Metal Countertops?

Grothouse Lumber, started in 1994, is known for being one of the premiere places to get custom wood countertops.  They have a myriad of wood choices, cuts, edges and styles that are just not available other places.  They just came out with a line of wood countertops that imitate metal and we LOVE them.  They are called Anvil Metal Countertops.


We ordered our own box of samples for the show room so we can start incorporating them into our designs. I can picture these sleek gold and silver countertops incorporated into a classic black and white kitchen- adding a gorgeous touch of elegance and character to the space.

These countertops are great because the edges can be formed into complex shapes, which were not previously available due to the limitations of sheet metal. If you look at pictures of metal countertops online, the only edge shape is the straight slightly rounded or perfectly square ones.  They also just look sooooo luxurious.


These countertops come in any edge treatment that they offer for their wood countertops and they are also available in their Durata finish.  The Durata finish is food safe, water proof, very durable (scratch resistant) and impervious to household chemicals.

The metal look comes from real metal particles which are coated onto the wood.  Just like real metal countertops these will have a rich aged patina (a sheen produced by age, wear and polishing).  The natural grain and imperfections of the wood will also show through giving these tops a lot of character.



These countertops have a 6-8 week lead time if you decide to order one.  They come with a one year warranty from Grothouse and are super easy to clean.  We can’t wait to start featuring them!

Posted by Jennifer Hubbard

What is Thermofoil?

Thermofoil cabinets are MDF or engineered wood covered with a thin sheet of vinyl or laminate- which give it the appearance of hardwood or veneer.

© Bearwalk

Generally, thermofoil cabinets have gotten a bad rep for being the cheap step brother of wooden painted cabinets.  While thermofoil cabinets do tend to be cheaper in price than their wooden counterparts (a plus for those on a budget!) they also have many benefits.


Thermofoil cabinets are very durable.  They are incredibly resistant to moisture- which can seep into your wooden cabinets and cause warping due to expansion and contraction.  This is especially great for places in high humidity areas where warpage can become a real problem.

These cabinets are also more resistant to stains and are generally easier to clean. They only need to be wiped down once in awhile with a damp cloth and a non-abrasive cleaner. They also resist the chipping that can be common on a lot of painted cabinets (and we all know that the most popular type of cabinet is the white painted one).

Thermofoil used to be very limited in style, but now most companies carry it and  it’s available in a variety of styles which can be made to look very high end.

Marlene Ketchen

One thing to keep in mind when ordering Thermofoil cabinets is that they are not resistant to heat.  If you are going to be putting them near any ovens or stoves, you will need to make sure a heat shield is installed.  If this shield is not installed, then the vinyl will start to peel.  The heat shield is just a small piece of metal which gets installed between the appliance and the cabinet to protect it.

Thermofoil is resistant to moisture but not completely waterproof.  In the unlikely event that water penetrates the vinyl, and seeps onto the MDF, the cabinet door could be destroyed and a new one would need to be ordered.

They are very durable- but if a dent or a scratch does occur on the surface of the vinyl than this can not be fixed by a refinisher like a wooden painted cabinet can.  This can also leave them exposed to damaging elements.

Thermofoil cabinets tend to be heavier than their wood counterparts and can be harder to install.  You would need to work with your contractor on this to make sure they are installed correctly. These should be installed by a professional to ensure this happens.


Posted by Jennifer Hubbard


White is hotter than ever!  We all know it’s been the reigning champ in kitchen cabinetry for quite some time but it has recently emerged as an all over contender for interior design.  Designers like Studio McGee are using white in all areas of the home creating desirable interiors that are fresh, modern and bright!

Studio McGee

I have to admit I was lured to this trend early on.  I moved into a new apartment about a year and half ago and it was the first place I have ever lived that I did not have to immediately paint every room before settling in.  The walls, a pleasant light blue-grey with white trim, allowed me to take my time deciding how I wanted my space to feel and how to best to decorate my new space.  An avid Pinterest lover I noticed a theme running through many of my recent pins – open spaces with lots of white.  It also complimented the minimalist ideals and modern sensibilities I have come to admire and have recently started implementing into my life.

