KBIS 2015 in Las Vegas Part Two —Color, Finishes and Form

KBIS 2015 in Las Vegas Part Two —Color, Finishes and Form

Sandra Brannock, Expert Kitchen Designer

Sandra Brannock, Expert Kitchen Designer

As promised, here is the second article about what I learned and observed at the Las Vegas 2015 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) and International Building Show (IBS).

Today, I touch upon my impressions regarding color, finishes, and form trends. All four at the show were combined in different ways perhaps described best as: the rustic with the sleek, the industrial with extremely polished, something vintage with something brand new, commercial styles morphing into residential. Of course, my blog below could never capture every impression made upon me. But all below made significant impressions on me making them all “blogworthy”.

Kitchen Color Trends

Neutrality is Still “In”
Would you be surprised if I told you that the palette of neutral colors gray, white, and brown are still going strong? And that this palette consistently appears in cabinetry, countertops, and flooring-—the three main building blocks of any kitchen?

A neutral color palette remains, at least at for now, de rigueur.

At the show, almost all kitchen (and bathroom) vignettes featured these neutral color schemes. They dominated the “canvas” and, then, on occasion, bright “pops” of color would be introduced in the space, such as a tile backsplash or a single furniture piece in a bold color such as red or orange.

The guideline followed is: fixtures that are not easily changed remain neutral in color. If color vibrancy is needed, it is found in items that are changed more easily, such as these stools:
ORANGE STOOLS

Finishes

Hardware — A Slight Surprise
For metal finishes such as decorative cabinet hardware, pulls, knobs and the like, the standard polished chrome and nickel, brushed nickel, black, oil rubbed bronze types were displayed in booths as always.

What made a bold “new” entrance was something that most have considered forever in the history books: antique and polished brass.

The pulls and knobs on display this year were not in their traditional form, but rather presented in contemporary or modern ones:
brass pullbrass hardwarebrass hardware on cabinetsSimply by changing the form, but not the finish, the whole feel is transformed. Applying this concept to almost anything sheds light on how something old can be new again.

Appliances — The Continuing “Go To” Finish

stainless refrigeratorAs for appliance finishes, if you heard a rumor that stainless is going “out”, this is not entirely true. It is true that more and more appliance manufacturers offer “panel” ready appliances — meaning you can have a matching cabinet panel made to make the appliance look like the front of a cabinet. But, outside of this option, stainless is still the most popular appliance finish. Although there continue to be a few appliance manufacturers, Viking, La Cornue and Big Chill, to name a few, seeking to distinguish themselves with bold vibrant colors, the standard “go to” is stainless. It remains so because it is neutral in color.

Engineered Quartz Finishes

raw concrete CaesarstoneCaesarstone, an engineered quartz countertop manufacturer from Israel, displayed some of its new finishes that mimic concrete: Raw Concrete, Sleek Concrete & Fresh Concrete. They also have improved their “art imitates life” with their Concetto series. If you are one who needs color, take a peek at this:

caesarstone profondo

Laminates

Another “wow” at the show was revealed to me when I explored Lab Designs’ booth. Incredible samples of high pressure laminates, one after another, were displayed, and many I had ever seen before. Some of these laminates were so compelling, you wanted to touch and feel them — because they had a 3-D quality to them.

honey cayman rattan laminatelaminate sage

Tile: Art Imitates Life

If you are in the mood to stretch your creative brain even more, the tile industry is not lacking for material to help you do so. Tile has truly become “art”, and the choices are infinite for anyone wishing to expand their options to be creative. A few examples:

Kitchen wood tile floor example

Porcelain Tile with Wood Finish

In the world of porcelain tile, the wood look is exploding. These tiles actually have “grooves” that look like the characteristics of real wood.

Weathered Concrete Tile

Weathered Concrete Tile

Another hot trend: tile that looks like weathered concrete. This trend is due to the industrial/commercial look that is making its way into residential interior design.

