Blue-tiful Kitchen

Blue-tiful Kitchen

“Stearns did an excellent job and our kitchen turned out better than I could have dreamed. We had been overwhelmed by all the potential choices before we engaged Stearns, and we found their design services to be hugely helpful. I was especially impressed by their professionalism. They told us exactly what everything would cost and when things would be done, and they stuck to those promises. They kept us updated every day on what was going on and when to expect workers. A day rarely passed when progress wasn’t made on the project. They were absolute sticklers on quality and at times made their subcontractors come back and redo things they weren’t satisfied with. A great experience. “

This cozy kitchen is a nice gathering point for entertaining guests and family. Unfortunately, despite being open to a large vaulted ceiling family room, it was isolated from that large space. It was divided to the rest of the house due to a wall blocking the view.

We found that the solution for this is opening the kitchen up onto that room without compromising it’s function. Adding a glass door into the laundry room provides more light to the back of the kitchen. A touch of color with the blue cabinets makes this kitchen pop from the rest of the house, while still complementing the existing color palette.

Kitchen Remodeling Tips: Choosing the Right Sink

Kitchen Remodeling Tips: Choosing the Right Sink

Most kitchen work involves the use of sinks; from prepping to the last washed pot. Sinks add to the aesthetic appeal of your kitchen and, of course, are functional. So, for your kitchen remodeling plans make sure to find a sink that fulfills both practical and aesthetic needs. 

What Kind of Sink Should I Install?

Kitchen sinks can be made from several different materials, including; stainless steel, cast iron, solid surface, composite, and acrylic. The material is usually an aesthetic choice but can also affect the function.

High-quality stainless-steel sinks are very sturdy. They are easy to clean and, compared to other sink options, are affordable. On the other hand, they are also one of the noisier ones—especially if you drop your silverware or plastic Tupperware—they easily display dried water spots, and scratches show up almost instantly on their surface. Sound deadening material placed under stainless steel sinks help reduce noise and improve strength. Stainless steel sinks come in varying metal thicknesses and gauges. Keep in mind that a smaller gauge means thicker metal.

Meanwhile, cast iron sinks are easy to clean and maintain. Just like stainless steel, they’re also durable. Cast iron also happens to be incompatible with abrasive cleaners as they can scratch and dull the finish. Enameled cast iron sinks are prone to chipping and scratching.

Solid surface sinks provide seamless joints with counter-tops of the same material. They are also durable, better handle dropped objects, and are easily reparable.

Using composite or artificial stone sinks will give you reasonably scratch-resistant and heat-tolerant option. However, scuffs and scrapes harder to remove.

Acrylic is an economical option. However, it is not heat-tolerant, and can be vulnerable to staining from petroleum-based products.

Want to Have The Best Scheme Design for Your Kitchen? Here are 3 of 2018’s Top Kitchen Trends!

What Size Should I Choose?

According to the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), small kitchens should consider single-bowl sinks. Larger kitchens can afford to have double- or even triple- bowls.

While large sinks like farm house sinks can be appealing in and of themselves, and functional when washing pans or filling large pots, they also decrease counter space—which is also usually a premium in the kitchen. A large sink that looks great in a close-up picture may look out of place in the full context of the kitchen.

What are the Best Configurations?

  • Depth. If you plan to go heavy on the dishwashing, you may want to use deeper bowls with straight side walls to accommodate washing and soaking large pans and pots. The flat bottom should also add sufficient space for stacking dishes while washing.
  • Sink Divider. When choosing a double-bowl sink, choose the one with a lower-leveled divider. This will prevent overflow while you’re doing dishes as it will allow the water to flow to the other bowl.
  • Offset Drains. Choosing a sink with offset drains will allow for smooth, even draining regardless of what’s soaking in the sink. With the drain to one side, there’s also more space for stacking washables.

What is the Best Mounting Style?

There are three basic mounting styles for kitchen sinks: drop-in, flush, and undermount.

The drop-in style is done by mounting the sink on the countertop. It’s the easiest way to install new sinks into existing countertops. You are, however, left with a rim above the countertop that is more difficult to clean.

In a flush style, the mounting is similar with that of a drop-in. However, it is even with the countertop. More commonly done in the past when laminate counter tops were prevalent, this mounting style employs a metal mounting strip that tends to collect grime.

The undermount sink has become the most popular sink in modern kitchens due to the ease of cleaning. Debris and water can be wiped right into the sink with no obstruction. However, this mounting style does not work well for laminate or tile countertops.

Home Remodeling Tips: Top Kitchen Trends for 2018

Home Remodeling Tips: Top Kitchen Trends for 2018

In terms of kitchen design, a white-and-black color scheme and chrome appliances are practically de rigueur—but that doesn’t mean they’re the only options you have. Indeed, kitchen trends 2018 seem to be all about taking the practical and conventional and modifying them into something new and unusual. There are many, many features of 2018’s trendiest kitchens that don’t seem like they should work—but they do.

If you’re a homeowner who’s all about staying modern and up-to-date, here are three of 2018’s top kitchen trends.

