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.

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

Bathroom Backsplashes Make a Style Statement

Article by: Meera Innes

The functional nature of sinks might not always inspire style, but the backsplash can be a bathroom centerpiece. Backsplashes help to protect the wall from water damage, but the myriad materials, colors and finishes also make this a small feature that can transform the feel of a bathroom and add drama, polish or character.

Create a centerpiece. Extending the backsplash over an entire wall — or, as here, a column — creates a feature wall that showcases the sink area. The use of white subway tiles throughout a large bathroom might appear too sterile, so choosing the same tiles in a different color with contrasting grout is a fresh idea that gives a pristine bathroom some much-needed zing.

Go for glamour. If opulence is your style, then it doesn’t get much more gorgeous than this custom inlaid wood backsplash. Polished natural wood inlaid with floral motifs isn’t your everyday sink backdrop and will require maintenance to keep it in perfect condition, but why not choose stunning artwork to gaze at first thing in the morning and last thing at night?

Contrast with polish. Give distressed furniture a twist by combining it with a clean, contemporary backdrop. The backsplash used here is made simply from two large, distinctly modern concrete tiles that quietly showcase the understated sink. 

Leaving the wall behind the sink bare could have rendered this area wanting in the style stakes, but the tiles make it a focal point, tying everything together with their smooth and rough finish that’s midway between the sleek sink and the Shabby Chic–style washstand.

Give it character. The vintage feel of the materials in this bathroom, from the stools to the mirrors, calls for a backsplash in a similarly antique style. The small cut and colorful pattern of the tiles used here make them an appropriate contrast to the stark white subway tiles. 

If you’re feeling bold, choosing slightly mismatched tiles in the same size and shape for each sink could also work in a bathroom aiming for this sort of bohemian charm.

Don’t be scared of brights. A backsplash is an easy way to add punchy color to bathroom decor, which often errs on the neutral side. This backsplash’s smooth, modern finish and long lines are in keeping with the overall style of this contemporary bathroom. Aim for cohesion, not clashing, in a space as streamlined as this.

Define your sink area. Backsplashes aren’t just for the wall — your floor could use the love, too. The way this backsplash rolls down into the floor tiles gives this sink the red-carpet treatment. The Moroccan design is a quirky choice that lends the contemporary feel of this bathroom a pleasing bohemian twist.

Keep it quiet. If your bathroom is a haven where you like to unwind and escape the chaos of life, then a muted palette might just hit the right tone. The gray-blue of this backsplash doesn’t fight with the striking Victorian-style ceramic floor tiles, yet quietly enhances the gray tones of the vanity unit and paneling.

Choose white in a small space. Even the simplest backsplash can make all the difference to a sparsely decorated bathroom. Here, the humble subway tile adds plenty of interest to a run-of-the-mill white suite. All-over white was the best choice for keeping the decor clean and enhancing a sense of space in this mini loft bathroom, while wooden details in the door, window and accessories add a warm edge.

Play with color and texture. It could have been tempting to follow through on the reflective theme here by creating a mirrored backsplash, but these colorful iridescent tiles provide a refreshing contrast with enough shine for consistency. The hint of art deco about the tiles complements the style of the mirror and cabinet while keeping the overall look modern.

Work a neat repeat. If you’ve used tiles elsewhere in the bathroom and you have some left over, it makes perfect sense to use the remainder on the backsplash. It’s a less adventurous choice, but it ensures that your theme is consistent, and you can be certain it’ll match the decor.

9 Tips for Mixing and Matching Tile Styles

Article by: Laura Wheat

For tile fans such as myself, the more tile, the better. But though I’d happily cover every surface with it, there are certain things to consider when combining tiles of various sizes, shapes and patterns on walls and floors. Because tiling large areas requires a sizable investment, it’s worth getting samples and experimenting with how tiles work together. These nine tips offer guidance on how to combine tiles for the best look.

1. Balance busy patterns. Use small statement tiles, such as these oblong mosaics, to create a feature on a backsplash or another small area rather than across an entire room. Combine them with large-scale plain tiles and you’ll avoid a design that makes your eyes go funny.

