The Right White

More than half of the homeowners the Upper Valley opt for a white palette when creating the kitchen of their dreams. White is a popular choice because of its neutrality, which allows for homeowners the Upper Valley to add pops of their favorite color and different textures and design elements that make unique statements reflecting their personality and aesthetic. Another compelling reason for a white pallet in your dream kitchen is that it will withstand the test of time. How can you make a white kitchen unique and an expression of your personality?

Recognize that white is often selected because homeowners the Upper Valley associate white with having a bright airy feel. And that can be a really smart use of white. However, white cabinets with white backsplashes and white countertops can create a sea of sameness. Homeowners the Upper Valley that want a bright and airy look and feel can achieve their goal by recognizing there are hundreds of shades of white and can contrast white cabinetry with gray toned countertops and backsplashes. Other effective strategies to contrast a predominately white kitchen pallet is to specify dark hardwood floor coverings, install a statement making contrasting range hood, or adding painted glass doors to selected upper cabinets. We often recommend veined stone or quartz countertops to help contrast white cabinetry as well.

Another technique for making white kitchens stand out is to introduce texture and contrast into the design to make it more interesting. Open wood stained or grained shelves can make a unique design statement along with installing black finished cabinet hardware, lighting or range hoods.

Many homeowners the Upper Valley that believe white is the right color for their dream kitchen are attracted to contrasting white upper cabinets with a different colored lower cabinet to add warmth and texture to the space or to select different textural elements such as concrete countertops, oversized pendant lights or geometrically shaped tiles for backsplashes.

How can you create a statement making white kitchen that will last the test of time and deliver years of joy to you and your family? Give us a call at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH and discuss how you can make your dreams a reality.

Spick and Span

Questions that we ask homeowners the Upper Valley during the initial planning phases of designing a new dream kitchen include who will use the kitchen, how often and who will clean the space. If homeowners the Upper Valley are avid cooks, we ask if they mind cleaning their kitchen. The responses to those questions provide great insight because different surfaces require different levels of effort to keep a new kitchen looking new.

Frameless cabinets are generally easier to clean than framed cabinets. Flat panel doors are generally easier to clean than paneled, beaded, or arched style doors because flat panel doors don’t have groves or recesses where dirt and grim can accumulate. Flat panel doors are selected by homeowners the Upper Valley that want a contemporary modern look and feel to their kitchen. Homeowners the Upper Valley that want a more traditional look but don’t want to spend a lot of time keeping cabinet surfaces clean, often select Shaker designs that are characterized by clean lines that add depth and interest without being visually overpowering. The most basic Shaker style is a five-piece door with a recessed center panel and no additional edge detailing.

The color of the cabinet also affects cleaning requirements. There is a reason why white cabinets are selected more than 50% of the time by homeowners the Upper Valley. They do not show dust particles or fingerprints that are visible on cabinets with dark paints and stains. Selecting a cabinet style that features grains and grooves can help hide stains and scratches and are typically easier to repair and restore than painted cabinets.

The easiest to clean and most durable countertop material is engineered quartz. It resist stains, scratching and incurring damages from hot pots and pans. Wood countertops look great, but require resealing at least annually if not more depending on usage. Granite countertops are also durable and relatively easy to clean with warm soapy water. We recommend to homeowners the Upper Valley that every few months to determine if a granite or other types of stone countertops need to be resealed to avoid the potential for staining.

Stainless steel appliances also are easy to clean with soap and water. However, they can easily show fingerprints and scratches.

The easiest and highly durable material for floors are ceramic and porcelain tiles. Ceramic and porcelain is highly moisture resistant and scratch and stain resistant and don’t require any special cleaning materials. Stone and wood floors should be resealed at least annually.

Semi-gloss and high-gloss paints are the easiest to clean in a kitchen. If you don’t want the glossy vibe in your kitchen, a good alternative is a satin paint.

Similar to flooring, ceramic and porcelain backsplashes are easiest to clean. Glass is another relatively low maintenance backsplash material and using glass sheets eliminates the need for grout.

