

I would die for this sink. Until it started to look like I actually used it, that is. The white sinks in my home take approximately five minutes to look yucky. You can brighten them and remove stains with common household bleach. Experts suggest laying paper towels flat across the bottom of the sink and wetting them with bleach. This prevents the bleach from running straight down the drain. Leave the paper towels in place for half an hour to allow the bleach to do its job, then remove them and rinse the sink thoroughly with warm water. 

For a more natural solution, fill the sink with club soda and lemon juice and let this mixture lift the stains as it soaks in. After you empty the sink, apply straight lemon juice directly to any stubborn stains. You may have to repeat this process several times.

If this sounds like way too much work, adopt my husband’s favorite tool: Bar Keepers Friend. 
If you use it on your sink every day, no other upkeep will be required. (I use it on way more than my sink; it keeps pots and pans looking like new as well.)

White tiles with white grout? Really? I officially nominate you for the Glutton for Punishment award. Here’s the deal: The cleaner your white tiles, the grubbier the grout will appear, so this is an important part of cleaning your white kitchen. Writer Tami Mason offers this remedy: Combine baking soda and vinegar with water to create a paste. Pour a little vinegar into a spray bottle. Apply the paste to the grout and then spray a light coat of vinegar onto the paste. Scrub with a scouring pad or toothbrush and rinse thoroughly.

Honestly, I consider sealing the grout an absolute no-brainer. Don’t even contemplate living with unsealed grout.

Plastic laminate has gone from being the poor stepchild of kitchen design to a great and economical choice. (You can even dress it up with a bullnose edge, as with the example shown here, from Formica.) But it can still stain, especially if it is white. Hordos suggests this process to clean laminate stains: 

1. Mix a mild household detergent with baking soda to create a firm paste. You should be able to achieve the right consistency with approximately 1 part detergent per 3 parts baking soda. 

2. Apply the baking soda solution directly to the stain and scrub with a firm-bristled nylon brush. Stop after about 20 strong brushstrokes, because excess brushing may weaken the laminate finish (not to mention what all that brisk labor will do to your shoulders).

3. If you are still able to move, rinse the countertop with a damp cloth. Laminate is particularly sensitive to excess moisture, so make sure not to soak the cloth. Use just enough water to wipe away the baking soda and stain residue, and then buff the counter dry.

Stains show up easily on white marble or granite counters. Prevention is the best cure, so blot spills immediately, before they penetrate or dry on the surface. If that is not convenient, you can make stains disappear with a solution of hydrogen peroxide with a few scant drops of ammonia added. Natural stone will etch when cleaned with acids or abrasives, but the naturally occurring chemicals in peroxide and ammonia will safely remove even tough stains.

Or use my favorite granite cleaner from Weiman,
which is way less work. When we had granite countertops, my last job at night before collapsing into my recliner was always to spray them until they shone.

OK, people, here is the dirty little secret about kitchens, whether white or dark: They all have the same issues when it comes to cleanliness! White kitchens are simply less forgiving. I am reminded of the times when decorating clients would ask me to make sure all their upholstery was covered in a dark fabric, “so it wouldn’t show the dirt.”

This always puzzled me and made me grimace. I imagined eons of dirt and dust being ground into the fabric, until it was as stiff as cardboard.

So if you love the look of a white kitchen, but are avoiding it because it will be a cleaning nightmare, look at it this way: Any kitchen is a cleaning nightmare. So prepare to roll up your sleeves, and pick the kitchen you really want.

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

Monday, June 16, 2014

8 Kitchen Design Tips for Foodies

by Christine Tusher

If you own at least one pricey knife and have a slew of kitchen tools, you’ll want to read this

I cut my culinary teeth in a tiny apartment where a janky oven meant that cookies took twice as long to bake, and seared scallops nearly sent dinner guests home with smoke inhalation.

The upside of all that making-do meant I knew exactly what I wanted when the time finally came to move to a larger space and remodel the kitchen. I spent hours pouring over solutions for everything from pot storage to dishwasher space, and while not every idea worked for our space, the fixes I found heavily influenced the end result.

Here are eight great tips to help your dream kitchen work beautifully.

1. Buy the right vent hood. Vent hoods are rated by the cubic feet per minute (CFM) of air they can suck from a room. While formulas for determining how much power you’ll need vary, you’ll want to start by acquainting yourself with the basics. 
  • There’s no point in buying a hood that’s larger than your range. It won’t really suck more smoke out, and it won’t look right either.
  • Gas ranges generate more heat than electric ones, and thus require more powerful vent hoods.
  • Maxxing out the CFMs isn’t always a good thing. For example, a 1,000-CFM vent hood will suck the air from a 10-by-10-by-10 room in about a minute, then will lose suction unless you have an HVAC system or an open window. So have your room dimensions handy to show the vendor when it’s time to buy.

