If your house is like many homes, you could probably use some better lighting. Proper lighting makes it easier to work, reduces eye strain, and can improve your sense of wellbeing – this is especially true in a room like a kitchen where we spend so much time cooking, eating, and entertaining family and friends. The truth is most homes were not built with enough lighting for everyday life. Inadequate lighting is one of the most common problems homeowners have in their kitchen – even if they don’t realize it. If you’re thinking about improving your lighting or remodeling your kitchen, make sure you work with a professional remodeler who can help you design the best lighting solutions for your home. Here are five of the most common lighting mistakes and
1. Too many recessed lights
Recessed lights are a great solution, but far too often, a poorly planned kitchen remodel or new home ends up with too many of them. Recessed can fixtures only light the horizontal surfaces and may not provide illumination over your room’s vertical surfaces. Illuminating the vertical surfaces is essential because it creates a reflection of light from the walls, helping to brighten your entire kitchen. Relying on only recessed lighting will result in more fixtures than you need and still not give you proper lighting.
2. Not enough task lighting
We’ve all been there – trying to work at a sink or stove that doesn’t have enough light. Ambient lighting is essential, but a kitchen requires task lighting in certain areas to be efficient. Otherwise, you’re likely to be working in your own shadow. Installing undercabinet lighting is one of the most straightforward task lighting solutions. Countless LED solutions can be crafted to accommodate your kitchen layout. Simple plug-and-go options are fine if you’re not ready to remodel. Contact us for more ideas for help with hard-wired options to make your kitchen shine.
3. Too much light
Overly bright lighting is almost as bad as not enough light – we humans are sensitive to light. Ask anyone who works in an office with harsh bright lighting, and they’ll tell you it can make you feel tired, nauseous, and cause headaches. In kitchens, granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances can reflect that bright light and cause even more glare. Adding controls to pre-existing lights, such as placing them on separate or dimmable switches, will go a long way towards creating a comfortable kitchen lighting layer. Use several tiers of ambient, accent, and task lighting to layer and balance the light for an optimal working space.
4. Improper lighting controls
As noted above, a properly lit kitchen should have three types of light: ambient, accent, and task. In many older homes, the kitchen lights are controlled by only one or two switches. Each type of light is for different purposes, so they should be wired on separate switches for the most efficiency. Think about how you use each area of your kitchen and plan accordingly. Adding dimmer switches allows lights to serve multiple purposes, such as a task light that becomes an accent light after meal preparation is completed.
5. Disproportionately-sized fixtures
A common lighting mistake is choosing one extra-large fixture that dwarfs the others in the kitchen. That oversize fixture may have looked great in the showroom, but it can be out of place in the average home. Having a too-large light can be as problematic as having a too-small light hanging over an expansive kitchen island. The general rule of thumb is to add the room’s length and width in feet, then pick a light that is the same size in diameter. For example, if the kitchen is 15 feet by 15 feet, then a light about 30 inches in diameter would be appropriate.
02 Jun 2016
Want to take your kitchen from great to spectacular? Consider adding a walk-in pantry. While adding a pantry may feel as if you are taking up valuable cabinet space, if it is carefully tailored to your household’s storage needs, it can add functionality and increase organization. Corner pantries are perfect for small kitchens with unused corner space. Stocking a pantry with staples can save time, money and stress in the kitchen. Tap the pantry for unexpected meals and reduce trips to the supermarket. Stocking it with frugal finds can also lower grocery costs.
It is recommended that you choose the style of shelving early in the design process so that shelf heights and depths for oversize goods can be incorporated into the design. The first step in the process is to make a list of the items you currently store so that your pantry can be customized to allow for oversize items and bulk storage. For example, if you need space for super-sized bags of dog food, incorporating movable bins or low drawers in the shelving designs assure everything has a place and can be accessed easily. If you buy bulk quantities of baking supplies and grains you might incorporate a shelf where you can both store and measure smaller quantities as needed.
Light and Air
Plan appropriate lighting for your pantry, just as you would any other room. Additionally, keep in mind that installation of electrical outlets is much easier in the building phase than after the fact. Having outlets in the pantry allows for of installing specialized appliances, a portable wine cooler or even for charging mini-vacs etc. If possible, planning for passive ventilation will help keep the air fresh and minimize odors.
While we tend to keep this simple, the majority of the shelving that we have installed are uniform in size and are stationary. However, some might suggest that you resist the urge to use deep shelves to maximize space as it tends to promote contents being stacked and items not being used. This diagram from Everything Pantry suggests using shelves of mixed depths for maximum efficiency and adjustable shelving for flexibility.
