Kitchen & Bath Design News recently interviewed our president Charles Tiber regarding designing kitchens for Midwesterners. The resulting article was published in their March 2022 issue on page 22-25 with the title “Midwesterners Gather Round the Kitchen.”
Tiber’s two main ideas found in the interview answers below are rooted in the familiar terms of kitchen design: functionality and style. What is new is how we design kitchens and bathrooms for our clients in the Midwest with their desired functionality and style, whether a large or a moderately sized home.
Q: Are clients concerned (or not concerned) with specific elements, such as functionality, maintaining a home’s style, wellness/safety, sustainability, technology, following trends?
A: Most of our clients are not consumed about following popular trends. They do not want to go in a direction that may “date” their kitchen. Rather, it is more about using good design principles while maximizing their space for functionality and beauty.
In the Midwest, living and entertaining through all seasons must be considered. Entry spaces, drop zones and buffer spaces are important when designing a kitchen. Entering the home and the kitchen can present different challenges when it is 90 degrees outside versus when there are subzero temperatures with the realities of snow on boots and shoes. The desired air movement through the kitchen would be very different in summer or winter, while the moderate climates of spring and fall can demand certain other expectations in design.
Q: Has design style changed in your area in the last 10 years? What are customers looking for now that they might not have been a decade ago?
A: The most dominant change we have seen in our area is the desire for design that fosters relationships. The kitchen has long been the gathering place in the home, but that meaning is deeper than it was before the pandemic and the distancing that came with it. The relationships that have close contact are even more important, and kitchen design can help keep them close.
The kitchen should be inviting, should draw people in, and can create interaction, avoiding isolation. One way our firm is doing this is through linear design. In linear design, the work triangle is disrupted, and the focus is to have room for more bodies in the workspace while not causing bottlenecks. Multiple cooks can work, even in a smaller kitchen, and clean up can go on simultaneously. We recommend a workstation sink big enough for two.
As for the kitchen design itself, the workstation is in the island and a smaller clean-up sink is at the window. A good workstation does not reduce counter space but rather expands working space by providing multiple levels for prep, cooking and serving tools directly on the workstation.
We love to see families getting involved in cooking. A workstation brings people together and, as more personal home entertaining comes back, a workstation can help create opportunities for great meals and memories with family and friends.
You love your house, your neighborhood, your location. But your home may not meet the needs of your future lifestyle. You could buy or build a new house. But what if you choose to stay and make changes that will suit your future needs?
An increasing number of homeowners are choosing to build their dream, while staying in the location that holds their family’s memories. Many are making renovation decisions now, while keeping possible future limitations in mind. Ageless design is not just for seniors; it is thoughtful and wise to consider the future for yourself, and, if desired, for resale.
Kitchens and baths are the most common areas to be remodeled, so let us examine some simple design ideas to consider that could impact your ability to stay.
In the bathroom, switch to a kitchen-height vanity cabinet and a comfort-height toilet. Create a barrier-free or low-profile shower threshold. Add strategically placed grab bars and a shower seat.
In the kitchen, choose drawers instead of doors or pullout shelves behind cabinet doors. The full access and single motion nature of drawers is the most popular option currently. A balance of different features is still preferred for flexibility in storage.
The design idea of a kitchen work triangle should be disrupted. Linear prep and cooking is more efficient. A large sink (e.g. The Galley Workstation) keeps the work contained and accomplishes prep, cooking, and serving in a single location. Designing the cooking surface nearby and linear to the sink, adds to this efficiency and keeps the turning and moving to a minimum. Also, fewer slips and spills should be expected.
Minimize bending and overhead reaching by keeping the microwave at or just below counter height. Microwave drawers are a good option for this very reason. Also consider a pantry cabinet with rollout shelves and perhaps drawers at the bottom. Choose appliances that have easy-to-read controls, soften counter corners to minimize bumps and bruises, and be sure your flooring choice will not be too slick when wet.
Standard kitchen clearances are generally 42 inches. If you have the space, widen your clearances. True universal design requires much more than that, but anything extra, even an inch or two, is an improvement.
If you want to keep your home, your memories, and your lifestyle, while preparing for the next stages of life, remodel using simple ageless kitchen and bath design to meet your goals.
More than just the workhorse of the kitchen, countertops complete the design and style of your kitchen. They must be beautiful, functional and durable!
If you’re ready to match cabinetry and countertops, there are six popular countertops you should consider for your kitchen remodel. (Note: These are popular because of durability, function and style. Pricing will vary based on availability and fabrication costs.)
