How an Expert Renovator can Help You Update Parts of Your Kitchen without Destroying the Rest

Many homeowners assume that if they want to get a wow-worthy kitchen, they’ll need to invest in a head-to-toe overhaul. But you don’t always need a full renovation to achieve a beautiful transformation. 

There are plenty of impactful changes you can make that will completely refresh your kitchen’s look, and these projects are the focus of this post. 

However, to get the best results, it’s always preferable to get the help of an expert contractor with any of the tasks outlined below. Experts not only have the skills to perform flawless installations but also to ensure that the unchanged parts of your kitchen won’t sustain any damage during the process. 

Replacing Countertops

Sometimes all it takes to make a kitchen fashionable is to replace its aging countertop. This is especially true for often dated-looking and low-quality materials like laminate or tile. Fortunately, it’s possible to update your countertops while keeping your original cabinets

Refacing Cabinets

Refacing cabinets is a great way to reinvigorate the look of your kitchen without having to make any structural changes. It’s a purely cosmetic process which leaves the bones of your cabinets fully intact. 

Building Additional Storage

Of course, only refacing cabinets still leaves you with the same amount of storage. Some in-cabinet fixtures can make the interiors more efficient, but if you want to expand your kitchen’s storage sans a full cabinet redo, you may want to build additional shelving or cabinets where space allows. This could be in an under-used corner of your kitchen, or in a nearby closet that can be converted into a pantry. 

Installing New Backsplashes

If your cabinets and counters are in great shape, but you still want to infuse some new character into your kitchen, a new backsplash could be the perfect solution. A professional contractor can help you choose the material, color, and arrangement that will best complement your existing design.

Updating Floors

Flooring sometimes feels like an afterthought in renovations, but it has the power to dramatically shift the mood of your kitchen. For example, a light golden hardwood can bring warmth and radiance to space, while black geometric tiles can make it feel hip and sophisticated. 

Need a Helping Hand with Your Kitchen Update?

Our team is happy to assist. We’ll guide you with expert advice and insights, learned from performing countless kitchen renovations in the Easton, Pennsylvania area. Contact our team today to learn what we can do to give you the kitchen you’ve been longing for. 

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Is it Possible to Replace Countertops While Keeping Your Old Cabinets?

In our time as home renovators, we’ve encountered many of the same questions from homeowners. One of the most common questions we get is whether or not it’s possible to replace countertops while keeping your old cabinets too.

There are plenty of reasons why you would want to replace countertops while keeping old cabinets. If you already have high-quality cabinets, then you may not see any need to fix what isn’t broken, especially when skipping cabinet replacement can save money. And in some cases, a kitchen only needs new countertops and a few other updates to get a fresh look. 

It’s definitely possible to replace only your countertops, but there are some factors that should be considered before deciding if this option is right for you. 

You’ll be Stuck with the Layout of Your Old Cabinets

If your cabinet layout was designed well, then this may not be a problem. But many older kitchens have layouts that aren’t very efficient or aesthetically pleasing. 

Placing new counters on poorly-designed cabinetry could really undercut the benefits of your investment. Make sure that you are completely satisfied with your cabinet build before choosing to forego replacement. Think about where appliances are located, how much counter space is available, and whether or not your current layout obstructs walking paths. If there are significant inconveniences present, then it may be worth spending the extra money to install new and improved cabinetry. 

Old Cabinets May Not be Suitable for Your Chosen Countertops

Some countertop materials, like granite, require the cabinets they rest upon to be especially strong. The heavyweight of granite is not the only thing that requires cabinets to be 100% structurally sound – because there are natural veins throughout the stone, some parts are vulnerable to cracking. 

The only way to protect against this is to anchor the cabinets properly and make sure the build does not possess any weak points or problems with levelness. Getting old cabinets to meet this standard can be tough if they weren’t well constructed, or if they’ve shifted due to problems with the home’s flooring or foundation. 

Cabinets May Still Need Refacing

The bones of your cabinets may be solid, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need a facelift. If your cabinets look a bit weathered, they can clash against your brand new countertops. You’ll need to get them refaced, resurfaced, or refinished to upgrade their appearance. 

When any of these processes become part of the equation, sequence matters. Installing the new countertops before your cabinets have been refinished will create more work and, most importantly, risk damage. Expert contractors will always advise you to have your refinishing work done before the new countertops are placed so that there’s no chance of harming their pristine condition. 

Revamp Your Kitchen with Expert Help

If you have plans to replace your countertops, cabinets, or even the full build of your kitchen, our crew is here to provide the skill and guidance needed. Get in touch with us today to receive professional advice and a personalized quote for your project. 

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How Partnering with an Expert Contractor Gets You the Best Renovation Results

When you need renovation work done, it can be very tempting to hire a handyman or low-cost contractor to do the job. After all, these expenses can rack up, and many homeowners see labor as a great area to save money in. 

The problem is this: when homeowners hire unprofessional, unskilled workers, they often get low-quality results. These can come in the form of big mistakes, such as poorly done installations that need complete replacement. Or, they can manifest in the smallest details, like untidy finishes or slightly lopsided fixtures. 

Below, we’ll take a look at some of the most common gaffes we’ve seen unprofessional contractors make. 

