Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Where Should You Start and Stop Your Backsplash?

by Yanic Simard

Consider these tips and tricks to work around cabinets,
windows and more for a finished look in your kitchen

Wondering where to end your backsplash? Never even thought about it? It can be a surprisingly complex question. These tips will help you find the right place to stop your backsplash to get a crisp look in any kitchen.

From a designer perspective, the best time to stop a backsplash is … never! After all, when you’ve chosen a beautiful material, why wouldn’t you want more of it? Taking a backsplash wall to wall and counter to ceiling makes for seamless lines and definitely a dramatic effect.


Of course, in reality it isn’t always an option to cover every inch of wall in a coveted stone. Even in this luxe kitchen someone had to decide: Where should the finish end on the range wall? Above the range hood? Below it? In your project, the decisions can be simple or quite complicated, depending on multiple factors.

General Rule No. 1

Opinions differ on this, but for a polished look I typically tile just the main walls of the kitchen (those that back the cabinets), ending at the corners rather than wrapping around to finish the sides, if there are any. In the case of an odd corner (like on the left here, where there is likely a pipe in the wall), consider the whole corner part of the “back.”

In some cases, a “sidesplash” on a noncabinet wall can be functional and beautiful, but skipping it is the simplest way to avoid situations where elements don’t line up neatly. Typically, the counter, upper cabinets and wall all end at different places on the sides, leaving no definitive stopping point.

In this example, the tile ends at the corners instead of wrapping onto the small wall with the doorway. If it did wrap onto that wall, the two sides of the door would be hard to balance and likely a bit awkward.

Kitchen Size

Small kitchens. Fully covering the wall usually is your best bet in a small kitchen (or in a larger kitchen that has just a small area for the backsplash).

This sort of layout, with just a single backsplash area between the fridge cabinet and side wall, is common in galley kitchens in apartments and condominiums. Tiling the entire area in one material makes for the tidiest finish, which can help make the kitchen look its biggest.

Big kitchens. In the case of a very large kitchen, or one with dramatically tall ceilings, taking tile to full height can bust the budget or completely overload the look. In a case like this, ending the tile vertically at the same line as the upper cabinets gives a better finish.

If you use a darker color for the tiles than the remaining upper wall, it can actually help bring down the apparent ceiling line so the room feels a little more intimate.

In spaces with taller ceilings, a bulkhead often is used to fill in the void above the uppers. This also gives the tile a natural place to finish, so everything looks pleasingly framed in and there’s no empty space left to collect knickknacks and dust.

General Rule No. 2

Knowing where to stop the tile horizontally is easy if your kitchen runs wall to wall, but what if it ends partway along a longer wall? In a case like this, where the kitchen cabinetry ends midroom, the best option is to end the upper cabinets, lower cabinets and backsplash all on one crisp line.


Notice at the right side of this kitchen how the backsplash aligns with the upper and lower cabinets — while the counter hangs out over that line a little bit — rather than extending to the end of the counter and sticking out past the upper cabinets (which to me would be much less tidy).
Of course, this requires the upper and lower cabinets to align crisply, which can take careful planning when laying out the kitchen. Using filler panels and adjusting the spacing around a window can help make cabinets end at the same place on the top and bottom, even if the widths of each cabinet don’t match perfectly above and below.

Other Considerations

Peninsulas. What about times when the upper and lower cabinets don’t align? A common place for this to occur is U- or L-shaped kitchens where the uppers end over a peninsula. In this case, I would suggest ending the backsplash in line with the uppers, so you still get a crisp vertical line.


Windows. Sometimes there will be very small areas of wall between windows and a counter or cabinet. It may be tempting to leave these areas empty (and often easier on the tile installer), but the overall effect will be subtly tidier if you imagine the window does not exist when planning where to end the tile.

In this space, the tile continues to the end of the counter, as ending at the upper cabinet would be far too early.


Here, the tile continues all the way to the corner and up to the height of the upper shelves so that from a distance the line of the upper cabinets is unbroken. It’s a subtle difference versus simply ending at the window, but these little details can make a kitchen feel so much more finished.

Modern slab backsplashes. In a kitchen with modern styling and a cool slab backsplash, it’s extra important for the elements to align pleasingly, or the look can become sloppy. Here, the cabinets and counter are sized to line up perfectly. When installing a peninsula with an overhang, you can also add or subtract an inch or two of counter to make the math work out just right.

Traditional slab backsplashes. Going for a more traditional or farmhouse-inspired look? A charming slab backsplash like this benefits from having some negative space left around it and doesn’t really need to line up with anything — in fact, it can be almost better if it doesn’t.

Edgy tiles. If you’ve got an interesting tile shape, such as a playful hexagon, you can consider ending the tile with a messy edge to give a more relaxed appeal.