And then, if you are tired of tiles offering repetition with 90 degree angles, you can enter the world of Ann Sacks. Below is a photo of Sakura tiles which create an Asian inspired wall.

tile mural

Form

If I had to assign a “gender” to the type of form trends I saw at the show, I would say without hesitation: masculine.

  • Countertops—thick, simply in form in edge detail, often 6 cm thick.
  • Kitchen sinks and faucets—straight, linear, minimalistic
    Cabinetry—rustic or sleek. Less details.
  • Hardware—minimalistic with right angles. Some outright “rustic.”

Stay tuned for my next and last article on the show. This one will cover new storage solutions for the kitchen.


Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs, Virginia

Sandra Brannock designs beautiful, timeless, functional kitchens that reflect your personal style, within your budget. She helps discerning homeowners throughout Northern and Central Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC get the kitchen of their dreams and select the perfect cabinetry, fixtures, flooring, lighting, and appliances to make their dream kitchen a reality.

Call Sandra today at (703) 801-6402 to schedule a kitchen remodeling consultation. Sandra will help you get the most value out of your kitchen remodeling budget and ensure that all the details of your kitchen renovation proceed smoothly, on time and within budget.

Why I Love Pennville Custom Cabinetry for Kitchens

Why I Love Pennville Custom Cabinetry for Kitchens

Sandra Brannock, Expert Kitchen Designs, Northern VirginiaI recently had the pleasure of participating in a video commercial for Pennville Cabinetry. You can learn why Pennville Cabinetry is my top choice for custom kitchen cabinetry when you watch the video below. I am standing in a beautiful Pennville Stanford Collection custom kitchen that was completed a couple of years ago. It is absolutely gorgeous and the total example of what Pennville does with a lot of value. When I was first introduced to Pennville, I thought they would be like any ordinary cabinet company until Mark showed me the finishes and the construction and the door styles. My mouth fell open. I fell in love. This is the most incredible product I work with today.


Who would not want to cook in this kitchen? It is where everybody wants to be. Family and friends can gather around this inviting and beautifully designed kitchen for meals, enjoy themselves, connect and share and love.

One of the reasons I love to work with Pennville is their ability to add some personal custom touches to the cabinetry. We have a pantry cabinet here that they were able to inscribe for the homeowner with her own inscriptions, one saying goodies, one saying bread. Another thing that Pennville does is combine the cabinets so that they look seamless and like they were meant to be there forever.

This is a very clever way to use space on the side of a tall cabinet. We basically made this little secret compartment where keys and another items can be stowed away in a secret place that is very nicely concealed top and bottom.


Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs, Virginia

Sandra Brannock designs beautiful, timeless, functional kitchens that reflect your personal style, within your budget. She helps discerning homeowners throughout Northern and Central Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC get the kitchen of their dreams and select the perfect cabinetry, fixtures, flooring, lighting, and appliances to make their dream kitchen a reality.

Call Sandra today at (703) 801-6402 to schedule a kitchen remodeling consultation. Sandra will help you get the most value out of your kitchen remodeling budget and ensure that all the details of your kitchen renovation proceed smoothly, on time and within budget.

Kitchen Cabinetry Cost Comparisons: Why Do Some Kitchen Cabinets Cost More Than Others?

Kitchen Cabinetry Cost Comparisons: Why Do Some Kitchen Cabinets Cost More Than Others?

Kitchen CabinetsOne of the most common questions I encounter when homeowners are researching kitchen cabinetry options and establishing their kitchen remodeling budget is, “Why does this kitchen cabinet cost so much more than that one? What accounts for the difference in cost?”

I always remind my clients that the difference in price among cabinet manufacturers is directly related to the quality. Period.