White Isn’t Out Yet, But Darker Colors Might Have an Edge

Who doesn’t love an all-white kitchen? It’s clean, minimalist, and tastefully classy, and it looks great when decorated with pops of color—think jewel tones or soft pastel hues.

Recently, however, other colors have started making appearances in modern kitchens—and homeowners are loving it. Light and dark greys with matte finishes seem to be a solid second for top kitchen shades, with dark colors like black, navy, and forest green tying for a strong third.

But which color scheme is “best”?

It depends on what you want to achieve with your kitchen. As mentioned, an all-white kitchen can look clean and classy. Darker colors such as black can lend a modern, deeply luxurious atmosphere. And greys are perhaps the most versatile—perfect for pairing with accent decorations of any style and texture.

Marble Remains Elegant, But Quartz Is Closing In

Home Remodeling Tips: Top Kitchen Trends 2018Granite countertops remain popular but have given way to Quartz at the top of the popularity chart. High end granite with dramatic veining is still unbeatable in terms of its ability to create a unique and dazzling flare. Less popular now are the mid-range granites that are out done by quartz. Low-end granites continue to have a place for those more interested in marketing that a kitchen has granite than in the actual positive qualities that some granites provide.

Marble remains a choice for bakers. But due to maintenance and fragility it has never been a big favorite for our clients though among some more attuned to fashion than function, marble can provide a touch of elegance.

Solid surface material such as Corian peaked in the 1990 but, thanks to its durability, strength and elegance it is making somewhat of a comeback.

Wood countertops such as butcher block have always been popular with cooks. Though, seldom are they used throughout the kitchen. Increasingly, wood countertops are being used as a design element to add warmth to the kitchen.

Quartz continue to dominate the market due to their durability and cost. Thanks to improved design when it comes to natural looks such a veining and added design elements such as texturing we can count on quartz not losing ground for quite some time.

>> Read These Nine Ways to Save Money on a Kitchen Remodel

Multipurpose Kitchen Islands

Kitchen islands have become a focal point for most modern kitchens. Rather than using them as merely extra countertop space, the current trend is to transform these centerpieces into multi-purpose, jack-of-all-trades units.

The kitchen islands of old were literally just blocks of extra countertop. Paired with trendy stools and some statement decorations, they did make quite an attractive—and functional—addition to the kitchen. However, they were little more than glorified tables.

Kitchen islands now are both fashionable and ultra-functional. They can be fitted with storage solution cabinets, cutlery drawers, and under-counter appliances like ovens and dishwashers to really save on kitchen space. Having such an island can eliminate the need for tacky overhead cabinets and standalone appliance units. In an open floor plan, kitchen islands can also be used to separate the kitchen from the dining room or living room without erecting walls or columns.

Other kitchen trends 2018 include matte and chrome finishes, smart appliances, and ceramic tile to replace laminate and vinyl flooring. As with previous years’ trends, there’s really no telling how long these trends will last. However, considering the fact that most of them seem to prioritize aesthetic functionality, they’re definitely worth investing in.

As always, our approach to design does not ignore trend but is much more focused on the client’s personality. Trends are market driven and change seasonally. Your personality is relatively constant and connects you to your home.  We believe in Mr. Plumbean. 

How Much Does it Cost to Remodel a Kitchen?

How Much Does it Cost to Remodel a Kitchen?

According to a study done in 2017, 45% of homeowners spent between $5,000 and $25,000 remodeling their kitchen. 26% spent between $25,000 and $50,000, and a good 21% spent more than $50,000. The prices are understandable, especially if you consider the fact that a good kitchen can raise a house’s market value considerably. However, the price ranges are a little all over the place, which doesn’t really help anyone looking to construct a solid remodeling budget.

How much does it cost to remodel a kitchen, really?

The answer is a little less straightforward than you might like.

The Big Picture: Know What You Want

how much does it cost to remodel a kitchenBefore you can even begin estimating your budget, you need to know your intended result. How much of your kitchen are you planning to remodel? Are you just looking to switch the tile and wallpaper, or are you focusing more on the cabinets and countertops? Did you want a complete kitchen overhaul, or did you just want to switch out the appliances for sleeker, state-of-the-art models?

Design and selections cannot start without a budget, unless money is not a consideration. Unfortunately, we have yet to meet that client.  The possibilities are endless, especially if you are considering reconfiguring space. In most cases the budget is a primary driver of decisions. You do not want to design a $150,000 kitchen if you only have a $50,000 budget. Usually the design process is a slow adjustment of budget to scope of work. 

Budget Breakdown: Are You Doing All These?

It’s also important that you know what you want from your kitchen remodel so you can better adjust your budget to suit the specifics. For instance, the average homeowner who wants a complete kitchen overhaul usually spends 14% of their overall kitchen budget on appliances and only 4% on sinks and faucets. However, if the homeowner is not planning to renovate the whole kitchen, and in fact decides to just replace the appliances and faucets, then the percentages can obviously stand to be higher.

