Appliance Panel or Stainless Steel?
Deciding where to add an appliance panel in a Kitchen or leave as exposed stainless steel? The visual effect can make a big difference in the overall style and feel of the space. Are you going for a streamlined look of cabinetry with matching finishes and hardware? Or does the punch of stainless make you feel like you are a chef in a commercial Kitchen? (This can be a good or bad feeling, depending on your love-hate relationship with cooking.)
There are a few key guidelines we explain to our Clients in helping them make these key decisions. The first one is painfully obvious: a stainless dishwasher doesn’t look great most of the time. After being touched by wet hands loading dishes, and the endless parade of kid fingerprints, a stainless dishwasher can become an unwanted focal point. The cost of adding a custom appliance panel is close in price to paying for the upgraded stainless steel. But if you are re-using an existing dishwasher—not a big deal—just keep the can of Stainless Magic on hand. But if you have the option at the time of your renovation, or when then the existing unit runs its natural life, buy the panel-ready dishwasher that can be fully concealed for custom, streamlined look.
The bigger decision is the refrigerator/freezer, in terms of cost and aesthetic result. The high-end units like Sub Zero, Thermador, Monogram and Viking all take panels beautifully. They fit flush with the side panels, hide most of the metal, and accept matching hardware pulls. You may still prefer the look of a stainless model, but in this price range, at least you have the option of adding custom panels for a finished look.
The next tier appliances like Kitchen Aid and Jenn Air offer lower prices, deeper projections, more exposed metal and hardware and they just don’t look great with a panel attached to the front. A quote I shared at my last Client meeting: “a bad appliance panel looks like lipstick on a pig”– not the desired look in your new Kitchen!
Hope this helps! Jennifer & the JWH Team
Home Accessories that Pop
While staging a recent photo shoot in a Client’s newly constructed home, we were faced with the challenge of accessorizing the expanses of countertops, table surfaces, and comfy couches. Choosing the right accessories is the last step of the project and overlooking it is not seldom. Perhaps this challenge seems daunting and the choices are endless. Or the Client just needs a breather after a long project… all of the above are reasons to postpone. Nonetheless, the effort is worth it. The right home accessories make the biggest difference in a room’s appearance, and once they are properly in place, they become part of the overall look and need no more attention.
Take Time to Chose
When choosing the right accessories it is important to keep in mind the style of the room you are decorating as well as color schemes and scale. The goal is to find pieces that complement the room without overpowering it and making it feel cluttered. Houzz.com describes a designer’s definition of a vignette as a “pleasing picture formed by grouping several objects — think of it as a pocket-size table arrangement that tells a story about you and your home.” The rules for designing a vignette are similar to those of accessorizing an entire room.
The first step is to choose an anchor or a statement piece. These are typically larger accessories and the most important to the homeowner; the rest of the accessorizing is tailored to the anchoring piece. The formation of the rest of the accessories is the trickier step. Coordinating pieces should have complimenting elements of each other without appearing too similar. Elements to keep in mind are color, size and texture. While the size of the accessories should vary, be careful of the placement of different pieces that are not the same size. For example, when accessorizing a table, height should be matched on either end to prevent the vignette from looking lopsided.
Looking through the lens of a camera quickly identifies areas in need. Professional photography for magazines and websites offer great visual solutions. Choose the right designer to guide you in these finishing details or start experimenting by trial-and-error. And don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through your accessories!
Jennifer & the JWH Team
Countertop Trends: Where To Begin!
When exploring different countertop trends, homeowners commonly come face-to-face with four popular materials: marble, granite, quartz, and quartzite. When quickly glancing at the four options, one can easily be confused. Although the characteristics of each stone differ greatly, the differences are not always blatantly apparent. Aside from chemistry itself, each stone material poses different benefits for different situations. Factors such as personal lifestyle, cooking habits, budget, as well as aesthetic preference, need to be considered. Whether selecting material for a hard-working kitchen countertop, a master bathroom vanity, or a focal point fireplace surround, it is important to understand the difference between today’s top countertop trends, and which material best fits with your specific situation.
Straight from the Earth:
Natural stone materials share a lot of similarities. All are mined directly from the earth, and present the unique variances, qualities and beautiful imperfections only found in nature. When peering into a slab of granite, marble, or quartzite, the beauty comes from the fissures and swirls dancing throughout the stone. The pattern and colors represented in a single slab is usually the primary feature that initially attracts a homeowner. But understanding the pros and cons of natural stone options helps to determine the best choice for a particular application.
