Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bathroom Design: How to Pick Out a Vanity

by Vanessa Brunner

Learn how to choose the right materials, style and size for
 a vanity that fits your bathroom and works for your needs

It's not always the most glamorous part of a bathroom remodel, but choosing the right vanity can make or break your bathroom's design. If it's placed awkwardly in a traffic route, uses poor or mismatched materials, or doesn't have enough storage, the rest of your bathroom will suffer.

We spoke with six bathroom and vanity designers to get the professional scoop. Here are their suggestions for this bathroom cornerstone.

1. Placement

Access. Choose a spot for your vanity that won't mess with your bathroom's traffic flow or block the bathroom door or shower door swing. Beth Fillerup of Native Trails
 advises homeowners to think about cleaning and about the vanity door swing space, too. Good questions to ask, she says, include: "Are the surrounding areas accessible for cleaning? If the vanity has doors, is the space around the vanity adequate for foot traffic when they are open?"

Designer Robert Berkovich of European Cabinets & Design Studio suggests that homeowners take other architectural features into account when deciding on a spot, too. Make sure that any windows nearby will allow for a mirror and wall cabinets above the vanity. "Remember, the vanity plays an integral role in the function of the bathroom and requires
the space around it to function properly," says designer Steve O'Neill of Van-i-tY.

Plumbing. If you need to change your bathroom's plumbing to install your new vanity, it's going to account for a chunk of your budget. Even switching from a traditional floor-mounted vanity to a wall-mounted version will mean rerouting pipes and drains.

"Locating the vanity far from other bath fixtures requires a higher cost for rough plumbing," says contractor David Lawson of Ironwood Builders.

2. Materials

"Vanities are placed in environments that are humid, wet and busy," says O'Neill. "The materials that make up your vanity of choice should be able to stand up to such an environment." Wood veneers, laminates and thermofoil (like on the vanity in this photo) tend to work well in bathrooms. Wood should be properly sealed and lacquered — although Lawson does warn that lacquer isn't indestructible.

"We do caution our clients that clear finishes are generally lacquer and that water will affect the finish if it is left standing on it," he says. Designer Gina Adamson of Cab-I-Net recommends avoiding pressed MDF too, since it's susceptible to water damage.

Look for a durable vanity top as well, and try to avoid anything with hard-to-clean grout. If you're redoing other bathroom finishes, consider choosing your vanity top first. "It's so much easier to find a tile and cabinet to match a unique countertop than trying to find a top to match a unique tile," says designer Lori Hethmon of Granite Grannies. "When you choose a dynamic tile first, you may be limiting yourself to more mundane countertop choices that won't compete with your particular tile."

3. Storage

Taking account of what you truly use will help you decide how much storage you'll need in your new vanity. Take inventory of what you store in your current vanity. Organize everything by what you'll need to have in reach and what you'll just need to have nearby.

"This will put into perspective what you need to store and where it needs to be placed," says O'Neill. Lawson recommends adding about 20 percent more space than you think you'll need, just to be safe.

Hanging vanities with drawers can provide a good amount of storage, since they take advantage of the often-unused space around plumbing. Berkovich suggests avoiding bulky medicine cabinets but often uses wall cabinetry (at least 10 inches deep) to add storage.

If you're stuck with a small vanity cabinet, consider adding extra cabinets that rest on the counters, as in this photo. "You'll get more storage without losing floor space," says Hethmon.

4. Size

Scale. Your vanity size should always make sense for your bathroom's size. Cramming a huge vanity into a tiny bathroom doesn't make sense, no matter what your storage needs are. "The amount of storage required by the client impacts the size of the vanity," says Lawson. "But more important is the size of the room it sits in. Working within the architecture is part of the equation."

"By evaluating lifestyle, whether a powder room or master bath, and the demands that will be placed on the vanity, the size will become evident quickly," says O'Neill. For regularly used bathrooms, Adamson recommends starting with a vanity that's a minimum of 21 inches deep and 24 inches wide.

Height. "Consider who is using the vanity to decide on the proper height," says Adamson. "Too tall or too short can be equally frustrating." Traditionally, 32 inches is the go-to height measurement for bathroom vanities. But some designers disagree with that measurement due to modern sink styles. Berkovich suggests aiming for 34 to 35 inches.

