Top 10 Kitchen Design Tips

 Remodeling and design experts offer advice on designing a kitchen

1. Think ahead.

When redesigning a kitchen, put function first, says interior designer Jacqui Hargrove. “There’s no ideal kitchen shape,” she says. “Whether it’s a galley or U- or L-shaped, plan for the sink, fridge and cooktop to form a triangle, with no more than 6 feet between each for ease of movement.”

2. Make room for storage. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“The biggest mistake people make at the planning stage is not allowing for enough storage,” Jacqui says. “Use every nook and cranny. Put overhead cabinets right up to the ceiling, rather than leaving a gap on top that collects dust.” Consider deep drawers for easier access to pots and pans, and include enough storage for appliances that otherwise would clutter up countertops.

3. See the light.

Unlike in other rooms of the house, overhead lighting is insufficient in kitchens, says electrician Richard Terode. “In the kitchen, you don’t want the light behind you, casting a shadow on the workspace. You need it positioned to fall in front of you.” He likes under-cabinet lights because they shine directly on countertops.

4. Power play.

Be sure there are appropriate power sources for relocated or new appliances. Many people realize too late that they don’t have the right gas or electric lines, Richard says. Plumber Stuart McGroder also suggests measuring appliances to ensure that they fit comfortably into allocated spaces. “If a dishwasher is crammed in, it could push up against the hose and won’t drain properly,” Stuart says.

5. Space and surface.038-jcarstenhomes2011small

There’s no such thing as too much counter space. Choose a surface that’s easy to work on and care for. But keep in mind that grout between tiles is hard to maintain and that stainless steel will scratch very easily.

6. Start fresh.

Don’t reuse appliances or items from the old kitchen. It may seem as if you’re saving money, but an old appliance will stick out like a sore thumb in a new environment, says Jacqui. Find other ways to economize. “You don’t have to spend $100 on a drawer handle when cheaper ones still look fantastic,” she says. “The same goes for countertops.”

7. Safety first.

Make your kitchen as safe and family-friendly as possible by planning for good visibility to backyard and indoor play areas from the cooking area, suggests Dorothy Bell, a home safety expert. Also consider such safety-conscious elements as rounded countertops, slip-resistant flooring and ovens located at adult height to minimize the chances of accidental burns. (For more tips, visit usa.safekids.org.)

8. Clear the air.

A range hood helps ventilate cooking odors, says appliance consultant James Moore. “Buy one that’s efficient, quiet and vented outside,” he advises.

9. Trash talk.IMG_1146

Don’t forget to plan for garbage and recycling bins. Do you want built-in bins cleverly disguised behind a cabinet door, or a sleek, stainless-steel garbage container that’s positioned out of the way?

10. Look out below

When it comes to flooring, consider slip-resistance, ease of maintenance and porosity, suggests consultant Craig Verdon. Stone floors, which are somewhat porous, for instance, may need periodic resealing. If so, ask how often, and think about whether you want to deal with that process. “Hardwood floors are beautiful, but be aware that they wear out faster by the fridge, stove and sink than other areas,” he notes. “Hard, natural stone works wonderfully, and the earthy look and feel of it is very popular.”

Information taken from Reader Digest. Read more: http://www.rd.com/slideshows/top-10-kitchen-design-tips/#ixzz2Snz8y3yt

Good Luck

Jason- J Carsten Remodeling

Heated Countertops

You have most likely heard of heating your floors, perhaps in a bathroom or other tiled area. But now you can heat your solid-surface countertops as well.

Why Heated Countertops?

Go From Feels Cold to Feels Warm

Although stone countertops are beautiful and luxurious, they have one common problem:  They can feel cold or cool to the touch.  The surface of the stone is indeed room Curved Countertop with heating zone graphic Draft 3temperature, but compared to wood and other non-stone items, the stone feels cold.

FeelsWarm heated countertops raise the temperature of the stone 20 to 25 degrees – just enough to take that initial shock away when leaning on the counter with your arms or touching the surface in the morning.

  • When seated at a countertop using laptops or doing paperwork
  • Ideal for installations in basements and cooler areas
  • For businesses looking to present themselves with a high touch of class
  • Impress others when socializing
  • Extended exposure
  • Improve the feel for sensitive individuals such as the elderly

How it Works

Ultra Thin Heating Element with Uniform Pattern

FeelsWarm heated countertops are fitted with an ultra thin (under .015″ thick) heating element that is custom-engineered for each stone including shape, wattage, and electrical input location.  The FeelsWarm element pattern is precisely designed and installed to overcome the poor thermal characteristics of stone so that an even heated surface is created and that the front edge is the same temperature as the center of the heated zone.

