Thursday, December 4, 2014

Wooden Floors & Cabinets: A Kitchen Remodeling Lookbook

Have you noticed? It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas. Cinnamon and spice! Roasting Chestnuts! And of course, the deep woodsy smell of Christmas trees: pines, conifers, and spruce!

At MKBD, the holiday season marks the end of our busiest time of year--and the beginning of our year-end celebrations. We're toasting the successes of the past year, sipping a wee spot of champagne, and trimming our trees.

Of course, home remodeling is never far from our minds. And with the smell of pines, conifers, and spruce in the air, we're thinking about our favorite kitchen remodeling material: wood! Study and beautiful, natural hard wood is our favorite choice for kitchen cabinets and floors. 

In the remodeling world, wood is a token of quality craftsmanship. That's why we're so proud of the MKBD projects below. In each picture, natural wood reveals the qualities we strive for each and every project: masterful design and creative installation. If you're looking for kitchen remodeling inspiration, take a look at our Wood Floor and Cabinet Look Book. Or visit our website,, and check out our Designer Portfolio!

Wood Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen remodeling trends have inspired homeowners to source modern materials like gleaming stainless steel and cool glass, but wood is still the most popular cabinet choice. In today's trendy kitchens, wood cabinets provides a warm contrast and textural variation that complements modern materials. And of course, wood cabinets perfectly complement traditional kitchens. 

Here's a modern take on a traditional material. In this kitchen renovation for a Center City couple who lives near the art museum, creme hard wood cabinets complement the clean backsplash design.

In our estimation, solid wood is the most luxurious cabinet option. Other cabinet choices, like plywood or particle board, might include wood elements, but cabinets made entirely from solid wood--from top to bottom, to the shelves, doors, and back panels--are the real deal!

That's why we say "solid wood is the solid choice."

In this Cherry Hill-area project, Decora Cherry Cabinets in cranberry set a striking contrast to the porcelain backsplash and floor. 

The cabinets above gleam like freshly-polished dress shoes, and like the best dress shoes they're built to last a lifetime. Solid wood cabinets are extremely durable and show little wear and tear, even after many years of use. If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, opening and closing cabinets, solid wood cabinets will suit you well. If cared for, and treated with they respect they deserve, your solid wood cabinets will look new years after installation.

In this Abington-area project, maple cabinets with raised panels and bull nose edges complement the natural stone backsplash, granite counter tops, and tile floor. 

Wood Kitchen Floors

A new wooden floor is one of the most beautiful and enduring investments a homeowner can make in his/her home. For the kitchen area, especially, wood provides a durable, easy-to-clean, and stunning flooring option.

In this Bucks County-area project, burgundy hardwood provides an elegant and eye-popping contrast to glazed maple cabinets and pink granite countertops. 
A common misconception is that wood is an impractical material for kitchen floors. This is simply untrue. With proper care, a hard wood floor offers a perfect blend of comfort and functionality. Of course, water is abundant in the kitchen area, and it is true, water damage can warp wooden floors. But a water spill is easily remedied with expeditious cleaning. And frankly, for safety purposes, any water spill, on any flooring surface, should be wiped immediately.

Please read: "Kitchen Safety: What You Need to Know."

Wood strip flooring, like this tigerwood flooring, is attractive and easy on your knees and joints. Perhaps this is why wood is a favorite choice of home cooks. 

From sturdy domestics like maple and oak to exotic materials like Brazilian chestnut or tamarind, the abundance of wood floor options might surprise you.

Take a look at the graphic above from This Old House. Beyond the look of each wood, you might refine your choice by selecting a relative level of hardness. Softer wood will be easier on the joints and knees. Harder wood will be more impervious to dings and scratches.

In this Glenside project, the customer preferred a durable Brazilian redwood. Stained a lovely cherry red, this had wood floor is both sturdy and beautiful.


FREE In-Home Remodeling Estimate!

If you have any questions about your next kitchen remodeling project, please feel free to call MKBD for an individualized consultation. Let's talk budget and more! Call now! 215-355-4747.

Better yet, check out our Free In-Home Remodeling Estimate on this very blog!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Three Thanksgiving Kitchen Remodeling Upgrades

For most families, Thanksgiving is the biggest cooking day of the year. Make that days. Indeed, industrious home cooks do not begin cooking on Thanksgiving morning. No, if you want to host a truly splendid table, start days or weeks before Thanksgiving.

There's stock to be made (and frozen, if you please). And how about the pie crusts? And when will you brine the turkey? As The New York Times recently wrote in a Thanksgiving how-to inspired by Regina Charboneau,

"A brilliantly executed, low-stress Thanksgiving meal can be yours with a solid game plan, freezer space and some simple but delicious shortcuts."

Read: "How to Dazzle Without the Frazzle."

We're all for additional freezer space and cooking shortcuts, but at MKBD we're most interested in the "game plan." It's no accident that we see a spike in queries directly after Thanksgiving. For many homeowners, it takes a serious day of cooking to see kitchen deficiencies. For MKBD, the best Thanksgiving game plan is a kitchen remodeling project or kitchen renovation.

After all, to host a truly successful Thanksgiving, you need a functional and efficient kitchen. A Thanksgiving-ready kitchen requires plenty of space: not just in the freezer, but in the cabinets. A Thanksgiving-ready kitchen promotes easy movement (often between multiple people) and easy cooking. Finally, a Thanksgiving-ready kitchen eases the work of cleaning.

Even if you're not ready for a kitchen remodeling or kitchen renovation, all of this can be accomplished with a little forethought and some good old-fashioned elbow grease. If you want to ease your Thanksgiving experience, consider the upgrades below.

New sturdy cabinets, like these Decora cabinets from a Bala Cynwd-area MKBD project, are a Thanksgiving-ready kitchen upgrade that can ease your storage and planning stress.

Maximize Your Cabinet Storage Space

There's no time like Thanksgiving for revealing a lack of storage space--especially cabinet space. Quite simply, the holiday season requires more pots and pans, more ingredients, and more  gadgets, like potato ricers or food mills. But most homes are simply not equipped to handle the extra storage needs.