2. Pair pattern with plain. Restrict your use of patterned tiles to one surface — either the floor or a feature wall. Here, contemporaryhexagonal tiles take center stage, while large-scale oblong wall tiles provide a light-enhancing glossy background.

3. Play with scale. One of the most important tips for mixing tile well is to create balance by combining small- and large-scale patterns. In this bathroom three tile types are combined successfully: tiny hexagonal mosaics on the bath and walls, medium hex tiles on the basin surround and large oblong tiles on the floor. The monochrome palette helps create a harmonious whole.

4. Treat stone as a neutral. Floor-to-ceiling subway tiles with gray grout make a statement in this supersize shower. To soften the graphic grout lines as well as to create a cohesive design, pair them with natural gray stone, which adds visual interest with a neutral pattern that doesn’t try to compete.

5. Combine matte finishes. For a bathroom with tactile appeal, choose two types of matte tile and break up large areas with an alternative surface, such as this exposed brick, or with plain painted walls.

6. Juxtapose matte and glossy. Get away with combining similar-size tiles and busy patterns by choosing one matte style and one shiny. These high-gloss, beveled-edged subway tiles work beautifully with the soft encaustic finish of the monochrome floor tiles.

7. Vary shape, not color. For an easy mix that works in any space, take two tile designs in the same solid color but different shapes and let the grout lines form the pattern. 

For a pronounced effect, choose a contrasting shade, like this dark gray grout, which is paired with white subway tiles and tiny hexagonal mosaics.

If you like your tiling to create subtle interest but for the overall look to make less of a statement, use matching groutThis bathroom features the same combination of tile types as the previous image, but coordinating white grout makes a huge difference in the finish and feel of the space.

8. Be consistent with pattern. Use tiles in different sizes and colors, but keep the shape consistent for a harmonious effect. This bathroom includes oblong tiles in two colors and two sizes, but the same brick pattern on each surface creates a visual connection between the planes.

9. Limit your color palette. For a bathroom with a lot of different surfaces, minimize competition between patterns by choosing a restricted color palette. With just gray and white throughout, this shower scheme feels elegant and cohesive.

Why You Should Embrace a Solid Slab Backsplash

A solid slab backsplash is a custom look that says luxury in a kitchen of any size. But it doesn’t require a luxurious budget. Take inspiration from this trendy yet timeless look, and give your next kitchen remodel a solid head start.

A slab backsplash is simply a backsplash made of a continuous material (or in cases like this one, a few large pieces with the occasional break for an appliance or a cabinet). The solid surface creates a different visual effect than, say, tile. When matched to the countertop, it creates an especially big, bold look.

The minimalist sensibility of unbroken planes makes the slab backsplash a key ingredient in many contemporary or transitional kitchens, balancing a modern form with a timeless traditional material for the best of both worlds.

Plus, a stone treatment on the wall is naturally more eye-catching than one on the counter, as the eye gravitates to vertical surfaces first.

A stone with large-scale veining suits spacious kitchens perfectly, making it a natural match for open-concept kitchens where the backsplash is on full display even from a distance.

However, it can also be an achievable look for a less expansive kitchen (more on that in a moment).

When combined with a wrapped island, the look is ultraluxe. It’s no small investment, but the unique architectural nature of the installation means it will always have classic elegance.

A slab backsplash does not have to be created from high-contrast stone either. An engineered material like Corian or Caesarstone also looks beautiful facing forward, especially in a more modern setting.

Layered with open shelving, it becomes the perfect backdrop for a rich but fuss-free look.

You can match the slab to the counter and island, or let it be a feature on its own paired with simpler materials for the other surfaces, even combining up to three materials for a subtly diverse look. 

To play it safe, I would avoid choosing more than three materials, and for a no-fail option use a solid-colored slab for one area and simple subway tile for another to avoid clashing.

Get the Look for Less

There are several budget-friendly ways to achieve this look. One is to simply clad a smaller feature area, such as the space between the range and hood. This is especially effective in a space where much of the wall is already eaten up by a window. With a pale or plain treatment for the remaining walls, the stone will dominate the statement.

Similarly, you can use two book-matched pieces of stone (two layers sliced from the same source and flipped to make a mirror image) to create an elegant effect from smaller pieces. 

