Kitchen Lighting | All the Layers

Aside from floors and walls, lighting matters!  We've discussed in past posts about the importance of layering lighting but in places like the bathroom or the kitchen it's even more important.  There's a level of mood lighting that needs to be achieved in these spaces but there's also task lighting that's important as well.  So today we're going to break down for you all of the different types of kitchen lighting and how to select the best combination!

For starters, let's talk about all of the different types of kitchen lighting.  Most kitchens have can lighting which is just recessed into the ceiling.  It's for overall view and less about highlighting portions of the kitchen or being helpful for task lighting.  Next, there are pendants.  Pendants typically go over a bar.  They are more directional and are used to highlighting food when people sit at the bar to eat.  They can add to the ambiance but are more of a task light.  Next, there's island lighting.  Island lights are often decorative and while they highlight the island, they are larger so they work to light up the kitchen as a whole as well.  There's also track lighting which, in our opinion, is terrible for the kitchen because it collects dust, but it's a directional/task lighting option as well.

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Most kitchens will usually have at least 2 different types of lighting--some sort of overhead general lighting (like cans) and then usually some sort of decorative lighting like a pendant.   If you're kitchen nook is close to your kitchen, the nook lighting which is usually a hanging pendant style will be in the same view as well.  There's also under cabinet lighting which adds a really nice mood to the kitchen but is less for task purposes and more for ambiance.

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Cans are important because they are the main light source.  Can lighting is laid out over the cabinet/countertop space in the working/task portion of the kitchen (along the walls).  It's meant to be available for food prep.

A good island light is the appropriate size and scale for the kitchen (it brightens it up but also gives off a softer light than the cans so it adds to the layering.  It's directional in that it highlights the island and also works to ground/center the island in the kitchen.  That's one of the things we love most about lighting--it defines the work spaces.

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Pendants are often decorative too and add a softer element.  They warm up a space by adding more texture to the kitchen.  Since most kitchens are countertops, cabinets, and stone, a shaded light that gives off a soft glow or even a little bit of texture can really add to the space.

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Our recommendation is to put any sort of hanging fixture--i.e. pendants, nook chandeliers, and island lights on dimmers.  This gives you more control of the light in the space which helps you control the mood.  If the cans can be on dimmers too, even better!  Sometimes you need a lot of overhead light and sometimes you don't.  Dimmers help you control the amount of light output you have which is always a good thing.

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Finally, don't be afraid to go a little funky on your kitchen lighting.  Lighting is art, especially in a kitchen where's there might not be a lot of wall space to hanging sometimes decorative.  Fun pendants or a cool island light can really make or break the kitchen so don't be too shy!

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Straight from the Designer | All the Tips!

We've had all sorts of craziness here in the past few weeks.  The main thing is a major hurricane but that caused power outages, roof damage, mass chaos in the stores, food shortages, water damage and just a general upheaval of life as we know it.  We are finally getting back to normal although it's taken weeks.  Since things have been a little backwards, upside-down, crazy lately, we're keeping tonight simple.  Just some good ole' design tips to get your creative juices flowing and maybe motivate you to spruce up your home for Fall.  It IS October 1st, after all.  So we hope you'll enjoy some of these helpful hints!

Some great advice that we've received is that, no matter how you design your home, you should always be sure it has these three important things--function, comfort, and a true reflection of your personal style.  Unless you live in a model home, it can't just look pretty.  It has to work.  So consider how you use your space before you take steps to design it.

Function can be achieved a number of ways but one of the big ways is by using pieces that serve multiple purposes.  This is key for small spaces too.  Benches with storage, small moveable pieces like ottomans and chairs that can be used in one area but easily moved to another, hooks & shelves.  All of these things are elements that will keep your home functional and livable but also tidy.  And if you pick pieces that are pretty, you'll be able to kill two birds with one stone.

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Plants are always a yes.  It doesn't matter what size space you live in, whether it's large or small...if it has a lot of natural light or very little, you've got to incorporate plants in your design.  Even if they're fake!  Greenery adds so much warmth and life to a room that it's vital.  It doesn't have to be a lot, either...just a small little something to give the room that finishing touch.