Brushed finishes for plumbing fixtures and door and cabinet hardware are easiest to clean and if you make the investment in PVD finish, the finish will last a lifetime. Matte finishes hide water spots and fingerprints which is not the case with chrome and other shiny finishes.

When planning your new kitchen, always consider finish options and their effect on maintenance and cleaning requirements. What surfaces, materials and finish options would make your new kitchen look, feel and function most effectively? Give us a call at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit us at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH to discuss the best materials for your new dream kitchen.

Preparing to Renovate Your Primary Bath

Demand for new baths among homeowners the Upper Valley has never been hotter. Homeowners the Upper Valley have realized that creating an in-home spa where they can have a few minutes all to themselves to wash away the stresses of the day can enhance the quality of their lives and increase the value of their homes. Given the demand for kitchen and bath renovations and supply chain challenges confronting the entire industry makes preparing for a new bath more important than it has ever been. Bathroom renovation is not something most homeowners the Upper Valley undertake often. There’s lots of decisions that have to be made, options to consider and details to ponder. Here’s guidance to help prepare for your renovation.

Have realistic timeline and budget expectations. Home improvement television shows are great sources of inspiration, however, they provide a tremendous disservice when it comes to timeframes and budgets. Costs that are often quoted more times than not do not include the cost of labor. Timelines do not account for the time it takes to design, contract for services, obtain permits, conduct code inspections or encounter material delays and supply chain issues. Don’t be afraid to share with a professional showroom consultant/designer your expectations of your dream bath and the budget figure you want to spend. A true professional will advise you if your budget can meet your expectations and if not, where cost savings might be available. Budget is affected by the scope of the project. Expanding space, adding windows or skylights, reconfiguring plumbing, electrical and heating and cooling ducts incurs more cost than simply replacing what might currently exist.

The size of a bathroom also can present challenges, especially if it tends to be smaller, which may not lend itself to a separate space for the toilet, dual sinks or a large soaking tub. That’s where a professional designer can be your greatest ally. They know how to maximize the value of the space they have to work with. Our showroom has created “Ah Ha” moments among homeowners the Upper Valley by creating new space in a smaller bath by eliminating the tub altogether (because it was rarely used) and replacing it with a high performing shower with steam, color, light, sound and aroma therapies.

Opting for an open floor plan bath is another option to help maximize a smaller bath. Specifying a linear drain that requires the shower floor to be only sloped in one direction can eliminate the need for a shower enclosure altogether. Open floor plan baths are not only for smaller spaces, they can create wow factors in larger baths as well.

When planning the bath of your dreams determine how you use your bath, who will use it, what functionality you desire and most importantly how you want the bath to look and feel every time your cross the threshold. Working with a professional designer can help assure that the feeling you receive brings a smile to your face and the faces of your family members.

How can you plan for a dream bath? Give us a call at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit us at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.

COVID’s Effect on Design Trends

Historically, significant economic changes have been followed by the emergence of new design trends. Following the Great Depression, design favored bright, bold colors, sexier silhouettes and fun elements. Coming out of the 2007-9 financial crises, we saw the advent of ruffled miniskirts, low rise jeans and rhinestones seemingly everywhere. Similarly, COVID-19 has pushed design in a new direction. Many homeowners the Upper Valley are moving away from the sleek, clean and stark lines of minimalist design, opting instead for a bigger and bolder pallet. We believe this is the result of spending so much time indoors at the expense of experiencing the hustle and bustle of the outdoors, cafes, restaurants, stores, airports and so on.

The trend towards maximalism, which is defined as more of everything, involves using more colors, fabrics and accessories that are repeated throughout a space. Maximalism isn’t about trying to create a perfect space; it’s simply about creating a space that represents your unique personality. In kitchens, this translates to pops of bright or bold color and patterns in backsplashes, accent walls, kitchen artwork, cabinets and countertops.

