Thursday, September 24, 2015

Your Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

by Laura Gaskill

Prevent winter damage and boost energy efficiency 

by ticking off these to-dos before cold weather hits

Fall is a good time to take care of big home repair projects before shorter days (and in many areas, ice and snow) make outdoor work too difficult. And if you do live in an area with cold winters, take some time this fall to boost energy efficiency throughout your home, and prevent damage from winter storms with proper tree care (we spoke with an expert to find out what you need to do). Tick these 15 items off your list this season, and you can rest easy knowing that your home and yard are buttoned up and ready for winter.

1. Care for trees and shrubs. If you have trees on your property, consider hiring an arborist to care for them — these pros can spot signs of poor health early on to prevent tree loss, and know how to prune properly to avoid falling limbs in winter storms.

“The most important maintenance for a homeowner to do in the fall would be trimming [the] dead out of trees,” says Bryan Gilles, owner and arborist at Abor Doctor in Calabasas, California. “Trees are going dormant at this time, and are less likely to get a disease.” Because trees are slowing growth in the fall, it’s not an ideal time to plant a new tree, as the roots may have trouble getting established. For treatments, Gilles recommends fungicide injections in the fall to prevent diseases such as diplodia, which can affect pine trees.

It’s also a good idea to observe your trees throughout the fall, keeping an eye out for signs that signal a need for intervention. “Early change in leaf color, pines looking thin and/or needles turning brown, and dead branches are all signs of diseases,” Gilles says. “Ash trees spotting yellow sporadically around this time of the year is a bad sign of a disease called ash yellows, since ash trees are one of the latest to turn.”

2. Rake leaves. Leaves look beautiful blanketing the ground, but leaving too many leaves on a lawn over winter in a snowy area can inhibit spring growth. To make the job easier, choose a lightweight rake, wear gloves to protect your hands and use handheld “leaf scoops” to bag leaves quickly.

3. Clean gutters and downspouts. Once most of the leaves have fallen, clean out gutters and downspouts (hire a helper if you are not comfortable on a ladder). Clogged gutters during rainstorms can cause water to pool and damage your roof or siding.

4. Make exterior repairs. Take a walk around your property, looking for signs of damage to the roof, siding and foundation. If you spot anything that needs repair, schedule it before winter weather hits.

5. Seal gaps where critters could enter. Mice need only a tiny gap to be able to sneak into your house and raid your pantry — and with colder weather coming, all of the little critters out there will be looking for warm places to make a home. Fill small holes and cover any larger gaps securely with heavy-duty hardware cloth to keep the wildlife outdoors.

6. Check walkways, railings, stairs and the driveway for winter safety. When the landscape is covered in ice and snow, just walking from the driveway to the front door can be quite a challenge.

Make navigating around your home safer by checking that all stairs are in good shape and have sturdy railings, and that the driveway is in good repair to make for easier shoveling.

7. Stock up on winter supplies. If you live in a region with cold, snowy winters, fall is the time to prepare. 

  • Check the condition of snow shovels and ice scrapers; replace as needed
  • Pick up a bag of pet- and plant-safe ice melt, if needed
  • Restock emergency kits for car and home
  • If you use a snow blower, have it serviced and purchase fuel

8. Shut off exterior faucets and store hoses. Protect your pipes from freezing temperatures by shutting off water to exterior faucets before the weather dips below freezing. Drain hoses and store them indoors.

9. Add weatherstripping. Weatherstripping applied around the frames of windows and doors helps boost winter warmth and cut energy costs. Add door sweeps to the base of drafty doors to keep heat in and cold air out. If you’re feeling crafty, you can even make your own cozy draft stopper from an old flannel shirt, wool sweater or fleece blanket:

1. Cut a length of material about 3 inches longer than the width of your door (to allow for seams) and 6 to 8 inches wide.
2. Fold the material lengthwise, with right sides together.
3. Stitch a seam (by hand or on a sewing machine) down the long side, creating a tube of fabric. Stitch one end closed.
4. Turn the draft stopper right side out so the seams are hidden on the inside (use a yardstick or wooden spoon to get it completely turned right side out).
5. Fill with dry rice or beans.
6. Fold the open ends under and sew shut.

10. Check safety devices.

  o   Test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors; replace batteries as needed.
  o   Check the expiration date on your fire extinguisher and replace if needed.
  o   If you haven’t checked your home for radon, fall is a good time to do so — as the weather gets cooler and windows stay shut more often, radon is more likely to become trapped in your home.
  Radon at high enough levels is extremely harmful, so if you find that your home has radon (a radon level of 4 or above is considered unacceptable by the Environmental Protection Agency), hire a contractor qualified to fix radon issues.

11. Remove window A/C units. If you use window air conditioning units in the summer, remove them before the weather turns cold. If you must leave window A/C units in, cover the entire exterior of the unit with an insulating wrap to keep cold air out.