I recently ran across an illuminating article on Cabinetmakerfdm.com written by Mark Goldman, President and Owner of Pennville Cabinetry. Pennville is one of my favorite kitchen cabinetry manufacturers. This article will help you understand the details and factors that distinguish extraordinary kitchen cabinetry craftsmanship from ordinary stock cabinetry. It is recommended reading for any discerning homeowner who is weighing the decision to spend more versus less on their kitchen cabinetry — especially if you are planning to live in your home for a long time after the kitchen remodeling is finished.

Click Here to Read the Article: Why Do These Cabinets Cost More?


Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs, Virginia

Sandra Brannock designs beautiful, timeless, functional kitchens that reflect your personal style, within your budget. She helps discerning homeowners throughout Northern and Central Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC get the kitchen of their dreams and select the perfect cabinetry, fixtures, flooring, lighting, and appliances to make their dream kitchen a reality.

Call Sandra today at (703) 801-6402 to schedule a kitchen remodeling consultation. Sandra will help you get the most value out of your kitchen remodeling budget and ensure that all the details of your kitchen renovation proceed smoothly, on time and within budget.

Kitchen Cabinetry Installation: Choose Your Installer Carefully for Best Quality Outcome

Kitchen Cabinetry Installation: Choose Your Installer Carefully for Best Quality Outcome

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

A few weeks ago, I spent a day seeing the completion of two high-end kitchens. Both kitchen projects had cabinetry by the same manufacturer in essentially the same style. The homeowners of both kitchens were very much involved in the entire design process, and cared about the outcome. However, there was one major difference between the two kitchen projects: Installation quality — and, more than likely, what the builder and/or homeowner were willing to pay for the installation.

Below are two photos of the first kitchen, with the superior installation quality. Note the careful execution of the decorative toe valance installed under the Thermador refrigerator (left).

Superior Kitchen Cabinetry Installation Quality

The second kitchen may look fine to the untrained eye, but the installation elements were less tidy, even though some of the design elements were less complex than the first kitchen. I could see that the installer failed to follow the tiny details spelled out in my kitchen design plan that would have made the “difference”, even though I had reviewed the installation plan with the cabinet installer beforehand and invited them to call me if they had any questions.

As a professional kitchen designer, it concerns me when the installer does not take the time or care enough to perform to the same high standards as I witnessed in the installation of the first kitchen. The second kitchen’s installer’s allegiance was to the builder because the builder was the one paying him to do the job.

This now brings us to a very important point for the homeowner to understand:

In the first kitchen, the homeowner paid more for the installation with a reputable high quality builder. The photos above illustrate a crisp and clean result.

In the second kitchen, where the installation was subcontracted out by a smaller, less-known builder, I initially quoted installation by my experienced “perfectionistic” installation crew for the homeowner/builder. However, the client or the builder (I’m not sure which) chose instead to assign the cabinetry installation to the builder’s own “framing carpenter.” Ultimately, and unfortunately, this homeowner paid the “price” for a somewhat substandard installation.

Kitchen Cabinetry Installation Quality Affects Final Outcome

As you can infer, the subject of who will be responsible for installing kitchen cabinetry can be a contentious one for kitchen designers, installers, homeowners, and builders. From the kitchen designer’s viewpoint, installation quality is responsible for 50% of the outcome — meaning, how pristine the kitchen will look — so it is imperative that the installation be done as carefully and painstakingly as possible.

In contrast, the installer’s ability to carry out all tasks is governed by:

  1. How much experience he has (how complex/easy is it for him),
  2. The amount of time he has to complete the job, and
  3. the amount he is being paid. The builder’s and/or homeowner’s objective is to get the job done as fast as possible, at the lowest cost, and at the highest quality.

Project Management Triangle: Cost/Benefit Tradeoffs in Kitchen Remodeling

Project Management Triangle kitchen remodelingFor the cabinetry installation aspect of the project, this leads us to the topic of the Project Management Triangle.

This triangle reflects the fact that the three properties of the kitchen installation are interrelated, and it is not possible to optimize all three – one will always suffer. In other words you have three options:

  1. Install a kitchen quickly and to a high standard — the most expensive option.
  2. Install a kitchen quickly and cheaply — and sacrifice high quality.
  3. Install a kitchen with high quality at the lowest possible cost — which will take longer.

