Category Archives: Kitchen

Granite Vs Quartz: Which Is The Best Option For My Kitchen Countertop?

Many home owners would like to upgrade the countertops in their kitchen, but may not be sure which will work best for their needs. They may be interested in trying out granite or quartz, but aren’t sure which one may be right for their custom home needs.

There are actually subtle differences in both the style and functionality of these different materials. They also carry certain aesthetical qualities, which may be appealing to a set of consumers out there. If you haven’t purchased these types of materials before, you should carefully weigh some of the different pros and cons that you can expect to get from each of them.

#1: Consider Your Budget

It will first be important for many home owners to simply price these two different options, since they will often be operating within a budget. The price for quartz and granite may vary depending on your location, since producers may be far away from your home.

Cost of shipping is typically factored in to the overall price tag that you see in the store. You will see these materials priced by the square foot, so be sure to plan ahead of time to make the right purchase decision. Quartz is typically slightly more expensive than granite, so be sure to plan for this differential.

#2: Consider What Works for Your Needs & Lifestyle 

You should also plan carefully to make sure that you pick the right material for how you use your kitchen. There are some people that will be using their kitchen extensively to cook for their family, so they will tend to generate more stains.

Quartz Countertops

quartz3Quartz is naturally stain resistant, which means that you can trust that it will block out sauces and red wine spills. Granite is more porous, so it is also more susceptible to being stained by these spills. Think about which of these options might be more suitable, given how you plan to use your kitchen countertops in the future.

Some home owners may need to think about whether they will be able to provide proper maintenance for custom home countertop materials. Quartz will typically not need to be sealed, since it is naturally stain resistant. It also won’t need to be resealed, which will help to reduce the maintenance costs imposed on the owner.

Granite Countertops

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGranite does need an initial seal set on it when it is first installed in a kitchen.

Depending on the quality of the seal, it may need to have additional layers applied to it every few years thereafter.

This makes the material a little more difficult to maintain over time, which can be somewhat difficult for people.

In Summary

In all, there are a lot of benefits to own either of these types of materials for kitchen countertop space.

Some people tend to prefer the natural look of granite, since it tends to contain many imperfections that are retained once it has been set.

Quartz will usually have its flaws buffered out during its production process. This may be appealing to owners that want to generate a more streamlined appearance for their kitchens.

Ultimately, the right choice may come down to your personal preferences and the resources that you may have available in your budget.

Source: 

+Ken Uhrich likes houses. In fact he lives in one. You can drop him a line at the Custom Home Group website.

Kitchen Design Mistakes You May be Making

Kitchens are the heart of any home. You will likely spend plenty of time in your kitchen, preparing meals and even eating. During get-togethers you may find your friends and family gravitating towards your kitchen. If you’ve checked out these kitchen tours or have looked at beautiful kitchens in magazines, you may want a gorgeous space for cooking at your house.

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Kitchens, can be tricky, though. There are many design mistakes common in this room:

Not putting practicality first

Your kitchen is the hardest-working room in the house. Of course, you want it to look great – but you also need it to function smoothly. When considering how well your kitchen works or when thinking about how to remodel the space, list the three dishes you make most often and the steps needed for each dish. How easily can you make the dishes in your kitchen now? How easily could you make these dishes in the kitchen remodel you are considering?

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Over-design

If you are daydreaming over home fashion magazines and catalogs of gourmet designs, you may be thinking about cute and trendy appliances, counters, and kitchens. While these can be fun to look at, they are not usually very practical. You want a kitchen that can stand the test of time, and that means erring on the side of classic designs.

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Ignoring the three most important kitchen areas

The three most important area in the kitchen are the sink, the stove area, and the refrigerator. Not only should you make sure that these areas are highly functional, but they should also be easily accessible and close enough together that moving back and forth between these areas is simple. These three areas are so important that they are sometimes called “The Golden Triangle.” To find out more, check out this great BBC article.

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Too little counter space

You need a lot of counter space for food prep, cutting, and preparing meals. This is especially the case if there is more than one person preparing meals and cooking in your kitchen. If your kitchen is too small for lots of counter space, you may want to invest in a fold-away or pull-out butcher block or a kitchen cart that offers storage space underneath and a cutting space on top.