Currently the most popular choice in kitchen countertops, homeowners choose quartz surfacing because of its many advantages. Quartz doesn’t need to be sealed, and its seams blend very well. It is easy to clean and is heat, scratch and stain resistant. Because of its manufacturing process (binding quartz crystals with a resin-based product), quartz is durable and has a seemingly endless choice of colors and patterns available through brands such as Cambria, Silestone and many others.
Granite surfaces are slabs of stone cut from the earth, making each piece unique. It is more porous than quartz and does require a bit more maintenance. You can order granite countertops with a polished, shiny finish; a honed, matte finish; or a specialty finish such as flamed or leather. Because of the many choices in colors and finishes, design flexibility is a significant advantage in choosing granite.
This natural stone countertop is available in 2 cm (3/4”) and 3 cm (1-1/4”) thick slabs at a stone selection warehouse. As a counter surface, marble offers a beautiful, timeless look. It has been a preferred stone in architecture throughout the ages. However we must warn you: marble is softer and more porous than granite. It is susceptible to stains and scratches. You might say it is more of a “living” finish, but be sure you are willing to “live” with it. Even so, some of the most beautiful countertop installations are in marble.
Those who love marble should also consider quartzite because it is a natural stone with similar beauty. Quartzite is a solid, crystalline mass of mineral stone cut from the earth in slabs. It’s harder than most knife blades and is more resistant to etching than marble. The generally lighter, more subtle tones of quartzite give it design versatility.
Would you be surprised to hear that porcelains are on the rise? It is becoming a popular trend for kitchen countertops! Although not completely new, porcelain slab countertops have improved greatly. Porcelain is beautiful, durable, and low maintenance. In contrast to solid surface and engineered stone counters, porcelains are rated for exterior use.
A durable surface for hard-working kitchens, wood countertops are more sanitary than you may think! Wood offers warmth both visually (the color) and tangibly (in contrast to cold stone surfaces). Often we’ve designed a portion of a client’s kitchen countertops to be a wood species such as cherry, maple, hickory, walnut, teak, sapele or mahogany. If you use a wood countertop as a cutting or chopping surface, be willing to accept cuts and scratches in the surface and simply apply a food- safe oil to the wood.
While we haven’t discussed all the surfacing options that exist, these six countertop options are trending in kitchen design. The lasting beauty and durability make these countertops the most popular choices. There are other good quality surfaces you may want to consider researching as well, such as Durango, Soapstone, semi-precious stone and concrete.
“We love that it’s timeless” is common to hear when remodeling a kitchen or bath. Many Ohio homeowners are asking for a timeless kitchen design. And while “classic” and “timeless” are in style, what can we say will never go out of style?
In this blog post, we’ll highlight five timeless kitchen design trends.
1. White Cabinetry
White kitchen cabinets are a well-established tradition dating back to New England and the Cape. Today, white cabinets are no longer just found in cottages along the coast but are implemented in traditional or contemporary design across the U.S. What makes them timeless is the 100+ years they’ve remained in style.
2. Shaker Cabinet Doors
Shaker (or similar flat-paneled) cabinet doors are easily traced back to the Shaker communities of the early 1800s. In principle, Shaker design was guided by simplicity and utility; it was minimalistic, but ingenious. With stile-and-rail cabinet doors and dovetail drawers, we continue to see their influence on design even today. The historical foundation gives us reason to think this cabinet door style may never go out of style.
3. Mixed Furniture Styles
When we talk about mixing furniture styles, we mean pieces that look like furniture—even freestanding furniture—that are incorporated into kitchen design. It’s timeless to have an unfitted look. Hoosier cabinets, pie safes, work tables, wash basins and other functional pieces were introduced years ago and are now buffet pieces and islands. It’s not cobbled together as it was historically, but now we design these mixed furniture styles to look evolved.
Marble is both ancient and truly trendy right now. Buildings still standing from ancient Greece and Rome have marble interior surfaces, exteriors, sculptures and art. The material itself has withstood the test of time. Today, is marble popular? You bet. Marble countertops are on trend. Trying to ride on the popularity of marble, many quartz and granite manufacturers—even laminate manufacturers—are trying to duplicate the look of marble.
5. Hardwood Floors
Hardwood flooring is a true classic. We can prove it. Many Colonial-era homes featured old-growth hardwood floors. And later around the late 1800’s, polished hardwood floors became mainstream in America (source: OldHouseOnline).