If you shop around, you can likely find a stone supplier that will sell you smaller off-cut pieces at a discount; you’ll need to be flexible about the type of stone you’re seeking. This can be a great way to inspire the rest of the look — starting with a stone and working from there to choose coordinating colors and finishes.

In a kitchen renovation project of my own, I needed only one slab of material to dress this galley kitchen, making the compact size an advantage in creating a big look. Because the backsplash reaches the upper cabinets, it feels like a full-impact effect, even though the actual material square footage is low. I then backed the stove and fridge niche in a subdued material (sheets of smoky gray mirror) to let the stone speak for itself.

Another trend is to use a short backsplash, often just a few inches high, to give the sense that the material is traveling up the wall while protecting the wall from dings and dents where it’s needed most. In fact, you may prefer this look for its more understated nature.

You can then combine this low-lined look with a secondary tile wherever you need a little more coverage, such as behind the stove.

Using an engineered stone on one third to half of the wall above a countertop leaves room for a display of art, decorative plates or a stunning painting to give your kitchen a gallery-like feel that softens the functional feel.

You can also create a similar effect by choosing tiles that have a chunky, high-contrast grain or color variance. When the tiles are put together in a complex pattern (like herringbone), their geometry gives way to a sense of organic rippling that has the energy of a slab with a subtle layer of extra sophistication.

Make sure to take the treatment all the way to the ceiling for that high-impact look.

Last, take inspiration from this idea and get the look not with stone but with paper. A wallpaper backsplash creates that continuous custom look while tying the room to another space in your house (if you repeat the pattern in, say, your living room or dining nook). Just add a layer of glass on top to create that wipe able surface.

Kitchen Ideas: How to Choose the Perfect Backsplash

Article by: Sophie Baylis

The humble backsplash has come a long way. Once upon a time, its purpose was purely functional: a tiled area behind the stove and sink to protect kitchen walls from stains and splashes. Today the availability of all manner of materials in a wide array of finishes means your backsplash can make more of a statement. To help you decide which material would work best for you, we offer expert advice on the 10 most popular backsplash materials.

Stainless Steel

Get an industrial vibe with a stainless steel backsplash. The material comes in sheets of flat steel that can be fixed directly to the wall with either glue or screws.

“You should only ever clean it using warm water and an e-cloth,” advises Conrad Hendrick of LWK Kitchens London. “Over time, the chemicals in common cleaning agents can create a buildup on the steel’s surface. This will make watermarks and fingerprints show much more prominently, leaving your stainless steel not quite so stainless.”

Pros: Stainless steel is not only affordable; it’s known for its heat-resistant and hard-wearing properties. It’s also easy to clean.

Cons: Although easy to clean, stainless steel can be difficult to keep looking pristine. It is not scratch resistant — although minor scratches enhance the look over time — and can dent.

Porcelain and Ceramic Tiles

Tiled backsplashes are a popular choice, as they offer versatility, practicality and style. Thanks to advances in printing technology, ceramic and porcelain tiles can be produced to resemble natural wood and stone, but with none of the associated performance challenges. The tiles are resistant to scratches, heat and water, and should be reasonably cheap and easy to install. And while they are durable, should a tile become chipped or damaged, you simply need to remove it and lay another.

Pros: While tiles are easier to clean than most other materials, and therefore lend themselves perfectly to a backsplash, this is not the only reason they are ideal for the job. “With such a range of shapes, sizes, colors and patterns now available, tiles give you the freedom to put your own creative stamp on your room without compromising on practicality,” says Robin Auld of Topps Tiles.

Cons: The sheer volume of styles and finishes can be overwhelming. “Consider exactly how the space will be used to ensure your choice works with your lifestyle,” Auld says. “While pristine white tiles and matching grout may look perfect in a modern, low-use kitchen, they are not the most practical choice for a busy family space.” Darker-colored grouts are definitely worth investigating.

Glass

For those wanting a sleek, streamlined kitchen look, glass is a popular choice, because it can be fitted in large, seamless panels. You should always ask for tempered glass, which is harder than ordinary glass and will be far less likely to scratch, advises Siobhan Casey of Casey & Fox. Also ask for polished edges, so there’s less chance of scratching the surrounding furniture on installation.

