Tuesday, March 25, 2014

How to Choose a Unique Kitchen Style For Your Family

The kitchen remodeling industry is booming, and more and more homeowners are spending their well-earned money on "big-ticket" remodeling projects. With the increase in spending, the industry is offering an unprecedented variety of options.

Unfortunately, this variety often stymies even the most industrious homeowners. From the ceaseless amount of kitchen appliances to endless flooring options--not to mention the lighting, backsplash, and cabinets--today's homeowner face a bewildering amount of remodeling decisions.

So how do you cope?

At Master Kitchen & Bath Design, we advise our clients to refine the process by choosing a preferred décor style based on your family's unique temperament.

Your custom-designed kitchen can inspire the thrilling excitement of a professional kitchen or the humble contentment of a Hobbit-hole. Either way, when you choose a distinctive style, you will necessarily limit your choices--and this is a good thing! By designing a kitchen to suit your family's personality, you can create a space that truly inspires contentment.

For this MKBD project, the family desired a simple, yet elegant retreat, so we advised warm colors, cabinets with windows, and a classic layout.

In most modern homes, the kitchen layout determines the tone for the entire house.  

Contemporary kitchens tend to be bright, airy, and clutter-free. If you prefer a minimalist design, you might do best with a contemporary kitchen design. A contemporary design also tends to include soft lines and curves as well as an effortless blending of various design elements. Spas and health centers around the world exploit this design to inspire a mood of renewal and relaxation. If you're looking a simple space that evokes a spa-like ambiance, try a contemporary design.

A modern kitchen is defined by geometric shapes or patterns, neutral colors, and eclectic fixtures. A modern kitchen is best suited for the innovative family who prefers style and a dash of originality. Modern designs might include artistic sculptures, glass tables, or a rectangular mirror positioned above the cooking area.

Traditional kitchens might appear dim in contrast to a contemporary kitchens, but for those who prefer subtle lighting a better description is warmth. A traditional kitchen is perfect for the family that prefers a cozy space with copious details. Indeed, a traditional kitchen might appear relatively crowded (in comparison to the contemporary and modern styles) with vintage knick-knacks, decorative curly designs, cabinets supported by decorative brackets, or floor furniture with thick legs. But if your family is the type that enjoys the distinctive charm of an antique shop or bed & breakfast, you might do best with a traditional kitchen design.

The backsplash in this Philadelphia kitchen is inspired by the ornate logic of the traditional style, but the professional-grade stove top is purely modern.

Of course, homeowners will add your own touch to these distinctive kitchen styles, but how do you decide what décor style is best for you and your family?

When choosing a style for your next kitchen remodeling project, look to your current home style for inspiration. Homeowners often mistakenly believe that a modern kitchen will create a nice juxtaposition for a traditional-style house, or vice versa, but the result is often discomfiting.

Just imagine: You walk into the foyer of a traditional-style home and see two antique chairs supported by thick legs with engravings, and white light bulbs shaped like candles in the windows. The corridor leads to the living room, where you see two pattered couches with silk pillows, a rocking chair with wooden curls at the chair base, and honey-hued wooden floors. The living room has three walls adorned with family pictures, and a fourth wall opens to a a clean, spacious modern kitchen with a recessed spotlight in the ceiling placed right above a rectangular kitchen island with two stainless steel stools. On the counter, a glass mosaic backsplash borders stainless steel cabinets.

Feeling confused?  Well, you guests just might feel confused, too!

The key is consistency. This is why we suggest choosing a style based on your family's unique personality. Remember, your designing this kitchen for your enjoyment, so make it feel like a second home.

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, March 20, 2014

Less is More: A Beautiful Kitchen is a Clutter-Free Kitchen

Spring is here and we're thinking about change! Now is the perfect time to consider a kitchen remodeling project--especially if you're lucky enough to receive a tax refund. But is a kitchen remodeling project right for you?

Most people believe that a kitchen renovation, or really any home remodeling project, will inspire happiness as well as increased home value. Of course, we tend to agree. Yet, we encourage our clients to think deeply about exactly why they wish to perform a project. 

Often, when investigating our client's impulses, we discover a thirst for change that might not be adequately quenched by a mere home remodeling project. Your kitchen remodeling project, might very well change your life, but we believe the true value is more simply stated: a new kitchen will make your life easier.

And with the ease afforded by a new kitchen, who knows, you might just have the time to learn a new hobby, or commence an exercise regime, or write that novel.

So how exactly can a kitchen renovation can make your life easier? Well, look at your kitchen now. What do you see? Is it clean and organized? Many homeowners contact Master Kitchen & Bath Design (MKBD) for this simple reason: clutter.