If you're looking for a true Thanksgiving kitchen upgrade, try new cabinets with deep shelves for storing your pots and pans, ingredients, and larger plates and bowls. And for the most efficient use of space, build your cabinets all the way to the ceiling.

If you're not ready for new cabinetry, the easiest (and least expensive) way to maximize your cabinet space is to clean, clean, clean. Many homeowners do not clean their cabinets until they absolutely need to, and when they do, they discover age-old spices, rancid cooking oils, and tasteless nuts.

Other helpful storage hints include drawer dividers for extra silverware or pullout shelving for corner cabinet--or, if you're considering a kitchen remodeling project, try a kitchen island with ample space for storage. 

In this MKBD project, the new kitchen island comes equipped with a wine fridge and multiple drawers for storage!

Update your Kitchen Layout

A layout update might just be the best Thanksgiving-ready kitchen upgrade. Major layout changes, of course, will be limited to full kitchen remodeling projects, but most homeowners can make more space--especially counter space--with an intensive cleaning. But counter space is not necessarily the most important update. I've we've said before:

"It is not necessary for every square inch of your kitchen to offer a space for supplies and appliances. In fact, a fundamental truth of professional kitchen often applies to home kitchens: the less available counter and cabinet space the better!"

Yup, you read that right. The less cabinet space the better.

Read: "Less or More: A Beautiful Kitchen is a Clutter-Free Kitchen." 

Less counter space necessarily means more floor space, and anyone's who has stirred the roux for the gravy in a crowded kitchen knows the value of floor space. So what can you do to ease movement and increase floor space? Cleaning helps, as we've noted, but the best option might be a remodeling project that includes a work triangle. the three-point work station, from the range, to the refrigerator and/or pantry, to the sink, and back to the range. The work triangle segregates the three functions of kitchen work: cooking, storage, and cleaning. Ideally, if you create a kitchen layout tailored to the traditional triangle, you will also provide ample space between each station.

For more on the work triangle, please read: "Kitchen Remodeling Tips for the Serious Home Cook."

Ease the Work of Cleaning

Who's going to do the dishes? Everyone dreads the work of cleaning the Thanksgiving meal, but a few simple improvements can actually make the experience enjoyable.

If you are installing new cabinets, opt for cabinets without ornate molding or raised panels that can collect dust and grime.

For an easy-to-clean floor, opt for vinyl, linoleum, and tile, materials with fewer seams to collect dust and dirt. Wood is good too, if you have the edges milled.

And remember that beast of Thanksgiving duties: the dishwasher! Old dishwashers not only waste energy, but many don't even do the job right!

For this Fort Washington-area remodeling project, the client maintained the old wood floor, but finished it to seal the lines. Easy-to-clean, indeed!

FREE In-Home Remodeling Estimate!

If you have any questions about your next kitchen remodeling project, please feel free to call MKBD for an individualized consultation. Let's talk budget and more! Call now! 215-355-4747.

Better yet, check out our Free In-Home Remodeling Estimate on this very blog!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How to Choose the Best Oven

In last week's post, detailing how to choose the best cooking range, we made a distinction between ranges and ovens:

The oven is the enclosed cooking unit used for baking, roasting, or broiling.The range rests atop the oven (or on the counter), and includes your burners. The range is for boiling, sautéing, or pan-frying. The range might also be called the cooktop or stovetop.

Most homeowners buy a combination oven and range--a duo that some manufacturers call a stove or (confusingly) an oven. Yet many homeowners buy a separate oven and range, and install the separate units in different parts of the kitchen. At MKBD, we promote this approach, when feasible, as it creates two separate work stations, easing traffic flow in a busy kitchen.

Beyond these considerations, for the purposes of shopping, we prefer to analyze the oven and range as separate units (even when they will be purchased as one unit). In this way, a homeowner can focus acutely on the elements he/she wants or needs for each unit. In reality, although the units are often combined, both perform different functions. By clarifying your needs for each respectively, you will be equipped to make the best decision to suit your family's cooking lifestyle.

If you missed our post on ranges, you can read it here. Today we will discuss ovens!

In this stunning MKBD project, the homeowner installed two separate oven units, a single and a double (apart from the range) to accommodate some serious baking. Thanksgiving, anyone?!

How to Choose a Good Oven

As we noted last week in our discussion of ranges, your first oven-buying consideration should be space. In most smaller kitchens, your choice will be limited to a combination range and oven. However, if you have more space, or a unique design amenable to separate units, you can, indeed, buy a separate oven and range.

Beyond generally thinking about kitchen space and design, you will also need to think about the specific space available for your oven. If you're performing a full kitchen remodeling project with an entirely new design, you should be able to define this size yourself. If you're replacing an oven for an older kitchen, you'll likely need to break out the measuring tape to ensure that your new oven will accommodate your current layout.

Once you've figured out your general and specific space requirements, research the available oven types:

Of the available combination units, a freestanding oven stands alone, usually at the end of a cabinet. A freestanding range can also fit between cabinets.

For a perfect cabinet fit, however, a slide-in or drop in-oven might be best.

A slide-in oven will fit seamlessly between cabinets, yet its contoured sides help to ensure that the elevated cooktop will rest above the cabinets.

A drop-in oven will look similar to slide-ins but will be made to look custom fit to the cabinetry. If you're installing a unit into an older kitchen design you might need to modify the cabinets. A drop-in is distinguished by a drawer at the bottom of the oven for storing pots and pans.

Another option is a separate wall oven, which is placed at waist or eye level. Wall ovens are sold as single or double units (the image above displays both!), and come in standard widths of 24", 27", 30", or 36".

In this MKBD project, a drop-in oven is made to custom fit the cabinetry. Note the distinctive detail: the drawer at the bottom of the oven. 

Gas or Electric

As we noted last week, depending upon your available fuel source, the choice between a gas or electric stove might've already been made for you.

If you do have a choice, though, let your cooking preferences guide you.

