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Smooth Solutions to Kitchen Counter Corners

The designers of these kitchens found creative ways to ease the transition from counter to walking zone.

Erin Carlyle April 26, 2020. Writing about the cost of renovation and what it takes to remodel. Former Forbes real estate reporter. Fascinated by cool homes, watching the bottom line.

It’s pretty standard for kitchen cabinets to run in a straight line until they meet the end of a wall or the start of a doorway. But sometimes, that isn’t the smoothest route. These six kitchens employ clever alternatives for ending a run of cabinets. Though the solutions vary, each makes the nearby passageway feel a little more smooth. Could this be a solution for your kitchen?

1. Curved Toward Walkway

For this Northwest Washington, D.C., kitchen by Case Architects & Remodelers, the designer gave the countertop a curve to soften the lines and give the space a transitional feel. The curve is also a practical choice because the counter abuts a walkway that heads toward a door. A curve in the pebbled quartz countertop means there’s no sharp corner to hit should you make a misstep.

2. Recessed by Door

Another way to pull the counter back from the walkway is to recess it, as Shannon Eckel-Braun of Design Factory Interiors did for this Waterloo, Ontario, kitchen. Instead of a full-depth cabinet abutting the door that leads outside, a 12-inch-deep cabinet creates some breathing room. “I wanted it to be recessed back so you feel like you can smoothly walk around it,” Eckel-Braun says. “I didn’t want the countertops to just end.”

3. Angled by Door

This kitchen in Stockholm, Sweden, by Stylingbolaget has a range that sticks out farther than the doorway wall. One option would have been to stop the run of counter where the range ends.

But the designer found a solution that also adds storage: angling the countertop to the left of the range so it forms a wedge that looks interesting but not awkward. More important, it creates a smooth route in and out of the kitchen. And with the space used for open shelving rather than a traditional closed cabinet, all that space is easily accessed.

Here’s a more traditional way to angle a counter near a doorway: with a corner cabinet. The shape of this end run of cabinets in Oakland, California, by Kitchens by Francis invites you into the room. It also smooths the way out — you can glide right by via an efficient diagonal route.

4. Rounded on End of Run

The designer of this kitchen in Hampshire, England, used curves to soften the lines of this long, narrow kitchen. The curve of the tall breakfast table echoes the curve of the cabinet by Lewis Alderson & Co. Both curves distract the eye from the otherwise long, straight shape of the space. The cabinet’s curve also allows space for a walkway around the table.

5. Rounded on Island

In this Minneapolis kitchen by Crystal Kitchen + Bath, squared-off cabinets at the perimeter maximize storage, but the curved shape of this island’s end zone offers a practical way to avoid uncomfortable bumps where people tend to hang out. As with the first example in this story, rounding the island adds to the room’s transitional feel, as do the speckled countertops and horizontal bar pulls on the cabinets.

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.

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.

10 Countertop Mashups for the Kitchen

Article by: Katie Pegler

Mixing materials for kitchen countertops has many benefits. For one, you can save money by using a less expensive material for your perimeter countertops while splurging on something more luxurious for an island top. Plus, mixing materials is a great way to add visual interest to your kitchen and avoid the overabundance of one color or material. With that in mind, designers are pairing marble with walnut, granite with reclaimed wood, engineered quartz with maple butcher block and more to create diverse surfaces for working, eating and gathering.

Marble Island With Wenge Bar

“Our overall design was form meets function throughout this kitchen design,” says Ashley Luberger, design associate at Osborne Cabinets and Millwork. “The island is the key focal point of this space, so we wanted to add interest combining heights and different materials to create a cohesive space.” 

Osborne designed and fabricated the island cabinets and wood top, made out of African wenge wood. “The wood has a really dark natural color along with a really tight grain pattern, creating a contemporary feel,” Luberger says. Collaborative Design Group chose the marble top.

The wood top was selected for the lower eating area because it is more durable than marble, which was used only on the island to avoid stain concerns. 

Marble Perimeter With Walnut Island

A white kitchen was a must for the owners of this Minneapolis home. However, both the husband and wife grew up in houses with wood countertops and were keen to incorporate wood. Nicole Bostman, owner and lead designer at Dezaar Interiors, found a happy medium by pairing a white marble countertop and oversize walnut island. “We wanted to introduce the warmth of wood to balance all the white, which can sometimes look a little cold and clinical,” Bostman says.