Granite used for countertops begins with mining the stone, deep in the ground, and cutting it into slabs, typically 9 to 10 feet long and 5 to 6 feet wide. Once mined, the slabs are saw-cut. Resin is applied to fill any pits, sealing the porous surface. Then the slab is cured in an oven. After curing, slabs are polished and buffed. With colors and patterns that range from deep solids to dazzling swirls of mica, the choice of granite often made the most significant design statement in a kitchen.
Granite countertops have been the popular workhorse of kitchens for over 20 years. Being able to handle hot dishes right from the oven is a major plus. Temperature is not a concern. Knives won’t damage the surface either, but the granite will dull your knives. One of the biggest “cons” of these super-tough surfaces is the ease with which you can break a special crystal bowl, china plate, or wine glass. Barely tap one of these delicate items on granite and kiss it goodbye.
As designers looked for new styles to update the look from the heavier granite options, marbles provided a dramatic visual alternative.
Carrara and Calacatta Marble, have long topped the favorites list for marble in a white kitchen. Carrara marble (a grayer version with softer veins from Carrara, Italy) is one of the least expensive natural countertop materials on the market, mainly because it’s readily available. The rarer, luxury stone like Calacatta marble, offers a whiter surface and more dramatic veining. The price tag from Calacatta has skyrocketed over the past 10 years as the demand for this beautiful material spread world wide.
Marble is vulnerable to staining agents (like wine, juice and oil) that seep deep into the rock. Prolonged exposure to an acid (called etching) removes the polish or sealant from marble’s finish and makes it dull and more vulnerable to scratches. Honing your marble — a process that results in a matte, less polished effect – might make etching less noticeable, but won’t stop it from happening, unfortunately.
For the avid baker, marble countertops are a reliable surface to stay cool, even in a hot kitchen. The stone is also heat-resistant, making it a good option for the cookies and cakes that come out of the oven. However, despite its ability to withstand high temps, the greater risk is burning or staining the marble.
The countertop trend to quartzites, such as Super White and Quartzite Statuario , reflects a desire for the elegant veining and light aesthetic of marble, with an extra level of durability. Quartzite slabs range in the white to gray family, with some veining similar to marble. Pink and red hues are a result of iron oxide in the stone, while yellow, blue, green and orange quartzite results from the presence of other minerals. Regardless of the color, the quartzite will have streaking caused by varying degrees of pressure in its formation and the random presence of iron oxide or other minerals.
Quartzite is actually harder than granite, so it is quite durable. This hardness, however, also adds to the cost. Skilled fabricators will use expensive diamond blades in the fabrication process. They will also apply a penetrating sealer at the time of installation. Without a proper sealer, stains will penetrate into the stone.
Improving on Nature: Quartz
Quartz is a fast rising challenger in countertop trends. As a top option in terms of durability and longevity, the name is a bit confusing with a “quartzite”. But these terms are not interchangeable. Also referred to as “engineered stone” , the significant difference is that quartz is essentially a man-made material. 93% of the finished material is actually loose quartz. Once blended with a binder and pigment, quartz countertops can be formed into slabs of many sizes. This process allows manufacturers to offer a wide range of colors, styles, slab sizes and durability.
Quartz is a durable material for kitchens, baths and even exterior applications. It comes equipped with a sealant embedded within its surface and requires little-to-no maintenance. Quartz is also less prone to denting and chipping, but knives and sharp objects will leave nicks and scratches.
Reflection for Perfection
Researching the latest in countertop trends is a start, but one must consider all other relevant factors, too. Countertop projects prove to be a more complicated decision than most other parts of home renovation projects. The stone options used for breathtaking surfaces seem all too similar, but in reality, they greatly vary in cost, functionality, appearance, and maintenance.
So, before you delve into paving your countertops with timeless stone slabs, take a moment to reflect your own life. Your age, family life, professional situation, or even personal interests will all influence which stone countertop best fits your preference. Only with such reflection (and advice from some pros) will the perfect countertop find its way into your home!
Hope this helps!
The JWH Team
Kitchen design trends come and go –harvest gold and avocado, RIP—but one thing remains: a white kitchen. Whether it’s sleek and modern, clean contemporary, elegant traditional, or charming farmhouse, white cabinets take center stage in any kitchen and will stand the test of time.
Most kitchen colors and finishes have their season in the sun, and if they don’t disappear altogether, they take a backseat. The exception is the white kitchen.
At one time in our history, white was the only cabinet color. White continued to be the main color of kitchen cabinets throughout the 1940’s. And although the 1950’s saw an explosion of color in the kitchen, a white kitchen was still the preferred choice.
While white lost its top billing in new kitchens during the 1960’s and 1970’s in favor of wood finishes, painted cabinetry began making a slow comeback by the end of the 20th century. The 21st century welcomed a new age of spacious and beautiful new kitchens filled with stunning door styles, exquisite stone countertops, and delightfully soft cabinet colors with a white kitchen taking its ‘most popular’ status once again.
