Posted in Back splashes, cabinet hardware, Cabinets, Counter tops, Kitchen Trends, Kitchens, Kitchens Don'ts, Maple Cabinets, Oak Cabinets, Paint, Resale Value, Return on Investment, Traditional Kitchens, Trends in Tile, White Kitchens

Musings on when to paint your cabinets

So your house is not selling. It’s sitting on the market without offers while other houses in the neighborhood are selling while your home continues to linger. Feedback from your realtor says that potential buyers don’t like the kitchen. Realtors advise depersonalizing your home, (remove family photos and personal “clutter”), so buyers can get a better sense for how this home would fit their lifestyle.  But how do you depersonalize your dated kitchen? Your father may have built or installed these cabinets or you may have selected your favorite maple wood stain but does that matter to the buyer?  Remember, they are not buying for sentimental value.

Do you dig in and wait for the buyer who likes your taste to come along months down the line or do you appeal to more home buyers who desire the current trends and get your house sold quicker?

Kitchen Circa 1990’s. Floors Circa 2015. Fresh coat of paint, hardware, new counter tops and splash and this kitchen would be charming!

A former client was shocked that their house is still sitting on the market with really insulting low ball offers while the cheaply renovated neighbors house sold in 10 days. This is a sad case of letting your personal style getting in the way of selling your home. It doesn’t pay to be annoyed that your dated cabinets are better quality than your neighbor’s cheap but cute “ok-Ikea” kitchen. If it’s dated, even though it was in style when you remodeled 10, 20 or 30 years ago, facts are facts: out of style kitchens are a big fat negative for the buyer who wants a move-in ready home.

Are you ready to drop $100,000 or more off of your asking price so you can sell your house? Ready for a change?  Or for a modest investment in paint, cabinet hardware and new counter tops, you can update for kitchen for a quicker sale.

Let’s get started:  Consider what’s fresh and timeless versus what home-buyers consider dated and dreary.

# 1: Consider painting your wood cabinets, (yes I said it, paint your wood cabinets!). It’s ok to paint wood. Hire a professional painter to get the job done fast and efficiently.

Bright white and wood look charcoal plank tile floors as shown in a model home at the Oaks at Portola Hills.

Take a tour of model homes in your area to get a sense of what is trending in your town.

# 2: For a bit more elbow grease, route out the door panels and add clear glass for a vibrant change in your wall cabinets.

# 3: Add cabinet hardware to your cabinets. It’s the jewelry in the kitchen. Brushed nickel or polished chrome knobs and pulls add a nice touch.


Caesarstone Shitake Counter tops, Brookhaven by Wood-Mode Cabinetry

#4: Are your wood stained cabinets in good shape but the counters are Uba Tuba or Baltic Brown granite? Rip out the counters and splash! Install new counter tops in a light quartz. Back splashes with a little pizzazz becomes a focal point in the kitchen.

Cherry wood with Mosaic stone and glass tile for the splash and quartz counter top.
Paint White Cabinets, mosaic & subway backsplash, quartzite slab, polished chrome pulls

Pick up any kitchen magazine and you’ll find a majority of the covers show kitchens with quartz or quartzite counters. Dark & busy counter tops appeal to fewer people.

Even the quartz manufacturer’s weed out dated colors. I just threw out 10 sample blocks from one of my vendors that discontinued colors that were popular 4 years ago but not today. Edit out what doesn’t work.

Solid color quartz counter tops or marble and “marble-like” are in high demand for most of my clients.


3 x 6 white subway tile and honed quartz counter top.

And finally tip # 5: The most popular back splash today: Subway tile! Painted kitchens and subway tile are always a classic winner! A client came to us after seeing our fabulous contemporary display in an appliance showroom, but once they saw our classic white display with subway tile, the decision was done. This style evokes immediate love for classic good looks.

Update the back splash with a classic white subway tile! It is timeless and one of the more affordable back splash tiles available. Paired with new counter tops, paint white cabinets, new hardware, a new faucet and stainless steel sink will transform a kitchen into an appealing space for a home buyer to consider.

And if you are in the Orange County area and need help with your dated kitchen, please give me a call for an estimate. 949.448.9627.





Posted in Alternative Backsplash Materials, Back splashes, Caesarstone, Counter tops, New Products

What’s on my radar today: CaesarStone

This past week I had the pleasure of learning about CaesarStone’s latest quartz surface, Motivo™, at a local NKBA chapter meeting generously hosted by Mitrani Shower Doors and Caesarstone.  Motivo is a textured embossed quartz surface available in two textures, Lace and Crocodile, that can be used in wall panels, furniture, counters and more. Viewing a small sample does not do it justice. It must be seen in a large application. In my local area, Mitrani Shower Doors, in Woodland Hills has two large installation shown in their shower displays. The texture resembles the authentic pattern found on a crocodile. Stunning.