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An island that gets in the way

An island seems like a good idea because it allows you to add storage and food prep areas in the center of a larger kitchen. But it can quickly get in the way if you keep crashing into the island or if people sitting and eating at the island get in the way of you getting to your counter area. One solution is to put a stove and sink area in your island area so that you can get prep work and cooking done right in the middle of your kitchen. Another option is to forego the island and instead use a kitchen cart that can easily be wheeled again.

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Too little storage space

Kitchens can’t have enough storage space. You need a spot to store food, pots, pans, cutlery, and gadgets. If you have a tiny kitchen, you will need to get creative about storage space. Start by making sure that you are using all your space – including the space near the ceiling. Use organization racks and plastic tubs to keep things organized in drawers and cupboards so that you can fit more in. If you have the room, you can also buy a tall pantry cupboard for your kitchen area.

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Bad air circulation and waste solutions

Kitchens can get stinky fast and they can also overheat easily if you cook or bake a lot. Install a vent above your stove so that you can take care of food odors and open your kitchen window often to air out the room. Keep a smaller waste container in the kitchen so that you take out the trash more often and prevent odors. Scented candles in the kitchen and a strict cleaning schedule can also ensure that your kitchen smells great.

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Dim lighting

You need to see what you are doing in order to whip up great meals for you and your friends. Kitchens need more lighting than most rooms. You will want bright overhead lights as well as track and task lighting to light up your counter, stove, and other food prep areas. Under-the-cabinet lights work well in the kitchen and don’t take up much room.

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Cabinets with space on top

It’s a terrible waste of space and just attracts dust (in a spot where you can’t reach easily). Make sure that your cupboards go right up the ceiling or at least don’t have that do-nothing space on top. You can place less-used items in these areas.

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Boring design

Just because your kitchen is hard-working, that doesn’t mean it can’t be gorgeous. If you add cute or trendy items, though, make sure that they are something that you can live with for a while since remodeling a kitchen is usually costly. Or, do the smarter thing and add a little spice with fun and colorful accessories that can be changed up. A fun wine rack, for example, or a new set of bar stools won’t cost much but can add a little fun to the area.

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Too many gourmet appliances

It’s easy to watch cooking shows and get over-enthusiastic about all the appliances and little gadgets that TV chefs have. Just remember that it is TV: it is meant to sell you things and is meant to be glamorous. Your own kitchen doesn’t need those things. Worse, if you fill your home kitchen with lots of appliances and items it will be harder for you to find room for it all.

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Overspending

If you want to make any changes in your kitchen, it’s important to compare prices and to work with a strict budget. This is one renovation where price can get away from you.

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Have you been making any of these mistakes in your kitchen? Now’s the time to re-do, re-think, and re-imagine your space so that you’ll enjoy spending time in this room rather than reaching for take-out menus every night.

A Foodie’s Haven: Creating a Gourmet Kitchen

If you love to cook, you may dream of your own cooking space where you can whip up amazing meals for friends and family. A complete gourmet kitchen renovation can cost tens of thousands of dollars – or more. At the other end of the spectrum, some of the best chefs in the world can whip up amazing meals in tiny galley kitchens. If you are serious about cooking but are still building your skills, you will need a middle-ground kitchen – one that has the necessary appliances and gadgets to make cooking easier, but one that doesn’t cost a ton. To do that, you will want to invest in:

1) Restaurant-grade appliances.

Walk into an appliance store and you’ll see kitchen appliances for the home cook. In many cases, these are designed to be affordable and are created to look attractive. For serious cooks, a better investment may be higher-end appliances that are designed for the rigors of a serious kitchen. Restaurant-grade fridges will be larger, for example, and blenders and other appliances will be sturdier. BlueStar makes professional-quality and even customized appliances for the kitchen. You can review their selection here. You can also browse specialty stores to check out the options or consider buying used appliances from small restaurants if budget is an issue.

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If you don’t need an entirely restaurant-quality kitchen, at least invest in a professional-quality oven and range as well as professional-grade smaller appliances (such as a blender). Restaurant-caliber blenders and other small appliances will generally have stronger engines, so they can handle more. Restaurant-grade ovens and ranges will be larger and will generally offer more even heat distribution and more accurate temperatures, which can make cooking easier.

When considering your range (one of the most important parts of your kitchen), consider a gas range – this is what most pros use. There are also induction cooktops, which deliver heat directly and heat up fast. Another good option is thick-burner stoves.

