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Post-KonMari: How to Organize Your Pantry

By: Laura Gaskil

So you’ve tossed the old, unloved and expired food and spices. What’s next? After decluttering the pantry, it’s time to get organized. But with so many organizing products to choose from, it can be hard to know which are worth buying and which will end up gathering dust (or worse: making your pantry even more cluttered). 

To help you bring order to this hardworking part of your kitchen, we’ll divide your things into three categories: stuff you reach for every day, meal building blocks and staples, and occasionally called-for ingredients.


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Stuff You Reach for Every Day

A tray or platter beside the stove. Your true everyday essentials (think olive oil, salt and pepper) should live within arm’s reach of where you use them. A tray, platter or slab gives these items a defined space to prevent straying, and is easy to move and wipe down. 

Check your own cupboards to see if there’s a platter or tray you can use for this purpose. You may not need to buy anything!


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A dedicated shelf (or two) for essentials. Beyond salt and pepper, you can probably think of a handful of other ingredients you reach for nearly every day. These items would take up too much room on the counter, so aim for a shelf or cupboard near the stove, or above the counter where you like to chop vegetables. If your pantry is already near the cooking zone, dedicate an eye-level shelf to your essentials. 

 

Add one or more of these tools to make ingredients easy to spot at a glance:

  • Lazy Susan. A small turntable lets you circulate bottles of oil with ease.
  • Risers for spices. See what’s in the back row without having to rummage.
  • Clear bins. Corral little packets of this and that.


Meal Building Blocks and Staples

Clear, airtight containers for bulk goods. Buying grains, flours and other items from the bulk bins in the grocery store is economical and reduces packaging waste. Once you get home, transferring these items into a good set of canisters will help them stay fresh longer and keep critters out.

Tip: If you like to change up your ingredients frequently, use wipeable chalkboard labels. Then, when you fill the container with something new, you can simply wipe off the old info and write what’s in it now.


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Risers for cans and jars. Slightly larger than spice risers, these stairstep-like organizers are especially helpful if you have deep pantry shelves and lots of canned goods (or jars filled with homemade goodies). 

DIY: To create your own risers, borrow a few wooden blocks from a child’s set (or get them from the hardware store) and stack in the back of a cupboard to give cans a lift. If the cans are sliding around, top the blocks with a layer of anti-slip tape (available at hardware stores or online).


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Baskets for potatoes and onions. If you have a walk-in pantry that stays cool and dark, this can be a great place to store potatoes, onions and other produce that doesn’t require refrigeration, such as apples and squash. Pick baskets that will allow air to flow around the produce, and store each type in its own basket. 

Tip: Keep apples in a different section of the pantry since they produce ethylene gas, which can speed spoiling of nearby veggies.


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Occasionally Called-For Ingredients

“Project cooking” baskets or bins. Project cooking is the kind of cooking you may sometimes love to do, but it’s certainly not part of your everyday get-dinner-on-the-table cooking life. In other words, it’s a project. Think baking birthday cakes, decorating Christmas cookies, making homemade pasta or canning your own jam. 

Instead of mixing the special tools and ingredients required for these projects in with the rest of your pantry items, gather them in a project basket. The size of the basket or bin will depend on how much stuff you need to store, so gather the ingredients together before you go basket shopping!

Tip: Project cooking bins can certainly live on high shelves. Just be sure to label them clearly, and keep a stepladder nearby, if needed, to reach them.


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Bulk supply bin or crate. If you like to stock up on certain supplies or ingredients, you’ll want to find a convenient yet out-of-the-way spot in which to keep them. The shelves from waist to shoulder height are best reserved for more frequently used items, so use the floor or a high shelf to store your extra goods. 

Bulky but light items (like paper towels) can go on a high shelf, while big and heavy stuff (like bags of dog food) should go on the floor. One or two large bins or crates can keep everything contained.

Smart Investments in Kitchen Cabinetry — a Realtor’s Advice

By Tiffany Carboni

The kitchen is the most expensive room in the house to build. The national average cost of a kitchen remodel is $50,000, though the real cost can vary widely, depending on where you live, the scope of the project and the materials you choose. New cabinetry can take up much of that expense. Make the most of this big purchase by treating your new cabinets as an investment. 

