Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Scrub a dub dub in the TUB

With temperatures dropping and snow in the forecast what better way to warm your bones then taking a nice bath.

People have different opinions when it comes to baths. From my experience you're either a "bath person" or you're not. You may fit into the group of people that takes a bath as often as daily, you may be the person that uses their tub as storage or you may be somewhere in between. Regardless of your bathing preference like it or not tubs are a definite staple in a bathrooms aesthetic. Many of you may not know we have a great tub resource right here in Georgia, allow me to introduce:
MTI is located right near Atlanta in Sugar Hill, Georgia. MTI offers an incredible selection of over 140 tubs, all handcrafted in the USA, in four product lines giving them the ability to offer tubs in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, styles and price points.
Photo from MTI's website
This is the Parisian Tub which is free standing and made out of acrylic.
Photo from MTI's website
This is the Caribe tub which is a drop in or under mount tub made of acrylic.
It's hard to see from this picture but this tub has a channel completely surrounding the tub for the water to overflow into, creating a very cool look and luxurious bathing experience.
Photo from MTI's website
For all of you romantics out there this is the Eros tub which is an acrylic tub in the shape of heart (awwww :) )Maybe it's not your style but it's proof that they really do offer tubs in just about any shape you could ever want!
Photo from MTI's website
This is the Savoy solid surface free standing tub. All of the other elements in the room can step back because this tub makes a huge statement on its own!

 MTI tubs are built to order so any custom requests regarding packages, color and placement can be made before you order, offering you a more customized product. Plus they offer a lifetime warranty on their designer and classic series tubs.

Anyone with a jetted tub knows that if you don't use the tub for an extended amount of time when you do all kinds of "gunk" comes out of the jets. This is due to the build-up of soap residue and deposits of varying types left behind in the whirlpool plumbing lines.  Well, MTI came up with a solution to this problem and introduced the worlds first self-cleaning whirlpool and to this day the Fill-Flush® whirlpool cleaning system is still the best, most thorough and most efficient whirlpool cleaning system on the market. And finally, the biggest selling point to me (and maybe this is because I'm so visual) they will allow you to visit their plant and watch tubs being made, from the acrylic being poured to the plumbing being installed. It's very fascinating and really gives you a first hand glimpse at how particular and professional they are.

You may be thinking a tub's a tub and you may be right but in my opinion MTI is where the bees knees go to get clean! :)

For more information visit MTI's website http://mtibaths.com/

Thursday, November 17, 2011

White on Trend

White cabinetry. Some would argue white cabinets have been a timeless constant in the kitchen & bath industry, transcending every trend. While I personally agree they are timeless, I’m not sure the masses would concur. In my experience, to say people are initially turned off by white cabinetry is an understatement. Their mindset: been there, done that, was bored to death.

The white trend got its bad rap because years ago builders would install kitchens and bathrooms with white…EVERYTHING. In some cases everything including the cabinets, countertops, appliances, sinks, faucets and tile would be white. Throw in white walls and trim and this look was a serious white OVERLOAD. To add insult to injury, for most their only relief from the white was the brass, brass hardware, shower enclosure, light fixtures, etc... Put quality of said items aside and let’s focus on how boring this is!

This photo is from a Google search.

Bland City!

This photo is from a Google search.

This may look familiar to some of you. I've seen this look several different times during home consultations. This picture screams WHITE OVERLOAD! Oh, and please notice the brass...

 Interestingly if you look at any magazine today most feature white cabinetry, but HOW WEIRD these spaces are anything but boring. But why? It's simple - A well done white kitchen or bath is not really white. It is the other colors and textures that are used that  ultimately set the tone and determine the feel of the space.

This kitchen was part of the Atlanta Symphony's Decorator Show House 2010.

The way the various textures and colors come together in this space is breathtaking. You can say a lot about this kitchen but you would never call it boring and white is probably the farthest color from your mind.

This photo is from Southern Livings "All Time Favorite White Kitchens" collection.

There's a lot to take in while looking at this cheerful kitchen. The electric blue island with the copper countertop looks more like a piece of furniture in the space as opposed to just an island. And the detailed backsplash behind the cooktop really brings all the blues and whites together. The very formal crystal chandelier was an interesting choice but I think it brings a bit of formality to an otherwise semi-informal space. 
This space is so elegant and warm. Notice how the black countertops and tile really pop against the white. Lastly, while the walls are light in color they are not white which adds a final layer of depth to the space.

As you can see with the mixture of different colors, textures and depths these once potentially sterile spaces can be warm, inviting and interesting.

Check out Southern Livings "All Time Favorite White Kitchens" collections for more photos - http://www.southernliving.com/home-garden/decorating/white-kitchens-00400000057076/page12.html

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I Heart Cambria

When it comes to Kitchens and Baths there are certain products the masses consider indicative of luxury and two of those luxury heavy hitters are granite and marble .Flip through any design magazine and you will see photo after photo of kitchens and baths utilizing these natural stones.

