Tuesday, January 28, 2014

100 Under $100 for Your Home

100 Under $100 for Your Home from SHOPSTYLE by Pop Sugar

8 Kitchen Counter Options That Will Make You Forget Granite

AUTHOR: for Zillow Blog

Granite is great. No one is denying that.
Its use in residential applications has skyrocketed in recent years. A 2012 survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of The Marble Institute, found that 75 percent of homeowners who intend to remodel their kitchens in the next two years indicated they want granite countertops.
Granite’s durability, longevity and good looks make it ideal for kitchen countertops and other heavily used surfaces, including table tops and floors. Still, it’s expensive (typically $60 to $100 per square foot installed), it’s extraordinarily heavy (requiring reinforcement of base cabinets) and requires considerable upkeep.
Beyond granite, there are a multitude of countertop options available and their number just increases over time. If you’re in the market for a kitchen makeover, you may find one of these great, non-granite surfaces is just what you need:

Carrara marble

Marble is softer than granite, which means it stains and scratches. “But it creates its own patina when it does that,” says Alan Zielinski, immediate past president of the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) and president and CEO of Better Kitchens Inc. in north-suburban Chicago. “That aging process gives the marble a nice, warm look. That warmth appeals to some people – if you’re not one of them, you probably should avoid marble.”


Wood countertops are enjoying a resurgence in popularity, largely due to their durability and style. Adding a wood top to an island, while using a contrasting material for perimeter counters is a great way to add interest to the kitchen.
Butcher block is the most common type of wood countertop, but slabs can be crafted from a variety of woods, ranging from cherry and bamboo to zebra wood and iroko. Wear will give wood counters a charming patina, but you’ll need to periodically oil them to prevent drying.


Soapstone is a smooth, matte natural stone that comes in a hues ranging from soft grey to charcoal. It is one of the only natural surfaces that is not affected by acids, so spilled coffee or orange juice won’t leave a stain. Soapstone is also heat resistant.
No special cleaners are needed to keep soapstone clean but mineral oils can be used to enhance the stone’s natural beauty.

Engineered quartz
Although some quartz countertops are actually made of quarried slabs of stone, the new engineered material is created through a manufacturing process that mixes approximately 95 percent ground natural quartz with 5 percent polymer resins. The result is a super-hard, low-maintenance, natural looking countertop that’s available in a wide range of colors.
“Because quartz is a composite material, it brings with it both the practicality of natural stone and the consistency of a manufactured product,” says Zielinski. “It’s resistant to scratching, but it can be scratched and it’s resistant to heat, but you don’t want to set a hot frying pan on it.”


New colorizing and stain techniques have made concrete counters more popular than ever. Skilled craftsmen can create beautiful concrete countertops in any color, shape and size. Embedded stones, tile or even silicone chips can be added to the mix to create a piece of art. The result is a beautiful counter that’s durable as well as scratch- and heat resistant.
The counters, which can be extremely heavy, are susceptible to damage from acidic liquids and must be sealed and regularly maintained to resist stains.


Glass countertops can endure high heat without cracking or scorching, they won’t stain and they’re non-porous, which makes them very hygienic. “I really like glass because it’s so versatile,” says Zielinkski. “You can laminate three pieces together and use a crackled surface or other art layer between the top and bottom. They can be painted on the back, or lit. They’re very high-end and very versatile.”
Glass counter tops are typically three-quarters to one-and-a-quarter inches thick. Glass is tempered;  polished square edge finishing or edge banding is generally recommended. Under-mount sinks are not recommended due to the transparent nature of glass.

Stainless steel

Stainless steel countertops can be found in any style of kitchen, from contemporary to traditional, because they complement many of today’s appliances. Stainless steel is stain- and heat-resistant but it can be scratched or dented. Of course, steel isn’t the only metal countertop material on the market. You might also consider copper, pewter or zinc.

Solid surfaces

Solid-surface countertops can look like natural stone but they’re generally less expensive and require less maintenance.
“Another big advantage,” says Zielinski, “is that solid surface counters can be created with virtually no seams. That can be a plus not only in terms of appearance, but it also makes cleaning much easier.”  These counters are heat- and moisture-resistant and easy to clean. They can, however, be scorched and scratched.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Remodeling Home Design Trends for 2014

If you are like my wife, a new year means a fresh perspective...change...renew!  Like her, you may be feeling the desire of renovating, redecorating, or revising your space for 2014. We sometimes tend to follow the fashion world when color, texture, and design are involved as it seems to dictate (according to my pocket stylist wife) the trends for home design as well.
Trends in Color
In November my wife had the Women's Wear Daily article out stating the Pantone color of the year - Radiant orchid .  But color trends for 2014 are also feeling blue. Blues across the color wheel are predicted to be hot hues for 2014 too.
You'll see a lot of Navy in upcoming design spreads as well as fashion.  "Navy blue will be a big trend for 2014. I'm seeing a lot of the shade on the runways, on the streets, in editorials, in chic interiors... I actually think everyone will get it in 2014," said designer Mark D. Sikes in House Beautiful's Top Decorating Trends for 2014.

The Glam Factor
The Great Gatsby has influenced a "glam" feel and is another hot trend for 2014.  You"ll see it in wallpaper, textiles, furniture, and accessories.  I know this because my wife is inserting these ideas into our current remodel.  

The Kitchen
Kitchen remodels are going glam too. With most of my clients, the kitchen is the pulse point of their home, and now designers are dressing it up," said Elle D├ęcor, " cabinetry painted in rich gemstone colors,  unique lighting fixtures, and elegant fixtures. I was impressed to read that "Floating shelves are also a hot 2014 design trend according to remodeling firm the Neil Kelly Company since we have these in our kitchen as well as my Daughters room.

Beautiful Bathrooms
Continuing is the spa-like environment in bathrooms. Clean lines, unique fixtures, and softer colors.  To add depth incorporate textures with mosaic tiles, trends like a waterfall shower, modern touch faucets, and heated floors add eye candy and coziness   Oversized walk-in showers and elegant standalone tubs are strong bathroom trends for 2014. 

Tech Trends
The No. 1 trend for 2014 that brings some much-needed tech help to the home. U-Socket is a wall plug that "has two built-in USB ports to power devices including iPhones, gaming devices, digital cameras, Kindles and iPads... and features a smart sensor that allows it to shut off when the device is fully charged."


Downsizing continues to be a long-term trend.  2014 will see people interested in living in smaller spaces that are closer to urban downtowns rather than larger houses in the suburbs. 

In California, New Law Means Home Remodeling May Force Plumbing Upgrade

In California, New Law Means Home Remodeling May Force Plumbing Upgrade


Californians who want to alter or remodel a home built before 1994 may have to agree to install water-efficient plumbing in order to obtain a building permit. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the 2009 law that takes effect in January is creating some confusion in the building industry.
 The law requires anyone seeking to alter or improve an older home to install water-saving toilets, faucets and showerheads. In some cases it would apply even if a homeowner is remodeling an area that has no plumbing, such as a bedroom or garage. It wouldn’t necessarily apply to an improvement such as a new roof.
Steve Gorman is with the City of Sacramento’s building department. He says the law’s vagueness will likely result in cities interpreting it differently.
Gorman: “The interpretation that comes into play is a result of it being a law and not a building code. So when it comes out in a building code format, there has been thought given to how it’s going to be enforced and it’s given a little more specificity.”
Water agencies sponsored the bill to help meet the state’s goal of reducing water use 20-percent by 2025.