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!

Five “Great Room” Tips to Make it Great!

Five “Great Room” Tips to Make it Great

Recently I have had several clients come asking me to help them transform their Great Rooms into a more personal and put together space. They all shared the common ground of how they were immediately drawn to purchase their homes based on the exhilarating feeling that these soaring ceiling and generous square footage spaces gave them. I agree that these open, airy cathedral -type awe inspiring-rooms can be the deal maker of a new home. Yet when having to inhabit and decorate them, we can end up having a space that feels impersonal. Great Rooms that are larger and more open than your typical living room can be daunting to design and decorate. Let me share five Great Room tips that will unleash their greatness.

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1.    Create A Focal Point. Consider having a floating furniture plan where it is positioned away from the walls and centered around a focal point. A fireplace is a natural focal point but in most living spaces the TV is the true center of attention, to keep them from competing, pair them up. Don’t have a fireplace? A beautiful view or a stunning piece of art can also serve as a room’s focal point.

2.    Furniture Layout. Great Rooms are living rooms meant to gather people. Since great rooms are more spacious, break the furniture layout and consider having two or more conversational group environments for a more comfortable and intimate feel. Remember that you can have accent chairs and ottomans that can be pulled into the different groups as needed.

3.    Lighting. As you enter a great room with high ceilings your eyes and your body feel immediately pulled upwards. As you sit in the living room you want to feel more intimate for a conversation to take place. A way to lower the scale and feel more grounded is to use an over-sized light fixture/chandelier to anchor the space and create a second visual ceiling. Add lighting layers so a relaxed comfortable mood is created. Table lamps that beam their light down onto the seating area will send the welcoming message to sit and enjoy.

4.    Area Rugs/Artwork. Have you ever heard how in a great room with high ceilings and grand space the noise seems to reverberate? That’s why mass in cathedral’s makes you feel elated. But when it’s your kids crying or the TV blasting, we need to get rugs pronto. Why? Because rugs absorb sound! Yes, you’ll need the big 8’ x 10’ or bigger rugs as they are in a Great Room. Remember that you can always group multiples of the same rug together for a custom look without the custom price. Same goes for your walls. Place artwork -go over-sized- as it will make your room feel more personal and additionally help mitigate sound.

5.    Molding/Decorative Trim. Great Rooms have walls for days. An excellent way to add visual interest and to lower the height and make the space more intimate is by adding decorative molding. And, did I mention it also adds architectural character?! Don’t by shy, explore the variety of profiles out there. It’s time to make a statement.

I hope all these pointers help all those Great Room lovers and owners that adore their space, but feel stuck on the next step to take in order for their rooms to feel Grand yet personal and inviting.