The Cast Iron-y of a New Kitchen

Are you going through cast iron piping woes in your house? Are you having to reinvent the way you drain your kitchen sink or your washing machine “temporarily”? You are not alone. It feels like a very lonely and desperate place when you are trying to figure out the steps to mitigate your slippery -and smelly underground problem! After many nerve wrecking sleepless nights fretting the crumbling sewage piping underneath your cast away home, I recommend for your mental health to look for the silver lining of the problem the Universe has put before you. Cast Iron piping gone rouge is no joke, especially when it’s in your kitchen/ laundry area.  I have found that envisioning what your new space will look like helps keep your mind away from the worries of adjusters, lawyers and insurance agencies that are out of your control and taking forever to respond.

Let’s dream, but more importantly plan, so when the time comes around to go head first into the renovation project you are ahead of the game and ready to tackle your project like a pro. Here are 4 kitchen tips and questions to ask yourself before demolition rolls around.

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1. Layout & Floorplan
Measure your kitchen and draw up a floorplan, include window and door placements. This would be a good time to move that door to improve flow, change the swing of its opening or open up the window to allow more natural light in. Think about if the current placing of your stove, fridge and kitchen sink make sense in the space. Pro Tip: Keep in mind the triangle rule. From center point of each item -sink, fridge and stove- they should form a triangle with legs no less than 4 feet or more than 9 and the total of all three legs should be between 13 and 26 feet. Lastly, do you have a stubborn wall you’ve been dreaming of opening up to add more kitchen counter to your space? Go for it! Remember that planning a layout ahead will give you time to keep a healthy budget, your expectations positive and attain the style that you envision.

2. Cabinets
When estimating your budget, after plumbing and electrical, the cabinet line item will be a significant part of your budget. However, it is very important as it will give character and style to your kitchen. There are three main cabinetry styling choices to keep in mind: cabinet door styles (flat panel, raised panel, slab, mullion), wood species (cherry, maple, red oak, hickory, etc.) and cabinet finishes (stain, stain/glaze, paint, paint/accent, weathered, etc.). Next think about how many drawers you want on the lower cabinets. Pots and pans in drawers or in the standard shelving? Upper doors with glass inserts or without? What door hardware will you be choosing? Take your time to look at the options as this is the jewelry for cabinets. Lastly, think about your hood range. It can be an architectural element and a great opportunity to make a statement.

3. Plumbing and Lighting Fixtures
Sinks come in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials, and can include a wide range of accessories. Revisit your layout and budget and check the size that fits your space and your budget. Some kitchen sink styles are: drop-ins with a rim that extends above the countertop surface, undermount, integrated kitchen sinks made out of a composite material with a seamless transition from countertop to basin for easy cleanup. The top materials used are: stainless steel, composites made by combining crushed granite or quartz with a resin filler, fireclay and enameled cast iron. If you are prone to keeping everything tidy, make sure your kitchen faucet has a pull-out sprayer so you can reach all the food debris stuck in the sink corners. Faucets come in a variety of finishes: chrome, polished and brushed nickel, matte black, brass, oil rubbed bronze etc. I don’t believe in matchy-matchy but definitely the whole ensemble of finishes has to speak to each other and make sense. The last piece of wow factor are the lighting pendants above your counter. Have fun, there are a lot of inexpensive options out there.

4. Tiles & Countertops
Time for pizzazz! Backsplash tile can be fun, a statement, mute, calm or bold. It’s up to you and your kitchen style. Kitchens are the core of the house and the place you spend the most amount of time in. Make it yours, whatever that may be. Think about if you want to take the backsplash all the way to the ceiling (height and budget permitting) or if you’ll take the upper cabinets bottom line as your mark as where to stop the tile. Does the tile have a pattern? Think about how it will stop at the edge of the countertop. Make a little sketch for the tile sub so he knows what to do beforehand. What will the countertop material be? Quartz, marble, granite, porcelain? All these have pros and cons and vary in pricing. Make sure the combination between backsplash tile and countertops speak to each other. Tip: if you like the look of marble but are scared of the brittleness and the fact it stains easily, then porcelain is an excellent alternative.

