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 Cabinets, Kitchens Don'ts, Paint, Quick Fix Tips, Woodworking terms. Furniture., Working with a Contractor

Your cabinets are newly installed, wrap ’em up.

Can you relate to this? You clipped photos of your kitchen for just about forever, dreamed about what it would look like and how you would feel in your new kitchen and the joys it would bring.  Now the dream is here, you planned your kitchen remodel for six months, maybe longer, waited another six weeks for delivery, watched in anticipation for another six days as the cabinets are installed. Within six seconds your beautiful cabinets receive their first ding, then another, and another. Before you know it, you have three or four doors that need to be replaced.  As much as you want to see your new cabinets, it’s better to keep them wrapped up and protected until construction is near complete.


Ding on door
Ding on inside vertical stile on door.


If you are lucky, sometimes a touch up kit can remedy a small ding.


Wood Touch Up Kit



Stephen Klineburger, general contractor workin...
Image by Wonderlane via Flickr


Replacing doors is not as simple as you may think. First of all, if the contractor requests the replacement doors to be shipped at no charge, manufacturers may need to send the manufacturer’s representative to the job site to decide the nature of the damage and send photos back for the warranty report.  Will this be a no charge replacement or will this be a site damage replacement the manufacturer will charge you? Who’s fault is it? If the damage is not the manufacturer’s fault, the cost of a new door(s) will have to be absorbed by someone and if you were not there to see who damaged your cabinets, chances are there will be some finger-pointing between the trades. If you are working with a general contractor who is watching his bottom line, his interest is to protect your cabinets. If damage occurs he will order the replacement doors as quick as possible to keep the project moving forward and deal with his trades to prevent further damage. That said, accidents happen, even with the best contractors. So what ever you can do to protect your cabinets will be the best defense.


Book matched panels


Then there is the issue of color matching. Attempting to match the graining is problematic from one order to the next. Sending the damaged door back to the manufacturer for inspection may help them gain a better color match.


End matched and sequenced panels


Even worse, book matching or end graining means that if one door is damaged, chances are you will have to replace the matching drawer head or an adjacent upper or lower door on a tall cabinet to ensure book matching or end graining is not lost.

If you have contemporary high gloss lacquer cabinets, using touch up paint is only going to exacerbate matters. A touch up on a ding only acts as a magnifier to the damage.

The most notorious damage that can happen while your kitchen is under construction is damage from tool belts, ladders, and other equipment being shifted about in the space.  The best defense against damage is wrapping your cabinets in foam wrap to provide a layer of defense against the inevitable. You can pick up a large roll of Polyethylene Foam from a moving store or on-line web site for about $50.00.


Polyethylene Foam


This is the better choice over rosin paper or painter’s plastic because it is thicker and less prone to ripping. Your cabinets will accumulate less construction dust and be better protected from damage. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


Rosin Paper



Painter's Plastic


Posted in Choosing a Designer, Discount Remodeling, Kitchens Don'ts, Managing Expectations, Planning, Remodeling Contracts, Working with a Contractor, Working with a Kitchen Designer

Asking for a discount:: How not to do it.

Kelly at KitchenSync posted this first, and she found it at another site. Spreading fast through the internet; I had to revisit this You Tube Video again for grins. Haven’t we all been there with clients? There are better ways to negotiate price. This video is a prime example of what not to do.

There are ways to save money so be up front about it. Your service provider will appreciate your honesty if you are up front about your budget and be able to look for ways to save you money. Looking for angles to get a discount after the fact is just bad behavior.

Posted in Kitchen Storage, Kitchens Don'ts, Oenophile, Who Knew

Storage Needs 101 for the Average Wine Drinker

Can anyone see a problem here? ;-o

There are two things at a minimum you will want to avoid when storing wines: Temperature Fluctuations and Sunlight. Poor storage of wine will have a lasting affect on the wine’s flavor and/or bouquet. But some of you may say, no problem, your wine buying habit is for immediate consumption. Wine won’t stay in storage long enough for you to worry about it, right?

If this sounds like you, there is a short article you may want to check out:
Storage Needs of the Average Wine Drinker
Here are 4 minimum points to remember.
• away from direct sunlight,
• temperatures between of 4ºC and 18ºC (40ºF and 65ºF),
• temperature does not fluctuate more than 2-3ºC (5ºF) once annually, and
• humidity levels are greater than 50%.

For more information on wines contact The Fine Wine Reserve.

Posted in Kitchen Storage, Kitchens Don'ts, Oenophile, Who Knew

Storage Needs 101 for the Average Wine Drinker

Can anyone see a problem here? ;-o

There are two things at a minimum you will want to avoid when storing wines: Temperature Fluctuations and Sunlight. Poor storage of wine will have a lasting affect on the wine’s flavor and/or bouquet. But some of you may say, no problem, your wine buying habit is for immediate consumption. Wine won’t stay in storage long enough for you to worry about it, right?