12. Clean dryer vents. Lint buildup in dryer vents can make your dryer work less efficiently and even cause a fire — cool, dry fall weather increases static electricity, which can ignite lint that has built up, so now is a key time to get that lint out. You can hire a duct cleaning specialist to clean the vents for you, or clean the vent yourself. If you decide to do it yourself:

1. Unplug your dryer.
2. Shut off the gas if you have a gas dryer.
3. Pull the dryer slightly away from the wall.
4. Loosen the clamp holding the hose.
5. Use a vacuum attachment or lint brush made for dryer hoses to clean out the hose and behind the dryer.
6. Replace the hose, gently move the dryer to the wall (without crushing the hose) and plug it in.

13. Deep-clean the kitchen. Take a day to tackle some of the more labor-intensive cleaning tasks, and keep your kitchen working efficiently and looking great:

o  Degrease the range hood and filter
o  Clean the oven
o   Vacuum the refrigerator coils
o   Scrub tile grout 
o   Clean light fixtures
o   Wash the walls and backsplash
o   Wash the garbage can and recycling bins
o   Clean small appliances  

14. Conduct an energy audit. A trained auditor can assess your home’s current energy efficiency and give you a list of recommended improvements you can make, which may include upgrading to Energy Star appliances, adding insulation to the attic or beefing up weatherstripping. You can also find instructions for a do-it-yourself energy audit at

15. Schedule a chimney cleaning and heating system maintenance. Making sure your chimney and furnace or boiler are cleaned, maintained and in working order before you need to turn on the heat is an important safety measure. And be sure to add a chimney cap if you don’t already have one — it will stop critters from crawling down your chimney!

These are great tips to help you prepare your home for winter.  

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

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Color Theory

Written by Amanda Lecky / June, 2015

Overwhelmed by the prospect of choosing colors for your home? Take some surprisingly simple tips from top interior designers and create a palette that will please for years to come.

There’s no other design element that carries the power of color. “It’s the single most effective tool in our bag of tricks,” says designer Billy Beson of Billy Beson Co. in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “Used well, color can infuse a room with personality and energy, and create any atmosphere you can think of.” And yet, as anyone who has spent an hour deliberating in front of a wall of paint-store color samples can tell you, there are few tasks that cause as much confusion and frustration as picking a palette.

How to simplify the color selection process? Both Beson and Los Angeles-based designer Nicole Sassaman suggest starting with a single colorful focal point and then building the rest of the scheme around that anchor. “For example, if you’re planning to use a gorgeous rug in your living room, you might pull one of the softer or more neutral shades from its pattern and use that color on the walls, then repeat some of the other colors from the rug in your furnishings and accessories,” says Sassaman. As a general rule of thumb, it’s smart to keep permanant “investment” elements on the neutral side. Stick with classic designs for cabinets as well as flooring and countertops, such as Cambria in Waterstone, Marble or the newest Oceanic Collection. Save the more saturated design choices for items you can change more easily: like paint, accessories, and artwork.

Color trends
“Hot” hues come and go—think circa-1970 harvest gold and avocado or the ’80s mauve-and-gray schemes—so it’s smart to be careful when using these colors. “Use them in small doses,” says Beson. “Instead of painting your entire house in this year’s trendy shade, just use it in a small area, like on an accent wall.”
Fortunately, some of the most on-trend colors right now are also perennial classics. “Navy is very hot right now,” says Canadian designer Janette Ewen. “But it’s one of those colors that will still look great ten years from now—it’s a classic that will really never go out of style.” Beson and Ewen suggest pairing a dark color like navy with plenty of white, for the most modern look. “The same goes for black” says Beson.
“A black room can look very dramatic, but to keep it from feeling constricting, it needs contrast, so think about deep mouldings and baseboards painted in white or off-white, and add a little sparkle to the space to reflect light around.”

Gray is also having a moment. “But not cold, blue-based gray,” says Sassaman. “Look for grays with warmer undertones, for a more contemporary feeling.” Add energy with contrasting pops of bold color like orange, hot pink, or yellow.

Living spaces
To figure out which colors (trendy or not) you gravitate toward, Ewen suggests thinking of the places that most inspire you and that make you feel happy to think about. “If that’s a beach in the Caribbean, you might pull sand and sea colors into your rooms; if it’s an Indian bazaar, you might prefer richer spice tones.” While there are no hard and fast rules for which colors work best in which rooms, a general rule of thumb is to choose calming colors like blues, greens, grays, and lavenders for bedrooms and bathrooms; warmer neutrals for the main living spaces, such as living rooms and kitchens; and more dramatic hues—rich red, deep brown, sapphire—for those rooms you spend less time in or use primarily for entertaining, such as dining rooms and powder rooms.

“Choose your countertops and
appliances first, then pick colors to complement
them, not the other way around.”
— Billy Beson, Billy Beson Co.