Here’s a breakdown of the average overall kitchen budget, according to the National Kitchen & Bath Association:

29% for cabinetry and hardware
4% for design fees
17% for installation
10% for counters
14% for appliances
4% for plumbing (sinks,faucets,etc.)
5% for electrical (lighting, extra outlets, etc.)
7% for flooring
4% for doors and windows
5% for trim (walls, ceilings, decorations, etc.)
1% for miscellaneous

Again, someone doing a complete kitchen overhaul might follow these percentages closely, whereas someone who’s only doing three or four items can afford to adjust the break down accordingly (e.g. dedicating 35% to cabinetry, for example, or raising the flooring budget to 10%). Ergo, you can get a good idea of your budget and any potential changes to it by knowing which areas are your top priority.

>> Learn Nine Ways to Save Money on a Kitchen Remodel

Additional Cost: Count the Contractor

Some people choose to cut out the cost of the contractor and do it all themselves.. This has two possible positive impacts. It saves money and it can result in a deeper connection to the space. For small-scale projects and homeowners with experience, DIY is a viable option. But beware; we have seen far more projects in which the D stood for disaster. Unfortunately, for the majority of kitchen remodeling projects, a contractor is considered crucial—ergo pretty much non-negotiable.

A good design build firm will eliminate the guesswork regarding the kitchen remodeling cost. Working with a contractor changes the answer of ‘how much does it cost to remodel a kitchen?’ from ‘it depends,’ to ‘the contractor will tell you.’  No matter how skilled of a DIYer you may be, people who do it every day are probably a lot faster and, if you have chosen your contractor well, will be very skilled.  A good contractor can tell you what the schedule will be and maintain it. That seldom happens with a DIY project.

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9 Keys to Choosing a Remodeling Contractor

9 Keys to Choosing a Remodeling Contractor

One of the most important decisions in the Remodeling process is which remodeling contractor to work with. These nine points will help you make that decision.

  1. Professional Standing: A good place to start when considering a contractor is their professional standing.  Find out what professional organizations they belong to. You can also check their standing with the Better Business Bureau.  This simple first step is a way to narrow your choices.  Because the cost of entry is so low for remodeling contractors, there will be lots of fly by night, low bid options.  Don’t be tempted.
  2. Reputation: What do past clients say about the contractor?  Are they frequently recommended? Are they invested in the community in a way that demands integrity?
  3. Clean: The number one complaint about remodelers is dust and mess.  Ask your potential contractor how they deal with dust when they are installing drywall in a home. How will they deal with construction debris? Will it be left in a pile on your front lawn or do they have a means of quickly getting it off-site?  A quality contractor will have clear routines for these basic issues of remodeling and, without hesitation, be able to provide detailed and reassuring answers. Vague answers that do not include things like dust walls, air scrubbers, and same-day removal are a red flag.
  4. Insurance: It is essential that any remodeling contractor you hire maintain the necessary insurance to protect your home investment.  This includes general liability and workers’ liability insurance. Ask to see their policies and call their carriers to verify.
  5. Longevity: How long has the contractor been in business? Unfortunately, a great deal of necessary learning comes from trial and error. You do not want your home to be the classroom for a young or inexperienced contractor.
  6. Communication:  This is perhaps the key to having a good relationship with your contractor.  They should have well-established routines for regular (daily and weekly) communication with you.  And it is important that you are comfortable communicating with your remodeling contractor.  Will you be comfortable telling this person if you are not happy with something that has happened or not happened?  Do you have confidence that they will listen to you and act on what they hear?
  7. Knowledge Base:  The average home has over two thousand different parts. Most of these parts have hundreds, if not thousands of different options. These options continue to expand and improve.  Despite this explosion of new information, many in the construction industry are slow to accept change.  Try to hire a company that has a culture of learning. Experience alone is not enough.
  8. Control:  All construction projects involve a lot of variables, which, if not handled properly, can create chaos. Strong routines, attention to detail, and discipline are characteristics you should seek in a contractor. To get a sense of the control and orderliness your potential contractor has, ask how they arrive at a price.  While they may not go into the details of markup and margins, they should be able to outline how they arrive at a price for a job.  Be aware that some contractors intentionally come up with an initial low price, which is later inflated with change orders.  Change orders are an inevitable part of any remodeling project, but they should not arise because a contractor forgot to include something when bidding. Make sure that your contractor has a methodical and disciplined approach to this crucial part of the job. A quality contractor will usually return a higher bid but get the job done for less in the end and certainty will reduce your cost over time through reduced maintenance and utility cost.
  9. Know the Team: Many Remodeling contractors subcontract everything out; others use almost all in-house labor.  There are advantages and disadvantages to each. Ask your potential contractor what work will be done by subcontractors and what will be done by their own employees. Ask to speak to a few of these people.  You want to make sure that there is a sense of a team and that the team is happy.
  10. A Home is Not a Job Site: The difference between residential remodeling and all other forms of construction is that remodeling is not done on a job site it is done in a home. Often an occupied home. Not all remodeling contractors understand this distinction. Your home is your sanctuary; be careful who you allow in.