Walnut Countertops With Marble Island Top

In this Nunica, Michigan, kitchen by Meiste Homes, the perimeter countertops are oiled walnut, while the custom island is topped with a 10-foot slab of Arabescato marble with a built-up ogee edge. 

Be sure to follow proper maintenance routines for each material. Wood can chip and warp, especially in wet areas, such as near the sink. And marble can stain and chip. 

Quartz Perimeter With Maple Butcher Block Island

Before the remodel of this Los Angeles contemporary home, the owners had white marble countertops. Gabriel Abikasis, president of Kasis Construction, recommended engineered quartz as a durable alternative.

To add depth, texture and contrast to the white cabinets, Abikasis used 2-inch-thick maple butcher block in a clear satin finish for the island. 

Granite Perimeter With Reclaimed-Wood Island

This design of this kitchen reflects the homeowners’ desire to retain the old elements of the 1930s cabin.The main countertop is Jet Mist honed granite, while the island has a reclaimed-wood top fabricated by Grothouse Lumber. The wood island is sealed and cannot be used for cutting directly on. “The contrasting wood counter warms up the kitchen and makes it feel more cabin-like than if everything was dark granite,” says Kelly Ennis, principal at Ennis Nehez

Granite Island With Walnut Chopping Block Extension

Much thought was put into this kitchen, because it’s in the “forever home” of its owners, in Dartmouth, England. They wanted to make the most of the new space and were meticulous in defining their kitchen right down to listing what items each cabinet would need to store, so that Distinctive Living Kitchens could plan for the correct cabinet sizes and functionality.

The inspiration for the granite came from an existing granite countertop in the laundry room, which Distinctive Living Kitchens matched to the Shivakashi granite counters that are paired with the end-grain walnut chopping block island extension. 

Granite Island With Walnut Butcher Block Extension 

This Ottawa, Canada, home was built for a couple who wanted an environment conducive to entertaining large groups of family and friends, so a large, functional kitchen with good flow was key. “In addressing the functionality, I wanted to create a space that looked aesthetically balanced with functional and decorative elements,” says Nathan Kyle, senior interior designer at Astro Design Centre.

The island counters have silver wave granite surrounding the prep area mixed with walnut butcher block for the eating area. The inclusion of two materials was necessary to create the length that was required without having a seam in the countertop, and created a length that was ideal for entertaining. The butcher block also allows for a warmer touch on the area where people can rest elbows, versus a cold surface. 

“Using a two-toned kitchen allows for the back wall, which is utilitarian in nature, to stand on its own and juxtapose itself with a more detailed decorative island,” Kyle says. 

Concrete Island With Wood Inlay

For this contemporary Kansas City, Missouri, kitchen, Studiobuild blended poured concrete for the majority of the island and juxtaposed it with a wood inlay surrounding the cooktop on the same plane. Not only does this look have more visual interest, but a large island for eating and working eliminated the need for an eating nook.

Pietra Cardosa Stone Perimeter With Maple Island

For this center kitchen island, Brooks Custom used a 2-inch-thick premium wide-plank maple top. The light-colored wood contrasts with the dark Pietra Cardosa stone countertop along the perimeter of the kitchen. The seemingly simple finish on the island ties the modern farmhouse look together. 

Basaltina Perimeter With Walnut Island

Here a walnut island surface warms the basaltina perimeter and helps add contrast to the white kitchen. It offers the perfect fusion of natural materials and lower maintenance. “There is always a balance to strike between durability offered by manufactured options and the beauty and soul of living materials,” says interior designer Joelle Nesen of Maison.

12 Stylish Kitchen Counters That Seem to Float in Space

Want your kitchen countertop to be the hero of your new cooking zone rather than relegated to the background? One way to do that is to look beyond the basic block-like counter and incorporate a cantilevered, or floating, countertop into your kitchen design instead. Here are 12 cantilevered counters that not only offer showstopping style but also enhance functionality and create the illusion of more space.