  • Utilizes low voltage (12 Volts) for complete safety
  • Enables custom heated areas within a countertop design
  • May heat only where you commonly touch/rest armsGrey countertop with heating zone graphic Draft 4
  • Control scheme permits temperature adjustment
  • Programmer provides pre-set on-off schedule if desired

Cost of Operating

Heated countertops equipped with FeelsWarm Heating Technology are extremely affordable to operate.  For an average sized island countertop, the power consumption is less than having a 60 Watt light bulb turned on.  Leaving the heater on continuously for 24 hours costs less than 20 cents per day depending upon local electricity rates.

When coupled with the programmer, which enables the heater to be pre-timed to turn off automatically at night, the cost can be cut by 50%. In general, however, this low cost of operation drives customers to leave the heater on continuously.

Good Luck

Jason

J Carsten Remodeling

Cabinets- A bit more about options

Last time I talked about the different types of cabinets. Now let’s talk about when is the best time to use them and the types of finishing.

Box Cabinets– J Carsten Remodeling will recommend box cabinets in economy situations where the customer is looking for a good quality cabinet on a smaller budget. Box Box cabinetscabinets come pre-finished (finished at the factory) and lead times are typically 4-6 weeks. Planning ahead of time is a must with box cabinets in order to ensure that cabinets are available for installation at just the right time. Typically, we will want the cabinets on the job site or at a minimum, delivered to the lumber company, before we will start demo.

Customizable Box/ Manufactured Custom Cabinets– We seldom use customizable box cabinets or manufactured custom cabinets. The main reason is the cost of these cabinets is comparable to local custom cabinets even when the cost of finishing is included.

Local Custom Cabinets- This is, by far, the cabinet type we install most often. J Carsten Remodeling has a relationship with a local custom cabinet shop where lead times are typically two weeks. In addition to shorter lead times, if errors or defects are found, we can usually get the problem resolved in 24-48 hours. That would not be possible with any type of manufactured cabinet.

Finishing on Custom Cabinets– For most installations, the local custom cabinets we install site finished cabinetwill be unfinished and then finished on site. This is preferred for two main reasons:

  1. Any handling or installation damage/ scratches can be fixed prior to finishing
  2. Nail holes in moldings (crown molding, etc) can be filled and make the nail hole virtually disappear. This is especially important with enameled cabinets.

There are occasions, though, where pre-finishing the cabinets is done.

  1. In a condominium situation where the association by-laws state that no cabinet finishing can be done on site. Then, we do not have a choice.pre-finished cabinet
  2. In a cabinet & countertop replacement only. In order to minimize the kitchen down time, the cabinets will be installed pre-finished. The kitchen is usable right after installation (waiting for countertops of course)

Good Luck

Jason- J Carsten Remodeling

What is Soapstone?

Soapstone (staetite) is a naturally occuring metamorphic rock made up of mineral deposits created by nature and quarried from the earth.  The main mineral components in soapstone include talc, chlorite, dolomite and magnesite, giving a warm, soft feeling to the touch.  When cut, it oxidizes from light grey to dark charcoal in color. A light coat of mineral oil or soapstone wax makes its color and subtle flowing veins even more dramatic.


Durability

Practically indestructible, soapstone is an excellent alternative natural stone to use in place of granite or marble. Soapstone is naturally antibacterial, will not burn or stain and requires very little maintenance. Acids and alkalis will not etch soapstone as they will other stones. Soapstone has been a part of American homes since the early 1800’s; many homes today still contain working soapstone sinks and wood stoves built over 100 years ago!

Soapstone is a perfect choice for countertops, backsplashes and islands.
Its durable and dense surface possesses all the beauty of granite or marble with none of
the drawbacks. Acidic food and wine won’t etch soapstone as they will other stone surfaces. Hot pots can be placed directly on the surface, and soapstone is non-porous making it naturally antibacterial.

Customers choosing soapstone should be aware that while soapstone is very dense and non porous it is still likely that it will scratch.  Soapstone is best used in a setting where the distressed look is desirable.   The good news is that if you don’t like the scratches, they can be buffed out with fine grit sandpaper.  It is stongly recommended to mineral oil or wax after the scratches are buffed.  After the mineral oil or wax application the area should be much less conspicuous or completely gone.  Often what appears to be a scratch is actually the mineral oil or wax being removed from the surface.  Usually the “scratch” can be removed just by applying mineral oil to the area.  Many of our customers like the patina that develops over time with their soapstone countertops.  The mineral oil and wax will not rub off on your clothes or other material if wiped clean.