Over years of home ownership, most kitchens tend to accumulate more and more stuff. Of course, more stuff means less space, and the problem is magnified by a poorly-designed kitchen. Believe it or not, a great deal of today's kitchens were not designed to accommodate the appliances and fixtures so elemental to modern life. This is why we call a kitchen outdated: it no longer suits the lives of people living now.

The problem, quite simply, is clutter.

So what's the solution? Do you need to renovate your entire kitchen? Well, again, take a look at your kitchen. Does each element of your kitchen serve an actual purpose?

Of course, in the past, designers have included extra space, like additional counter tops or cabinets, to make kitchen designs that can easily house additional supplies and appliances. Yet we've learned from experience that additional space is not really the solution.

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!

An MKBD original project: Note how this Montgomery County family opted for an expansive feeling with more floor space

Let us repeat: the less available counter and cabinet space the better!

Yes, you read that right. Of course, space is great, but only when you're using that space efficiently. In our experience, most homeowners use extra space to store needless extra supplies and appliances. How about that juicer you haven't used in six years? Or that fancy pasta-maker? Extra space sometimes creates an anxiety to buy more appliances. More space can lead to more clutter!

This guy makes fresh pasta each week. If you're not like this guy, why do you have a pasta maker?
Now, smart homeowners might use extra space to their advantage by adding a decorative vase with bright flowers or by simply leaving the space clear and clutter-free. Unused kitchen space can create a bright, expansive feeling (like the kitchen pictured above).

But most people are just convinced that they need more storage space. Again, the problem often isn't the amount of space. No! The true problem is the inefficient configuration of the existing space. And this is why so many people need a kitchen renovation: the old kitchen is configured poorly for the modern lifestyle; it's cluttered, making each and every kitchen task an inefficient nightmare.

In an inefficient kitchen, cooking is harder, cleaning is harder--life itself is harder.

We've met many sorrowful homeowners who've learned to deal with this situation by avoiding the kitchen at all costs! A sad state, indeed. The kitchen should be the hub of your house activity. In most homes, the kitchen is the most communal of all rooms. So if you're avoiding your kitchen, it might just be time for a renovation.

Just remember: a beautiful kitchen is a clutter-free kitchen! And it's all about efficiency.

Part of the beauty of this Montgomery County kitchen is the efficiency: there's plenty of well-designed storage space, and no clutter!

Today's designers and manufacturers offer fitted and accessorized cabinet and drawer interiors that maximize even the smallest nooks and crannies. Truly efficient cabinets and drawers expand kitchen space, increasing accessibility and convenience. But to get a better idea of how you might use your kitchen space, you should consult a professional.

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!

 The average cost of a professional kitchen designer is $130-$170 per visit. For this reason, before beginning your kitchen remodeling project, we suggest acquiring an estimate from a professional home remodeling company. An estimate should be FREE and should tell you all the details you might not already know. A home remodeling company is a one-stop shop for all your home remodeling needs.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

How to Prepare for Your Kitchen Remodeling Project

At Master Kitchen & Bath Design, we've met many ambitious homeowners with grand kitchen remodeling plans. New solid-wood cabinets! A kitchen island! New appliances! Some people want--and need--everything: lighting, a backsplash, wall receptacles, floors, even windows.

Now, we understand that remodeling projects inspire the imagination, but with a big project, like a kitchen renovation, it's important to create a reasonable plan that clarifies exactly what you need. In terms of what you need, too, it's important to think about your life beyond the project itself.

Your remodeling plan, for example, should not only include your new kitchen design. The best remodeling plan will also include an outline for how you and your family will cope without a kitchen.

Indeed, there’s just no way around it: a kitchen remodeling project can be a major inconvenience. Beyond the sawdust and noise, you might have to live without a kitchen for some time.

Remember, most kitchen remodeling projects require significant investments of time--from one week to one month. But remember, this, too: the stress temporary! And when the remodeling project is over, you'll certainly appreciate your brand new kitchen.

In the meantime, following the few simple steps below should prepare you and your family for a stress-free, and maybe even pleasant, remodeling experience.

An MKBD Project from Jamison, PA, Bucks County: Just remember, your dream kitchen is waiting for you at the end of your kitchen remodeling project.

Prepare the Family
Before preparing your kitchen for the project, prepare yourself and your family. Working with your kitchen remodeling company, compile a list of important details: the worker's hours, the expected inconveniences, and the anticipated completion date (remember, this date might change once the project begins; prepare yourself for that, too).

