What’s Trending in Countertops

If the kitchen is the epicenter of the home, then countertops are the epicenter of the kitchen. It’s where almost every kitchen activity begins and ends. Because countertops are one of the first things you see when you enter a kitchen, they naturally serve as a focal point. And the good news is that choice of color, shape and material is virtually unlimited, enabling you and your designer not only to make countertops the functional workhorse of your new kitchen but the ultimate expression of your design and personality. 

On the South Shore we are finding that our clients want to invest in high-quality, high-performing, statement-making countertops. Not only because a high-quality countertop makes it easier to prepare meals, but they are also used to cook, eat, entertain, do homework, charge electronics, read, relax and spend quality family time together.

Material Trends

Quartz has become the fastest growing surfacing material that we specify for our clients, and our experience matches nationwide trends. According to a recent survey of more than 220 kitchen and bath designers and showrooms, more than 86 percent of survey respondents believe quartz’ popularity will continue to increase. Tile is at the opposite end of the spectrum. The survey found less than 2 percent of kitchen designers expect tile use to grow in the kitchen (the bathroom is an entirely different story, however). Designers also report there is less interest in laminate, solid surface material, metal and glass.

Granite, marble, soapstone and concrete remain popular countertop materials. Natural stone, once the market leader, is no longer king of the hill. More than 33 percent of designers report that their customers are shying away from natural stone in favor of other materials (mostly quartz).

 

Color Trends

White remains the dominant color pallet in kitchens and in kitchen countertops. More than 92 percent of survey respondents reported that their customers are drawn toward white, off-white and cream countertops. Gray is the second most popular countertop color with 76.4 percent of those polled indicating that gray trends high with their clients. Other upward trending countertop colors include (in order of popularity): earth shades/taupe/brown, black, metallic, blue, green and red/terracotta. 

Mixing and matching surface materials is another current popular trend. Nearly 60 percent of showrooms and designers report that they frequently mix two or more countertop materials in their client projects. 

An investment in countertops that are beautiful, durable and easy to clean is invaluable. If you are interested in discussing countertop materials, colors and functionality for your new kitchen or bath, please call us at 781-749-6777 or email info@thecabinetry.net

The Right Light

 

There’s nothing worse than doing your make-up in a bathroom with bad lighting and at the same time I look so much better in a dimly lit bathroom.  What’s a girl to do?  The solution is having the right kind of lighting to adapt to the task. Good lighting makes kitchens and bathrooms more enjoyable, and bad lighting – just the opposite. Specifying the right light for a new kitchen or bath requires knowing how light interacts with materials, users and tasks. Lighting can make or break how a kitchen functions, looks and feels. Don’t leave lighting decisions to the last minute for two reasons. First, lighting is an integral part of the design that affects the functionality and aesthetic of the room and should not be considered an afterthought. Second, moving light fixtures after installation can be costly because it often requires rewriting, patching and repainting.

When we consider light for a new kitchen or bath, we look at the function and aesthetic, and we design to layer light to create images and colors that illuminate the space’s best feature. We take into account the manner in which light interacts with the form and texture of objects and materials in the area to produce different effects. Shining a beam of concentrated light on a countertop will create shadows and notable highlights depending on the form and texture of the countertop material. Diffused light (light scattered in all directions) minimizes shadows and textures and emphasizes form. Diffused light seems to wrap around objects giving them a softer appearance and helps reduce shadows. You achieve a softer, more pleasing look by diffusing light in the bathroom at a vanity and in front of a mirror used for grooming.

We typically will specify ambient lighting to set the mood and for general illumination (along with natural light), task lighting for food preparation, cooking and clean up areas and accent lighting to draw attention to a specific design features.

Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting is the base layer for all other lighting. The goal of ambient lighting is to provide soft, general illumination without necessarily drawing attention to the light source. Ambient lighting provides enough light for safe navigation and helps define the space.

A central fixture or fixtures often produce ambient light in the kitchen. Typically, ambient light fixtures are surface-mounted ceiling lights, recessed ceiling lights or a cove lighting system where lights are hidden behind a molding dropped several inches from the ceiling.