1. Suspended reality. This may look like an optical illusion, but there was no hocus-pocus involved when this striking, impressively long floating counter was built — that we know of, anyway. Its gravity-defying design is just one reason this cantilevered countertop commands attention. Its luxe, chunky look and sleek black color (which boldly contrasts the vibrant red cabinetry opposite) also ensure that the suspended structure exudes jaw-dropping appeal.

The expansive bar provides plenty of room for several people to sit and enjoy a drink or meal, while the open area beneath ensures that spills and crumbs can be cleaned up with ease, making this an ideal setup indoors or outdoors.

Tip: If your countertop is thick, opt for minimalist stools with a slim profile so the design doesn’t appear too heavy.

2. Natural wonder. If you want to infuse your kitchen with warmth, subtle sophistication and an air of luxury, consider a cantilevered-counter combo of natural stone and timber. Here the suspended style showcases the quiet beauty of the travertine top, while the wood cabinetry below softens the look and complements the stone’s neutral tones. 

But style isn’t all this counter has to offer. The cantilevered top also provides additional workspace (which helps offset the area taken up by the double sink and stovetop farther down the island) and room for extra chairs, which comes in handy when entertaining.

Tip: When choosing wood to pair with your stone countertop, look for one that’s free of prominent knots or patterns that could clash with the veining of the natural stone. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Minimalist chic. Although this cantilevered surface is a dedicated work zone, it also succeeds in injecting this modern rustic kitchen with a hearty dash of visual interest. The clever floating contraption is anchored to the wall by way of steel tabs that protrude from the metal surface and double as decorative elements that transform the vertical surface into an accent wall. Crisp white was a smart color choice for the surface, as it cuts through the room’s moody palette, while the thickness gives the space a clean, contemporary feel.

4. Cool and clean. If you hate being on cleanup duty after a family barbecue, a floating concrete counter like this one will make the chore a little easier to bear. Thanks to its suspended design, crumbs and spills can be swept or hosed away quickly. Polished cement also is durable, stain resistant and easy to clean, so it doesn’t require much effort to make the surface look as good as new after entertaining.

Also, note how the cool gray surface adds an industrial edge to the contemporary outdoor kitchen and entertaining area, while the countertop’s bold lines and streamlined look complement the sleek style of the space.

5. On the side. Now here’s a chic cantilevered counter with a twist. Rather than extending a section of the thin, neutral-toned countertop past the end of the island, designer Darren James placed a separate slab of stone (in a contrasting tone and thickness) on top and rotated it to sit across the width of the workspace. This not only helps define the cooking zone and visually separate it from the surrounding open-plan area, but also makes the space feel more communal, as the seating faces inward, fostering a sense of togetherness.

As you can see, the contrasting look and unique configuration of both counters also succeed in transforming a basic island top into a statement-making design feature.

6. See-through style. Don’t be too hasty to say, “Nuh-uh; no way” to a floating glass countertop. Sure, they’re not for everyone (like those with young kids), but they can work for some in the right space.

Here an eye-catching glass countertop appears to jut out from the corner of a taller wood prep zone. It’s stabilized by a metal bracket that supports the see-through surface. The material was selected to enhance the airy, spacious feel of the kitchen, and coupled with the suspended design, it successfully does just that. Although it’s an unconventional choice for a kitchen countertop, the structure here was designed to be a eating area, rather than a food-prep space, so the material should hold up fine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Family friendly. One design trend we’ve seen in the kitchen project section of Houzz is the integrated kitchen counter–dining table. This elegant transitional-style cooking and eating area shows how this concept takes shape with the help of a cantilevered countertop. 

Here the floating counter has been lowered so that it stands at table height, rather than matching the height of the adjacent concrete counter. This allows for more comfortable and ergonomic seating (unlike bar stools, which can sometimes cause aches and pains in your back and legs after you’ve been perched on one for a while —or does that just happen to short people like me?). This means your family and friends won’t mind sitting around the table for long meals and lengthy catch-up sessions.

The long, cantilevered counter provides loads of visual appeal too. The rustic, reclaimed wood table contrasts beautifully with the contemporary pastel pink cabinetry and industrial-looking cement counter, creating a space that oozes subtle sophistication but still makes a strong style statement. White retro-style dining chairs complete the look and add another layer of interest to the eclectic scheme.

