Tuesday, August 26, 2014

10 Smart Ideas for Your Laundry Room Remodel

by Karen Egly-Thompson

Make washing and drying easier and more comfortable
by considering ergonomics, storage and special features


While kitchens command prime real estate and design attention in a home, the laundry room, if you’re lucky to have one, is often carved out of awkward, leftover room. Most laundry rooms seem like large closets just for a washer and dryer and rarely take into account a workspace, storage, sinks for prerinsing or ergonomics.Don’t despair. Here are 10 ways to make your laundry room work better for you.

1. Raise your washer and dryer. Front-loading washers and dryers have become more prevalent than top-loading types, due to higher energy efficiency and their capacity to fit more dirty clothes. 

However, most front-loaders are quite low to the ground, requiring you to kneel or crouch down to load and unload the clothes. Aside from the uncomfortable position, remember the clothes will be even heavier when wet. Some front-loading machines, like this Whirlpool pair (which is actually compliant with ADA height and front-reach requirements), are constructed with drums located at a higher height, which makes reach into them while standing much easier.

Generally, a comfortable height is 30 to 36 inches for women and 33 to 39 inches for men. Plus, you can fit a sizable laundry basket below the drum to catch wet laundry instead of holding it sideways and upward. Raised drum designs can help save your back.

For this project designer Shane D. Inman created a custom cabinetry base to raise the front-loaders even higher, to what is midchest level for many people — certainly an easy reach in. Inman says the cabinet pedestal was designed to accommodate the weight of the two laundry units and the stone countertop material.


2. Get a lower folding table. Most standard countertops are 36 inches high and are comfortable for the average person. Folding laundry, though, requires different body movement than, say, chopping an onion. When we fold large pieces, such as sheets and pants, our body twists, bends and leans over and forward as needed to get the job done. A folding table that’s a bit lower than standard height lets you lean into the job and is better for your back and shoulders. 

Keeping in mind your own height, shoot for a table in the range of 30 to 34 inches high or whatever is comfortable for you.

3. Use rolling laundry bins. Why lift a heavy basket when you can roll your laundry where it needs to go? Most rolling bins are heavy duty and commercial grade, and have edges that are typically cushioned with a rubber-like material so they won’t ding and scuff your walls.

One thing to keep in mind is your flooring. If you have uneven tile or stone floors with a rustic or cleft-cut finish, rolling might be a bit more challenging. The rolling bins seen here have a 31-inch overall height and fit easily underneath cabinetry with room to spare for piled-up clothes.


4. Embrace open shelving. Open shelving makes any quick reach easier. You’ll also likely find you’ll keep things neater too, since things are on display. For frequently used items, a shelf height of about 62 inches is the most comfortable dimension for most people in a standing position. Reserve higher shelves for occasionally used items.


Don’t think that open shelving is reserved for just above the countertop. Lower open shelving is great for quick access. Plus, you won’t have to push full laundry baskets out of the way to open cabinet doors.







5. Install a deep, elevated sink. A deep sink comes in handy in the laundry room. Most standard sinks range between 8 and 10 inches in depth. The 12¾-inch bowl depth in this laundry room allows for scrubbing and spraying to minimize splashing water outside of it. (These sinks can also do double duty as pet bathing stations.)

The problem with a deep sink installed in a standard 36-inch countertop relates to ergonomics. It causes you to stoop over to reach the sink bottom. For example, if you take the 12¾-inch depth of this sink and subtract it from the average 36-inch countertop height, that’s only 23¼inches high. Measure up from the floor and see where that dimension hits your body — probably somewhere on your thigh!

If you’re going to install a deep sink, make sure it’s elevated. The one shown here was designed with a height of 42 inches, making its interior bottom surface 29¼ inches, about the comfortable height of a dining table.


6. Tap into a prerinse faucet. Surely at one point you’ve bordered on doing acrobatics just to wash and rinse something under a meager-size faucet. Generously sized with a high-arc, high-pressure nozzle, prerinse faucets are typically used in commercial kitchens to force food off plates before they’re washed. However, in the laundry room, the easy pull-down nozzle makes fighting muddy boots and food stains easier. The large size can interfere with cabinets or shelving above your sink, so be sure you have enough clearance.

7. Integrate an ironing center. Many older homes have nifty recessed ironing boards, and it’s perplexing why they went out of style. Everyone hates dragging a heavy ironing board out of some closet or corner and setting it up, and then there’s the tippiness and cord combat that usually ensues. With a wall-mounted system, like the one shown here, you can install it to your desired height, and there are also swiveling models for tight spaces that turn the board right or left by 90 degrees. There are also great sit-down options.