Shown above: Crocodile 3100C.

Posted in Beach House Kitchens, Counter tops, Small Kitchens, White Kitchens

Beachy Revival

Here are two before and after photos from Coastal Living. What I love about this kitchen is how light and airy it now looks.
Key features:

  • Removal of the dropped fluorescent light panels in the ceiling.
  • New but vintage inspired, is the clap board detail on the walls.
  • Iridescent glass tiles in sea shades for the counter top.
  • The pantry door is a vintage looking screen door painted in blue. Very clever and perfect to complete this beach cottage look.
  • Hardwood floor adds warmth.

“It was never about having the most up-to-date kitchen or the fanciest appliances,” The homeowner, Jane says. “We wanted it to feel just as it did when it was built.”

For more information on this house go to Revive Your Beach House.
All photos from

Posted in Counter tops, New Products

Only Natural Stone Supplier to Receive Certification

Everlife™ by Innovative Stone® ANNOUNCES NSF CERTIFICATION

HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (February 2009) – Everlife by Innovative Stone has announced its recent NSF® International Certification. This certification states that natural stones having polished finishes protected by Innovative Stone’s PermaShield™ technology meet the material standards for cleanability according to NSF-51.

The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) provides industry standards for food equipment and testing to ensure kitchen products – such as Everlife countertops – are safe and sanitary materials to be used in high-traffic food service areas like restaurants. PermaShield™ anti-stain technology allows NSF to issue its certification to the only natural stone countertop offering meeting the criteria.

“We are honored to receive the NSF certification as it’s a testament to the years of extensive research and production that went into developing our PermaShield™ technology, which protects each countertop surface,” commented Karen Pearse, founder and CEO of Innovative Stone.

“Builders, interior designers, chefs and restaurant managers no longer have to choose between safety and design. Our luxurious Everlife offering of resplendent colors allows designers to focus their efforts on creating visionary designs while being ensured the highest level of safety,” she said.

Everlife countertops are protected by PermaShield, a proprietary process that covers microscopic staining paths below the surface of granite or natural stone material. These paths are infused with molecular technology causing them to adopt water and oil-repelling properties. As a result, PermaShield protects the countertop surface from harmful elements.

NSF® International, founded in 1944 as the National Sanitation Foundation, is known for the development of standards, product testing and certification services in the areas of public health, safety and protection of the environment. NSF® Certification programs are accredited to the international standards through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Standards Council of Canada, assuring the highest level of integrity, quality and acceptance.

In addition to the NSF certification, Everlife has received industry certification by the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI). For more information on Everlife, visit or call 1-800- 627-8663

About Innovative Stone®:

Innovative Stone is a leading global fabricator, supplier and distributor of branded natural stone products for commercial and residential markets, with operations in the U.S., Brazil, China, Italy and Turkey. Headquartered in New York, Innovative Stone has distribution centers in major cities across the U.S.

Innovative Stone’s commercial stone supply business has a wide-ranging customer base that includes leading U.S. retail stores, shopping malls and hotels as well as many prestigious international projects. As a result of the company’s in-depth industry knowledge, global relationships and service to high-profile customers, Innovative Stone is widely recognized for its solid commitment to excellence and unsurpassed customer service. For additional information on Innovative Stone, call 631-273-4445, visit, or e-mail


Posted in Counter tops, Green Design, Green Guard Certified

Stain Resistant Granite Countertops

Love natural stone but not the maintenance? With anti-stain technology, worrisome maintenance for granite, marble, quartzite and soapstone initions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:””; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} –> is a thing of the past. Innovative Stone® , just debuted it’s premium anti-stain natural stone counter top collection, called Everlife™. This new environmentally conscious collection does not require sealingtypical for most counter top surfaces- and is protected by Innovative Stone’s breakthrough PermaShield™ technology.

Madura Gold

Everlife Stone is stain resistant, easy to care for and requires no sealing. With the added assurance of a 15 year warranty, consumers can enjoy worry-free enjoyment. Currently there are 45 natural stones to choose from, including marble and slate! View the samples on the Everlife web site to get a better view. Be sure to click on the slabs to view the full slab.

How do they do this?

It’s all in the science of molecular technology. PermaShield ® is a penetrating technology that has been scientifically engineered to provide the best protection for granite surfaces. Every Everlife™ granite slab is engineered with Innovative Stone™’s proprietary PermaShield® technology. This anti-staining technology, combined with decades of experience, allows Everlife™ by Innovative Stone™ to provide a free 15-year limited warranty for stain resistance and material integrity. To learn more about Permashield, go to

PermaShield™ does not affect or alter the surface of granite, leaving no added color or coating.