White is clean and bright
White hangs onto its top billing because it’s clean and fresh. The look for kitchens today–regardless of style– is bright, cheerful, and inviting. White brightens the kitchen because light reflects off white surfaces. And if doors with glass inserts are added, which is very popular in white kitchens, they brighten the room even more. White has been shown to also brighten your mood!
White enlarges the kitchen
Okay, it may not actually add square feet to your kitchen, but another reason white is so popular is because it can make even a small kitchen look more spacious. A white kitchen will ‘’open’’ any size kitchen and make it look airy and expansive. This JWH Kitchen won “Best Use of Small Space” by Westchester Home Magazine.
White is “omnicompetent”
White is universal, it works well for any kitchen style. And it has the uncanny ability to do all things well. It has the clean simplicity that exemplifies the contemporary style and the sleekness of modern. A white kitchen exudes elegance and it’s classic so it’s the perfect color to compliment the traditional style. White is light, bright, and casual which also describes the cottage style—what could be more perfect for that summer at the beach feeling? It’s charming, inviting, and ideal for the farmhouse style. It’s crisp, it’s cool, it’s coastal! Any and every style can be made better with a JWH white kitchen!
White is the perfect neutral
White cabinetry is the perfect neutral to use in virtually any color scheme. It enhances any color it’s teamed with and brightens rooms with dark walls or floor colors. If you would love to add a dramatic black or navy-blue island but don’t want to darken the kitchen, pair it with white cabinetry to open up the room and accentuate your dark island. The dark gray or black cabinet colors are stunning, but they do tend to darken a room if you don’t have abundant natural light. Team them with a white island, countertops and backsplash. Perfect!
White cabinets also look great with any appliance color. Black and white is a classic. Stainless steel and white will brighten and create spaciousness in the kitchen. White is a must for a monochromatic white kitchen. White appliances are making a comeback—most designers will tell you they never really left.
White adds resale value to your home
If you want to add value to your home keep your kitchen bright, light, and white. If it comes time to sell your home, it will sell faster, and perspective buyers are attracted to elegant kitchens with white cabinets.
White makes economic sense
And lastly, with major remodeling projects reaching into the tens of thousands—serious cash. You don’t want to make major changes more than once or twice in your home’s lifetime. When your kitchen needs some new color, a white kitchen will make it very easy to change your color scheme. New countertops or backsplash, or just add a quick and painless coat of paint to your walls. Need some inspiration?
Timeless, classic white cabinetry is somewhat a jack-of-all-trades. It adds class and sophistication, or elegance and charm, and it can make kitchens look expansive. White tones down bright colors and brightens dark colors. It makes us feel good, and adds value to the home. Is it any wonder it’s the most popular color in kitchen today?
Today’s Top Kitchen Island Styles
No one can deny that the kitchen island has become one of the most functional parts of today’s kitchen. In fact, many may argue this facet is the most functional part of the modern kitchen. It can be used for cooking, food prep, clean up, serving, baking, eating, homework, chatting with guests, and sometimes a combination of all of the above. With glistening hardware, finishes that rival that of high-end furniture, and rich stone countertops, today’s kitchen island styles are as beautiful as they are functional.
There are many variables that go into the design of a kitchen island. An island must be the right size and the right shape for the kitchen. Furthermore, it must have a clear-cut job—or jobs– to do, and it must define the style of the kitchen; be that Traditional, Contemporary, Old World, etc.
Basically, there are three styles Traditional, Contemporary, and Transitional. The latter is a combination of Traditional and Contemporary. However, of the three, many exciting sub-styles sprang from the Traditional style such as the very popular Farmhouse style.
Traditional Island Features
In the race to win first place in popularity, Traditional runs neck in neck with Contemporary. Some years Traditional wins by a nose, and some years the popular vote goes to Contemporary. But regardless of the official race score, Traditional will always win the heart of America. Its graceful door styles, charming turned millwork, and beautiful finishes help create captivating kitchen islands. Traditional style islands can be almost any finish and certainly do not have to match that of the other cabinetry.
White is currently very popular and always will be. New colors are coming out continuously, often enhanced with rich glazes like coffee or olive. Gray is a big color for Traditional islands. Wood finishes are also seen.
Traditional islands often boast tons of storage space behind their elegant doors and drawer fronts, but they also pack some heat: dishwashers and dishwasher drawers, steam, conventional and microwave ovens, cook or rangetops are common additions. Usually, an extra sink or possibly the main sink is located on the island. Apron sinks are very popular in Traditional style islands. Bookshelves and eating counters are also popular.