First things first: Chefs might prefer gas ranges, but bakers typically prefer electric ovens. Pro-electric bakers will tell you that electric ovens distribute heat more evenly and that electric ovens reliably produce dry heat, which is crucial for browning both baked good and roasts.

We tend to agree with this view. So if you're a baker, and you're buying a separate oven, your best choice will probably be electric. If you're buying a combination range and oven, choose the fuel source that is most amenable to your cooking style.

If you cook most of your food on the range, you might do better with a gas unit; if you cook most of your food in the oven, an electric unit might be best. Another option is a combination gas and electric, a "dual fuel" stove. A dual fuel unit might be more expensive, but it offers the best of both worlds.

For this Philadelphia-area MKBD project, the homeowner installed a combination gas oven and range and a separate electric oven for baking. Now you're talking!

Convection or Regular? 

Beloved by cooks, a “convection” oven cooks food more evenly, in less time, and with a nice brown crust. A regular oven produces heat only from the heating units. The addition of a fan allows a convection oven to blow hot air around the food.

Convection is the key to crispy pie crust and crackling roast beef. Better yet--at least for the harried homeowner--a convection oven can reduce cooking time for most recipes by 25%.

Despite the advantages, even though this option is widely-available, many homeowners choose a regular unit. At MKBD, we advocate convection ovens to most homeowners. A convection oven might require a little trial and error, but once you learn the ins-and-outs, you'll never go back to regular!


FREE In-Home Remodeling Estimate!

If you have any questions about your next kitchen remodeling project, please feel free to call MKBD for an individualized consultation. Let's talk budget and more! Call now! 215-355-4747.

Better yet, check out our Free In-Home Remodeling Estimate on this very blog!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Three Bathroom Remodeling Horrors--And How to Avoid Them

In the spirit of Halloween, we're thinking about remodeling "horror" stories. Earlier this month, we shared a fewstories about kitchen remodeling planning mistakes. Today, we'll discuss a few potential bathroom remodeling mistakes--or, if you please, "horrors."

"If you've researched your project online," we wrote in our previous post, "you've undoubtedly read a remodeling horror story (or two, or three...)." Indeed, the Internet is positively teeming with frightening bathroom remodeling stories.

Of course, disaster is not the norm.

In fact, the Internet is also a veritable showcase of remodeling triumphs. A simple Google search yields picture after picture of beautiful and successful bathroom remodeling projects. But the potential for disaster is real--and the Internet can certainly remind us of this simple fact.

In MKBD's view, the best way to avoid disaster is to partner with a bathroom remodeling company. A good bathroom remodeling company can lead you through all stages of the process from planning to construction. And yet, we understand, that many individuals prefer to coordinate contractors, or to perform a DIY project.

Whether you hire a bathroom remodeling company, like MKBD, perform your own bathroom makeover, or coordinate contractors, you can ensure success--and avoid horror--by following a simple outline. In each case, the key is planning, a studious attention to detail, and an honest assessment of potential challenges.

With this in mind, we offer a three bathroom remodeling horrors—and how to avoid them.

1. Choosing a Bad Remodeling Company

A simple perusal of Contractor's From Hell should be enough to convince you that frighteningly bad contractors and remodeling companies do exist. Just take a look at this bathroom remodeling horror story, which details a history of negligence, even abuse. In this story, the remodeling company shows a complete ineptitude for planning, no attention to detail, and terribly, outright dishonesty.

So how do you find an honest and reputable remodeling company or contractor?

Your first, most important duty is to do your research! Ask friends and family for recommendations, then find secondary reviews for each recommendation. For good recommendations, you might also ask local building inspectors or neighbors who have recently performed remodeling projects.

Once you've discovered at least three or four remodeling companies, call each to conduct a short phone interview. Ask each for referrals. And don't be afraid to ask specifics about your project and the companies work load. After the phone interviews, you can choose which companies you'd like to meet in-person. During in-person interviews, make sure you feel comfortable talking to the contractor about your project. And make sure the contractor is tactful, precise, and honest.

This process should yield a few good choices. From this field, you can whittle the choices by calling references and, perhaps, inspecting the company's work at another house. Finally, if you have more than one choice, ask the various companies to bid on your contract. And remember to include details beyond cost, like the start and completion date. And remember: do not necessarily go with the lowest price. Go with the best choice--the company that inspires the most confidence.

A successful remodeling project (like this MKBD project) should be a partnership between the homeowner and remodeling company.

2. The DIY Nightmare

You might think that a professional home remodeling company would not support DIY projects. After all, DIY renovations take away potential customers. In reality, we support DIY projects--to an extent. What we hate to see is the DIY project gone wrong.

We've seen our fair share of nightmares: plumbing disasters, fallen ceilings, even fires! By the time a failed DIY project comes to a professional remodeling company, the work site might be disaster-area. Quite simply, a bad DIY project makes our job harder. We must undo mistakes before we can even begin the real construction work.

And yet, we must admit: in the right hands, a DIY project can be a wonderful achievement. A crafty homeowner can save thousands of dollars on labor fees. And the sense of accomplishment you will feel from sketching a bathroom design to building your bathroom is simply inspiring.

Just make sure you are, in fact, crafty. If you do not know how t perform certain tasks, like plumbing, you might create a horror story! Trust us, we've seen it all. Remember the keys to success: especially with DIY projects, an honest assessment of potential challenges is crucial.

A DIY project can save you thousands, and we believe it's a great investment of time and money--if you know what you're doing. But there's simply no replacing the expertise of a professional remodeling company. In this MKBD project, we combined a artistry and expertise to create a one-of-a-kind bathroom.

3. The Budget Blowout

Budget horror stories are often the result of poor planning and unrealistic expectations. This is a frequent remodeling trap: homeowners expectations often exceed the budgets. In the case of the budget blowout, honesty is crucial. Before your project begins, have a frank budget conversation with your contractor or remodeling company (or yourself, if you're performing a DIY project).

Keep in mind, your total budget is not necessarily the most important number. Think about the way the budget is allocated. Spend wisely!