2) Lots of simple surfaces that are easy to clean.

Gourmet kitchens often have a hospital-level standard of cleanliness. When designing your kitchen, don’t just consider how attractive countertops and flooring options are; consider how easy they will be to keep clean. Surfaces such as glass, quartz, stainless steel, tiles, and granite can all handle food prep and plenty of cleaning. Laminates, especially ones that are not quite smooth, may be harder to clean in some cases and may show wear and tear more quickly.

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No matter what surface you decide on, get as much countertop space as you can – plenty of space makes preparing epicurean meals easier.

3) Open cabinets.

Open shelves rather than closed cabinets make it easier to grab dishes and other items you need. If you’re worried about appearance, paint the shelves in bright colors and be sure to keep your plates and other items neatly arranged. Keep cookware and appliances in pantries or in cupboards at the floor level.

4) Two ovens.

Two ovens are an investment, but they allow you to make multiple dishes at once or warm one dish while cooking another. At least one of the ovens should be a convection-style oven that distributes hot air evenly with a fan. If you can’t afford two ovens (or don’t have the space for them) consider an oven that has a warming rack or warming drawer.  Another budget-friendly option is to buy one professional-grade oven and one convection microwave. Convection microwaves heat food without breaking down the structure, so they can help you reheat your food without sacrificing texture.

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5) Kitchen stations.

Restaurants and serious chefs can create wonderful dishes because they have stations set up for specific kitchen tasks. For example, they may have one area of the kitchen dedicated to preparing food, another area dedicated to plating food, and so forth. Set up your kitchen in a similar way. Have one area for chopping and set up a space for making gourmet coffee as well as spaces for cleaning and plating. Have everything you need for each specific task within easy reach of the station. For example, your food preparation area should be close to the stove and close to knives and cutting boards, cutting down on the amount of back-and-forth movement and reducing the risk of kitchen mishaps. When setting up stations, be sure to leave plenty of counter space – you will need it for preparing food. Although it can be tempting to leave out all your appliances for simple access, this will actually make it harder to prepare food. Leave out only the appliances you use most often. This will make cleaning your counters easier as well.

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6) Food-specific appliances and gadgets.

When designing your gourmet kitchen, consider the types of foods you are most likely to cook. This will determine the layout of your kitchen and the types of appliances and gadgets you need. For example, if you love Indian cooking you may want to invest in a real tandoor oven. If you love to make your own pasta, you will need a rack for drying home-made pasta before it can be cooked. If you love to grill, you may want to invest in an oven with a specialized grill top. Need some inspiration? Check out the Case Design blog post here for more ideas about gadgets and features you may want to add to your own kitchen.

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7) A walk-in pantry.

A walk-in pantry or butler’s pantry can help store all your ingredients as well as any cookware or gadgets that you don’t use every day. If you don’t have the space for a walk-in pantry, roll-out space-saving models can help you easily access anything you need for any dish.

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8) Task lighting.

Install lights under shelves and cabinets over counter spaces and have plenty of overhead lights, as well. You can’t cut and prepare ingredients correctly if you can’t see what you are doing.

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You can build an epicurean kitchen over time. The main goal should be to carefully consider how you will use the space and then buy the appliances and additions you need for your specific cooking needs. If you need some more ideas on the specific elements you might want to add to your gourmet dream kitchen, check out this inspiring Pinterest page. Finally, if you are investing in a gourmet kitchen, consider some cookbooks or cooking classes – they will help you may the most of your new cooking space.

Thanks to Torontorentals.com for information and ideas used in this post.

 

Top 10 Most Luxurious Features for Your Dream Kitchen

Kitchens are the soul of a home. For many families, this is the room where meals are cooked, where entertaining is done, where homework is completed, and where meals are eaten. Many families spend more time in the kitchen than just about any other room of the house.

For the very wealthy, however, the kitchen is a space that can be all about comfort and extravagance. Celebrities, famous cooks, and the affluent create kitchens that are worthy of the finest restaurants in the world. These kitchens often feature:

1) A luxury island.

An island can be a great place to chop veggies and do all the prep work for your best dishes. In the right hands, though, it is a piece of art. One of the most intricate kitchen islands is made from pure crystal of Murano and stone and is part of one of the most expensive kitchens in the world. You can see photos here. Decadent kitchens on a slightly smaller scale may include islands made from finely-crafted stone (such as caesarstone) or steel bedecked islands which can serve as a casual dining area or a food prep area.