Hope these tips have you dreaming of what your new space can look like. Independently of the outcome of your cast iron dilemma, the irony of it all is that you will ultimately have to redo that kitchen -or bathroom or wherever you cast iron-y woes lie! I like to find the silver lining in the irony of it all and envision the positive. If you still feel overwhelmed with the thought of all the remolding planning and figuring out where your healthy budget lies don’t hesitate to call us!

Paint Your Space

The moment has come, you’ve made the decision to paint the room(s) in your home. You are focused on getting the job done and head over to visit a paint store. As you stand there in true combat mode: color chips vs. you time comes to a stop; you feel the color hue quicksand sucking you in. Confusion sets in as the options take over your focus and determination. The endless shades of gray and array of “off whites” - that seem all the same yet have proper names like: Powder Sand, Cotton Balls, Simply White, and Ice Mist, turn you off into a sea of self-doubt. “Dash out and leave it for another day” seems like the best color name at the moment. But do you really want to just leave? That unfinished room or your peeling home exterior paint will be there greeting you like a faithful friend on your return! So…Let’s grab the “navy bull” by the horns. Below are seven tips, to getting your paint hues fired up!

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1.    The Space
My first question to any client: How do you wish to feel in your space? Focused, efficient, creative? Secure and at ease? Passionate and optimistic? Is this a social space or sleeping quarters? Once you know how you want to feel in the space and what its function is, the color will come to you with ease.

2.   Undertones
Let’s say you want a white as the neutral for your walls. White comes with many undertones. If you put Benjamin Moore’s Sand Dollar White next to its Pure White, the first one will have a red undertone to it. As opposed to the latter one that has a blue undertone to it. Keep that in mind as you feel and look at the colors.

3.   To Trend or not to Trend
That gray you saw on the HGTV magazine that is trending looks perfect! Before running to purchase all the forty and something dollar paint cans take a moment to feel if that color works in your desired space. Does it coordinate with your furniture and the other existing spaces? If you are only painting one room, will it flow well with the adjacent rooms?

4.    Location.
Take a look at your windows and see what direction they are looking out at, north, south, east or west facing. Depending on your home’s cardinal location, light will impact differently the color on your walls. South-facing windows allow the most winter sunlight but not as much direct sunlight during the summer months. North-facing windows have a relatively even, natural light. East and West facing windows provide good daylight, although in South of Florida the West sun most likely needs proper shading as it is the most intense hours of sunlight in the afternoon.

5.  Base Paint & Accents Colors
Stick to a neutral palette for all walls and ceilings and then add a few accent walls here and there. I personally love an accent wall. It brings in a pop of color and visual interest. Take into consideration if you have furniture with bold colors or textured fabric, avoid pairing a strong piece like a blue sofa with a bold accent wall, as they can neutralize each other and neither will stand out. Neutral does not have to be necessarily a white, beige or gray it’s just a lighter version of any color.

6.   Samples and the Process of Elimination

Take home some sample chips from the paint store. Try to make a pre-selection or you can order a color fan online and have it delivered to your door step. Select three base colors, order over-sized color samples or purchase some quarts of paint to sample on a foam board. This will give you a better grasp of what your color selection will feel like. Move the color boards around to each wall and get a sense of how the light will bounce off the color. Bright natural light will wash out colors, so you might have to go a shade darker.

7.   Our Favorite Whites.

Benjamin Moors Whites: China White, Cotton Balls (yellow undertone), White Dove & Decorators White.
Sherwin William’s: Pure White, Cotton White, Alabaster (warm undertone), Creamy and Westhighland.

I hope these were some helpful tips that have guided and inspired you through the paint selection process!

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Do you struggle keeping your house tidy? Can’t blame you, so do I.  I love a system. I create them with everything I do. Years of architecture and design school have trained me to do just that.  So, I will let you in into a magic tool that will turn your life around: Lean 5S’s.

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