Monday, September 26, 2016

Kitchen Confidential: Walk-In Pantries vs. Cabinet Pantries

by Sam Ferris

We explore the pros and cons of
these popular kitchen storage options

It’s only natural to debate whether to go with a walk-in or cabinet pantry when you’re building a new home or redesigning your existing kitchen. Some homeowners want a roomy nook with wall-to-wall shelves and customized inserts, while others are satisfied with just a few shelves and pullouts tucked inside a kitchen cabinet. Here are the pros and cons of both styles.

Walk-In Pantries

Pro: They have more storage capacity.

Walk-in pantries are a home chef’s best friend. They take the cake when it comes to sheer volume of storage space. With multiple walls of floor-to-ceiling shelves, they’re big enough to store dozens of ingredients, cookbooks, snacks, pots, pans, medium to large cooking appliances and more.

Con: Storage is more spread out.

Bigger isn’t always better, especially when you’re in the mood to whip up a quick dinner. It may take a few extra minutes to gather your ingredients in a large walk-in pantry. You may have trouble remembering where you put your sugar and flour. Walk-in pantries are also some distance away from appliances and prep space, which can reduce efficiency when you’re cooking. Some homeowners prefer the convenience of having ingredients on hand in their kitchen.

Pro: They can be better organized.

Cabinet pantries aren’t inefficient by any means, but walk-in pantries let you get a little more creative with your organization techniques. You can sort your items by row or column, by food group and so on. Consider dedicating a column of shelves to nonrefrigerated fruits and veggies or your most-used oils and spices. You may even have room to house your baking sheets with built-in tray dividers.

Con: They can require more upkeep.

Unfortunately, a highly organized pantry comes at a price. You know the drill: More space plus more shelves equals more to keep clean and tidy. It takes time and effort to dust off dirty surfaces and declutter shelves. If you’re looking to cut back on your weekly to-do list, you may prefer a cabinet pantry with less storage and less upkeep.

Pro: They can store bigger appliances with ease.

Cabinet pantries can house toasters, coffee makers and mixers too, but it’s usually at the expense of valuable storage space. Walk-in pantries can comfortably fit larger appliances like microwaves, slow cookers, juicers and deep fryers, freeing up counter space and ensuring they’re ready to grab when you need them. Some pantries may even have enough space for a second refrigerator.

Con: They take up a lot of space.

A major downside to walk-in pantries is that they require a lot of space to be functional and efficient. If you’re designing a new kitchen or remodeling an existing one, you’ll have to shrink your kitchen’s footprint to accommodate a walk-in pantry. This can be an issue for homeowners who are short on space to begin with and want to maximize the size of their kitchen.

Cabinet Pantries

Pro: Storage space is more centralized.

Whereas walk-in pantries feature several walls of shelves, cabinet pantries confine all of your snacks, ingredients and small appliances to a single space. You don’t have to spend time searching through several walls of shelves to find what you need. Less time looking means more time cooking.

Con: They have limited storage space. 

A single cabinet devoted to pantry storage won’t be enough for some homeowners, especially avid cooks. While you can fit larger appliances inside a cabinet pantry, they use a good chunk of the limited space. One way to get an excellent storage capacity with cabinet pantries is to insert more than one into your kitchen, but that will eat up more counter space.

Pro: Storage is more accessible.

Having your pantry smack dab in the middle of your kitchen will cut down on the time you spend walking to and from your pantry. Placing it next to your refrigerator and across from your range will create hyperefficient workstations.

Inside features can also increase your cabinet pantry’s accessibility. Pullout drawers, for instance, allow you to see every snack and ingredient at once, which reduces the amount of time you’ll spend rummaging. They’re easy on your back too.

Con: They’re an added cabinet expense.

If you’ve ever tackled a full kitchen renovation, you’re aware that cabinets aren’t cheap. Cabinet pantries cost significantly more than standard base or wall cabinets, primarily due to their height and any custom features they may include (such as pullout drawers and spice racks).

Pro: They don’t take up a lot of space.