In terms of worker's hours, your project supervisor should state clearly state when the kitchen is off-limits. It's best if your family is away from the home during project hours.

Inconveniences happen--both expected and unexpected. In any case, we've found the family feels much better about the project when each family member meets each member of the project crew. If possible, facilitate these meetings before the project begins.

More importantly, remember, for certain periods of time you might not be able to use your kitchen at all! So set aside money in your budget for restaurant meals and take-out food. Certain family members might enjoy this change. Present these meals as mini-vacations!

Speaking of vacations, brief trips away from home, and your remodeling project, can be helpful. Take a weekend vacation. Whatever you do, just make sure to give your workers the necessary space to finish your project.

Finally, don't fret too much, day-to-day, about that completion date. Day-to-day, the changes to your kitchen might not always be apparent. On some days, you might see dramatic changes, like a new row of cabinets. On other days, however, it might appear that no work has been performed at all. This is perfectly normal. If you trust the process, you will feel much better about the project itself.

Your dream kitchen is worth the wait: check out the new range and natural stone backsplash!

Prepare the Kitchen

Tackle each task below in increments, say one task per day, and be sure to begin at least two weeks before your scheduled project start date. 

1. Clear the clutter

If possible, perform this task as a family. Go through your entire kitchen, drawer by drawer, cabinet by cabinet, and locate and discard/donate any superfluous items that you no longer need.

Also try to discard/donate any items that do not fit the theme of your new kitchen design. The great joy of a remodeling project is the attendant feeling of rejuvenation. If you have old, stodgy items that will clash with your new kitchen, discard/donate them.

2. Pack Away the Good Stuff

Once you've discarded or donated your superfluous items, be sure pack away your essentials in clearly labeled boxes or containers.

Before you pack, though, make sure you clean and/or polish your silverware as well as your pots and pans.

And just remember: the effort you take to organize your items now will be repaid doubly when unpacking!

3. But Wait--Don't Pack Everything!

Unless you're eating all of your meals away from home, you'll undoubtedly need a few essentials for the duration of your project. Consider keeping any of the following items:
  • Silverware--at least enough for place settings for each family member
  • Paper or plastic plates, cups, and bowls
  • Sturdy mugs for tea or coffee
  • A coffee maker 
  • A pairing knife and/or chef's knife 
  • A cutting board
  • Paper towels 
  • Dishtowels to wipe off your silverware or dishes 
  • A hot plate
4. Select a "Temporary Kitchen"

It might seem self-evident, but many homeowners neglect to set aside a space for a temporary kitchen. Your temporary kitchen can house a folding table, mini-refrigerator, and even your microwave. The convenience of such a space far outweighs the potential hassles of occupying a new room--you might even have a room, like your living room, that you do not currently use too often. Take advantage of your space!

5. Buy Some Food

Make sure you stock up on non-perishables and food that is easy to prepare. If you have access to a hot plate and a mini-refrigerator, you can essentially replicate a full-kitchen meal--with effort. We advise against this. Keep it simple, and leave the serious cooking to the restaurants.

That said, you don't need to abandon a healthy diet for your kitchen remodeling project. Fruits are nature's easiest convenience food. And salad greens are often packed conveniently for immediate consumption.

    Worth the wait: This busy family needed to maximize storage and comfort, and MKBD produced a kitchen for the ages!
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, March 5, 2014

Kitchen Cabinet Materials: Learn What's Best For Your Kitchen Remodeling Project

The kitchen cabinetry industry produces an incredible variety of man-made and synthetic cabinet materials. This can be a boon for the educated consumer. In our experience at Master Kitchen and Bath Design, however, most homeowners feel overwhelmed by the abundance of choices.

For the typical consumer, who might not have time (or the inclination) to research all the available options, it can be difficult to gauge the differences in quality and construction between different cabinets.

Similar designs and colors  make most cabinets look alike, even when they're dramatically different. When choosing cabinets, limit your options by choosing the material best suited for your unique kitchen remodeling project.

A great majority of cabinets are made from one of the following materials: solid wood, plywood, thermofoil, particle board, medium density fiberboard, or stainless steel.

Below we will briefly discuss each cabinet. This basic knowledge should give you a good idea of your preferred kitchen cabinet material.

Solid Wood Kitchen Cabinets

Without a doubt, kitchen cabinets made of solid wood are the most luxurious cabinet option. The luxury comes at price, though: solid wood cabinets are also the most expensive choice.

The name speaks for itself: solid wood. While other cabinet choices, like plywood or particle board, might include wood elements, cabinets made entirely from solid wood--from top to bottom, to the shelves, doors, and back panels--are indeed, 100% the real deal!