Lighting Placement

This is an area where low-tier work can really throw off what would otherwise be an attractive renovation. When the placement of light fixtures isn’t planned out properly, you can end up with lights that squeeze up against walls and cabinets. Sometimes, the light’s trim rings can even hit the crown molding. 

Conversely, you could be left with lights placed too far from crucial activity points. In kitchens, for example, this can result in your body casting a shadow over the countertop whenever you try to prepare food. 

Outlet & Electrical Placement

The placement of electrical outlets and wiring is also often treated as an afterthought by unprofessional renovators. Placing outlets too high or low makes the final product look “not quite right”. And it’s unfortunately not uncommon to see outlets placed in inconvenient locations, or for a room to simply be lacking enough outlets in the first place. 

Another fault we frequently run into is the hiding of electrical wires within cabinetry. This may be a quick fix, but the look of it is sloppy and lazy. It’s far better to simply re-run the wires and deliver a sleek final product. 

Reusing Existing Plumbing

While it may save a few dollars to keep it as it was, piggybacking off of old plumbing makes the final product look worse than it should. It’s also setting you up for plumbing issues down the road: the old piping may be running at the end of its lifespan. It may be just a year or two before it spouts a leak or starts rusting inside.

If you get a new installation, you not only have something that looks nicer, you also have peace of mind knowing that you can rely on fully updated plumbing. 

Get Beautiful Results, Guaranteed

We often see these blunders when we’re asked to fix work that was done by unofficial or low-skilled contractors. In these cases, homeowners usually wish that they had just gone with qualified professionals in the first place. It would have saved them more time and money in the long run. 

This is why we urge homeowners to always seek the help of contractors that have a reputation for masterful work. The differences can be subtle at times, but the final product they deliver looks polished, well-planned, and professional. 

If you’d like to talk to expert contractors about your renovation plans, get in touch with our team today. 

5 Things to Avoid in Your Kitchen Design

Designing a new kitchen requires you to make thorough plans. If you want to get great results, you need to know how you’ll address every last detail. Unfortunately, it can be easy to get lost in the process and make some big design mistakes.

Here we will examine the top 5 things to avoid in your kitchen design, and how you can effectively prevent these common blunders.

1. Lack of Functional Lighting

Kitchens that are too dim can be inconvenient at best and hazardous at worst. From chopping vegetables to tending hot pans on the stove, typical kitchen work calls for ample lighting. Yet many kitchens lack the illumination that’s truly needed.

You can avoid this by strategically planning your lighting based on your kitchen’s layout. Think about where ingredients will be prepared, where the cooking is done, where pans will be set to cool, and where food will be served. Each zone needs to have sufficient lighting for how it will be used.

Varying your lighting types and installing multiple light sources is one of the most effective ways accomplish this. For example, a combination of recessed lighting, hanging pendant fixtures, and under-cabinet lighting could ensure that every space has the appropriate level of illumination.

*Extra Tip: Make sure that your light switches are placed in useful and logical places. For optimal comfort and flexibility, set them up so that each light source has its own switch. This will give you have the option to select the specific level of lighting you want, which is great for setting a relaxed mood.

2. Not Accommodating Entertaining

Of course the needs and dining habits of your household should be prioritized when envisioning a new kitchen design. But that shouldn’t cause you to ignore how well your kitchen accommodates entertaining.

Even if you don’t entertain often, the ideal kitchen should be able to function well on the occasions that you do. This will prevent overcrowding, disfunction, and undue mess when it comes time to cook for your guests.

Islands with seating; ample preparation space, and even dedicated storage zones for the items only used when entertaining are all common features used to make kitchens guest-friendly. Consider giving your kitchen an open plan, or setting up a designated area especially for entertaining.


3. Storage Inefficiency

Far too many kitchens waste storage space. Either spots are left empty, or the cabinets and drawers themselves aren’t designed to maximize storage capacity.

You can sidestep this problem with some careful planning. Evaluate where you need storage, what you actually store, and what you access most. This will shape what types of storage you choose, where you place them, and what organization systems you should add.

To make the most use of your kitchen’s space, there are some simple rules you can follow: Always install cabinets in the space over your refrigerator. And unless the tops of your cabinets will be used as shelves, make sure that your cabinets reach up to your ceiling or crown molding.

4. Forgetting Practical Essentials

It’s certainly the most fun to concentrate on the glamorous elements of kitchen design. Finding elegant light fixtures or the perfect statement backsplash is great, but you should put just as much effort into sorting out all of the “boring” details. This includes planning how and where you will incorporate garbage cans, electrical outlets, ventilation, and other essentials into your design.

One effective way to deal with this is to make a list of your kitchen annoyances. Maybe there isn’t an ideal place to plug in your food processor, or your current kitchen doesn’t have a good place for a trash can. Perhaps smoke and smells linger in the air long after cooking. In any case, writing down these problems will help you figure out what practical solutions you’ll need to include in your new kitchen design.  

5. Design that Doesn’t Match Your Lifestyle

One common mistake made by homeowners is designing a kitchen that doesn’t reflect how they actually live. For example, they may have planned their kitchen to be set up for large formal dinners, but in reality, their family prefers to eat quick and casual meals at the breakfast bar. Or, they don’t have much time to clean, but their design is too high maintenance (featuring open shelving that acquires dust).