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2) High-octane lighting.

Why settle for track lighting when you can install chandeliers with Swarovski crystals? When money is no object, the wealthy often decorate their kitchens with light fixtures that are pieces of art as well as lighting solutions.

3) Luxury appliances.

Gourmet kitchens feature appliances built for style and performance, such as refrigerators by Sub-Zero, one of the most recognized names in luxury food storage. You can visit the Sub-Zero site here. These kitchens also have ovens by Wolf, Viking, La Cornue, or Dynasty. Popular dishwasher brands for decadent kitchens include Miele and Fisher Paykel. German manufacturer Gaggenau makes hand-crafted kitchen appliances that are found in many high-end homes. Electrolux is another brand of appliances often found in celebrity and higher-end homes. What makes these manufacturers distinct from the makers of appliances you find in your local hardware store? In many cases, these appliances are powerful and exact enough to produce restaurant-worthy meals. Most have computerized and electronic components, giving you more control over cooking times and cooking temperatures. Style is also important here, with many manufacturers creating appliances that look amazing in any kitchen.

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4) Extra features.

Of course, one of the coolest things about the best kitchens in the world is that they include features and appliances not found in the average home. An typical kitchen may include a coffee machine, for example, but a multimillion dollar home is more likely to feature a built-in java machine. The most expensive kitchens also feature  things such as adjoining gardens full of fresh herbs and vegetables or even outdoor cooking areas. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow, for example, describes her outdoor cooking area for pizza on her blog here. Some kitchens feature blast chillers, which quickly lower the temperature of food so that it can be stored safely. Built-in La Cornue rotisserie ovens allow for a perfectly cooked chicken.  Butler pantries are large stylish cabinets or even entire rooms where serving items and other kitchen items can be stored. The most luxurious kitchens even have butler kitchens, or entire secondary kitchens where caterers or cooks can prepare a meal before taking it to the kitchen or other serving area. Pot fillers can be added over the stove to dispense water easily. These cost about $1000 (before installation) but they ensure that you don’t have to walk back and forth from the stove to the sink with a heavy pot of water. Many kitchens also have built-in flat-screen televisions and surround-sound systems so that cooks can watch their favorite cooking show or listen to music while preparing a meal. Some homes even have remote-controlled kitchen appliances, so that families can turn off an oven or control other appliances from anywhere in the house.

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5) Wine storage.

Wine climate cabinets and refrigerators by brands such as Sub-Zero provide lots of room for storage – so you can keep more than a hundred bottles of wine in one place. They also provide a very carefully controlled climate for your wine, allowing you to regulate temperature and humidity so that your wine is stored in ideal conditions.

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6) Top-class cabinets and cupboards.

Italy’s Boffi and Germany’s SieMatic both make cabinets and cupboards for kitchens for the upscale market.  These cabinets are made from a variety of materials – including sustainable woods and metals – and the manufacturers are also willing to create custom pieces for bespoke kitchens.

7) Luxurious flooring.

Kitchen floors take a lot of abuse, and popular choices for upscale floors include hardwood, glass, marble, and designer tile floors.

8) Fixtures and a great sink.

Philip Starck is an architect and designer known for designing luxury fixtures for some of the most expensive gourmet kitchens. Rachiele makes luxury copper sinks that are popular with many affluent buyers and interior designers.

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9) Tiles.

For backsplashes and walls, tiles are a great way to add beauty to any kitchen. For the very affluent, that may mean tiles by Walker Zanger or LuxTouch (a company famous for their diamond-studded tiles).

10) Planning centers.

Basically, this is a small island or desk in part of the home that provides a place for paying bills and taking care of other tasks while you cook and eat. Martha Stewart has an extensive desk area in her own kitchen. You can see that space (and more of Martha’s kitchen) here.

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Kitchen remodeling is a huge job, and a luxury kitchen can cost anywhere from tens of thousands of dollars to more than a million dollars for a truly bespoke and restaurant-quality decadent space. Even if you can’t completely makeover your kitchen into your dream space, though, you may be able to add a few luxury touches. One great thing about gourmet and top-end kitchen features and appliances is that similar items are eventually made at lower price points. Eventually, a built-in coffee maker will drop in price, just as dishwashers (once only available in luxury homes) are now made for a range of budgets.