- Raised and recessed panel doors and drawer fronts
- Beaded and plain inset cabinet construction, often with exposed hinges
- Turned table legs, corner posts, carved corbels, turned feet, legs and decorative end panels
- Glass display doors
- Painted finishes with or without glazes
- Rich wood finishes
- Impressive ogee and stepped countertop edges
Although the island is the workhorse of the kitchen, don’t attempt to pack too much into one island. If necessary, and you have enough room, include two islands. Limit any appliances to the side where your main work triangle is located and use the other side or sides for eating and/or storage. You don’t want to run circles around the island when preparing dinner! As far as Traditional countertops, stone takes it usually in the form of granite or marble. These are not only elegant but durable. Other countertops for Traditional islands include rich teak wood countertops and quartz.
Contemporary Island Features
Contemporary islands have clean lines and an uncomplicated appearance. Contemporary is a simple elegance born of natural materials, colors and textures–rich earth tone shades of brown, tan, cream, sage, rust, and gold and innovative materials like recycled and ‘’green’’ products. Natural finished wood, often exotic, stone and rock, gleaming metals—usually chrome, nickel or stainless steel—and sleek simple hardware, lighting and faucet design. Polished metals are beginning to take a backseat to brushed or satin. As far as decorative features, it’s the opposite of Traditional but unlike Modern, the Contemporary style is not devoid of décor. It is never cold but, in fact, very comfortable and inviting.
Rather than the gracefully paneled cabinet doors of a Traditional style island, Contemporary islands feature classic Shaker or slab door styles and drawer fronts, open shelving, simple stools—often backless, sleek state-of-the-art appliances, and sophisticated countertops with neat, unpretentious edge styling. Countertop materials run the gauntlet from wood to stone to innovative forms of solid surface. Pro-style and stainless steel appliances are almost textbook in Contemporary style kitchens. Range tops and ranges, under counter refrigeration and dishwashers, are usually stainless steel.
Contemporary Characteristics Include:
- Frameless, European style cabinet construction
- Full overlay doors in a simple Shaker-style or as a plain slab
- Stone, wood, or solid surface with simple edge styles
- Natural materials with clean lines
- Floating shelves
- Brushed stainless, nickel, or chrome metals
The Transitional style is a marriage of Traditional and Contemporary, combining elements of both its parents. Transitional islands are often more elegant and decorative than Contemporary but less detailed than Traditional. The cabinet doors include elements of Traditional in styling with framed inset construction, matching end panels, and a mix of stainless steel and paneled appliances. Hardware can be simple and sleek or oversized for an extra punch. Metals run the gauntlet from chrome to nickel, bronze to copper, with emphasis on mixing metals for added visual interest.
Transitional Characteristics Include:
- Framed and frameless (European) cabinetry construction is often mixed
- Door styles are always recessed panel, with a varying degree of detail on the framing bead
- Hardware can be more decorative but not too decorative
- Stainless steel as well as paneled appliances, most often the dishwasher
- Millwork includes simples
- Countertops are stone or wood with simple edge styles
- Neutral paint colors, light wood finishes, often exotic
There’s a mix of natural and man-made in Transitional kitchen islands. Cabinet finishes are often neutral paint, mixed with unique wood finishes and exotic woods. Islands are masterpieces of both new and old, natural and manmade, luxurious and simple. You won’t see elaborate cabinet feet or turned legs but squared end posts, feet, and island legs abound. Countertops are granite, marble, and sometimes wood or quartz.
American Country has largely been replaced by the Farmhouse style which made #1 most popular kitchen style for 2018 defeating both Traditional and Contemporary in a stunning upset the likes of which we haven’t seen in many years. But it’s easy to see why America loves the Farmhouse kitchen. They’re bright and sunny, cheerful and comfortable, charming and welcoming. The materials used in this historical kitchen design are, again, natural—rich wood finishes, paint with lots of glaze, either distressed or clean white, ceramic tile, stone, and bronze, copper, pewter, nickel or black metals. The style is decorative, in fact, a controlled clutter is part of the style.
Cabinetry for the Farmhouse Island is simply framed often with corner posts and simple corbels. The cabinet feet and island legs are prevalent but often not quite as elegantly styled as the Traditional style—they tend to be a little heavier and more substantial. The Farmhouse style is attractive to the eye but more solid than the elegant Traditional with a welcoming down-to-earth practical look and feel. Like French Country, the Farmhouse style is flexible and can be very rustic or more traditional in style to suit the owner without damaging the design.
