Nothing about your dream kitchen should be ordinary—that includes your cabinets and shelves. Upgrading your cabinetry and shelving is crucial when taking your kitchen’s luxury and style to the next level.
Winter is typically a season during which people huddle down, push through the cold weather, and look forward to the warmth and potential of spring.
With fall undeniably here, local homeowners are putting away their landscaping tools, covering the pool, turning the heat on (maybe for the first time), and getting ready to weather the winter.
Rather than hibernate, we have a better alternative. Why not take advantage of the season and wrap up a home remodeling project?
Why Is Winter the Right Time for Home Remodeling?
Many homeowners, maybe yourself included, think of home remodeling and improvement jobs as best left for spring. Warmer weather seems more conducive to that kind of work.
The reality is, there are numerous solid reasons why winter is actually an ideal time to tackle these bigger projects. Let’s take a look!
#1 Scheduling Flexibility and Availability
Many contractors find themselves with a lighter schedule during the winter, especially when it comes to interior work. You can take advantage of this “off season” and enjoy the extra level of availability.
In some cases, permits and other building-related paperwork can be processed by your local government agencies faster as well. That’s always a bonus!
#2 Never Fear – Your Project Can Be Contained!
Are you concerned about paint fumes, dust, and other by-products of construction-related work? Expert building contractors have tools, techniques, and improved products available that make containment completely possible.
#3 Fight the Winter Blues!
Winters here in Westchester and Fairfield counties can be long and cold. A home remodeling project is a fun way to keep the season moving! And, when spring rolls around, you’ll be ahead of the game and ready to start the warmer months in style.
#4 Create the Extra Space You Need
Your project might involve updating an existing area (like a kitchen or bathroom remodeling project), but it also could involve creating a totally new and functional space. Basement finishing, for example, can add that life-improving square-footage you and your family need. It could be a game room, extra bedroom, in-law suite, family room, media space, master bathroom, etc…
#5 Inventory Availability
Have you ever tried to buy a specific ingredient at the supermarket right before a holiday? The shelves are typically empty! It’s always best to plan ahead and buy what you need before the aisles are stormed by shoppers.
The same holds true for home improvement and remodeling projects. The off-season yields more inventory in most cases, and can make sourcing items and materials much easier.
#6 Exterior Projects Might Be More Possible Than You Realize As Well!
We encourage you to talk to your local home building professional about all of your goals, even the exterior-related ones. Many homeowners assume a particular project can’t be completed until spring, but this sometimes isn’t the case. The possibilities for winter-time work are more expansive than you might realize.
Whether inside or out, few things are more satisfying and fun than working with an expert builder on improving your most important investment. And, winter is the time to get the project rolling!
It’s easy to take your countertops for granted.
They collect your mail, hold your keys (although you may forget you put them there), and support countless cooking triumphs… and failures. They’re spilled on, leaned on, and relied on, from breakfast through supper.
You could say your counters are the strong, silent type.
If you have ever tackled a kitchen remodeling project, you know that suddenly countertops call for more attention than you maybe have ever given them before. There are seemingly endless materials, styles, and colors to choose from, ranging from quiet and unassuming to packed with natural character and unpredictable patterns. In fact, there are a huge number of popular kitchen features to decide on and evaluate in general, adding to the complexity of the process.
You also might start experiencing another common part of the remodeling process: “helpful” advice from friends. If you don’t keep firm footing you can easily get washed away in a flood of tips and stories, all tinted with their unique experiences and situation.
Advice is great (in small doses), but the simple truth is that you need to make your countertop choice on your own. It all comes to down to your needs, taste, budget, and interest in maintenance. We’d like to take you on a quick tour of a few of your options, and offer what we hope are helpful considerations.
Our goal isn’t to be just another voice in the crowd, but rather to help you cut through the noise and find what will work best for you.
Popular Countertop Materials
First, let’s zoom out a little and enjoy a bird’s-eye view of your options. After that, we’ll zoom back in and take a closer look at a few of the most popular countertops being used in today’s kitchens.