While the material itself is timeless, what trends is the color with which to stain the wood flooring. Also trending is floor tile that looks like wood. (With flooring manufacturers duplicating the look, that just proves what a timeless classic hardwood floors truly are!)
Consider the basics in a kitchen: cabinetry, countertops, flooring, and fixtures. If you are seeking to create a look that can better withstand the test of time, look for those foundations within historical design that speak to timelessness. Be creative within those foundations and the end result will be simple but artistic; both timeless and current.
Children’s bathrooms are absolutely fun to design! We focus on the details when we are designing a bathroom, and the kids’ bath is no exception.
Like many who are remodeling, you want this bathroom to last. You don’t want to get down the road a few years only to find your kids have outgrown their bathroom. We have three quick details you may have already considered for your kids’ bath remodel, but are worth mentioning:
Function: While it is fun and fulfilling to create the ultimate bath for the “little one,” design the functional aspects (such as the tub) not just for a small child, but also for the child as he or she grows.
Themes: Fun themes are great, but avoid purchasing permanent themed fixtures. Instead, introduce a theme using towels, floor mats, wall stickers, toilet seats and wall paint color.
Features: Some features that both a child and an older teen would appreciate are ample ledges or shelves in tubs/showers as well as soft-close cabinet doors, drawers, and toilet seats. Also consider conveniently placed small storage compartments for products used daily.
How do you design a bath your kids won’t outgrow? Our top four considerations for a well-designed children’s bathroom are safety, ease-of-use, durability, and longevity of design. Let’s break the bathroom into sections and we’ll share our tips to make your kids’ bathroom functional for all ages.
Opt for a shower with a tub. While tubs are not often used by teens and adults, it is usually a necessity for young children. Plan a tub that is amply sized for teens and adults down the road. Showering in an all-in-one fiberglass tub/shower is the most financially feasible option but can get a little claustrophobic for many. Surrounding a tub with tile or solid surface adds design, character, and a little more elbow room.
Other features to consider in the tub/shower:
strategically placed grab bars to prevent slips and falls
a handheld shower head on a slidebar, or 2-wall holders (one high for the shower, one low for the parent who aids the small child in bathing)
a rod with a shower curtain rather than a glass sliding door allows full access when bathing young children
Some brands offer a toilet seat with an integrated rim that is child-sized. When the child outgrows the necessity for this function, simply replace the seat. Also, the toilet height is usually an important decision. While a standard height toilet provides ease-of-use for a young child, an adult height or “comfort” height is likely best for everyone else. Of course, a toilet can be replaced easily as the child grows or when the kids’ bath will be converted into a guest bath.
Instead of privacy hardware on the entry door, use passage hardware that can’t be locked from inside for younger children. This can be easily changed as the child grows.
The vanity height is often a concern when designing a kids’ bath. The old vanity height of 30” is no longer used except for special circumstances. Often a client will choose a height of 32”-34” so that it helps the child reach the sink and still is useful for teens and adults. Sometimes the adult height of 34½” is chosen for longevity reasons. The thinking here is that the child will have to use a stool for a season either way, so make the height of the vanity efficient for when they are through the stool phase and for when the kids are out of the house and the bathroom is converted to a guest bath.
Water and moisture issues
To keep damage at a minimum, consider using tile flooring and tile baseboard instead of wood. Add plenty of floor mats to help avoid slipping. A suitable ventilation fan is a must to remove humidity from the bathroom. Humidity causes mold/mildew issues which can warp wood-made products and can damage many other products and surfaces.
How much should you expect to spend on a kids’ bath remodel? A coat of paint and some new hardware can easily make the space appealing and will cost very little. A full remodel will cost much more. Often, the desired scope of work is not in sync with the desired budget of a kids’ bath. Since there are many factors to consider, the best thing to do is to meet with a design professional to help develop a budget. Remember, a bathroom may be small, but there is no other room that is packed with as much product and labor per square foot of space. So meet with a professional to see if your thoughts for your budget will allow you to accomplish your project.
Designing a bath your kids won’t outgrow is possible! If you take these tips for longevity with you when you meet with your professional bath designer, you will be better prepared to fill your bathroom with products that will last. And remember, you will always be able to change the shower curtain, rugs, towels and accessories to accommodate their evolving style.
Are you ready to remodel your kitchen? We are excited to share with you how to design a kitchen like a pro!
Although HGTV calls the kitchen “one of the most complicated remodeling projects,” kitchen design can be just as daunting for those of you who are building new!