So, if you are homeowner who is undertaking a kitchen remodel and the topic of cabinetry installation has not been discussed, now is the time to do so. Ask a lot of questions and perhaps ask to see an installed kitchen completed by the contractor. I also recommend inviting an experienced kitchen designer to accompany you and assess the quality of the installation for aspects that only a trained eye will see.


Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs, Virginia

Sandra Brannock designs beautiful, timeless, functional kitchens that reflect your personal style, within your budget. She helps discerning homeowners throughout Northern and Central Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC get the kitchen of their dreams and select the perfect cabinetry, fixtures, flooring, lighting, and appliances to make their dream kitchen a reality.

Call Sandra today at (703) 801-6402 to schedule a kitchen remodeling consultation. Sandra will help you get the most value out of your kitchen remodeling budget and ensure that all the details of your kitchen renovation proceed smoothly, on time and within budget.

How to Choose the Best Kitchen Cabinetry for Your Kitchen Remodel

How to Choose the Best Kitchen Cabinetry for Your Kitchen Remodel

Sandra Brannock, Expert Kitchen Designs, Northern VirginiaKitchen cabinetry usually accounts for a significant portion of any kitchen remodeling project. As a professional kitchen designer, I often educate clients about kitchen cabinetry basics: what to look for, and what to avoid, when selecting new kitchen cabinetry.

Too often, homeowners assume that a cabinet box is “just a box”. This is erroneous thinking that can lead to costly mistakes and inevitable disappointment with the final outcome of your kitchen remodeling project.

There are major differences among cabinetry manufacturers that the uneducated consumer will not easily detect. In kitchen remodeling, as in other aspects of life, the fact is — to quote a very worn out cliché — you get what you pay for.

The jargon of kitchen cabinet manufacturing can be intimidating. Do not let manufacturer jargon deter you. By educating yourself about kitchen cabinetry fundamentals, you will soon be able to “speak the language” that will help you make a sound purchase decision.

The Four Main Elements You Must Understand About Kitchen Cabinetry

There are four main elements you must understand before selecting and investing in your new kitchen cabinetry. These elements are:

  1. Cabinet Construction — framed and frameless construction consist of box and drawer box construction, and hardware operational mechanisms.
  2. Door and Drawer Styles — includes the actual detailing and construction of the door and drawer front.
  3. Wood Species — from basic to exotic veneers — the latter being the most expensive.
  4. Finishes — for toughness and durability, especially in the kitchen, the quality of the finish cannot be overlooked.

Cabinet Construction

When cabinet manufacturers refer to cabinet construction, they refer to two categories—framed and frameless or full access. Framed cabinets are most common in the US. Within this category you can choose, in order of least to most expensive:

  1. Standard or traditional overlay
  2. Full overlay
  3. Inset

Frameless (or full access/European construction) cabinets have no face-frame to the opening; the 3/4″ sides of the box define the opening. We often see this type of cabinet construction in contemporary or modern settings.

Installing frameless cabinets is more involved than installing framed cabinets, which can result in higher installation times to get your frameless cabinet into its proper position. Therefore, it requires a skilled and experienced carpenter to install this type of cabinetry.

Box Construction

Whether framed or frameless in style, cabinets are “boxes”. However, the materials and joinery used in their construction vary greatly among manufacturers. You may be familiar with terms such as particle board, MDF (medium density fiberboard), and plywood construction. Plywood is considered the best form of construction for a cabinet box. However, some manufacturers offer high quality MDF at a lesser price than plywood. Particle board is considered one of the lowest quality materials.

Drawer Box Construction

Drawer boxes, not including the hardware attached, come in three basic forms.

  1. Laminate/stapled
  2. Solid Wood Sides/Plywood bottoms/Staple or Dovetail
  3. Metal

Laminate kitchen cabinet boxes are least expensive. Over time, with heavy use, they fall apart.