The best ambient light comes from sources that bounce light off the ceiling and walls. When light bounces off surfaces, the light is evenly distributed, minimizing the potential for glare and shadows. If a fixture is specified to reflect light off the ceiling, then the ceiling must be a light color. Dark surfaces absorb light instead of reflecting it back into the space. This is an important consideration when specifying lighting for countertops and in-drawer, in-cabinet and under-cabinet lighting.

Flush-mounted fixtures in the center of the room are often the default to produce ambient light. While this works, it may not create the look or feel that you want to achieve nor complement your new cabinets, countertops or backsplash. Pendants may be a better option because pendants can better highlight task areas while providing general illumination. There are many ways to create ambient light. Ambient light should not be used by itself, because that will result in a space that lacks depth or dimension.

Task Lighting

Ambient lighting welcomes you into a room. Task lighting illuminates the activities that take place in a room. You can determine your task lighting needs by considering the actions that regularly take place in the kitchen. These may include:

  • Meal preparation on countertops or at an island
  • Cooking at a stove or cooktop
  • Clean up at sinks
  • Reading
  • Watching television
  • Working at a desk
  • Entertaining

The first step in determining the necessary layers of lighting begins with identifying the tasks that will take place in the space. During the early planning stages, we ask customers about how they plan to use the space and determine their normal daily routine. Determining how you will use the room and identifying its focal points will affect decisions on where we place task lighting and in what intensity.

The optimal location for task lighting is between a person’s head and the work surface. Lighting from above is not good for task lighting, because a person’s head can cast a shadow on the task area. Wall sconces, under-cabinet lights, in-drawer and pendant lights are often used for task lighting. The amount of lighting necessary for task performance also will be dictated by the age of those using the kitchen or bath. Customers who are 65 years or older need twice as much light as a 20-year-old to perform the same tasks.

Accent Lighting

Next, we identify opportunities for our clients to make personal design statements with light fixtures and highlight textures, forms and objects in the room with accent lighting.

Accent lighting is used to help keep kitchens and baths from looking ordinary or bland by highlighting artwork, range hoods, statement-making backsplashes, objects on open shelves architectural details or other objects. A feature or work of art that draws the attention of the eye is referred to as a focal point.

Light fixtures that provide light and shadows can make the space more inviting and comfortable. These may include track lights, undercabinet and/or under-counter strip lighting, recessed adjustable fixtures and spotlights that bring attention to where light is wanted. Accent lighting is subtle. A focused beam of light directed at a plant or highlighting a work of art, or a spotlight placed behind a plant and pointed upward through the leaves creates shadows on the wall that can make the room appear more attractive.

We recognize that most customers enjoy consistency of design motifs within their home. That is one of the reasons that we often recommend that the look of light fixtures, pendants, chandeliers, etc. complement the style of our client’s home. Size of fixtures also plays an important role. If a pendant or chandelier is too large, it can overwhelm the space, and if the fixtures are too small, they will not be noticeable, nor will they produce the functionality that is required.

Lighting technology has created new blank canvases that can be used to create different moods, looks and feels for a new kitchen. Lamps that can dim enable you to have sufficient light for meal preparation and then lower lighting levels to create the right ambiance for dining.

What light works best for your kitchen? Download our guide to lighting kitchens, give us a call at (insert phone number) or visit our showroom at (insert address).

Increasing The Value Of Your Home

 


Realtor.com recently revealed the results of a survey that identifies the features that help homeowners sell their homes fastest and at the best prices. Identifying improvements that generate the most significant return on investment is more critical now than it has ever been. In 2017, homeowners spent more improving their homes than in any year since 2006, according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. Not surprisingly, the top two rooms that captured the most interest and dollars are kitchens and baths, according to Houzz.com.