To counter this, ask yourself some questions about how your household normally interacts with your kitchen. Your kitchen’s design should take your answers into account.

  • How do you prefer to take your meals? Is this practical for your schedule?
  • Do you entertain often?
  • Do you have the time and desire to work regularly in the kitchen?
  • Is your cooking style simple, or elaborate?
  • Is your kitchen space used for any activities not related to cooking and eating?

Build Your Flawless Kitchen

Avoiding common kitchen design mistakes is easy when you have experts to guide you. Our team specializes in helping homeowners plan beautiful kitchens that are perfectly suited to their needs. If you need help with your own kitchen renovation, get in touch. We’re happy to lend a hand.

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The Top 5 Traits of a Comfortable Kitchen

There are kitchens that feel like the heart of the home, and those that only seem to cause frustration. If it sounds like yours fits into the latter category, then it’s likely missing one or more of the top 5 traits of comfortable custom kitchens.


Below, we’ll go over each of these traits and look at why they’re so integral to a custom kitchen that’s fun, functional, and easy-to-use.

kitchen remodel

1. A Balanced Work Triangle

In kitchen design, the “work triangle” is the shape created by the lines that work these areas: the sink, stove, and refrigerator. These lines will typically be the most traveled paths in the kitchen. Therefore, a balanced work triangle has just the right amount of distance between each of these points.


Ideally, the total sum of all the work triangle’s lines, or “legs”, should not exceed 25 feet, and should not fall under 10 feet. The goal is to make it easy for you to move between your kitchen’s hotspots without feeling too cramped or walking too far.

2. Adequate Worktops

One of the most important traits of a comfortable kitchen is the presence of adequate workspace. That means that there should be plenty of surface area for preparing ingredients, setting down cookware, and using small appliances like blenders or toasters. When there isn’t enough space for this, your kitchen can easily become messy and chaotic.


There are a variety of ways to increase the number of worktops available in your kitchen. Aside from installing longer and wider countertops, you can also opt for sinks with built-in chopping board covers, chopping boards that pull out from under the counter, and of course, kitchen islands.

kitchen renovation ideas

3. Spacious Pathways

There’s nothing worse than a cramped kitchen. Unfortunately, they’re quite common. When the pathways between walls, countertops, islands, and/or large appliances are too narrow, they can be hard to navigate.


A comfortable kitchen has pathways wide enough to accommodate however many people are usually working in the kitchen. In a kitchen’s working areas, the pathways should be at least 42 inches wide if there’s typically only one cook, and 48 inches wide for additional cooks. Walkways that pass through non-working areas should be at least 36 inches wide.

4. Maximized Lighting

Dim mood lighting can be great for dining rooms and lounge areas, but it’s not ideal for kitchens. Your kitchen should be bright and well-lit, allowing you to clearly see what you’re doing as you chop vegetables, search your cabinets, and handle hot cookware.  


Using various sources of illumination can help you achieve perfect lighting in your kitchen. Recessed ceiling lights, hanging pendants, and under-cabinet lighting can all be combined, as well as lighting within your cabinets to maximize visibility.

kitchen design

5. Sufficient Storage

One of the biggest problems our customers ask us to solve is a lack of storage space in their kitchens. Not only are there simply not enough cabinets and drawers, these storage areas are also inefficiently designed.


A well-designed kitchen makes the most of available space by seizing every opportunity for storage. Cabinets should be placed in areas that are often ignored, such as above refrigerators. Additionally, smart upgrades should be made to optimize the accessibility of storage areas, such as pull-out shelving and built-in organizers.

Find Your Way to a More Comfortable Kitchen

With a little expert help, you can transform even the most uncomfortable kitchen into one that is a joy to cook in. Our team here at Laslo Kitchens is happy to help you incorporate these most desirable traits into your new kitchen’s design. Get in touch with us to start discussing your renovation.

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When to Start Planning for Your New Year’s Kitchen Remodel

Are you planning to ring in the new year by transforming your kitchen? If so, then you might need to start planning earlier than you think.


We’ll walk you through everything you need to know to ensure that your remodel is ready for the beginning of 2019.


How Long Does it Take to Get to the Installation Stage?

Remodeling a kitchen is a long process. Once you’ve signed a contract with your chosen renovation team, you can expect several weeks to pass before the installation stage begins. Our team averages 8-10 weeks, but many contractors need more time before they’re ready to start the installation.


This much time is needed because there is much that will need to be planned. Design elements need to be decided on, and materials need to be ordered. Making orders at the right time is particularly important since it can take weeks for manufacturers to send certain items that are necessary for your installation to progress.

Finding a Contractor

There’s also the matter of finding a contractor in the first place. You’ll need to find the best local contractors and meet with them for consultations. Then they will need time to draw up price quotes for your project, and you’ll need to assess which contractor offers the best value.


Because of this, the whole process of selecting a contractor can take weeks in itself, especially if you need to find several different subcontractors to work on separate parts of your project (cabinets, plumbing, etc.).


