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  • Bathroom Design
  • Complete Bathroom Remodeling
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  • Tub Removal & Replacement
  • Custom Tile Showers
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  • Kitchen Design
  • Complete Kitchen Remodeling
  • Kitchen Expansions/Additions
  • Wall Removal
  • Structual Changes
  • Window Replacement
  • Door Replacement
  • Complete Remodeling Services
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    Entries in Kitchen Design (6)


    Make Your Cape Cod Kitchen Island The Center Of Attention

    Make your Kitchen Island the Center of Attention

    Over the past few years an island has been one of the most requested features that people ask for in a kitchen. According to the National Association of Home Builders 80% of home buyers consider an island a must have. An island can fit into many kitchens, even small ones, coming in an endless array of styles and with features you may not have considered. Kitchen islands expand counter space, storage, and function. I’ve never once heard a cook say they had too much counter space.

    Designing an Island

    A kitchen is often the heart of a home so put a lot of thought into your island design before you build it and you won’t be sorry. Don’t be afraid to consult with a kitchen designer or a very experienced builder to help you fit one into your existing space and your lifestyle. They have a lot of experience helping you decide what will work and what won’t. Nothing is worse than an island that doesn’t function well. If it creates a bottleneck in traffic flow, doesn’t have the extras you need, or even worse, interferes with the kitchen work triangle, your island can cause more problems then it solves.

    Proper clearance between the island, cabinets, and appliances is critical for your island to work well. Some of the standard clearances are: 42 inches between your island and surrounding objects to ensure traffic flow. Work station and dining table height should be 36” and 42” high for bar-style casual dining. These numbers are the ideal but rules are meant to be broken. I’ve seen islands with less then 42” between the island and kitchen counters and they have worked fine if well designed. Double check that you can open your appliances like a dishwasher or oven, and still have enough room to move around.

    Kitchen Island Function

    Many islands act as dining areas, but they can be so much more. Put in a wine refrigerator, ice maker, and warming drawer and you’ve got a terrific buffet/party area. Add a drawer style microwave, stove top, and an oven and you have a fully functional cooking area. A marble top, storage for baking pans, and a elevator shelf for your mixer and you’ve made the family baker happy. Add a butcher block countertop, a sink, and hide away trash and recycling and you have extra prep space. An island can be anything you want it to be!

    Once you’ve made the decision on how you will use your island then the island configuration is easier. If your island contains your main sink then it will function better if it also has your dishwasher and pull out trash and recycling bins. If it’s a cooking area you will need ventilation and consider pull out drawers for your pot and pan storage. Think long and hard about how your island will function.

    Kitchen Island Size

    A recent trend in larger kitchen is two islands, one as a prep area with a sink, perhaps a marble baker’s countertop and a second island that acts as a dining area and a divider for open concept living spaces. However, bigger is not always better. An island shouldn’t be more then 4 feet wide otherwise the center becomes unreachable.

    You can still put an island in a small kitchen. They don’t have to be solid, massive structures; think about a tall free standing kitchen table or a console table, long and narrow. To avoid it looking too substantial for a small kitchen think open shelving on the lower portion. That way it still adds counter and storage space, but it looks lighter visually. You can use wicker or wire baskets on the lower shelves to add interest and more usable space.

    What if you really want an island but just don’t have enough space in your tiny kitchen? Think rolling cart. It can add valuable counter or serving space and can be rolled out of the way when not in use.

    Kitchen Island Extras

    The list of things that can be included in your island is endless. Many companies now make drawer-style appliances; refrigerators, dishwashers, warming drawers, microwaves, ice makers, and trash compactors. You can put in restaurant quality features as well; a grill, a fryer, wok area, steam trays, and more. Put book shelves at the end of your island for your cookbook collection, or hang your wine glasses from a rack. I’ve seen flat screen TV’s built into islands that act as a room divider between the kitchen and family living space. Always remeber: good lighting is imperative for your island and so are multiple electrical outlets.

    Island Style

    Your island doesn’t have to be rectangular so think out of the box. Islands now come in L- shape, curved, round, and everything in between. A straight side on the work/prep area is nice and curved on the seating side helps facilitate conversation for your friends.

    There are so many choices for countertops. Granite is great for cooking areas. It’s easy to clean and you can put hot pots and platters directly on the stone. Marble is a favorite of bakers, it stays cool and dough doesn’t stick. Wood on the other hand is great for a dining area of an island, it’s warmer and more cozy looking and it’s softer on your elbows and china. Don’t feel you have to pick a single surface many larger islands have two different surface materials depending on their use.

    Today even ready made cabinets come in various sizes, so don’t feel locked into the standard base of 24 inches. Of course, you can always have your builder make you a custom island. I’ve even seen a wine barrel used as an island base so again, be creative.

    Another popular trend is the “unfitted” island, which looks more like an individual piece of furniture instead of a standard kitchen cabinet component. They have a distinctive look and furniture detail, often with a different surface then the adjacent kitchen counters. Unfitted islands many times are a different, but complementary color, than the rest of your kitchen.

