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.
While most of our clients don’t ever struggle with this question, there are a few who, before hiring us, asked themselves: “Should I take on this remodeling project myself or should I pull in a professional?” The main concern of those who consider remodeling their kitchen or bathroom DIY is to save money: “Will it save me enough money to make it worth doing the work myself?”
To help you decide between hiring a pro or DIY, here are four questions to ask yourself.
1. Am I redecorating or remodeling?
If the space layout is remaining the same and you want to update your look, you are more likely redecorating. But, if you are willing to “demo” your space and redesign your layout, you are remodeling. This is a simplification but an easy way to understand the scope of your project.
2. Am I willing to take on all the risk?
There is risk involved with the technical implementation of a remodeling project. Mistakes can be costly. Plumbing, electrical, ventilation and structural knowledge are essential. Are you familiar with the local building codes? What if an inspection fails? Will you be able to manage the correction? Will you know if a subcontractor is cutting corners? If you don’t hire a professional kitchen designer and remodeler, the risk is entirely on you.
3. Do I have the ability to design a layout that will address all the possibilities?
Hiring a kitchen designer and remodeler most certainly will open your mind to new possibilities. With their training and experience, they may suggest a space layout and design you hadn’t thought of. In a kitchen, appliance size, location and placement are crucial. In a bathroom, with its often tight space, door swing and plumbing locations are a priority. A trained professional will give careful attention to detail in order to ensure high quality design and functionality.
4. Do I have the resources to implement the design?
You will need to purchase new products: flooring, backsplash, cabinets, countertops, appliances and more. You will need to have the time to visit these suppliers, make final selections, order the product and arrange storage of the product until you are ready to start. Keep in mind, you will be the general contractor. That means you will need to manage and schedule all aspects of the project from conception to completion and manage the costs to stay within your budget.
With so much advice out there for DIYers, why should you choose to hire a kitchen or bath designer? They offer resources you may not have, mitigate risk you can’t afford, and share ideas you didn’t think were possible. A professional kitchen designer with experience in renovations will help you save personal time, avoid mistakes, budget wisely, and schedule the project realistically. Hiring a professional can do so much toward ensuring a successful project.
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.