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Be sure that your home has a space for you!  So many people are concerned about creating a design that others will enjoy--they entertain a lot or have guests visit often...etc, etc.  That's all important to take into consideration, but this home is YOURS.  You should have a place that you love in it too.  So be sure to carve out that little personal space that you enjoy spending time in.

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Finally, mix textures and materials.  Layering of fabrics can add so much depth to  space!  Sometimes it really doesn't matter if the space is designed perfectly...if it's comfortable and interesting, it's inviting and people will love it.  Texture and a variety of materials will be your best friend as you try to accomplish this!

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Transitional Kitchens | Get the Recipe

Transitional kitchens are where it's at right now.  Many people, even if they tend toward a more modern style, don't want a super modern kitchen.  They want something that will blend and still feels like it's got some value.  So transitional kitchens are right up their alley.  A transitional kitchen has some modern elements but also has some traditional elements which means it's also very versatile and good for re-sale!  Remember: kitchens and bathrooms sell homes so you want to make sure your kitchen is saleable.

All that to say, have you ever wondered what makes a transitional kitchen?  There are a few key elements to this specific design recipe that are important to understand.  Today we're going to break them down for you.

One of the biggest keys to a transitional style kitchen is shaker cabinets.  The shaker cabinet is a classic style that (we think) will be around for a very long time.  It has a variety of styles but they all go back to one main look which is the recessed center panel.  This style of cabinet gives a slightly traditional feel with the recessed center panel but it also has clean lines that go with the modern look which makes it transitional.  Often, theses cabinets will be painted white which a big part of updating them.  Wood tone shaker style cabinets are still considered transitional but the painted white seals the deal.

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A neutral color palette is 100% transitional in a kitchen.  And yes, grey is still a popular color.  Grey, white, and a little bit of earthy wood tone with some beige is the perfect palette for a light, bright transitional kitchen.  A big part of the transitional style is keeping it neutral so that it blends with the rest of the home and doesn't feel heavy.  Adding pops of black also creates a little more graphic effect without going too modern.

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Wood is major in a transitional style kitchen.  The warmth of wood in a white and grey kitchen is what makes it feel transitional instead of modern.  Organic elements matter!  You can choose how to bring them in--whether it's in small bits through accessories or larger scale pieces like lighting or seating...but don't forget them in your transitional kitchen!  They are important to creating a balance.

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Light stone and subway tile are two additional elements of the transitional style kitchen.  Somehow subway tile (basically the cheapest tile around) has made a huge comeback and can be spotted in pretty much any transitional kitchen these days.  As far as countertops---go light and bright as well.  We love quartz but can do granite too.  Just don't go for anything overly dark or heavy feeling.

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Appliances.  Every kitchen has them.  It probably goes without saying but the stainless steel appliances are spot-on for a transitional style kitchen.  The principal behind this is the same as white, it's saleable and blends; two things that give something value.  So if you're trying to decide between a color, or maybe considering going black, don't!  Just stick with good ole' stainless steel and you'll get your money's worth!

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Things To Know | Wallpaper

That title may be a little deceiving...This isnt really a post about wallpaper info as much as it is about installing wallpaper.  Wallpaper is it's own animal.  It's major impact and we use it all the time but there is an art to being a wallpaper installer.  Wallpaper isn't just slapping up some paper and calling it a day.  There are many more steps to it and, to be honest, everyone could use a little bit of an education in wallpaper.  It's just good to know what an installer has to go through, pretty much for anything, because it helps you appreciate their work much more and understand the value of their job.

So here's the quick and dirty on wallpaper.  For starters, walls are not always just ready for wallpaper.   If walls have texture, they must be smoothed out or "skimmed" before wallpaper can be applied.  There are certain instances where wallpaper can be used with a liner paper underneath it but this is only if the wall has a light orange peel texture.  Any walls with heavy knock-down texture will need a separate drywall repairman to come in a skim the walls before wallpaper can be applied.  This is the little secret that can make wallpaper a little more complicated and expensive.  Drywall skimming is not cheap, so keep that in mind before you decide to install wallpaper.