We also are seeing a return to 1980s styling. The 80s were a decade of opulence, change and upheaval that translated to designs that featured bold, colorful and out-of-the ordinary furniture, glass-block walls, Lucite, pastels and shabby chic. New furniture and light fixture designs offer 80s color palettes, art-deco inspiration and more geometric patterns and shapes. Translating 1980s style to the 2021 needs of homeowners the Upper Valley involves tapping into more geometric shapes and patterns but using different materials such as stone instead of plastic or glass. In kitchens we are seeing more homeowners the Upper Valley gravitate to glossy cabinets in bold colors such as blues and greens and tiled backsplashes and countertops.

A third trend among homeowners the Upper Valley is a desire to shop and support local businesses and artisans that have been immensely challenged by COVID-19. Increasingly, homeowners the Upper Valley are asking about materials used to manufacture and produce cabinets and countertops and are looking to buy artisan-produced accent pieces not only for kitchens and baths but for other rooms in their home. We attribute this to the growing recognition of the importance of community and connection that was lost while sheltering in place. Homeowners the Upper Valley, after having spent more than a year shopping mainly online, want to see, feel and experience the products that they bring into their home.

Are you ready to a make a personal and perhaps colorful statement in a new kitchen, bath, laundry room or other space in your home that truly reflects your aesthetic and personality? Let’s discuss the possibilities. Give us a call at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit us at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.

Smart Choice: A More Intelligent and Enjoyable Bath

Increasingly, homeowners the Upper Valley need their homes to function more effectively and efficiently. As the role of the home continues to serve multiple functions including office, gym, café, lounge, restaurant, studio, etc., homeowners the Upper Valley are creating in-home spas that serve as a refuge, a place where they can enjoy a few quiet moments daily all to themselves and wash away the stresses of the day.

Homes are getting smarter and the primary bathroom is no exception. Especially in the last 18 to 24 months, demand for smart primary baths has skyrocketed and manufacturers are responding to that demand with technologically advanced and connected shower systems, toilets, mirrors, faucets, medicine cabinets, leak detection devices and lighting, among other bath features and components. Technology in the bath makes life a lot easier, healthier and more enjoyable.

Common Features of a Smart Bath

Smart toilets offer self-rising and closing seats, automatic flushing, self-cleaning capabilities, heated seats, massage night lights, Bluetooth connections to music services and personal digital assistants, integrated exhaust systems that remove odors and bacteria and washlet systems that incorporate dryers that eliminate the need for toilet paper.

Smart mirrors feature app- and Bluetooth-controlled lighting, USB sockets, motion sensor activation, Bluetooth audio speakers that allow users to connect smart phones to them and play music or watch a video, electric defoggers and even 3D scanners, multispectral cameras and gas sensors to assess the health of the person looking into them.

Smart lighting can be voice-, app- or motion-activated. We are placing LED strip lighting under toe kicks on vanities or along walls that can light the path to the bath without having to activate sconces or overhead lighting and wake your partner in the event you need to use the bath in the middle of the night.

Smart tubs offer a range of therapies that include light, sound and aroma, jets and air systems that can relax and rejuvenate tired muscles, soothe aches and pains, remove toxins from the body and wash away the stresses of the day.

Smart shower systems, that can be activated with smart phone apps, allow you to set the water temperature to match the needs and preferences of every member of your family and often include steam systems, audio, color, and aroma therapies.

Smart faucets also can be voice or motion activated that are not only easier to use, they also help save water. Similarly, voice or motion activated soap dispensers provide the perfect amount of soap for handwashing and can be installed in every bath in the home.

Televisions are making their way into baths and are particularly appreciated by homeowners the Upper Valley with family members who enjoy long soaks in the tub. Bathroom TVs can be found in bathroom mirrors or wall mounted at the foot of a tub or on a wall.

Other features of a high-tech, smart bath include heated floors and towel warmers.

How can you leverage technology to convert your primary bath into an intelligent, smart refuge that functions as an in-home spa? Give us a call at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit us at our showroom 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.