You can shorten this process by looking for a general contractor that handles the entire remodel. For example, here at Laslo Kitchens, we handle the whole remodeling project, from demolition to finish. By managing all aspects of your kitchen’s renovation, we’re able to keep things moving at a steady pace. From the start of demolition to completion, our kitchen projects take 5-7 weeks on average.


What Preparations Need to be Made?

Many of your remodeling decisions can be made in the 8-10 week planning period, but some will need to be made immediately to ensure no delays.


These include choosing your kitchen’s new layout, as well as selecting and ordering appliances, all of which must be done before cabinet orders are placed at the start of the 8-10 weeks. This is because your cabinetry will need to be sized and designed to accommodate your chosen appliances and desired kitchen layout.


When it comes to cabinet paint color, you have a while to decide. Painting happens late in the process, just before the cabinets are installed. You’ll typically have 4-6 weeks before you need to make a final decision. This gives you the time to find the perfect shade, one that coordinates with your countertops, walls, and other design elements.

Practical Preparations

To guarantee your remodel goes smoothly, you’ll need to take care of some other prep work too. This includes packing up your kitchen items and selecting a few pieces to set aside for use during the remodel. Get this done before the installation needs to begin, that way our crew isn’t trying to work around you while you finish taking things out.


When choosing items to set aside, pick the essentials you’ll need to prepare small meals while your kitchen is out of order. You can set up a temporary kitchen station away from the construction zone.


An ideal station would include the following: a microwave, a hot plate, one pot and one pan, basic cooking utensils, a few sets of silverware, and basic dishes and cups. Due to its bulkiness, we recommend placing the refrigerator in another room, or even your garage along with a shelving unit that you can use to store your food and kitchenware.


Get a Head Start on Your Kitchen Remodel

Don’t wait to begin laying the groundwork for your kitchen renovation project. By starting the process now, you’ll ensure that everything can be scheduled in a timely manner.


If you’d like help from an expert contracting team to make your remodel a reality, we here at Laslo Kitchens are happy to lend a hand. We’ll work with you to have your new kitchen ready by January 2019.


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How To Remodel Your Kitchen

You’ve decided to remodel your kitchen. Now what? Not knowing where to start, many homeowners start by looking at appliances. Others start by collecting inspiring kitchen photos. Some decide they need more room. Others simply want to upgrade their current kitchen. Homeowners may find themselves in this exploration stage for a year or longer before they start interviewing kitchen designers or general contractors.

Once you’ve pondered long enough and you’re ready to green-light a kitchen remodeling project, then what? We’ll start with the first 9 steps.


Step 1: Think about what you need

This step is all about how you use your kitchen, and finding the layout and features that fit your household’s lifestyle. Get ideas from every resource possible. Think about your priorities: how many people will be cooking and gathering here, and how they’ll need to move around in it. Do you need an addition? Or can you work with your existing kitchen footprint?

If you haven’t already, start saving photos of kitchens with features that suit your style.


Step 2: Research and plan

Ready to green-light that project and take the plunge? The best place to start is by formulating what’s commonly referred to as a scope of work and figuring out your preliminary budget.

Both of these may be subject to change, so don’t feel like you have only once chance at this. Budget and scope are intertwined and often change many times during the design process as you become more educated and able to reconcile what you want and what you can afford. As a homeowner, you’re not expected to walk into this knowing what everything should cost. Remember, this is an educational process.

Step 3: Find the professionals you will need

Even if you’re going the DIY route, unless you’re building your own kitchen cabinets and doing your own electrical and plumbing, you’re going to have to work with a professional at some point.

Some people start by visiting big-box stores or cabinet showrooms where they can see everything. Many homeowners get referrals from friends or colleagues and start by hiring an architect or designer. Still others might work on their own with a builder or contractor. Pros are available to help you with everything from contracts and permits to space planning, budgets, choosing finishes and fixtures, shopping, ordering products, helping you set up a temporary kitchen, and managing your project from start to finish.


Step 4: Schematic design

This phase includes sketches, space planning, preliminary floor plans and elevations showing the layout and cabinet sizes. Try to focus on layout and space planning, even though you’ll want to talk about what the kitchen will look like.

Begin the contractor interview process early and give them a preliminary drawing packet and scope of work to get some ballpark construction numbers.

Step 5: Fixture and finish specification

Throughout this process, and probably long before, you have been saving photos of kitchens you love. You’ve found your style, whether it’s modern, classic, traditional, cottage or a personal style in between. You probably know if you want a white kitchen, a natural wood kitchen, or some color.

Now you need to make your final selection of finishes and fixtures. This usually includes cabinetry, countertop material, kitchen appliances, kitchen sink, light fixtures, flooring, backsplash and hardware.


Step 6: Work on design development and construction documents

This is the stage when you finalize the design and prepare final floor plans, elevations, details and, if applicable, mechanical and electrical drawings, lighting switch plans, and exterior elevations.

This is where your final permit set or Construction Drawings (CDs) come into play. It’s important to have finishes and fixtures selected at this time, since this is what will be considered in the final pricing from the contractor.

You’ll submit drawings for permits. These have a lead time, so check the timing with your local village. You’ll need an architect, designer or licensed contractor signed up to finalize the paperwork and pick up your permits, so get ready to hire someone in the next step.