8. Optical illusion. This stunning counter may appear as if it’s floating, but if you look closely, you’ll see that there’s actually a mirror-finish post that supports the stunning granite countertop from below — how sneaky! Even so, this showstopping cantilevered-look counter still deserves a mention, since it achieves the same airy, space-enhancing look as a suspended countertop, albeit with some help from a supportive friend.

Here it’s not just the striking countertop material that makes a dramatic statement. The undercounter lighting and the way the granite appears to be embedded in the white Caesarstone island also take the stylish kitchen counter to new heights. The lowered height of the bench makes this casual dining area more practical and comfortable, too.

Tip: If you’re worried that a natural stone countertop may be too high maintenance for you, choose an engineered stone or a high-quality laminate instead.

9. Green with envy. What was the first thing that caught our eye when we spied this cool cooking space? The striking island, of course  though the shimmering disco ball–like pendant light probably came in a close second. While the island’s eye-popping lime-green base immediately attracts the eye, the dramatic lines of the thick floating concrete top also command attention.

Polished concrete is a stylish and practical kitchen surface choice, as it not only injects any space with a cool, contemporary edge, but is also extremely low maintenance and environmentally friendly, making it ideal for those who desire an ecochic cooking zone that’s a breeze to clean. Did we mention the material is very affordable, too?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Space age. If you want to make a bold statement in your kitchen, opt for a cantilevered counter that’s fashioned from an interesting material in an unexpected shape, such as the cutting-edge, contoured design shown here. LED lights fitted underneath add to the freestanding form’s space-age vibe and help highlight the showstopping centerpiece.

Thanks to its tall height, there’s plenty of room to tuck several bar stools below the counter, which helps keep the pathways free of obstacles and ensures that the room maintains its clean, uncluttered look.

Tip: Install tinted LED strip lights below the floating countertop for a more dynamic and colorful look.

11. Going round. Worried that a suspended countertop won’t work in your spatially challenged cooking zone? This chic U-shaped kitchen shows how it’s done. Here a round floating bar is cantilevered out from the wall and floor cabinets, providing a spot for casual eats, an additional workspace and a social hub where family and friends can mingle when you’re entertaining. It also adds another layer of visual interest. Notice how the counter’s smooth, curved shape contrasts with the sharp lines and boxy forms that are used throughout the area.

12. Hidden treasure. Now you see it; now you don’t! A space-savvy cantilevered pivot table like this one is a clever, creative addition that will boost the functionality of any compact cooking zone. When extended, the table enhances the visual appeal of the space, thanks to its sharp lines and striking silhouette, transforming the otherwise basic kitchen counter into an interesting design feature. Note how the blonde timber and subtle wood grain echo the timber used underfoot and add warmth to the cool white palette, too.

Countertop + Backsplash: Making the Perfect Match

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Which do you select first — kitchen counter or backsplash? How do you coordinate colors? Is it OK to mix patterns? The seemingly unlimited countertop and backsplash choices can feel overwhelming.

I’ve had homeowners approach me after weeks or months of looking at and collecting samples of materials that they love separately but just don’t love together. Some settle on a combination that looks good together, but they don’t actually like either material on its own. 

Here are 10 examples of stunning and successful countertop and backsplash combinations to help you plan your own mix of kitchen finishes, along with tips to ease your selection process. 

Approach 1: Select the Countertop First

If you feel overwhelmed by the countertop and backsplash options, try focusing on countertop selection first. Your countertop is the workhorse in your kitchen and can constitute a good chunk of your budget, so you’ll want to get it right. Your budget and the way you use your kitchen will narrow things down. Plus, there are generally fewer color and pattern options for countertop materials, whereas backsplash options are practically unlimited. Countertops will also be installed before the backsplash, so you definitely need to decide on them first if construction has already begun.

Browse the Houzz photo database for countertop materials that appeal to you and the compare pros and cons in the Houzz guides to countertops. If you want to see something in person, check out what’s available at your local stone yard, kitchen and bathroom design showrooms, and home improvement stores.

