Have No Doubts When Selecting Grout

Not many of our clients think about grout color when they are selecting a tile.  Sometimes when we bring it up the client seems surprised that it’s a decision they even need to be involved in.  Sometimes they look panicked like – I thought I was done with tile decisions!tile groutGrout is definitely not as sexy as the tile itself however it can have a dramatic impact on the look and feel of the tile.  For example, white subway tile has been a staple for kitchens and is not going away anytime in the foreseeable future. If white tile is paired with white grout, the distinction between the tile and grout disappears creating a look that does not typically catch the eye.

Below are some examples of kitchens that have white tile & white grout…

white subway tile

white subway tile

Photo by WING Ta via Domino

Designed by Studio McGee

white tile

Photo by Mia Baxter via Domino 

Becki Owens

Designed by Becki Owens via Domino

A grout color that contrasts with white or lighter tiles makes a definitive distinction. We also tend to avoid white grout because it takes extra effort to clean and maintain. We often contrast white tiles and white based tiles with a soft gray grout especially in traditional or transitional designs because of its timeless look and its ability to complement Shaker-style cabinets, veined stone counters and wood floors.

Here are some other kitchens where they have used a soft grey grout to contrast with the tile…

Studio McGee

Designed by Studio McGee

Jeremy Liebman

Photo by Jeremey Liebman via Domino

The Intern Kitchen

Kitchen from the movie “The Intern” from Warner Bros.

Another popular trend with white tiles, especially backsplashes, is to pair them with darker colored grout to create a look that makes the tile a focal point of the kitchen.

Brittany Ambridge

Photo by Brittany Ambridge via Domino

Studio McGee

Studio McGee

Designed by Studio McGee

The Cabientry

The same rules apply when using dark tiles for flooring or wall coverings. Lighter colored grout serves to contrast the tile and highlight patterns.

The CabinetryThe Cabinetry

The Cabinetry

We like to recommend a colored grout to help highlight other colors in the kitchen or bath. Colored grouts are also often paired with colored and patterned tiles. But this can be tricky if you are not familiar with color schemes and contrasting colors that complement one another. Using white or light grout with colored tiles helps to soften the space and provide cleaner lines. When clients opt for a bright red or orange colored tile, we would pair that with a white grout.

Cement Tiles

The finish of the tile is another consideration when specifying grout. If the tile is glossy, it will appear lighter on a wall surface. A lighter grout color works best with glossy tiles.

Tile is not the only material that affects how grout looks and feels in a new kitchen or bath. We account for surrounding materials and other color schemes specified for the kitchen. Incorporating brown and red tones into grout serves to complement brick, wood, leather and stone.

There are also different considerations for floor tile than backsplash or wall tile seen at eye level. We often recommend contrasting the tile and the grout to add richness to the look.

Color is only one factor to consider when specifying grout. Another is thickness. If the grout matches the tile, we recommend a thin grout application to give the appearance of one continuous material. The shape of the tile impacts the grout thickness. For circular tile, often used on bathroom floors and shower bases, we suggest using a thicker grout pattern to make the tile stand out. When we work with bathrooms that have multiple tiled surfaces we tend to specify the same color grout for both walls and floors to help assure a harmonious look.

Understanding the effect grout color, thickness and applications have on a new kitchen or bath project is essential to make our clients smile.

Project Spotlight: Refreshed Neutral Kitchen

We are sooo excited to be featured on Fireclay Tile’s recent blog posting Project Spotlight: Refreshed Neutral Kitchen!  We recently completed a kitchen reno in Quincy for a young couple who wanted a fresh & modern feel for their home and growing family.  They were open to color & pattern.  They really wanted the space to be fun and have a touch of whimsy.  We couldn’t be happier with how everything turned out! 

Check out the link below for the full feature…


modern cabinets

Reviewing the tile installation & pattern with the tile installer was crucial as each tile is handmade and the Ogee Drop can be positioned in various ways to create different patterns.  We opted for the Moroccan pattern to create movement and visual interest for the backsplash.  It also creates a nice contrast to the linear, modern styling of the cabinetry & counters.