Step 7: Get contractor estimates

If you don’t already have a licensed contractor on your project, your next step is to find one to carry the project through. Try to get at least 3 different contractor estimates. Do preliminary walk-throughs with the contractors once the schematic designs are done to get some ballpark estimates and find out if you’re on the right track or need to pull back some to fit the budget.


Step 8: Get ready for demo

The big day is upon us, most likely something like 4-8 weeks from when you submitted for permits. Time to get that schedule firmed up and plan on cleaning out the cabinets, putting what you don’t need in storage and — if you’re living in the house during construction — setting up a temporary kitchen so you don’t lose your mind!

You may be moving out of your house temporarily, but most homeowners white-knuckle it and try to live in the house through construction. Preparation and organization can save your sanity.

Discuss the logistics ahead of time with your contractor. Will you meet once a week for updates? Will you have to be out of the house for certain tasks like demo or flooring? What about debris removal and dust? Are there any family allergy issues? What is a typical work day for the crew? Getting all this on the table beforehand can set expectations and make for a smoother ride.

Step 9: Surviving the dreaded punch list

Once construction is over, well … almost over … there’s always this annoying little list of items that are missing, wrong, or simply forgotten about. A missing light switch plate, a caulk line that shrank and pulled away from the wall, paint touch ups — small things like this, and sometimes bigger things like the hood doesn’t work, or there’s a big scratch in the newly refinished floor.

It’s inevitable that the contractor may have to make multiple visits back to the house to finish these items; prepare yourself for more than one visit and you’ll be fine. The best way to approach this is with a Zen attitude. Things happen, little things get missed. It’s sort of like making a list for the grocery store and still forgetting some key ingredient. We all do it.

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7 Things to Know Before Replacing Kitchen Counters

Your countertop plays both a practical and aesthetic role in your kitchen. A well-used work surface, it has to be hardy enough to endure the everyday wear and tear of meal prep and cleanup—and still look good. Over time even the strongest of materials are going to show their age. If it’s plastic laminate, the finish will eventually chip and show scratches, and there may be a burn mark or two from hot pots. Even a stone surface is going to take a beating that will eventually mar its surface. So replacing just the old counters while leaving the rest of existing of the kitchen intact often makes sense. Depending on the material, the job is not that complicated or prohibitively expensive. But there are some important factors to consider before taking the plunge.

1. The Existing Countertop Material

“High-definition laminate countertops, or solid-surface materials, screw into place, so they are easier to change, especially if you are replacing the counter just for resale,” says John Petrie, CKD, president-elect of the National Kitchen and Bath Association and owner of Mother Hubbard’s Custom Cabinetry.

Hard stone can fall prey to cracks or pitting. So, although it’s not the easiest countertop to remove, you may prefer to replace damaged stone rather than repair it.

2. The Cabinets

Swapping a plastic laminate countertop for stone? Make sure the cabinets, or the floor for that matter, can support the additional weight.

You may also want to hold off on a new countertop if you’re planning to make more changes later. A tired kitchen will get an instant style boost but, “An investment in pricey quartz or granite may not be easily removable in the future when you want to upgrade cabinets,” says Petrie. “If you’re replacing your countertop with stone, you may not be able to find a fabricator who is willing to remove it later. Stone is hard, but it’s also fragile,” cautions the designer.

3. The Plumbing

Jim Kabel, CR, owner and general manager of CASE Design, says “Let’s assume you’re replacing a tile countertop with a solid surface, like stone or an engineered composite surface, such as Silestone. While the cabinets may stay in place, [a rimmed or self-rimming top-mounted] sink nearly always needs to be replaced. The exception is when the existing sink is mounted under an existing stone counter.

“The sink change impacts the faucet configuration, and so it is likely that the faucet will have to be replaced, as well,” says Kabel. Designer Petrie adds, “Replacing a countertop, in fact, affects a lot of the elements around the sink, including the garbage disposer, which doesn’t uninstall easily.”

4. The Backsplash

A new countertop means a new backsplash, too. These two elements go hand in hand with one another, and you’ll want to make sure the materials either match or coordinate harmoniously.

“The backsplash typically needs to be replaced at the same time as the countertop because it is mounted on top of the surface,” explains Kabel. When you’re planning your budget for the new countertop, don’t forget to include the cost of the backsplash material and installation.

5. Your Old Appliances

Consider how your old appliances will look with your new countertop. “Think of it something like wearing a new outfit with an old pair of shoes. Sometimes it can look like the devil,” Petrie warns.

But if appliances are relatively new and in good shape, not to worry, even if you have a cooktop instead of a freestanding range. Remodeler Kabel says, “A cooktop is usually mounted on top of the surface, and can be easily removed and reset in the same location, assuming the base cabinet remains the same or the same size.”

6. Lighting

Designer Petrie says, “A lot of my clients have under-cabinet lighting. It’s easy to install, but hard to figure out how to run the wiring if you’re re-installing them.” It’s also worth noting that under-cabinet lighting can cause eye-straining glare when it’s aimed directly onto a highly polished stone surface. It’s something to think about when you’re choosing countertop material.

7. Shop Carefully

“Watch out for low-cost, prefabricated stones surfaces,” says Kabel. “Usually, these are available in only a few common species. The slabs are pre-cut to standard cabinet depth but don’t take into account variances in walls or seam locations.”