It’s A Family Affair

COVID-19 has transformed the role and functionality of modern kitchens the Upper Valley. While the kitchen has long been considered the heart of the home, it now serves multiple roles that include classroom, office, hobby center, restaurant, study, game room and conference room, among others. Increasingly, homeowners the Upper Valley are creating the kitchen of their dreams for the long term, that includes design considerations for a multi-generational household and for aging in place. Aging in place is the term to create spaces that can be used by anyone regardless of age, physical condition or mobility, employing universal design principles.

Access is a key to universal design. Open floor plan kitchens are ideal for multigenerational and aging in-place kitchen use because they typically provide access to other living spaces and feature multiple pathways that can accommodate those who may be confined to a wheelchair or need to use a walker. When homeowners the Upper Valley request a kitchen where they can age in place, we look at entryways into the kitchen. If we can eliminate doors, that’s great. If not, we determine if they can be expanded. Most doorways are 24 inches wide. You need at least 36 inches to accommodate a wheelchair.

Floorcoverings are another important consideration of a universally designed kitchen. Concrete, tiles and other hard surfaces can put a strain on hips, back and knees. We often recommend textured small format ceramic or nonslip tile or wood, vinyl or linoleum.

Countertop, cabinet and appliance height, reach and safety considerations are also addressed in a universally designed kitchen. Multi-level or adjustable countertops with rounded corners eliminate the possibility of a family member being injured by a sharp corner and can be used by every member of the family regardless of height. Matte and other nonglare finishes make it easier on the eyes to prepare and cook meals, read recipes and perform other tasks.

For cabinets, the standard for an aging-in-place kitchen is to position cabinets three inches lower than standard height. We will recommend cabinets with pull down shelves on upper cabinets and pull-out shelves or drawers for base or floor cabinets.

For faucets, touchless and app-controlled fixtures can be used by every member of the household. The sink should not be more than six inches deep.

Smart lights that can be controlled by voice command, motion or an app also make for not only a smart kitchen but also one that can be safely used by every member of your household regardless of age or physical limitations. Similarly, smart appliances that can be controlled by apps and voice commands via personal digital assistances helps promote safety and ease of use. Ovens that are positioned at waist height or eye level are easier and safer to use than those that are positioned on the floor. We often recommend a designated area for placing hot pots and pans next to the stove or cooktop.

There are multiple storage solutions that provide ease of access to pots, pans, pantry items and other utensils and tools that are used daily in the kitchen. Rest assured that if you want to create a dream kitchen for the long-term, you don’t have to compromise style, functionality, look or feel. Want more information how you can create a dream kitchen for every member of your family that survives the test of time? Give us a call at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.

You Deserve Your Own Private Refuge

Imagine that you just had one of those days where nothing seemed to go right. The presentation you worked on for months was not well received, due perhaps to the fact that your dog barked throughout most of it because he had to go out. When that did not happen, he peed at the front door. Imagine if after a day like this, that you could have a few minutes all to yourself, devoid of texts, tweets, smart phones and even other family members? How great would it be to have a space where you could simply relax and wash away the stresses of the day? You don’t have to dream any longer. Upgrading the primary bath provides homeowners the Upper Valley an opportunity to create an in-home refuge that not only adds value to your home, but enhances the quality of your life.

Features of a Luxury Primary Bath

A high performing shower can feature a steam systems that sooths tired muscles, rejuvenates your skin and eliminates toxins from your body. The health and wellness benefits of steam go back centuries where Roman and Greek hot baths became the world’s first spas. A high performing shower in the primary bath can also feature different therapies – sound (music), light (chromatherapy) and scent (aromatherapy). Each and a combination of all three serve to recharge your batteries and provide a sense of calm and wellbeing. Multiple showerheads, body sprays and hand showers help to complete a high-performing shower.

Tubs also can provide aroma, sound and color therapies in addition to air systems and jets that serve to relax tired muscles, rejuvenate skin and soak away the stresses of a day.

A number of homeowners the Upper Valley love the suggestion of his and her toilets that not only provide privacy but also eliminate the need to ever have to wait. And speaking of toilets, a well-equipped, technological forward primary bath will feature advanced toilets offering self-rising and closing seats, automatic flushing, self-cleaning capabilities, heated seats, massage night lights, Bluetooth connections to music services and personal digital assistants, integrated exhaust systems that remove odors and bacteria and washlet systems that eliminate the need for toilet paper. Faucets that can be operated hands-free not only contribute to a healthier lifestyle but also one that is more environmentally efficient.