Care and Maintenance
There is actually no special maintenance required for soapstone.  Most of our customers choose to apply mineral oil or soapstone wax to the surface of their soapstone countertops, but it is not necessary.  These products are applied to the surface only to darken the stone and enhance its natural beauty.  Soapstone appears naturally as a light grey, chalky looking surface (see photo to right).  When mineral oil or wax is applied to the soapstone, the surface will darken to dark charcoals and black, and the veining in the soapstone will really come to life.  Neither the mineral oil nor wax are sealing the soapstone or protecting the soapstone, but merely darkening it.

We recommend applying a light coat of mineral oil or soapstone wax to all sinks and countertops upon installation. These products can both enhance the inherent natural veining characteristics and crystallization detail of the stone.  Mineral oil can be found in any drug store and the soapstone wax can be purchased through Stone Countertop Outlet. 

Versatility of finish is one of the great pluses of soapstone. Not everyone chooses to color enhance their soapstone. Some homeowners love the natural, untreated soft-gray look. Others choose to bring out the color with mineral oil or wax.  Some treat it with mineral oil weekly, others monthly and some treat only when company is coming. However, when treating with mineral oil, the more often you treat after installation, the sooner you will not have to do it as often.  Waxing the surface will require less applications than the mineral oil and will need to be reapplied less often to keep the stone dark.

Nothing negative will happen to your soapstone if you choose not to apply mineral oil or wax, or if you forgot to apply either of these products.  Over time the stone will darken naturally on its own.  You will notice the soapstone darkening quicker around the high use areas, such as the sink, stovetop, prep areas, etc.  If initially you leave your countertops in their natural state and months later you want to oil or wax them, that is fine.  You do not have to commit to oiling or waxing soapstone the day it is installed.

Daily Cleaning
We recommend using mild soap and water to clear your soapstone countertops.  Soapstone is dense and non-porous, it is very germ and bacteria resistant.  Soapstone is a naturally clean surface. That being said, you can use any common household cleaners on your soapstone counters.  You do not have to worry about using ammonia based cleaners like you with other natural stones.  Setting hot pots or pans directly on your soapstone countertops will not affect the surface.  In Europe, soapstone is used primarily for the manufacturing of masonry heaters and wood burning stones.  Setting hot objects on your stone will not crack, discolor or harm the stone.

Information provided by Green Mountain Soapstone and Midwest Specialty Products via Stone Countertop Outlets.The slab shown above is Mirasol Spyder Soapstone.

Good Luck

Jason Myrlie

J Carsten Homes & Remodeling

Perefect time to update your kitchen with a Free Cambria Upgrade

Now is the perfect time to remodel your kitchen. J Carsten Homes & Remodeling is offering a Free Cambria Upgrade on qualifying Kitchen Remodels. This is up to a $1500 value.

Take a closer look at the benefits of Cambria.

  • Strength & Durability– Cambria Natural Quartz Surfaces™ are stronger than granite. Cambria is a surface that is truly everlasting.
  • Maintenance Free – No sealing, polishing or reconditioning is needed. Simply wash with warm water. It’s that simple. Plus, unlike granite, Cambria will resist stains from common food items such as wine, coffee and tea.
  • Food Safe – Unlike granite, Cambria has been certified by NSF International as safe for use as a food preparation surface. Cambria is nonporous; therefore, food and moisture cannot penetrate the surface — the main source of growth for harmful bacteria.
  • All Natural – Cambria is created from pure natural quartz, an extremely hard stone. In fact, quartz is the hardest non-precious stone that can be found in the earth’s surface.
  • Everlasting Value – With its beauty and performance advantages over granite, a Cambria kitchen countertop or bathroom vanity will add value to your home.
  • Guaranteed – As the only producer of quartz surfaces in the United States, Cambria is covered by a Lifetime Limited Warranty.

Safety and Performance

Today’s busy families demand products that stand up to rigorous use. With Cambria, you can be assured of a product that is not only beautiful and elegant, but also strong, durable and safe for food preparation.

Cambria’s nonporous surface:

  • Is certified by NSF International for both Splash Zone and Food Zone
  • Is nonporous, reducing the potential for bacterial growth
  • Is as food-safe as a stainless steel countertop
  • Resists stains caused by common food items such as coffee, tea and wine
  • Is stronger than granite
  • NEVER needs sealing or refinishing to keep its natural luster
  • Is maintenance free – simply wash with warm water
  • Comes with a limited lifetime warranty

Green Story:

Quartz is a mined product. It is mined through a pipe, one vein at a time and then is back-filled to preserve the integrity of the environment. Seventy percent of the material that is taken out of that vein is used in the finished product.