Just love this bedroom that served as my inspriration!!  Aerin Lauder’s Alpine Retreat!  Check out the link below to see the rest of this stunning home!

Aerin Lauder

This was another bedroom I love which was posted on the blog SF Girl By Bay…

SF Girl By Bay

Normally I pride myself on being bold and adventurous in my color choices – never one to shy away from taking a risk.  One thing I never have done is seen white as a color I would actually choose with so many other glorious colors out there.  White in my mind was the blase choice of apartment complexes with little character and interest.  This was all about to change!

One interior designer in particular that has fueled my obsession with white is Amber Interiors. I had several interiors she had designed pinned so I naturally Google her and was instantly hooked!  I loved her sense of style – California cool, infused with global influences.  Clean lines and bright open space that just beckon you to sit and relax!

Just take a peek below at bedrooms by Amber.



The style is heavily influenced by modernism and has a scandi cool feel – rooted in simplicity, minimalism and functionality.  White is used as the backdrop for the surroundings – reflecting light and creating a space that is bright and airy.

Paulina Arcklin

Love the photography and styling by Paulina Arcklin with classic Scandinavian design elements.

After pouring over hundreds of images online (and thumbing through countless magazines – yes!  I said magazines!!) I decided I was ready to take the plunge into an all white room.  The next step was – which white?!  There are too many choices out there – so how do you decide?  A cool pure white or a warm rich cream?  I started gathering swatches from a variety of sources and pining them on the walls in my bedroom.  I moved them around hanging them in different parts of the room – I also revisited them throughout the day to experience them in different light.

Check out Ambers blog on choosing the perfect white paint!

Becki Owens, another Interior Designer who is fantastic at “white” and also has a great blog on picking the perfect white!

Becki Owens Interiors

In the end I opted for a fresh, modern white – Brilliant White by Ralph Lauren (courtesy of Home Depot).  I have been an a big fan of his paint colors for quite sometime…I always find them to be just right.  Lots of dimensions and depth I find lacking in so many of the other paints out there.  I also tend to gather paint swatches from various companies as the colors tend to be more appealing from one season to the next.  Some other go to’s for paint are: Farrow & Ball, Pratt & Lambert, California Paints, Martha Stewart and Serena & Lilly which has some great colors!  I also prefer the chalky, soft texture of a flat sheen paint, and although not the best choice when it comes to washing, I was willing to forgo this detail since it was in my bedroom after all and not a high traffic area!  I also decided that I wanted there to be no contrast between the walls and architectural elements in the room so I covered the walls, ceiling, baseboard and all other trim with the the flat Brilliant White paint.  This causes the eye to move about the space uninterrupted and become one seamless space.

Brilliant White Paint

Once I finished painting I knew I had made the right choice!  The room turned out just as I had hoped.  Bright, cheerful, serene, and like sitting in a cloud.  The complexity of white – how the color shifts and changes with natural light throughout the day is beautiful; the magic plays out around me in my new white room.

Next, I set out finalizing other details to complete the look I was aspiring too.  A white minimal platform bed, white cotton sheets with a white linen duvet…rustic wood accent tables, a bit of gold to warm the space and an orange fur throw to add a pop of color and cozy up with on cold winter nights!  I also couldn’t resist hanging a black & white abstract painting of mine above the bed, (relocated from my living room), that I painted while studying at The Art Institute years ago.  It’s bold and graphic, the perfect contrast to the minimal styling of the room.

Voila!  My new bedroom!

Brillaint White Paint Ralph Lauren

It’s no surprise that Benjamin Moore and Sherman Williams both chose whites for their 2016 color of the year!  Ben Moore named Simply White OC – 117, a warm but not too creamy white, while Sherman Williams nominated Alabaster SW 700, a neutral white that’s neither stark nor overly warm.

Simply White


I was also pleasantly surprised to find “Decorating with White“, a special edition publication of House & Home (one of my favorite mags I drool over every month!) at Barnes & Noble this past weekend.  Not only does it have all sorts of tips & tricks for decorating with white…but it’s just in time for me to tackle my living room next!  I highly recommend picking up a copy yourself if you are as infatuated with white as I am!  I’m sure you will swoon over each page as I did!