Mistakes (like those above) cost money, but the biggest mistake is not accounting for potential mishaps in your budget. Many projects only yield problems after demolition beings. Behind your bathroom walls, you might discover lurking mold or water damage. These are real problems that can only be discovered after the work begin. Our suggestion? Leave room in the budget for problems. 

Your budget can include many unique details, like the stain glass window in this MKBD project, but it should also include some extra money for problems.

If you have any questions about your next bathroom remodeling project, please feel free to call MKBD for an individualized consultation. MKBD is currently offering a FREE bathroom remodeling estimate, FREE design, and FREE custom layout to all new customers.

Let's talk budget and more! Call now! 215-355-4747 or visit us online at

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Three Inspiring Bathroom Themes

The smell of burning leaves. The porches festooned with ghosts and cobwebs. The burgundy corduroy pants. It's October in Pennsylvania, and the world has turned to autumn! At MKBD, we can't help but feel excited by autumnal themes. After all, the warm colors of autumn offer an inspiring color template for a new remodeling project!

Sometimes this is what remodeling is all about: inspiration! The beautiful hardwood vanity on Pinterest. The color of those burgundy corduroys! You might've merely considered remodeling in the past, but it's the images and pictures that really inspire you to begin. 

So, taking cues from our local autumnal imagery, we're thinking thematically. No, we're not suggesting you remodel your house with a Halloween theme. We are suggesting that you look around you for inspiration. An attentiveness to day-to-day life can yield some great ideas. And a theme is a great way to clarify the look and feel of your project.

The idea of a thematically-based remodeling project may seem esoteric, but a good remodeling company should be able to translate almost any theme into the embodiment of your dreams.

Last week, we posted three inventive kitchen remodeling themes. Today, we're talking bathroom themes!

A Roman Bathroom

The Roman bath has outlasted the mighty Roman empire by two millennium, though today the bath itself still embodies the ethos of that ancient powerhouse. Then, as now, the Roman theme symbolizes power, durability, and opulence. Of course, the theme also implies classicism, a style that many homeowners enjoy for the bathroom.

For a Roman theme, think warm colors like ivory, gold, or olive, or neutral colors, like white and black. And, of course, think polished surfaces with natural materials like glass, or that Roman staple, marble. The project below is a testament to the beauty of these natural materials.

For this MKBD project, we imported marble tile from Italy. The tile, white with black veins, covers the bathroom from floor to ceiling, imbuing the space with a sense of grandeur. In this picture, you'll see that black and grey glass tile borders the shower at waist level, and that, despite the grandeur, the shower breathes the intimacy of warm candlelight. The rain showerhead, in metallic gold, adds a luxurious touch.

The Roman theme also implies open space, but for this project MKBD was limited by the architectural layout of the previous bathroom. Here, due to space limitations, a classic white pedestal sink is positioned next to a white elongated toilet--the best toilet for smaller spaces.

In the above picture, you might also note the black marble tiles covering the floor as well as the black mosaic tiles covering the bathroom floor. Both provide an elegant contrast to the white marble.


Another common feature of the Roman style is porticoes. You might not be accustomed to seeing porticoes in a bathroom, but for this MKBD project, we installed porticoes on either side of the new Toto tub. Augustus Caesar would be proud!

A French Countryside Bathroom

As we noted last week, the French Country theme is is one of the most popular and enduring themes. It's also easily adaptable to a range of home styles and to different rooms. Last week, for example, we presented a French Country kitchen that boasted the informal elegance of Southern France. In the French Country MKBD project below, the old world rusticity, casual milieu, and welcoming color palette transforms the bathroom into a holiday retreat.

For a French Country theme, try sourcing vintage pieces, like this vanity and mirror, painted white, which both lend this bathroom a timeless yet rustic feel straight out of Provence. The vanity's marble top highlights a simple, yet elegant, wash basin.

We love the colors here, especially the unique shade of hunter green, a perfectly original take on the French Country theme. And note the checkered glass tiles, which run around the entire bathroom, adding textual variation to the space.

A clawfoot tub is a classic French Country style--and really, any style, especially vintage style. As we wrote before: "Today, the porcelain tub is an excellent retro addition to any bathroom remodeling project--old or new. And, of course, the classical design of the porcelain tub is a definite must for a vintage theme."

Spa Theme

The spa theme can encompass many different styles and tastes, yet most spa-themed bathrooms share a consistent theme: luxury. A spa-theme bathroom is the type of bathroom that you want to retire to after a long day at the office. In this way, a spa-themed remodeling project can be as practical as a standard bathroom remodeling project. Adding a touch of extravagance to your day-to-day life can reduce your stress and increase happiness. And, of course, a beautifully-appointed bathroom can increase your home’s value.

Think free-standing whirpools, double vanities, radiant heat flooring, giant soaking baths, and exciting amenities, like entertainment systems.
In this MKBD Project, a bronze rain showerhead offsets luxurious porcelain tiles. If you've never tried a rain showerhead, you're in for a treat: just imagine standing in the most comfortable rain shower ever! 
A dual vanity, like this MKBD-built vanity in Yardley, PA, offers space and comfort for two: a perfect addition to any luxury bathroom upgrade. 
A luxurious bathtub is a great addition to a spa-themed bathroom. In this MKBD project, earthy granite complements the white tub.

If you have any questions about your next bathroom remodeling project, please feel free to call MKBD for an individualized consultation. MKBD is currently offering a FREE bathroom remodeling estimate, FREE design, and FREE custom layout to all new customers.

 Let's talk themes and more! Call now! 215-355-4747 or visit us online at

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Three Inventive Kitchen Remodeling Themes

After a recessionary dip in home remodeling spending, the industry has recovered impressively. As the Boston Globe reported this summer:

"There was a time, not long ago, when home renovations slowed to a trickle, with homeowners wary about making anything but the most essential fixes. Now, they are not only willing to spend, but to spend big."

The uptick in spending has occasioned an unprecedented boom in remodeling choices. For the the kitchen and bathroom, especially, the choices can seem endless--and overwhelming. And yet, a well-planned and well-executed remodeling project is certainly worth the effort.

