The 2016 Kitchen of the Year- Step 2

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How do you use the most popular finishes in your kitchen remodel without ending up with a kitchen that looks like everyone else’s??

I recently wrote about the most popular kitchen finishes for 2016.   Hardwood floors, simple white cabinetry,  granite countertops and glass blacksplash tiles are the ingredients for the quintessential 2016 kitchen remodel.  Here you see a sample of what those finishes could look like together.


Popular Kitchen Remodel Finishes
The most popular finishes in 2016.


I’ve taken the 2016 kitchen one step further and added furniture, lighting, and accessories to give it a transitional farmhouse look.  I’ve chosen brown, but grey could also be a great choice here  The key to creating a great-looking kitchen involves more than just thinking about the construction finishes. Even if you select the safest, most popular finishes, if you have a clear and cohesive design vision for ALL your selections, your kitchen remodel will be anything but ordinary.


Kitchen Remodel Furniture and Accessories

  1. Rustic french farmhouse chairs.
  2. Transitional farmhouse style table
  3. Large Scale Geometric Patterned Rug.  Choose an Indoor-Outdoor rug that can handle spills and messes.
  4. Set of 2 oversized chandeliers for over table.  Go big or go home.
  5. Kitchen Island Chandelier with iron, rope, and exposed edison bulbs.
  6. French farmhouse stools.  These would look great with a contrasting black island in front of them.
  7.  Patterned geometric white and brown draperies.Wrought Iron window treatment hardware- clean and simple.

2016 Kitchen of the Year

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The 2016 Kitchen of the Year
Because I spend a lot of time perusing real estate listing photos to find candidates for virtual renovations, I look at A LOT of dated kitchen designs.  It is very easy to tell roughly the time period in which a kitchen was installed.  There are always things that date a kitchen design– be it the partial overlay oak cabinets of the 80’s, the faux-painted tuscan 90’s kitchen, or the 00’s espresso slab doors.


I thought I would take a look at the biggest kitchen design trends to see what finishes are the most popular for 2016.  Combining these elements will give us the quintessential style of a 2016 kitchen renovation or new construction project.  Whether your choose to embrace or avoid these elements is up to you.


2016 may well be the year of the white kitchen.  A recent National Association of Home Builder’s survey indicated that 67% of home buyers want white painted cabinets in the kitchen.  After viewing hundreds of real estate listings, I can say that kitchens with white cabinets are hands down, the most non-offensive kitchens I have seen.  Most other kitchens are in desperate need of an update but most white kitchens are harder to peg to a time period (ignoring 80’s white melamine).  If one is looking for the most timeless and resale friendly kitchen, white cabinets are the way to go.  At minimum they should be continue to be popular for much of the next decade until other painted finishes overtake them.


Full overlay, shaker panel doors are everywhere, they are classic and yet fresh and contemporary at the same time.


According to a recent study by,  65% of people doing kitchen renovations choose stainless steel appliances.  The days of integrated refrigerators and dishwasher are over.  Even the range hood has literally come “out of the woodwork” as a decorative element in stainless steel.


Kitchen Renovation



According to the Builder Practices Survey, conducted by Home Innovation, buyers in the new home market are choosing granite countertops 64% of the time.  Most builders have a small selection of standard “builder-grade” granites to choose from.  These generally have limited color variation or veining to maximize yield from each slab.


Take a look at Pinterest, Houzz, or any home decor magazine and you will see that most new kitchen designs have hardwood floors.  The most popular seem to be wide plank, dark stained which offer a nice contrast to white kitchen cabinets.  This synergy may be a large part of what is driving the white cabinet trend.  Hardwood offers many benefits over tile.  It is easier on the feet, refinishable, often less expensive, and more timeless than tile.   In the recent Houzz survey mentioned above, 35% of remodelers chose hardwood flooring.
The most popular finishes in 2016.


Open shelving used in lieu of upper cabinets have become popular. I do not think this trend has taken hold in the builder market so I would still expect to see standard upper cabinets for several years.  Glass fronts on upper cabinets in high-ceiling rooms and decorative glass fronts on key cabinets around sinks are something that is relatively standard even in builder-grade kitchens.


Today’s most popular tile styles seem to be white, grey, or soft colored ceramic or glass tiles.  The ever-classic subway tile never goes out of style.  Or, increasingly, backsplash tiles have detailed laser cut patterns or flowing interlocking shapes.  There is no boxed-in tile accent area behind the stove, the pattern just runs the full backsplash, sometimes extending to the ceiling.
Whether you choose to avoid them or embrace them, knowing kitchen finish trends for 2016 needs to be part of your kitchen renovation education process.



