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

Monday, May 8, 2017

6 Bathrooms Freshen Up With Farmhouse Style

by Brenna Malmberg

Take a look inside to see the handy features
and classic pieces that help define these bathrooms

Farmhouse style has made a name for itself in the bathroom. You have the claw-foot tub, the earthy color palette, and the handy shelves and stools dotted around the room. Together, these farmhouse-style features create a soothing, collected-over-time feel that can make almost anyone want to sink down into a warm bath and relax. 

Let’s take a look at six bathrooms that highlight different elements of farmhouse style. Add one feature to refresh your bathroom, or soak all of them up to create a full-on farmhouse bathroom in your home.

1. Say yes to open storage. Simple wooden shelves hold bathroom essentials and a blooming orchid in this home in Savannah, Georgia. The exposed brackets — painted white like most other elements in the room — and the cafe curtains add another touch of country charm. 

Along the side of the shower, interior designers Victoria Holmes and Lana Salter created a ledge that gives the homeowners even more open storage. The slim ledge is big enough to hold a wooden body brush and a few potted plants.

The farmhouse style continues in this space with white-paneled walls, subway tiles and the star of the show: a claw-foot tub. 

2. Stash the towels on hooks and stools. Farmhouse style is all about keeping it simple. On that note, Rebecca Zajac of Design by Numbers gave a Las Vegas couple two big hooks on the wall for their towels. The hooks are simple but meet the couple’s needs.

Next she added a rustic wooden stool. It brings in a natural texture and functions as a side table to the tub.

Drop your gaze to the floor under the stool legs, and you’ll find 2-inch hexagonal tiles, a feature that gives a nod to the client’s love for vintage style, Zajac says.

3. Give something old a new life. Farmhouse charm oozes from this antique family storage unit that a Georgia couple repurposed as bathroom storage. The coat of seaweed-green paint updates its aged finish and makes it stand out against the tan and white colors surrounding it. 

The cabinet also keeps with farmhouse style by having open shelves on the upper part. Here the couple displays family photos right alongside fresh towels.

4. Perk up the walls. An earthy palette — full of whites, tans and greens — inside this California home echoes the colors outside the window. Beyond color, architectural designer George Bevan of Bevan + Associates added horizontal paneling to counter the high ceiling in the small space.

Spikes of green also protrude from the wall. Those are air plants arranged over the tub, giving the room a bit of nature inside. 
5. Go with a classic. A cast-iron claw-foot tub steals the show in this Canadian home. The homeowners decided to splurge on it, along with the stand-up faucet, says interior designer Bethany Van Hecke. 

The classics continue in the shower. Beyond the glass walls, floor-to-ceiling subway tiles complete the rest of that washing space. 

6. Open up to the idea of a barn door. Nothing says farmhouse like having a barn door lead to the bathroom. 

These handy homeowners wanted to save on this feature and decided to do it themselves. They found the door at a salvage yard; it had come from an old dairy farm in Ohio. Then they found the materials for the door’s track at a local tractor supply company, wallah, they had a working barn door for their farmhouse bathroom.

Looking to capture the farmhouse style in your bathroom remodel? Stop by Cabinet-S-Top and meet 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

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Kitchen Design Secret: Why You May Want a Separate Cleanup Sink

by Moorea Hoffman

A cleanup sink plays a distinct role in the kitchen.   Here’s what to consider when planning yours:

There are good reasons to have two sinks in your kitchen. Having two properly placed sinks improves kitchen workflow, allows multiple cooks to work in comfort simultaneously, and prevents dirty dishes from getting in the cook’s way.

Recently, I made the case for two sinks
 and described considerations for the prep sink, where you wash, chop, peel and prepare the meal. This story focuses on what you’ll want to think about when planning the other important sink: the cleanup sink.

Why Have a Cleanup Sink?

In a nutshell, the cleanup sink is for washing dishes, pots and glassware. It’s for cleaning up! But why do you need a dedicated cleanup sink? Because readying a meal and cleaning up afterward are two separate processes that should be physically separated. That’s how restaurants do it — the person busing tables wouldn’t dare enter the chef’s domain, after all — and the same strategy works beautifully at home.

Creating a Cleanup Zone

In order for your cleanup sink to function properly, you’ll want to surround it with the proper tools and equipment. First, the sink needs to have counter on both sides — ideally at least 3 feet per side, 2 feet at a minimum. This is necessary so that dirty dishes can move, assembly-line style, from one side to the other. Second, you should place wall cabinets or alternative storage around the sink so that plates and glassware have a home close by.

Third, you definitely want to have the dishwasher next to the cleanup sink, and your trash pullout close at hand. Finally, you should have a drawer nearby for storing silverware. 