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Even after walls are ready for wallpaper based on their texture, they still need to be primed.  So a wallpaper installer doesn't just come in and quickly throw wallpaper up.  He has to first prime the walls.  He does this so that the glue or adhesive being used for the wallpaper actually stays on top of the wall and doesn't get absorbed.  The primer creates a top coat that prevents adhesive from getting sucked into the drywall causing there to be a bad adherence and, ultimately, peeling wallpaper.  Which nobody wants!

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Once the walls are primed, a good wallpaper installer will use a good adhesive to adhere the wallpaper.  The purpose of a good adhesive is two fold.  One, a good adhesive will keep the wallpaper on the wall and prevent peeling which is a major deal!  And two, a good adhesive will come off easily when removed right.  The difficult thing about the way wallpaper used to be was the removal.  Removal was messy and damaging to the drywall which made for a much bigger expense than anyone wanted.  Good adhesives available now are water-based which means that a little steam should soften the adhesive and allow for the paper to be removed easily without much damage to the wall.

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We love wallpaper and, like we said before, we specify it all the time.  However, we do NOT attempt to install wallpaper.  We always higher a professional to install wallpaper and we actually recommend that you do too!  It IS possible to install wallpaper yourself and, I guess, if you're really handy, you could attempt that.  But we've also seen wallpaper installation go very wrong and we place a lot of value in the installers who do this for a living and do a great job!  They are worth every penny they charge!

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Kitchen Countertops | Reviewing Your Options

We were recently discussing countertops with a builder who asked us which type of material we would recommend.  When we emphatically responded, "quartz" he was shocked.  Is it really that great for the price? The answer is yes!  We love quartz.  It's got a huge variety of color options and styles, is highly durable, and is actually relatively competitively priced.  It also comes in multiple thicknesses so you don't have to pay for the thickest quartz and you can still get the functionality of it.

The truth is, though.  Even though we love quartz, there truly are a variety of countertop options out there so we figured we'd run through them with you.  Sometimes it's nice to get a refresher on what's out there because even us as designers can get into a rut of using the same thing over and over again even though there are so many great options out there.

The first and most common style of countertop is one that is either veined like a marble or flecked like a granite.  Quartz has look-a-likes for both marble and quartz so we're really referring more to the style and less to the material.    These styles work well in almost any home.  They are classic.  They can be nice in a traditional setting or warm up a more modern kitchen.  Either way, it's the most common style and for many designers, a go to.

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There is life outside of countertop with movement, though!  This particular style is actually our favorite and could be considered our go-to.  White.  Solid white.  Even though this style looks a little more contemporary, we think it blends well with a lot of different styles as well.  It goes a little more minimalist because it's clean and fresh but if we're being honest, pretty much anyone could benefit from all white countertops so we're not going to put it into a bubble.

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Something that's taking it's popularity back is the wood countertop.  When rustic and shabby chic were all the rage, wood was everywhere.  That style has since died but the wood portion has reinvented itself and is coming back for round 2.  The thing about wood countertops is that it's warm.  It makes a space, any space, feel comfortable and inviting and is usually received really well.  It's a good option to mix with different countertop materials in a kitchen and works well by itself on an island.  Definitely something to consider when re-modeling your kitchen!

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Also making a come-back are the dark countertops.  Again, black granite used to be the big "modern look" in kitchens but that's not what's coming back.  Dark countertop has reinvented itself in the form of slate or charcoal grey counters.  These are often juxtaposed with white or light wood cabinets  but they bring a certain elegance to any space.  With the evolution of quartz color options you have a ton of varieties of grey to pick from and can make sure it's just the right shade!

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Overall, countertops have really evolved!  Where we used to just have the option of granite vs. laminate, we now have all sorts of quartz options in color and pattern along with the expanding granite and marble options we have.  There's just so much available to make your kitchen beautiful AND functional that you really don't have an excuse if it's ugly! :)