Farmhouse Characteristics Include:
- Simple framed cabinet doors and drawer fronts, sometimes with glass inserts
- Hardware is less decorative than Traditional but more so than Contemporary
- Metals are copper, bronze, pewter, nickel, or black
- Lighting is simple pendants or iron chandeliers
- Countertops are granite, marble, slate, soapstone or wood with simple edges
- Sinks are bronze, copper (often hammered) granite, ceramic, fireclay
- Faucets are Victorian styled
- Undercounter appliances are often hidden behind cabinet panels
- Millwork such as turned island legs, cabinet feet, simple corbels, corner posts
The Farmhouse Island is usually a blend of island and the traditional farmhouse table. These tables in historical farmhouses were massive and used for any number of kitchen chores and large enough to seat a crowd. Island bookcases, bead board, stone or wood countertops with simple countertop edge styles are the order of the day. Farm sinks are almost mandatory and often even a secondary sink will be in the farm style and always with wonderfully graceful Victorian faucet styles. Appliances are often hidden behind cabinet panels and dishwasher and refrigerated drawers are very popular in the Farmhouse Island. Undercounter wine coolers or full-sized dishwashers can also be hidden with matching panels or made to blend in with framed glass doors.
The kitchen island is the centerpiece of your kitchen; prep, serving, gathering, and eating. While style is important, it is nothing without functionality. Make sure your island isn’t just a pretty face, however. Make sure your island gets that job done.
It has been nearly a century and a half since Thomas Edison introduced the incandescent light bulb to the American public. Although he did not invent the light bulb, he did create a prototype that effectively and economically gave American consumers the opportunity to bring electric light into their homes. However, over the past six decades, the incandescent light bulb grows closer and closer to archaism. The future of home lighting has begun to formulate as the new light-bulb sheriff is in town: the Light Emitting Diodes Bulb (LED).
Good reason correlates to the massive shift from incandescent to LED. Firstly, incandescent bulbs are only available with Warm Light, which results in a yellowish hue that is not suitable for every room. With LEDs, you have the choice of using Warm Light, Cool Light, and Daylight—but we will cover more of that later in this article. The biggest reason for the growing number of LED lighting in American homes is the mass advocacy of energy efficient appliances. Not only does the latter help out our environment, but it helps us save money in energy expenses.
According to Energy.gov, LED lighting towers over incandescent in regard to energy efficiency. This report compares the difference between a 60W incandescent bulb to a 60W LED bulb; the results, staggering! Switching from an incandescent bulb to LED can save you 75%-80% in energy usage and cost. Furthermore, the LED has a lifespan of 25,000 hours, while the incandescent typically stays lit for merely 1,000 hours. One does not need to look far to see why the switch from incandescent to LED has become widely prevalent.
LED Lighting: Three Temperatures = Three Different Light
However, with innovation comes great challenge. Most people are not aware of the different qualities shed by LED lights. Measured in Kelvins (K), LED lighting provides a vast spectrum of light color and brightness. The lower the number of Kelvins, the warmer the light. A Soft White (warm light) bulb shines at about 2700 K, producing a yellower light for a warmer environment. The next option is a Cool White bulb (cool light)—typically 3000-4100 K—which produces a brighter white hue in the room. Finally, there is the Day Light Bulb, which clocks in at the highest amount of K (5,000-6,500 K). This light creates a bluish glow in the room, giving the room a “daylight” or even dreamy atmosphere.
With so many choices, how does one know which LED lighting is right for which room? What kind of light is appropriate for a kitchen—a bathroom—a bedroom? This wide variety of light choice can come as a complicated issue. That’s where the JWH Design and Cabinetry Team comes in!
As mentioned before, Warm Light emits a yellower hue into a room’s atmosphere. The latter concludes in a warmer environment, specifically one that is great for unwinding from the day. For a place like a kitchen—a room whose space is dedicated to preparing meals—a warm light proves to be inefficient. You do not want to be slicing and dicing in a room with a soft yellow tint for light; this is a recipe for an accident. Nevertheless, this does not mean that there is no place for warm light in your home.
Bedrooms, living rooms, hallways, and bathrooms—depending on your preference—are all places where warm light can exist efficiently. When you come home from a hard day’s work, you do not want to try and relax in a brightly lit room. Unwinding comes best with a warmer environment. Furthermore, places like hallways only use light at night, so a warm light is recommended for illuminating these passageways. In summary, anywhere in your home that is dedicated to relaxing or is associated with nighttime should incorporate the usage of warm light.
Cool Light for a Brighter White
Cool light luminescence correlates to a brighter environment. This type of LED lighting is perfect for the kitchen or a bathroom—bathrooms can use any light, it is really up to your preference. As we explored earlier with Warm Light, no one wants to prepare meals in a sleepy environment. That is why bright white Cool Lights are essential. These LED lights will efficiently aid in cutting, cooking, and hosting events.
