granite countertop

Refreshing Kitchens!

By Deb Williamson

Kitchen Renovations

Refreshing Kitchen Updates

While April Showers are starting to refresh our outdoors with the hope of May flowers, springtime is the perfect time to start planning for refreshing updates to yourkitchen. Kitchens are the heart of every home. Whether you’re cooking dinner for your family, entertaining friends or just midnight snacking, you’ll find yourself hanging out in the kitchen. That’s why kitchen updates always top the list of homeowners’ wishes and are the focus of so many home improvements. This spring, I would like to offer some fresh ideas to update your kitchen space.

Open Floor Plans

Sooooo….. what do today’s kitchens wish for? Open and airy come to mind. Wide open kitchen layouts that provide unobstructed views of the dining room, living room or outdoors are a must. Homeowners wish-lists include large oversized windows, sinks, islands, hoods and appliances. Other desirable items include cabinets that reach to the ceiling and stacked crown moldings that delight the eye and make the room visibly taller than it actually is. New floor plans need to provide an efficient flow within the kitchen, making it easy to move from the refrigerator to the sink and cooktop within a few steps without feeling crowded. Homeowners are also requesting larger kitchen spaces to accommodate several cooks in the kitchen and plenty of seating for guests.   

Cabinet Ideas

Fresh ideas in the kitchen start with cabinetry. Today’s cabinets offer endless options including numerous wood species, stain colors, paint colors, door styles, and finishing techniques. Your cabinetry plan should not only look great but should also offer you improved function and flow over your existing kitchen. Currently, homeowners are opting for multi-toned kitchens which incorporate a mix of painted and stained cabinets and makes it easy to mix and match furniture and accessories. White painted cabinets are still the most requested cabinet with gray and blue tones following closely behind.

Storage Solutions

Storage solutions are another way homeowners are freshening up their kitchens. Luxury kitchens are re-introducing the butler’s pantry in addition to walk-in pantries and tons of cabinetry. And for those who are lacking space, storage solutions are incorporated into their cabinetry plan, including kitchen pantries, oversized drawer bases, garbage recycling centers, charging drawers and pop-up mixing stands. High-end cabinetry hardware comes standard these days with full extension drawers allowing easy access to items in the back of the drawer and soft-close mechanisms that allow doors and drawers to gently glide shut while eliminating annoying noises.

Countertops Surfaces

Finally, new countertops are great way to refresh an existing kitchen or add the perfect complement to a new one. Solid surfaces such as quartz and granite countertops are highly sought-after options that provide durable work spaces and adds style to the overall kitchen plan. Quartz in black or white seem to be the countertops of choice with their no-maintenance finish and food-safe surface. If solid surfaces aren’t in your budget, there are some great looking high-definition laminates that can finish off your kitchen for a fraction of the price.

Attention to Details

Today’s kitchens require attention to details! Homeowners are using unique, oversized hoods as centerpieces and accenting the space with distinctive materials such as shiplap, stainless steel, huge corbels or wood beams and adorning the backsplashes with beautiful and unique tiles and accessories. Flooring trends are quickly lightening up in color contributing to the light and airy feel that homeowners crave. All of these details combined with an open floorplan create kitchens homeowners are dreaming of. This spring, there’s no better time to start thinking about ways to refresh your kitchen! 

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2018 Minneapolis Parade of Home Trends

by Deb Williamson

If you had the opportunity to visit Minneapolis last month you may have noticed bright yellow ‘Parade of Home’ signs all over town. Maybe you were even fortunate enough to tour a few of those homes, where you would have seen some beautifully designed spaces, efficient floor plans and current home trends. If you didn’t make it up for the tour, I’d like to share some of the highlights with you today.

House by Sustainable9

House by Sustainable9

Floor Plans

Floor Plans were magnificent! Open, airy and functional come to mind when describing the homes on the Minneapolis Parade of Homes. Most front doors opened into inviting foyers showcasing oversized light fixtures leading into great rooms with sprawling fireplaces stretching to the ceilings and large picture windows framing water views, wildlife and beautiful landscapes. Vaulted ceiling with beams or trays were standard in these amazing homes. Oversized kitchens, main floor master bedrooms with adjoining spa-like baths inspired well-thought-out plans. Staircases were unique and eye-catching as you made your way to different levels containing wet bars, workout rooms, home theatres, offices, guest suites, and typically multiple laundry facilities.

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Countertop Options for Today’s Kitchens

by Deb Williamson

If you’ve done any shopping for countertops lately, it won’t take long for you to realize that your options are endless. From high-end quartz and granite, to natural marbles and soap stones, to inexpensive high-definition laminates…… countertop options flood the kitchen remodeling markets. So which countertop is right for your kitchen?

My top pick for countertops is Cambria quartz. Quartz is rated 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness (diamond is 10) making it the most scratch-resistant and durable surface available. Cambria quartz uses the clearest white crystals which results in stunning designs with impressive coloring and dimension. Cambria countertops never need sealing, polishing or reconditioning and clean up with just warm water. This high-end surface is also non-porous which means stains and bacteria and never get absorbed, providing homeowners with food-safe preparation surfaces. Cambria is definitely the top choice for no maintenance countertops, but it does come with a premium price tag.

Granite is another beautiful countertop of choice. Because granite is stone cut from the earth, variations in patterns are expected. These variations add to the appeal of this 100% natural countertop choice, but it can also make matching up slabs difficult to achieve. The cost of granite is similar to the cost of quartz, but granite requires regular sealing, typically once a year. Granite is a porous surface which means spills need to be wiped up quickly, especially if its oils, wine, acids or soda.

A couple of other natural and beautiful countertop options include marble and soap stone. Costs of both of these surfaces are comparable to granite. Marble provides a timeless, natural charm with unique patterns and veining that help hide wear and tear. Drawbacks to marble include staining, regular sealing and strength issues. Soap stone also delivers unique natural surfaces with beautiful veining and colors but unlike marble and granite, are naturally stain and bacteria resistant. Soap stone does not require sealing, however, regular applications of mineral oil help disguise surface scratches and add shine, which can become cumbersome for busy homeowners.

Another solid countertop option to consider is concrete surfaces. Concrete is highly customizable, which means it can be molded into any desired shape. Concrete countertops are extremely durable, seamless and easy to clean. A couple of disadvantages to using concrete for your countertops include the need for sealing, heat sensitivity and hairline cracks that occur in nearly all poured concrete countertops.

Butcher block, stainless steel and recycled countertops are also options that are decorative and functional. The main advantage of a butcher block countertop is that it provides an ideal surface for food preparation when sealed properly. Stainless steel is also an attractive option that is easy to clean and delivers the most hygienic countertop available. Some of the drawbacks of stainless steel include the fact that it scratches and dents easier than most surfaces. For the eco-friendly homeowner, a recycled concrete, glass, paper, composite or plastic countertop might be the perfect surface for your kitchen. The limitations to recycled materials are specific to which type of material is recycled. 

Finally, don’t overlook the new high-definition laminate countertops. Weighing in at a fraction of the cost of solid surfaces, high-definition laminate delivers the most affordable countertop in a variety of attractive and up-to-date designs and colors. Laminate is easy to clean, easy to install, durable and easy to change when styles change. Some of the disadvantages of laminate countertops include heat and scratch sensitivities.

There are advantages and disadvantages to every countertop option available. Make sure to    consider what options are most appealing to you and what countertop surface will work best with your lifestyle. Remember to always look at the disadvantages, so you’re prepared for what may happen after the product has been installed. Once you’ve considered the options and made a selection, you can relax and enjoy cooking with your new countertops!

  

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