4 Ways DIY Fireplace Makeovers Go Wrong

posted in: Blog, Fireplace, Makeover, Renovation | 0

Where DIY Fireplace Makeovers Go Wrong

Your dated brick fireplace has been driving you crazy ever since you moved in. Be careful looking on Pinterest for inspiration. I have recently been pinning some inspirational fireplace surrounds, but noticed a lot of DIY makeovers that get it all wrong. Look for these 4 offending elements:

1) FIRE!! – I have seen many DIY fireplace makeovers with wood slats installed right up to the firebox, which is very dangerous! Check with your local municipal building authority to determine what codes requirements are in your home, but many require you meet ‘International Residential Code’ requirements:

” R1001.11 Fireplace clearance.
Exception 4. Exposed combustible mantels or trim may be placed directly on the masonry fireplace front surrounding the fireplace opening providing such combustible materials are not placed within 6 inches (152 mm) of a fireplace opening. Combustible material within 12 inches (306 mm) of the fireplace opening shall not project more than 1/8 inch (3 mm) for each 1-inch (25 mm) distance from such an opening. “

2) Materials – I have nothing against painting brick. Some DIY makeovers get great results with Chalk Paint or whitewash. Where people get it wrong is by using the latest trendy grey paint or grey stone veneer when everything else in the room is beige. If you want to keep your carpet, your new surround material needs to work with it! Glass tile belongs in a bathroom, not on a fireplace. Avoid trendy tile patterns like chevron or Moroccan patterns or large grout lines.

3) Proportion – Getting proportions correct can be difficult for a DIYer. Designers, who work with proportion everyday, use elevation drawings as a tool to work out proportions on paper first.

4) Depth – When adding a stone veneer or tile, a lot of DIY makeovers do not take into account the depth of the added material in relation to any wood pilasters. I have seen a lot of examples where the new stone projects beyond the wood, or is only set back 1/4″ or so. This makes the entire surround feel very flat and one-dimensional.

Bathroom Remodel

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Today,  I am featuring a recently completed bathroom remodel project in Montgomery County, PA.  The client’s starting point was the timeless Carrara Marble tiles . Our goal was to make the beautiful marble standout as the dramatic centerpiece of this luxury bathroom. To accomplish this, we used a calm, low contrast color scheme.  The walls are Sherwin Williams Reflection, there is a slight grey highlight on white cabinets, and we used brushed nickel fixtures.  We took full advantage of the high vaulted ceiling by adding a dramatic chandelier.


Spa Bath

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Creating a Peaceful Spa Bath using Zen Principles

In 2014, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” was a bestseller in the U.S., Japan, Germany, and the U.K. selling millions of copies.  Japanese Organizing guru, Marie Kondo, urged people to keep only that which “sparks joy”.


Having visited Japan many years ago, I witnessed first hand the peacefulness and beauty of their gardens, temples and restaurants.


To create a bathroom that is a spa-like retreat we can employ ancient Zen aesthetic principles.   I am NOT suggesting placing a statue of the buddha in your bathroom!


Spa Bath Zen Principle 1     I am a fan of symmetry, I love it, I need it, but it does not belong in a Spa Bath.  The art of assymetrical balance can be achieved through material changes,  off-center sink placement, and uniquely shaped mirrors.
Faucets, tubs and sinks should be clean and simple.  Whether a simple oval or a beveled rectangle,  minimalism is key in selection of plumbing.   Cabinetry generally consists of open shelving and slab drawers without knobs or pulls.
A Spa bath often utilizes natural textures of stone, wood, rocks, and pebbles.  Walls are often clad in textured materials or slatted wood (duckboard) covers the shower floor.   Colors are limited to a natural palette of browns and greys along with black and white.   Artificial/Manmade materials should be avoided.  Plants are often added to Spa baths, but please NO bamboo!


There are two common distinct looks for Spa baths.  In one, the colors, materials, and fixtures have low contrast, creating a visually calm environment.  In the other,  high contrast between the simple white plumbing fixtures and natural textures creates strong visual interest and a contemporary aesthetic.


This concept is somewhat more abstract than the others but it is the idea of making things not obvious so there is an incompleteness to them.  The best way to apply this principle is by having all lighting be subdued and diffused without visible bulbs or even fixtures.  You could add a backlit glow behind a mirror or a subtle wash of light across a stone wall.   A Floating vanity is another way to employ this principle.
In Japan, the act of bathing is treated as a ritual.  Using an “Ofuru” which is a deep soaking tub or having a shower with amazing body sprays and rainshower head, a spa bath can be a break from reality and create a space for relaxation.

Bedroom Design

posted in: Blog, Furniture | 0

Today, I’d like to highlight a recent bedroom design project.   The clients are globe-trotters with wonderful collections and artwork from their travels.  They wanted to add an elegant Asian Flair and some color to their bedroom.  They kept all their furniture, except for this custom upholstered bed we ordered for them.  We added some custom pillows from Kravet and Ryan Studio.  It is amazing what a dramatic difference a new bed and some pillows can make!


Custom bed and pillows


Bedroom Design
We also added the ceiling woodwork detail on their stepped tray ceiling.
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