    So have fun with your kitchen island, keep the above considerations in mind when you are planning your island. The end result will be not only a great looking island but a very functional one as well. 


    Dual Kitchen Islands-A Fitting Design?

    Photo Credit: Dan ZbichorskiRecently we were provided with an opportunity to design a new kitchen in a space that is double what we normally have to work with.  Most kitchens here on Cape Cod are small, have too many doors and windows and provide numerous design challenges even in houses that are less then 10 years old.  

    In this upcoming kitchen remodel located in Centerville, we may move some walls as well as a door and two windows increasing our design flexibility.  Going forward, I've been kicking around the idea of creating a kitchen with two large islands rather then the traditional galley or L-shaped kitchen.  Having two islands, will meet the homeowners desire to have more reachable storage and avoid walls filled with banks of cabinets.  

    More to come...



    Stainless Is Over

    Move over stainless steel. Your time in the kitchen is done. Whirlpool  recently rolled out at the 2012 Kitchen and Bath show it's brand new Ice Collection of appliances which is a fresh take on classic white. This updated version has a glossy sheen that is almost glass like in appearance. In addition, Whirlpool is also releasing a Black Ice Collection.

    So if you are getting ready to remodel your kitchen here on Cape Cod, should you dump the stainless look and go for the new look of the Ice Collection?  Consider that not surprisingly in Europe, opaque glass-fronted appliances with an elegant whitish or black hue are trending high on most remodeling to-do lists. When it comes to choosing stainless or the new Ice, it will depend upon personal tastes as well as what your choice are in cabinets and counter tops.  If I was doing an all white kitchen, I would go for the White Ice, not so much however if my cabinet choice was maple or similar light color.  Stainless can be a great neutral color that goes well with many colors.

    Personally, I think stainless will always have it's fans, certainly amongst those that prefer the look of a professional kitchen. However, I do think that new choices such as Whirlpool's Ice Collection will quickly gain a following.  For me, I like the idea of having appliances that blend into a kitchen, show no fingerprints and are less vulnerable to  scratches. I'm also keen on the smooth and crisp edges of the white ice.

    Over the next year, I believe that you will see other manufactures rolling out their own versions of the Ice Collection.

    Click the link if you want to learn more about the Whirlpool Ice Collection 





    Remodeling Costs On Cape Cod 

    We frequently get inquiries about the cost of remodeling projects here on Cape Cod. Given that every house, project and homeowner is different, it can be challenging to provide a specific number without going through the process of looking at every aspect of a project which is time consuming.  Design, selecting products and fixtures, calling suppliers and trade partners.  Which can on average take about 8-12 hours on a small bath remodel!

    Enter Remodeling Magazine, which is one of the best trade magazines for Remodelers and for the last 23 years, has undertaken the research, leg work and math on an annual basis on the costs of a wide range of projects. Below are some examples of projects that we extracted from their data.  These are similar to  projects that @design REMODEL has completed for clients across Cape Cod.  

    1. Basement Remodel $66,675
    2. Bathroom Addition $40,753
    3. Bathroom Remodel $17,460
    4. Minor Kitchen Remodel $19,885
    5. Major Kitchen Remodel $58,982 

    For the most part, we have found that the project costs compiled by Remodeling Magazine are consistent with what we and others in the market are charging. While there is variation from project to project, the averages are right in line with reality.   

    In many ways, the costs of remodeling have followed a similar trajectory of the cost of purchasing a new car or truck. Costs have escalated as manufacturers add new features, use new materials and add higher labor costs, research and development and regulatory compliance, it all adds up!

    It's not all unusual for a new fully loaded SUV  to cost upwards of $60K much like the Major Kitchen remodel listed above at about $59K.  Yet, after 5 years, most vehicles are heavily depreciated and you are ready for a new one. The kitchen on the other hand, is only one quarter into it's life expectancy of 20 years!

    Note: The costs above are averages for New England and are for projects considered "midrange" in scope and cost.

    “© 2011 Hanley Wood, LLC. Complete data from the Remodeling 2011–12 Cost vs. Value Report can be downloaded free at”



    Cape Cod Kitchen Design & Usability Idea: Lighting

    Lighting The Way

    Many of the Cape Cod kitchens we remodel, usually need lighting upgrades as the existing lighting is insufficient.  I've seen kitchens lit by a single fixture located in the center of the ceiling and complimented by a small light over the stove. Lots of shadows in those kitchens!  Even worse, are kitchens lit up by industrial florescents that flood the space with blindness inducing bright, sterile, white light. 

    The right lighting in a kitchen can make it safer to work in, easier to see (especially as we get older) and can create a warm, welcoming feel for everyday use or while entertaining family and friends. With forethought and good planning, this is easily accomplished in any size kitchen.

    Let's review the types of lighting typically used in most kitchens.

