REPOST: Building Solutions: Timeless remodeling trends

Some design aesthetic paradigms age better than others, keeping their charm longer than their more current yet faddish counterparts. Dwight Sailer and Bryan Soth of the Coloradoan write about how owners should think with timelessness in mind when remodeling their home.

A recently remodeled kitchen on West Mountain Avenue in Fort Collins reflects trends that will remain popular in 2015, including white cabinets, subway tiles, walk-in pantry with sliding barn door, and accent island with seating.

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A brand new year is right around the corner. If you’re planning a home remodeling or improvement project in 2015, you’re not alone. The National Association of Home Builders reports that remodeling activity across the nation is at an all-time high, with no real signs of slowing in 2015.

Many homeowners are resolved to rip out that hideous shag carpet and replace those avocado appliances in the new year.

So how can you integrate fresh design trends into your remodel without falling for another ugly fad? Follow these basic home remodeling trends for 2015 that offer timeless appeal and a sound investment:

Open layouts

More and more homeowners are remodeling to create open floor plans in 2015. This does not have to involve building an addition or expanding the existing footprint of your home. For example, you can remove a wall, forgo the formal dining room and create one larger kitchen-dining-living “great room” space that is open, inviting and better for entertaining.

Universal design

By 2030, there will be 72 million Americans over the age of 65, the majority of whom wish to live in their homes independently. As baby boomers continue to age, the demand for universal design — or designing for accessibility without sacrificing visual appeal and style — will continue to grow each year. As a result, we expect to see more open floor plans, roll-in showers, wider doorways, floating sinks and cabinets, and other wheelchair-accessible features in 2015 remodels.


Renewed interest in scratch baking, gourmet cooking and family dinner time is on the rise, so we’re seeing consistent growth in kitchen remodels. Functionality and low-maintenance will be key themes in 2015. Homeowners are asking for easy-to-clean cabinetry and smudge-proof stainless steel smart appliances. Accent islands with seating and walk-in or butler’s pantries continue to grow in popularity. Non-porous engineered quartz countertops, like Caesarstone, are also gaining attention. Although color is coming back to the kitchen, classic white palettes, subway tiles and farmhouse sinks will remain design staples for years to come.


Homeowners with two or more bathtubs are likely to replace a jetted tub with an oversized shower if completing a master bathroom remodel in 2015. As mentioned before, boomers are driving the growing trend for universally accessible showers, sinks and vanities. Built-in shower benches will remain popular in 2015, but gadgets such as body sprays are losing their novelty.

Green remodeling

Home improvement choices that enhance energy efficiency, resource conservation and a healthy indoor environment will continue to gain favor in 2015. Green remodeling isn’t a fad. Green remodeling is good remodeling, so we encourage homeowners to embrace this trend in 2015 and beyond. The United States Green Building Council suggests using sustainably minded materials that are natural and nontoxic, locally made or sustainably harvested, recycled and recyclable, energy-efficient to produce, and durable.

Whole-house smart systems

Expect to see more automated “smart-home” systems in 2015, which allow homeowners to remotely control lighting, appliances, temperature, media, security, window shades and more from a smartphone or tablet. The app-based technology may seem like a fad, but it is quickly moving mainstream.

To minimize the risk of falling for a regrettable fad, consider working with an interior designer during your next remodel. A professional designer can help you navigate trends and select enduring finishes, materials and layout options that have universal appeal and real staying power for years to come.

Frank LaMark is the president of CabinetsDirectRTA and is a proponent on the fusion of form and function. Visit this blog for more on kitchen remodeling and design.


REPOST: Today’s Kitchens Require Attention to Detail

The modern kitchen demands as much design attention as any other room in the house. Marcia Jedd of HGTV describes how tiny details can make a huge impact on the overall design of a kitchen.

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The devil is in the details. Today’s fancy kitchens entail considerable attention to details by general contractors and remodelers when it comes to planning and installing a kitchen, says Hank White, president of Hallmark Kitchens, a Houston kitchen and bath remodeling firm. But the result of meticulous attention to such things is client satisfaction and customer referrals.

“People show great interest in getting more detailed in the functionality of the kitchen. They’re asking things like, ‘Where can we put our pots?’ or ‘I saw this on HGTV.’ ”

White outlines a number of kitchen design trends:

Larger kitchens = more features and appliances. Depending on the size of the kitchen and the client’s lifestyle, appliances play a dominant role. Think niche items, such as a swing-out pot filler faucet on the wall next to the stove, an additional dishwasher placed for convenience (and even extra dish storage), double ovens and warming drawers, as well as wine chillers and specialty refrigerators.

