The old saying that the kitchen is the heart of a home has rung true, especially during this past year. For many, it’s not just the place to prepare meals but also an area to work at home or a place for the kid’s homework. A kitchen remodel usually tops the wish list of home renovation projects and a great deal of attention goes into kitchen planning when constructing a new house.
The 2021 Houzz Kitchen Study reveals the top choices and colors when it comes to kitchen design. Read on to see where your preferences fall.
White Prevails. Shades of white are the preferred choice for cabinets, countertops and backsplash material in both renovations and new construction. Light wood cabinetry follows second with gray coming in third for top cabinet colors.
Island of Color. 41% of homeowners prefer a contrasting island, either with a different cabinet color or countertop material.
Top of the List. When remodeling, countertops, backsplashes and sinks are the most important upgrades. Engineered quartz is the most popular counter material followed by granite.
Ceramic or porcelain tile is the top pick for backsplashes and most homeowners bring their tile to up to the cabinets or range hood.
Wood versus Tile. In the survey, tile is the preferred material for floors especially wood look tile. Hardwood floor is still popular though mainly in lighter, natural tones.
Stainless Reigns. From appliances to plumbing, stainless steel is favored choice among homeowners.
Mr. H says: Good food is what makes a house a home-Enjoy!
Whether you’re moving into your first home or tenth home, it’s important for some of your furniture purchases to stand the test of time. Resisting the temptation to fill your rooms with every piece you may need at a low price is tough though and it may end up costing you more money in the long run. While a less expensive option will often make a fine choice for a few years, there are six critical items that really are worth the investment.
Sofa-It’s possible to find a well made sofa in many price points as many frames are crafted in the same way. It’s often the fabric selection that bumps the cost up. A sofa built to last will feature a solid hardwood frame with the legs and arms built into the frame versus attached separately. The seat and back cushion construction will effect both the comfort and the price. My first choice is spring down seat cushions with foam blend down backs which offer comfort and support. High-resilient foam wrapped in a down and feather is a good option too.
Dining Table-A quality dining table is a must have regardless of your of your lifestyle. Purchase a table that’s durable and will withstand the daily use from your family. A solid wood table with clean lines will last for decades and can be refinished down the road. A table with one or two leaves is also worth the extra money as it allows for flexible seating of additional guests.
Dining Chairs-While your table top will take a lot of abuse, the chairs you choose will be the dining space work horse. From being pulled in and out, sat on and even stood on, it’s a must that your chairs be of solid wood construction that can hold the weight of your family. Make clean up of spills and other accidents easy with a performance fabric that will keep your seating looking great for years.
Upholstered bed-A queen size (or king if you have the space) upholstered bed in a neutral fabric can start out in a master bedroom and migrate to a guest room if you upgrade. Select a classic design, with a solid wood frame that can work with a variety of design styles. I prefer a complete bed with upholstered side and foot boards eliminating the need for a dust skirt. Bonus tip: Invest in a high quality mattress. We spend a lot of time in bed and it’s important that your mattress lasts for a good seven to eight years.
Chest of Drawers-A solid wood chest of drawers can be used in a myriad of places. A simple, classic design can be repurposed to hold clothes in the bedroom, linens in the dining room or be used as a TV center in the family room. Look for dovetail joints on the drawers, with sanded and finished edges. Wood on wood glides and a center rail support will help keep your drawers from sagging.
Accent Piece-Your home is a reflection of your personality and lifestyle. Investing in a piece you truly love like a painted desk, an antique mirror, or anything else that strikes the can’t live without emotion is worth the money.
Mr. H says: Your home should be a collection of what you love-Enjoy!
It’s one of the first questions I ask when I’m working with new design clients. Defining the feelings, you want to have when you’re in your home is key to understanding the home’s function, creating the experiences that conjure up those feelings. Ideally having all your family members answer these questions will establish a guide to how your home should be designed.
How do you want to feel when you come home after a long day?
What do you want guests to think about your home?
What three feelings come to mind when you think of your dream home?
When you reach a consensus on those feelings these are tips on achieving those emotions.
A Welcoming Home
If feeling welcome is important, then consider what guests may see when they walk in. Is there clutter in your entry? Do you have plenty of comfortable seating for guests? It’s not just about guests either, everyone in your family should feel some connection when they come home. Displaying family photos and having your family’s favorite things out will create a warm vibe.