Realtor Victoria Gangi offers insider tips on how to get the best return on your cabinet investment, even if you’re not moving in the foreseeable future.


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Create an optimal layout. Long before a kitchen starts to take actual shape, there needs to be a well-crafted plan for how the kitchen will be laid out to offer maximum benefits to the homeowners and their guests. 

“Layout is the number-one feature home buyers are looking at in a kitchen,” says Gangi. “You will lose your audience if cabinets aren’t designed in a functional way with good flow.”


A kitchen or cabinet designer can help you get started. Don’t make any rushed decisions in the planning process. 

One way to help visualize a designer’s plan is to tape out the dimensions of the new cabinet configurations on the floor and walls. Granted, you’re going to need a really good imagination for this to work, but it will give you an opportunity to literally walk through the measurements to see if things feel well spaced.


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Invest in quality cabinetry. Once you’ve got a plan for where everything’s going to go, decide on a style and quality that will age well and withstand trends and changing tastes.

Quality cabinets are one of the smartest investments in a kitchen remodel, says Karl Keul, owner of Cameo Kitchens. “The lesser grades of cabinets tend not to age gracefully and often need more upkeep,” he notes.

The quality to choose will depend on your long-term plans. “Midrange cabinets are generally a good bet,” Gangi says. “If you intend to sell your home, these cabinets will look attractive to buyers, and you’ll likely see a return on your investment.”

She adds, “Even if you plan on staying in your home for the foreseeable future, this is still a safe option, because they’ll last. Choose top-of-the-line cabinets only if you have the money to create the kitchen of your dreams without any worries of recouping the money.”


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Integrate the door style. Choose a door style and color that integrate well with the rest of your home, especially rooms that look directly into the kitchen. If the rest of your house is traditional, you’d be better off steering toward a more traditional or transitional door style than going completely modern, and vice versa. 


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“Don’t choose a style that’s too ornate or too modern,” Gangi advises. “Modern is good; people like clean lines and clean finishes. But ultramodern or any style that’s too out of the norm isn’t what buyers tend to want.”


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In general the best kitchen designs are those that work in harmony with the rest of the home’s architecture rather than try to fight it. A harmonious house is easier for potential buyers to understand and, in turn, to want to outbid each other for. 

A savvy designer can help navigate you toward the best cabinet options that will work for your home and budget.

 

 

 

 


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Choose light colors. Lighter-colored cabinetry will appeal to more buyers. “Dark kitchens are out,” notes Gangi. “People prefer light and bright.”


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To integrate the appliances or not? Integrated appliances significantly increase the cost of a kitchen, not only because of the added cabinetry door fronts, but also because the appliances needed to facilitate this option are more expensive.

While this feature may look attractive to some home buyers, especially in a price range where integrated appliances are an expectation rather than an exception, your may not see the return on this high-priced detail in a midrange-price house.


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According to Gangi, your cabinet investment can be safe even if you don’t integrate the appliances. “Stainless steel appliances are still very popular and well accepted by buyers,” she says.


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Choose cabinet details that matter. What’s inside the cabinet is just as important as what’s on its outside. “Buyers are on the lookout for rollout and quiet-close drawers,” notes Gangi. “This is where that choice of midrange versus low-range cabinet quality becomes important. Spending the extra money it takes to get good-quality slide rails and quiet-close features will come back to you.”

 

 

 

 


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Opt for clean-lined hardware. “Buyers prefer drawer pulls and handles to be just as clean lined as the cabinetry,” says Gangi.


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If you like ornate hardware, go for it. However, should you sell your home, expect to replace those fancy pulls with a more streamlined set that will appeal to a broad range of buyers. The good news is that your fancy hardware can move with you.

New Kitchen: 7 Questions You Didn’t Know You’d Ask

Some of the questions you ask when planning a new kitchen are obvious, such as, “Do I want white cabinets or wood?” and “Do I want stainless steel appliances?”

But there are many design decisions that you might not even know to consider until the project is well underway. To help you avoid surprises and unfortunate mistakes, here are seven questions you should ask yourself before you begin your kitchen design.


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1. What are the rules? I’m not talking about design rules for what colors will match or what wood goes with what stone. I’m talking about the actual rules that are laid out by your local building code, which can affect many decisions or none at all, depending on your area and project conditions.

