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Ask a Designer: Backsplash Options


What are my backsplash options?

Gladys Schanstra:  We try to look at larger surfaces first which are obviously the floor, cabinets, countertops, and then see what matches or what looks good with it. Definitely take a look at style and color for the rest of the room, and then decide from the options. There's always tile, full height stone which could be granite, marble, any of the other stones that you can use or engineered stone. You can have glass. You could have metal, stainless steel. You can have murals painted. So it's not just how good it looks, you know, what are the functions? If you're cooking and some people say, well, I don't want to have to clean grout or worry about re-grouting in so many years, then you might want to consider something that's like glass or a full height granite, especially the cook top area. Sometimes we'll do two different things. You can do an accent piece on the cook top. Say, ok, if it's contemporary, I'll do stainless steel in this little portion, and do full height granite for the rest. Or you can have glass that has a specific design like foil which is actually like an art piece behind this, and it looks like a painting. Or you can have an artist paint something. We had somebody ask us one time to put a scene of their backyard with the dog in it as far as a backsplash on the tile. So that was really neat.


Ask a Designer: The Right Color Paint


How do I choose the right color wall paint?

Trisha: I would think you're definitely going to want a paint color that's going to make your cabinetry pop. I would stay away from a color that's close to your cabinets. That makes everything blend together. The walls are covered in cabinetry. It is nice to have some color as an accent. You can pick up a color that's either in the counter top, or in the backsplash. Have that be complementary, but again be nice contrast to a cabinet.

Janice:Color is a way that a client can add punch to a kitchen. The hard spaces and hard surfaces, like the cabinets and the counter top, the most expensive things that you can do in a kitchen. Sometimes, to be safer, I'll recommend they keep those neutral, and then punch it up with some paint color. Bringing in paint color and selecting a paint color can come from adjacent rooms that are connecting with the kitchen, or that are directly off of the kitchen. It's a good way to tie rooms together. If they have favorite artwork in that adjacent room, or even a piece of artwork that they want to introduce in the kitchen, they can pick a color out of that, and introduce that color on the walls in the kitchen.

Usually, there's a lot of cabinetry covering the walls, and we don't have a lot of wall space showing. That's why it's a little easier to introduce a real vibrant or intense color in a kitchen, because you're not putting it on huge expanses of wall.

Ask a Designer: Choosing a Designer


How should I choose a designer?

It’s important to do your research and figure out, number one, the reputation of the company that you’re working with, and also, take a look at some of the certifications that designers have. See what their qualifications are, take a look at some of the projects they’ve done, if there’s a connection there, and the researches have been done, and you know that they can do a good job. That would be a way to choose your designer.

A kitchen designer will specialize in space planning, specialize in cabinetry design. Interior designer will be someone that’s going to be a little bit more geared toward maybe helping select tile, finishes, window treatments throughout the home. It’s very typical to be working with an interior designer but then still go to a kitchen designer.

Being able to work with somebody who understands your needs, somebody who basically just inherently clicks with your own personality, is what I think people feel more comfortable with when they are choosing a designer. Also, the designer’s reputation is very important. It’s also how many kitchens have you done, with word of mouth; clients do talk a lot.

Basically, with following up on the reputation of company and interviewing in one office, there can be quite a few different designers who all have different styles, have different design ideas, and it’s a matter of you being able to be brave enough to say, “You know what, we don’t click,” and, “Can I talk to somebody else?” Not everybody can work with everybody, and it’s a matter of, I think, more just interviewing people that you feel comfortable with.

Ask a Designer: Alternatives to Paint


Q: What are some options for the walls besides paint?

Janice: Besides paint, because paint is one of the least expensive things that you can do, but wallpaper. I mean you can do wallpaper on your walls. You can just do a border around. A border will really add a lot of color and a lot of interest.

The other thing you can do if your budget is a little bit higher, you can do things like brick or stone. If you don't have the budget for that but you like the look, you could possibly do a faux finish. There are a lot of artists out there that will help with a faux finish look and it can be anything from a simple color wash that gives you a really smooth, soft look to something that actually has a pattern in it that might look like a stonewall.

Christine: If you got more of a traditional or a more of a cottage-y kitchen, you can always do a wainscoting tile more than just your backsplash. You can bring it around on the walls a little bit more. Artwork is always great. There's all different types of paint options out there as terms of faux finishing; moldings on the wall. Those are all big things that you can do to accent the design.

If you have the ceiling height, it’s always nice to add some ceiling details. Beans, coffered ceilings are always beautiful. Those can work in contemporary or traditional applications, definitely. Any little bit of architecture is always nice.

Ask a Designer: Appliance Color


Q: What color appliances should I get?

Trisha: First, it would depend on the actual kitchen and the color of the cabinets and the style and what they're going with for their kitchen. That will be the first question that I would ask them to get some feedback and be able to give them direction on, 'Would white appliances look okay? Would black look okay?'

We typically, I would say 98 percent of the time, use stainless steel. I don't think it's a fad that's going to go out anytime soon. I think the nice thing about stainless is that it does go well with any type of wood or color and finish in your kitchen. It's a nice neutral color. That's what we tend to see most of.

If people are worried about stainless as far as fingerprints and it's a little harder to clean, I think you can go with the white or a black but it's going to depend on what you're actually doing in your kitchen with your cabinets. White would go best with your lighter kitchen, so white or lighter-painted finish, and then your lighter-stained maples and things like that.