The kitchen is the liveliest room in the house; dinner and cocktail parties, social gatherings, family dinners. A kitchen is a place for sharing food and good times with one another. You would not want people dozing off during dinner, or yawning in the middle of a social gathering. The liveliest room in your home deserves the liveliest of light.
Inviting Day Light into Your Home
Day Light is commonly used in professional environments. However, there are various possibilities of incorporating Day Light LEDs into your home. Out of all the LED lighting types—although all three work for this particular room—Day Light is most recommended for bathrooms. As many of you begin the day in this room, it should be able to wake you up; a room that embodies alertness. Nonetheless, incorporating both Warm Light and Day Light into your bathroom may better suit your needs.
Another room that Day Light can shine in is the kitchen. Houzz recently featured this stunning LED lighting project by Mal Corboy Design. A mixture of the bright white Cool Light and the bluish dreaminess of the Day Light causes a euphoria to float around the kitchen. Not only does the design allow for kitchen use efficiency, it embodies a certain magic that would make anyone tingle with visual astonishment. How this light affects your color selection for cabinets, countertops and paint needs to be a critical part of the equation.
LEDs Lighting the Way to Our Future
Besides the vastness of design opportunities, LED lighting also provides a homeowner with the honor of living green. With such a savings in energy, LEDs are the leading bulb in energy conservation. Not only does this mean a better future, but it means more money in your pocket.
With the growing abundance of LED lighting in American homes, it is important to know the difference between the different types of light emitted from LEDs. Warm Light is best used in areas of your home that are used for relaxing, or nighttime activities that require a winding down. Cool Light is perfect for kitchens or any lively room—such as the laundry or mudroom—in your home. Finally, Day Light is best incorporated in rooms that should wake you up—such as a bathroom or a kitchen.
The possibilities of fixtures and bulb combinations are endless. With such great environmental qualities and financial saving, it is no surprise that LED lighting will illuminate the path into our future. A brighter light for a bright day.
The Natural Look
Each piece of natural wood has its own distinct features—its own face—its own unique character. It’s no wonder that natural wood finishes have adopted their common reference: character wood.
People have been using natural wood in their homes since the dawn of civilization. It warms our insides, dazzles our eyes, and brings us closer to nature. To top it off, it acts as a powerful and sturdy building material that keeps our homes living on, well into the centuries.
There are dozens of character woods to chose from. However, with dozens of styles comes an infinitude of design possibilities. From the complexity of chestnut cabinets to the boldness of a knotty pine backsplash, character wood exceeds merely furniture and floors. A delicate French oak or a burly walnut makes for a great addition to any kitchen’s character!
The 4 Faces of Character Wood
There are four main different parts of a tree from where character wood derives. Each part of the tree provides its own customized aesthetic quality and accommodation in the designing process. However, if one looks deeper into the many waves and grains of character wood, one will dive into much more than just unique aesthetic value; they will delve into the natural wood’s unique story.
Have you ever pondered at a tree and noticed eye-like features running up its rustic trunk? Those are called burls. They are extremely condensed knots that a tree exhibits after a period of stress; drought, a storm, or maybe the relocation of a domesticated tree.
Correlative to their dense strength, burls or “knots” can be difficult to work with. They are commonly incorporated into custom-crafted furniture or accessories. The JWH Design & Cabinetry Team has taken on the challenge of building custom “knotty pine” cabinets in this wooded, lakefront home in upstate NY. The right amount of warmth and durability make this an ideal material to add character to the kitchen and baths in this special vacation spot.
The point where a tree’s trunk splits into two—or more—directions is called the crotch of the tree. Crotch wood is a heartily brawn gorgeous display. It is challenging to incorporate this form of character wood into a kitchen design. The finger-like figures are reluctant to be manipulated in shape or size. The pure natural essence of crotch wood, however, is enough to make anyone want to take on the tedious task.
Character wood coffee tables are frequently seen because they are smaller and easier to craft. Nonetheless, some designers take it a step further and incorporate these wood into hardworking surfaces like island tops. It doesn’t matter what shade the wood is, or what color scheme surrounds the space. One thing will be for certain: the natural beauty of a wood countertop is an astounding site, indeed!
Spalting Out Color
Have you ever found yourself lost in a mesmerizing daze when peering into the dark black grooves flowing through a piece of character wood? This deep and vivid color comes from a process in the wood called spalting.
When a tree is alive, it is prone to becoming infested with fungi. This fungus transforms the color of the grain in the tree’s lumber. Sometimes transformations manifest as luminous streaks throughout the wood’s texture, while other times it blackens the grain to an exquisite char. Each piece should be appreciated for its individuality.