If this sounds like you, there is a short article you may want to check out:
Storage Needs of the Average Wine Drinker
Here are 4 minimum points to remember.
• away from direct sunlight,
• temperatures between of 4ºC and 18ºC (40ºF and 65ºF),
• temperature does not fluctuate more than 2-3ºC (5ºF) once annually, and
• humidity levels are greater than 50%.

For more information on wines contact The Fine Wine Reserve.

Posted in Architects, Builders, Kitchen Zones, Kitchens Don'ts, Noteworthy Links, Planning, Windows

Learning From Others Mistakes

I must give a nod to The Kitchen Designer, Susan Serra, for her masterful opinion in her blog dated 04/06/08, Lessons Learned from New York Times “Dream House Diaries”. Susan Serra’s 14 points are a primer for anyone planning a home renovation project.

A builder who assumes the cabinets are to be built around a predetermined plumbing and mechanical plan means someone put some thought in planning the kitchen, you would think so. But to read in the “Dream House Diaries” that the builder suggested to leave the kitchen planning till the point where the floors are down is nothing but a** backwards. It indicates the builder is interested in a cabinet order taker to come in later to get it in and get it done. This causes a huge disservice to the homeowner who is intent on a “Dream Kitchen for their Dream Home”.

Whether building from the ground up or renovating an existing home, the mechanical locations for plumbing & gas lines, go hand in hand with planning the kitchen. Also, the placement or relocation of windows and doors is a critical stage in planning the kitchen. The design of the cabinetry, the doors and windows and the appliances must all be factored in at the beginning of the project, not the middle and not after drywall is up. For the do-it yourself crowd, I admire your fortitude to handle the project yourself, but it would not hurt to get a second opinion from a kitchen designer before ordering your cabinets. See the article link by one homeowner, “Did I get it right”.

You can’t leave planning the kitchen foot print to chance, thinking or hoping that the architect or builder is intent on the specifics, making sure the appliances and cabinets will fit. As much as we hope to see standards in the appliance industry, there are no “standards” when it comes to appliances. See an analytical point by point appliance comparison at the Kitchen-Exchange by Peggy Deras, Comment on Arrol Gellner’s Appliance Advice. A builder that allows a variance of (+ or -) 6″ can cheat the space with over sized cabinets and therefore cheat you by not allowing for the trash base or a proper bank of drawers or a lazy susan or a larger refrigerator. Kitchen Designers are not order takers. Planning the flow of space around appliances, cooking and clean up zones requires specialized training. A kitchen or bath designer will factor the dimensions of a space down the to the 1/8″ inch and provide the builder a detailed plan ready for installation.

As Susan Serra stated in her article, the other problem by not planning the kitchen in the beginning creates a problem of cabinet size continuity. Wall cabinets with different door widths creates disharmony. Anybody with a tape measure can fill a wall with stock cabinets and fillers. To me, this is a waste of space and a waste of money when the design is washed down to nothing more than a bunch of boxes on the wall when the home owner’s intent was a dream kitchen. Please refer to Peggy Deras excellent commentary Choosing a Residential Remodeling Architect.

The next factor the client has to be ready for is patience in planning. Don’t rush into signing a contract until you have thoroughly interviewed the candidates. Take time to interview the architect, the builder, and the designer. If you fail to plan, plan to fail. Signing a contract with a professional who starts promising he or she will throw in free enticements or prices “good today only” are red flags. See NKBA for more advice on hiring a Kitchen and Bath designer. Go to NARI and AIA to find professional Contractors and Architects in your area. Check the BBB Reports to see if the business is in good standing. As a professional, I am so frustrated when I see a client taken in by the lowest bid, and outright lies about materials. To have a client compare my all plywood cabinet construction backed by a lifetime warranty against a 45# particle board box with a 5 year warranty and be taken in by lies by the “cabinet order taker” who says they are the same quality really frustrates me. My recommendation for homeowners is to be patient in the process of finding selections. As one homeowner said, she hoped she could just breeze right through this. This is not the same as ordering take out food. Patience is required.

No one can discount the value of the Builder, an Architect and Designer; each professional has the task at hand to provide the client a beautiful project. While a builders’ interest is to get the project built on time and on budget, there is no fault in that. But, a quality builder will recommend you start working with a Kitchen and Bath specialist from the beginning so that the client can achieve their Dream Home.

Posted in Kitchen Organization, Kitchens Don'ts, Sink Organizers, Stainless Steel, Water Damage

Dish towels and sponges

One day apart a reader and a client asked where is the best place to keep the dishtowel and dish sponge. Alrighty then, here is my opportunity to sound off about the topic.