The Boston Globe, for example, tells the story of David Sinclair and Sandra Luikenhuis:

"The couple knew it was time to renovate two bathrooms in their Chestnut Hill house when water started leaking. But they used the opportunity to transform the dated bathrooms into sleek, modern spaces, finished with high-end materials like teak and quartz. The cost was significant: about $50,000 per bathroom.

'I never thought I’d like to hang out in a bathroom, but now I do,' said Sinclair."

If you're feeling enticed by Sinclair's quote, don't let the abundance of options stop you in your tracks. There are plenty of ways to simplify your experience. At MKBD, we often suggest that client's think, first, of kitchen styles or bathroom types. Some homeowners even prefer to think thematically.

A thematic approach to remodeling can help you easily define the exact look and feel of your project. If you feel hamstrung by the seemingly limited styles or types, you might want to think, instead, of your favorite city in the world, or perhaps your favorite movie. The idea of a thematically-based remodeling project may seem esoteric, but a good remodeling company should be able to translate almost any theme into the embodiment of your dreams.

So what is your dream remodeling project? Need some inspiration? Take a look at our few of MKBD's exclusive projects for some ideas.

This week we'll share three inventive kitchen themes. Check back next weekend for a few inspiring bathroom themes.

A Shaker-Inspired Kitchen

The Shakers are a religious sect of Quakers known for pacifism as well as a communal lifestyle that values celibacy and equality of the sexes. They're officially known as The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, yet they've been called the Shakers since their inception--"shaker" referring to the ecstatic nature of their religious services.

Still, the church is where the ecstasy begins and ends: simplicity defines the Shaker lifestyle as well as the sect's famous furniture and architecture.

For this MKBD project, our clients desired a simplicity that echoed the Shaker lifestyle. Implicit in this theme, too, was a desire for attention to detail. After all, as Wikipedia notes, the Shakers "designed their furniture with care, believing that making something well was in itself, 'an act of prayer'."

Blending the timeless simplicity of the Shakers with a modern sensibility, MKBD produced a space with natural materials, clean simple, lines, a warm brown palette, and careful details, like a custom-built pantry closet and a double granite sink.

A custom-built pantry worthy of the Shakers!

The granite double sink. 

A French Country Kitchen

The French Country theme is one of the most popular and enduring themes--and for good reason. Easily adaptable to a wide range of home styles, French Country emphasizes old world rusticity, a casual milieu, and a welcoming color palette.

In this MKBD project, the client desired a walnut floor with wide tiles reminiscent of the informal elegance of Southern France.

Interior brick walls are a distinctive feature of French Country-inspired remodeling projects. Here the hard wood cabinets have been painted white to complement the off-white brick wall. Note the huge butcher block cutting board, a simple, rustic touch that will certainly prove useful for prep work. 

The chandelier (located above the kitchen table) illustrates an important point about remodeling: you are not bound by any single style or theme. The French Country theme may call for informal elegance, but our clients also wished to add an element of formal elegance. Here, the chandelier provides a glitzy counterpoint to the rustic details of the kitchen.

Warmth & Beauty: A "One of a Kind" Kitchen

Remember, a theme need not be regulated to places or architectural styles. The advantage of thinking thematically is the that you can choose words, colors, or feelings that best suit your mood.

For this MKBD project, the client wanted a kitchen that conveyed "warmth & beauty," yet was also utterly original--"one of a kind," as our client said. The pictures below our a testament to how a homeowner's creativity, translated into reality by a talented home remodeling company, can yield truly impressive results.

MKBD's specialty is our ability to attentively listen to every client request--no matter how fantastic. We pride ourselves on delivering our client's precise desires. This project required an extraordinary amount of planning and construction skills to install a functioning gas fireplace

Warmth and beauty, indeed! Everyone who sees this kitchen struggles to believe that the fireplace is real. We can assure you–it is absolutely real. Anyone who stands within six feet of this fireplace senses the enveloping warmth of this feat of remodeling ingenuity.

Beyond the functioning fireplace, this homeowner desired an uninterrupted color palette--evidenced here by the pantry and refrigerator, which are both covered by decorative hardwood inlays.

A solid birch hardwood floor balances custom-made maple cabinets, a perfect harmony of warmth and beauty!


If you have any questions about your next kitchen remodeling project, please feel free to call MKBD for an individualized consultation. MKBD is currently offering a FREE Kitchen remodeling estimate, FREE design, and FREE custom layout to all new customers.

Let's talk themes and more! Call now! 215-355-4747 or visit us online at

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Avoid These Kitchen Remodeling Planning Mistakes

If you're looking for kitchen remodeling ideas, the Internet can feel at once inspiring and overwhelming. Sites like Pinterest and Houzz offer treasure troves of beautifully curated images, helpful tips and tricks, and plenty of links to products and services. Yet the sheer abundance of information can lead some homeowners astray.

Remember the wisdom of the popular idiom: too many cooks spoil the broth. The same is true of kitchen remodeling: too many ideas can derail a project! Over-planning a kitchen is just one of many remodeling mistakes--or as the Internet likes to call them "disasters."

The Internet is a great place to strike within you the fear of the kitchen remodeling gods!

Hestia, the eldest child of Kronos and Rhea, was the Greek goddess of the hearth and home. Happily, Hestia did not have a weapon: she abhorred the violence of her brother, Zues.

If you've researched your project online, you've undoubtedly read a remodeling horror story (or two, or three...) Quite simply, the web is loaded with remodeling disaster stories. Most of these stories follow a similar pattern: the homeowner's expectations for a project are subverted in some small or large way.

MKBD has performed successful kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects since 1983--and we've learned that by honestly assessing your project’s potential pitfalls, you can reduce the frequency, magnitude, and, most importantly, cost of mistakes. We're not here to tell you that mistakes do not happen. They often do! The key to a successful project is not eliminating mistakes--but limiting mistakes. And proper planning can certainly help.

However, some homeowners overdo it. Proper planning is about setting about reasonable expectations. If you're in the kitchen remodeling planning stage, make sure you avoid the following planning mistakes.