Figure it to be Curly
Another form of character wood shines in the texture—especially cherry maple. When the texture of the wood proves to be inconsistent or has a curly figure character, many home design opportunities arise. The touch to the skin is one special part of the curly figure experience, but what catches the eye is the inconsistency of light. Since curly figure character wood has a bumpy, canyon-like surface—although slight in size—when one moves about the room, the light will shift and mutate in with the surface’s many grooves.
Character wood adds even more impact when repeated within the space. The contrast of a lighter stone floor and limestone countertop keeps the room feeling light and inviting.
Character Wood the JWH Way
The JWH Design & Cabinetry Team loves incorporating character wood into cabinetry designs, decorative beams, countertops and even custom furniture. Our Millshop in central PA has access to many species of reclaimed woods, often being rescued from local barns. Whether it be sleek countertops or a daringly rustic backsplash, we can customize any piece of wood to your specific liking.
Currently, our Millshop “Sample of the Month” is a breathtaking character chestnut that will compliment any room’s setting. Kitchens, libraries, even bedroom cabinetry takes on a whole new look when incorporating character wood. If you can quite imagine your spaces looking so great, check out these fabulous spaces from House Beautiful.
What’s Your Ideal Kitchen Experience?
Remodeling your kitchen may seem like an intimidating journey. However, like the beginning of accomplishing any great feat, you must take it step by step. Before you delve into such a project, consider the aesthetic facets and the functions of your kitchen that mean most to you. This is when some good old fashion reflection comes into play.
What in particular did you love about your old kitchen? How often do you host parties? Or cook dinner? Do you require more counter space or storage space? In shorter words, how do you use your kitchen the most? These many queries may begin to overwhelm, but there is an easy way to restore order to such wild running considerations.
Grab a piece of paper and jot down some kitchen features that prove to be of great importance to you. It may be what utensils you use most, or where you would like pots and pans to reside. Maybe it’s space for group cooking or sanctuary for a secluded haven. Take into regard important features that you absolutely need to encounter your version of the best kitchen experience. Each and every time you step foot into your kitchen should exceed pleasant encounter. In fact, it should exceed amazing!
Now that your thoughts have found order, it’s time to take the next step to solidify that kitchen dream into tangibility. These kitchen remodel trade-offs to consider are just what you will need to get the job done.
What’s Your Every Day Activity to Special Gathering Ratio?
Before entering a kitchen remodel, you must take a moment to consider how often you host guests. Is it just you and your husband 364 days a year, while merely one day is dedicated to hosting friends or family? If so, constructing a gargantuan kitchen may not be wise. Maybe considering an efficient, well-oiled kitchen-machine is the path to take. A kitchen that isn’t over the top for everyday use, but is ready for battle when that special occasion presents large numbers.
However, if you are known to host several or more annual gatherings—perhaps weekly or monthly—then focusing on a heavy-duty, multi-functional, large kitchen will be a significant kitchen remodel trade-off to consider.
Sit Down With Your Future for a Chat
Have you ever sat down with your future for a chat? Well, if a kitchen remodel is on your mind, now is the time to do so. Although our future is overall unpredictable, having a conversation with our future paints a pretty solid picture of what to expect.
Are the kids taking off their diapers, or are they putting on their graduation gown? Is this kitchen going to be your last? Or in other words, is this culinary space going to be the kitchen of your forever home? How many people will your kitchen be serving twenty-years from now? Taking into account these future scenarios will greatly be involved in the kitchen remodeling process. Maintaining a delicate balance of appropriate space and efficient functionality that stands the test of time is key.
What is Financially Viable?
When exploring kitchen remodel trade-offs, another large aspect that needs to cross the mind is financial efficiency. Make sure you keep in thought what is going to benefit your kitchen experience and your property value. Two basic questions can achieve a solution to this predicament:
-Is this feature going to save me time, thus, money?
-Is this feature going to advocate a property value increase?
Take some time to monitor your kitchen activity. Does a large family induce large amounts of dishes every night, concluding in hours of you scrubbing plates and pans? If so, investing in an eco-friendly dishwasher may be a good route to go. Such an investment will not only free up your time, but it will increase the value of your home.
Show or Go?
Although in a perfect world the dream kitchen offers exquisite form and innovative function. However, a perfect a world coincides with the impossible. Cash is usually limited, so comparing aesthetic visuals to effective performance is dire. Sometimes you can’t have both, so considering these trade-offs proves essential.
What will resonate most in your ideal kitchen experience? Do have a large family? A larger, maybe a bot intrusive, stove top would be the best option. Functionality to feed the whole family outweighs aesthetics any day. On the contrary, is it just you and your partner? In the latter case, you have the wiggle room to invest in a more aesthetically pleasing alternative.
