Creating Space: No-Fail Kitchen Organizing Ideas








When you begin thinking about the kitchen of your dreams, one of the best things to do first is inventory everything already in your cabinets, drawers and pantry, on your countertops and elsewhere in the kitchen. It’s a good idea even if you’re not planning to remodel. Consider your cookware, bakeware, kitchen tools, storage containers, cutlery, knives, utensils, gadgets and countertop appliances and estimate frequency of use. Items that you never use should be tossed or donated. Items that you 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 your home to open up the most accessible places for the utensils and equipment that you use most frequently.

Inventorying your kitchen every two to three years is a sure bet to make your kitchen more functional and enjoyable to use. Here are some tips that may help:

Glassware and Mugs

Do you have too many glasses in your kitchen? How often to you drink champagne – do you really need to store a dozen or half dozen flutes in the kitchen? Apply the same logic to coffee mugs. How many do you have in your kitchen, and how many do you really need?

You can create space by paring down the glassware and mugs that you store in your kitchen to those that you use on a weekly basis. Perhaps you can donate those that you don’t need and then store the others in another room of the house so that you can retrieve them for family affairs, dinner parties and when guests come to visit.

Dish Towels and Pot Holders

You need just one set of silicone potholders, and when it comes to dish towels, seven is the magic number. Getting rid of the dish towels and potholders you don’t need will create new space that can be repurposed.


Installing pull out drawers in cabinets is not difficult and can improve the functionality of your kitchen significantly by maximizing space for storage containers and food stuffs. It also helps prevent items that are placed in the back of a drawer from being forgotten. If space is at a premium, consider hanging rails to store commonly used utensils, knives, pots, pans and even potted herbs. Alternatively, determine if your kitchen can accommodate a wall- or ceiling-mounted pot rack. Open shelving can also be a space saver and a venue for pots, pans, small appliances and other kitchen equipment.

Pantry and Refrigerator
Create space by using clear plastic containers and large mason jars to store dry goods such as pasta, rice and beans.


There are great organizational dividers made for almost any type and size of drawer.


Many kitchens’ effectiveness is compromised by having too many items on the countertop. It may make sense to store small appliances such as toasters and coffee makers on the countertop, but if you have a sandwich press or waffle iron another venue most likely is a better option. If you have limited drawer space, consider storing the utensils you use most often, such as spatulas, slotted and wooden spoons, ladles, etc., vertically in a cannister.

There are numerous options available to help you better organize and enjoy your kitchen. If you are interested in taking advantage of the best kitchen organizational tools and strategies, give us a call at 781-749-6777.  We offer a complimentary consultation and would love to hear about your kitchen!

Working the Room: What’s Popular in Kitchens Now

Whether it’s a splash of color in the cabinets, a champagne-brass drawer pull or a wall of open shelving, the kitchen ideas homeowners and designers are loving now can elevate everybody’s favorite gathering space to home showpiece status. 

Kitchens remain the most popular room for homeowners to renovate, and it’s no wonder why — thanks to the array of popular and practical countertop, cabinet and lighting styles out there, an updated kitchen can make a house feel fresh again in a way other rooms can’t. Here are the kitchen design ideas that pros, homeowners and Houzz photos say are taking off or still going strong.


Trend No. 1: Colorful Cabinets

What the pros say. “Painted cabinets are having a bit of a moment,” says designer and decorator Nancy Harper of Washington, D.C.-based Studio Miel. Harper and other pros agreed that blues and greens are the go-to non-neutral colors of choice now, but Harper says she could see other bold hues — emeralds, darker shades — also take hold soon.

What popular Houzz photos say. Seven of the 10 most-saved kitchen photos uploaded in the last three months feature cabinets with some color, including four examples of blue cabinets, one example of green and two black. Even if gray and white are still more common in most remodels, many Houzz users are drawn to brighter pops of personality.

Getting the low-key look. Paul McAlary, of Pennsylvania-based kitchen and cabinet design firm Main Line Kitchen Design, says more colorful cabinets, particularly bolder shades like navy blue, can cost more. He doesn’t recommend painting them yourself as it can damage the quality of the cabinets. Instead, he suggests homeowners get their color fix through the easier-to-update walls or backsplash. Still, painting your cabinets yourself is definitely the affordable option if you want to get the look for less. “They’ll never look quite like they actually should, but it’ll be [an updated] color and they’ll be OK for a few years,” McAlary says. 

Getting the full-out look. Incorporate vibrant cabinetry in just the island or base cabinets, or create dimension and visual interest by pairing all-around colorful cabinets with contrasting countertops and on-trend brass or gold hardware.