The beauty of a glass backsplash is that you can choose anything from a custom piece of artwork screen-printed and mounted on the back of the glass, to a digital image or a painted finish. “I would always recommend that a professional takes care of the painting,” Casey says. “It could be a costly mistake to attempt this yourself without the experience and knowledge of a professional.”

Pros: Strong and durable, glass is also easy to clean and install, being either screwed or glued to the wall. While glass backsplashes used to be expensive, the good news is that prices have decreased dramatically in recent years.

Cons: Make sure you choose a color you and your family are happy with. “While changing this after installation is not impossible,” Casey says, “it’s not an easy job.”

Engineered Stone

Also referred to as quartz composite, engineered stone is made of crushed quartz mixed with resin. Look out for leading brands, such as Silestone and Caesarstone, that make their engineered stone using the lowest percentage of resin, advises Andrew Macintosh of Andrew Macintosh Kitchens. High-performing engineered stones are heat and scratch resistant as well as extremely tough.

To keep costs under control, Macintosh suggests teaming an engineered stone backsplash with matching countertops. “If you do this, the templating and fitting charges are much lower than using a different material and supplier,” he says.

Pros: Engineered stone is durable, scratch resistant and nonporous, meaning it won’t stain. It’s easily cleaned with warm, soapy water and comes in a wide range of different colors to suit all tastes. It’s supplied in large panels, resulting in fewer or no seams on a larger wall run.

Cons: Installation of an engineered stone backsplash must be done by a specialist. It is certainly not a DIY job, Macintosh says. 

Granite

Granite is still a favorite for backsplashes, working equally well in traditional and contemporary settings. What’s more, no two slabs of natural stone will ever look exactly the same, so you are guaranteed a unique look. 

One of the main factors that will determine the appearance of your granite backsplash is whether you opt for a honed or polished granite, says Hendrick. Shiny polished granite is popular for traditional and country-style kitchens. Alternatively, honed granite has a matte finish that’s much more textured yet understated, so it’s the ideal choice for a contemporary kitchen.

If you choose honed granite, test some samples with water and oil, as certain variations of the stone can show wet marks longer.

Pros: Granite is easy to clean, very hard wearing and available in a range of different colors. 

Cons: Among the costlier backsplash options, granite is porous, so it needs sealing to prevent staining.

Polished Plaster

There are many reasons to choose a polished plaster backsplash, not least because it can be specified in almost any color. Texturally, it can range from highly polished and smooth to rough and weathered,” says Charlie Borthwick of Cue & Co of London. It also doesn’t have to be one flat color; veining can be introduced to add depth and interest. 

Pros: It’s easy to maintain and needs minimal care once installed — simply wipe it down.

Cons: Although polished plaster is fairly hard wearing, accidental chips cannot be repaired. If this is a concern, use your worktop material to create an upstand — a small skirting around the edge of the worktop — to help protect the plaster, Borthwick says. 

Composite

Composite (or solid-surface) materials, such as Corian and Hi-Macs, are usually made from a blend of one-third resin and two-thirds natural mineral. Available in a diverse color range, they also offer extraordinary design flexibility and can be seamlessly molded into angles and curves, so there’s no seam between the countertop and backsplash. This makes them easy to keep clean and hygienic, because there are no seams where dirt can gather.

Pros: Composites are nonporous, easy to care for, hygienic and durable. Joints are inconspicuous, providing a seamless surface.

Cons: Composite materials such as Corian can be scratched, but very often scratches can be sanded out. Also, Corian is not heat resistant, so you can’t install it behind a gas [cooktop], Hendrick says.

Laminate

If your budget won’t stretch to a natural stone backsplash, consider laminate. It is not only affordable, but it comes in numerous colors and finishes designed to look like real wood or stone. Although laminates don’t offer the same sense of luxury, high-definition printing and textural innovation mean they can look and feel increasingly realistic. 

Pros: Easy to keep clean and water resistant, laminate is a hard-wearing and affordable choice for a kitchen backsplash. “Match it to other finishes in your kitchen so it becomes part of the whole color scheme rather than just a statement feature, says Diane Berry of Diane Berry Kitchens. 