Dovetail constructed cabinet drawer boxes reign supreme over stapled cabinet construction. Some manufacturers build a better drawer box than others by using a ½” plywood bottom. The drawer box bottom is what supports the weight of items placed in the drawer box. One of my manufacturers often demonstrates the quality of his drawer box by turning it over and literally “jumping” on it with his 200 pounds of weight! Now that is a drawer box meant to last a very long time!

Metal drawer boxes are just that. They are more popular with European manufacturers who, as an example, may use Hafele as their drawer box supplier.

Obviously, if you want a long lived product you will prefer the higher end drawer box construction.

Hardware Mechanisms

These are purchased by the cabinet manufacturer for various uses including, but not limited to, door and drawer opening mechanisms and internal accoutrements. BLUM and GRASS are popular hardware systems. Hafele, Richelieu, and Rev-A-Shelf offer internal convenience items for storage. All cabinet manufacturers rely on these “third parties” to enhance their cabinetry’s functions

Door and Drawer Front Styles

Doors and drawer front style components and proprietary details are too numerous to illustrate in this short article. Within the specific category of framed or frameless construction, your kitchen cabinetry costs will vary widely depending on these factors:

  1. Flat or recessed panel door styles cost less than raised panel door styles.
  2. The more detail a door has, the more expensive it will be.
  3. Doors that are thicker than a standard 4/4″ door (i.e. a 5/4″door) will cost more.
  4. The quality of the door and drawer front depends on whether it is made “in house” or purchased from an outside supplier. Higher quality manufacturers make their own doors and drawer fronts, as a general rule.

Wood Species

Another element that affects price is the wood species used for the cabinet: Oak, Maple, Cherry, Lyptus, Mahogany, Hickory, Birch, Ash, Alder, Knotty Pine, Walnut, Chestnut — these are all “wood species” derived from trees. Supply, demand and quality govern the specie price. For basic wood species, it is safe to assume that:

  1. Oak, Hickory, White Birch, and Knotty Alder will be the least expensive.
  2. Maple is next in the hierarchy.
  3. Cherry cabinetry will cost about twice as much as Maple cabinetry.

Also, within each species, there are tolerances or grades assigned –ranking the quality of the wood. If you are particular about the way the wood specie will “look” in its finished form, be wary of cheaper manufacturers’ quality—the outcome is entirely different than that of a higher quality manufacturer.

Finishes

Finish is one of the most important aspects affecting your cabinetry’s appearance and quality. If you talk to any carpenter who makes cabinetry or furniture, he or she will tell you that finishing may be most time-consuming and challenging component of the cabinet production process. The sanding process, attention to detail, and finish elements must be top-notch if you want your cabinetry to be the kind of high-quality investment that will endure for generations to come.

What do you need to know before making your cabinetry selection?

First, use your eyes and hands. What you see is what you get: A first rate finishing process costs more because the cabinet manufacturer has invested a large amount of capital in human and equipment resources that will pay off in future years.

Comparing finishes across the board in terms of cost (from least to most expensive):

  1. Stain wood finishes.
  2. Add 5-15% to the base price if you want additional accent or glaze applied to your cabinetry.
  3. Add 10-15% to the base price for straight painted finishes (on paint grade material, maple or birch), depending upon the manufacturer. Also, be sure to understand the difference between a lacquer paint finish versus an “opaque” or “color tone”stain”. The latter is not a paint but often passes as one under the consumer’s radar. This type of finish will not endure and will “rub through” over time.
  4. Add an additional 15-20% to the base cost ff a glaze is added to the paint,.
    5) A multi-step process which includes distress, patinas, or anything with an artistic one-of-a-kind appearance will add anywhere from 30 to 40% more to the cabinet price.

Now that you have this information, you will be better able to make a well-informed kitchen cabinetry purchase decision with which you will be happy for years to come.