A Relaxing Home
If snuggling the pets on the sofa or having family pizza night in the living room is relaxing to you then expect your home to show some wear. If having your feet on the 19th Century coffee table stresses you out, then you need to rethink your pieces opting for a different look. A relaxing home won’t necessarily equate to a perfect home so be realistic with the amount of clutter and dust you’re comfortable with and commit to keeping your home at that level.
A Peaceful Home
We’ve heard it many times that your home should be a sanctuary, especially in these trying times. Leaving the outside world at your doorstep can be attained with minimal clutter and soothing neutral colors. Thick drapes and blackout shades help eliminate outside noise and annoying streetlights.
A Creative Home
If you’re an artist, quilter or even an occasional crafter design a home that inspires you. Have your supplies readily available and easy to set up. If it’s creative cooking you’re into, arrange the kitchen so that your knives and equipment are within easy reach. Communing with nature and playing music is symbiotic with generating creative energy.
A Fun Home
Commit to having more fun at home with family activities like game night or happy hour with your neighbors. Don’t overthink a new bold paint color and colorful curtains creating a youthful home that feels fun.
A Safe Home
You don’t need to invest in an expensive security system to feel safe at home. Get to know your neighbors, install good quality window and door locks. Operable window coverings boost privacy and make a home feel more secure.
Mr. H says: The magic of home is that it feels good to leave, and feels even better to return-Enjoy!
As an interior designer, I love that I’m constantly exposed to designers, artists, and craftsmen from all over the world. While I work with a few African American people in the Charleston area, I admit that I’ve not made a concerted effort to support local minority-owned small businesses. Like so many others, I am horrified at the many unjust acts committed against people of color in our country. In these uncertain times, moving just a fraction of your purchases to a black business can make an enormous impact. Here are a few local companies and artisans that are committed to making our homes and community a better, more beautiful place.
Iconic Granite & Marble
Offering fabrication and installation of granite, marble, quartz and natural stone countertops in homes and businesses. Iconic Marble & Granite, owned by Cory Steed, has over twenty years experience creating custom kitchens, baths, exterior spaces and more.
For well over 30 years, Charles L. Hudson, Jr. AIA, NOMA has been designing custom homes and spaces for commercial and religious projects. His firm, Hudson Designs, with its impressive portfolio, is located in the heart of Johns Island.
Smithco Services LLC
Husband and wife team, Michael and Cassandra Smith, form Smithco Services LLC. A licensed general contractor, master electrician and master plumber they can handle all your construction needs.
If your yard needs a tune up, contact Tony Spense. Providing landscape design, hardscaping, irrigation and maintenance services, Lowcountry Greens, is committed to providing excellant service at reasonable prices.
Neema Fine ArtGallery
Meisha Johnson, the owner of this Broad Street gallery, exclusively features original art by Southern African American artist. Alicia Goodwin jewelry, pottery by Winton and Rosa Eugene, and paintings by Ted Ellis and James Denmark are among the seventeen artists that can be found at Neema Fine Art Gallery. A Certified MWBE Woman Owned Business the name Neema translates to favor, grace and prosperity in Swahili.
Sweetgrass Basket Makers
One of Lowcountry’s most venerated hand craft is the sweetgrass basket. Passed down for generations since the 1700s, this art was brought to America through the enslaved people from West Africa. Mary Jackson is one of Charleston’s best known sweetgrass basket artisan and in 2008 was a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship and a 2010 NEA National Heritage Fellow. Her work is on permanent display at the Gibbes Museum of Art.
Local artists include Corey Alston, Tonya Aiken, Mazie Brown, and Chlorissa German. More resources can be found at Mount Pleasant’s Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Pavilion or taking a drive North on Hwy. 17 which is known as the ‘sweetgrass basket makers highway’. The Charleston City Market, which is home to over 50 resident Gullah artisans, is great place to find unique, locally produced products.
Mr. H says: We become stronger when all of us stand together-Enjoy!