Kitchens as gathering centers. Contractors who get involved in kitchen design, layout or millwork, take heed. “The trend toward entertaining while you’re cooking or being entertained while cooking has caused layouts to change,” White says. He notes emphasis on islands as a center for baking or food preparation or as a serving-buffet area. So are flat-screen TVs, cleverly hidden behind slide-out panels or framed by wood pieces and integrated into the cabinetry or into the wall.

Dimensions matter. Likewise, White says today’s appliances, which often take on additional roles (such as a microwave-convection oven combination), can be far more complicated from the installation perspective. High-end European lines can be more complicated from the hook-up perspective. And design trends rule today. “The integrated look of wood-overlay panels over fridges and dishwashers and fitting out fillers and trim pieces like pilasters on either side of the fridge means no room for error in measurements,” White says. “Contractors also need to plan for proper hinging of makes like Sub-Zero fridges in order to have them open fully, given these fillers.”

Planning the installation. Allocating for electrical and plumbing considerations is critical. White recommends that contractors pay extra attention to appliance specifications and utility hookups to get bids correct the first time. “Utility hookups are always important in bidding out to your client. Remember basics like including GFI plugs and making sure outlets are included every 24 inches.”

It’s important to know the specifics of the individual models of the appliances, too. On a Dacor in-wall coffee system, for instance, a $200 option-upgrade allows for the unit to use a water line, as opposed to a tank in the standard model. “Contractors need to allow for heavy-duty ranges, many 36-inches wide, which require additional ventilation,” White says.

Uniqueness sells. White notes that some clients just want something unique. “Work closely with the kitchen designer,” he advises, adding that it’s up to the contractor to anticipate the work involved around highly unique selections. While granite and other stone-composition countertops are now common, he’s even installed a pewter countertop. Other choices include treated concrete surfaces as countertop. White says consumers are taking a cue from the institutional sector and asking for stainless-steel cabinets and counters for a sleek, modern look. Embellishes such as granite inlays or ornate tile in the backsplash are increasingly sought.

Frank LaMark is a kitchen designer and professional remodeler who is also the president of CabinetsDirectRTA. Visit this blog for more updates on kitchen remodeling.

REPOST: Renowned Chef’s Kitchens That Spice up Your Space

Is your kitchen due for a makeover? This article breaks down the designs of the kitchens of today’s most popular celebrity chefs to deliver inspiration for rebuilding your cooking quarters.

Want to heat things up in the kitchen? We’re here to help! We have looked at some of the most amazing chefs in their very own kitchens to find the best inspiration. Let these be a guide to your kitchen design and in your ventures in home chefery (is that even a word?).

1. Wolfgang Puck – Restaurants include: Spago, Chinois and Cut

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Why We Love It: This looks like a casual traditional kitchen which rightly matches the personality of famed chef Wolfgang Puck. It’s simple, comfortable and classic in design, with a few pops of color and eclectic accents such as the “EAT” sign and the retro clock.

2. Giada De Laurentiis – Restaurant: Giada

Why We Love It: This classy lady likes to mix things up with her cooking as well as her kitchen design. The warm wood butcher block counters, stainless steel appliances and ledge stone features all add character. Meanwhile the teal backsplash and modern white cabinetry offer a fresh take on a traditional style.

3. Bobby Flay – Restaurants include: Masa Grill, Gato and Bar Americain

Why We Love It: This contemporary kitchen in bright teal is stunning! The brass fixtures are the perfect visual complement to the bold color and slate backsplash. The tiled floors are a beautiful pattern and the riviera chairs with casual french bistro tables are the perfect touch to soften the overall feel.

4. Buddy Valastro – Cake Boss

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Why We Love It: Dark wood cabinets, smooth stainless appliances, warm tones, granite counters and detailed bar seating give this traditional kitchen the warm and cozy feeling that you can taste in his cakes! We have a feeling the whole family is often gathered around this roomy island!

5. Scott Conant – Restaurants include: Scarpetta and D.O.C.G Enoteca

Why We Love It: This contemporary kitchen is an interesting mix of new and old. It’s bright and airy yet the darker floors, wood island and earthy brick tone wall tile offer balance and visual interest.

6. Tyler Florence – Food Network, Executive Chef at Cibo and has his own kitchen retail shop

Why We Love It: This industrial and rustic kitchen looks as yummy as his food…it also could be that Tyler is just adorable too. The visual of well worn materials give this kitchen style extra “taste” points and a lot of character. The pans are displayed casually and the vintage vibe we get from the antique tray on the wall all pull this look together.

7. Barefoot Contessa

Why We Love It: Clean contemporary style with charm! The clean white cabinetry, gorgeous hardware and open display style shelves are truly elegant. The dark granite counters pair perfectly with the white cabinets. Finally, the gorgeous cognac leather bar seats give this kitchen the perfect amount of visual interest.