Realtor.com surveyed more than a million single-family home listings in February to identify the top features that help owners to sell their home fastest. The top features are as follows:

  1. Chef’s kitchen
  2. Theater room
  3. Home gym
  4. Three-car garage
  5. Solar panels
  6. Quartz countertops
  7. Exterior lighting
  8. Tennis court
  9. Home office
  10. In-ground pool 
  11. Security system
  12. Fireplace
  13. Smart-home features
  14. Walk-in closet

The open floor plan concept has reinvented the kitchen, making it the epicenter of the home. Today’s kitchens are more personalized, visible, luxurious and important to buyers. Realtor.com reports that homes with chef’s kitchens – even for families that don’t often cook – sell for more than double the national median sale price of homes without a chef’s kitchen. Chef’s kitchens commonly include a large open layout that allows for in-kitchen entertaining and typically feature a large island, high-performing gas range, high-end appliances, refrigerator with freezer, multiple sinks and dual ovens. 

Quartz countertops ranked sixth on the most valuable improvement to sell your home. There are lots of reasons quartz countertops are held in such high esteem. According to another recent Houzz.com survey, quartz has become the most popular countertop material used in kitchen renovations, surpassing natural stone such as granite. Click here to obtain a guide to selecting countertops. Quartz has become the go-to material for many of our clients on the South Shore because it is easy to maintain and clean. There also are almost an unlimited number of colors, patterns and finishes available to meet any design or décor requirement.

If you would like to know more about the benefits financial and other of renovating your new kitchen, please give us a call at 781-749-6777 or email info@thecabinetry.net.

What’s Trending Now and What’s Expected for 2019

For the first time in many years, more homeowners are electing to stay in their existing homes and opting to improve their existing space, instead of moving. The motivation to improve existing space is to make it more beautiful and functional and to make necessary changes that allow for aging in place gracefully. Some of the trends that are expected to continue into 2019 are larger, barrier-free showers and more clearance space in bathrooms and kitchens. Some other major kitchen trends include:

  • Home technology – voice activated functionality and integration with Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa, among others – to connect and operate showers, vanities, refrigerators, lighting, thermostats and ovens.
  • Appliances are not only becoming more beautiful, they also are becoming more functional:
    • Combination refrigerators that offer safe food and wine storage.
    • Smaller, more compact dishwashers that use fan-assisted drying thereby eliminating the need for towel drying and third racks that allow for more cleaning capacity.
    • Manufacturer apps that connect dishwashers to smart devices that allow users to monitor and adjust settings and create custom wash cycles.
  • Customization capabilities for plumbing fixtures. Homeowners now can specify custom colors and materials for their kitchen sinks and faucet setting water spray volume on demand.
  • Faucet finishes in rose gold, warm brass and matte black.
  • Engineered quartz has become the most popular countertop material, especially in urban and suburban areas.
  • Blue continues to gain popularity for cabinets and color schemes in kitchens.
  • Appliance garages and shallow shelves are expected to continue to gain in popularity.
  • Mixed wood tones will also increase in demand as homeowners increasingly recognize that mixing different tones and textures allows for a unique, custom look.
  • The natural organic look paired with splashes of accent and backsplash color is a direction many designers and homeowners opt for.
  • High gloss surfaces’ popularity will continue to wane.We’d love to hear about your plans for a new kitchen in 2019!  Give us a call: 781-749-6777.

     

 

Epicenter of Entertaining

I have found that my kitchen is the epicenter of entertaining in my home and that it needs to be well organized, functional, beautiful and clutter free. Because a well-designed kitchen is an organized kitchen, we at The Cabinetry address storage requirements early in the design process.

An almost endless array of options are available to store food, cookware, utensils, countertop appliances (blenders, mixers, etc.), recycling containers and so on. We suggest our clients assess what currently exists in their kitchens and encourage them to inventory their cookware, bakeware, kitchen tools, storage containers, cutlery, knives, utensils, gadgets and countertop appliances. Then we encourage them to take the new floor plan we’ve created and label each cabinet with its intended contents.  This ensures there’s enough storage for everything in the new kitchen and it provides a handy guide for putting everything away when it’s time to move back in. 

This is also a great time to purge items that they never use. Space permitting, items that they use infrequently or even as little as once a year (the large roasting pan for Thanksgiving turkey) can be relegated to upper cabinets or to other rooms in the home to open up prime real estate for the utensils and equipment that they use most frequently.

If you’re planning a new kitchen and want one that allows you to throw the best dinner parties that you could dream of, please give us a call at 781-749-6777 or email us at info@thecabinetry.net.  Happy entertaining!