It may cost more, but going the custom route, like the homeowner did here, working with reliable design and installation professionals, is the smartest decision you can make. And although a new countertop will not necessarily make your kitchen better functioning, it can be a handsome improvement you’ll definitely enjoy.

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4 Things Buyers Really Want in Kitchen Cabinetry

A great kitchen design can dramatically increase your property value — if you want to attract prospective buyers, your kitchen is the perfect place to invest money. The trick is to get it to appeal to the majority of people by spending your money on what most of them really want.Kitchen cabinetry can do much to attract the right buyers. There are four key factors to consider: quality, symmetry, color and layout. If you can get these key elements right with your cabinetry, you’re bound to have a higher home value.
The 4 Things Most Buyers Want in a Kitchen1. QualityThe number of cabinets you have is not as important as the quality of the cabinetry. The fewer cabinets you add to your kitchen renovation, the less expensive it will be. Choose quality over quantity.Do: Choose quality hinges and runners, including soft-close drawers, and custom-made cabinetry.Don’t: Go for large fillers and ill-fitted modular cabinetry. Keep the cost down by keeping the cabinet count down. Design the kitchen layout to keep it light, bright and with an open plan, without using tons of cabinets.
Note: Excessive internal organizers aren’t essential if you are planning on reselling your home. They are wonderful in adding value to your personal use of the kitchen but are not always a wise choice if you are renovating purely to sell. Internal drawer and cabinet fit-outs are often expensive, and the extra money you spend on these accessories may not come back to you when you’re selling your property.

modern kitchen by Nadia Hursky

2. SymmetryThe eye is naturally drawn to appreciate symmetry and repetition. When you’re renovating to sell, keep your kitchen cabinetry simple and appealing. Elegance has a way of being understated, and simplicity is key when you are trying to appeal to the majority of buyers.Do: Keep the wall cabinetry sizes the same where possible. Drawers look nice when they are large and expansive — if you have multiple sets, keep them the same size, with the same proportion of drawers.Don’t: Add multiple cabinets in varying sizes. Try to keep the look and feel consistent in the whole space.
3. Light, Bright SpacesMany buyers here in Australia want an open, light and airy space. A kitchen that is white makes the space feel bigger. White is also a universally appealing color and leaves a blank slate so buyers can reenvision the space.

by Nadia Hursky

Do: Keep the space open, bright and light with white cabinetry. If you want some contrast, go for a darker bench top.Backsplashes should be kept fairly neutral too — try to introduce texture instead of color into the backsplash. The more neutral and elegant the space is, the more potential buyers you will attract.Don’t: Use darker-color cabinetry, which can make the space feel closed. While adding a strong color may suit your taste, it may not be to everybody’s liking. You want to attract as many potential buyers as possible, and while white may not be the most daring color for your cabinetry, it’s the most popular.

contemporary kitchen by Hobus Homes

4. An Open LayoutDesigning your kitchen to have a sensible and open layout is pivotal to increasing property value when you’re renovating to sell. In Australia, the trend is moving toward open-plan living and multifunctional spaces.Do: Have a large open-plan space with a kitchen island if possible. Buyers often want to multitask in the kitchen. They want to cook, have their kids do their homework and socialize in it.Don’t: Place your kitchen in a small and poky room. The kitchen is now often the hub of the house, and buyers want to see a kitchen that is interactive and sociable.

9 Ways to Make a Small Kitchen Feel Bigger

Whether in a city loft or a three-bedroom bungalow, many homeowners find themselves short on kitchen space. Even if it’s not possible to create the wide-open kitchen of your dreams within your home’s current footprint, cooking in a small area doesn’t have to be a nightmare. With a few savvy design choices, you can maximize a compact kitchen and make it fit your needs. These 9 smart strategies will help you live larger in a small space.

#1: Streamline Appliances

Eliminate clutter by choosing sleek and compact appliances. A glass cooktop makes a great extension of your prep area, and its flat surface blends with the countertops, creating a look that’s visually uncluttered. Similarly, small vent hoods with space on each side can make a kitchen feel more open simply by breaking up a wall of cabinets.

#2: Open the Shelves

While a sky-high bank of cabinets can provide ample storage, it also can overwhelm a small space. Instead, opt for open shelving—floating shelves will provide plenty of room to stack dishes and cups without sacrificing style or space. For a quick revamp of existing cabinets, replace solid doors with glass ones—or remove the doors altogether—to create more depth and trick your brain into thinking walls are further away. (Caveat: If your dishes are on display, you’ll need to keep everything organized and color-coordinated, since clutter can make a room feel cramped.)

#3: Think White

Too much color can close in a room, but white opens up small spaces by reflecting light. This popular kitchen color also unifies a look because there are no visual boundaries to stop your eye. Try mixing several different shades—from crisp white to vintage ivory—to add texture. For a hint of color, choose a bold backsplash or paint a single horizontal stripe across each wall. You also can introduce a favorite hue through barstools or appliances, which will add just enough color without overwhelming the space.