Cons: Laminate is not suitable for use behind a gas range because of the open flames, and Berry alsorecommends a gap of at least 4 inches (10 centimeters) between a laminate backsplash and any other kind of stove. You also need to make sure it’s installed well, particularly around wet areas, to stop water soaking into any joints, just as you would a laminate worktop, she says.

Mirrored Glass

A mirrored glass backsplash suits all styles of kitchen, often adding a contemporary twist to a more traditional look. Its reflective surface bounces light around, making the space feel bright and often larger than it really is. “If you want mirrored backsplash in your kitchen, then general safety regulations dictate that you must have toughened or tempered glass,” Hendrick says.

Pros: Toughened so it’s strong and durable, mirrored glass is also easy to clean. And because panels are available in lengths up to around 10 feet (3 meters), it’s possible to create a seamless look. 

Cons: Mirror can’t be used behind a gas range, because continuous expansion and contraction of tempered glass created by an open flame can, over time, cause visible cracks to form behind the glass, Hendrick says. “Although easy to clean, mirrored glass needs a regular polish, because marks show up easily,” he adds. 

Marble

Nothing beats the natural beauty of a marble backsplash, which never fails to bring a luxurious look to a kitchen. It’s important to be aware, however, that marble is porous, so it needs sealing and periodic resealing to prevent staining. It also gets scratched more easily than other materials. 

Pros: Graham Barnard of Matrix Kitchens describes marble slabs as “naturally occurring pieces of art,” because no two slabs look exactly the same. “Choosing which marble to use is immense fun,” he adds. “A trip to the stone yard is always an adventure for the designer and the client.”

Cons: Cost can be an issue, depending on the marble you source. What’s more, marble can get stained easily. “You have to accept marble for what it is,” Barnard says. “It’s beautiful, but not maintenance free. However, lots of marbles have wonderful streaks and patterns that tend to help hide any areas of staining.”

Kitchen Color: 15 Fabulous Green Backsplashes

Article by:

Sure, your kitchen backsplash serves a very practical function: protecting the wall area above your countertop from splashes and spatters. But it’s also the perfect place to add a dash of fun color. The weather where I live in Central Texas has turned rather frightful, so I’m starting this new series on colorful kitchen backsplashes with happy, fresh, spring-inspired green hues. Here I’ve gathered some of my favorite examples with tips for working ones like them into your own kitchen. 

Create an eye-catching feature wall in your kitchen by extending a bold-colored textured backsplash tile all the way to the ceiling. This larger-format tile works best on a wall where you are forgoing upper cabinets, so the pattern can be fully appreciated.  

This backsplash has vibrant green hues, but the intensity is broken up due to the subtle shade variations of the handmade tile. I like the mix of greens and wood tones, as it has a very natural, organic feel. 

 

This gorgeous green onyx linear tile backsplash also has a nice mix of colors. (Always see a sample of your chosen backsplash material in person before you make a selection.) 

I love this kitchen for its openness to the outdoors as well as for its gorgeous splash of leafy green. The darker tile accent strip is a nice detail that helps break up the expanse of bold color and ties in well with the wood tones of the floor and table set. 

If you’re on the hunt for a kitchen backsplash material, you have no doubt noticed that tiles now come in every color, shape, size and texture imaginable, so I say why not go for something unusual? I’m a huge fan of these triangular tiles, which have a wonderful vintage-modern vibe. 

Large-format tiles are becoming increasingly popular, as are tiles in zingy colors. But the best thing about the tile here is that it was selected by the homeowner’s 2-year-old son. Very nicely done! 

What a fantastic grassy green color. It really brightens up and enlivens this kitchen, even on a cold winter day. This line of tile is available in a wide range of rich colors as well as interesting shapes and sizes, and it’s also manufactured in part from recycled materials. It works well with a variety of design styles, from traditional to contemporary, and has thus become one of my go-to tiles. 

If you go with a bold green backsplash tile, try picking up the hue in small bits around the room for color balance and cohesiveness. You can take your chosen backsplash tile to your paint retailer and have the color matched, or you can even have a paint color formulated for you that’s a few notches lighter or darker than the tile, should you want to break things up a bit. 