Dish towels and sponges must be absolutely clean each time one is used. Because the average sponge can host 7 billion bacteria, (namely E. coli or Staphylococus aureus), you could be doing more harm than good during a counter wipe down.

Follow the advice of cleaning experts and keep your sponges as sanitary and effective as possible.

Get in the habit of disinfecting your cellulose sponge or dish cloth. An article from, “How to Keep Sponges Germ-Free: Sponge basics and tips for microbe-management”.
gives advice on this subject. “A damp, dirty sponge encourages bacteria growth. But it’s not enough to squeeze out the dishwater, says Richard Sparacio, cofounder of MaidPro, a nationwide housecleaning service. Once the soapy water has been released, rinse the sponge under hot water. Then press out the water (wringing will damage the fibers) and place the sponge on a rack, not under the sink. Allow it to dry fully before the next use.

A great tip, simply zap the sponge in the microwave for two minutes on high or run it through the dishwasher. Kim and Aggie, from the British TV series, “How Clean Is Your House?” recommended using a clean dish cloth soaked in hot, soapy water with a dash of bleach to keep them clean and bacteria free.

Where do I store my Dish Sponge?
The best thing for sponges, available in plastic or chrome with suction cups allows the sponge to have a home right in the sink bowl. Tuck it away from view by attaching it at the front of the bowl (nearest you). The sponge can drip dry in the sink and no one will be the wiser that it’s there. The sponge should have a chance to dry between use to keep it clean and bacteria free. I toss my sponge at least once a week even though the recommendation is at least once a month. I detest sink tilt out trays because it is a dark dank place for microbes to incubate on your sponge. Don’t neglect the suction cups. Keep them clean by scrubbing them with hot water and dish washing liquid, or pop it in the dishwasher once a week.

At Bed Bath and Beyond, my favorite is a little $6.99 item with suction cups. Here is the link:

Since we are talking about sink organization, my favorite is from William Sonoma. I like their containers in these chrome containers. Very attractive. Although they need to make one for the dish washing liquid which sadly doesn’t fit in this grouping.

This is very handy for scrubbers for a mere $12.00 but look how ironic? the picture shows the wet soapy sponge is homeless. Stick the suction cup sponge holder in the sink and you are all set!

At the container store: I found something interesting.
If you use both a dish cloth and a scrubbie sponge this is great for letting them dry out between use.

I had this one and chucked it afterwards. It gets goopy inside. Good looks at first, but not really. It says it is rustproof. Not!

This combo is not practical. Unless you are very, very careful about keeping this bone dry, water collects in the sponge cup creating a perfect opportunity for the sponge to collect millions of bacteria. I do not recommend this.

Where do I store my dishtowel?

I hang my working dishtowels on a tiered rack on the inside of my pantry door. They air dry and are out of site to keep my kitchen looking tidy. I use a clean dish towel everyday. One client even refuses to hang her towel. Tossing it in the laundry bag after every use she grabs for a fresh dish towel at every cooking session. And do not rehang a dirty towel, toss in the laundry bag and grab a fresh one. I recommend keeping freshly laundered dishtowels stay ready for work in a drawer near the sink. Use the tiered rack for keeping dishtowels and dish cloths out of site yet handy for work. This one is from Rev-A-Shelf # 563.

The worst place to keep a dishtowel is hanging off the range handle, the dishwasher handle or refrigerator handle. It is sloppy and unsightly. Buy a stack of dishcloths and dishtowels and change them often.

Before and after. Without the towels looks better.
This client keeps her sink tidy by keeping her tiered towel rack behind the sink door.
Cautionary note: do not hang wet dish rags near the door. The moisture and dark space is bad combination for bacteria growth and also moisture will ruin your cabinets. Lay your dish rag flat at the sink to air dry. Fold and hang dry towels in this space.

An alternate method for storing the dish towel, not wet dish cloths.
It is is more expensive and is planned with the design of the kitchen cabinet order.
The problem may be using 9″ or 12″ of valuable base cabinet real estate may make the “towel bar” cabinet impractical in a small kitchen.

An apron sink with the dish towel folded neatly over the sink is an alternate method.
Not recommended on sink bases with a standard wood or painted false front.
The moisture from the towel will ruin the stained or painted cabinet fronts.

This Rev-A-Shelf Base organizer with a stainless steel panel is a favorite of mine. These rubber coated hooks come in various configurations and are great for storage.
I would suggest the dish towel can be hung from a hook inside this stainless steel panel as well as extra paper towels, dish detergent, extra liquid soap, extra scrubbies.

Rev-A-Shelf makes this product in 3 sizes. 3″, 6″ and 12″. I love this!