For example, many building codes dictate what type of hood fan you must use to ensure proper ventilation. These rules are especially important to know during a major renovation or new construction, as a surprise inspection that finds violations will leave you with a serious headache.

2. How should my cabinet drawers and doors open? Designers often point out that changing out the knobs on existing cabinets can make a kitchen look new in a snap. Putting knobs and hardware on new cabinets for the first time, however, can take a surprising amount of thought to get right.

One of the trickiest parts of designing a kitchen well is making the cabinet door and drawer fronts look elegant and consistent while the cabinets themselves serve different practical functions in a variety of shapes.

You might find a single handle that works for all your cabinets, but you may need two or even three coordinating styles to address all your different sizes of fronts.

Once you’ve chosen hardware, you should give careful consideration to where to install it to best achieve a sense of visual consistency. Free software can be found online to model your kitchen in 3-D, and you can adjust details such as the directions that doors swing until the hardware lines up in a pleasing way.

Or you can skip the issue altogether and use knob-free touch-latch cabinets.

3. What profile should I use for my countertops? The shape of the edge of the countertop may seem like a mundane detail, but it can make a world of difference to the look and function of your counters, and the kitchen as a whole.

This kitchen shows an “eased edge” stone counter (essentially a crisp rectangle with slightly softened corners) on the left and a cove edge wood counter on the right.

An eased edge is currently a popular choice for contemporary kitchens because it gives a simple, modern appeal. More ornate profiles usually carry a traditional air and a sense of warmth and personality.


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One of the most popular choices for a counter profile is the “bullnose” or “demi-bullnose” option, which means essentially a half circle or quarter circle. The look is less “sharp” than a minimalist eased edge, but so is the experience of bumping into it by accident. Ultimately it’s a decision that comes down to personal priorties.

It should be noted, however, that a very rounded edge like this is not always the best choice for laminates: The edge tends to give away that the material is fake because the curves look unnatural and the pattern does not align at the seam.

To simulate the look of a true stone when using a laminate, look to a simple rectangular profile in a dark color so the seams and edges appear natural and subtle.

4. What finish should my fixtures be? Selecting the material for your kitchen fixtures isn’t all about trends and pretty color palettes. Metals come in various finishes, and there can be major practical considerations as well. Try mixing stainless steel with brushed brass for a subtle contrast, as shown here.

For instance, brushed finishes tend to hide fingerprints and light water spotting much better than polished ones. Brass and gold-tone finishes tend to be warmer and more dramatic, while stainless steel and silvery-tone finishes tend to blend into the color palette more but add more sparkle.

There are lots of details to consider, so it’s best to research the pros and cons of a style that you like.

It can also become even trickier when trying to coordinate multiple metal elements.

It’s usually recommended to choose appliances from the same manufacturer, if possible, especially if they’re situated very close together, because differing product lines can have subtly different finishes that become more apparent once paired together.

Tip: Take one sample of a handle you’re considering (or other metallic element) to an appliance showroom to get an idea for how the different finishes will interact. If the pairing seems off, you can exchange the handle for a different finish.


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5. How will I mount my sink? Choosing an undermount sink or a drop-in model, as shown here, affects more than just the look of the sink itself, so it’s a decision that should be thought through early.

Undermount sinks, like the one pictured, are generally easier for keeping the surrounding countertop area clean because the neater edge of the counter allows you to sweep crumbs and debris directly into the sink without getting caught on a high lip. However, undermounts can’t always be installed in a laminate counter because the counter cutout would leave a raw unfinished edge in the core material.

Knowing what style of sink you prefer will affect what materials are available to you, so it’s best to answer this question as soon as possible and then research from there.

6. What finish should my stone be? Besides choosing what material you want for your counters, backsplash and flooring, you also need to decide the finish of the material itself.

Popular stone materials such as granite and quartz can take on a polished finish, like the one shown here, which gives a hard face and an almost reflective look. A honed finish appears much more soft and organic.

A honed finish, as seen here, also has the advantage of hiding scratches that can stick out in a gleaming polished stone. However, they can be more easily stained if not well-sealed, as the material tends to be more receptive to absorbing oils. Each has its advantages, so you should research your choice and not make a snap decision when meeting with the supplier.