Shown: Soapstone and butcher block counter; linear glass tile mosaic backsplash 

Once you’ve homed in on your countertop of choice (congratulations!), you have immediately narrowed the field of options for the backsplash. Trust me, this makes your life easier. 

Now, you don’t necessarily need to exactly match the color or pattern of your countertop to that of your backsplash, especially if you go for an unusual hue or a countertop material with a lot of movement in it. In these cases a simple and neutral-hued backsplash is a good choice, so that the countertop takes center stage and does not fight with the backsplash for attention.

Shown: Orange quartz counter (get the look withOne Quartz from Daltile); Oceanside Glasstile’sTessera mosaic blend in Veil backsplash

 

If you want to go bold with both your countertop and backsplash, bring a sample of your chosen countertop material with you as you shop for backsplash tile. You will be able to instantly limit your backsplash options to those that work with your countertop material. If you are struggling with finding the right backsplash to work with your countertop selection, consider hiring a pro, even if it’s for just a few hours, to help you nail the selections. Or enlist the help of a color- or design-savvy friend.

Shown: Green quartz counter (get the look with Silestone); mosaic glass tile backsplash 

Approach 2: Select the Backsplash First

Of course, if you happen to find a backsplash you absolutely love before you’ve even looked at countertops, I say go for it. Making this selection will absolutely help you narrow down the options for the countertop. If you go for a statement-making backsplash such as the one here, find a quiet, subtler countertop material so it doesn’t fight with the backsplash.

Shown: Pietra del Cardoso stone counter; Stone & Pewter Accents mosaic glass tile backsplash

 

I prefer that either the countertop or the backsplash be the star of the show, with the other material playing a supporting role. This stunning backsplash has lots of color and movement and, in my opinion, should not have to compete with an equally attention-grabbing countertop.

Shown: Caesarstone counter; glass mosaic Waterworks backsplash 

That’s not to say you shouldn’t consider a mix of colors and patterns for both your countertop and backsplash. But if both of your materials feature multiple hues and have different patterns, aggregates or movement, stick to one overriding color palette for both materials. This will give the materials a nice cohesiveness, so they don’t fight with each other.

Shown: Bianco Romano granite counter; stained glass mosaic tile backsplash 

Approach 3: Use the Same Material for Both Counter and Backsplash

Love your countertop selection and want to keep this process simple? Consider running your countertop material up onto the wall as the backsplash. This is an especially smart option if you are required to purchase entire slabs of your chosen countertop material and you happen to have enough material left over to use the remainder as the backsplash.

Shown: Get the look with a Pietra del Cardoso stone counter and backsplash. 

You can also use the same or similar countertop material for your backsplash but break it up by selecting a tile format for your backsplash rather than a slab. This can be a budget-friendlier option than purchasing extra slabs to create a backsplash.

Shown: Get the look with a Carrara marble counter or, for a more durable option, check out Misty Carrera from Caesarstone; Carrara marble subway tile backsplash 

Another cost-effective approach is to run your countertop 4 to 6 inches up the wall as a short splash. It will give you a nice finished edge where the countertop meets the wall, and it will also provide protection to the part of the wall most likely to get wet or dirty. Just be sure to check your local building code requirements regarding the minimum height of noncombustible materials on the wall area above the range or cooktop.

Shown: Uba Tuba granite counter; colbalt-blue Daltile subway tile backsplash 

Approach 4: Hire an Expert

Some homeowners just have a difficult time visualizing their finished kitchen, which is why material selection can prove so challenging. And all too often you are asked to make too many decisions in too short a time period. If you know you are prone to analysis paralysis, do yourself a favor and give yourself enough time to weigh your options, but with a firm deadline to make the decision. Engage the assistance of a friend whose taste you admire, or hire a design professional to help guide you or bless your selections.

Shown: Gray and white granite counter; oversize ceramic tile backsplash

 

The Kitchen Counter Goes to New Heights

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Traditional counter heights are useful. They allow us to enter any kitchen and, even with our eyes closed, find the counter where we expect it to be. Despite this significant convenience, industry standard counter heights don’t work for everybody, because there’s no such thing as industry-standard human beings. 

You don’t have to stand for the one-size-fits-all mentality. I spoke with numerous designers who are bucking the norm to offer clients custom features that won’t hurt (and might actually help) resale value. 