I think black goes well with the dark cherry and the darker-painted finish and things like that. Again, my first choice for most clients would be to say to go with the stainless because I do feel it's more neutral. As far as resale and people thinking it has a lot of value. I think they go in and see stainless and that's something that's a selling point in kitchens.

I think that with a really contemporary kitchen, all of a sudden, you just throw in a large blue Viking range and that might not go as well, I think, as simple stainless range. The colored ones, to me, tend to go more with a traditional kitchen and something with a really, like a larger range that can handle a bake


Ask a Designer: Open vs. Traditional Layouts


Have open floor plans replaced traditional kitchen layouts?

It depends on your lifestyle. A lot of clients are getting away from the formal living room, formal dining room, doing more of an open plan. The kitchen’s always the place where people all gather.

Opening it up to the living space is nice. People want their families to be integrated within that. Again, it depends on the household and the area that you’re in in terms of resale value.

For the most part it is nice to open it up. You’re spending the money to create the space and furniture for your kitchen. It’s nice to share it with the rest of the house.

The role of the kitchen has changed dramatically since the ‘50s and ‘60s and ‘70s. Open plan kitchens … the kitchen has truly become a hub of the home if the house is run from that area.

Open plan kitchens are definitely here to stay. Through the design process, one of the things customers should do is spend time thinking about how things are going to work when that final plan is done. It’s a multifunction room now. It’s not just a room where we cook. It is a room where we live.

I would definitely look at the option to take down a wall or put an opening into another room or expand the opening into another room to join the two rooms together; that way families can spend more time together. Mom or dad, whoever’s the cook doesn’t have to be relegated to the kitchen while the rest of the family is in the family room watching television.




Ask a Designer: Colors to Avoid


Are there colors you should never use in a kitchen?

Janice: I honestly can't say that there's a color that shouldn't be used in the kitchen. If you look through magazines nowadays, you can find very very simple white kitchens. You can find white and dark kitchens, or you can find kitchens that have green, and blue, and purple, and red all in the same space. It's all on how it's put together, and it all kind of goes with the individual's personality. So I don't think there's a right and a wrong color to put in a kitchen. I think it just depends on the person.

Trisha: The thing usually with countertops and everything, I like to keep them neutral because sometimes when you're doing blues or greens on countertop material, food isn't as appealing on surfaces like that. As far as cabinetry, I don't think there's any wrong color of cabinetry. Right now, white cream kitchens are very popular. That is something that I think appeals to a wide range of people. A very clean classic kitchen. If the consumer is worried about resale and things like that and appealing to the general public, you're not going to want to go with something so specific as a red or purple kitchen because there's not going to be as many people that like that. If it's something that somebody is going to stay in that home forever and that's what they want to do, then I think by all means do it.

Ask a Designer: Warm & Inviting Colors


What colors will make my kitchen look warm and inviting?

Janice: Probably, it’s best to keep with warm tones, like stained cabinets perhaps or even you could do a white, painted that’s got a glaze on it. A glaze is a darker color that’s put on top of the white color.

A glaze on a white cabinet really adds a lot of warmth because it just warms up the light color, keeping the warm tones, the browns and the greens and the yellows and golds and you start into getting into things like reds and whites and blacks. They have a tendency to be a little sharper and little bit cooler looking. You could do that with your countertops, if you found a beautiful granite. Granite comes in beautiful natural colors and then you can play the backslash off of whatever colors might be in granite.

Ask a Designer: Coordinating Product Colors


How should I coordinate product color choices?

Janice: That’s a good idea to build off of cabinetry first because that is a large percentage of the cost of the kitchen remodel. What we try to do is figure out what the customer’s budget range is. That will get me what kind of cabinetry that we’ll be able to use as far as counter whether that will stain or a paint, then I like to go to find our countertop, whether they’ll be granite or a solid surface as some sort. Or even something like a slate perhaps.

We get the countertops that were blending with the cabinets because they’re right next to each other. Then it’s going to start working with the backsplash because that’s going to be what’s right next to the countertop. Other things like, some things like that decorative lighting that would come last, because you already have your pallet, your main pallet are already put together.

Trisha: I don’t think there is a specific order. But I do think that there need to be a starting point. I do think it’s nice that if a client falls in love with a backsplash tile or a countertop color, to pick that first and then work around it. Pick cabinetry that’s going to go with that. Pick flooring that’s going to go nice with the cabinetries as well as the countertop. Hold different samples of flooring and the wood for the cabinet tree and the countertop, and the backsplash tile. You actually kind of put that all together. Maybe having a couple of different option. I do think once this all kind of put in a cluster in the same area, that’s really a lot

Ask a Designer: Matching Appliances


Do my appliances have to match?

I don’t think brand necessarily at all. You don’t need to match. I do know that that’s the question that’s asked to me. They all have to be from the same manufacturer. I don’t think so at all.

As far as mixing and matching stainless and either white or black, it’s possible to do if it’s done the right way. If you have a stainless refrigerator and a stainless steel oven, it’s okay to have a black cooktop.

All of a sudden you have all black or white appliances. You want to replace your frig. You want that to be stainless. That’s okay, too. If you had one of each, it probably wouldn’t look the best.