- Manufactured Quartz
- Stainless Steel
Pros and Cons of Granite Kitchen Counters
Granite has become synonymous with the idea of quality countertops, and an immediate feature of interest for home builders, buyers, and renters alike. Let’s take a closer look at this popular option.
- Style – Granite has earned its place as a countertop frontrunner for good reason. It’s stunning, timeless, and can find a happy home within a wide variety of kitchen styles. It also offers character, meaning that it has a story to tell in every natural swirl and color explosion across its surface.
- Price – We’ve put this in the “PROS” category because pricing is highly-dependent on the color of the stone, the thickness of the slab, how rare its qualities are, and seasonal considerations. Talking with your remodeling professional about your specific goals and needs is the best way to determine if it is the right material for your budget.
- Longevity – With care, this is a choice that can last a lifetime.
- ROI (Return On Investment) – Granite counters are a quality feature that adds tremendous “wow factor” to your home. Investments in kitchens and bathrooms offer high ROI, making this a material choice that will likely pay you back someday.
- Natural Look – Let’s take one of the benefits listed above and turn it around. Because of its natural qualities and aesthetic, there is a lack of predictability with granite. If you are looking for a consistent, uniform finish, granite likely is not the right option for you.
- Maintenance – Because it is a natural material, it does require light maintenance. This typically includes regular cleaning and sealing it 1-2 times per year.
- Delicacy – Granite may last virtually forever, but that doesn’t mean it is indestructible. You will need to be cautious of scratches, harsh cleaners, staining, and contact with high-temperatures (such as a hot pan being placed on the counter).
Pros and Cons of Marble Kitchen Counters
Marble counters are not quite as common as granite, especially in the kitchen, but they are a well-loved option.
- Beauty – Marble goes beyond “style” and steps into a world of true beauty. Available in a stunning array of colors and patterns, it offers a soft, timeless elegance, and adds an air of class to any space.
- Unique – Every slab is different, so your counter is guaranteed to be one of a kind.
- Withstands Heat – Unlike granite, marble is capable of withstanding a tremendous amount of heat without experiencing surface damage.
- Price – While this may be more of a consideration for some than others, the price is still substantial.
- Staining – As cold and hard as marble may seem to be, it actually is porous. This means that it is very susceptible to stains, absorbing liquids that are left standing on the surface.
- Durability – Marble just isn’t cut out for life in an active kitchen. It can be chipped, cracked, and scratched fairly easily, making it less than ideal for most homes. This is why it is primarily used in bathrooms, or in display areas like a mantel over a fireplace.
Pros and Cons of Engineered Quartz Kitchen Counters
Engineered quartz is made from ground, natural quartz, bound together by resin. In recent years it has received huge recognition, making it a heavy contender in the countertop popularity contest. Let’s take a closer look at some of its benefits and drawbacks.
- Price – While certainly not a cheap option, manufactured quartz is cheaper than high-end granite and marble.
- Style – Because it is an engineered material, it is available in a nearly limitless array of styles. You can definitely find the look you’re looking for.
- Strength – It is stronger than marble and granite, offering a high level of durability.
- Low-Maintenance – It never needs to be sealed, and it’s scratch and stain resistant.
- Quartz does not handle intense heat well.
- Because of its incredible weight, installation can be a tricky process. Also, you need a building or remodeling professional to ensure that your home can handle the load, especially if your counters are on a second floor.
- While beautiful, it does not quite have the recognition and “wow factor” that granite does.
Pros and Cons of Laminate Kitchen Counters
For many years laminate counters have been the go-to product for budget-conscious kitchen remodelers. Are they the right option for you?
- Cost – Laminate counters are a low-price option, allowing you to save money as you update your kitchen.
- Style – While not exactly sporting natural beauty, laminate options are incredibly diverse.
- Installation – Laminate materials are easy to work with.
- Maintenance – Certainly no sealing is necessary, and you can confidently use any cleaners you would like without risk of staining.
