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.
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.
When homeowners walk into our cabinet showroom, we invite them to test the cabinet doors and drawers. Open, close, open, close – this helps you “feel” the quality. New cabinets will be the foundation of your design whether you are building or remodeling a kitchen or bath in your home. If you are asking the question how do I know if a cabinet is good quality, we are happy to provide the basic elements of beautiful, quality cabinetry.
But when it comes to cabinet construction itself, what are you looking for? Not all cabinets are created equal. How do you know if a cabinet is good quality? Here are 5 elements that should be on your radar when shopping for quality cabinetry for your kitchen or bath.
1. How are the cabinets constructed?
This is usually the boring part of the research process. But it’s actually just as important to know about construction, joints, and bracing of cabinets as it is what kind of materials the box is made from. Glue is often used as part of constructing cabinet boxes, so don’t be alarmed if you see a touch of dried glue on the inside corners. However, the process is more than just gluing pieces of wood together. When a deep groove meets a matching joint, this joint is strong and the glue has more surface to adhere to for extra strength. (This is what we call a “dado joint.”) The “bracing” of the cabinet box is also extremely important for strength and durability. Wood or engineered I-Beams let into the sides, front, and back are preferred for base cabinet construction. Thick cabinet backs let-into the cabinet sides is preferred for wall cabinets. Whether framed or frameless construction, joints, bracing and material thickness keep a cabinet from falling apart and help keep it square.
2. What is the difference between traditional wood cabinet boxes and frameless cabinet boxes?
A traditional wood cabinet box has a face frame (usually 1 ½ inches wide) where the door closes onto the cabinet. If you’re considering a traditional, framed cabinet, and have already confirmed solid construction, good joinery, sturdy bracing, and an all-wood frame, then you’d be making a classic choice. However, if you’re impressed with more accessibility and more useable space inside the cabinet, then frameless (also called “European-style” or “full-access” cabinets) might be the way to go. Frameless describes a process of building a cabinet without the front frame. It doesn’t mean your cabinets will look European because your cabinet door will actually be what determines the style. Cabinet manufacturers offer traditional, transitional or contemporary door styles in both framed and frameless cabinetry. However, the most contemporary kitchens or baths are using frameless cabinetry.
3. What’s the difference between plywood and particleboard?
Throughout the industry, plywood is considered the better choice. Plywood is usually stronger than particleboard and doesn’t expand as easily in moist environments. Is particleboard always bad? Not always. If your cabinet layout includes cabinet boxes next to each other, and they are constructed properly, then the particleboard sides are “buried” and unseen. However, on end cabinets with sides exposed, have your designer specify a “finished end” with a plywood side, or at least an engineered side which has a veneer of real wood. The worst aspect of a particle board cabinet is to have a paper or “picture” of wood on an exposed end rather than real wood. One final thought: if we’re talking about drawers, thin particleboard drawers with staples for joints would not have the lifespan of their wood counterparts. Some cabinet lines may try to cut corners and use particleboard for drawer boxes. Beware!
4. What about the drawers?
In a traditionally framed cabinet, all-wood drawer boxes are the best. The joinery should be dovetailed with the drawer bottom made of a sufficiently dimensioned plywood. The drawer hardware (glides and soft-close hardware) is critical to the sturdiness. Remember, slamming drawers often happens in the bustle of a kitchen. But with the mechanical advancement of slides and soft-close hardware, you can make slamming drawers a thing of the past! For frameless cabinets, soft-close is a must as well, but the drawer boxes can be wood or metal. And always purchase full-extension glides so that you don’t lose useful space!
5. Is the cabinet warranty essential?
Yes! Here is a typical cabinet warranty example from Medallion’s cabinet warranty. While manufacturer warranties are important, what is most important is the stability and longevity of the company with which you are doing business. Warranties are only valuable if the company is still in business when you need them. Even a good manufacturing company’s warranty is difficult to use if there are no dealers around to service the product. And dealers generally don’t like to service product purchased from a competing dealer. Purchasing any large ticket items should be from a local business that has been around a long time and has a good service reputation.
Because not all cabinets are created equal, you have to do your research on how they are made in order to really assess their quality. To answer your question, how do I know if a cabinet is good quality? In summary, look for dado joints, all-wood frame and drawers, dovetailed drawers, soft-close drawer hardware, and a lifetime warranty. Don’t be fooled, just because a door style is contemporary and the drawer mechanics are soft-close doesn’t mean the cabinetry is of a good quality. Follow the guidelines in the five questions above, and you will be on your way to finding quality cabinetry.