For those looking for a softer, mellower green backsplash, there are plenty of options. If you do go with a lighter and more subdued hue, try selecting one in a glossy finish, because it will add interesting sparkle and texture to the kitchen. These pretty glass tiles pair nicely with the rich dark brown cabinets and light and neutral countertop.  

Here’s another glassy, soft green backsplash. This particular shade of green reads as a neutral, so accents of other, bolder colors can be added, such as the red-orange on the base of that fantastic kitchen island.  

These hand-crafted tiles have subtle variations in color, which adds much charm and warmth to this gorgeous kitchen. 

This backsplash has a wonderful sheen and texture in addition to a slight hint of green. This is how to do a light and airy kitchen right.  

My favorite interior design style is contemporary with bits of industrial and rustic thrown in for warmth and charm. This kitchen captures that style perfectly with its clean, horizontal lines and minimal ornamentation. The exposed ceiling beams, colorful salvaged-wood-clad island and vintage metal stools are perfect decorative elements. As is the light spring-green glass backsplash, which adds a nice hit of color but keeps to the clean, minimalist and contemporary vibe of the kitchen.  

Not a fan of grout lines? Looking for a clean and modern alternative to tile? Consider a back-painted glass backsplash. It’s an easy-to-clean surface that has a cool and contemporary vibe.  

Or you could skip the tile and glass entirely and paint the wall a fun hue. If you go this route, I’d recommend installing at least a short splash to give you a finished edge where the countertop meets the wall, and to protect the area from splashes. Then use a paint in a semigloss finish to give the wall extra protection and allow for easier cleaning. 

9 Hard Questions to Ask When Shopping for Stone

Article by: Anne Higuera CGR, CAPS

Deciding to use stone and choosing the kind to use are more complicated than just picking a finish you like. Because stone is a natural material, its appearance, durability and production can vary from one quarry to another, and from one batch to another, causing problems (or in some cases, providing benefits) you might not have anticipated. 

Here are nine questions you should consider before buying stone.

How thick does it need to be? Floor and wall tiles for interiors are usually ⅜ inch thick, while countertop slabs are typically 2 centimeters (¾ inch) or 3 centimeters (1¼ inches) thick.Exterior stone pavers could be 1½ inches or thicker.

Differences in counter and paver thicknesses can usually be accommodated if planned for in advance. It’s also not unusual to add a laminated edge to the front of a 2-centimeter counter to make it appear thicker.Tile for floors, however, can be tricky, particularly if you want your floor to flow to adjacent rooms without a transition. The best practice is to select floor tile early in the process and choose a material with consistent thickness.

We opened a box of specified slate tile on a project and discovered that each piece was a different thickness, with some well over ½ inch, making them higher than the adjacent wood floors even without thinset below. The clients opted to send it all back and ended up selecting a ceramic tile with similar colors but very consistent thickness.

Are there fissures?This is a question not just for countertop slabs but for tiles, as well.A fissure is a natural weak point in the stone, usually visible as a hairline crack. A fissure’s location can prevent you from using the stone if cuts will result in the weakest point’s being located where the stone needs to be strong, like around a sink or on an overhang. It can also result in the slab’s breaking during fabrication.

Fragile stone tile can also break during cutting, which means tile setters have to anticipate more waste. Instead of ordering the usual 5 to 10 percent extra for waste, they might add 15 to 20 percent more. The best practice is to select a slab and have the fabricator review it for flaws and fissures, so that you’ll have time to select something else if it won’t work.

What’s your finish? The most common finishes for stone are polished and honed.Both have a sheen, although honed has a fine texture that minimizes reflection.A heavier texture can be achieved with acids, buffing and heat, resulting in “antiqued,” “tumbled”and “flamed” finishes. Which one you choose depends upon personal taste, except when it comes to matters of safety. The larger the tile and the more polished the finish, the more likely it will be slippery under wet feet or shoes.

An easy way around slipperiness is to install the material in a smaller size — 4 inches square or less — or to select a material with more texture.

How well will samples match what arrives at your home?Because stone is a natural material, it can vary in color and in many other ways.If you can, get a large sampling of what’s in stock — five to 10 pieces of 12- by 12-inch tiles, for example — so you can see what you’re likely to get in a typical box.If there’s a huge variation in color or quality, you may want to look at something else.