Double the pleasure of using your primary bath by having dual sinks. Many of our clients have “Ah ha” moments when we introduce smart mirrors with 3D scanners, multispectral cameras and gas sensors to assess the health of the person looking into them. These mirrors examine a person’s face, look at fatty tissue, facial expressions and how flushed or pale a person’s skin is. Facial recognition software in smart mirrors can identify signs of stress or anxiety. Gas sensors serve as breathalyzers to determine how much someone may drink or smoke. Mirror scanners that analyze face shapes can identify weight gain or loss and multispectral cameras in smart mirrors read heart rates or hemoglobin levels. The sensors in smart mirrors can tell homeowners how healthy they are and offer guidance to improve health.

In addition to high-performance features for a primary bath, there also needs to be adequate storage that can be provided by a linen closet, open shelving or vanity shelves and drawers.

Aesthetic

Function without form can compromise the look and feel of a dream primary bath and your enjoyment of the space. Ask yourself how you want your bath to feel every time you step into your tub or take as shower. The aesthetic tone for most primary baths is set by the faucetry selected and enhanced by the finishes and accessories that should not be overlooked. Our designers can help you identify faucets, shapes, sizes, color schemes, floor and wall covering, towel bars, robe hooks, toilet roll holders, makeup mirrors, tumblers, lighted cabinets, and even heated towel racks that meet reflect your style and the vibe you want in your new primary bath.

When you are having one of those days and when you are not, don’t you deserve a primary bath that serves as an in-home spa that will allow you and your family a place to wash away the stresses of the day? Give us a call at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit our showroom located at 105 Hanover Street to learn how you can make your dream a reality.

Joy of the Kitchen

Modern and contemporary designs and motifs have increased among homeowners the Upper Valley. Modern design offers clean lines, open floor plans and a clutter-free pallet. They often feature natural materials such as stone, quartz and solid wood frameless cabinets. Color options for modern kitchens are almost limitless, allowing homeowners the Upper Valley to push the envelope and make distinctive and personal design statements.

A potential downside to a modern design is the look and feel. Some modern designs can appear to be cold and austere. That’s not a problem. There are numerous ways homeowners the Upper Valley can add warmth and bring joy to a modern motif. Many modern kitchens features vivid contrasts and that’s one strategy for soften the edges of a modern kitchen. Wood tables and chairs and cabinet knobs or even a countertop caddy that holds wooden spoons, spatulas and other utensils can create a different vibe.

Color plays a huge role in how a kitchen looks and feels. Lighter colors evoke a sense of calm. White is associated with purity and cleanliness. Yellow is associated with sunlight that offers a sense of welcome, cheerfulness and energy. Green equates to plants and grasses. Another option to introduce color into a modern kitchen is to upholster kitchen chairs. Fabric brings to a kitchen color, texture and comfort. Other ways to introduce fabrics into your kitchen color pallet include window coverings, dish towels and display napkins.

Shapes play a role in bringing more serenity and joy to a kitchen. The sharp edges of a contemporary design can be softened with a round table, round bar stools and round light fixtures. A number of homeowners the Upper Valley soften their kitchen spaces by hanging favorite works of art or displaying pottery, colored glassware and ceramics. Additionally, growing herbs on a windowsill or bringing plants into your kitchen is another easy way to add color and a sense of calm and joy.

How can you make your dream kitchen warm, hospitable and joyful? Give us a call at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit us at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH and let us show you how you can create the kitchen of your dreams.

The Shape of Things to Come

When homeowners the Upper Valley start to plan the kitchen of their dreams, one of the initial decisions that they need to make is the layout that makes the most sense for how they want their new dream kitchen to look, feel and function. Different kitchen layouts offer both advantages and shortcomings. What’s best for you?