5. Custom Designs

The variety of vanity designs today makes it easy to find what you need in terms of design and storage, but many designers still recommend looking into a custom design for greater efficiency. "Custom vanities are not always more expensive than store bought," says Adamson. "And they have endless design styles and configurations."

"Don't forget that your bowl doesn't have to be in the middle," says Hethmon. Like the sink in this photo, a sink bowl that's slightly off center allows for more countertop space. Consider your bowl size, too. "Bigger, deeper bowls can mean less mess to clean up," Hethmon points out.

Putting electricity in the cabinet box can be a nice touch as well — if you want to keep hair dryers, toothbrushes and other necessities ready to go. Having a custom vanity design can help you consider all of the small details that often get overlooked, like features that work whether you're left-handed or right-handed.

Of course, choosing your vanity materials, style and design has a lot to do with how you feel about your home, too. A custom-designed vanity in the master bathroom of your "forever home
" might make sense, but a store-bought vanity could work just fine in the guest bathroom of a home you plan to sell down the road.

Need help with the design of your bathroom?  Stop by Cabinet-S-Top located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256.  Their staff of designers can assist you in choosing 
a vanity that fits your bathroom and works with your needs.  Give them a call at 330.239.3630 to set up an appointment.  www.cabinet-s-top.com

Monday, November 9, 2015

A Stylist’s Secrets for Giving Your Kitchen the Wow Factor

by Helen Winter

There’s more to getting a fabulous kitchen than designing

and installing it. It's the little details that elevate its look

With more of us choosing open-plan living, the kitchen has increasingly become central to the look and feel of our homes. No longer a space to shut the door and forget about, the kitchen is a showpiece as well as a practical space in which to prepare meals and dine. So how can you play to your kitchen’s strengths and boost its designer appeal? Borrow these styling tips to create a practical and beautiful space.

Add a feature wall. This mostly white, open-plan space has become something really special with the addition of the striking marble feature wall behind the cooktop. Marble is very much in fashion, and this high-contrast look is practical, contemporary and luxurious.

Accessorize with bright accents. With a monochromatic scheme, such as in this converted railcar, the color and interest come from the accessories. The result is a very cool bohemian vibe. Stick to a palette of three or four accent colors of similar intensity.

Mix up materials. You don’t have to have the same finish or style for your upper and lower cabinets. In this kitchen, the rough-hewn wood of the lower cabinets ties in beautifully with the classic and dramatic units above. The softness and warmth of the wood are the perfect foil to the high contrast of the dark gray and white.

Take it to the top. For a sleek and modern look, optimize your storage and display areas by taking the cabinets right up to the ceiling. Full-height cabinets create a more streamlined look and offer a place for those less-frequently used items to live. Add interest with glazed doors, as the owners of this Shaker-style kitchen have done.

Light the way. Make a focal point of your task lighting. These pendants combine practicality with visual impact by adding zesty primary color to this streamlined monochrome scheme. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication!

Create a gallery. With plenty of white, reflective surfaces and masses of natural light, a kitchen can be the perfect place to display art. Showcase your taste and personality, whether that’s quirky and kitsch or classic and refined. Consider creating a gallery wall, being careful not to position it too close to the sink or stove.

Be extra bold. Go for high impact with a strong, unexpected color. This deep purple is rich and striking against the exposed brick and dark gray cabinetry. Glass and acrylic backsplashes come in infinite colors and designs to create a unique color scheme.

Clear the clutter. Think of your worktop and dining table as a space for display rather than for storage or as a dumping ground for bills, keys, and laptops and chargers. Remove anything not needed every day, such as a mixer or slow-cooker, from the counters, add your favorite fresh flowers or a healthy green plant, and channel a minimalist vibe.

Switch on style. Against this minimalist white cabinetry, colored LED lighting along the floor and under the upper units adds ambiance, interest and depth. The best bit? You can change the hue of your multicolored system to suit the mood or occasion. Programmable LED lighting lets you restyle your kitchen at the touch of a button.

Employ the rule of three. For accessories such as vases or canisters, display them in odd numbers, in particular three, for maximum style and impact. This simple design trick can elevate your kitchen from ho-hum to hello.