Wall-mounted units can hold only a hinged ironing board, so you still have to store your iron elsewhere. And they don’t come with electrical capabilities, so you’ll need to install the system near an outlet. Plus, they must be attached externally to wall studs for support, and they protrude from walls quite a bit, so consider how that will affect your overall space.

If you have the luxury of planning ahead, you can easily incorporate a recessed system that fits in the space right between your wall studs. These allow more space so you can store your iron or even include a garment hanger. Plus, an electrician can run electricity right into the unit for an iron and/or a work light.


If you don’t have the wall space available for a wall-mounted or recessed ironing center, consider one that’s drawer-recessed. The Ironfix by Hafele, shown here, fits into a 24-inch-wide, 14-inch-deep space and, once extended, rotates 180 degrees.

Two cons are that you’ll still need to store your iron somewhere, and the drawer unit will need to be installed near an outlet. Also, you’ll need to be content with the ironing board’s height, which will be close to 35 inches if installed in a standard-height cabinet.

8. Plan for a laundry chute. If your laundry room is on your ground floor or in the basement, you’ve likely cursed a few times while lugging a full laundry basket — or three — down the stairs. Instead, let gravity do the work. A laundry chute doesn’t require much room, so if you’re building a new house or planning a renovation, it’s a design element worth considering.

You’ll also want to consider where the clothes will fall to.
 Tatum Brown Custom Homes notes this laundry chute is located on the second floor and is directly above a cabinet in the laundry room, so instead of making a messy pile in the laundry room, dirty clothes and linens end up in a contained space next to the washer-dryer.


Here’s an example by Oglesby Construction Company that incorporates a tambour door to catch falling laundry.












9. Don’t overlook air-drying systems. For clothes that are destined to be air-dried, here’s a great feature the British have been using for centuries: a ceiling-mounted pulley system. The rack is composed of either four or six laths suspended between two cast iron ends and anchored to a marine-style wall cleat. To load and unload, lower the pulley to your desired height by pulling on the cord. Raising it upward keeps longer articles from brushing the floor and also makes use of warmer air at the ceiling level. When not in use, it’s out of the way.

Although this particular example, by Crisp Arichects
, was custom designed, similar systems can be purchased through Pulleymaid. Just make sure you have adequate support in the ceiling. By itself, a system weighs between 6½ and 10 pounds. You’ll need about 9 inches of clearance from the ceiling to clear any encroaching door swings.


If operating a pulley isn’t appealing, and you have the space, a suspended ladder with hooks will work just fine. This one is hung at door level, approximately 6 feet, 8 inches, an easy reach for most with a hanger in hand. Larger, longer S-hooks could also be used for shorter people for an even easier reach.

Often seen in hotels, retractable drying lines are also great for drying delicate items. Unlike ceiling-mounted options, they take little force to draw out and can be hung at any height desired.



10. Get a step stool. It might sound surprisingly basic, but a one- or two-step stool is invaluable in the laundry room. Because it’s so lightweight and easy to grab, you’re more likely to actually use it versus getting out a heavier, more cumbersome three-step ladder — or worse, attempting to reach something too high without the help of anything. Just make sure the stool you select has a nonslip surface; spilled bleach and liquid detergents can make it mighty slippery.

Not only can Cabinet-S-Top help you with your kitchen and bath remodel, but we also specialize in laundry room renovations.  Stop by our showroom to speak with one of our expert designers to help you achieve the space you'll love.  Located at 1977  Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256 ~ 330.239.3630 ~ www.cabinet-s-top.com


Monday, August 18, 2014

7 Kitchen Flooring Materials to Boost Your Cooking Comfort

by Jennifer Ott

Give your joints a break while you're standing at the stove,

with these resilient and beautiful materials for kitchen floors


I love the look of polished concrete floors in kitchens, but concrete — along with other nonresilient floor surfaces, such as stone, ceramic and porcelain tile — can take a toll on your joints. I've heard complaints from many homeowners who regret putting in a hard flooring material in their kitchen because of the subsequent knee, hip or back pain they feel after standing or walking on it for a long period. Fortunately there are plenty of softer, resilient kitchen flooring types available that are as functional as they are good-looking.


Cork

Sustainably harvested from the bark of the cork oak tree, cork is an excellent resilient floor choice in a kitchen due to its high level of cushioning. It's available in a variety of colors, patterns and textures, and in tile or plank formats. It is somewhat self-healing but can get scratched and dented. You can mitigate this by regularly applying a protective layer of wax or polyurethane and by using protective felt pads on the feet of your furniture.