The benefits of multiheight kitchen counters. Do you feel overexerted every time you prepare a meal? Architect and universal design expert Carol Sundstrom explains why this might be. “If you are short, reaching up and extending forward to chop on a standard-height countertop contributes to shoulder strain,” she notes. “If you are tall and constantly bending forward to see the food you’re prepping better, or extending your arms fully to reach a countertop that is too low for you, that contributes to both back and shoulder strain.” 

Having multiple counter heights is a great solution for multiple users. “I prefer to see more than one height of countertop in a kitchen, rather than all the counters raised up because the owners are tall, or all the counters lowered because the owners are petite,” Sundstrom continues. “Aside from making friends and family who may not share your same proportions feel comfortable when they are helping you, you also preserve your resale value.” 

A good height. Though there is no industry standard to such custom features, Sundstrom suggests raising and lowering counter heights in 2-inch increments when mocking up a kitchen, then fine-tuning them. 

Features that can be stepped up or down in a kitchen. Eat-at counters offer great benefits, as this one by Yvonne Randolph shows. The 12-foot island was divided in half to form a table-height eat-at counter. “The clients, who are in their 60s and entertain a lot, didn’t want the clunky effect of sitting at bar stools,” Randolph says. “They have a deaf son and daughter-in-law, so they decided to round the edge. It’s much easier to sign around a table without corners.”


You don’t need to communicate through sign language to appreciate such a feature.
 

Counters that work for every preference and body. This kitchen, designed by Toni Sabatino, offers a lowered sink area, the height of which is 31½ inches, as opposed to the standard 34½ inches. The motive was purely aesthetic. “We chose to make the copper sink the focal point and felt the break in the counter would draw the eye.” 

In another of Sabatino’s designs, two stepped-down eating areas bring the food and conversation down to a comfortable seated level, rather than forcing bodies to climb up to the action. 

The idea for this kitchen design, by M.J. Lanphier, was to have standard dining-table-height seating for the clients’ children. The homeowners didn’t want any chairs to be too tall for them, especially in light of the island’s above-standard height of 36½ inches. 

A bonus of varying heights. This lowered table also provides a physical separation between the children’s clean homework area and the food prep station. 

Though this table purposely can fit only two chairs for the two children, your own stepped feature can just as easily fit more with judicious leg placement. 

“A center pedestal leg on a table allows people to pull up at the counter anywhere without straddling a leg or bumping into one as you get into place,” Sundstrom says. “It also offers the ability of fitting more people around comfortably without triggering the need for table leaves.” 

Aside from dining counters and prep counters, baking centers and cooktops can also have stepped features.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dishwashers, too, can be taken to new heights — either in their conventional form, as shown here, or as drawers. “Two separate dishwasher drawers, each mounted right under the counter, can ease back strain,” Sundstrom says. “This also enables a dishwasher to be installed in a lower-than-standard countertop height.”



 

6 Ways to Rethink the Kitchen Island

The hardworking kitchen island can be a very functional and beautiful centerpiece of a kitchen design, and it’s one of the most popular features of a modern kitchen. But it’s not the only way to go. In some spaces an island can feel more cumbersome than useful. If you are feeling the urge to break away from the island-centric kitchen, check out our bevy of inspiring ideas below. 

Save space with an island and table in one. The innovative kitchen in this Sydney home features an island counter on one side, with built-in seating and a marble-topped, extendable table on the other end. Combining a table with an island is a great space saver, and an extendable table can seat a crowd without taking up too much space on a daily basis. 

Another great island-table hybrid, this set works extra hard — the stools are comfy enough to sit on through dinner, yet they can be tucked completely under the table to free up kitchen workspace during prep time.

 

Encourage cozy suppers with a kitchen table. With an ample-size rustic wood table in the center of your kitchen, family and friends are sure to gather around it night and day. It’s so much warmer and friendlier than a big, blocky kitchen island, and it’s perfect for spreading school projects out on as well. 

Streamline your kitchen with a modern dining set. If you have counter space covered and appliances tucked against the walls, as in the L-shaped kitchen shown here, why bulk up your kitchen with an island at all? A marble-topped Saarinen dining table and Eames chairs (as shown here) are a highly covetable pairing among modern design enthusiasts and enhance the light, airy feel of a white kitchen. 