2. Invest in proper knife storage. If you love to cook, chances are that you’ve spent a pretty penny on at least one good kitchen knife. But leaving it to rattle loosely in a cutlery drawer will dull and damage its blade – and pose a serious threat to your fingers.

Kitchen knives should be stored in a way that keeps them separate and organized, with their blades horizontally oriented so the knife never rests on its blade. 

While my knives are currently housed in the block they came in, I plan to commandeer a little-used drawer and add a knife block like this one.

3. Pull out your pans. This ingenious pullout eliminates messy stacks of pots.

4. Stash pot lids in a rollout. Pot lids can be the bane of any home chef’s existence, jamming drawers and preventing pots from stacking properly. To solve this problem, use a shallow rolling drawer to neatly stash lids for the pots below.

5. Keep cooking utensils off your countertop. Keeping spatulas and whisks in a countertop jar may make storing these awkwardly shaped utensils easy, but it also creates clutter. Consider replacing a narrow cabinet near your stove with a custom pullout to keep utensils close at hand.

6. Create extra prep space. This small San Francisco kitchen was in desperate need of extra prep space. The solution: a custom rolling cutting board and base cabinet that can be pulled out should the sous-chef need some extra elbow room.

7. Make your faucet a soaker. I was wary of a soaker hose’s high profile poking up above our breakfast bar, but my husband talked me into it. And boy, am I glad he did! It blasts water off dirty dishes, cools pasta in no time flat and ensures that every corner of our sink is sparkling clean.

8. Consider a dishwasher with a utensil drawer. The last thing I want to do when I entertain is to disturb guests with the clatter of hand washing dishes, but I don’t want to wake up to a mess either.

Choosing a dishwasher that can comfortably accommodate a heavy load was very important to me. The model I chose has a narrow utensil drawer that slides out above the top rack, freeing space below for unwieldy pots and large stacks of dishes. A year later I can definitely say this was one of the best decisions we made.

At Cabinet-S-Top, we have designers on staff to help you select the must-have items to create your awesome kitchen.  Showroom located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256 ~ 330.239.3630 ~

Monday, June 9, 2014

7 Low-Maintenance Countertops for Your Dream Kitchen

by Christine Tusher

Fingerprints, stains, resealing requirements ... who needs ’em? 
These countertop materials look great with little effort

Here are seven low-maintenance kitchen countertops to consider during your next remodel.

1. Engineered stone. Sold under brand names including Ceasarstone and Silestone and often referred to simply as quartz, this countertop material is made of crushed stone bound together by a polymer resin. 

Engineered stone countertops are nonporous and resistant to stains and scratches, and  the only maintenance they require is a wipe down with mild soap and water.

2. Soapstone. 
Soapstone’s durability has made this material a top choice for hundreds of years. Its density makes it resistant to stains and bacteria, and it’s unaffected by heat. To clean it, simply wipe it down with mild soap and water.

On the flip side, soapstone develops a darker patina over time and can scratch or chip. While some people feel this gives their countertops character, others prefer to sand soapstone regularly to keep it looking like new.

3. Laminate. Yes, that’s a laminate countertop. I did many double takes when I started looking at them, too. The newest laminate countertops not only come in a wide variety of gorgeous finishes, but they’re just as stainproof and easy to clean as ever.

4. EcoTop. This bamboo and paper composite with its trademarked name was completely new to me, but the green material quickly won me over. It’s scratch- and stainproof, it’s durable, and it won’t discolor over time. And cleaning couldn’t be easier: Just wipe it with a soapy sponge and you’re good to go.

You will, however, have to maintain the sacrificial layer that makes this surface so durable. The manufacturer recommends buffing and resealing it every three months to three years, depending on wear and use.

5. Zinc. While stainless steel will leave you wiping up every fingerprint, zinc darkens over time, developing a gorgeous patina. It is also nonporous and bacteria-resistant and needs only a quick wipe-down to be cleaned.

6. Lava stone. Impervious to heat, stains and cold and virtually maintenance free, lava stone might be the Holy Grail of countertops. But as prices start at $225 a foot and there’s a waiting list to boot, there’s a reason why you don’t see this material more often.