In a sense, "over-planning" is a misnomer: studious planning is really the key to kitchen remodeling success. Yet, it is important to remember: the actual remodeling project might not conform precisely to your plan. For this reason, it is helpful to be adaptable: change the plan when appropriate, especially when considering potential mistakes. 

Obviously, mistakes cost money, but the biggest mistake might be not accounting for mistakes in your budget. Your remodeling company or contractor might not discover potential problems--like plumbing or electrical challenges--until the work begins. So leave a portion of your budget for dealing with this unforeseen problems.

Unrealistic Expectations: The Completion Date

Unrealistic expectations can transform an otherwise brilliant project into a nightmare, and often the main source of contention between homeowners and remodeling companies or contractors is the completion date.

Kitchen remodeling projects often exceed the stated completion date. It's helpful to accept this before your begin the project. It's also helpful to let your remodeling company or contractor tell you the completion date--instead of the other way around.

By placing undue stress on your workers to finish by a certain date, you might inadvertently compromise the quality of your project. If you're concerned about the completion date, talk to your lead contact about a reasonable timetable that accounts for potential setbacks before work begins.

The "before and after" photos below reveal a tremendous transformation. Remember, this sort of transformation will take time! With realistic expectations, you will feel happy about your project, from beginning to end.

Before: For this MKBD project, the homeowners desired a total kitchen transformation with impeccable design. The "after" pictures below reveal a true dream makeover!

After: Every detail here, from the built-in warming drawer to high-grade kitchen hardware provides confidence and spark. Warm paint colors on the kitchen walls complement glazed maple cabinets with gorgeous pink granite countertops. Eye-popping red exotic hardwood floors provide the final punch for this beautiful kitchen. MKBD designers wanted to get every detail right in this new kitchen and worked tirelessly to give homeowners a kitchen of their dream. 

Overspending: Spending Too Much Money

Overspending covers two distinctive ideas: spending too much money and wasting. The first idea, spending too much money, is likely on most homeowner's minds, but surprisingly few homeowners recognize how to avoid this mistake.

Quite simply: the kitchen remodeling industry is very competitive; with so many vendors vying for your business, you have the power to negotiate the best deal for you. To adequately equip yourself, do your research about product quality and prices, and negotiate for every product and service. Otherwise, you're simply accepting prices at face value.

Negotiation could amount to some serious savings--and that's money you can reserve for potential mistakes or for a more diverse array of high quality products.

For this Fort Washington-area remodeling project, the client was uncompromising about purchasing the highest quality materials at the lowest possible price, from the custom-made cherry cabinets to the green sea granite countertops.

Overspending: Wasting Money

The remodeling project above is a great example of a homeowner spending his money wisely by purchasing only the highest quality materials. Another way that homeowners waste money is by seeking the lowest price, which often equates to the lowest quality. It's far better to seek higher-priced options, then (as we note above) negotiate the price.

It might seem like a paradox, but the quickest route to wasting money is spending too little money. We often see this problem with DIY projects. A DIY project can save you thousands of dollars on labor fees--only if you know what you're doing. If you're not sure how to install a dishwasher, for example, you might make a mistake that could cost you dearly! If you hire a high quality professional, you will avoid the risk and hassle of a DIY project.


A kitchen remodeling projects require a significant financial investment. Some remodeling companies might try to take advantage of your lack of knowledge. At MKBD, we strive to educate our customers--just read our blog! We tell you the secrets other remodeling companies don't want you to know. We empower customers. You will find many answers on this very blog! However, if you can't find the answer you're looking for, please call us: (215) 355-4747.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Vintage Bathroom Remodeling: The Essentials

The bathroom is a perfect spot for the charm of vintage designs and fixtures. It's no surprise, then, that many homeowners choose to go retro with their bathroom remodeling projects.

But what does a "vintage" remodeling project really mean? The words "vintage," "retro," and "traditional" are often used interchangeably in home remodeling circles; yet, often these words are meant to describe entirely different styles. Of course, these words all refer to a distant past, but some homeowners might prefer a "retro" 1970's-style, while others prefer "vintage" 1790's style.

Thankfully, the bathroom, more than any room in the house, looks back to a specific past for most of its inspiration. We might not use the old brick stoves of yesteryear, but the porcelain bath is a true classic that remains as viable today as when it was first put to wide use--in the Victorian Era! Pedestal sinks are still the standard for elegance and charm. And vintage tiles can lend any bathroom character and style.

And so, with the first bathrooms in mind, we offer three vintage-inspired must-haves for your next bathroom remodeling project.

A porcelain bath was an essential element of this vintage-inspired MKBD project.

The Porcelain Tub 

Before the nineteenth century, only wealthy homeowners bathed in free-standing tubs. Yet, as the Victorian Era welcomed a new sensibility about cleanliness and hygiene, the free-standing tub became more widely available.

These tubs were simple affairs, formed from steel or cast iron and enameled with brilliant white porcelain. They were distinguished, at first, by roll tops with ball or claw cast iron feet. Even today, free-standing porcelain tubs might also be called "roll top tubs" of "claw foot tubs." The first tubs did not include taps; in fact, early tubs did not enjoy the benefit of plumbing. In most homes, hot water was supplied by a bucket of water heated in the kitchen. With the advent of plumbing, however, faucets (see below) became an essential element of the free-standing tub.

Today, the porcelain tub is an excellent retro addition to any bathroom remodeling project--old or new. And, of course, the classical design of the porcelain tub is a definite must for a vintage theme.

Happily, the porcelain tub is an investment worthy of your budget. Porcelain tubs are durable and very heavy. They're beautiful, too. And they're perfect for soaking--which is another name for this classical design: the soaking tub.

Jut note: because of the weight, you might need extra floor support. And although the tubs can be expensive to fix, the porcelain is very resistant to cracks and chips.

Stylized faucets, like this one from Victoria Elizabeth Barnes bathroom remodeling project, can add a vintage appeal to any bathroom.