Aristocrat Black

Environmentally Safe Technology.

Everlife is certified by GREENGUARD® Environmental Institute and NSF International*, The Public Health and Safety Company as a safe and sanitary material. *NSF-51.

Both of these independent, non-profit organizations have classified Everlife natural stone counter tops to be safe and sanitary for use in the home due to the materials ease of cleaning and preservation of indoor air quality.

Bianco Carrara

Hassle Free Beauty of Natural Stone.

Every Everlife™ granite slab is treated by Innovative Stone™’s proprietary anti-staining PermaShield® technology, which protects granite from staining for 15 years subject to the terms and conditions of the limited warranty.

Available through your local fabricators and Everlife Dealers.

The availability of Everlife marks the first time that consumers will be able to purchase PermaShield-protected natural stone counter tops outside of The Home Depot and Expo Design Center. To find a dealer near you, click here.

Shiva Kashi

What you should know about selecting your slabs

Can I view my Everlife™ granite slab prior to fabrication? Due to the variation found in natural stones, in-person slab views are encouraged and may be coordinated by your local Everlife™ dealer, through their corresponding slabyard. This not only assures that you are pleased with the color you have chosen, but may give you the ability to select the precise slab you desire prior to countertop fabrication and installation.

For more facts visit EVERLIFE

Posted in Concrete, Consumer Protection, Counter tops, Green Design, Hot Topics, Natural Lighting, Rainforest Deforestation, Sustainable Design

Making responsible material selections.

Love this counter! I just dig it. Look at the color, the patina of it. It reflects light. The direction in counter design lately is for less shiny, more informal matte finishes as well as mixing textures such as glass, natural stone, engineered stone, wood or stainless steel.

I have the same emotional “ooh-ah” reaction when I look at velvety smooth soft marble counters. The creaminess is lovely to look at but the acid etching and staining, not so pretty after years of use. As with anything, surface beauty has a story behind it. Do the research before you buy. Understand how various materials rate for maintenance and the environmental impact a product has before you buy.

Did you guess that the counter featured above is concrete? If you did, you get to pass GO and get another roll at the dice again at the eco-friendly game of design monopoly. Any outsider thinking it is a piece of cake to make selections in materials, has yet to remodel. As design and remodeling specialists in our given field, we have the added burden of keeping up with all the latest information before us to help our guide our clients with the best materials for their remodel. The truth is, it is not really a burden. It’s only a burden if you don’t bother to educate yourself. It’s a fascinating time to be in design with so many wonderful material options and information available.

Getting back to the picture above, evaluating concrete counters we can say they are a good option for a sustainable surface, as they are made from limestone, an abundant mineral. Eco-friendly aside, is concrete for you? How fastidious are you about the materials for your project? For more facts on concrete counters than you ever need to know, click here.

If you love the look of concrete like I do, a quick primer video to watch by Fu Teng Chung, Video: Concrete Countertop Vulnerabilities, will show you a concrete counter that has been installed for over twenty five years. There is no reason to limit yourself to one material. Consider the use of more than one counter surface in your design.

Quick fact: Concrete has the same porosity as marble. Translation: monitored maintenance for counter surfaces, requiring regular sealing or waxing. If the idea of “wax on/wax off” is better suited for the Karate Kid and not a part of your cleaning regimen, consider the alternatives. Or if you are athletically inclined you could work in counter maintenance as part of your arm routine. Lats Tuesday: wax the counters. (Ok, so maybe you don’t need to buff out your counters weekly, but there is maintenance, unless you have the easy going attitude that Fu Teng Chung has about his counter tops. Be truthful, can you live with irregularities and vulnerabilities?).

For a similar look without the added regimen of regular t.l.c. & maintenance, watch for the hot colors coming up in 2009 from Caesarstone. For now, one of my favorite colors with Caesarstone is # 4350, Lagos Blue. You can order it polished (left) or honed (right).

There are other quartz products out there, so don’t write to me to tell me that, I am simply showing Lagos Blue as alternative color to the concrete shown above.

featured featured in The New York Times, Home and Garden section, 11/26/08: Of the Sea, and Air, and Sky

…I am shocked.
The design team and homeowners selected, approved and installed Brazilian rosewood cabinets for this kitchen.

Brazilian Rosewood, (Dalbergia nigra), is listed on the official list of threatened Brazilian plants by IBAMA. It is CITES-listed, (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), and illegal to trade. It is one of the most highly prized woods in Brazil.

The New York Times article does not provide all the specifications for the products, so to be fair, I do not have all the facts on this project. If anyone associated with this project can answer the question, I would be willing to post the answer here. Are the woods selected in this project FSC certified as harvested from a “well-managed” forest?

to own a wood product that is on the endangered list?