This can apply to the horizontal ends and the verticals. This tile fades slowly to white vertically so that the vibrant blue doesn’t have to carry all the way to the ceiling, and it makes for a unique feature.
Cabinet-free walls. In L- or U-shaped kitchens that have large areas — or entire walls — with no upper cabinets, you can tile the empty wall full height or simply continue the upper line of the backsplash around the entire room, as done here.

Ending the backsplash with a shelf, even a shallow one, can give it a nice cap on walls where there are no other particular ending points such as a window or cabinet.

Differing heights. In a kitchen with many items at different heights, I would still use the bottom of the cabinets as a main stopping point, with possibly a little exception at the range for a taller backsplash up to the hood. Ending at the windows would leave an awkward sliver of space below the cabinets.


In more traditional kitchens, sometimes the tile will run even a little above the bottom of the cabinets, which gives a pleasing overlap that feels more relaxed and reduces the need to cut tiles into tiny slivers.

Another way to solve any backsplash height conundrums is to use an elegant short backsplash, just a few inches tall. This way, you can run it around the entire counter at one unbroken height and leave the rest of the wall a uniform color.

You can also pair a short backsplash with a second backsplash material, so you have one style (usually the more high-end material, such as a stone slab) run continuously and then a second material in pieces where needed to fill in.

One Last Idea

Keep in mind, a full-height backsplash might not be as budget-busting or as visually overwhelming as you might think. A classic porcelain tile, with an optional contrast grout, can give a sophisticated, classic look for just a few dollars per square foot, meaning it can actually be the more luxe-looking option than a higher-end material used in a conservative dose.

Need a designer to help you create the desired look for your kitchen?  To get started, stop by Cabinet-S-Top located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256 ~ 330.239.3630 ~ www.cabinet-s-top.com





Monday, June 5, 2017

12 Ways to Make Any Bathroom Look Bigger

by Yanic Simard

These designer tricks can help you
expand your space — without moving any walls


Most of us dream of having a vast, spacious bathroom with a separate tub and shower, two sinks and maybe even a decadent chaise just for lounging between soaks. Well, whether you live that dream or not, you can make your bathroom live up to its full potential by using these strategies to give it a larger look. From carefully choosing your color palette and essential fixtures to employing a few clever visual tricks, you can use some or all of these tips to make your bathroom appear twice as large.

1. Go airy with white on white. One of the easiest ways to give your room a spacious look is to use lots of white — white tile, white paint, a white vanity and so on. This noncolor-color naturally recedes, making the space look bigger. It also reflects any available light, rather than absorbing it.
White finishes can make any space look bigger, but they’re especially effective in a bathroom. Since a bathroom typically has lots of white fixtures already (the tub, toilet and sink, for example), using white for other surfaces creates a seamless look that makes the space appear as airy as possible.

Note that using lots of white doesn’t mean the space has to lack character. Using different textural elements such as molding, pale stone or tile and fabric accents, as well as the occasional touch of metallics or wood, will retain the seamless look while still giving the eye lots of richness to take in.
2. Try tone on tone. Not a fan of stark white? You can still get a very big and breezy effect with a tone-on-tone palette in warm beige, soft grays or even faint hues such as powder blue. Choose a sumptuous tile, and find a paint color for the remaining walls that picks up on one of the hues within it. The overall effect is still serene and spa-like, without the jarring visual breaks to shrink your perception of the space.

3. Use a floating vanity. In a tight bathroom space, it can be tricky to balance a demand for storage with a desire for space to breathe. A floating vanity is a great answer. It gives you lots of room to store daily essentials, but the peek of flooring underneath makes the area feel a notch more open. In a very small space, having a little bit more room to plant your feet can make a big difference.
4. Less is more. If you don’t really need maximum storage, consider using a smaller vanity to leave a bit more open space, rather than fitting in the biggest unit you can. Leaving a little negative space will make the area feel less stuffed, and thus roomier. And if your toilet or tub is next to your vanity, you’ll appreciate the extra open space even more.
5. Go big with your mirror. A large mirror can double the size of your space and, in a bathroom especially, can really help visually double your investment.
In one sense, a very large mirror can be a bit expensive. However, compared with the price of tiling that wall, a mirror can actually give you an equally dramatic look (if not more so) at a better value.

Splurge on a large mirror with a beautiful frame, or go wall-to-wall with a custom-sized piece. The effect can be so powerful that you need little else to make the room look perfectly finished. This can be especially effective in slim powder rooms with small walls that don’t take much glass to cover.
6. Use a glass panel. Another great way to expand the look of your space is by replacing a shower curtain (which forms a bit of a visual wall even when drawn open) with a glass panel or door. The entire square footage of the room will be visible at once for a bigger look, especially when you’re in the shower.
If you prefer more privacy, you can use a frosted or tinted glass panel, which will still allow a lot of light to filter through so your shower experience feels less claustrophobic.

