• When we decide to embark on a kitchen remodeling or bathroom remodeling project, it can all feel like a bit of a splurge. The reality is that for most of us, we may complete a kitchen remodeling project 1-2 times during our lifetime. The same can be said for bathroom remodeling.

    So it is interesting to see that the one item customers like to “splurge” on the most in both kitchen remodeling and bathroom remodeling projects is the same. According to a Research Institute for Cooking & Kitchen Intelligence (RICKI) survey conducted exclusively for Kitchen & Bath Design News, the one item that clients like to splurge on more than anything else is countertops.

    Kitchen and Bathroom Countertops

    And why not? The countertop has many important roles. It is a main focal point in both rooms, pulling the space together to make it all work. At the same time the countertop has the difficult task of being the backbone, requiring durability and strength as it handles the bulk of the work load, all while trying to maintain its’ good looks. The countertop tries to do it all by being functional and unique and making a statement in your kitchen or bathroom. And the smaller the space the more clients tend to splurge on countertops, where the visual impact can be even greater.

    For the kitchen, it is where are eyes are constantly drawn to as the dividing point between the wall and base cabinets. Or as the focal point on a kitchen island. Maybe a smaller piece of butcher block or marble as a prep or baking station. In the bathroom, it is the landing space for everything that influences the look, feel and color of the entire space. For both rooms, engineered stone and quartz continues to be a popular choice for its selection of colors and ease of cleaning with granite not too far behind and still considered “the” choice, especially in kitchens.

    And the splurge doesn’t just stop at the type of countertop material. With a variety of other countertop related choices available, including decorative edges and full height backsplashes to make even more of visual impact on your space, the urge to splurge on countertops will always be strong.

  • None of us want to miss out on the must-haves when it comes to remodeling. And for today’s kitchen, those “must-haves” are surprisingly practical and highly impactful to the function of the kitchen. According to the results of a recent online poll of more than 300 kitchen dealers and designers conducted exclusively for Kitchen & Bath Design News by the Research Institute for Cooking & Kitchen Intelligence (RICKI), here are the top 5 “must-haves” for today’s kitchen:

    5 must haves for the kitchen

    1)Full extension drawers – Nobody wants to try and guess what is in the back of the drawer of any cabinet. Full extension guides allow drawers to come out to the front edge of your cabinet, letting you easily see and grab everything inside that drawer.

    2)Trash/recycling bins- Just like nobody wants to guess at what is in the back of the drawer, no one wants to see their trash or recycling either. Today’s combinations offer both, with options from 1-4 bins to handle multiple trash and recycling needs.

    3)Kitchen island- The reasons people want a kitchen island are vastly different. More storage, a dedicated work space, a space for the kids to do homework, a place for friends or guests to sit, you name it. A kitchen island can do any…or all of the above.

    4)Deep drawers - As our collection of pots, pans, serving dishes and more grow, so to do our storage needs. Adding deeper drawer cabinets to a kitchen offers greater flexibility for storing more of anything, including those larger or more oddly shaped items.

    5)More accessible storage - from pull out spice trays that hide behind fillers to the classic tilt out sink tray, having storage where you really need it makes all the difference in a well-designed kitchen. Understanding the cabinets and cabinet accessories that can provide more accessible storage is a critical part of the discovery and design process.

    Other must haves that just missed out making the top 5 include LED lighting, separate range hoods that are not part of a microwave and custom and semi-custom cabinets that can meet the changing needs and demands of how clients store, prepare and serve their food.

    At the end of the day, it’s most important to know what your own “must-haves” are for your kitchen. By doing your research (like reading this informative blog) you will quickly identify your own as you put together the kitchen of your dreams.

  • When most people talk to us about their current kitchens, the descriptions leave little to the imagination…and even less to desire (though rarely is it ever as bad as they describe when we go out to see it for ourselves). From storage to functionality, cabinet finishes to cranky appliances, the list goes on and on. Thanks to the Research Institute for Cooking and Kitchen Intelligence (RICKI), a recent survey identified some of the most common things that bother clients about their current kitchens. If you match most or all of these, it may just be time to think about remodeling your kitchen.

    Kitchen Tried or Kitchen True

    Space/Storage – chief among complaints about current kitchens, space or storage is always at a premium in most every kitchen. Sometimes the solutions are as simple as increasing the heights of your wall cabinets from 30” to 42” to gain extra storage in every cabinet. Others though may require some movement of walls and more.

    Countertop – laminate is often the culprit here, even though today’s laminates offer surprisingly realistic replications of their stone counterparts. Most are lured today to the look of granite and engineered stone or quartz.

    Layout/Functionality/Not Efficient – as we grow older or our home and family dynamic changes, a kitchen layout that was once practical no longer becomes efficient. Many times the changes are significant (think removing a wall), but in some cases some creative design can improve the functionality of the space. Many of tenets of universal design work well in any kitchen regardless of age and should be given serious consideration when redesigning the kitchen.

    Dated cabinets – working with a dark oak or pickled finish? Or can’t stand the kitchen doors with the hardware mounted right at the center of the door? We feel your pain. As the largest focal point of the kitchen, cabinets impact the look of the entire space and their impact can’t be understated. Plus, you can only paint over them so many times…

    Appliances – some of those old finishes are coming back into style, but today most complaints around appliances deal more with functionality and less with form (though avocado green is still not everyone’s choice). With the versatility and increased performance of today’s appliances it becomes one of the first if not the first thing chosen when designing a new kitchen.