The owner of this kitchen used a trio of large silver canisters above the range for a clean look. Or you could create a mini collection of harmonizing accessories, such as three blue vases in different shapes or heights. Simpler still, steal another trick from this kitchen by buying attractively packaged beverage bottles in threes and putting them on display.

At Cabinet-S-Top our designers can elevate your kitchen design by looking at all the details. Located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256 ~ 330.239.3630 ~ 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Cook’s 6 Tips for Buying Kitchen Appliances

by Christine Tusher

An avid home chef answers tricky questionsabout choosing the right oven, stovetop, vent hood and more

With my French and Italian ancestry, a love of cooking is in my blood. In fact, some of my fondest memories are of helping my mom slice apples for a tarte Tatin, and of working between my aunt and my grandmother on the Thanksgiving dinner assembly line.

So when I finally had the opportunity to remodel my own kitchen, the appliance selection process was the most time-consuming part. After all, there’s no point in spending hours brining and searing a roast if your oven won’t cook it properly. Along the way there were six questions that were especially tough to solve. But I eventually found the answers.

1. Does more expensive really mean better?

In general, yes. I found that more expensive dishwashers had better settings and service plans, and luxury-brand ranges had higher BTUs and a wider range of flame settings.

But there was one appliance that stymied me: the oven. During the renovation process, we stayed in two rental homes. One had a high-end oven that lost so much heat that it turned the kitchen into a sauna. The other had a midrange oven that functioned perfectly.

The secret: the door. While it’s true that fancy convection settings will go a long way toward cooking your food properly, nothing impacts the cooking process more than the heat itself.

So when shopping for an oven, spend extra time in the showroom opening and closing the oven doors. Look at how they seal and ask the salesperson about the differences between seals and springs.

When in doubt, you’re likely to be happier with a less expensive oven with a proper door than with one that has a lot of bells and whistles but a mediocre seal.

2. What’s a good guideline for BTUs?

This is another case where more is not necessarily better. Unlike restaurant chefs, who require a lot of power on every burner for plenty of high-heat cooking, you’re more likely to want a wide variety of heat options for cooking all the different components of your meal.

Pay attention to the range of BTUs among all the burners. You’ll want some burners that get down to a low simmer of about 3,000 BTUs and perhaps one burner that gets all the way up to 12,000 for boiling a large pot of pasta or stock.

3. Do I really need a double oven?

If you like to bake or entertain, then yes, a double oven is a worthwhile investment. But if you have a small family and don’t have people over very often, you can likely make do with a single oven and a microwave convection oven.

4. Will I ever use a warming drawer?

Does the sun rise in the east? Yes, you will use a warming drawer! You’ll use it to warm plates before serving family-style sides. You’ll use it to keep the kids’ omelets hot when they take forever to shower in the morning.

In our house, however, space was a challenge, and a warming drawer didn’t make sense. I solved the problem by choosing a large microwave with a keep-warm function. So I can still keep a dish of lasagna hot without burning the cheese even when both my ovens are hard at work.

5. How high should my vent hood be?

This one took a while to figure out. Although the fan we chose was powerful, we felt the low end of where our manufacturer suggested placing the hood was too low, and I was wary of placing it on the high side, because I sear meat often.

In the end we were able to place it at the maximum height for two reasons: 1. Our fan had a high CFM (cubic feet per minute) number in proportion to our stove’s BTU, and 2. Our vent hood was wider than our range. 

Chris Riddle of Riddle Construction and Design explains: “In an ideal situation the hood should be 6 inches wider than the size of the cooktop/range for maximum efficiency. Meaning a 30-inch range has a 36-inch-wide hood, a 36-inch range has a 42-inch hood and so forth.”

6. Help! I don’t have enough space for a side-by-side fridge.

I love to prepare large meals ahead of time and freeze them, so I nearly had a heart attack when I discovered that our space wouldn’t accommodate the side-by-side fridge I’d been dreaming of.

Our solution came in the form of a pair of freezer drawers in our kitchen island. They aren’t as deep as the drawer on a bottom-mounted freezer-refrigerator unit, but pairing them up means that I have ample space for all of my gallon bags of homemade chicken broth and giant balls of cookie dough.

Selecting the right appliances will complete your kitchen remodeling project.  Ready to get started?  Stop by Cabinet-S-Top's one stop shop located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256 ~ 330.239.3630 ~ www.cabinet-s-top.com