Get the best of both worlds with a working-height table. When you need more kitchen prep space but don’t want a giant island with to-the-floor storage, a tall table is a good solution. You can still comfortably do prep work, but this type of table takes up far less visual space than a built-in island. 

Taller kitchen tables are also great for narrow spaces. A slender table like the one shown here doesn’t take up too much space but allows ample room to work. If you wanted to sneak in a bit of extra storage, you could track down a table with drawers or an open shelf, or have a knife rack built into the side. 

Enhance flow in an open-plan space with a kitchen table. When your living, dining and cooking spaces are visually linked, a gigantic kitchen island in the middle of everything can look out of place. Choosing a table instead, whether counter height or dining height, will give your entire space a more relaxed, comfortable feel. 

An old wooden table with a rich patina warms up any kitchen but works especially well when the kitchen opens to a wider living space. Add a soft rug underfoot to boost the comfort factor even more. 

Cozy up a contemporary island with plush seats. You can also work with an existing island by choosing ultraplush upholstered tall benches, instead of the typical bar stools. These are extra wide and have a shape that makes them look more like mini settees than stools, and they look supremely comfortable.
 



Get Grout Magically Clean – Stains and All

If your grout is grossing you out, this deep-cleaning method will help it look new again!


The Armstrong Master Shower

Photo: American Cabinet & Flooring | Project Manager Randy WilsonTile – whether it’s used as flooring, in the kitchen as a backsplash or for counters, or in the bathroom – has one great downfall: grout. Since grout is porous in nature, unsealed grout absorbs all kinds of stains, from mildew to coffee and everything in between. To say it’s a headache to keep grout clean is an understatement.

NOTE: Be wary of using too much lemon juice with marble, since it can etch or damage the stone if left on too long. Hydrogen peroxide can be a safe alternative.

We inherited marble tile counters when we purchased our home. It’s pretty clear that the grout was never properly sealed, so it soaks up stains like crazy. It makes our kitchen feel gross and grimy, even if it was just cleaned. While I’d love to replace the counters with a solid surface like quartz, it’s just not in out budget – plus, we just can’t justify getting rid of something that’s perfectly fine otherwise.

Luckily, I have a foolproof method that will lift most household stains from that pesky grout. 

What you’ll need:

  • Oxygenated bleach (like OxyClean)

  • Warm water

  • Coarse scrubbing brush (like an old toothbrush)

  • Towel

  • Lemon

  • Grout sealer

TIP: Cleaning colored grout should be done with special care. Bleaching agents (like chlorine bleach) can discolor and harm the colored grout. Fortunately, oxygenated bleach does not contain corrosive chemicals and is safe to use on all grout. 

1). Clean the surface thoroughly, removing any surface residue or debris. Let the grout dry fully.

2). Dissolve 2 tablespoons of oxygenated bleach in 2 cups of warm water. Wet the brush in the mixture and apply it to the grout. Let is soak in, then scrub the grout in a circular motion, which will loosen the stain more effectively than a front-and-back motion. If needed, dip the wet brush into the oxygenated bleach to make a paste. Wipe clean, then let dry.

TIP: To lift extra dark stains, squeeze lemon juice onto the stain, let it soak in, then scrub, wipe clean and let the grout dry. Use lemon juice sparingly, since it can damage some tile finishes.

3). Spray the tiles and grout with an ecofriendly cleaning spray and wipe them clean. Let the grout dry fully before making a final decision on whether your hard work paid off – damp grout looks darker than dry grout. 

4). Apply grout sealer after the grout has fully dried to avoid any future stains. Be sure to reapply it each year. 

Still having trouble getting that grout clean? For those impossible-to-remove stains, you might want to consider:

  • A commerical tile and grout cleaner

  • A coarser brush (avoid using metal bristles, though, as they can erode the grout)

  • Grout Renew

If after you’ve tried all three, the stain is still hanging strong, you may have to resort to removing the old grout and replacing it with new. 

TIP: An electric multitool, like the Dremel Mult-Max, helps to make quick and safe work of removing the old grout. 

Get Grout Magically Clean — Stains and All