When looking at stone samples, be sure to ask what finishes are available and look at each individually, as the finish can greatly affect the appearance, even radically changing the apparent color. Applying sealant can also darken the appearance to a degree, so you should ask to see a sealed sample — it may be extra work for the supplier, but it will save you a potential surprise on installation day.


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7. What material should my toe kicks be? You might assume your toe kick has to match the material of your cabinets. But what if your cabinets aren’t one consistent color? Or what if you’ve used a sparkling white cabinet, but you don’t want the toe kick to get dirty every time it gets, well, kicked?

If your island is a different material from the rest of the cabinets, you can let its toe kick differ from the main cabinets. Another option is to use a third material that ties all the cabinets together: Stainless steel makes a great toe kick if you have stainless appliances or handles, tying the whole palette together.

Silestone Expands Eternal Collection Designs


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Silestone has expanded its luminary collection with the introduction of five new colors. The new hues offer a modern, reinvented take on some of the most sought-after marbles and stones, coupled with the latest technological advancements from Silestone. The Eternal Collection is the first in Silestone’s offering to have veining and highlights run completely through the material, including its edges, resulting in an even more natural appearance. The five new colors, which bring the collection to a total of 10 colorways, include Eternal Bianco Calacatta, Eternal Classic Calacatta, Eternal Desert Silver, Eternal Emperador and Eternal Marfil.

The beauty of the material is met with industry-leading performance, thanks to its Silestone N-Boost technology. This innovation patented by Cosentino modifies the material’s surface at a molecular level to further enhance its outstanding technical and aesthetic attributes: Greater color saturation and extraordinary luster, along with an enhanced water repellent property that reportedly makes it even easier to clean and maintain. As with all Silestone natural quartz products, the Eternal Collection includes high resistance to impact and scratching; is manufactured in large formats; and offers versatility of application.

Eternal Bianco Calacatta: The luminary hue of the 2018 collection combines thick, electric veins with a soft gray background for drama and contrast, creating an instant focal point in any space. Eternal Calacatta Classic: Elegant and subtle, Eternal Calacatta Classic reinterprets coveted Calacatta marble. Its uniform grayish veins stretch across the slab with a translucent appearance, evoking an authentic resemblance to real stone.

Eternal Desert Silver: More monochromatic in its appearance, Eternal Desert Silver offers an icy, translucent aesthetic creased by fine, clear veins. Inspired by the classic and long-lasting marble trend, it complements any type of material and architectural element.
Eternal Emperador: A warm, tobacco brown background set against light and streaks embraces earthy tones reflective of a growing demand for moody, darker marbles.
Eternal Marfil: Creamy, soft and minimalist, Eternal Marfil puts a unique spin on Crema Marfil marble to bring an organic serene aesthetic to the space.

Bathroom Vanity Countertops

Vanity tops must play the dual role of being durable and capable of standing up to water, soap, cosmetics while serving as an ample work surface for morning rush hour in the bathroom. This is no place for delicate, porous (read: easy-to-stain) surfaces. At the same time, the vanity top can be a focal point and a connecting point, where wood cabinets below meet tile wall above, for instance.

By: Kristen Hampshire

8 Tips for Harmony in the Kitchen

Article by: Laura Gaskill

There are probably as many ways to handle cooking and kitchen chores as there are people — is it any wonder the kitchen tends to be a hub for minor (but irritating) household disagreements? Whether you and your partner or housemate have been bickering over dishwashing or garbage duty, here are eight strategies for maintaining peace and harmony in the kitchen.

1. Don’t micromanage. Unless it’s a major health issue (like cross-contamination), if your partner/housemate/kid likes to do things differently than you do, let them. Even if it bugs you, know that it’s far from the end of the world if the dishwasher is loaded “the wrong way” or the cheese ends up in the produce drawer. Choose your battles carefully, because picking too many fights in the kitchen is sure to end in disgruntlement on both sides.


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2. Take care of the other person’s most disliked chore —and ask them to do the same for you. It’s incredible how personal the issue of chores can be! Do you despise garbage duty? Can’t stand chopping veggies? Whatever it is, let it be known and try to arrange a fair swap of duties of personal worst for worst. This relieves a lot of chore pressure, since what each of you strongly dislikes is taken out of the equation.