Open plans and connectors
Today’s flowing floorplans can cause more color confusion. When one space connects to another—think of an open kitchen, dining area, and family room—it can be difficult to know how to choose a color scheme that feels cohesive and yet helps to differentiate each space. Ewen prefers to keep it simple. “Don’t try to use wall color to separate the different areas,” she says. “Choose one complex neutral for the entire space, then let your rugs, furnishings, and accessories create slightly different color schemes in each zone.” Billy Beson agrees, adding a suggestion: “An accent wall in a dining area or on a wall with a fireplace can lend some dimension and create a focal point in an open plan.” For hallways that link spaces, again head toward sophisticated neutrals. “We’re really loving silvery, even metallic, shades right now,” says Beson. “That slight sheen brightens hallways, which are usually dark, and lends a very subtle glamour.”  

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

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Kitchen Confidential: The Case for Corbels

by Sam Ferris

Get the skinny on the different types of
and how to use them in the kitchen

Corbels aren’t a new invention by any means, but the ways in which we incorporate these structural and decorative brackets into our kitchen designs are ever-evolving. In fact, corbels are one of the more versatile interior design tools available. Whether used as room dividers and countertop supports or as hard-hitting accent pieces and delectable details, there are no slim pickings when you’re designing your kitchen with corbels. Take a look at the full menu of options and make sure the heart of your home doesn’t miss a beat.

Types of Corbels 

Wood. Hand-carved or premade wood corbels are commonly used in kitchens. They enhance the cabinet design when they match the finish of the cabinets.

Mission style. Also known as Shaker style, these corbels are characterized by vertical lines and flat, recessed panels. Though they were originally influenced by design features found in late-18th- and early-19th-century Spanish missions in colonial California, they’re now more appropriate for contemporary design because of their relatively clean look.

Curved. It’s all about curve appeal with contemporary corbels. Designers ditch the details and experiment with shapes to maintain a clean look.

Acanthus leaf. These corbels recall classic Greek architecture and give your kitchen an authentic Mediterranean ambience. Needless to say, expect a sophisticated, time-honored look when they grace the ends of your island.

Modern. These corbels don’t have the detail you see in traditional and acanthus leaf corbels. Sleek, to-the-floor corbels can embolden your island design and have a seamless look all at once.

Wrought iron. These corbels are dynamic. It isn’t just the fact that they’re multipurpose pieces that provide both support and decoration. It’s also because of how versatile their look is. They’re raw enough to add edge to an industrial kitchen design. They have the curves and intricacies for Mediterranean and Spanish-style spaces. And in traditional designs, they’re just the brush of detail you need.

Where to Use Corbels

Kitchen islands. One of the main functions of corbels is to add detail. And if kitchens are the hub of the home, then islands are the hot spot for detail. Corbels are most often incorporated at the ends of the island or underneath a countertop overhang. Transform your island into a furniture-style piece by combining detailed corbels with wainscot panels and decorative legs.

This rustic eat-in kitchen has traditional wooden brackets supporting the island’s butcher block countertop. Using corbels in lieu of metal brackets is a good way to ensure that your island design stays decorative.

Vent hoods. If you want a standout stove area, use giant corbels underneath your kitchen hood to create the illusion of support. This draws attention to the design and gives it a larger-than-life presence in your kitchen.

You don’t have to place large corbels underneath your kitchen hood to make a statement. Smaller corbels (along with an eye-catching vintage timepiece) can also move your kitchen hood to the limelight, as they do in this beachy-style San Francisco kitchen.

Shelves. The more practical side to corbels is the ability to support wall shelves. It’s how they’ve historically been used in architecture, after all. But the traditional corbels in this creamy, contemporary kitchen serve more than one purpose: They’re also a subtle decorative touch that adds dimension to an otherwise minimalist design.

Room dividers. Doors and walls are traditional ways to separate rooms, but corbels are an alternative solution for creating barriers, especially in contemporary and modern kitchen designs. Mount corbels on the ceiling near your kitchen’s entrance to designate a boundary between it and the adjacent space.

Ceilings. Here wooden ceiling corbels establish barely-there boundaries in an industrial open kitchen design.

Ceiling corbels can also act as mood-setting pieces instead of room dividers. Large wooden bracket corbels scale the walls in this traditional Texas kitchen, recreating a vintage American farmhouse look.

Upper cabinets. You can also accentuate one or more of your wall cabinets by putting corbels underneath them. Choose cabinets with glass-paned doors and matching end panels for a vintage furniture feel.

Lower cabinets. Like wall cabinets, you can make a base cabinet pop as well. The best way to do this is to increase the depth of one of your cabinets and put a corbel on each side in the filler space.

As you move forward in remodeling your kitchen, let Cabinet-S-Top take care of the details and design a kitchen that will pop!  The one-stop kitchen and bath showroom is located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256 ~ 330.239.3630 ~