With our country in the grips of some life altering changes you may be feeling rather stressed. Just turning on the news or scrolling social media can raise your blood pressure and bring on a headache. Its been said repeatedly that our homes are our sanctuary and we should take the steps to actually make it feel like one. Now is the time to consider how your home’s colors may be adding to your anxiety. While you may have noticed that certain colors alter your mood, you may not realize that color affects your subconscious as well. Certain cultures use color to promote health and wellness. Known as chromotherapy, color and light are used to restore imbalances in a persons physical, mental, emotional or spiritual energy. Here are my tips on colors to avoid and the best alternatives if you want to create an oasis at home.
Yellow: Often associated with happiness, yellow can also activate the anxiety center of the brain. Bright yellows, especially neon shades, should be used sparingly as an accent. Try buttery, yellows that remind you of summer days or deep golds that connect you to a sense of the past.
Red: Studies have shown red rooms increase our heart, respiration and blood pressure rates by activating the pituitary gland. Red is a showstopper, making it a powerful design tool for creating drama. Used in excess though it will inhibit relaxation and should be kept out spaces you want to chill out in. Shades of peach and coral will still stimulate creativity and interpersonal interactions without the revved up feeling associated with red.
Black: Talk about dark and gloomy. While black rooms can be so chic, they will do little to make you feel uplifted day in and day out. Try instead cozy charcoal grays which can still feel dramatic though less oppressive than a true black.
White: On the opposite end, stark white feels clinical and not at all relaxing. Opting for a warmer white, can still feel clean and modern while producing a relaxing vibe.
Green: Popular yellow greens make fantastic accent colors especially when combined with neutrals, however steer clear of these bright yellow greens as they can be mentally overwhelming. While green has been well documented as a relaxing color to be around, stick to softer tones that lean more blue green like Sherwin Williams “Sea Salt”
Mr. H says: Color can speak to the soul in many ways-Enjoy!
So you’ve found yourself having to work remotely, and like many are woefully unprepared to to do so. With the health crisis continuing to loom well into the future, now is the perfect time to take stock of an underused space in your home and create your “go to work” zone. At a minimum your home office is going to need a computer and a surface to set it up on. Beyond these basic components though what additional items you’ll need depends on the work your doing.
The Space. Assess your home for the most underutilized room in your house. The formal dining room that may get used twice a year, the guest bedroom that has been a dumping ground for items that need to be organized or tossed, or even a garden shed can become the perfect home office.
The Desk. Think about what components you’ll need on the desk. Do you to spread out files or use multiple monitors? Purchase the largest desk that will fit into your space keeping in mind you’ll need at least 30″ between the desk and other inanimate objects likes shelves or file cabinets for comfortable passage. Be sure to locate near an outlet too so that a traditional PC, desk printer or lamp can be easily plugged in.
The Chair. Your desk chair should be on wheels so that you can easily move within your workstation. It should be adjustable as well to allow you to ergonomically position yourself for computer viewing. This graphic shows the optimal set up that will help with back and neck pain, eye strain and fatigue.
The Storage. Consider what kinds of storage you may need when you are working from home. Bookshelves, lateral files or any other specialty furniture needs to be considered when planning your space.
The Equipment. Wireless printers and scanners can be tucked away in a closet though they should easily accessible as well. You shouldn’t have to move a lot of stuff around to add paper or change out an ink cartridge.
The Layout. This plan is about the size of an average bedroom and shows some critical issues to keep in mind when planning your home office. Have enough clear space to maneuver your desk chair and allow for flow around the space and leave enough room to fully open file cabinets drawers.
Mr. H says: The first five days after the weekend are the hardest-Enjoy!
There you were planning to start building a new home or renovating your existing space and Boom the entire world seemed to shut down! During this current health crisis, it is hard to imagine hiring an interior designer, selecting products for your home or visiting a showroom. Thanks to modern technology though it is an optimal time to get your project started or to keep it going. Here are eight tips on keeping it on track.
Make a Wish List: Create a list of all the improvements you would like to make in your current home. Imagine how you would like for your home to function and write it down. The same applies if your embarking on new construction. How exactly would your dream home work for you and your family?
Create a Style File: There are plenty of places to search for design inspiration from Pinterest, to Houzz to any of the national and regional shelter magazines. Start a virtual file or board of the spaces that speak to you.
Research Product: Plumbing, lighting and a myriad of other home products can all be selected online. A designer can also assist you with scheduling a virtual visit to a local tile showroom or you can research products on the manufacture’s sites.