8. Gordon Ramsey – Restaurants include: Maze, Foxtrot and Restaurant Gordon

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Why We Love It: It’s apparent that the kitchen reflects the personality and tastes that each chef brings to their art. Here we see a moody, rich modern kitchen with beautiful metal finishes. The clear cabinetry displays items in a casual functional way that match this chef’s no-nonsense approach to his cooking.

Hungry yet? We hope we’ve wet your appetite for fabulous kitchen design!

Happy cooking!

CabinetsDirectRTA President Frank LaMark is an experienced kitchen cabinetry and design professional who provides kitchen cabinet sets to individuals, couples, and families in the U.S., Canada, and the rest of the Americas. For more hot topics and news on kitchen design, visit this blog.

REPOST: Tips to organize your kitchen cabinets

You do not need to possess high artistic or geometric skills to perfectly organize your kitchen. In fact, simply tweaking your kitchen storage is enough to cover half of the task..

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No matter what size kitchen you have, you can organize your cabinets to maximize your space. Professional organizer Andi Willis shares some tips on making the most use of your cupboards.

Willis says most people feel confined by the shelves that the cabinet makers make, but there are a lot of things you can do that will give you more space in the same cupboards.

One easy and quick fix is to get your knives off the counter. Willis says a magnetic knife rack is very helpful.

Willis also says use a small shelf riser to use that empty space in your cabinets. That will allow you to have more items in your cabinet and they won’t be staked on top of each other.

Willis adds another piece of real estate that we don’t use enough is the doors. You can put small hooks on the door and hand lids, measuring cups, and other small items that can be hung.

Lower cabinets can be tricky because they are deep and dark. Willis says it can be hard to get to the items in the back. She suggests using roll out shelves which will help you reach items in the back without having to dig through everything.

Stacking your pots and pans can also damage your cooking items. She suggests using a pan rack to stack your pots, lids, or cookie sheets. You can also use more shelf risers to stack your cooking items.

Kitchen cabinet designer and entrepreneur Frank LaMark is a member of the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Visit this website for more kitchen improvement tips.

A brief guide to purchasing kitchen cabinets

Cabinets serve a practical and aesthetic purpose in the kitchen, and you may need to shell out a substantial amount when purchasing and installing these fixtures. Knowing how to balance a cabinet’s quality and price can go a long way in ensuring that you get the best value out of a purchase. When buying kitchen cabinets, consider the following pointers:

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1. Cabinet costs may vary depending on style. Some designs are more intricate and complex than others, and such designs may require more work hours, hence a higher price. Minimalist and classical styles are often less costly and can be matched to a wider range of kitchens.

2. Cabinets that use premium wood, metal, and other materials often fetch a higher amount. Wood varieties, like oak and rosewood, are definitely beautiful and eye-catching, but they are also some of the most expensive kitchen cabinets around.

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3. The quality of production is also a factor on the cabinet’s pricing. Less expensive models are often made in bulk, created with machines and assembly lines. On the other hand, those made by artisans are very expensive, since they are hand-crafted and often one of a kind.

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As each homeowner has his or her own cabinet preferences, you need to find the best combination of these factors to best suit your lifestyle, taste, and budget.

Frank LaMark is a kitchen design expert. Visit this Google+ page for more insights about the craft of kitchen cabinetry.

REPOST: Wine storage, clever cabinetry top 2014 kitchen trends

According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, built-in cabinets that look like furniture, light cabinets with dark countertops, and cabinets with glass doors are all the rage this year. Read the association’s full kitchen trend forecast in this Daily Herald article.

Kitchens in 2014 are all about lights, cabinets and wine, according to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

To find new trends in kitchen design, association staff reviewed 127 entries to the 2014 Contractor of the Year Awards program, along with design work posted on home design site HOUZZ. Here are the trends they say to follow in 2014:

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• Built-in cabinets that look like furniture, with decorative details like crown molding and feet.

• Mixing and layering of woods and finishes. Combining white or ivory glazes with natural woods like cherry warms up a traditional kitchen, says Jennifer Runner, a designer at Normandy Remodeling in Hinsdale. Remodelers seeking a contemporary look may combine glass and metals with either ebony-painted woods or natural woods with a light color, like honey maple.

• Light cabinets with darker countertops.

• Bright-colored cabinets in orange, blue, green or brown. Richly colored cabinets can draw attention to the island, or ground the room through lower cabinets while the other cabinets are painted a lighter color, says Runner.

• Cabinets with glass doors either for displaying accessories or simply to “break up the monotony of wood,” Runner says.

• Fewer upper cabinets to avoid obstructing the view of other rooms.

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• A chandelier that contrasts with and softens modern appliances and countertops.

• Decorative task lighting — lighting that serves as both decoration and as a practical purpose — especially when lights can stretch to more than one spot on adjustable arms.