Granite is also a mined product. It is mined by destroying an entire area of a mountain, rain forest, etc. Approximately only 35% of the initial material becomes the finished product.

Pricing:

Same price for any of the 96 colors. Same price for any of 9 edge profiles.

Good Luck

Jason Myrlie

J Carsten Homes & Remodeling

Featured Project- Mahtomedi Kitchen Remodel

From the day she moved in, Paige hated her kitchen. And, yes, that’s the word she used. Paige loves to cook and entertain, but the design of her existing kitchen left everyone huddled around a tiny cooking area. Paige also had a seldom used dining room and an almost never used front sitting area. On top of that, the current layout had little in the way of kitchen storage space.

After nearly six months and dozens of revisions, plus numerous visits to existing home kitchens, a plan was laid out. It was decided to move the dining room to the front sitting area and double the size of the kitchen.

There were a few obstacles that the new design had created. One of the walls that was scheduled to be removed housed the intercom system, a heat run, and the plumbing vents and wastes from the upper level. The new walls to rerun all these items into, were two- 20” walls. That left almost no space for light switches or structural backing to hang the new cabinets. In addition, the basement was finished, so all the electrical, plumbing, and heating had to be run from the main floor by pulling up the existing sub floor.

The end result is spectacular.

  • Guests can easily place their shared dishes on the expansive island while engaging in casual conversation without crowding the host’s working area.
  • Custom cherry cabinets, Cambria countertops, and the tile backsplash are all contrasting in color, yet are uniquely harmonized with each other.
  • The island – while sizable – symmetrically balances the main wall of cabinets to create a wonderfully spacious work area.
  • An elevated seven foot breakfast bar allows guests to sit and watch the master chef piece together the ingredients for a gourmet meal.
  • Two – three foot lower sections on either side of the elevated bar allow Paige’s two boys to stand and help her make cookies.
  • An ample pantry with pullout shelves houses all the canned goods, breakfast cereals, and baking supplies.
  • A hidden pullout puts the needed spices quickly into chef’s hands to complete the meal.
  • The buffet area, complete with a Wolf warming drawer, is flanked by the existing windows where natural light compliments the new bench seats and open book shelves which give ample room to house cooks books and kitchen knickknacks.
  • The bar area creates a subtle break between the kitchen and the living room, allowing guests to mingle effortlessly from one room to the other.

Paige loves her new kitchen!

Good Luck

Jason- J Carsten Homes

The Benefits of Cambria Countertops

If you’re considering granite or other stone surfaces for your kitchen or bath, take a closer look at the benefits of Cambria.

  • Strength & Durability– Cambria Natural Quartz Surfaces™ are stronger than granite. Cambria is a surface that is truly everlasting.
  • Maintenance Free – No sealing, polishing or reconditioning is needed. Simply wash with warm water. It’s that simple. Plus, unlike granite, Cambria will resist stains from common food items such as wine, coffee and tea.
  • Food Safe – Unlike granite, Cambria has been certified by NSF International as safe for use as a food preparation surface. Cambria is nonporous; therefore, food and moisture cannot penetrate the surface — the main source of growth for harmful bacteria.
  • All Natural – Cambria is created from pure natural quartz, an extremely hard stone. In fact, quartz is the hardest non-precious stone that can be found in the earth’s surface.
  • Everlasting Value – With its beauty and performance advantages over granite, a Cambria kitchen countertop or bathroom vanity will add value to your home.
  • Guaranteed – As the only producer of quartz surfaces in the United States, Cambria is covered by a Lifetime Limited Warranty.

Safety and Performance

Today’s busy families demand products that stand up to rigorous use. With Cambria, you can be assured of a product that is not only beautiful and elegant, but also strong, durable and safe for food preparation.

Cambria’s nonporous surface:

  • Is certified by NSF International for both Splash Zone and Food Zone
  • Is nonporous, reducing the potential for bacterial growth
  • Is as food-safe as a stainless steel countertop
  • Resists stains caused by common food items such as coffee, tea and wine
  • Is stronger than granite
  • NEVER needs sealing or refinishing to keep its natural luster
  • Is maintenance free – simply wash with warm water
  • Comes with a limited lifetime warranty

Green Story:

Quartz is a mined product. It is mined through a pipe, one vein at a time and then is back-filled to preserve the integrity of the environment. Seventy percent of the material that is taken out of that vein is used in the finished product.

Granite is also a mined product. It is mined by destroying an entire area of a mountain, rain forest, etc. Approximately only 35% of the initial material becomes the finished product.

Pricing:

Same price for any of the 96 colors. Same price for any of 9 edge profiles.

Good Luck.

Jason