7. Recycled glass. Recycled glass is another green building material that’s becoming increasingly common. 

“These counters are very easy to clean. I use a light Scotch-Brite sponge and soapy water, or Method all-purpose cleaner and a sponge or paper towel,” says the homeowner. “Nothing — including oil, coffee, juice, etc. — has stained these counters.”

Need help deciding which countertop material would be best for your family?  To see the wide variety of countertop materials available, stop by Cabinet-S-Top's showroom located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH 44256 ~ 330.239.3630 ~

Monday, June 2, 2014

So Over Stainless in the Kitchen? 14 Reasons to Give In to Color

by Becky Harris

Colorful kitchen appliances are popular again, and now 
you've got more choices than ever. Which would you choose?

Those who survived the invasion of avocado-green and harvest-gold appliances in the 1970s are still trepidatious about using strong color on kitchen appliances. In the 1980s we clung to white and sometimes black, and sometime during the 1990s, stainless steel took over as the must-have finish for appliances. Next we started to hide the appliances, camouflaging refrigerators and dishwashers with panel fronts that matched the cabinetry.

In typical fashion, now things are swinging back. Home cooks are proud of their appliances and want to make them stand out. Once only offered by a few companies, a wide range of appliance color options are now being offered by many manufacturers.

Lou Lenzi, director of industrial design at GE Appliances, has several theories about why colorful appliances are making such a comeback. “While stainless remains a popular premium finish, we’ve seen a rise in what we call ‘stainless fatigue’ — that feeling consumers get when they have to continuously clean fingerprint smudges and dirt marks off of their shiny stainless appliances,” he says. We also may need a break from technology. “Colors tend to soften the impact of the machine world we live in,“ he says.

While it used to be hard to find a range that cost less than a small car and that you didn’t have to import from Europe, American manufacturers are onto the colorful trend. Today there are many more affordable options, and soon you may even be able to switch out a colored refrigerator cover as easily as you switch out the case on your iPhone. Here are a variety of ways to add color via appliances; take a look and decide if your kitchen needs a color injection.

Inject a jolt of unique color. A few design professionals were onto the appeal of cobalt blue long before it became such a rage in the fashion world. When her clients told her they did not want a kitchen that looked like everyone else’s, architect Jean Verbridge’s mind went straight to this cobalt range and vent hood. It is a stunning focal point in this seaside kitchen.

Tip: If you’re going with stainless steel for your other appliances, stainless accents on the colored appliances and vent hood can help tie everything together.

Range: 48-inch RNB series with Pro-Line Hood, Bluestar

Make a range a focal point. Some designers already have been taking advantage of the color options. “I try and use a colorful range wherever possible,” says interior designer Alison Kandler. “I think the range is the ‘fireplace’ of any kitchen and should be a focal point.” In this beach cottage, the pleasing blue of the stove sets the tone for the rest of the whimsical home.

This range is by Lacanche, a company named for the town in the Burgundy region of France where cooking equipment has been manufactured since the 1800s, on the site of a foundry created in the 1400s.

Range: Cluny 1000, Lacanche

Add French elegance. La Cornue, whose range in Jaguar Burgundy is shown here, was established to take advantage of the new technology of gas running through Paris in 1908. The company not only crafts the colored ranges, but offers matching cabinetry that can give an entire kitchen a seamless look. The cabinetry also increases the range’s presence in a large kitchen.

In the case of this kitchen, architect Kate Johns used the additional La Cornue cabinetry but didn’t want everything to look too uniform; she mixed in white oak cabinets with bin pulls to keep things from feeling overly matched.

Extend the color with a matching range hood. “I’ve been in love with the look of French enamel ranges for as long as I can remember,” says Rebekah Zaveloff, principal designer at KitchenLab. “I’m not over stainless or anything, but when it comes to a range and hood, I really do prefer an enamel color … the hardest part is deciding on the color!” In her design for bakery owner Aliyyah Baylor’s home kitchen, the blue range and vent hood carry the color from the cement floor tiles to the ceiling.

Zaveloff also loves to play with the way the metals look with the different color options. In Baylor’s kitchen, copper adds interesting accents on the range. “I also love a bit of brass thrown in for warmth,” she says

Range: BlueStar; hood: Bonanza, Prizer

Get some Euro cottage cozy. Aga is a company most generally associated with cozy English kitchens, but its oven was actually invented by a Nobel Prize–winning Swede. In this Maine beach cottage kitchen, Whitten Architects mixed in some classic Swedish, whimsical British and vintage all-American style, and the Aga range is just the right fit for all three.