• Under-cabinet lighting for ambience.

• Pendant lights above kitchen islands to “bring style into the mix.”

• Black, brass or iron-colored fixtures.

• A large light fixture to center the room.

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Wine storage

• Cabinets specially built for wine bottle storage

• A “butler area” where guests can enjoy drinks and converse with the cook without distracting him or her from work. This might be an island or a countertop and cabinet with glasses and utensils away from the fridge, sink and cooking area where guests can enjoy pre-dinner cocktails, Runner says.

• Coolers, from under the counter to refrigerator size, with features such as UV-blocking glass and dual-zone designs that allow storing red and white wine in different temperatures. But Runner cautions from buying one as an accessory for a few new bottles. “It’s a big investment,” she says. “The nice ones can be very expensive. So, if you just have one bottle of wine in it, you probably shouldn’t have bought it in the first place.”

Frank LaMark is a renowned kitchen cabinet designer who has sold over 10,000 kitchen cabinet orders to customers in the USA, Canada, US Virgin Islands, Mexico and South America. Learn how to choose the best cabinets for your kitchen here.

REPOST: 7 Old and Outdated Kitchen Tools You Need to Replace For Your Health

Bacteria can cling to certain food preparation tools and aggregate over time, increasing risks for various illnesses, including cancer. This article lists key kitchen tools that homeowners need to replace every so often to keep their home cooking healthy and hazard-free.

Cooking at home is one of the best ways to lose weight, since you control what goes into your food. But sometimes, what’s in your kitchen is as important as what’s in your mouth. Using old or outdated tools can have a big impact on your health, from spreading germs to putting you at risk for cancer. Here are seven items that you need to replace in your kitchen right now.

Nonstick Pan

Nonstick pans are great for cooking eggs, but be careful how you use them –- heating nonstick pans higher than 500 degrees Fahrenheit can release toxic fumes that, while not deadly, can make you sick. And while 500 degrees is hotter than you will typically heat cookware, scratched and damaged pans will release these colorless, odorless fumes at a lower temperature. So if your nonstick pan is scratched, toss it and get a new one. “Newer pans produce much lower levels of these fumes,” says Albert Levy, an assistant clinical professor of medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. “If you have a nonstick pan produced before 2010, replace it.”

Grill Brush

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Summertime is grilling season, but before you clean off the grill, you should think about tossing out your brush and getting a new one. Bristles can fall off old and heavily used brushes, end up in your food and cause severe damage. “When swallowed, these bristles can puncture your throat, stomach or intestines,” says Deborah Orlick Levy, a registered dietitian and consultant for the health food company Carrington Farms. “You should replace these brushes every two to three months, but check it frequently. If the bristles are coming loose, get rid of it and buy a new one.”

Plastic Food Containers

Older food storage containers often contain bisphenol A, better known as BPA, a compound used in plastic manufacturing that has been linked to a host of health problems, including cancer, heart disease, obesity and more -– so if you haven’t bought new containers in a while, now’s the time. “BPA can seep into your food and drink and cause all kinds of nasty health effects,” Orlick Levy says. “Thankfully, more and more companies are phasing it out of their products, so it’s easy to find BPA-free containers.”

Cutting Board

Cutting boards, whether they’re wood or plastic, need to be replaced regularly. While soap and water will clean any bacteria on the surface, your knives leave gouges and cuts that can harbor bacteria and make it difficult to disinfect. “Cutting boards are cheap and replaceable,” Levy says. “As soon as you see deep cuts or scratches in your board, get rid of it. They’re not worth getting sick over.”


Sponges are porous and damp, making them cozy bacteria traps. While rinsing your sponge with hot water and zapping it in the microwave for 30 seconds can help sanitize it, you should replace it regularly so you’re not spreading germs every time you clean your dishes. “Sponges are notoriously contaminated,” Levy says. “They can be among the dirtiest things in your kitchen. Once you’ve had it longer than two weeks, get rid of it.”

Dish Towel

Much like your kitchen sponges, dish towels can become a home to millions upon millions of bacteria -– and if you use the same towel to wipe your counters and your hands, you could be setting yourself up to get sick. Launder them frequently, but be sure to replace them often as well.

Fire Extinguisher

While it may not directly affect your health, it’s important to make sure your fire extinguisher is still working. Check out its gauge to see if the needle is still in the green. If it is? You’re set. If not, get a new one. You don’t want to wait until it’s too late.

Frank LaMark kitchen cabinetry boasts customizable shelves, racks, doors, and drawers made of the finest industry-grade hardwoods, offering durable, easy to clean, and tight-sealing storage for all types of kitchen tools and appliances. More information on kitchen cabinet designs can be accessed here.