Choosing the right kitchen island

When it comes to kitchen islands, we generally think of additional storage, preparation and serving space in the kitchen. But the fact of the matter is that kitchen islands can waste a lot space. Choosing the wrong island or placing it in the wrong spot can be a disaster, especially in a work area that can get cluttered. Islands that obstruct the flow of traffic to and from the sink, refrigerator, stove and primary workstations will create bottlenecks and major hassles. At minimum, an island should be 4 feet long and a little more than 2 feet deep, but it must also have room for people to move and work around it. Experts say that unless the kitchen is at least 8 feet deep and more than 12 feet long, one shouldn’t even consider an island.

Don’t forget to ventilate

The best of kitchen design fades in the presence of a stench. If you’ve ever walked into someone’s home and smelled last night’s fish-and-chips lingering on the stale air, you’ll understand the importance of good ventilation. Inexpensive range hoods simply circulate dirty, stale air, while a good ventilation system will help improve the quality of your indoor air and also help keep your kitchen cleaner.

Effective ventilation systems also help extend the life of your appliances, and although they can be an investment, if you have a kitchen that opens to a living area or family room, they will make life easier, cleaner and more pleasant for everyone.

Choosing the perfect backsplash

While budgeting or designing a new kitchen or kitchen remodel, sometimes the backsplash considerations slip to the end of the list. Occasionally, the backsplash area is completely left out of the plan. This is one mistake that saves you money in the short term, but in the long run costs you a lot of time and effort. Imagine the steam, high humidity and grease content in the kitchen and you will understand why installing a backsplash behind the oven and extending it above all the counters throughout the kitchen is a smart idea. It is much easier to clean grease off a backsplash made of tile or metal than wall paint or wallpaper.

Proper lighting is important

The kitchen is one room where you can’t afford to have poor lighting. It’s not only a matter of design and atmosphere, but also a safety matter when it comes to handling sharp kitchenware. Rooms generally need three types of lighting: general lighting for overall illumination, task lighting and accent lighting. For the kitchen, you especially should evaluate the work areas and focus on how you can provide each spot with the light it needs. Consider adding lighting directly above all the main working areas, perhaps using pendant lights or a series of mini-pendants in areas where these enhance the lighting and beauty of the kitchen. Pendants look great above kitchen sinks, while a series of mini-pendants enhance the appearance and lighting of breakfast bars and kitchen islands. Also, install under-cabinet lighting as an additional way to ensure that the counters have sufficient lighting for common kitchen tasks. After all, the more light you have in the room, the better you can show off all of those amazing design elements you’ve added to the space.

Countertop workspace is a necessity

One of the biggest complaints about kitchen design is the lack of countertops. Consider all the kitchen activities that require a countertop, as well as appliances that are permanently located there. You might want to fit as much open horizontal surface areas in a kitchen as possible. This may be achieved by adding an island or breakfast bar to an L-shaped kitchen.

Professionals are here to help

Taking over a kitchen design project on your own to save money is a common mistake that can waste more money, time and energy. There are some jobs where, for safety and quality work, a professional is not a whim. Kitchen designers know the latest trends, ideas and manufacturer’s details; help you identify your specific needs; and translate those details into an efficient plan according to your taste.

Don’t obstruct access to the kitchen triangle

Experts refer to the sink, stove and refrigerator as the kitchen triangle, the area of greatest activity, and it requires careful planning and unobstructed access. Of the three, the sink will see the most action and should have easy access to the stove and refrigerator, as well as your countertop workstations.

Sinks need to be installed in close proximity to the plumbing, but often kitchens are designed with the sinks installed right above the plumbing or in a poor location. Instead of making this kitchen design mistake, consider hiring a plumber to relocate the drains and the plumbing to accommodate the best placement for the sink.

Regardless of kitchen size or layout (L-shaped kitchen, galley, U-shaped or island style), the sum of all the legs in a work triangle should not be less than 10 feet nor greater than 25 feet. If the sum of the legs in the work triangle is too small, people will be tripping over each other and if too large, food preparation could be a very tiring task.

Be careful not to be too trendy

Although it’s not necessarily a mistake, choosing the latest kitchen designs and high-end equipment may not be the best of choices. The most stylish color of the season and trendy designs have a short half-life, and you may never get your return on large investments in the latest kitchenware.

Bathroom Remodeling Layouts that Work

A good layout is key to a successful bath remodel. Former Fine Homebuilding editor Scott Gibson explains why in this excerpt from his book, Bathroom Ideas that Work.
by Scott Gibson

A bathroom remodel can range from something as simple as upgrading a vanity or replacing a toilet to a complete overhaul, which includes the relocation of plumbing and electrical lines or even enlarging the room. Layout is a key consideration, not only because it has a major impact on what the remodeled space will be like, but also because it affects the overall scope and cost of the project.