Cabinet pantries are on the smaller side compared with walk-in pantries, which require a large footprint. Most measure 24 to 36 inches wide. They’re an efficient storage solution for small or medium-size kitchens, providing a little extra shelf and drawer space without giving up too much in return.

Con: They take up counter space.

You’ll definitely lose some counter space, no matter how small your cabinet pantry may be. If you’re designating multiple cabinets as pantry storage, be prepared to give up a significant amount of prep space. Either way, it’s important to navigate the delicate balance of storage and counter space with due diligence. This loss is felt less in larger kitchens but can impact the way a smaller kitchen functions. Consider the size of your kitchen and the way you cook when deciding.

Need help with your kitchen remodeling project?  We can design and configure the best layout for your kitchen.  Stop by Cabinet-S-Top located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256 ~ 330.239.3630 ~

Monday, September 19, 2016

Design Tips to Energize Your Bathroom

by Yanic Simard

Incorporate some — or all — of these ideas to keep your space from feeling too clinical and boring

Modern bathroom design is often all about going minimalist with clean finishes for a spa-like feel. But sometimes the look ends up feeling clinical. To make sure your space feels just as inviting as the rest of your home, try some of my favorite bathroom design tips to create a sense of warmth and personality while achieving spot-on style.

1. Pattern

Bathrooms often are devoid of interesting patterns, which is a shame, because energetic patterns can add life to any room. Consider adding a patterned drapery panel or playful towels, or simply hang a colorful print (or wallpaper sample) in a frame as artwork. These low-commitment ideas allow you to keep a classic color scheme for the fixed elements while dabbling in color trends as the mood strikes.

A horizontally striped shower curtain is a foolproof way to add some pattern and excitement in a bathroom of any size, style or budget. Try a gray-and-white stripe to match any palette …

… or navy and white to capture a timeless nautical spirit.
2. Tile Baseboard

Accent tiles aren’t only for the shower. Adding an interesting “baseboard” of charming tile helps keep water from splashing on the bare walls (from the occasional spill or leak) and adds a touch of visual interest in a quirky, unexpected place. Plus, it’s a great way to introduce a touch of pattern in a low-maintenance and moisture-proof way.
3. Anchor With Color

Having lighter colors at the eyeline will help a bathroom feel clean and airy, but try balancing them with a deep color lower to the ground (such as below a chair rail, as in this photo). This adds a sense of richness that helps keep the space from feeling too stark, without making it overwhelmingly dark. Plus, it beautifully sets off classic white fixtures.

If your bathroom has a large amount of wall space eaten up by tile, windows or mirror, try a dark color on the remaining plain walls. This helps the more interesting features to advance and the plain walls to recede, for a more dynamic look and lots of rich character.
4. Divider Screen

Screening out the toilet puts the visual emphasis on areas like a beautiful vanity, but dividing the space can cause visual shrinkage. Try an airy divider screen to divert the eye without completely closing in the walls. You can have a lattice-like screen installed (painted to match the door frames and baseboards) or use a free-standing room screen to achieve a similar effect.

5. Off-White

A white bathroom doesn’t have to be strictly stark white. Try mixing in some creamy off-white in elements like wallpaper, towels or small accessories, to make white porcelain look white while softening the look of the overall palette with less clinical, more lived-in tones.

6. Detailed Mirror

A plain slab mirror can be beautifully functional in a modern bathroom, but if you’re looking to add some personality, a statement mirror frame is a great place to start. Choose one that’s thick or interesting, or make a fun one yourself by painting or adding gold leaf to a plain frame to add drama.
7. Hanging Mirror

Go a step more dramatic with your mirror and hang one with a chunky strap from an equally substantial hook. You can also layer this look by hanging a bold frame at eye level over a flat rectangular mirror slab as a quick upgrade to an existing mirror. Have nowhere to attach the frame because a tile or glass is in the way? Ask your contractor if a mirror or frame could be hung from your ceiling instead.
8. Étagère

A free-standing open shelving unit adds essential storage and some personality for a more lived-in look than built-in shelves (which some people find have a drier vibe, but ultimately it all comes down to preference). Refer to my bathroom styling guide for tips on how to keep open shelves arranged attractively.