Understand Costs: Product sites usually have retail prices listed and there are online renovation calculators that allow you to see costs in your area for remodeling and new construction prices. Setting a budget is essential for every project.
Search for a Pro: Asking friends and family for a recommendation is the most direct way to find a designer for your project. They have firsthand experience working with their firm and can give you the pros and cons. Searching online can yield a lot of results too though I am a bit leery of online reviews. A true professional will have a client referral list that you can contact directly for some honest insight.
Pick your Pros: Once you have found designer that seem like a good fit, reach out to set a phone call about your project. During this initial exchange, describe the scope of your project and your budget. The designer in turn can give you insight into how they typically run a project, their fees and a preliminary timeline.
Go Virtual: Design pros still can accomplish almost everything they may have done in person before social distancing became de rigueur. Zoom and FaceTime allow you to give your designer a virtual tour of your home and describe the problems you want to solve in real time.
Embrace Technology: So much can be done remotely these days. We have over 25 years of experience working successfully with clients in different cities. Technology has made it easier than ever to share digital plans, make furniture selections, and ship samples. Don’t let the current crisis stall your home projects. Contact us today!
Mr. H says: Home is a shelter from all sorts storms-Enjoy!
In mere weeks our lives have changed and there is little doubt that a new “normal” will emerge once the effects of the Coronavirus have been mitigated both physically and financially. With social distancing, living out our entire lives exclusively at home have created some new design challenges. These are the areas that a future redesign may be most critical.
Entries as drop zones-Studies have shown that the virus can live on surfaces for several days. Foyers may become decontamination areas where packages, some groceries and possibly even clothes and shoes get cleaned or stored, keeping any germs in one place.
Kitchens-With restaurant dining rooms closed, many of us have had to become reacquainted with our kitchens. Those with older kitchen are going to have eek out more storage for stocking up and even rethinking their appliances. With multiple meals happening at home it would be nice to have a drawer dishwasher or even an under counter beverage refrigerator.
Zoom Rooms-For many, working from home isn’t an issue as you may already have a home office or designated work area. For those suddenly thrust into teleworking and video calls it’s been a real challenge. If you haven’t found the perfect Zoom location where barking dogs and laughing kids aren’t disrupting your meeting with colleagues, it’s time to get serious about carving out that space. Finding a quiet place, with a locking door and pleasant background will show that your job is important to you.
Fitness-If your thinking of buying equipment while the gyms are closed, some planning needs to happen on where it is going to go. The master bedroom? The new Zoom room? A family conference to get everyone’s input on the best way to set up a work out area would help to make that decision.
Touch Less Devices-I’m personally tired of disinfecting door knobs and light switches on a daily basis. The technology is already available with touch less faucets and commodes commonly found in public spaces. I see an increased interest in incorporating that type of tech in the home. Of course we can always bring back the “Clapper”!
Mr. H says: Safety isn’t expensive, it’s priceless-Enjoy!
Let’s be honest…you’ve been stuck at home for a few weeks now and your house is really just not working for you. This pandemic has forced a widespread consideration of your domestic environment and you’ve found it challenging combining your family life, work life and your children’s school life all within your home’s square footage.
With potentially several more weeks in lock down now is actually a great time to embark on an interior design project. Spend this time prioritizing your wish list, creating Pinterest or Houzz idea books of your favorite designs and scheduling a virtual interior design consultation.
From carving out a Zoom room, to redesigning your kitchen with an extra refrigerator, there are several ways to safely help you create your perfect plan and improve the function and look of your domain immediately.
In the mean time, wash your hands, stay at home and let’s start creating your dream home.
Mr. H says: Challenges are gifts that force us to find new ways to live-Enjoy!
With many of us stuck at home these last few weeks, you may be coming to realize that your spaces aren’t working for you and your family. It’s been proven that how your home functions affects your productivity, mood and even your health. Now is the ideal time to solve some of your space dilemmas without leaving the sofa.
The most requested design advice, regardless of the size of the project, is furniture arrangement. Most clients know how they want to use the room but struggled with exactly how to achieve it. With virtual space planning, we practice social distancing, since I never come to your home. I’ll have you complete a questionnaire, take some photos and send your room measurements.