Depending on the location of your pantry, there are a variety of style options for pantry doors. If your pantry is located in a hallway or away from the kitchen, a pocket door may be an ideal, as it eliminates the space required for a swinging door and it can be left open without blocking traffic. A popular option of late, is the barn style door with a sliding track. These can be found in a variety of styles from contemporary to industrial. If your pantry is part of a smaller kitchen, a traditional panel door can be used to blend in with the rest of the cabinetry or painted an accent color which can add personality to the room. Other options that add flair and interest are doors with frosted or patterned glass panels doors with a window pane frame and clear glass panels and doors painted with chalkboard paint for grocery lists and creative drawings.
Amanda Hesser’s Best Tips for a Clean, Organized Pantry
From the perspective of a chef, Amada Hesser, an American food writer, editor, cookbook author, and entrepreneur, “Your pantry shouldn’t be a storage unit – it should be a toolkit. It’s not where you put things to keep them off your counter. It’s where you have all of your best culinary weapons at the ready to help you in the kitchen” How you design your pantry and arrange your tools should be focused on making your cooking more efficient and inspiring.”
Amanda Hesser is notably the co-founder and CEO of Food52, previously the food editor of the New York Times Magazine and winner of a James Beard award. In her March blog she offers a few tips, rules and designs from the Food52Shop.
- The ideal pantry has adjustable shelves. Add the shelves as you stock your pantry, not the other way around. This way you maximize your space.
- Buy lots of tins, containers, jars, and a set of wet-erase markers.
- Arrange by frequency of use.
- On each shelf, apply a similar level-to-us-system.
- Try to avoid stacking where possible.
- Keep dwindling supplies towards the front.
The full article can be found here.
Resources for Pantry Organization
- Stick on many smooth surfaces K
- Removable adhesive leaves no residue
- Erasable surface for labeling with chalk
- Stick to many kitchen containers
- Freezer and microwave oven safe
- Remove cleanly after one dishwasher cycle
15 Jun 2014
Article courtesy of Plamar USA, Inc.
So you’re remodeling your kitchen or bathroom and have decided you want engineered quartz for your countertop. What now? With the many quartz products available today, how do you choose the best one for your countertop?
As countertop experts, we have been asked this question many times and can confidently answer that there is really no how-to-guide in choosing the right engineered quartz material. Our advice is to look at the range of products available in the market – Caesarstone, Silestone, Cambria, Pental Quartz, Color Quartz, Hanstone, Zodiaq, Icestone, Vetrazzo, and LG Viatera to get an idea of the range of choices. Educate yourself by visiting their websites to learn the features of each brand and how they differ from one another. In doing so, you’ll be able to identify each brand’s its composition, the range of colors and patterns available and how each brand compares to the others.
15 Apr 2014
By Mark Lesnick
Founder, Mark Concrete
When I dream about remodeling my bathroom, I think about the new tub, maybe a steam shower, and certainly a gleaming new showpiece-of-a-vanity. I start the planning in my head – the textures, colors and styles. And then the demolition, the chaos, the mess! You may ask yourself, “How can I get the bathroom I’m envisioning with the least amount of mess and stress?” One way is a “Turn-key” bathroom vanity. It is a remarkable concept we developed to create a gorgeous work-of-art in a bathroom vanity that is simple to install and impresses the most discerning eye.
The “Turn-key” vanity system features a concrete surround with integrated sink and pre-installed cabinetry. All that is required is to set the complete vanity structure in place, install the fixture of your choice, and hook up the supply and drain lines and you are done with that portion of your new bathroom. One example of these turn-key vanities is pictured here with an “Erosion” sink mold.
01 Apr 2014
This year the International Builders Show (IBS) and the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) joined forces for one fabulous Design and Construction Week in February. Co-locating in Las Vegas, the building industry trade shows attracted more than 75,000 attendees. Remodelers, kitchen & bath designers, and builders crowded together in the aisles, anxious to see and experience all the new product introductions from cabinet and appliance manufacturers, etc.
01 Feb 2014
The idea that we should do our best to preserve our limited natural resources has really take hold in the U.S. Homeowners are now motivated to achieve a sustainable lifestyle. Still they are often unaware of several of the approaches they can take. For example, consider one of the areas where the typical American family generates the most trash: the kitchen.