- Easily Damaged – You have to be careful of scratching, gouging, or burning the surface. Repairing a laminate countertop is not easy.
- No Resale Value – Because it is the cheapest option, there really isn’t any “wow factor” or long-term value offered.
Pros and Cons of Soapstone Kitchen Counters
Circling back to a naturally-occurring material, let’s talk for a minute about soapstone. This smooth, rich, quarried stone is becoming more and more popular for a few distinct reasons.
- Style – Character abounds in this almost silky stone, and that character only develops as the surface grows older.
- Heat-Resistant – A hot pan won’t scare a soapstone counter.
- Low-Maintenance – Non-porous, durable, and water-resistant.
- Resistant to Bacteria Growth – What’s not to love about that?
- Lasts Nearly Forever
- The surface can be scratched, but it’s possible to buff the damage out with sandpaper.
- Limited color options
So, How Do You Pick the Right Kitchen Countertop?
Having so many options is both a blessing and a curse. It can be difficult to narrow it down, and to keep on track with your goals when that specific slab of marble starts to call your name.
Just like it’s a bad idea to grocery shop when you’re hungry, it can be a bad idea to shop for counters without a specific plan in place and a determination to stick to that plan.
Here are a few helpful questions to ask yourself:
- What is my budget? – Stay as true to this figure as possible.
- What are my priorities? – It may be that you can afford a pricier counter, but that might mean that your budget needs to be cut down somewhere else. Is your countertop worth it?
- Is this your “forever home”? – If you’re planning to sell in a couple of years, investing in a more marketable option that increases home value might not be a bad idea.
- Are you willing to maintain a counter? – Options like granite or wood that require occasional sealing and care may be attractive, but they are a commitment.
- How much use does your kitchen experience? – If you are an avid cook, a more decorative option like marble is definitely not right for you. If, on the other hand, your counters won’t hold much more than a coffee pot and a take-out box, a more fragile stone might be completely appropriate.
- How busy is your home? – If there is a high level of wear and tear, picking a more durable, scratch-resistant surface would be a wise choice.
The key is to look down the road, evaluating your long-term needs rather than simply picking a material because of its beauty. That can be more easily said than done, but it is important!
Align Yourself with a Trustworthy Building and Remodeling Professional
Our last suggestion is to work with people you trust. Find a professional who can you help you navigate your options, and is really interested in actively discussing your needs.
If you live in the Westchester County, NY, or Fairfield County, CT, area, we hope that you might reach out to us at Gerety Building and Restoration. It would be a pleasure to serve you!
When you think of kitchen building and remodeling, what comes to mind? If you’re like most homeowners, visions of counters, textured backsplashes, deep sinks, storage space, and stunning cabinetry dance in your head. Those are all definitely important and add to the function and “wow factor” of the design.
We would also encourage you, though, to consider another crucial component in the creation of a functional, stylish kitchen. Ready for it?
Are you considering adding an outdoor kitchen to your home?
If so, you certainly aren’t alone. This is a hot trend right now, and for good reason! Outdoor kitchens go a few steps beyond simply enjoying a deck and a grill; it is a literal extension of your home that reaches into the outdoors. Luxuries and amenities that are normally surrounded by four walls and a ceiling are left out to the open air, with just the sky overhead on a warm summer evening.
In our last entry we asked you to join us as we explored a kitchen remodel and expansion project in Larchmont. Specifically, we shared a few exterior pictures and discussed just how much of a difference can be made by even a relatively small addition, debunking the misconception that a life-improving change in your home can only come from a massive project. There is a quiet, valuable power in strategic planning and quality work.
As promised, let’s zoom in even closer now, throw open those beautiful French doors, and take a stroll through this custom kitchen.
A Total Kitchen Transformation
Below you’ll find a picture of the finished interior, and below that are two pictures of the kitchen as it was before. Quite a difference!
Custom Cabinetry, Wood Floors, and so Much More
Our mission was to completely transform this part of the home. With this goal in mind, we started by demolishing the original kitchen and building the addition to provide the precious square-footage that the client needed.