Linoleum

Not to be confused with vinyl flooring, linoleum is made from all-natural and renewable materials such as linseed oil, pine rosin and powdered cork. It's soft underfoot yet quite durable, and it comes in a wide range of colors and patterns. As with cork, applying and maintaining a protective finish will keep it looking good for many years.



Rubber

This is a bit of an unusual choice in a residential kitchen, but rubber flooring is becoming more common in homes. Soft, springy and durable, it is a terrific choice if you want to stand for hours in your kitchen without bringing on the aches and pains. Rubber flooring is available in tile and sheet formats, and should be sealed after installation and again every year or two, depending on traffic and wear. 


Vinyl

A popular budget-friendly option, vinyl flooring comes in both sheet and tile formats and in an endless array of styles and colors. I like to have fun with vinyl; I like to use bolder colors or lay it out in an interesting pattern. However, it's not as durable as other resilient flooring options and can get dinged up pretty easily. Therefore, it tends to have a shorter life span than other options.

Wood

A favorite flooring material for kitchens, wood is more forgiving on our joints than stone, ceramic, porcelain or concrete. It also looks and feels warmer than nonresilient flooring. Some drawbacks to wood are that it can get scratched and dinged easily, and it also must be protected from contact with 
water. In kitchens I recommend going with a 
site-finished wood floor rather than a prefinished floor. Yes, it's a messy business sealing the floor after installation, but by sealing it after installation you also seal up the joints, preventing water and dirt from collecting in them.

Bamboo

Not technically wood — it's actually a grass — bamboo has many of the same advantages and disadvantages as wood. It's a good option if you are looking to use a sustainably harvested material for your kitchen floor. Not all bamboo flooring is the same, however; be sure to look for moso bamboo, as it's considered the hardest and most durable.




Laminate

Similar to vinyl flooring products, laminates are a budget-friendly flooring choice and are soft underfoot when compared to rigid flooring materials. They tend to be more moisture resistant than wood floors, but because they are not a solid material all the way through, they can't be refinished if damaged. 








At Cabinet-S-Top our designers can assist you in choosing the
correct comfort flooring for your kitchen. Stop by our showroom
to check out our large selection.


Cabinet-S-Top
1977 Medina Road
Medina, OH 44256
330.239.3630
www.cabinet-s-top.com




Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Future of Backsplashes

by Fred Albert

Grout is out. Continuous sheets of glass, stone, metal and porcelainare saving cleaning time and offering more looks than ever



Ask a kitchen designer about the future of backsplashes, and the response will be “seamless.”

Seamless materials, that is. High-maintenance surfaces are on their way out, being replaced by continuous, easy-to-clean finishes without joints, grout lines or any other places where grease and grime can collect. And the benefits aren’t just janitorial. When paired with hidden outlets, these new uninterrupted surfaces offer a wealth of design possibilities.


When it comes to kitchens, some clients are saying “ABG” — anything but granite.

Once considered the height of chic, granite has become so common during the past couple of decades that homeowners are eager for something new, reports Berkovich, the Palo Alto, California–based owner of European Cabinets & Design Studios. For his clients that usually takes the form of a quartz composite like Caesarstone, which he uses on the counters, then continues up the wall, for a look that’s modern, seamless and virtually maintenance free.


Calacatta marble counters have become very popular in recent years too but can be difficult to maintain, as the surface is prone to staining and etching. By running the material up the wall, you get the look without the labor.

It’s a more modern way of using stone, observes Mariette Barsoum of Divine Kitchens in Wellesley, Massachusetts. With stone tiles, you have veining that goes in all different directions, she says. When you use a single slab, you have more control over the overall effect. Depending how you orient it, she says, “you can create completely different looks.”



In this kitchen the Carrara slab backsplash works with the space’s more traditional feel. “Carrara can go both ways,” Barsoum observes. The designer says this look is not as successful with a “busy” stone, such as granite, where the amount of veining can prove distracting.





Here sliding doors were fashioned out of marble, offering a new take on the old-fashioned appliance garage. Efficient LED lights illuminate the recesses when the doors are opened.



Marble isn’t the only stone that works on backsplashes. In this Stinson Beach, California, kitchen, limestone counters extend up the wall, creating a warm, uniform backdrop that enhances the look of anything set in front of it.