9. Natural Materials

Bathrooms usually feature a lot of crisp materials that, while waterproof, are sometimes a little visually cold. Natural materials reintroduce some warmth and a sense of human touch, so look for places to add wood, organically shaped stone or woven baskets.

Animal-inspired prints also bring in a sense of life, as do shades of natural green and blackened bronze.

Tip: Towels with a fringe add a sense of personality and fit well with the traditional-meets-modern elements of a wood vanity.

10. Vessel Sink

Notice how many spaces in this article have an eye-catching vessel sink to make the space feel more enticing. Switching away from the typical porcelain makes an evocative statement. Consider natural materials and imperfect shapes, like a carved wood, stone or blown-glass sink.

If you do prefer the look of crisp white porcelain, consider a vessel sink with a tall faucet tucked behind it, especially in a finish like bronze or brass.

Also consider a trendy yet classic farmhouse-style sink, with a raised back to frame a faucet or two. This eclectic look has a homey yet sophisticated appeal.
11. Tile

Want to get really creative? For a unique bathroom look with plenty of personality, mix different-color tiles together to create a mosaic design on an accent wall, even incorporating mirror elements. This takes some planning and usually costs extra to have installed, but you can achieve a dramatic effect from simple tiles that cost just a few dollars a square foot and skip the pricey materials like marble.

Try this especially with plain porcelain subway tiles, throwing in a few leftover or retired sample tiles scooped up at a showroom at a bargain price to add personality and a look unique to you.
12. Hardware

Just as in the kitchen, cabinet hardware often goes overlooked as a detail worth upgrading. Fun or quirky knobs (especially in a bathroom with only a few drawers or doors) add an interesting personal detail that you can always change inexpensively down the road.

If you don’t love your playful knobs in a few years, you can always move them to a child’s room or resell them, and put back the default knobs, or treat yourself to new ones.

 13. Dramatic Ceiling

If you can’t find the right spot to add drama, try looking up. A single roll of wallpaper is often enough to make over a bathroom ceiling, and since bathrooms are often taller than they are wide, adding a little interest overhead will only help make the room feel intimate and more well-proportioned.

14. Dimmer

Finally, capping your look with a dimmer system gives you the option to switch between bright, intense lighting when you need to start your day with a wake-up call (and for cleaning day), and more relaxed lighting as you unwind in the evening.

Ready to get started remodeling your bathroom?  Stop by Cabinet-S-Top's designer showroom to get started.  Located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH 44256 ~ 330.239.3630 ~

Friday, September 16, 2016

16 Stylish Built-In Sleeping Areas for Dogs

by Julie Sheer

Give pets their own safe haven with these built-in
beds for the kitchen, living areas and laundry room

Pet experts will tell you that dogs need a space of their own to snuggle up and sleep in. Canines curl up in a ball in the wild to retain warmth, an instinct that carries over to our suburban pets. So instead of just throwing a dog bed on the floor, why not carve out a space to satisfy your pet’s denning instinct? As den animals, dogs need a “sanctuary that is just large enough for them to fit inside and feel secure,” the American Humane Association says.

A built-in sleeping area in a home’s cabinetry fits that bill and makes a perfect hideaway for our domesticated canine friends. It can be adapted for any home’s style — traditional, sleekly modern or a bit blingy. An added bonus is that built-ins keep the house uncluttered by clunky dog beds. Here are some striking examples.

1. Lucky, a goldendoodle, enjoys his special spot in his family’s renovated kitchen and mudroom. “The small addition, tucked between existing spaces, gives Lucky his own hangout area in the mudroom, and allows the family to easily (and stylishly) gate him when need be,” Jean Rehkamp Larson of Rehkamp Larson Architects says. “The custom metal gate operates like a concealed pocket door, conveniently sliding in and out of the wall when needed.”