The scope of the project included:
- Custom cabinetry
- Gorgeous wood floors
- Window and skylight installation
- French doors (to let in even more soft, natural light)
- Granite countertops
- Tile backsplash
We also installed custom lighting to help create the perfect soft, warm ambience, as well as spotlights for specific work areas in the kitchen.
As an additional valuable feature, we installed radiant heat. This is an incredibly comfortable heating system which, in addition to being extremely efficient, also keeps your feet warm as you make the morning coffee. What could be better?
What do you think of how it all turned out?
Kitchen Features and Amenities
This kitchen obviously boasts some good looks and quality finishing touches. It isn’t just a pretty face, however, but still needs to function as the day-to-day activity hub for this home. To answer the call, we included:
- New appliances
- A sub-zero refrigerator
- A rugged, attractive, and timeless farm sink
- Nickel hardware
Perhaps the best part of this project was the fact that not only did the addition and remodel turn out beautifully, but our client was absolutely thrilled with the result. After all, that’s what it’s all about! At Gerety Building and Restoration, we want to help you make your home everything that you dream it could be.
Do you have any questions about home building, construction, or remodeling? If so, we would love to hear from you and help however we can. Please feel free to contact us!
Oftentimes when people think of building an addition, or remodeling, they assume that for a valuable difference to be made, a huge addition is required. And, depending on the specific goals you have and the objectives you need your new space to accomplish, a big change might just be in order.
On the other hand, you also could be surprised by how much of a transformation can be made possible by even a relatively small, but well-planned, project.
Kitchen lighting options are plentiful. Knowing how to use each one is oftentimes tricky. Should you use track lighting or recessed? Should you choose a chandelier or single-bulb fixture in the center of the room? Know your options before you get started. Let’s go over some dos and don’ts where kitchen lighting is concerned.
Kitchen Lighting Dos
Recessed can lights evenly spaced along the ceiling offer general overall lighting for the kitchen. Task lights placed in strategic places increase the functionality of the kitchen. We’ll discuss that more in a moment.
Incorporate your personal design tastes into your new kitchen’s lighting. Consider functional metal sculptures that hang from the ceiling using standoffs and allow a variety of lighting options on a single artistic track.
Under-cabinet lighting is extremely useful for kitchens with a lot of hanging cabinet space. Hanging cabinets often get in the way of ceiling-mounted lights, creating more shadow. Under-cabinet lighting isn’t seen unless it is turned on, leaving a very clean look with no clutter.
Over-cabinet lighting creates a sense of spaciousness over top of cabinets that don’t reach the ceiling. Many people choose to use crown molding for that area, but over-cabinet lighting is a lovely way to address that space.
In-cabinet lighting brightens spaces with glass doors, creating a lovely, warm atmosphere in the kitchen. Showcase your favorite dishes, vases, bottles, or other special decor behind the glass doors to really personalize the look.
Lighted range hoods provide great task lighting over the stove. This is one of the most important places for task lighting because you always need to see what you’re cooking.
A decorative chandelier over the island provides just the right amount of task lighting for that area. If you use recessed lighting as we mentioned above, you still need better lighting over the island; especially if that area is used for food preparation or cleanup.
Kitchen Lighting Don’ts
Don’t rely on a single light installed in the center of your kitchen. Lighting is meant to illuminate the task at hand, not have you trying to dodge your own shadow while cutting up veggies for dinner. Even small kitchens need more than a single light source.
Don’t clutter your kitchen with small lamps that struggle to provide the right amount of lighting. Preparing food, then cleaning the surfaces of your kitchen requires good light sources so you can make sure foods are cooked well and surfaces are cleaned properly.Most importantly of all, don’t let your beautiful new kitchen suffer from lack of proper lighting. Don’t spend thousands building the kitchen you’ve always wanted, only to mar its beauty with inadequate lighting.
Our expert design build team will work with you to create your dream kitchen with the perfect amount of lighting. We invite you to view our kitchen remodeling portfolio, or to give us a call to discuss your ideas.