Once these items surround your cleanup sink, you’ll have created a well-functioning cleanup station — mission control for setting the table and cleaning and putting away the dishes.

What to Consider

There is no one-size-fits-all approach when selecting your cleanup sink. Instead, your decision will come down to your needs, preferences and priorities. Be sure to have a conversation with your kitchen designer about how you wash the dishes, or think it through if you’re acting as your own designer — these details are really important for making the best choices!

Case in point: I designed a gorgeous kitchen, and when I stopped by to see the client after the remodel, I noticed an ugly dish rack cluttering up her stunning counter. Had I known that she hand-washed items often, I would have suggested a double-bowl sink, with one side for washing and the other to hide the dish rack.

1. Choose Bowl Number

One of the first decisions you’ll want to make about your cleanup sink is whether you want one bowl or two. When everyone washed dishes by hand, double bowls made a lot of sense. But today many people use dishwashers so powerful that rinsing dishes beforehand is not required. If you’re not hand-washing or pre-rinsing, do you really need two bowls?

Single-bowl sinks have a few advantages. They fit large items while taking up a minimum of counter space. They also fit the modern lifestyle, where hand-washing is often done with running water (instead of a full bowl of soapy water followed by a rinse). Single bowls also allow you to choose from the popular apron or farmhouse styles, which are typically just one bowl.

If a double-bowl sink makes the most sense for you — maybe you’ll be hand-washing your grandmother’s china frequently — you may want to consider a model with unequal bowl sizes, as shown in this photo, to get maximum width in the large section.

Tip: People have different preferences, but if you do choose two bowls, I recommend that you place the garbage disposal on the larger side. That way, you’ll be able to soak your casserole dish, then dump out the food bits directly into the disposal.

2. Get the Right Width

No matter how many bowls you prefer, your cleanup sink should be wide enough to soak platters or lasagna pans. Single-bowl sinks are commonly 30 to 36 inches wide, while double-bowl sinks are frequently 33 to 42 inches wide. You may want to bring your favorite large dish along on your sink-shopping trip to be sure it will fit inside your chosen sink. If space in your kitchen is limited, I recommend choosing a single bowl so that you have the greatest amount of continuous sink-basin width.

 3. Make a Wall-Facing Sink Work

Where in your kitchen should you place the cleanup sink? My philosophy is that great views or social kitchen islands are best used as the prep space, rather than the cleanup space, because you’ll likely spend more time prepping than cleaning up.

As a result of prioritizing the prep sink, the cleanup sink will often face a wall. That’s OK, because there are a number of design strategies that can add to a wall-facing sink’s function and style.

If you already have abundant storage, consider eliminating the cabinet above your wall-facing cleanup sink entirely. Standing with a cabinet in your face is no fun, and the cabinet can get in the way of cleanup tasks. Instead, this space can be a great spot to hang art, create display shelves or make a feature of your beautiful backsplash.

If storage is needed above the sink, make it higher than a standard 18-inch backsplash or shallower than a standard 12-inch-deep wall cabinet. I usually opt for open shelves for frequently used items, or glass-door cabinets for items you don’t use often. Whether you choose shelves or cabinets for this space, they should be only 8 to 9 inches deep. 

Tip: Be realistic about how open shelving or glass-fronted cabinets will look in your everyday life. Do you mind doing the work to keep things neat, or will your display end up a jumbled mess? A good compromise might be frosted or textured glass, which gives you an open feel without creating a focal point out of mismatched coffee mugs.

Also, consider the height of the person who uses the cleanup station the most. If the person is tall, you may need additional headroom or a higher counter. If the person is short, be sure the necessary shelves can be reached. Some European dishwashers like Bosch or Miele have adjustable heights, making it possible to lower the counter for the comfort of the person who washes the dishes. Still, while customizing counter height improves ergonomics, it may not be a wise decision if you plan to sell your home in less than 10 years.

4. Create a Clear Path to the Table

The cleanup sink and zone should be relatively close to the primary eating area. Also, the path that dirty dishes take to the cleanup sink should be relatively short and not pass through the cooking prep zone. This makes both setting and clearing the table easier.

5. Plan for Organized Storage

One benefit of creating a dedicated cleanup sink (and surrounding cleanup zone) is conveniently organized storage. When all bowls, silverware, glasses, cups, plates, napkins and storage containers are housed together in the cleanup zone, every task — from setting the table to unloading the dishwasher — is easier and takes less time.

So be sure you have sufficient cabinetry nearby — whether a traditional cabinet or an alternative, as shown in this kitchen. Here, we wanted to maximize the view but couldn’t give up storage. So instead of placing two wall cabinets on both sides of a tiny window, we used an 8-foot-tall, 2-foot-deep cabinet with rollout shelves. Not only did we make the most of a beautiful view, but we gained storage as well.

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