On a regular basis, after you are finished cooking, you may be faced with numerous empty metal cans, glass jars, cardboard boxes, styrofoam containers, and plastic bottles. You may also have a mound of left over fruit and vegetable trimmings, egg shells and coffee grounds. Perhaps you have been wondering what is the most convenient and responsible way to dispose of all these items.
15 Nov 2013
Universal Design (UD) is an architectural movement that seeks to create living environments that function well for everyone, regardless of age or ability. In Europe it is called “Design for All”. A growing trend in this country is to use the term “Better Living Design” so people do not confuse UD with accessible design.
UD accommodates a broader spectrum of people than accessible design, which follows guidelines set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and is specifically for those who are aging or those with a physical disability. The purpose of UD is to benefit a wide population that may include the elderly along with small children, pregnant women, parents with baby strollers, and homeowners carrying shopping bags into their homes. UD is particularly on target to meet the needs of the rising number of multi-generational households in the United States.
The wonderful appeal of UD includes the fact that it is transparent: accommodations are felt rather than seen. Homes designed according to UD principles feel pleasant and inviting, rather than cold and institutional.
When your home is designed using UD principles it provides a beautiful, safe, convenient, and easy-to-use environment for you and your family, as well as for anyone else who comes to visit.
Here are twenty examples of Universal Design principles that you can utilize in your next kitchen remodeling project. Most people will not realize anything is different from the norm; nevertheless, your kitchen will be comfortable for a more diverse range of people.
- Materials that are non-allergenic and free of VOCs
- 5′ diameter open space for maneuverability
- Non-slip flooring that is water resistant and easy to maintain
- No throw rugs or mats, unless recessed into the floor
- Rocker-style light switches and lever-style door handles
- Three layers of light: task, ambient and accent; light for way-finding
- Natural light from windows, skylights or solar tubes
- Medium to light colored, non-glare surfaces
- Full extension pull-out drawers in base cabinets, rather than shelves
- Higher toe-kick on base cabinets
- Upper cabinets installed 15″ above the countertop, instead of the standard 18″
- Glass doors in wall cabinets for good visibility of the contents
- Easy-to-grasp cabinet door handles
- Raised dishwasher with adjacent landing space
- Knee space under the cook-top and sink
- Multiple-height countertops
- Single lever, high arc faucets with pull-out or pull-down sprays; hands-free technology
- Whole-house anti-scald valve set at 120 degrees
- Induction cook-top for safety and energy savings
- Interior cabinet lighting should be a cool temperature (LED) to protect contents
01 Aug 2013
If you decide to transform your kitchen by opening it up, one of the challenges you will face is where to store the wide variety of items a homeowner typically wants or needs in the kitchen. When several walls come down, it means that some of the locations where your cabinets were installed earlier are no longer available. With less wall space for cabinets, you must get more creative with storage, using every inch of space as efficiently as possible.
One of the most popular storage solutions for open kitchens is to build a large island with drawers underneath the countertop. Unlike cabinets with doors and shelves, full-extension drawers make it easy to see and reach items, even if they are stored in the back of the drawer. These drawers can be deep enough to hold large bowls and baking pans, or shallow enough for utensils. Today’s drawer organization systems can help you store much more in a new drawer than you were able to store previously in a drawer of the same dimensions. There are options like pegboard systems and drawer dividers that can compartmentalize the space to fit your specific items. Drawers may be fitted with soft and self-closing mechanisms, so that opening and closing a drawer is effortless. Find whatever you need inside the drawer, even at night, by including in-drawer LED lighting that activates by motion sensor when the drawer is opened. Design a storage cabinet on wheels that slides under the island countertop when not needed, but can provide an additional flat surface for food prep when rolled out into the room.
Another answer to the open kitchen storage quandary is to optimize the functionality of all wall cabinets. Consider using frameless cabinets, since these give you freer access to the contents of the cabinet. Lift-up or sliding cabinet doors, along with those that retract into the sides of the cabinet, are convenient since the cabinet can stay open and accessible for meal preparation, without disturbing the workspace. Try to conquer the dead space that often goes to waste in the corners of the kitchen. Currently, in addition to the traditional lazy susan, there are an amazing number of pull-out and swing-out solutions to a “blind corner.” Take time to decide which system will best fit your needs. If you choose to take your cabinets to the ceiling in order to maximize wall storage space, consider adding pull-down shelving systems inside the highest cabinets to make your items accessible without a step-stool. Narrow shelves or wire racks installed in the backsplash area provide easy-to-reach storage, along with an opportunity to bring a bit of color and excitement to that space.