    So while we may choose NOT to whisper in your ear, we can still channel our inner Ramones (or 5 Seconds of Summer depending on your demographic) and try to “tell you all the things that you wanna hear” to get rid of what you don’t like and help you design the kitchen of your dreams.

  • So you think a warming drawer is really that impractical? I beg to differ. In fact, I would argue that the larger your family, the more essential a warming drawer becomes to the kitchen. With its’ sleek design and compact drawer-sized fit, a warming drawer can be a welcome and strategically designed element of your next kitchen. Here are 5 reasons (and 1 bonus suggestion!) that you should consider when deciding whether a warming drawer would be right for your kitchen.

    The kids are at practice.
    In my house, Sunday nights are the only night of the week where someone is usually not going somewhere. The rest of the week is non-stop with sports, music and more. We’ve all come home to the plate that’s been sitting on the countertop for hours, or worse chilled down in the refrigerator. A warming drawer would keep those meals warm and fresh and ready no matter what time they get home.

    Warming drawer heats up kitchen appliance options

    The whole family is coming for dinner.
    Be it for the holidays or just because, we love it when the whole family gets together! And while the company is second to none, getting everything to the table hot and ready is the real challenge. Whether you just want to keep food warm while you pull everything together or you want to warm up plates to keep the food on your plate warmer longer, a warming drawer can help with both.

    You overslept – our favorite!
    Whether you turned off the alarm and missed Sunday breakfast prepared by your kids or significant other, or had a quick afternoon power nap turned into a full on extended cat nap, whatever meal you missed can be waiting for you in all its’ glorious warmth with your warming drawer. I mean, who really wants to re-heat an omelet?

    The proof is in…the drawer!
    Not only do warming drawers provide warmth for foods, many current models have additional features to make them even a more practical appliance option for the kitchen and in some cases, an alternative to your time-tested crock pot. Like making your own bread? Certain models like KitchenAid offer options to proof bread as well as slow cook beef and other dishes, all while tucked away in the confines of your stylish warming drawer!

    The occasional hot towel
    This one may not be as practical but if were being completely honest, who doesn’t absolutely love a warm towel? Whether is a clean dish towel for drying or a strategically placed clean towel to welcome in a backyard pool swimmer or all day snow man, a crisp hot towel wraps your child or whomever in the warmth of your towel (and love of course).

    And the 6th reason you need to warm up your kitchen doesn’t involve a warming drawer at all. Rather, we suggest warming up another way with a heated floor because you like being barefoot. Seriously, who doesn’t love kicking off their shoes at the end of a busy work day and feeling what’s beneath your feet. No more brisk fall or chilly spring mornings. Your heated floor lets you enjoy being barefoot in the kitchen year round.

    I for one know that my wife and kids would warm up to these ideas immediately. We live most if not all the reasons above. Don’t let it become a “heated” conversation about the thing you wish you had added to your kitchen. Consider all the reasons a warming drawer (or floor) would make sense for you in order to make a good decision for your family and your kitchen.

  • Fall Out Boy’s song “Light Em Up” could truly be considered the theme song for LED lighting, which is currently lighting it up as the choice for kitchens and many other parts of the home. And there are no signs of the trend towards LED lighting slowing down on any fronts. In a recent Forbes.com article by Peter Kelly-Detwiler, Todd Manegold of Philips is quoted saying that he sees the LED industry continuing to make progress, and that there are two trends we will see: First, we will see LED bulbs get even more cost effective, and within 5 years we may see price parity with compact fluorescents. This is important to know because LED lighting is on the more expensive end of kitchen lighting. While its lifespan is a huge improvement, the initial cost can create a bit of sticker shock not unlike buying a pair of concert tickets (though we guarantee you the LED’s will last longer than the concert!).

    LED lighting lights em up

    Too often, lighting for a kitchen is one of the last things selected or is delayed until after the main part of the project is completed. What many don’t realize is that lighting has a dramatic effect on the appearance of the kitchen and not taking that into account can have a huge impact on how your kitchen looks and how well you can perform in it. What’s the point of going to a concert if you can’t even see the band?

    Good lighting is essential to the kitchen, creating a focus whether you are on the outside looking in or on the inside working. So, just why has LED become the “rock star” of lighting for kitchens? Here are 3 reasons why it is clear to see how LED has become the hottest ticket in kitchen lighting:

    LED’s last. In some cases you see LED’s last for up to 50,000 hours (that’s roughly 6 years straight if you left them on all day).

    LED’s offer a variety of light. Not only does the lighting do a much better job than fluorescent, their slim, flexible offering fits just about anywhere, providing you with traditional lighting options as well as options for under cabinets, inside cabinets and more. By combining a variety of lighting styles, you can create the necessary layers of light need to properly illuminate your kitchen. TIP: look for LED’s classified as “daylight”.

    LED’s stay cool. In the past when placing lights inside of or underneath cabinets, there was always the fear of how hot the fixture or contained space would get. Today’s LED’s run cool and lower the temperature on concerns that other lighting sources like halogen create.

    Lighting is a critical element to any design, be it the kitchen, bath or any space of the home. And LED lighting is finding its way into other areas as well as part of showerheads, faucets and other elements of the home. Sony just announced that they put a Bluetooth speaker in an LED light bulb (cue Fall Out Boy theme song). Don’t miss your chance to “light em up” in the kitchen and throughout your entire home!

    By Jim Grace