It’s Never an Open or Shut Case

Open floor plan kitchens have been a hot trend for a number of years, but not all of our clients want or need an open floor plan, opting instead for an enclosed space that better suits their needs, lifestyle and preferences.

Why would anyone want an enclosed kitchen? There are many reasons. One is that you don’t have to worry about the mess when entertaining. There’s no need to wash dishes, pots and pans, put away spices and herbs or make sure that the counters are clutter free. You can spend more time entertaining instead of worrying what the kitchen looks like after preparing a meal.

There are functional advantages to closed kitchens. Enclosed kitchens generally offer more storage opportunities than open floor plan counterparts because they have more wall space. More wall space allows for additional cabinet and drawer and shelves.

Aesthetically, enclosed kitchens provide more flexibility for unique design statements. An enclosed kitchen represents a separate room distinct from other spaces in the home. The design choices don’t necessarily have to blend in with connecting rooms, as is often the case with open floor plans, and the kitchen can stand apart from any other room in the house. Our clients have decorated their enclosed kitchens with artwork, memorabilia from trips, bold colors, unique and different textures, statement making materials or whatever their heart desires. Imagine if you had a blank canvas, what unique statement would you make?

Enclosed kitchens offer both sound and aroma control. You can confine the odors from cooking, cleaning or other activities much more effectively in a closed space than an open one. The same functionality is offered with sound. In an enclosed kitchen, there is less likelihood you will hear a conversation taking place in an adjoining room or music from a stereo system.

Enclosed kitchens are especially appealing to our customers whose homes are filled with family, friends and constant activity. By closing off the kitchen from the rest of the home, our clients can have a space all of their own, away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

If you would like to discuss the pros and cons of enclosed versus open floor plan kitchens, give us a call at 781-749-6777 and let us know when you can come in for a visit!

The Center of Attention

Whenever we have the opportunity to design a new kitchen, we work to accomplish two main goals for our clients. First, the kitchen must be functionally superior – the workspace must address our client’s needs, preferences, desires and budgets. Depending on the client’s goals, functional requirements that must be considered range from countertop space required for meal preparation to storage requirements for utensils, small appliances, cutlery, plates, cookware, food and everything in between.

Superb functionality is a given. Settle for nothing less. Aesthetics can elevate a kitchen from special to exceptional, and typically we begin developing the look, feel and aura of a new kitchen based on the client’s goals, style and vision. Creative use of materials and attention to details can make a space pop. Great designers create focal points in new kitchens that draw attention and wow. Focal points can be showstoppers and serve to anchor the space. They add interest and set the tone for the rest of the space.

When we work with a blank canvas, we have the freedom to suggest to clients an almost endless array of focal points. These can range from a dramatic range hood to a unique island counter. In some designs, especially among clients with a passion for cooking, a statement piece can be the cooking wall with high tech appliances and special finishes. For other projects, open shelving displaying unique ceramics, objects d’art and other keepsakes that are important to the client serve as great focal points and help define the space. The key is to recognize the opportunities for creating focal points in a given space. In some cases, using windows to stream natural light into a kitchen and provide a view of mother nature can serve as a dramatic focal point. Ideas for potential focal points in your new kitchen may include the following:

  • Custom ventilation hood
  • Cooking wall
  • Artwork
  • Cabinetry
  • Open shelving systems
  • Special panels for appliances, cabinets and pantries
  • Unique tile and backsplash materials
  • Unique countertops and countertop materials
  • Innovative use of color

In almost all our designs, there are more than one focal point in the kitchen. If you would like to know how to create focal points that wow your friends and family (and more importantly yourself!), give us a call at 781-749-6777 or email us at


Marlene Ketchen


Advantages the New Tax Law Creates for Renovating Your Kitchen or Bath


April 17 is around the corner and we realize that many of our existing and future clients will be submitting their 2017 tax returns. This week we will review the impact of the new 2018 tax law on making improvements to your home.

The amount of tax that Americans pay is based on the amount of income that they earn from their employment, investments and other sources less permitted deductions and tax credits. Tax credits reduce tax liabilities. Common credits include the child tax credit, which doubled to $2,000 per child under 17 with the new tax law and can be taken by single parents who make up to $200,000 and married couples whose income is less than $400,000. A $2,000 tax credit will reduce your tax liability by $2,000 and save you $2,000 in taxes.