15 Mar 2013
If you wait until the last minute to consider your lighting needs when you are remodeling your kitchen, you may repeat some of the mistakes you have lived with all these years. Installing a single ceiling light fixture in the center of your kitchen creates unwelcome shadows over your work space as you try to prepare meals. Another oversight would be to install ceiling cans around the perimeter of the kitchen without carefully considering where the beams of light will contact the various surfaces in the room. If you place the ceiling cans too close to the kitchen cabinets, for example, you may create uneven scallops of light on the surface of the cabinets, as well as shadows in the middle of the room.
Good lighting design is developed simultaneously with the rest of your kitchen remodeling plans. It takes into account the following three separate layers of light that work in concert to achieve the optimal lighting experience. Ideally, these layers should be switched individually.
1. Ambient — This is the general illumination of your kitchen that allows you to see well enough to move about the room confidently and safely. The ceiling mounted fluorescent boxes that used to be the standard fixture used for this purpose are out. The most popular choices today are ceiling cans and large surface mounted fixtures. Chandeliers may also be used for ambient lighting.
2. Task — This is lighting that helps you perform tasks in your kitchen, such as meal preparation, cooking and work space clean up. For obvious reasons, when you are wielding a sharp knife you want your work space sufficiently bright, but free of glare so you can clearly see what you are doing. The same thing is true when you are stirring a bubbling pot of soup on the stove. Task lighting is usually provided by under-cabinet lights or pendants over an island.
3. Accent — This is the lighting that emphasizes the little details that make your kitchen look exceptional. It can include the spotlight that accentuates a large painting hanging on the wall, as well as the several small pucks installed behind glass cabinet doors to highlight your favorite crockery. Recessed cove lighting is accent lighting that creates visual interest on a ceiling.
As you are planning your lighting, take into account that highly reflective surfaces will impact your lighting design. You should avoid placing fixtures in a location where the light will reflect off your polished granite countertop, causing an uncomfortable glare in the eyes of anyone seated at the kitchen island.
It is also important to consider how your age, and the ages of others living in your home, may influence the amount of light necessary in your kitchen. In order to see clearly enough to read recipes or the instructions on food packages, most older adults need three to four times more light than they did when they were younger.
01 Jan 2013
Have you already gathered lots of ideas for how you’d like your new kitchen to look, once it’s remodeled? Perhaps you’ve thought about the style of cabinets you’d prefer or the beautiful materials you envision on your countertops and backsplash.
You should also consider these three kitchen trends that will add both safety and convenience to your kitchen. And, their green benefits extend beyond the usual energy and water savings.
1. Hands-free Faucet Controls – touch or motion activated
A kitchen faucet with hands-free technology is a tremendous advantage to meal preparation. Advanced sensors detect movement or a slight tap on the faucet itself to start the flow of water. If your hands are full or too dirty to turn on the faucet, a wave of your hand, the touch of your arm, or the presence of your hands under the spout will start the water flowing.
Hands-free technology saves water, since faucets shut off automatically, unless instructed to do otherwise. And, it can be incorporated as part of Universal Design for those with restricted reach and/or limited hand mobility.
2. Induction Cooktops
Would you be surprised to learn that induction cooking technology was developed in the United States? It didn’t immediately take off here–as it did abroad–possibly because of the specialized cookware requirements. It now appears to be gaining popularity in the U.S as consumers become better acquainted with its advantages.
Induction cooking uses induction heating to directly heat a cooking vessel, as opposed to using heat transfer from electrical coils or burning gas as with a traditional cooking stove. For nearly all models of induction cooktops, the cooking vessel must be made of a ferromagnetic metal, or placed on an interface disk which enables non-induction cookware to be used on induction cooking surfaces. Induction cooks food very quickly–90% of the energy produced is used in the cooking process as it heats only the pan and the food inside the pan–rather than the kitchen environment. The induction cooktop surface remains cool to the touch, so spills can be wiped up easily and there are no open flames or hot burners that can cause safety issues.
3. LED Lighting
LED lighting has opened up amazing new opportunities for placing light in your kitchen wherever you desire and however your imagination dictates. It doesn’t produce heat so it is perfectly suited for the inside of refrigerators and food storage cabinets. And, it’s available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, from long, narrow strips that fit under cabinet toe-kicks to round pucks suitable for cabinet interiors. LED provides white light in warm and cool tones, as well as a wide variety of other colors that can add drama to your kitchen décor.
Quality LED products typically last longer than CFLs, and are therefore preferable for hard-to-reach areas such as ceilings. The long life of LED lights make them an eco-friendly product.