If you’re performing a complete renovation and don’t consider yourself a bath person, try skipping the tub altogether and installing just a shower stall instead. They are easier to get in and out of, and removing the tub eliminates a lot of bulk that eats up precious room.
7. Find your niche. Sometimes a little extra space can go a long way. Adding an open niche not only steals some empty wall cavity space to use as storage, but it can add a lot of visual depth that makes the walls look farther away than they really are.
Don’t love open shelving? Use that niche space for an inset cabinet and get all that functional storage without having a large object protruding into the room at eye level. This will make the vanity area feel much more open and give you lots of extra elbow room.

Keep in mind that plumbing, studs and other hidden conditions can affect where you can and can’t add a niche, so you should definitely talk to a professional before planning to open any walls.
8. Apply bright lighting. Good lighting is important to making any space look big and open, but in bathrooms, which often don’t have much natural light available, it’s especially important. Plus, in a bathroom, you need good lighting to do things such as shave or apply makeup effectively, so its importance can’t be overstated.
For these reasons, it’s key to have a rich lighting scheme, preferably with multiple light sources at different locations. A grid of ceiling lights, as well as sconces or a contemporary edge-lighted mirror will help you avoid shadowing and make the space feel bright and open.

In a small powder room, or where you can’t add new electrical for lights, try changing your ceiling light to one with multiple bulbs so you have light coming from several directions from one fixture.
9. Create long lines. Whether your bathroom is a typical rectangle or more oddly shaped, you can usually find one wall or area that’s a bit longer than others to emphasize. Adding a shelf, a band of tile, a molding chair rail or another long element (even a simple stripe of paint) can help emphasize the longest line in your room and draw the eye to the widest point.

In this room, the encroaching low ceiling is de-emphasized by the wide shelf and tile backsplash that highlight the widest point just below where the slope begins.
10. Visually push the walls apart. If your bathroom is already very long and tunnel-shaped, rather than emphasize the length even more, consider working against the length and visually stretching the width instead.

This room uses the direction of the long, elegant floor tiles, as well as a band of accent tile in the shower, to visually stretch the width of the room for a more balanced look and a less tunnel-like atmosphere.

11. Go vertical. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! Sometimes, if your bathroom has small square footage, rather than try to make it look bigger horizontally, the smartest approach is to embrace the height as the largest dimension and emphasize that feature instead.

Using vertical elements as simple as a tall, thin mirror and a bold accent color on a skinny wall can enhance the height of a space and make the room feel big and breezy from that perspective. Add some delicate lights and a little black and white tile, and you’ve got lots to keep the eye moving from flooring to ceiling.

12. Keep a low profile. Want to add some personality or drama to your bathroom without visually shrinking the space? Just look down. Try adding drama to elements with a lower profile, such as the vanity or the floor tile, while keeping the elements around your eyeline more simple and open. This approach gives the room lots of character while still maintaining a sense of openness. In fact, having a dark or vibrant color near floor level can sometimes make the upper half of the room feel even more open and airy by contrast.

Ready to remodel your bathroom?  Stop by Cabinet-S-Top to speak with one of our expert designers.  Located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256 ~ 330.239.3630 ~ www.cabinet-s-top.com



Tuesday, May 23, 2017

12 Ways to Make Your Kitchen Look and Feel Bigger

by Yanic Simard

Try any or all of these clever design moves
to get more storage and create a roomier feeling


A kitchen of any size can feel roomy if you know a few tricks. Sticking to white cabinets and walls is a good start, but there are many other ways to create extra room in your kitchen, or create the illusion of a bigger space than you have, all without sacrificing a sense of personality. Here are 12 of my favorite ways to balance storage, style and long sightlines to get a functional layout with a spacious vibe.

1. Consider shallow cabinets. Here’s some outside-the-box thinking: Not all of your lower cabinets must be the standard 24-inch depth. Most cabinet lines (even stock cabinets from big box stores) also come in a 12- or 15-inch depth usually used for upper cabinets.

Using slimmer lower cabinets for one area has its advantages. It opens a bit more floor space, which can make a big difference in a tight kitchen. It also reduces your storage slightly, but often the backs of deep cabinets are hard to reach anyway, so the shallower cabinets can be just right for everyday items.

2. Reduce your hardware. It’s a no-brainer that eliminating counter clutter is important for keeping a kitchen looking open and breezy, but you can take this a step further by removing the hardware.

Using cabinet doors with touch-activated latches or integrated reach-in pulls reinforces the clean lines of your new kitchen, which subtly helps it appear bigger. It also gives you fewer little items to bump into or get caught on your clothing, so the space will feel easier to move in too.

