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 and instead of pullout shelves. The full access and single motion nature of drawers is the most popular current option. 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 (like the 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.
Wood countertops have been making a comeback in recent years. Many of our clients love the idea of using wood countertops for warmth and contrast in design. And it’s a great idea! We most often recommend wood countertops for an island, or even a portion of the island as a focal feature in the kitchen.
Why do we recommend wood countertops?
We recommend wood countertops for three reasons. Wood countertops are more sanitary than you may think! Some species naturally inhibit bacteria growth, while a quality clear coat finish seals the wood for an easily cleaned surface. Secondly, wood countertops are a durable surface for hard-working kitchens. Thirdly, wood offers warmth both visually (the color) and tangibly (in contrast to cold stone surfaces) and a gorgeous, natural style.
What types of wood species are available for countertops?
Countertops are offered in many wood species such as cherry, maple, hickory, walnut, teak, or sapele mahogany. After you choose a wood species, you can choose a stain color and a finish. A natural finish will benefit from a regular application of food grade mineral oil to keep it from drying out and seals the wood. Or a quality clear top coat will seal the wood for easy clean-up and protection against water.
Why are designers using two different countertop materials in one kitchen?
A well designed kitchen uses a combination of materials to provide both strong and subtle contrasts. Contrast is distinctive, and is necessary for a well-defined space. But blending textures using wood countertops creates a harmonious balance which makes us think: “there is something so inviting about this space.”
What other tips can you give us?
If you use your wood countertop as a cutting or chopping surface, be willing to accept cuts and scratches in the surface. A redeeming quality of a wood surface is the scratches can be sanded out!
When designing an oversized island, consider warm materials such as this 1.75 inch thick wood countertop by Grothouse. The distressed and glazed walnut wood invites family and friends to gather for meals and conversations. The warmth of these materials encourages guests to linger, and the generous expanse of the counter provides ample space for enjoyment.