3. Try the Golden Rule of dish washing. The Golden Rule of dish washing states that if you cook, you are officially off the hook for dish washing and cleanup duty. This method makes a lot of sense and keeps things pretty simple and conflict-free. Of course, it won’t work for everyone — perhaps you enjoy cooking and don’t mind doing the dishes (or you’re worried your precious pans won’t be cared for properly), in which case it’s best to find an alternative chore for the non-cook to take on.

4. Be willing to break the Golden Rule of ddish washing If you cooked — and dirtied every single pan and dish in the house in the process — be considerate and pitch in during cleanup, even if you usually follow the Golden Rule. This is especially important if your partner or housemate usually makes simple, one-pot dinners when it’s their turn to cook. And it follows that it’s reasonable to ask for a little cleanup help when they’re the one to whip up an elaborate feast. A bit of flexibility makes for a more positive experience for everyone. (Just don’t forget to ask nicely if you’re the one who made the mess.)

5. Avoid the too-many-cooks situation. If you both like to cook, trying to collaborate on a meal isn’t always the most positive (or peaceful) experience. And if your kitchen is small, it can be hard for more than one person to be cooking at a time. If either of these scenarios sounds familiar, consider having one person do some early prep work (like chopping veggies or starting a marinade) and let the other person take over when it comes time to put the dish together. And it’s probably a good rule that whoever is doing the actual cooking gets to decide how it’s done.

6. Keep a master shopping list.There’s nothing more frustrating than starting in on a recipe only to discover you’re out of a key ingredient. Designate a single spot in the kitchen, such as a centrally located chalkboard or notepad, as the place to jot down ingredients and supplies as they run out, and encourage everyone in the house to use it.

7. Make decisions during peace time. If an issue comes up that you feel you need to hash out, wait until you’ve moved on to a non-kitchen activity before bringing it up with your partner or housemate. 

In other words, don’t try to settle anything during the dinner rush — tensions may already be running high if you’re trying to get dinner on the table, and any argument isn’t likely to end well.

8. Get some outside help. If everyone in your household (including you) is very busy, getting a bit of extra help to get kitchen tasks done can make all the difference. Perhaps you could hire a cleaning service to take care of the most onerous chores, or try signing up for one of the new delivery services that provide fresh ingredients and recipes. Even something as simple as grabbing some meal plans and shopping lists online can ease the day-to-day burden of keeping the household nourished and running smoothly.

Nothing but the Best!

When you want nothing but the best where do you turn? To American Cabinet & Flooring, Inc. of course! Where you can trust your job will be done right, but don’t take our word for it see the proof yourself! 

Newly completed project:  Cabinets & Countertops

COUNTERTOP ECO SUSTAINABILITY: The How To Guide

Creating Eco Sustainability In Countertop Fabrication

When it comes to construction of any kind, environmental concerns are more important than ever. This is why The Top Shop Inc (AC&F) partnering with VT Industries, is committed to providing sustainable products and using environmentally friendly manufacturing methods.

Our production facility located in Denver, Colorado works hard to keep emissions and waste to a minimum, conserve natural resources, and protect local ecosystems. This strategically located facility, allows The Top Shop Inc. (AC&F) to provide the shortest lead times available but more importantly, reduce harmful vehicle emissions that contribute to air pollution and ozone depletion.

Every post form countertop we offer is GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certified®. The Top Shop Inc. (AC&F) partnering with VT Industries, is the first and only laminate countertop product to receive this low-emitting certification, ensuring our product will contribute to healthy indoor air and building occupant wellness.

With EQcountertops, The Top Shop Inc. (AC&F) takes the sustainability of our countertops to the next level. Manufactured using 100% pre-consumer recycled particleboard, water-based adhesives and GREENGUARD Certified laminate, EQcountertops meet multiple green building standards, including Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) and NAHB’s green building guidelines.

Best of all at The Top Shop Inc. (AC&F), we’re continually adapting our manufacturing techniques and providing innovative products to ensure environmental responsibility. All employees—from production to accounting—are involved and encouraged to find innovative ways to make our business efficient and effective.