The Pedestal Sink

The Victorian emphasis on cleanliness and hygiene meant that most vintage bathrooms were styled simply, in white themes. The lack of indoor plumbing, however, meant that freestanding fixtures like the porcelain tub and pedestal sink fit both the theme and the needs of the home.

Like the earliest tubs, pedestal sinks were originally made of cast iron enameled with porcelain, but, according to This Old Home, "in 1915 manufacturers began fabricating them from vitreous china, a glass-like porcelain."

Today, the pedestal sink is simply known as a freestanding sink with a bowl sitting on a column which hides the plumbing. In the past, pedestal sinks were truly "free-standing" but today most pedestals are attached to the bathroom wall. The great advantage of the fixture (beyond its vintage appeal) is its space-saving design. Yet, of course, the vintage appeal of this piece makes it a de-facto choice for any retro-inspired bathroom remodeling project.

A pedestal sink from Kohler was an elegant and efficient choice for this Langhorne-area powder room

Vintage Flooring & Walls: Tiles

With Victorian elements like a clawfoot tub and a pedestal sink, you're vintage remodeling project will be set for success. However, the most transformative element of a retro remodeling project is the flooring and walls.

The de-facto vintage choice is tile, which traditionally covered not only the floor but the walls and showers of most 19th century and early-to-mid 20 century bathrooms. Some bathrooms used the same tile, from floor to ceiling, but wainscoting on the lower walls was the norm for most bathrooms.

If you're set on another floor or walling material, however, think tiles accents, like the colorful ceramic trim on this vintage-inspired MKBD project (also pictured above).

Unlike the porcelain bath and the clawfoot tub, products of the Victorian Era, vintage tiles might suggest a diversity of eras. Home Guides has a wonderful breakdown of "The Best Colors and Patterns for Vintage Flooring in a Bathroom." We suggest reading this article for inspiration from the 20th century.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Kitchen Remodeling Tips for the Serious Cook: Part Two

Last week we posted the first part of a two-part blog with some kitchen remodeling tips for the serious cook. If you're looking for chef-worthy advice on kitchen layouts, kitchen appliances, and kitchen cabinets please read "Kitchen Remodeling Tips for the Serious Cook: Part One."

Today we will speak about the best cook-savvy options for kitchen sinks, floors, and countertops.

If you have any questions about your next kitchen remodeling project, please feel free to call MKBD for an individualized consultation. MKBD is currently offering a FREE Kitchen remodeling estimate, FREE design, and FREE custom layout to all new customers.

Let's talk cooking and more!

Call now! 215-355-4747 or visit us online at

A Kitchen Sink for the Cook: Clean as You Go!

Efficiency is the cook's mantra, and no idea expresses this mantra as much as mise en place, a French term that means "to put in place." This term is used in professional kitchens to illustrate an simple, yet crucial practice: the organization of ingredients and utensils required for each given meal.

Some cooks might dispute the value of mise en place, but no serious cook disputes the value of organization. And to be organized, a cook needs to work in a clean kitchen. Some wayward family members might dispute this notion, but no cook will doubt the singular edict that goes hand-in-hand with mise en place: clean as you go!

More than the cooking range or oven, the sink is the real kitchen work center. The simple truth is that the more you cook the more dishes you create. For this reason, we suggest that serious cooks add a large sink to any kitchen remodeling project--the largest that fits; large enough even to hold a big baby. 

A large sink is the best option for cooks--and babies!

Instead of a double sink, we often suggest a single large bowl. In a double sink, the dividing line cuts down on much-needed space. A single bowl, on the other hand, will naturally hold more dishes at once, making before and after cleaning easier. A large sink bowl will also hide any last-minute dirty dishes while also leaving some room to strain the pasta.

Square shapes are best. Rounded designs, while attractive, might reduce the work area.

Finally, you might follow the knowledge of certain busy home cooks, who install two sinks in two different areas!

In this French Country-style remodeling project, MKBD installed two large square bowls, side-by-side, to maximize the crucial work area.

The Best Kitchen Floor for the Serious Cook

Quarry tile is the floor material of choice for professional kitchens. Made from red clay that is fired to make it durable and long-lasting, quarry tile is a practical choice for serious wear and tear. The problem with an extremely durable floor like quarry tile--or any other non-resistant surface, like stone or ceramic tile--is that the very durability of the material might mean discomfort for the home cook.

Tough materials also mean tough times for the feet, knees, and joints. If you've ever worked in a professional kitchen, you'll understand the feeling of standing for hours on a hard surface. It's not fun--and indeed, this is why most kitchen install mats to ease the burden of standing.

Obviously, a hard material like quarry tile is not good for a home kitchen. But take the hint from quarry tile and ditch the stone or ceramic tile. If you spend a lot of time in your home kitchen, you want comfort! After all, it's your home--not a restaurant.

A kitchen floor for the home cook, then, should be both durable and comfortable. Fortunately, the kitchen remodeling industry offers plenty of comfortable, yet resilient flooring options.

For the serious home cook, the best flooring options include wood, bamboo, cork, linoleum, or vinyl. Wood, especially, is our favored choice. A favorite among home cooks is wood strip flooring, which is attractive and easy on your knees and joints. With proper care, wood floor can offer the perfect blend of functionality and comfort. Just remember: water damage can warp wooden floors so cooks need to be diligent about wiping up spills.

Hard wood floor--like this tigerwood flooring--is both beautiful and practical.

A Kitchen Countertop for the Cook

Choosing a good countertop material for the cook is not as straightforward as you might assume. A good countertop material for a busy cook must be heat-resistant, yet it should also be impervious to stains and easy-to-clean. The problem is that certain countertop materials, like ceramic, excel at heat-resistance, while other materials are easier to clean.

Once only found in professional kitchens, stainless steel countertops are now finding their way into the kitchens of serious cooks. The great advantage of this professional kitchen workhorse is its perfect combination of durability and heat resistance. Stainless steel is nearly impervious to stains, too.

Just know: Stainless steel requires a bit more cleaning know-how than other materials. And you will need to clean your stainless often to achieve a natural luster. 