    Types of Lighting

    This type of lighting is the most common, it can be a simple centralized fixture mounted on the ceiling or multiple fixtures either recessed or surfaced mounted and placed at different locations around the kitchen. Properly selected and placed, these fixtures can provide for most of your lighting needs.

    When you really need to shine light on your workspace, task lighting is the way to go. In a kitchen, this will usually mean lights mounted on the underside of the upper cabinets. Having lights properly mounted as such, will flood the counters and workspace with lots of light.  For task lighting, I would recommend that LED lighting be installed as it provide multiple benefits in reduced energy use, less heat shred then other types of fixtures and LED'S provide bright and dimmable lighting.  It's interesting to note  that the Starbucks coffee chain recently retrofitted their stores with LED lighting which significantly reduced their energy usage and costs. 

    Also, task lighting can be a overall lighting fixture placed in a specific location. An example of this, is installing a light over the sink area with a high wattage bulb that floods the sink with light.

    If your kitchen is large enough to function as a entertainment space, then the right mood lighting can create a warm inviting feel that may make it difficult for guests to leave. It's possible that the right lighting, will make food look and taste better. Although some dishes will be beyond rescue!  We often create mood lighting in a kitchen by simply replacing standard switches with dimmer type switch's which will allow you to control the intensity of the light.


    Types of Fixtures

    Ceiling Recessed is the most popular type of fixture used for overall lighting. They come in multiple sizes and style of trims.  (Trims are the decorative surround that the bulb sits inside.) You can also install low voltage lights especially if you want a small, low profile light fixture.  Usually you can use a flood type bulb or a focused beam bulb in these fixtures depending upon where and what you want to illuminate.

    Be sure to install IC type recessed fixtures (As shown right) anywhere that they will come into contact with insulation. This allows for the insulation to be installed up to and over the fixture. Do not use non-IC fixtures below a non-heated space such as an attic. Doing so, essentially creates holes in your ceiling for heat to escape and will increase your homes energy usage and costs.

    Surface Mounted.
    We have had kitchen renovations here on Cape Cod where we have specified the use of surface mounted fixtures. In some cases, the period style and age of the home made it an appropriate choice and other times, high ceilings allowed for hanging fixtures.  Surface mounted fixtures can create style and bring color into your kitchen as shown in the picture to the left.  If a kitchen has an island, we usual install pendant lights over it and then install recessed lights in other areas of the kitchen.

    Wall Sconces. Although rarely used in a kitchen, if you have the wall space and it's in an ideal location, a wall sconce can add style and set a mood. With a  dimmer, it can also function as a nightlight for those late night raids on the fridge!


    Under Cabinet lighting works great in really lighting up workspaces and we often use dimmable LED lighting under our cabinets. One tip: Make sure the fixtures are mounted in the front of the cabinet not the back. Installing the fixture forward, brings more light out over the countertop and makes the fixture it's self less visible.

    In Cabinet Lighting can also create a fabulous backdrop while showing off your Waterford Crystal collection. Typically we use dimmable "puck" style fixtures mounted on the ceiling of the cabinet. Another tip: Replace the wood shelves in the cabinet with glass shelves to really allow the light to shine through!

    Here are some links to some of our favorite light fixtures.

    Rejuvanation. Great period fixtures and fabulous quality!

    Hubbington Forge. Very elegant old world fixtures.

    Restoration Hardware. Love the mix of old and new.


    Hopefully, I've lit the way forward in helping you select the right lighting for your new kitchen!  Feel free to comment or ask questions.




    Cape Cod Kitchen Design & Usability Idea: Storage

     This is the first in a occasional series of tips about designing and making more user-friendly your new kitchen. 

    Storage for pots and pans.

    It makes me crazy to see kitchens with nothing but marching rows  upon rows of doors. Why? because it usually means that the cook is wasting time and steps every time they want to retrieve cookware from the cabinets below. 

    In many kitchens, the cook will stoop down, open a cabinet door, reach in and roll out the tray within to select a piece of cookware. Then they have to roll the tray shut and close the door.  Not a big deal, yet multiply that many times over the course of cooking meals and it gets a bit annoying doing the multi-step.

    My solution in many of the kitchens I've designed and built, is to specify a base cabinet or two as all drawers. Usually they are at 32"- 36" wide and have one shallow top drawer and two tall drawers below as shown in the picture to the left. This set-up allows for stacked storage of pots and pans and  in one motion allows you to open, view and retrieve your cookware.  Plus, having an entire base cabinet all drawers will break up the rows of marching doors.

    Be sure to specify heavy duty full extension hardware on these drawers as the pots and pans can add up in weight.

     I also like doing this as it allows for a really wide top drawer to store cutlery and cooking tools all in one place and still keep them neat and organized.

    There are a number of storage options for cookware such as pot racks and corner cabinets but just having nice big drawers appeals to my practical nature. Out of sight, out of mind, yet easy to see and use!