Of course, there is always more to learn, but now you have everything you need to know to steer yourself in the right direction.

If you would like more information or advice on your kitchen remodeling project, call or email Sandra Brannock, (703) 801-6402, sandra@expertkitchendesigns.com.

Kitchen Cabinetry Finishes 101

Kitchen Cabinetry Finishes 101

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

As a professional who works with various lines of kitchen cabinetry, I find the biggest indicator of cabinet quality is its finish. Obviously, finish affects overall appearance. But more importantly a superior finish, in substance as well as form, testifies to the manufacturer’s quality standards. A superior finish adds longevity to the life of cabinetry–not just a few years, but decades of use withstanding moisture, chemicals, food splatters, and bumps and scrapes. In summary, it stands up to the test of time—which is the most rigorous test of all.

Finishes Typically Found in Kitchen Cabinetry

Finish is an extremely complex topic. In order to get an in-depth professional opinion, I called Bill Adams, a finishes and coatings expert and representative of Accessa Coatings Solutions in Indiana. Bill used to be professional finisher (technical applicator) at a very high end custom cabinet manufacturer—so he understands the finish process for kitchen cabinetry. When he began to answer some of my very basic questions, I found myself thinking: “Wow, there is a lot more to finishes than I thought.” Regardless, Bill was able to convey the information for me in layman’s terms–for the sake of keeping me from having to write a Tolstoy novel. So here we go.

For kitchen cabinetry, there are essentially four kinds of chemical finishes, from least to most superior in quality— NC and Pre-Catalyzed Lacquers, Post Catalyzed Conversion Varnishes, and Polyurethanes:
1) Nitrocellulose Lacquer
2) Pre- Catalyzed Lacquer
3) Post-Catalyzed Conversion Varnish
4) Polyurethane.

Nitrocellulose Lacquer is considered an “everyday” type finish–inexpensive and cures or dries easily. There have been some improvements in this finish since its invention in 1921, but is it is still considered by the “pros” to be in the lowest end of the spectrum in quality for the following reasons:

• Tends to conform to the surface below it showing any imperfections of the substrate (Lower Volume Solids)
• Scratches and wears off easily (interacts with other chemicals/materials)
• Tends to yellow over time.

Some cabinet manufacturers use this finish because of its low cost and quick curing time.

Pre –Catalyzed Lacquers offer a step up when compared to straight Nitrocellulose Lacquer. The “pre” catalyzed version is called such because the catalyst is added into the mixture before it is sold to the end user, it is ready to use and requires little preparation. Additionally, it has a longer shelf life and requires less professional expertise for its application, when compared to Post Catalyzed Conversion Varnishes. Although superior to straight Nitrocellulose Lacquer, most have quality limitations such as a lower volume solids ratio (15-20%) and a tendency to yellow (not curing “water white”) so its performance is not as superior as the next step up.

Post–Catalyzed Conversion Varnish is often higher in cost per gallon when compared to Pre-Catalyzed Lacquer. It has a higher volume solids ratio of 30% to 45% thereby providing better coverage, build and fill and creating a better chemical barrier against wear and tear that stands the test of time. For cost and benefit that is the most noticeable in the industry, most would say it is the “go to” finish for high quality.

Polyurethane is another finish, often applied on items that take a beating from the elements. This finish is costly in dollars and time, and requires more safety / risk considerations. Post Catalyzed Conversion Varnish and Polyurethane’s protective qualities are so similar overall that the benefits of polyurethane (durability vs. cost and time) can be considered by many manufacturers overkill for kitchen cabinetry.  Therefore, for most discerning clients, Post-Catalyzed Conversion Varnish would be considered the ideal product to use for high end kitchen cabinetry finishes.


Sandra Brannock has designed beautiful and functional custom kitchens for clients throughout Northern Virginia and the metropolitan Washington, DC region. For more information, call Sandra direct at (703) 801-6402 or email sandra@expertkitchendesigns.com.