Trend No. 2: Marbled Quartz

What the pros say. Homeowners looking to make a more dramatic, organic statement with their kitchen countertops used to gravitate toward natural stones such as granite for the unique speckling and veins. But pros say more natural-looking quartz — an engineered product that contains mostly quartz mineral, as well as resins, pigments and polymers — is showing up in more kitchens.

Designers are seeing more and more higher-end remodelers opting for quartz countertops that are designed to look like marble. Mary Kathryn Reese of Dallas-based Kitchen Design Concepts says slabs of these types of quartz, such as the popular Aurea Stone shown here, also are available in larger slabs now, making it easier to create seamless countertops.

Granite, still pricey but available in more affordable varieties than quartz, still reigns in some areas.

What homeowners say. Engineered quartz overall beat out granite 43 to 34 percent among homeowners updating countertops in the 2018 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study. (Countertops, homeowners said, were the kitchen feature they were most likely to splurge on.) 

Quartz’s expanding pattern palette may be contributing to its growing popularity, along with other pluses like its stain resistance and durability. Homeowner Jennifer Dabbs, who worked with Studio Miel’s Harper to renovate her 1894 Washington, D.C.-area kitchen, says quartz’s reputation for being a more contemporary style initially gave her pause. “I was afraid it would look too modern in our home,” Dabbs says. “However, we chose a stone that replicates a marble and turns out to be exactly what we wanted in terms of functionality — low maintenance — and look.” 

What saved Houzz photos say. Favorite kitchen photos from the previous three months feature a number of white and white marbleized quartz countertops, including Cambria’s Brittanicca and Walker Zanger’s Calacatta 981 Quartz, which can be striking against a wood butcher-block island or countertop extension.

Battle of the Countertops: Granite vs. Quartz

Trend No. 3: Open Shelving

What the pros say. Open shelving can make a kitchen look taller and airier. As this look gets more popular, Luke Owen of Kansas City-based Owen Homes says his team has seen a corresponding spike in requests for hideaway places for smaller appliances, outlets and other clutter. 

Dishes, plants and knickknacks displayed on open shelves need thoughtful curation to avoid a cluttered look, so having spaces to tuck away less-attractive counter-crowders can keep things balanced and tidy. Having fewer pieces on the shelves also minimizes the risk of your favorite platter crashing down. (Open shelves typically aren’t made to withstand the weight cabinets are.) 

What homeowners say. Though it can work with a number of styles, the sometimes minimalist, sometimes rustic vibe of wood and metal open shelving fits right in with transitionalcontemporary and farmhouse kitchen styles — the first, second and third most-popular new kitchen styles that renovating homeowners chose when updating their kitchens, according to the Houzz 2018 Kitchen Trends Study. 

What saved Houzz photos say. Natural wood open shelving seems to come up the most in recent popular photos, though white and black examples also appear.

Getting the low-key look. Even just a few shelves can draw the eye up and make a small space look bigger.

Getting the full-out look. 
More shelves mean more styling and maintenance to keep your kitchen from looking too busy. To create that sleek, intentional feeling with more shelves, group items by color, leave some shelf space open and carve out plenty of sturdier, hidden space for bulky appliances and mismatched dishware.

Trend No. 4: Still Shaker

What the pros say. The versatility of basic Shaker cabinets — defined by their flat center door panels and a generally clean raised-square frame — continues to make them a popular pick for kitchens. “Shaker-style cabinets are very popular because they can look a little bit traditional and they can look a little bit modern,” Harper says. “They have clean lines, so depending on the hardware that you choose and other elements in the kitchen, it can go either way.”

What homeowners say. By choosing Shaker style for her cabinet redo, Dabbs says she was able to give a nod to her traditional house’s history while giving the space a fresh update. It also saved her a significant amount of money, as the inset cabinets she had initially wanted would have cost $20,000 more.

And she’s not alone: Shaker cabinets remain the most popular among all segments of homeowners, according to Houzz research.

What saved Houzz photos say. More than half of the 20 most popular recent kitchen photos featured Shaker-style cabinets.

Trend No. 5: Staying Connected

What the pros say. High-tech touch-screen refrigerators and ovens have yet to really catch on with the typical homeowner, pros say, but smart electronics are appearing in the kitchen in other ways. 

The Dallas-area clients that Reese works with can be a little leery of major appliances with too many bells and whistles, Reese says. “They’re a little afraid of that technology,” she says. “Is it going to break? How much will it cost to fix it? How long will it take to fix it? Is it going to be too difficult for me to actually cook even though the whole premise is to enable the whole cooking experience?” Other pros echoed similar sentiments.