This backsplash (far end) is a mix of onyx and glass mosaic tile. The onyx tile arrived at the jobsite with some bright red streaks across the face, which weren’t visible in the sample. The clients opted to buy additional tile and piece in nonred stone to make the results more consistent. 

Is it strong enough to span?Countertops are sometimes designed to span significant distances — over dishwashers, breakfast bars and desks, for example. Manufactured materials like quartz have specific maximum spans, but the fabricator may recommend a variety of solutions with stone, depending upon how large the unsupported portion is: a decorative corbel or other support; a concealed steel brace; or even a routed area under the stone for a steel or fiberglass rod. Your fabricator will help you determine how much support your counter needs.

How porous is it? All stone is not created equal. Some stones, such as limestone and marble, are more porous than others, and are more likely to absorb stains from substances like red wine and coffee. Acidic substances like lemons can etch surfaces, and even hair dye can stain a shower. Some stones, such as soapstone, are softer than others and can be scratched. 

Before committing to a stone, think carefully about how you plan to use it, and how much contact it’ll have with potentially damaging substances.

Will it hold up? The answer to this question depends on your lifestyle, how much you plan to use the stone surface and how careful you are with cleaning. (Cleaning products can etch limestone, marble and other materials.)

We once had clients whose old limestone counters were covered in coffee stains and had to be removed. They replaced them with Caesarstone, which remains in great shape many years later. My own granite counters are pristine almost a decade after installation, with no resealing.

To seal or not to seal?Sealants are frequently used on grout and sometimes on natural stone.Some sealants darken or even give a shiny look to otherwise honed or textured surfaces.If you’re considering a sealant for your stone, request a sample showing you different options, so you’ll know how the finished surface will look.

What’s the source?Stone comes from quarries across the globe, including the United States. Part of selecting a material involves thinking about where it comes from, how it is produced, the environmental impact of transporting it to your locality, and whether it is a sustainable, sensible and long-lasting material.

If you still have questions, ask your local supplier, fabricator, contractor or designer about the specifics for your project.

Kitchen Color: 15 Ravishing Red Backsplashes

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Last week we looked at some gorgeous green backsplashes. This week we’re swinging over to the other side of the color wheel to focus on rousing reds. Red can be a tricky color to work with, especially in superbright and bold shades. If it’s combined with too many other loud colors or elements, the effect can be overwhelming and at times garish. 

The key is to use just a little bit, because red really will go a long way toward adding vibrancy to your kitchen. That’s why a backsplash is a terrific place to add a dash of red. (Backsplashes typically encompass a relatively small section of a wall or walls, so this element is usually the perfect size for embracing reds.) Check out these 15 fetching examples of how to rock a red backsplash, along with the pertinent information for each in case you see something you like for your own kitchen. 

This beautiful glass mosaic tile adds some nice shimmer to a contemporary light-filled kitchen. Red partners well with warm wood tones, and the white countertop and ceiling add crispness. 

 

Here’s another gorgeous glass mosaic tile, this one in linear bricks instead of squares. The swath of red, which gets picked up by the pendants over the peninsula, adds a nice punch of bold color. Using a blend of colors for the backsplash tile (rather than one single color) makes the backsplash appear less monolithic, and therefore more modern or transitional in style than slick and contemporary.  

I love a kitchen with a garage door! It allows in so much natural light during the day, and gives the kitchen a cool industrial vibe. With so much light filtering in, you can really go big and bold with the backsplash. These tiles are dual glazed — each 2-inch by 4-inch tile is finished in multiple colors with glossy and matte glazes, which gives a slight mosaic look but in a subway-tile format. 

I’m a huge fan of three-dimensional tiles, and these ovals are among my favorites. Admittedly, the nooks and crannies might require a bit more elbow grease to keep clean but, to me anyway, the wow factor they add to the kitchen is worth the extra upkeep. 

For those who prefer a low-maintenance backsplash, look into back-painted glass. This can be a well-priced option for savvy DIYers, or check with your local glass supplier to find someone with the experience and know-how to help you create your own custom back-painted-glass backsplash. Here one works strikingly for a red-hot ubermodern theme. 