House & Home

Design by Sloan Mauran found in Decorating with White

Sloan Mauran

Posted by Tara L. Callow



The Laundry Room: An Untapped Treasure

The laundry room offers some great untapped opportunities for style and functionality! You can get sassy counters, or sparkling hardware! You can add tile with pizzazz and hide roll outs and bins in so many places!  Since laundry rooms are typically pretty small, the cost is usually a lot less than a kitchen or bathroom renovation.  And if you add this room into an existing renovation, it usually helps lower the cost.  This gives you the power to add flourishes you wouldn’t normally be able to.  There are so many things you can do with it!


Here are some things to consider when doing a laundry room renovation:

Where in the home do you want to put it?:  Do you want the laundry room upstairs or in a basement?  Proximity to the kitchen/bedrooms can be great- you don’t need to carry your dirty laundry all over the house.  You can also think about sharing the plumbing lines with the kitchen/bathroom to lower cost.  But it also requires extra insulation to cancel out the noise and if there’s ever a leak it can cause damage to other rooms.

What are your laundry habits?:  How often you wash clothes and whether or not you fold them on a counter?  Do you need a laundry room sink for soaking clothes?  Do you generally hang things up to dry?  Iron them?  Do you need room for laundry baskets in the room?  Or cleaning supplies?  All of these questions are really going to effect how you lay out your space.

Appliances?:  Do you want a front loader or a top loader?  Front loaders are more expensive (about $200-$400 more) but they clean more efficiently and are more energy efficient.  They also give you more options for space saving.  You can stack them one on top of the other, or put a counter on top for folding clothing.  Don’t forget to account for the hookups that will need to be added to the room.

The color of the appliances can also really change the tone of the room, so this is also something you should definitely keep in mind.

Accessories?:  If you like doing your ironing in the laundry room, you can consider a built-in board that will save space.  There are also pull out and tilt out hampers which can make storing laundry easy.  You could also consider adding a drying rack.  Or a trash pull out.  You can also consider open shelving or shelving with curtains and bins for storage.  Some people also add televisions or stereos into their rooms to keep them busy while they’re folding and loading.

Countertops?:  There are several nonporous engineered stone or laminate options out there for countertops.  These will involve less upkeep and will be more resistant to stains and damage.  Natural stone can also be used but it will require a sealant to prevent damage and they don’t absorb sound.

Posted by Jennifer Hubbard

Irish Beef Stew with Guinness

St. Patrick’s Day, an official feast day, was definitely a day of celebration- not just on the actual day, March 17, but all throughout the weekend as well.


I thought- I need to make something. What’s better than an Irish stew?  Since it was a Thursday night (work the next morning… wah wah wah…) and I couldn’t do anything too labor intensive- this was the perfect recipe!

Irish Beef Stew with Guinness

Pints of Guinness beer sit on the bar at the Bell public house in Wendens Ambo, Essex, UK, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007. Diageo Plc, the world's largest liquor maker, reported slowing profit growth as higher costs for barley and energy weighed on earnings. Photographer: Graham Barclay/Bloomberg NewsDiageo Plc, the world's largest liquor maker, reported slowing profit growth as higher costs for barley and energy weighed on earnings. Photographer: Graham Barclay/Bloomberg News


2 tablespoons of Olive Oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 pounds beef stew meat, cubed

3 cups of stout beer (such as Guinness)

2 potatoes, peeled and sliced

2 potatoes, peeled and quartered  (I just cubed all of the potatoes and they came out fine…)

Additional salt and pepper to taste

  1.  Heat Olive Oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Stir in the onion, garlic, salt & pepper.  Cook and stir until the onion has softened and become translucent (about 5 minutes).
  3. Stir in the beef, beer, and potatoes.
  4. Bring stew to a boil over high heat and then reduce to heat to medium-low.
  5. Cover and simmer until the beef is tender- about 2 hours.
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper before enjoying.

I also added a piece of bread from a loaf I had purchased on top, and let it sop up the liquidy goodness.


Posted by Jennifer Hubbard