These tips from our Studio 76 Kitchens & Baths design professionals will help you through the design process. Whether you are building new or remodeling your old kitchen, the best place to start is with these five design principles to guide you in how to design a kitchen like a pro.
1. Kitchen Priorities
Setting priorities will help you achieve your goals while maintaining a budget. Without priorities, you may not get the value you would expect from your new build or remodeled kitchen.
What is most important to you: An enlarged space? Granite or quartz countertops? All-wood cabinets? Professional appliances? New windows? A deeper sink? Better storage? Stone flooring? If, for example, enlarging your space by removing a wall is your top priority, then adjust your next priorities to maintain your budget.
If you are just getting started, you may not know what your priorities are yet. Do some research to see what you like. Try to focus on your style and keep an open mind when looking at different products. When the pricing list is compiled, you may have to adjust to a second choice for those items lower on your priority list. Here are some ways to begin your research:
Get online. Go to Houzz.com and search styles such as “traditional” or “transitional” or “contemporary.” Look at cabinet styles, flooring materials, special storage features. Get specific about a picture and save it to your “ideabook” noting what you like and dislike about that particular kitchen. While you are on Houzz, read reviews of products and professionals. Finally, don’t forget to check Pinterest and HGTV for more kitchen products, styles, and design ideas.
Visit kitchen showrooms. It is great when a homeowner calls and asks about touring our showroom! Seeing and touching samples of kitchen products in person can be pivotal for the decision-making process.
Make a consultation appointment with a kitchen designer. Just talking with a professional for an hour will give you great insights on how to proceed, what pitfalls to avoid, and what a realistic budget is for the scope of work you want done.
In the photo below, a client had a wall removed between the kitchen and eating area creating an enlarged open floor plan.
2. Kitchen Space Planning
Think about your kitchen habits and how you and your family “live” in your kitchen. Space planning incorporates the way you and your family work and live in your kitchen.
Leave space for doorways, entryways, walkways: 36”-48” makes for good entry widths and walking space.
Think work zones: cooking, cleaning, storage, entertaining, and multitasking. Maybe you are a two-cook family. Space planning can handle that.
Pair the sink and dishwasher: flank your sink with at least 24” of countertop on one side (install the dishwasher under that countertop) then balance it with 15”-18” or more of countertop on the other side.
Consider seating: If your countertop is going to double as a seating area, you’ll need 24”-30” of space per person for comfort. The depth of the overhang should be a minimum of 12”. Be sure the overhang is supported properly.
3. Kitchen Design Safety
Important, but often overlooked, is safety in design.
For small children, consider safety locks on certain doors and drawers.
Instead of knives on the counters, consider knife storage in a drawer–and consider locking it.
“Soften” countertop corners by rounding or clipping those corners. Save your hips!
Good ventilation can free the air of fumes, odors, steam, and grease. Best Range Hoods has a variety of sizes and styles that look gorgeous while getting the job done.
When the hood takes air out, the make-up air is coming from somewhere. It is best to plan and redirect that make-up air instead of it coming from a path of least resistance, such as your fireplace chimney.
4. Kitchen Organization and Storage
With all the latest cabinetry and drawer storage solutions, you probably won’t regret splurging on a few modern accessories.
Accessories like swing-out pantry shelves, corner cabinet with pull-out shelves, or extra-deep drawers to store pots and pans, help keep your kitchen organized and can double your storage capacity. If you love an organized kitchen, then perhaps storage should be on the top of your priority list! (If you haven’t started your priority list yet, scroll back up to #1)
This homeowner’s farmhouse kitchen was a rustic remodel; however, rustic didn’t mean she needed to live in the past! She chose to splurge on open shelving, pull-out spice racks, and extra-wide drawers for utensils.
5. Create your Design Board
During this time of planning, HGTV may seem like your best friend. But they don’t do the work for you. You have to get out there and create your design boards! Don’t worry, it’ll be easier than you think. Wherever you visit a store, ask if there are small samples you could purchase to begin collecting items for your overall kitchen design. Pull together a collection of paint samples, fabric scrap samples, finish and flooring samples, photos of lighting, and of course small chunks of countertop. This board you create will help you tell your “design story” to the kitchen designer you choose to work with.
Every time you look at your design board, it will remind you of what you truly love about your color pattern and kitchen décor.
With all the details involved in kitchen design, it truly can feel like a complicated process! But if you keep in mind these five principles, you will be well prepared when it comes time to retain a kitchen remodeling professional. Planning for priorities, space, safety and organization (plus creating a design board) is how to design a kitchen like a pro.