We have made the exciting decision to remodel our kitchen, found our talented interior designer, discussed our ideas, goals and budget and are now ready to move forward into the details of the plan. For this next step in the process, we are going to talk about the kitchen’s layout and materials in our question and answer style with interior designer, Jack Ovadia.
How is a kitchen layout determined? If we want to add an island, what kind of space do we need?
Generally, people with smaller families have smaller kitchens. When we start looking at family environments we see pantries, higher cabinets, major cooktops equipped with ranges, extra countertop space for serving and entertaining. These days, a galley kitchen is not very common and only used if the house requires it.
We always put an island in a kitchen, even in a small space. We have installed islands as narrow as 24 inches. And generally try to keep them smaller than 60 inches. Depending on the space, islands can be used strictly as servers or as more functional areas complete with a sink. I like putting barstools around the island creating an area for a quick bite or a phone call. It is always good to have extra seating in the kitchen.
In New York especially, kitchens can become a tight squeeze. I think there should be a minimum 42 inches between cabinets and islands and a minimum of 48-52 inches for the fridge to open. There are various ways to hide and conceal outlets and lights within the island, creating a more efficient use of space.
It is fun to have the island to be a different countertop material than the rest of the kitchen.
From a timing perspective, should we know in advance what types of counters, flooring and cabinets we want or will you (an interior designer), walk us through the pros and cons of different materials and also offer your suggestions of what is right for our home style, needs and tastes?
For flooring, we would normally suggest avoiding wood, as the wear and tear is just too much in a kitchen. I recommend some type of porcelain floor or natural slate look. The porcelain is not as slippery as other materials and doesn’t retain stains.
For countertops, we recommend you stay away from marble as they may stain and require a great deal of maintenance. Granite, as you may have heard, is not as popular as it once was. We like to do Quartz (Caesarstone, Quartz Masters, Silestone), a manmade stone or poured concrete countertops. The benefits of Quartz include a large selection of colors, resistance to staining and no maintenance. Concrete can be stained a variety of colors and will be sealed for durability. In fact, one company embeds crushed glass and seashells in their concrete counters. So, the look is very personal and to your taste. These need to be coated well, but ultimately are not as fragile as marble.
When it comes to the timing question of choosing a surface, it isn’t a major concern. The fabricator needs a few weeks to create and then deliver the counter you have chosen. When selecting the material you want to consider countertop length. For a large island, you need the material to be one sheet to avoid a seam. I would try to stay under 100” for safe selections.
What are a few examples of good combinations of island material compared/contrasted with other colors/materials in the kitchen?
- Shaker Style cabinets looks great with marble countertops. The flatness of the painted doors is always a good contrast to the busy and textured marble.
- Dark woods look great in contrasting colors….brown compliments off whites and burnt orange in veining of a quartzite. If your doing black you can complement with black and or contrast with white.
- Grey looks great with anything. And for a little funky, we are doing a grey zebra wood with pink counters.
You had mentioned the need to coat countertops. Is this process completed at the time of the kitchen remodel or something homeowners need to do on a regular basis? If homeowners need to do this, how do we do it? What type of sealant is used and where do we get it from? How often?
How to seal my granite and how often is a commonly asked questions. The best answer is perhaps a qualified, “It depends.” Generally speaking darker granites like Ubatuba and Tropic Brown do not need sealing very often, and once per year is usually sufficient. Dark stones are denser than lighter ones, and any stains are usually nearly invisible or barely perceptible because of the darkness of the stone. In plain terms, the lighter the color, the more often you should seal it. White and light-colored granites should be sealed more often. Most recommendations would say every three months.
Marble, especially light colored marble, should be sealed more often as an extra precaution. Re-sealing marble every 3-6 months is a good idea.
Good quality sealing products can be purchased at any home improvement retailer and a small, inexpensive bottle will last many sealing applications. The peace of mind provided by sealing easily outweighs the minimal expense and short time required.
- Sealing granite or marble is easy:
- Clear everything off the counters so the entire surface is accessible.
- Clean the surface with a mild detergent (dish soap is fine).
- If needed, scrape away any built up residues that may have accumulated since the last time the surface was thoroughly cleaned. A single edged razor blade or scraper can be helpful, but be careful not to gouge the blade into the countertop or your finger!
- If needed, acetone can help remove residues from things like window cleaners and will help strip even the old sealer off.
Follow the directions on the container to apply the sealer. Most often it’s just a matter of misting the sealer on, letting it soak in and wiping away the excess. Sealing a typical kitchen usually requires less than 20 minutes and vanities often even less. Applying a second coat may provide a greater sense of security, but is not always helpful or necessary since most stones will stop accepting sealer at some point.
Congratulations! Your stone is protected and you’re now done for months to come!
Between sealing treatments, one of the real keys to preventing stains is to clean up any spills as quickly as possible before liquids even have a chance to penetrate the surface.
Are kitchen counters trending towards certain colors now? Back to white cabinets and white counters? What is exciting to see at shows and now in homes?
Colors are trending towards wood grains, chrome and glass cabinets. Mostly, I am finding cool wood grains. We recently did a wood grain with metallic paint in it. For counters, marble tones and patterns. Caesarstone and complimenting partners are all coming out with man-made quartz that looks like marble. Earth tones are very popular now as well.
For shows, we are seeing cool glass as back-splashes.
We recently installed one from Original Styles. We also used one from a company called Mixed-Up Mosaics or Mosaics By Allison. Additionally, there are some cool tiles from Tile Bar. The most exciting thing I have seen at the show lately was the fused marble.
We recently took a textured porcelain wall tile and used it as a backsplash which had a great outcome.
So many great ideas and suggestion on how to use color, texture and materials to create a kitchen that fits your personal style. Thanks, Jack! We hope that you found this information helpful as you may be contemplating your own kitchen remodel. We welcome any questions you may have on this process.
Stay turned for the next step in the kitchen remodel process to be shared on September 1.
Thanks for stopping by!