By comparison, a tax deduction lowers taxable income to an amount equal to your marginal tax bracket. If you are in the 32 percent federal income tax bracket and you are entitled to a $1,000 tax deduction, your tax bill would be reduced by $320 (0.32 x $1,000 = $320).

How you finance renovating an existing kitchen or bath will have different tax consequences in 2018 and beyond. The Internal Revenue Service recently posted on that homeowners can deduct interest on home equity lines of credit and equity mortgages provided the funds are used to purchase a home or to repair or improve the property. That means if you use a home equity line of credit or second mortgage to pay for your new kitchen or bath remodel, you can deduct the interest payments on those loans up to a certain limit. The new tax law caps interest on loans up to $750,000 for married couples and $375,000 for singles. If the combined home equity and initial mortgage loan exceed those limits, interest paid above those amounts is not deductible.

If you fund renovations from savings, you most likely will not receive immediate tax benefits, because using savings does not provide an immediate deduction. However, those funds are factored into the value of your home when it is sold. When a home is sold, the IRS requires sellers to pay taxes on the difference in the original price owners paid for the home and the sale price of the home. The amount of tax you pay depends on how long you have owned the home and if you are single or married and file a joint return.

If you owned the home for five years and lived in it as your principal residence for two of the five years, you can exclude $250,000 of the profit from capital gains taxes if you are single and $500,000 in profit from taxes if you are married filing a joint return. However, improvements you have made to your home that increase the home’s value substantially while you have owned it can reduce your tax exposure even more.

If you purchased your home in 1980 for $200,000, spent $50,000 renovating your kitchen in 2018 and $30,000 renovating your master bath in 2019, then the basis of your original purchase price for tax purposes would be $280,000. IRS will only allow you to increase the cost basis of your home if the improvement adds substantial value such as new kitchens and bathrooms, additional rooms, new roofs, etc. Check with your tax professional to determine which improvements would help raise the base of your home.

Additional tax benefits of owning a home and making improvements to it include the right to deduct the amount of interest you pay on both original mortgages and home improvement loans (or equity lines of credit). Real estate taxes also may be deductible up to a limit of $10,000.

When you are considering a new kitchen or bath, do not overlook the potential tax benefits associated with making substantial improvements to your home or the ability to deduct interest on a home improvement loan. More important than a possible tax benefit is a new kitchen and bath make your life easier, more enjoyable and rewarding. That’s priceless.

We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and discuss your ideas for remodeling.  Give us a call at 781-749-6777 or send an email to  Please note, consult a qualified tax expert before taking any action on the guidance in this blog.

Latest Kitchen Trends 2018


A recent analysis of kitchen trends by one of the largest manufacturers of kitchen cabinets in North America offers some interesting insights to help you plan your kitchen remodel.

  • 59% of kitchen renovations involve changing the kitchen’s footprint to be more open and to include other rooms in the home.
  • 49% of kitchen remodels increase the kitchen size.
  • Islands continue to be among the most requested feature. The most popular uses of islands are as follows: entertaining, seating and meal preparation
  • The hottest kitchen technology trends include:
    •  Designated charging stations in the kitchen
    • Integrated cabinet lighting
    • Smart appliances 
    • Voice activated controls
    • Automated cabinet opening
    • Smart phone wireless controls
  • The top design motifs for 2018 are:
    • Contemporary
    • Transitional
    • Farmhouse
    • Industrial
    • Rustic
  • Mixing materials is another hot trend with 49% of designers stating that they believe mixing an opaque with a stain is a top 2018 trend.
  • Another hot trend is a contemporary look that mixes metals with traditional accent pieces.
  • Cherry and maple continue to dominate stained cabinet sales, but there is a growing trend for wood finishes that show more grain and character.
  • Trends on the watch list include:
    • Metal accents
    • Contrasting finishes
    • Walnut
    • Dramatic textures
    • Light filled spaces
    • Feminine influences
    • Greige tones
  • The leading cabinet enhancements are:
    • Wide/deeper drawers with organizers 
    • Floating/open shelves 
    • Built-in appliances
    • Integrated cabinet lighting
    • Built-in seating 

To learn how you can capitalize on new technologies, storage solutions and the latest industry trends to help create a dream kitchen we’d love to meet with you!  Give us a call to set up an appointment: 781-749-6777.

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.