/ Ask a Designer

Ask a Designer: Storage Accessories


Which storage accessories are the most useful?

Terry: Probably the biggest request are things like cutlery dividers, organizers for the large drawer of cooking utensils, those sort of things, so it keeps it all in one spot, instead of flying around the larger drawers. The next most requested one are spice storage. Either pull-out storage at the cooktop, either down below the counter top or above, or spice cabinets that actually, when you open it up, they're on the door, they're behind the door.

Other accessories that you can get for cabinets are places to store your paper towels, pantry pull-outs for canned goods and that sort of thing, for trying to maximize the use of the space, so that they're getting the most storage for their money. The other thing is roll-out shelves. Roll-out shelves should be in every base cabinet, as far as I'm concerned, if you don't have a drawer in it. The deeper, the better. That gives you the opportunity to store things throughout the cabinet and get the full use of the cabinet itself.

Ask a Designer: Kitchen Floors


What looks are in for kitchen floors?

With tile flooring, doing inlays, border patterns, combination of different materials, bronze inlays, glass inlays, and just having a lot more fun with it than a traditional, plain tile floor. There’s a lot porcelains now that you can’t tell the difference between whether it’s a real slate or a porcelain slate. The tile companies have really advanced in the industry to create materials that look so much like the real thing but have more durability. With natural stones, they are still popular also, but the care and sealing is something that does need to be taken into consideration.

If the kitchen is open to a family room or right off the dining room, carrying the wood floor colors throughout. Consistency is what I prefer as a designer. With different style homes that are not-so-traditional, something that might be more eclectic in style, or contemporary, changing floors to blend with the room’s décor is something that is very appropriate. Also, with transitioning from one room to another, sometimes we’ll do a wood border that ties in from one room, but then the center pattern inlaid in the wood border, we can transition into a different wood, or even a completely different material.

Ask a Designer: Design Trends


What are some popular design trends?

Gladys: The furniture style has been around for a few years now. Everybody wants that island that looks like it's just been bought from an antique store, like I mentioned. They want it kind of free standing, maybe with legs, butcher block.

Then mixing the colors is very popular, whether it's just the cabinetry, the granite carrying some of that in with the backsplash. Also, space is … Negative space is being given importance. Meaning that wall cabinets aren't always filled out to the max. Wherever there's space nowadays, we're not just shoving cabinetry in there. We're thinking more of how will this look. Is this a focal point? Are they going to want some shelves versus wall cabinets or nothing at all?

There's some kitchens now that have an eight foot run of just a huge hood piece and that's it. They have base cabinets and large islands. You can't always do that. What restricts you is the amount of space you have and are people willing to give up the storage to be able to have that look.

Christine:White kitchens are a larger trend for a contemporary or a traditional look. I think it's a good timeless design look, because over time you can add, change colors, change countertops without. It's always good for resale because someone coming in can readapt the space for themselves.

Trend-wise, I think it depends on the location of the home. A lot of the city homes, we're seeing a little bit more of an urban design. If you're in the city, a lot of people have maybe a very vintage condo, but they want to put in a modern, real clean-lined design. I would say it's more of a transitional woods, warm woods, to keep it warm feeling but then bringing in very contrasting stones.

In our more traditional homes, again, white inset-type cabinets to kind of bring in their real old world style look. Then again, adding in professional grade appliances, stainless steel, to kind of give it a more transitional look as well.

Ask a Designer: Hardware Styles & Colors


Is there a rule of thumb for mixing and matching cabinet hardware styles, materials and colors?

Gladys: A knob is usually used for doors and drawers or pulls just because of how you’re opening the unit. Have we switched them? Rules can always be broken. But generally knobs belong with doors and drawers have pulls. If you have a pretty large kitchen and there’s a lot of decorative things, we’ll mix ring pulls, sometimes for glass doors, different back plates on the knob to accent certain cabinets that might have a wire mesh. Mixing and matching keeps it more lively than just being so uniformed. Again, it depends on the style. A lot of a French country, Tuscan, old world European uses that type of mixing the hardware pieces, but you can do it in contemporary as well, maybe accent the refrigerator and put something really cool. Everything else has the straight stainless steel, 10-inch long type of a handle. Generally, you have to think about the function and what you’re doing with it, and will it hold up. Is it strong enough to open those refrigerator doors and not fall apart?

Christine: A lot of my clients, I have … tell them to think of it as jewelry for their kitchen. If you want to go a little bit simpler on the cabinets, again, hardware is something you can always change over time. To do something a little bit jazzier, I like mixing hardware up a little bit, putting some pulls, some knobs, putting different types of knobs within there, because I think it really gives a little bit of a wow factor when you come into it. It definitely can match your faucet. Some people think, “Well, I’ve got stainless steel appliances. My hardware has to match that.” It doesn’t necessarily. I wouldn’t mix … if you’ve got a chrome faucet, I probably wouldn’t necessarily put brass hardware in. If you’ve got stainless steel appliances, I would put chrome or polished nickel hardware in. I think it’s something that’s very personal to pick something that you really like and give it a little bit of a jazz factor to your kitchen.