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

Solid wood cabinets are beautiful and 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 might just be your best choice. If cared for, and treated with they respect they deserve, your solid wood cabinets will continue to look new years after installation.

One caveat here: if your home is prone to excessive humidity or dryness, your solid wood cabinets might swell or shrink, respectively. For homes without temperature control, the best option might for wood cabinets might be to add another material, like thermofoil, or to choose plywood.

Solid wood cabinets installed by Master Kitchen & Bath Design

Thermofoil Kitchen Cabinets

Thermofoil is a thin layer of a vinyl film used to cover kitchen cabinet boxes from the outside. It is widely used to cover doors only. However, end-cabinets often have side panels covered as well.

Thermofoil, then, does not actually make up the material of the cabinet--only its covering. And it can be used to cover a variety of cabinet materials, from solid wood or medium density fiberboard. Still,  cabinets covered with thermofoil are often simply called by the name itself: thermofoil cabinets.

For this reason, its important to understand not only the nature of thermofoil, but the material underneath.

Resistant to moisture and easy to clean, thermofoil, if applied correctly, will appear quite seamless, so the material should not compromise the beauty of your solid wood cabinets. Thermofoil is sensitive to heat, though, so placement near the stove can be problematic. In this case, you will need to install additional metal heat shields to protect your cabinets.

Overall, as an addition to an otherwise sturdy material, like solid wood, thermofoil, is a popular kitchen cabinet option.

Plywood Kitchen Cabinets 

A popular choice in both modern and traditional kitchen renovations, plywood cabinets are made of large, flat pieces of wood (“plies”) cut thin and glued together to form a larger, solid piece of wood.

Although plywood is not "solid" wood, if manufactured correctly, it should be a sturdy and reliable cabinet choice for the life of your kitchen. Plywood should not be confused with "engineered wood" or particle wood (see below), which are less expensive and more prone to damage.

Plywood is a sturdy choice, resistant even to the swelling and shrinking you might see with solid wood cabinets. For this reason, it is often the first choice for most homeowners.

In our estimation, plywood offers a great value for the material, and is a perfect choice for those who live in a humid or dry environment, and who prefer solid wood but do not wish to add thermofoil.

Particle Board Kitchen Cabinets

At Master Kitchen & Bath Design, we do not advocate the use of particle board for kitchen cabinets. In fact, particle board is most often found today at construction sites, where it provides a sturdy, yet inexpensive material. However, even though this type of material is losing favor for home use, some brand name companies still use it. So you should know a little bit about it.

Particle board is many small wood chips pressed together with adhesive glue and formed into a solid board. We understand that you probably do not want your cabinets to be glued together. It's important to remember, though: the main benefit of particle board is cost. Particle board cabinets are the most inexpensive cabinets, so the choice of this material might create extra money in the remodeling budget for other preferred expenses, like appliances or a new kitchen floor. Particle board is also quite heavy--as heavy as plywood, although it will not last nearly as long as plywood or solid wood.

Particle board does absorb moisture, so even when it used as an underlying material in construction, moisture barriers are essential. 

Stainless Steel Kitchen Cabinets

Stainless steel cabinets are often found in the restaurant industry or school cafeterias, places where the no-frills durability, ease-of-cleaning, and sleek lines of stainless steel are appreciated and needed.

That said, stainless steel cabinets also work remarkably well with a contemporary kitchen design that emphasizes simplicity as well as a light, airy feeling--although some tend to associate stainless steel with institutions. The best we can say is that, more than any other cabinet material, stainless steel inspires diverse feelings. 

Perhaps the most unique kitchen cabinet material, stainless steel is still adaptable to different styles. Neat freaks should know: stainless steel will show finger marks quite easily (although it is also cleaned quite easily, and is certainly the most sanitary material). Another consideration: stainless steel is often as expensive as solid wood!

Stainless steel cabinets, as seen on HGTV.com

Medium Density Fiberboard

In its structure, medium density fiberboard (MDF) is similar to a particle wood, but hereas particle wood is made of tiny wood chips, medium density fiberboard is made out of wood fibers. These fibers are placed together under pressure and formed to a single board panel.

MDF offers a finer texture then particle board, but it is much heavier--a certain disadvantage for installation. MDF is, however, widely-used in the remodeling and construction industry for its low cost and relative durability. In cabinet-making,

MDF is used to make doors, shelves, and cabinet boxes. Although MDF is widely used today for kitchen cabinetry, like particle board it is not the most popular choice, and we tend to dissuade our customers from using it.

 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!