#4: Be a Lightweight

Lightweight, clean-lined furnishings such as open tables, stainless steel carts or armless chairs make spaces feel larger by allowing you to see past them. Plus, they’re much easier to maneuver in and around. For extra workspace, opt for a small table rather than a traditional island, which can loom large in a compact kitchen. A fabulous piece of furniture turned island also can double as a chic buffet for entertaining.

#5: Pause for Reflection

Open your kitchen instantly by incorporating reflective materials such as a mirrored backsplash, ceramic tile countertops and stainless steel appliances. They work like magic by giving the illusion of more space. Reflective backsplashes work especially well in the tiniest of kitchens since they make the walls appear as if they have no end.

#6: Let the Sun In

Natural light enlarges a room, so minimize window treatments—or forgo them completely—to allow the maximum amount of light into your kitchen. Opaque shades are a great choice because they filter light in while still maintaining privacy. If you’re planning a major overhaul, consider adding bay windows or skylights if your kitchen doesn’t get enough natural light.

#7: See a Pattern

While visual clutter can make a room feel small, certain flooring patterns—such as large checkerboard or horizontal stripes—can actually enlarge a kitchen by creating a longer path for the eye to follow. As with clothing, this makes a room feel wider than it is. With wood floors, mix light and dark tones to create a striped effect, or add a striped rug for a quick fix.

#8: Build It In

Built-in shelves and cabinets provide valuable storage without taking up precious floor space because they’re flush with walls. While recessed storage is easier to plan if you’re doing a total redesign, you can carve out built-in nooks from any extra space. To polish the look, trim built-ins and paint or stain them to match cabinetry so they’ll blend with the rest of the design.

#9: Go Hardware-Free

To further de-clutter a cramped space, opt for European-style minimalist cabinetry with flat-panel drawers and doors. You’ll save inches of desperately needed space normally taken up by traditional cabinets. If those are too sparse for you, look for modern designs with streamlined hardware that’s still less intrusive.

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10 Kitchen Designs for Beach Lovers

Who doesn’t want a kitchen designed to look like your favorite vacation destination? And there is no place more refreshing, peaceful, or serene than the beach. Whether your idea of fun in the sun is surfing along the Pacific shores in California, indulging in the latest beach read on the Gulf of Mexico, or sailing on the harbor in Maine, we’ve rounded up our favorite beach looks from coast to coast. Learn, too, our top design tips to help you create the sea-inspired kitchen of your dreams.

Nantucket Nostalgia

Nantucket is 100 percent Americana, from sailboats skimming the water to bright bikes, outfitted with woven baskets, cruising over cobblestone streets. And the kitchen decor doesn’t stray too far from this visual. Mix nautical accents like rubbed nickel lanterns and compass-inspired clocks with traditional elements, such as glass-paned cabinets and white clapboard walls. Colonial furniture, like these Windsor barstools, are staples of this area’s kitchen styles.

Maine Attraction

When one thinks of Maine, rocky coastlines dotted with lighthouses often comes to mind. Maine is the perfect balance of sleepy, rustic villages and New England classicism. Stone flooring, instead of typical flooring like wood or tile, adds an element of earthiness. A smaller version of an outdoor lantern, like this one, is a twist on traditional kitchen lighting. Buttery yellow walls and window draperies are key to softening and warming up the ktichen design.

Lakeside Retreat

Before you start your design, take a cue from the view. Pinetree-lined shores, sandy beaches, and deep blue water are some of the standouts in this midwest region. Get the look of the lakes by layering exposed wood beams and cabinetry with dining chairs that are upholstered in sandy linen. An island in a similar wood finish is great for a quick mini-makeover. Countertop materials such as soapstone, concrete, or slate reference the deep, marine blue water.

Gulf Catch

The gulf coast is all about a laid-back, low-key way of life. People flock to their famous sugar-sand beaches and clear waters. Get the easy-breezy style of the gulf with an all-white look. Mixing natural textures like seagrass, jute, and nubby linen will keep the kitchen from being one-dimensional. Butcher block is one of our favorite countertop materials because it’s multifunctional, eco-friendly, and not to mention, attractive! Modern, oversized pendant lights pack a big punch with little effort.

Vintage Glamour

Palm Beach is the grand dame of all things beach chic. There is no shortage of glamour when it comes to this south Florida mainstay. Hollywood Regency dominates the design scene with bamboo-trimmed everything, yards of chinoiserie fabric, and vintage furniture lacquered in juicy, highgloss paint. Don’t skimp on the prints in your kitchen design either. Elaborate wallpaper is the perfect way to inject bright, island style to your kitchen. Play around with bold tile backslashes and ornate light fixtures. Anything opulent goes, so don’t be afraid to have fun and take chances!

So Cal, So Cool

Inject So-Cal style into your kitchen by combining traditional Mexican influences like Spanish tile, stucco, and dark wood with modern finishes, like sleek white subway tile and contemporary appliances. Design tip: achieve a bohemian vibe by mixing different styles of barstools or choosing mismatched dinnerware. To pull off an effortless-feeling space, avoid anything that’s too matchy matchy.