2. A dachshund gets a cozy nook in this modern kitchen-dining area in a country house near the appropriately named Petworth, in southern England. The cabinetry doors, drawer fronts and side panels are covered in ash veneer.

3. Talk about the best of both worlds. This dog gets to keep an eye on dinner prep while lounging in bed. A built-in dog bed was incorporated in the kitchen so the whole family could hang out together.

4. The dog cubby in this kitchen was part of a mid-century house in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles. The peninsula is wrapped in strips of painted medium-density fiberboard.

5. Dog crates, or kennels, can be an excellent house training aid, and act as a temporary “special retreat” rather than an all-day cage, according to the American Humane Association. But their boxy, chain-link ugliness is a design challenge. Not for lucky rescue dogs Maxie and Scout, though, who get to hang out in a custom-designed pen in this Newton, Massachusetts, kitchen. The pups open the gate with their noses. The dog den can be replaced with a base cabinet later if desired. 

6. A cavalier King Charles spaniel peeks out from its bed in an English country kitchen in New Jersey. The niche is part of a handcrafted cabinetry unit in soft yellow with brown glazing and light distressing.

7. These pooches enjoy luxe sleeping digs in custom-made cabinets with a tufted backdrop in the living area of their Atlanta home. The space includes removable, washable bedding, and a laser-cut metal screen in the kennel door offers ventilation. Toys are also stashed inside.
8. This sleeping space under the stairs gets the chic treatment in a Cape Cod-style home in Huntington Beach, California. “Our dogs love it,” says homeowner Janine Roth, who put custom foam beds in the space and painted the walls a dark color, then hung photos of the dogs inside. “Our friends love to stick their heads in and look at all the photos,” she says. The space is bigger than it looks. An electrician fit inside to install can lights, a carpenter added baseboards and a painter finished the walls.

9. The canine of this house has a view of both upstairs and downstairs from its niche in a stairway landing. The arched opening matches other doorways in the Craftsman home in Seattle. The designers carved the recess from an adjacent closet with a dog in mind. The space came first, the dog came later.

10. Tasked with transforming a small space into a laundry room-pocket office-craft and wrapping area, complete with pet station and wall-hung sink, in this English-style fundraising showhouse in Charlotte, North Carolina. She wanted to get the enormous dog bed off the floor and tucked away, so she created custom cabinets to fit a bed insert. (The cover was sewn by a local seamstress.) Her Labs, Briar and Bramble, are shown enjoying the area. The wood cabinets to the left hold 40-pound bags of dog food.

11. This laundry-mudroom in an Akron, Ohio, house got a big upgrade with new cabinetry and the addition of a dog wash area and built-in resting spot — enjoyed by dogs Roxy, pictured here, and Bella. Vibrations from the stacked washer and dryer lull the pups to sleep.

12. This little dog has a cozy hideaway in the laundry room of a Tampa, Florida. In these custom cabinets, the bench on top of the cubby lifts up for easy cleaning of the bed.
13. This stylish built-in dog crate is in the mudroom-laundry room of an updated Colonial home in Roslyn, New York. The mudroom was renovated into a pet area with an integrated kennel. The cage is custom-made from a stainless steel grille of round bar stock welded in a flat C-channel frame. Two hinges allow the doors to be lifted off for cleaning.

14. The builders of this New Hampshire home designed and built the two dog crates to fit into the custom cabinetry in this traditional laundry room. The clients provided the builders with the size opening required for their dogs.

15. A doggie sleeping area is part of the pet station at this Cypress, Texas, showcase house. The dog crate door is a decorative metal screen. Food bowls swivel out from the station’s toe kick, and a dog wash faucet from Moen is in the dog shower area.

16. Yellow Labs Blais and Gino snuggle up in bed together in the mudroom of their Minnesota home.

Do you have your own special pooch that you would like to incorporate a built-in bed area into your home?  Give us a call!  We can help!  Cabinet-S-Top, 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH 44256 ~ 330.239.360 ~