There’s no better place to start than with the bathroom you already have. Its shortcomings as well as the features you’d like to preserve can be a guide to what you want in a new bathroom. You might be lacking storage for linens, feel cramped when there’s more than one person at the sink, or find there’s not enough room around the tub to towel off comfortably after a bath. On the other hand you might want to keep the vanity sink for storage or the tub/shower unit because you have three young kids. Whether you work with a design professional or devise your own room layout, a detailed scale drawing will help you spot problems and envision design solutions.

The second step is to make a list of your priorities. Each major fixture  comes with its own set of requirements—for plumbing and wiring as well  as how much floor space it should have. What’s at the top of your list? A  whirlpool tub big enough for two? An oversize walk-in shower? A  separate enclosure for the toilet or an enlarged vanity with two sinks?  You may not be able to get everything, so rank your wish list to help  make final decisions easier.

Planning on Paper
Drawing a new bathroom on an existing floor plan can help you visualize new possibilities. This existing 6-ft. by 9-ft. bathroom is in a mid-1970s Cape Cod. It includes a fiberglass tub/shower unit, a single-sink vanity, and a toilet. By moving one interior wall about a foot and shifting fixtures around, a much more pleasing bathroom is possible, as evidenced in the after floor plan.

The window and toilet locations stay the same to help minimize construction costs and allow other amenities: an oversized shower that takes the place of the tub unit, a double-sink vanity, body sprays in the shower, new lighting, and a radiant floor heating mat.

What does the plan give up? Not much. A small hall closet was eliminated and some plumbing changes were made, but they were relatively minor and not nearly as expensive as moving the toilet would have been.

Important Considerations

Bathrooms are probably the most complex rooms in the house. They have a network of plumbing and electrical lines, so typically the more extensive the changes in layout, the higher the project’s cost will be. It may not seem like a big deal to move a toilet a couple of feet one way or the other, but relocating waste and vent lines is difficult and time consuming. Depending on how your house was originally built and where the bathroom is located, it may not be practical at all. Moving sink and shower drains is less daunting, but the job can still be difficult. The bottom line: If spending is a major concern, you’re better off working with an existing plumbing and wiring layout.

Another consideration is whether you’re willing to move a wall to gain more room. If there’s an adjacent closet or bedroom that doesn’t get much use, borrowing a few feet by relocating a non-bearing wall may mean a big payoff. In a house with a cramped second floor it may be possible to create a larger bathroom by adding a dormer.

Finally, you’ll have to consider whether to gut the room or simply patch the walls, floors, and ceiling. In general, you’re almost always better off tearing out and starting new. It will give your builder a chance to correct hidden problems and often makes the job go faster.

Creating a Layout

Bathrooms don’t have to be any particular size or shape to be successful. Part of the layout will hinge on how much room you have to work with, and part will depend on the plumbing fixtures and other room features you’ve identified as “must haves.” For example, if a large whirlpool tub is at the top of your priority list, the rest of the layout should be planned around this major fixture.

A key part of design is the relationship of various room features to each other: the distance from a toilet to an adjacent wall, for example, or the clearance between a toilet and tub. These planning guidelines can be expressed as either minimums that meet the local building code or as design recommendations, which are usually a bit more generous. Both numbers are important for planning. A bathroom designed for someone with physical limitations has its own set of guidelines.

Basics of Good Design
Every family’s needs and every house are a little different, so rather than simply copying a floor plan you’ve seen elsewhere and hoping it will work in your house, make use of design fundamentals to help you develop a floor plan that works for you.

These elements were developed by architect David Edrington, who credits A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander for many of the original ideas.

• Avoid layouts with more than one access door.• Create an entrance alcove for a bathroom off a hallway to provide an added measure of privacy.
• A well-shaped bathroom is in the shape of a square or a rectangle whose length is not more than twice its width.
• Good bathrooms have a clear central area where you can wash or dry off, with fixtures like the tub and toilet located in alcoves around the edges of the room.
• Natural light is important. If the room can have only one window, locate it so it illuminates what you see when you first enter the room.
• Use the “intimacy gradient” in designing a floor plan by locating the most private parts of the bathroom farthest from the door.

Learn More About How To Simplify Your Life With Cabinetry

Does your home feel cluttered all the time? Cabinets may be the solution you have been looking for! Not only do they look good in any room, but they also offer excellent storage options. Follow these links for more information.

When it comes to kitchen cabinet materials, there are a lot of choices—learn more about the options available to you.

This article from the Huffington Post explores eight ways to get rid of clutter.

A clean, organized filing system is important for keeping your important documents in one place. For tips on how to simplify your filing system, head over to this page.

Is your home office still unorganized? Find some additional organization tips.

Are you thinking about remodeling your kitchen this summer? Take advantage of Fine Cabinetry’s experienced staff and technicians. At Bucks County’s Fine Cabinetry, we have a wide selection of finely-crafted, environmentally friendly cabinets and countertops suitable for your kitchen, bathroom, or any room in the house.