If you like the look of stone but prefer something more decorative (and don’t mind a little grout), consider laser-cut marble, as in this Chicago-area project by Airoom Architects-Builders-Remodelers. The laser’s precision makes nearly any design possible and allows for tighter joints, so there’s less grout to keep clean.







In a similar mode, Ann Sacks’ Beau Monde glass tiles are cut with water jets, producing beautifully intricate designs.








Glass tiles took off in the first decade of this century. Now glass sheets are gaining ground, says designer Julie Cavanaugh of Design Matters in Los Gatos, California. When the glass is back-painted, you have an unlimited number of colors from which to choose — and a surface that’s supremely easy to clean.

For the California kitchen shown here, Griffin Enright Architects used Starphire glass, which doesn’t have the green tint normally present in glass, so the color reproduction is much truer.


This glass backsplash in Vancouver is more understated, allowing the ruddy glow of the cabinets to take center stage. The monochromatic backsplash also makes the kitchen look bigger.


Prefer something a bit bolder? In this Washington, D.C.–area space, clear glass was affixed to a red wall with silicone adhesive, for a look that blends seamlessly into the adjoining dining area.




Actual money plants were sandwiched between translucent panels from 3form in this Menlo Park, California, installation. The company makes variations in both glass and resin, utilizing grasses, flowers, abstract patterns and the like. “Used the right way, it’s heat impervious, it’s easy to clean, and it comes in large formats,” says Julie Cavanaugh, adding, “It makes a lovely design statement.”



How about textiles? Here an exotic piece of fabric was laminated between sheets of glass for use as a backsplash.


Cavanaugh predicts we’ll be seeing more backsplashes made from metal laminates, which are similar to conventional plastic laminates but have metal skins. Long popular in commercial applications, they’re now finding their way into the home, as in this North Carolina kitchen by Lee Tripi Design, which uses a product called Chemetal. This metal-topped laminate is easy to bend and shape, and is available in a variety of finishes.


Neolith is a kind of porcelain that comes in sheet form, making it ideal for both floors and walls. Berkovich likens the appearance to that of stone, and it’s available in a variety of patterns, such as Iron Moss, shown here.



Thanks to the advent of undercabinet power strips, “backsplash acne” (outlets installed every few feet across the face of a backsplash) can be a thing of the past, freeing designers to create unbroken expanses of color or elaborate, uninterrupted designs. The only downside: You have to unplug appliances if you want to avoid seeing the power cords dangling from above.

If you want to keep appliances plugged in but outlets out of sight, a company called Trufig has just the thing: an outlet that’s recessed into the backsplash so it’s flush with the surface. The face plate is designed to be painted, so a trompe l’oeil artist can disguise everything but the holes.

With nothing but the beauty of the material to distract you, these new backsplashes let you focus your attention on cooking, not upkeep.

Cabinet-S-Top can help you design a seamless backsplash that will accent your kitchen and create that unique feel your looking for.  To get started, stop by our showroom located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH 44256 ~ 330.239.3630 ~ www.cabinet-s-top.com








Monday, August 4, 2014

15 Ways to Enhance Your Cabinets With Grilles

by Becky Harris

It looks decorative, but metal mesh on cabinet doors has a practical side too

For those who love the idea of clear glass cabinet doors but don’t think their china, books and objects are ready for their close-ups, a grille can be the answer. The metal mesh material allows for peeks through cabinet doors, which adds depth and interest. At the same time, the metal unites the objects behind it, providing a cohesive look for disparate or not-so-sexy objects, such as herbs in plastic bottles. This easy-to-install element is also an architectural detail that picks up on other finishes in the room and can add a pattern, from a simple grid to elaborate Moroccan geometries. Here are 15 ways to use interesting grilles all over the house.

1. Display your favorite things without creating clutter. An open shelf, cabinet doors, drawers and glass doors compose the facade, but the wire mesh doors are the largest fronts. They tie the books and objects together in an uncluttered way — the mesh tones down the color but still gives us a peek inside. The feeling is open without complete transparency.


2. Add an architectural feature. Grilles are composed either of a woven wire mesh or perforated metal sheets. A large-scale pattern adds architectural interest. In a bathroom it can conceal a jumble of toiletries while making the space feel more open. 

Mesh: large-scale perforated Windsor pattern






3. Nod to history. In the kitchen the look can be tracked back to pie safes. These cupboards had punched-tin panels in the doors that allowed for ventilation but kept pests out. These panels are a modern-day take on the antique storage units for baked goods, meat and other perishables. Architect Anni Tilt designed the pattern on 1/16th-inch-thick steel, while partner David Arkin drilled all of the holes by hand. By the time they were done, he had drilled more than 1,500 of them.