Where technology is cropping up more in the kitchen is through wireless speakers, smart lighting and voice-controlled TVs and assistants. Harper says her clients are always looking for more outlets and often a separate charging station in the kitchen for powering their devices, though she’s noticed she’s adding fewer USB connector ports as technology evolves.

What homeowners say. Touchscreen controls or built-in speakers appear in 1 in 4 new appliances that homeowners are choosing as replacements for their old gadgets, the kitchen study found. Wireless and voice-controlled appliances appear in 11 percent of upgraded appliances.

Getting the low-key effect. A voice-controlled or wireless speaker or digital assistant comes in handy in the kitchen when you need a measurement converted or background dinner-making music. 

Getting the full-out effect. Homeowners reported their refrigerators, dishwashers, microwaves and range hoods were their top updated appliances, so tricking out those major players with touchscreens and smart controls may be the way to go if you’re tech-happy (and have the budget for it). 

Trend No. 6: Going Gray

What the pros say. There’s nothing drab about gray these days, and there hasn’t been for quite a while. In fact, a lot of pros consider it the new(ish) neutral. 

What homeowners say. While white still holds the lead for most popular cabinet color among homeowners, gray wins for go-to wall color. 

What saved Houzz photos say. Gray shows up in Houzzers’ kitchen ideabooks constantly. 

Getting the low-key look. A gray island, accent wall or tile can add an element of calm sophistication to a kitchen.

Getting the full-out look. Because gray is so mellow a color, your kitchen may be able to handle gray cabinets, shelving and backsplash, like the kitchen shown here, without feeling overpowering.

Trend No. 7: Let There Be Light

What the pros say. Owen says good lighting is the second-biggest kitchen priority he hears from clients behind opening up a kitchen space into a living area. To get it, he might add a picture window above a sink or score more natural light by knocking down a dividing wall. Statement pendants, like the ones shown here, are also popular, as are sconces, which can come in handy in illuminating an open shelf.

What saved Houzz photos say. Dramatic pendant lights and chandeliers, many with gold details, are a repeat sight in the recent most-saved kitchen photos. 

Getting the low-key look. Light fixtures can be a great place to test out a trend, as they’re typically easy to replace or upgrade, Harper says.

Getting the full-out look. Statement lights you can control with your voice or a smartphone are all the rage.


Trend No. 8: White Everything

What the pros say. The all-white trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, to some pros’ dismay. “You’re spending all this money for cabinets and all this money for countertops and everything else, and when everything is white nothing stands out,” McAlary says. Harper says if her clients are leaning toward a white-on-white look, her team will typically suggest adding tile or backsplash that makes the space a little more dynamic and unique — an approach she expects to see more of going forward.

What homeowners say. White still tops remodeling homeowners’ favorites list when it comes to cabinets and backsplashes, and it narrowly trails gray in wall color preference, according to the Kitchen Trends Study.

What saved Houzz photos say. Survey-taking homeowners and pros say all-white everything is still the most common choice in practice, but when Houzz users are planning or daydreaming about their next projects as they’re scrolling through photos on the site, it’s mostly shades of blue and gray they covet. Could that mean white kitchens might get knocked from their popularity throne in the next few years? 

Getting the low-key look. White is classic and crisp, and it works with all kinds of kitchen styles. White countertops paired with either white upper or lower cabinets or a white backsplash leave room to break things up with a gray island, black countertops or another colorful accent.

Getting the full-out look. White cabinets, countertops, backsplash, appliances — go to town!


Trend No. 9: Mixing Metals

What the pros say. As cabinet pulls, light fixtures, faucets and other hardware are one of the easiest parts of a kitchen to swap out, they’re a logical place to try something new. And pros say that while oil-rubbed bronze and brass were must-haves recently, people are experimenting with a variety of metal finishes, including champagne brass and charcoal stainless. 

“It’s not just about brass anymore. I feel like for a while everybody wanted brass, but there are so many beautiful options out there,” Harper says. “And I think people are a little bit more comfortable mixing metals too.” A client might opt for brass hardware and a different metallic color in lighting, she says.

What saved Houzz photos say. Saved kitchen photos from the past three months feature a mix of more golden brass hardware and darker bronzes, often set against the glint of stainless steel appliances.

Getting the low-key look. Just one element — a pendant light, stool legs, a faucet — with a different finish can help you avoid any matchy-matchy monotony and give your kitchen a bolder, lived-in edge.

Getting the full-out look. Incorporating too many different finishes in one space can feel busy, but two or three can make things interesting and sophisticated.


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.