Here is a pic of of the final installation.  For more pics head to our gallery or check us out on Fireclay Tile’s website!

Posted by Tara L. Callow

The Art of Placing Cabinet Hardware

Cabinet hardware is the jewelry of the kitchen. It’s the finishing touch for cabinetry and can make a unique design statement. Hardware placement should not be an afterthought. We always review the placement with the client and with the installer to assure that the finished product makes our client smile every time they enter the room.

The most common hardware configuration we see these days in transitional kitchens is a handle on the drawers and a knob on the doors.  In the more modern kitchens typically we see all handles.

white cabinetry


We generally feel that centering handles on the drawers provides the beautiful symmetry that most of our client’s love. We start with the length of the chosen handle and then consider the width of each drawer.  As a rule of thumb, if the drawer is 30” wide or more we look at whether two handles is the best option.  Sometimes we need to use a mix of handle sizes if there are smaller drawers.  For example, if the handle is 8” long and there is a 12” wide cabinet the handle will overwhelm the cabinet and look unattractive.  If that’s the case hopefully the handle is offered in a smaller length.  If the drawer is 9” wide (typically the smallest standard cabinet width) we usually place the coordinating knob on the drawer instead of the handle.

When our clients prefer only handles and no knobs there is a choice between placing the handles horizontally, vertically or a mix of both can look more interesting.


When placing knobs on the upper cabinet doors we like them about two inches up from the bottom edge of the door.  It all depends on the design detail of the door and how the knob lines up with the lines in the door.  On taller doors we might center the knob.


We always put a handle on the waste basket cabinet because it gets so much use and needs something sturdy.  Typically, the door on this cabinet is attached to the basket and is pulled in and out many times a day.

The same goes for a dishwasher with a cabinet panel on the front.  A handle is always the better choice for functionality. 

Refrigerators with a cabinet panel front need a special appliance handle.  Most hardware companies offer coordinating appliance handles which are heavier and will make it easier to open a fridge with a strong gasket seal.  

grey cabinets

Posted by Marlene MacDonald Ketchen

The Cabinetry wins Best of Boston 2017 for cabinets

Marlene MacDonald Ketchen, founder and President of The Cabinetry Kitchen & Bath Design Studio, is proud to announce that her company has won “Best Cabinets” in the 2017 guide, “Best of Boston Home,” published by Boston Magazine.

The Boston Magazine publishes this annual guide, in which they poll industry experts and homeowners to find the best designers, craftspeople, and retailers. This year’s guide, their tenth, found 137 of the best of the region to include in the magazine. The Cabinetry Kitchen & Bath Design Studio was selected for “Best Cabinets” in the South region.

Marlene Ketchen and her team received the award at a Best of Boston Home 2017 awards ceremony held December 8 at the Innovation & Design Building, 25 Drydock Avenue, Boston.

“We are thrilled to have been selected to be part of this prestigious guide,” said Ketchen, adding, “Boston Magazine is a highly-regarded source of information, and we are thankful to both Boston Magazine and to the people who recommended and supported us to win this award.” She added, “We have a great, talented team and they make this recognition possible.”


About Boston Magazine

For more than 40 years, Boston magazine’s experienced writers, editors, and designers have captured all sides of the city with award-winning and insightful writing, and groundbreaking reporting and design. The magazine reports which towns and neighborhoods are the most desirable, which schools and workplaces are at the top of the heap, which doctors are first-rate, and which restaurants, stores, and services are the Best of Boston®.  The magazine has been named among the three best city magazines in the nation seven times by the City and Regional Magazine Association.


About Marlene MacDonald Ketchen

Prior to working in the cabinetry industry, Marlene MacDonald Ketchen, a graduate of Catholic University in Washington, D.C., worked at the White House during the Clinton Administration, first as an assistant to George Stephanopoulos and then in the press office of the West Wing. During this time, she traveled internationally with the press corps to places including Ireland, England, Germany, Egypt, and Korea. She also worked for the Commerce Department and with Ethel Kennedy for the RFK Memorial non-profit organization.  She is also the former Communications Manager for the Latin American division of AOL.