3. Rethink the double sink. Clients often request a double sink — sometimes before anything else. Large double sinks have their uses, but if you’re willing to compromise and choose a single sink (or even a one-and-a-half sink with a slim second bowl), it can open up better storage options and more unbroken counter space.

This applies especially to stock cabinet lines, which include a limited number of size options.

If your sink is centered on the window, without a ton of room on either side, this can create a “dead zone” next to it that can’t accommodate anything. Using a smaller cabinet for the sink frees up room on either side, which can open up new options for adjacent cabinets.

For example, switching from a 36-inch sink cabinet (for a double sink) to a 24-inch cabinet (for a single sink) frees up 6 inches on both sides. This can turn 6 inches of adjacent space into 12 inches, which is enough for a usable cabinet.

If you don’t think you’ll use that second sink bowl frequently, it’s worth exploring what else that space could be used for.

4. Choose a compact dishwasher. Most standard dishwashers come in a 24-inch width, but compact or “condo-sized” dishwashers in an 18-inch width are growing in popularity.

Saving that 6 inches can give you a bigger cabinet elsewhere. Naturally, a smaller washer also fills up faster, which means you can run a full load more often instead of waiting a day between washes or running the machine while only half full. For smaller households this can be a perfect option.

5. Put your fridge on a diet. Speaking of saving inches, choosing a slimmer refrigerator can really open up your kitchen as well. Clients usually want the largest fridge they can fit, but these large 36-inches-and-up models often end up full of clutter or simply remain half empty.

If you don’t cook often, or frequently shop for fresh produce, try slimming down your fridge to 30 inches or even 28 inches and leaving more room open for other essentials.

6. Use panel appliances. Not prepared to choose compact appliances? You can still get a much lighter look.

Panel-ready appliances (usually fridges and dishwashers) are designed to be able to receive a door front of your choosing so they can blend into the look of your kitchen cabinets. The resulting look is more fluid, which creates an overall larger, airier appearance. It’s usually not an inexpensive upgrade, but it definitely creates a look of sophisticated luxury.
7. Mirror your backsplash. When you’re tucked into the kitchen working away on dinner, that’s when the space usually feels the smallest.

Using a mirror for the backsplash opens up the sightlines, making the room seem much bigger, especially from close up. For a smart, moodier effect, use a tinted glass so the reflection is more subtle.

8. Use shelf uppers. In a small kitchen, removing all the upper cabinets may not be a practical option, but you can always use as much or as little as you like to house just your most attractive everyday items.

A few open shelves on one wall will perfectly hold daily-use tableware, storage jars and bins, and cookbooks, and give the room a much more open feel. It can also give a beautiful window a little more space to breathe so the whole room feels less stuffed.





You don’t even have to fully commit to shelf uppers. Try simply removing the doors from a cabinet to simulate this breezy look. You can always put the doors back on later if you want to.


9. Add glass door cabinets. Here’s another way to lighten your uppers, but without actually changing your storage. Switch out typical solid cabinet fronts to doors with glass inserts to make the look much airier.

Use this cabinet to display attractive drinkware, or use frosted glass so you only get a faint peek at the mishmash of items stored within.

10. Install cabinet lighting. The importance of good lighting cannot be stressed enough, and in kitchens especially the lighting is often insufficient, coming just from ceiling fixtures in the center of the room. Add lighting under, above and even inside the cabinets to make the room feel much brighter and bigger, as the dark shadows around the cabinets would otherwise visually shrink the space.

For a quick fix, add plug-in LED strip fixtures or battery-powered tap lights under the cabinets for extra brightness.

11. Use a short backsplash. So you’ve carefully configured your storage, and now you’ve got some beautiful open wall space. To make that wall look 10 feet tall (even if it’s only 8), try using a short, minimal backsplash in a color that blends with the wall. The lack of an obvious dividing line between where the tile stops and the plain wall starts keeps the planes of the wall looking taller, so your open space looks positively vast.

Alternatively, if you have the budget, you can take tile all the way to the ceiling or use a chic slab backsplash for a truly unbroken appearance.

Try a stainless steel backsplash to present a subtle sheen that almost acts like a mirror (as discussed above), giving the room a sense of depth and echoing the finishes of steel appliances or fixtures.


12. Unwrap your hood. You may not want to eliminate any true upper cabinets, but the partial cabinets that wrap around a hood fan usually have little function other than hiding ductwork. Choose a beautiful range hood that is meant to be seen, and let it create a little visual break from the upper cabinets. Even this small bit of depth can make a kitchen feel less claustrophobic.

Ready to get started on remodeling your kitchen? Stop by Cabinet-S-Top and speak with one of our expert designers to get started.  Located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256 ~ 330.239.3630 ~ www.cabinet-s-top.com