Rather than choosing simply stainless steel, however, you might opt for a mix of materials. We like the advice of This Old House for countertops for the cook:

"The best solution is to use a mix. For instance, ceramic tile is a great heatproof surface around the range, but you don't have to tile all your counters. You can even drop a square of tile into a laminate countertop. Your choices will depend on how and what you cook."

In this Hatboro area MKBD project, the savvy homeowner opted for solid granite countertops. Granite offers a certain level of heat and scratch-resistance and is easy to clean.

FREE In-Home Remodeling Estimate!

If you have any questions about your next kitchen remodeling project, please feel free to call MKBD for an individualized consultation. Let's talk budget and more! Call now! 215-355-4747.

Better yet, check out our Free In-Home Remodeling Estimate on this very blog!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Kitchen Remodeling Tips for the Serious Home Cook: Part One

At MKBD, we work with a variety of client tastes. Some homeowners want purely stylish kitchens with beautiful amenities like hardwood cabinets and granite countertops. Other homeowners simply want a basic space suitable for a busy family, with just enough storage and work space to be efficient and economical.

Of course, for MKBD, each family and each unique preference deserves a special attentiveness. Yet, in our experience, no preference requires as much attentiveness as the demands of a serious home cook.

A serious home cook's kitchen must be easy-to-navigate and easy-to-clean. The serious cook requires plenty of counter and storage space. Of course, most cooks enjoy company, but when space is a premium, the serious cook also demands efficiency. Yet, efficiency is not the only goal. The serious cook rarely skimps on quality or beauty.

Perhaps most importantly: the serious cook's kitchen must make him/her feel happy. After all, they'll likely be spending a lot of time in the space.

If you’re a serious home cook, or live with a serious home cook, and you’re considering a kitchen remodeling project, you'll want to read our first installment of Kitchen Remodeling Tips for the Serious Home Cook. And remember, if you have any questions about your next kitchen remodeling project, please feel free to call MKBD for an individualized consultation. MKBD is currently offering a FREE Kitchen remodeling estimate, FREE design, and FREE custom layout to all new customers.

Let's talk cooking and more!

Call now! 215-355-4747 or visit us online at

Many cooks believe that a perfect work triangle--like this MKBD-exclusive professional kitchen-style project--is a design must.

A Kitchen Layout for the Cook

By far, the most important element of a cook-friendly kitchen design is the layout. So if you're working with a professional remodeling company or kitchen designer make sure you express your needs clearly. Ideally, you want the efficiency of a professional kitchen scaled down to your available space.

Professional kitchen are organized around the concept of the work triangle: the three-point work station, from the range, to the refrigerator and/or pantry, to the sink, and back to the range. Many cooks believe the work triangle is a must as it segregates the three functions of kitchen work: cooking, storage, and cleaning. However, as we've noted before, disputes this doctrine:

"The work triangle isn't without its flaws though...It assumes that a kitchen will only have three major work stations and one person cooking. As kitchens grow in size, and feature more than three workspaces, the regular work triangle isn't always practical. And in many households today, two or more people share cooking duties. Because of these issues, designers do not always play by the triangle's rules when it comes to drafting kitchen plans."

Your kitchen layout, then, will be largely defined by size and the number of cooks. If you have one serious cook and limited space, we suggest a design with a traditional work triangle. If you have more cooks or space, however, you might choose to add additional work spaces for preparation and/or cooking.

A gas range is a must for the serious home cook. In this Philadelphia MKBD project, the client demanded only professional-grade appliances, and this range certainly fits the bill!

Kitchen Appliances for the Cook

A cook-friendly kitchen design is a must, but most cooks get really excited about the appliances, especially the range. Obviously, ranges come in a variety of price levels with a seemingly infinite number of options, but for the serious cook the most important option is the energy source.

Any cook worth his/her salt will tell you this simple truth: gas is preferable to electric. You'll want to look for sealed burners, cast-iron grates, and easy ignition controls. And keep it simple. A true cook doesn't really need extra features--all he or she really needs is a reliable flame with steady temperature control--the true advantage of a gas range. 

Many serious home cooks opt for separate ovens with convection option for perfect, even baking. Look for an ample oven space with easy-to-remove grates and a powerful broiler with 3000+ watts of power.

A quality refrigerator is not only the provenance of the serious cook--homeowners across the country demand refrigerators with abundant storage space.However, remember, larger is not always better. A refrigerator might take precious countertop space, and if you have a small family, you simply might not need a large refrigerator. And don't waste your money on a built-in unit. A free-standing model will be deeper, which can be helpful when the holidays roll around and you need a place to store your brined turkey!

Finally, a cook's dishwasher merely needs to perform its function--and stay out of the way! Serious cooks should opt for better ranges and basic dishwashers, although it's nice to have cleaning options for heavy duty jobs like pots and pans. 

Ample cabinet space is a must--especially for smaller kitchens like this Center City MKBD project.

Cabinets for the Cook

Serious home cooks, by nature, need more storage space for the tools of the trade. The cook will have more pots and pans, more ingredients, and more seemingly obscure gadgets, like potato ricers or food mills. (Please don't tell your home cook that we called the potato ricer and food mill obscure!)

Choose simple closed cabinets with deep shelves for storing larger plates and bowls. Skip the ornate patterns that might prove hard to clean; ditto decorative hardware. Install adjustable shelves. And for the most efficient use of space, build your cabinets all the way to the ceiling.

Your choice of material should be guided by efficiency and durability. For an in-depth look at some of the most popular cabinet materials, please read "Kitchen Cabinet Materials: Learn What's Best for Your Kitchen Remodeling Project."


Want more remodeling tips for the serious home cook. Stay tuned next week for our next installment of Kitchen Remodeling Tips for the Serious Home Cook!

 FREE In-Home Remodeling Estimate!

If you have any questions about your next kitchen remodeling project, please feel free to call MKBD for an individualized consultation. Let's talk budget and more! Call now! 215-355-4747.

Better yet, check out our Free In-Home Remodeling Estimate on this very blog!