Time’s Face Off with Patience
Remodeling your kitchen is a very exciting event. Many people may find themselves actually blinded by this excitement. Rushing into a kitchen remodel without thinking about important factors is not a sight uncommonly seen.
Think about your schedule. Work, kids, or hobbies. Does work fly you all around the globe on a consistent basis? Will a long remodel process really affect your life in this scenario? Probably not. The same would be true for someone who is retired. Although home more, a homeowner who is retired is generally more relaxed. Watching the remodel process may even become a fun learning experience. We’ve seen the latter countless times.
But what if you do not fit in any of the above? What if work is turbulently busy all the time? Dealing with a kitchen remodel when you require relaxation after a long day may be a little much. One would want to trade-off sanity for time and get the job done quicker.
Kitchen Remodel Trade-Offs? Check!
Now that you have systematically achieved what is most important to you in your kitchen, you’re ready to embark on a marvelous journey; you are ready for a kitchen remodel! To get the ball rolling, contact the JWH Design and Cabinetry Team. We can make your kitchen transform from “blah” to “awe.”
The Resurgence of Brass
Earlier this month, the Washington Post reached out to Jennifer Howard of JWH Design & Cabinetry about an emerging—or more specifically, reemerging—kitchen design delicacy. Brass fixtures have significantly grown their presence in the modern kitchen, and for good reason.
“The resurgence of brass in home design is bringing a new level of warmth back to kitchens,” says Howard.
This article by Megan McDonough presents a selection of “splurge” and “save” design options. Selected by Howard and the JWH Team, these design ideas are coupled with both pricing and sources. They’re fun ideas for homeowners so that they, too, can add a creative touch of brass to their kitchens.
Stainless steel and chrome fixtures in the kitchen have taken a back seat to another alloy. In comparison to its two-compound cousins, brass proves to be a more durable option. Brass faucets will resist calcium and soft water corrosion. Their lifespan and functionality will exceed that of the ever popular stainless steel and chrome faucets.
Beauty & The Beast
Alongside anchor-strength, aesthetics plays a large role in the reemergence of brass in kitchens. This is why we are now seeing brass fixtures explode onto different facets of the kitchen; breaking the rule of the many traditional kitchen accessories.
The softness of brass subtly reflects a warm environment back into the kitchen. Brass has a richness that plays beautifully with contrast when paired with other kitchen appliances. With a smooth and sleek posture, brass is a brilliant way to splash bits of visual effect throughout an outdated kitchen. Isn’t it ironic how something that has for so long been associated with antique is now revered as a staple in kitchen modernity?
Whether it be cabinet fixtures, light fixtures, or even flashy drink coasters, brass will grab eyes while offsetting tones of a cooler nature; stainless, white, and grey shades. It is no wonder that brass fixtures are currently exploding in home design. With the alloy’s beastly strength and its luxurious glow, this kitchen design delicacy is truly the kitchen’s new beauty and the beast.
Play It Smart
This is not one of the JWH Construction Management Team working hard on this outside deck. But the JWH Team is busy on renovations of all sizes and shapes– from NY to CA.
Given the breadth of experience in new residential construction and home renovations, US News and World Report reached out to Jennifer Howard, owner and principal designer of JWH Design & Cabinetry, for insight into the upcoming trends for renovations in 2018.
The US News Real Estate Section published Maryalene LaPonsie’s “7 Home Renovations to Consider for 2018” on March 9, 2018. Specialists shared their insight suggestions for homeowners. Financial plans and cheap design tips from Jennifer Howard are there to help the vision. Nick Hodapp, an associate broker with Atlas Real Estate in Denver, shares his knowledge on smart planning. Also, Mike Kinane, senior VP of home equity for TD Bank, gave his insight on responsible renovations. Combined, the three specialists share how to save on style and plan accordingly for home renovations.
Planning is Key
Kinane adds that February is the month homeowners start to address financing for their renovations with their bankers. This adds time to the overall project planning so factoring in these 30 days needs to be part of the project schedule. He further elaborates on the future of home equity loans for renovations in 2018, offering reassuring advice for homeowners and investors, in the Miami Herald on January 17, 2018.
Unsure about whether to add on to your existing home? Jennifer Howard says to think twice before bringing in the backhoe: “Working within existing space, as opposed to adding extra square footage to a home, has gained traction over the past few years,” she says. “It seems to be our biggest request right now.” She believes this makes sense in terms of renovation timing, overall investment, and potential real estate tax increases.
Creative ideas for renovations that improve flow and function, overall aesthetics, AND add value to real estate is the expertise and passion of JWH Design & Cabinetry. Check out other JWH Before & After projects.