Brazilian Rosewood timber has been harvested since colonial times for high-quality furniture and musical instruments. Rates of deforestation are great. Regeneration appears to be poor, possibly because of seed predation by rodents. Source:

Factoid: Brazilian rosewood became famous in 1921 as an ingredient in Chanel No. 5 and continues to be harvested (often illegally and unsustainably) for fragrances, flooring, furniture, and musical instruments.
reference: Sustainable Development in the Brazilian Amazon: A Tale of Two Community-Based Organizations by Robert C. Tatum1,2 Department of Economics University of North Carolina at Asheville

This newly constructed McMansion Malibu digs featured in the New York Times article is of course, exquisite, and a testament to what money can buy . This could have been an opportunity to promote sustainable design by selecting wood products that are not derived from rain forest destruction.


We can do a better job at reducing the negative environmental impact with sustainable design selections.

The US is the second largest importer of tropical woods. Ouch! Not really an astounding fact, is it? I am not suggesting you throw out your grandmother’s rosewood jewelry case or the buffet handed down to you from your mother. Exotic woods have always had a cache, a status symbol of wealth. It is up to Design/Build professionals for reversing this trend of unsustainable design/build construction practices and providing our clients sustainable alternatives.


  1. Avoid any wood product that you cannot identify as domestic and second growth.
  2. For plywood, use domestic softwood plywood (pine and spruce) or hardwood plywood (maple, beech and birch).
  3. Avoid tools with wooden handles unless they are oak, ash or hickory.
  4. Buy used furniture or antiques.
  5. Always ask if any tropical woods are independently certified, such as SmartWood™. These are okay to buy.

Ask for manufacturer literature that indicates their level of commitment to protecting our natural resources. Manufacturers are willing to step up their game. One example of responsible manufacturing is Caesarstone. Caesarstone’s Eco Brochure shows the company’s environmental commitment.

Look for cabinet manufacturers that have earned their certification in the groundbreaking Environmental Stewardship Program administered by the KCMA (Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturer’s Association). This program was recently developed in 2006 and grants annual certification to those manufacturers who meet a stringent set of environmental criteria. The criteria, designed to promote the sustainability of natural resources, reduce waste, and to reward those companies who are going above and beyond in their efforts to reduce environmental impacts. The criteria is divided into the following five categories, which manufacturers are required to demonstrate their compliance.

  1. Air Quality: Manufacturers must demonstrate their use of low formaldehyde containing raw materials. They must also demonstrate compliance with all local and federal hazardous air pollutants (HAPS) regulations.
  2. Product Resource Management: Manufacturers must demonstrate their use of recycled and sustainable products.
  3. Process Resource Management: Manufacturers must have active recycling and energy conservation programs in place.
  4. Environmental Stewardship: Manufacturers must have a written environmental policy, as well as environmental management systems in place.
  5. Community Relations: Manufacturer must demonstrate their involvement with the community through service or charitable organizations.

Information is all around us. Resources abound. You can be informed. Another good source for further reading on conservation: Rainforest Alliance
Whatever you do, research your products before you buy. Look for the KCMA, FSC symbols as credible labels on your wood products.

Posted in Counter tops, Plumbing

Can I add a garbage disposal to my farmhouse sink?

Over at The Daily Tubber they are discussing garbage disposals. Ok, so who really wants to talk about garbage disposals you may ask? But the truth of the matter is that the garbage disposal plays a large part in convenience and practicality in the kitchen.

I had a client call me saying the sink was vibrating something awful every time she used the garbage disposal in her stainless steel sink. Garbage disposals come in varying horse powers. Most households can get by just fine with 1/2 or 3/4 horse power. Could a heavy duty garbage disposal be too powerful for your sink? The torque of a powerful disposal can loosen the clamps that hold the sink in place. Check with your plumbing store and your plumber to make sure your garbage disposal will be compatible with your sink.

In the case of the vibrating sink, it turns out that the clamps that holds the sink in place came loose due to a garbage disposal that was too powerful and not compatible with her sink. She was able to replace the garbage disposal for another and has not had a problem since. Purchasing a garbage disposal based on highest price or the most horsepower is not the best way to judge it’s value or compatibility with your sink.

Another cautionary note with garbage disposals is not to rush the job. Installing an under mount sink, granite tops and hooking up the plumbing all in the same day is a recipe for problems later. If it is done all in one day, chances are the weight of a heavy disposal will pull the sink away from the counter top eventually. The epoxy that bonds the sink needs to set for at least a day before the plumber comes in to hook up the garbage disposal and fixtures.