Coastal Contemporary

Contemporary architecture dominates the shoreline in this Northern California beach town. High impact design and a low carbon footprint are highly sought-after in the area, and bamboo is the ideal material to enlist for service. It naturally grows in humid climates so you don’t have to worry about the risk of it expanding due to moisture, unlike many other wood varieties. Make a statement by using sleek, simple hardware on drawer and cabinet pulls, such as these. Choose mid-century pieces, as it won’t distract from the clean lines in a modern kitchen. Combine function and form by hanging pots, pans, and cooking accessories over the island for added drama.

Rustic and Wonderful

The woodsiness of the Northwest coast is a gorgeous foundation to build your kitchen inspiration around. In this look, it’s all about texture and materials. Repurposed goods shine in this space: think reclaimed barn wood flooring and a farm table and chairs from the local flea market. Painted white cabinetry (click here for our top white paint pick) and pickled wood ceilings invite light into the room, maintaining the breezy, airiness of the beach. Antiqued nickel accents seen on the hood, range, and pendant lighting polish off the design.

East Coast Elegance

Known for its see-and-be-seen reputation, the Hamptons is an area rich in history, social status, and wealth. Despite all of its grandeur, the design remains classic and sophisticated. Bell jar lanterns aren’t just for the entryway. Hang them over the island to create an elegant ambiance. White marble backsplashes and countertops add the element of luxury associated with the region. Display artwork to add visual interest. We love these coastal giclée aviary prints.

Southern Hospitality

The south is known for its slower pace, and no beach area exudes this more than the Low Country. Kick off your sandy flip flops and relax on a porch-side hammock. Distressed paneled wood walls and paint chipped barstools fit right in with the laid-back way of life. Add cottage charm by replacing pantry doors with old-fashioned screen doors and hang tiny fluted tin pendants, like this glass variation, over the bar. Neutral mosaic tile blends right in to its surroundings.

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Are Your Kitchen’s Work Zones Working?

Are Your Kitchen’s Work Zones Working?

Many household activities take place in the kitchen. Sometimes, the kitchen is a purely functional cooking environment. At other times, it may act as a social gathering place or a kids’ activity center or a dining room — often simultaneously or with only moments in between. Planning for all the different ways you and your family might use your kitchen will help make it the most efficient space possible.

Kitchen Work Zones

A great way to organize your kitchen to best suit your needs is to divide the space into different areas, or work zones. Work zones may be multi use or stand-alone; kitchens of all sizes will have both types of work zones, with the exception of the smallest kitchens in which all work zones are multi-use! Much like a recipe in which a variety of ingredients come together as a complete dish, separate kitchen work zones interact with one another to create a pleasing aesthetic and functional whole.

Sink Work Zone

The sink work zone should include plenty of nearby counter top for clean up. The dishwasher should be situated next to the sink on either side depending on your preference. On the other side of the sink, it is very useful to plan for a cabinet that holds one or more trash bins. In addition, storage in and around the area should accommodate dinnerware, glasses, and utensils that will be unloaded from the dishwasher.

Prep Work Zone

The prep work zone is an expanse of counter top conveniently accessible to both a sink and a refrigerator. The refrigerator should have empty counter space to one side to aid in the transfer of items to the prep work zone. Personal cooking habits, helpers who assist in prepping the meal, and the number and location of small countertop appliances will determine how much space is needed for the prep zone. Do you spread out, prep, and clean up after cooking, or do you prefer to clean up as you go along? How you answer this question is another important factor in determining the size of the prep work zone. There should also be plenty of storage in this area for whatever you use regularly to make meals—bowls, cutting boards, utensils, and any favorite specialty cookware and equipment.

Cooking Work Zone

The cooking work zone consists of the cooktop but may or may not include the ovens (in the case of separate cooktop/ovens). As the ovens are typically the least used major appliance in the kitchen, they may be moved off to another section of the kitchen—unless, of course, you’re an avid baker. The cooktop, however, is the third critical piece of the three major work zones. The size of the cooktop may be chosen to fit your typical cooking lifestyle or you may prefer to install a cooktop that’s large enough to function for busy holiday occasions—but choose wisely if countertop space is precious. In terms of overall dimensions, the cooking work zone should have a bare minimum of 9″ of countertop space on either side to allow for the extension of long saute pan handles. There’s no need to be overzealous, however; an abundance of countertop alongside the cooking work area may not be necessary, as the main focus in this zone is the cooktop itself. It’s also helpful if space and money allows to have some form of water close at hand, such as a small sink or pot filler. As for storage? In this zone, you’ll want your pots, pans, utensils—and sometimes spices and trays—all close at hand.

Secondary Work Zones

In addition to these three main areas, secondary work zones can often be designed into medium to larger kitchens and even some smaller ones, depending on lay out. These work areas, also called lifestyle work zones, are often a great deal of fun to design and utilize, since they center on your specific interests. One note of caution: Make sure your proposed secondary work areas actually fit your needs—and your space allowances—before allocating precious kitchen real estate to something you might use rarely or not at all.

Watch, Listen, and Learn

An important piece of the work zone puzzle is to carefully consider all of the various activities that take place in your kitchen over a period of time. Observe holiday meal preparation and entertaining, gatherings with family and friends, typical weekday meal prep, and all other lifestyle scenarios. By watching what you and your family do every day, as well as on special occasions, you’ll come to better understand what works and what doesn’t about your current kitchen—leading the way to a kitchen redesign that perfectly matches the way you cook and live.

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