About The Cabinetry

The Cabinetry provides unique, functional design and beautifully crafted cabinetry for homeowners throughout the South Shore and beyond. The company can trace its roots to 1960 when present owner Marlene MacDonald Ketchen’s grandfather Norman MacDonald began manufacturing cabinetry under the name MacDonald Kitchens.  At one time, all five of Mr. MacDonald’s sons, including Marlene’s father, Paul, were involved in the family business.  Marlene MacDonald Ketchen purchased the company in 2003. Previously located in Hanover, The Cabinetry now has its offices/showroom at 190 Old Derby Street, Hingham, MA. In 2004, The Cabinetry was selected by the Emmy-award winning PBS show “This Old House” to design several rooms for its 25th anniversary project in Carlisle, MA;  the crew of This Old House” filmed an episode for the series at The Cabinetry showroom. The Cabinetry sees each project through from initial design to completed installation, with a skilled team of designers. For additional information, please  call 781-749-6777. Showroom and consultation hours are by appointment.

Sensational Summer Smoothie!

So, I’ve been on a smoothie kick lately and after recently returning from a trip to Hawaii, where I had several amazing smoothies, one of which being a chocolate protein concoction from the Whole Foods on Maui (that I can’t seem to get locally here in MA??!!) I became determined to try and find a recipe I could make at home.  This was further fueled by a trip to Vela (the go to place for smoothies in Plymouth) over the weekend where I had a yummy, yet pricy creation.

What do you do when you want to find something?  Google it of course!

Chocolate SmoothieI was delighted to see several options pop-up.  Among them was a recipe on a new site that I was unfamiliar with – “Minimalist Baker“…I immediately fell in love with the look and concept of the site.  Quick, healthy meals with a vegan/vegetarian bend.  What more could I ask for!!??  I read through the ingredients, and have to admit as much as I was impressed by the overall site was a bit skeptical of the ingredients…I went on to read the reviews and comments…so good so far.

I picked up all the ingredients and got my Ninja out!  I opted to include ice since I find it adds a nice texture and chilled factor to a smoothie.  I also tried a batch with coconut yogurt (which was good too but eliminates it as a vegan recipe and adds extra calories that I don’t think really improve the recipe).

Bottom line this recipe is absolutely AMAZING!  I can’t believe how good it tastes!  It’s become my new go-to summer treat since it’s a healthy alternative to a trip to Peaceful Meadows for the Fugernutter sundae (which is to die for, but seriously not good to consume on a regular basis!!)  I couldn’t wait to share my discovery and had to make one last night, with a few extra embellishments of course, so I could give you all a glimpse here…

The recipe is below but I am including the original link to the recipe as well since you may want to check in out!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Shake

  • 1 large ripe banana (~200 g), previously peeled, sliced and frozen
  • 2 Tbsp (32 g) salted natural peanut butter (if unsalted, add a pinch of salt)
  • 1-2 dates, pitted (if not sticky and moist, soak in hot water for 10 minutes, then drain)
  • 1 Tbsp (5 g) cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups (240 – 360 ml) Almond Breeze Almondmilk Original Unsweetened
  • Optional: 1/2 cup ice
  1. Add all ingredients except almond milk to the blender. Add in almond milk 1/2 cup at a time, adding only enough to allow the ingredients to blend together. Add more for a thinner shake and less for a thicker shake.
  2. Taste and adjust flavors, adding more banana or dates for sweetness, cacao for chocolate flavor, and peanut butter for saltiness. Optional: Add a handful of ice for extra thickness.
  3. Serves 1 generously. Best when fresh, though leftovers will keep covered in the fridge for up to 24 hours. You could even freeze this into popsicles!

Voila – you won’t be disappointed!!!  I am so glad I stumbled on this site!!  I can’t wait to discover more amazing recipes from Dana & John!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Shake