Here’s another unique glass backsplash option: Aura glass from Ann Sacks. This material is available in a range of sizes, from 4- by 8-inch bricks to various-size hexagons and sheets up to 24 by 40 inches.  

Get the look of a solid glass backsplash but with all the shimmering texture of a glass mosaic by selecting a small-format glass mosaic in a single hue. This gorgeous backsplash sparkles and adds a touch of glam to this elegant kitchen. 

Here’s another version of the Gloss Mosaic tiles from Artistic Tile. I like how the kitchen palette was kept very light, cool and neutral, which allows the hot, shimmery backsplash to take center stage. 

I recommend playing with scale, because there are now so many options available in backsplash tile beyond the once-standard 3- by 6-inch subways or 4-inch squares. These skinny sticks look clean, neat and modern. 

Or go big with a superwide-format subway tile. These 3- by 16-inch glass tiles look sharp in this cool kitchen.

 

Who says backsplash tile has to be rectangular? This tile has a softer, more organic geometric shape, which adds oodles of charm and a vintage feel. 

This is another favorite backsplash tile of mine. I love the irregular and random triangular and wedge shapes as well as the subtle color variation among the pieces. This particular tile requires fairly thick grout lines, so be sure to seal the grout according to the manufacturer’s specifications. 

This gorgeous iridescent glass mosaic tile would work with a variety of design styles, from traditional to contemporary. And it has a good amount of orangish-red coloration, so it harmonizes well with the orange tones expressed by the wood flooring and cabinets. 

These cool glass stick mosaic tiles are reminiscent of stained glass panels, but with a modern twist. You can run this tile vertically or horizontally. Installing it vertically, as shown here, draws your eye up the wall and makes the ceiling feel higher.  

Here’s another nice linear stick glass mosaic tile with beautiful coloration. The white grout helps showcase the individual tiles and ties in well with the crisp, white countertop.

Bathroom Floor Tile: Glass Mosaic for a Luxurious Look

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Glass mosaic tile flooring can certainly add beauty to a bathroom, but it’s still a hotly debated material choice for flooring. No one can deny how great it looks, but some people question its durability and safety in a wet environment. Here you’ll learn all about the pros, cons and costs to help you decide if glass mosaic tile is a good fit for your bathroom. Could this luxurious material work for you? 

The basics. Glass mosaic tile, made up of many small tiles in different colors or the same color, can dramatically change a space. You will want to find an experienced installer and use proper setting materials and grout.


Cost. Glass mosaic tile is considered a high-end material, so it’s more expensive than average bathroom flooring. However, there’s a wide price range: High-quality, beautiful glass tile in sheets is typically $25 to $40 per square foot; custom murals can be $70 to $150 per square foot; and standard solid colors can start as low as $4 per square foot.

 

Advantages. Glass mosaic tile is one of the most lavish and luxurious bathroom flooring materials on the market. With its gorgeous reflective surface, it will add value and appeal. It also has a nonporous surface that’s resistant to stains, mold, mildew and chemical damage. 

Disadvantages. Make sure your glass tile has been approved by the American Society for Testing and Materials for flooring use. Confirm all the ins and outs of the warranty with the manufacturer. 

Hire an experienced professional to install your glass tile bathroom floor, since installation can prove tricky due to transparency. You can’t rush glass tile installation or treat it like larger-format tiles. 

Also, while glass mosaic tile is surprisingly strong, its surface is susceptible to scratching and etching and can also become slippery when wet.

 

 

 

 

 

Sustainability. Many glass tile manufacturers have become environmentally aware and have created ecofriendly lines using recycled glass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maintenance. Glass mosaic is quite easy to clean, and it is important to maintain your floor to lengthen its life span and boost its reflectivity. One of the most important things you can do to help keep your glass tile floor in tip-top shape is to keep it free of dirt and grit that can scratch its surface. You’ll also want to wash away soap scum and mineral deposits with a standard bathroom cleanser and a soft bristle brush.


“Look at what is indicated on the grout bag. Glass tile is not going to be influenced by many things, but the grout often is affected by what is used,” says Christina White, general manager of Hakatai Enterprises.“This may in turn change the appearance of the tile, when actually it is the grout that has changed.”