Monthly Archives: April 2016


Island Entertaining

Custom kitchenYour kitchen is the most memorable and probably most used room in your home, and when it comes to entertaining, there is no more important area. But if you have an open-concept design and your kitchen looks out into your main living area, how do you maintain the balance between the flow and the compartmentalization that entertaining calls for?

Enter: your island.

You’ve heard it said for years: Parties always end up in the kitchen. These days, many of them start there, too. If you enjoy hosting friends and family at home, you might want to create an entertaining island for your special events.

 

Things to focus on when designing your entertaining area:

Lighting. There’s nothing worse than a glare coming from harsh lighting (and then being reflected by a shiny countertop), except a room so dimly lit you can’t tell what kind of cheese you’re eating. Go for mood lighting, adjustable if possible, and allow for natural light.

cool islandSpace. Allowing for the ebb and flow of entertaining means making sure there is enough space all the way around for two lanes of foot traffic. Also, take into account moving and managing of people when deciding what to put in your island drawers – you don’t want to make every move every ten minutes during a gathering!

Add-ons. There are so many ways to make your island stand out, and be the talk of the party! Built-in planters, bottle openers and other gadgets attached, extra features hidden in drawers – really your imagination is the limit. Be creative (but be aware of overdoing it!)

Appliances. Planning to entertain year-round? Install a mini bar fridge and never have to waste valuable refrigerator real estate! Include a water or ice machine to keep drinks flowing all night, or a small range to add warming space.

No matter how you choose to design your island entertainment, all you really need is great friends, great food, and your style!

white-wood-and-stainless-isalnd

Materials Matter: Kitchen Countertops

When it comes to your home, the kitchen makes the biggest statement, and is often the most memorable room in the house. Countertops make up a huge part of that statement, being both functional and aesthetic, useful and visible.

Choosing the right material to make your countertop an asset rather than a pain is essential to any kitchen design. There are five materials that we use most commonly, each with their own pros and cons: quartz, granite, marble, and concrete. Which one is right for you? It depends on a lot of factors.

Quartz

Pros: This manufactured material can be created in any colour to match any decor. Quartz has the same durability as concrete and granite, but is quite a bit more forgiving, so it won’t chip or crack as easily. It doesn’t have the same hardness in the feel that some people find unpleasant.

Like other hard surface countertop materials, quartz is non-porous so it resists staining much better than granite, marble and concrete. It stands up to juice, oil, wine, tomato, coffee and other sources of stains in the kitchen. For cleanliness, a non-porous surface means that it will not harbour bacteria or viruses.

Cons:  Quartz doesn’t stand up to heat as well as granite, and the seams of manufactured stone can be less attractive to some buyers. The biggest disadvantage is the price, however the durability means it won’t have to be replaced for a very long time, making it an economical advantage in the long run.

Granite countertop

Granite

Pros: There is a rich beauty to granite countertops that no other material can match. Seamless and heat resistant, granite countertops are functional and will take any high-end kitchen to the next level.

Cons: Since granite is a natural stone, buyers are limited to the colours and styles found in nature – including imperfections and patterns. Also, granite is porous and requires sealing. The most concerning problems can occur when the countertops are not sealed correctly or the sealant wears off without the counters being resealed. This means that unsealed or poorly sealed counters can absorb wine, juice or oil, producing a stain that might be impossible to remove. A poorly-sealed countertop can also harbour bacteria in its pores.

Marble

Pros:  Marble countertops offer spectacular beauty. This igneous stone comes in a wonderful display of colour and shade. No two slabs are alike, so you’ll be assured of having a unique countertop for your home. Marble countertops can withstand heat, and stand up well to pots and pans.

Cons: Marble is porous, and requires sealing every few years to avoid liquids being absorbed causing stains that are virtually impossible to get out. It is also the least durable material on the list, being prone to chips from knives or even coffee mugs. Due to its delicate nature, marble is often saved for the bathroom where there is less chance of overuse.

ConcreteConcrete Main

Pros: Concrete countertops can be absolutely beautiful, with pigments allowing buyers to create nearly any desired shade. With staining, you can give your countertops the look of granite or other natural stone. Concrete is extremely durable, perfect for the wear and tear of a busy kitchen or active family. It won’t scratch and is very heat resistant.

Cons: Concrete prices are on the higher end, and they require sealing upon installation and resealing every 1-3 years. When not sealed correctly, concrete is susceptible to staining, a weakness it shares with granite and marble.

 

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