U-shaped kitchens feature cabinets, countertops and appliances linking three walls with an open end. Because there are opportunities for cabinetry on three walls, most U-shaped kitchens offer ample storage space for most homeowners the Upper Valley. U-shaped kitchens also provide lots of design and layout flexibility. Traditional U-shaped kitchens are closed; they do not connect to other rooms in the house unless you opt to modify the third wall to create an island-breakfast bar combination if space permits. U-shapes make it easy to designate distinct work areas for cooking, meal preparation and clean up, providing enough room for more than one family member to prepare meals or engage in other activities in the kitchen without running into one another.

Corners can be a challenge in U-shaped kitchens because they can be cumbersome to access or require special design elements such as magic corners, lazy susans or other organizing hardware. In smaller spaces, U-shapes can feel cramped. The smaller the space however, the higher the potential for a cramped feeling especially if appliances are close to one another. Additionally, in smaller U-shaped kitchens it may not be practical or even feasible to install an island.

L-shaped kitchens are another favored choice of homeowners the Upper Valley. As the name implies, L-shaped kitchens feature two walls with cabinetry that form an L. L-shaped kitchens provide homeowners the Upper Valley options to create an open-floor plan and easily incorporate an island or peninsula. If you don’t want or need an island, L-shaped kitchens are ideal for families with multiple cooks or who like to entertain because they provide an open, airy space with lots of room to maneuver.

L-shaped kitchen also cater to the way a family cooks, who does the cooking and how often. Appliance placement is key to making L-shaped kitchens function effectively and to make it easier and more enjoyable to prepare meals. Because there is typically more floor and counter space in L-shaped kitchens than in other configurations, there is a higher likelihood of clutter and there is more space that needs to be cleaned and maintained.

The connecting corner can also be a challenge. A professional designer knows how to overcome that challenge with corner cabinets that can pull out or feature a lazy susan or other organizing tools to provide additional storage space.

Which shape is ideal for your dream kitchen? Give us a call at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH to create a kitchen that will be the envy of your neighborhood.

Questions and Answers

Questions homeowners the Upper Valley are asked about their kitchen, bath or other type of renovation project offer a window into the expertise and soul of the showroom and designer they are visiting. Be wary of designers/sales professionals who focus on selling instead of initially trying to determine the goals you want to achieve. We know that many homeowners the Upper Valley wants to have a new kitchen that better serves their needs and those of their family and also reflect their distinct style. We also know that’s now enough. A new space in your home should make you smile every time your enter. When we interview prospective clients the Upper Valley, we want to know the why behind the project, the motivation, how a new kitchen or bath not only should look and function but how that space should make you feel.

We approach initial meetings with homeowners the Upper Valley as a mutual information gathering session and not a sales pitch. Our goal is to gather a sufficient amount of information about you and your lifestyle that will enable us to look through your lens so that we better understand your world view. We want to know who uses your kitchen, how often and for what purposes. We not only want to know what you prefer; we also want to know what you don’t like and why. Our goal is to make an emotional connection so that we can develop design and product recommendations that reflect your lifestyle and personality. That can’t be accomplished if the primary conversation is about what the showroom has to offer. It has to be all about what the customer wants.

To help designers look through your unique lens, we encourage homeowners the Upper Valley to create and image share boards on Pinterest and Houzz so there is a common understanding of products and styles that homeowners the Upper Valley are attracted to. We want to know what you currently like and dislike about your existing kitchen or bath and the reasons for those feelings.

There are also practical questions that need to be answered such as how much effort do you want to put into maintaining and cleaning your new kitchen. This helps us to not only recommend color options but also to suggest surface materials, cabinet styles and finishes that meet the practical and operational needs of homeowners the Upper Valley.

The only dumb question is the one that is not asked. When you are interviewing designers and showrooms, listen carefully to the questions that you are asked. You should feel that the designer is more interested in getting to know you and your family, your style, your quirks and your likes and dislikes. The questions should focus all about you and not them.

Let’s have a conversation about how you want your new dream kitchen to look, function and feel. Give us a call at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.