However, with these natural stones comes a level of up keep. Natural stones are well, natural. They come from the earth and are porous, meaning they can absorb liquids deep into their core causing stains, therefore natural stones require sealing. The process of sealing ones countertops is not THAT big of a deal but the daunting realization that one red wine spill can forever tarnish that once beautiful piece of stone is a hard possibility for some to swallow. But, to be honest for most it’s just ONE MORE THING they don’t want to worry about. As Coco Chanel said, “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.” But what are they to do? What else is available? I have two words for you: engineered stone.

Engineered stone is man-made but actually contains around 93% quartz which is the hardest part of granite. Typically granites are only 40% to 60% quartz making engineered stone stronger than granite.  Engineered stones will not stain because they are not porous therefore requiring no sealing and no additional up keep.

So, I know you’re thinking if all of this is true why would anyone use natural stones? Well, for years the downside to engineered stone was that it looked fake, and lacked the depth and movement that so many people loved in granites and marbles. But times are changing, one brand of engineered stones has far surpassed the rest with the options they have available. Let me introduce you to the Crème de la crème of quartz products...CAMBRIA.
I MEAN...How beautiful is this!? Look at the movement....

This could almost look like a piece of Honey Onyx.
Dying over this one, look at the "blue eyes"
Oh the warmth....................sigh......

Praa Sands
Move over White Marbles! This has the white background but with blues, grays and black colors mixed in creating such interesting depth . LOVE!
Cambria is the only engineered stone made in the USA and with over 100 designer colors available it’s easy to see why this is such an attractive option. In my opinion Cambria has been the leader in quartz surfaces for sometime and every time you turn around their coming out with new colors even better than the last. Price wise you’re going to be in the neighborhood of what you’d pay for mid-line granite and the best part is every color of Cambria is the same price. Now, granted that price will depend on where you buy it but unlike their competitors who have different price levels for their stones, every stone available through Cambria be in new or old, modern or more traditional is the same price.

As granite and marble have become increasingly accessible and affordable people are asking…what’s next? Well, I’m here to tell you one of the hottest trends I’m seeing in design today is achieving the desired look of luxury with lower maintenance. SO….if you could get a similar look at a lower or equal price AND less maintenance….why not?

All images in this post are from Cambria's website, www.cambriausa.com

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The kitchen: what came first the design (chicken) or the selections (egg)?

It’s an age old question, well the chicken or the egg portion anyways, but to me it’s simple….the chicken came first. And in a kitchen (or bath) renovation so does the design.

For a lot of people it’s hard to focus on the design. When you walk into a show house or see a picture in a magazine, few of us give much thought to the actual design of the space or the internal components of the cabinetry and focus our attention on the aesthetic elements such as the countertops, lighting, flooring and wall color. Don’t get me wrong the selections are important and to be honest the fun part of the process but don’t short change yourself, cabinetry has come so far and there are SO many options available to make life easier. Some examples include roll outs, mixer/appliance lifts, blind corner cabinets with pullout shelves, dish drawers, the list goes on and on - skipping this step would be foolish....no, crazy!

So, how do you focus on the design? Well, think of what brought you here....

 It’s a fact that most people update their kitchen or bath as much for functional purposes as they do for aesthetic. Most of the time there is a specific need, be it a broken appliance, leaky plumbing, inadequate storage, etc…that take a project from “something we’d like to do” to “something we're in the market to do now.” What are the little quirks you have been living with for years that you would love to resolve with this new design? To begin, look at your space as a blank canvas, forget colors, textures, etc... And just focus on functionality. Some tips for adding function include, the addition of drawers over “cave” cabinets. I describe cabinets without roll outs or drawers as cave cabinets because that’s what they remind me of. Items stored at the front of the cave must be removed to gain access to those items stored behind. Items at the very back can be lost or forgotten all together!  I had a client once who said she found three full bags of flour at the back of one of her cave cabinets when she went to clean out her cabinetry for her renovation. She never knew they were there because they were behind other items she rarely moved. The beauty of a drawer or roll out is that you are able to pull them towards you, and with them whatever you have stored inside. Shallow depth storage on the back of an island is also a good idea, this is the perfect place to store seasonal items, place mats, flower vases, etc... A lot of times I suggest clients consider what they will put in each cabinet, behind every door and in all of the drawers. This ensures that no item is forgotten and everything will have a home in the new space.

It's said the kitchen is the heart of the home and for most the place everyone wants to gather. Because of this fact there are certain design elements that are important to consider to avoid guests, family members and fellow cooks from getting in each others way. It's important for walk ways in a kitchen to be a minimum of 42”; this allows people to cook together in the kitchen without being on top of one another. If you have room for an island in your kitchen it is much more functional to have the island all at one level as opposed to a “raised bar.” Why? For cooking purposes it gives you that much more uninterrupted space.

 The design process can be long and will likely involve a lot of tweaking, thinking and re-tweaking but have fun with it because YOU will be the one that benefits from it. Invest the time and really think out your options because a well designed space is like the gift that just keeps on giving!