Perforated metal cabinet doors lend a vintage look to this kitchen. While some people opt for the metal to provide a shiny contrast, others prefer to paint it to match the cabinet wood, as these designers did. 


4. Add glam. Interior designer Rebekah Zaveloff has been using grilles for quite some time. “This is still one of my favorite projects — the client and her friends often refer to it as sexy,” she says of this glamorous kitchen. “The grille adds a diamond pattern and glint.”
Diamond-patterned grille



5. Go country. Wire isn’t restricted to glamorous kitchens; the look also lends itself well to more rustic country looks. A chicken-wire-like product gives these potato and onion cabinets a farmhouse kitchen look.
Similar chicken-wire grille









These cabinetmakers scooped up chicken wire at a local hardware store, left it outside to get it a little rusty and crusty, then gave it a clear coat to make sure the crusty part was just part of the look.




6. Lend a modern industrial look. In this stone and log luxury ski chalet in Montana, rustic timbers and more modern industrial touches balance each other throughout the home. Together with the pendant lights, hardware and other metal fixtures, the grilles add glint and keep the kitchen from being overwhelmed by clunky wood.



7. Make everything look pretty. “Since these cabinets were by themselves on this side of this kitchen, they needed some texture and interest or they would have felt heavy and not balanced with the other side,” Zaveloff says. “I love when a client is gutsy enough to do something like this diamond-mesh grille in a pantry cabinet.”

While she admits that some boxes and other food may be glimpsed, she says that “the mesh makes everything look pretty — these things are obscured without being completely solid.”



8. Hide the food. Here is the same cabinet with the doors open, and it’s simply too much openness. Without the grilles, the colored herb containers and other food containers look kind of junky.


Closed, it’s more about silhouettes, and everything looks orderly. Behind the larger-scale diamond pattern there is a small wire mesh, not backed by anything else. You can back mesh with glass if you are concerned about dust, but Zaveloff says she rarely does.



Here is a close-up of a similar-style grille. Note the fine detailing between the diamonds — this kind of design is at the higher end of the price range.
Grille: Small Diamond with Plain Rosette

9. Make a wet bar stand out. Storing glassware behind a wider-gauge wire is a great idea — it looks pretty and can reflect the light. In these cabinets, glass shelves continue the transparency.

The wire can be powder coated in a variety of finishes to match elements like cabinet hardware, faucets and appliances. These include stainless, nickel, galvanized and plain steel, brass, bronze and copper.

Similarly, you can use grilles to give a butler’s pantry its own distinct style. Once purely utilitarian, these spaces are becoming spots for gathering, mixing up martinis and tasting wine.

Note the way interior cabinet lighting enhances the look of the grille here. Use this move when you have the cabinets set up in an organized way with objects that go together, like crystal and other glassware or a collection of white china.

10. Provide contrast to a fabric lining. A fabric lining gives a grille a softer look. For projects like bedrooms, bathrooms, linen cabinets, dressing rooms and hallways, softening a grille with fabric is a sophisticated choice. These bronze grilles are backed by a thin fabric inside the doors. 







11. Add depth. Files, boxes and objects are all easy to spot behind these metal mesh cabinet doors. The open look gives the small room some added depth that solid cabinet doors wouldn’t have provided.






12. Give a tight office space a more open feeling. These custom nickel fixtures add depth and keep this office from feeling like a claustrophobia-inducing closet full of cabinetry





13. Make a strong first impression, even on your guests who use the back door. Often mudroom and back entries are very utilitarian and a design afterthought. Here the view through the cabinet doors invites visitors to leaf through a book or magazine. It also prevents the tight space from feeling closed in from too many cabinets. The glamorous diamond pattern lets them know they have entered a special house.


14. Let your media equipment breathe. Grilles can allow for proper ventilation and cooling where media components are concerned. Of course, whenever serious media equipment is involved, you’ll want to work with an audiovisual professional to make sure your setup is safe.


15. Add Moroccan flair. Inspired by iconic places like Majorelle Garden, interior designer Laura Umansky used shapes and repeating geometric patterns to bring an exotic bohemian Moroccan look to this Texas townhouse. 


While she went light in the office, Umanski chose a dark wood for the cabinetry and grilles in the family room, which also emphasize the Moroccan look. 






Cabinet-S-Top ~ 1977 Medina Road ~ Medina, OH 44256 
330.239.3630 ~ www.cabinet-s-top.com