Bring in the color of the year via your appliances. In addition to the European companies famous for their colorful ranges, a very small handful of American companies have been providing a wide range of range colors for quite some time. BlueStar is a company that’s been deep into color for years. Because it has its own powder-coat shop, it offers 750 colors. At this year’s AD Home Design Show, it debuted a range in the Pantone Color of the Year, radiant orchid.

Plan a pleasing cabinet and appliance color combination. In this rustic Maine camp kitchen, interior designer Kristina Crestin combined greenish-yellow cabinets and a mint julep range from Viking. The combination is fresh and inspired by the camp’s natural surroundings.

Viking, an American manufacturer that brought commercial quality ranges to residential kitchens, offers a wide range of colors in ranges and other appliances. By the way, avocado is making a comeback, but with a fresh name, Wasabi. I can’t wait to see how designers modernize this color.

Cabinet paint: La Fonda Olive, Valspar; range, hood: Viking, in Mint Julep

Custom match your cabinetry or backsplash with an appliance color. BlueStar will also custom match any color you like. For instance, you can have your appliances powder coated to match your cabinet paint color. “People are feeling more comfortable experimenting with color these days,” says Michelle Zelman of BlueStar.

Zelman also gives some advice for those who just want to dip their toes into this color trend. “Another option to just bring in a little color at first is to switch out the knobs to a bright color,” she says.

Go for sharp contrast. In this transitional-style kitchen, a glossy red Viking range stands out among the subdued gray cabinets.

Range: Viking; cabinet paint color: CL3175, General Paint

Bring in brightly colored retro-style appliances. The bright color trend is not limited to the range. Orion Creamer was way ahead on the colored appliance trend in the U.S. After finding the limited appliance finishes a snore at a KBIS show over a decade ago, Creamer partnered up with his uncle, Thom Vernon. Vernon was looking for a refrigerator with retro pizazz for his beach house and coming up empty. Together the two founded Big Chill Fridge, designing brightly colored refrigerators with kitschy retro style. Their options in beach blue, buttercup yellow, cherry red, jadeite green and pink lemonade caught everyone’s attention. 

Big Chill’s standard palette of eight signature colors also includes black and white, and now the company can customize an appliance in one of 200 colors.

“We’re seeing more and more customers requesting custom colors,” Creamer says. “Everyone wants a unique kitchen, and our customers want people to come in and say ‘I’ve never seen that color on an appliance before!’”

Big Chill has also expanded its product line to include dishwashers, ranges and vent hoods.

Mix and match appliance finishes. The curtains don’t have to match the drapes, and the range doesn’t have to match the dishwasher, but thanks to customized colors, some of the above can match the backsplash. You can also tie elements together via details like knobs and other details.

“There are many different consumers; some who want to match and some who want a touch of color,” GE’s Lenzi says. “All of our color studies are based on the notion that not everyone can afford a complete appliance makeover.”

Here cobalt knobs pick up on other blue accents in the room.

GE Slate Appliances 
If you’re nervous about color but sick of the standard options, consider slate. If you’re not ready for fiery orange or bright turquoise but are still intrigued by alternatives to the usual stainless, white or black finishes, try GE’s slate finish; it’s a more conservative modern option. “Slate is just so versatile,” Lenzi says. The slate finish is a warm, gray, low-gloss metallic hue that doesn’t show fingerprints. Due to the popularity of its Slate product offerings, GE doubled them in 2013 with additional refrigeration and cooking models.

Get inspired by produce and spices when choosing a color. GE has been predicting which colors consumers will be clamoring for in the future, but it needs your help. Its colorful Artistry Series is still in the concept phase, and the company wants to know which colors you think it should carry.

Inspired by food, the design team started with color options that might already be present in the kitchen for you to chose from: ginger, lime, cinnamon, bell-pepper red, aubergine, cupcake blue and lemon.

You don’t have to splurge on all new appliances to get in on this trend. “Finishes like Slate and the new Artistry colors allow users to mix and match and also provide a unique option for replacing just one appliance, while still meshing well with the previous appliances in the kitchen,” Lenzi says.

It can be hard to commit to a color, as appliances are a big investment that you’ll be stuck with for years. Luckily, there’s good news regarding affordable color changes in the future. Lenzi and the team at GE are working on a series of colorful appliance covers that could be switched out like smart-phone covers. “Such an approach provides our customers with the flexibility to switch appliance colors over time,” Lenzi says. 

“I’d say about 50 percent of our clients right now are doing enamel color ranges,” Zaveloff says. “That’s a huge increase from a few years back.”

What are your thoughts on colorful appliances?

1977 Medina Rd, Medina OH  44256
~ 330.239.3630 ~