Category: kitchen

Top kitchen trends for 2021

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.

White kitchen design
Classic Kitchens of Charleston

Island of Color.  41% of homeowners prefer a contrasting island, either with a different cabinet color or countertop material.

Contrast color kitchen island ideas
Signature Kitchens & Baths of Charleston photo: Dickson Dunlap

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.

Cambria quartz Torquay countertop
Cambria Quartz “Torquay”

Ceramic or porcelain tile is the top pick for backsplashes and most homeowners bring their tile to up to the cabinets or range hood.

Sonoma Tilemakers-Mirazur Copa backsplash tile
Sonoma Tilemakers

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.

Crossville Tile Storyteller wood look tile
Crossville Tile “Storyteller”

Stainless Reigns.  From appliances to plumbing, stainless steel is favored choice among homeowners. 

Moen Sleek Stainless Faucet
Moen “Sleek” faucet

Mr. H says: Good food is what makes a house a home-Enjoy!

Bathroom cleaning tips

Six ways to kill the germs and it includes vodka!

Are you currently having trouble finding your usual cleaning supplies? With stores selling out of bleach and other anti bacterial products as soon as they hit the shelves, it’s become difficult to keep your home virus free. Fortunately, you most likely have some natural cleaning alternatives already on hand. Here’s a run down of non chemical based items that are easy on the environment and your own health.

Lemons: This common citrus is nature’s cleaning miracle. Due to their high acidic content, lemons have powerful antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Rub a slice of lemon across your chopping board to disinfect the surface. They are a natural deodorizer and smell great. Use lemon sparingly on counter tops and tile though as the acid can etch the surface.

Debby Hudson

Hydrogen Peroxide: Not only can hydrogen peroxide disinfect your doorknobs, it can clean and brighten your laundry as well. It’s a great bathroom cleaner as it kills the coronavirus and mold. Use caution though, since like bleach, it can ruin bright fabrics and fibers.

White Vinegar: Like lemons, white vinegar is a cleaning powerhouse. It is a weak acetic acid that has robust antibacterial properties. It’s effective in removing stains when diluted in water and can be combined with other natural products like baking soda to clear a clogged drain or clean soap scum.

House Method

Essential Oils: Advocates of oregano oil sing its praises for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties. Used as a natural alternative to commercial hand sanitizer, oregano essential oil inhibits the growth of bacteria. Other essential oils that have a wide range of medicinal and antibacterial properties include, tea tree, citronella, geranium, lemongrass, orange, and patchouli. Do some research before you use on your skin, since some oils can cause an allergic reaction.

Christin Hume

Vodka: While delicious in a dirty martini, vodka can be used as a disinfectant, remove stains and kill mold. Wipe down a surface and let it air dry to sanitize. Look for 100-proof vodka for the the most antibacterial power and obviously don’t buy the most expensive brand for this task, save those brands for happy hour!

Baking Soda: With no known antibacterial properties, sodium bicarbonate, is still a great product for a healthy home. This eco-friendly and affordable cleaning supply is effective on grease, is a non toxic oven cleaner and when mixed with water is a fantastic all purpose cleaner.

Mr. H says: Cleaning and organizing is a practice, not a project-Enjoy!

What’s next? Home design after a pandemic

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.

Entry drop zone
Jagoe Homes

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.

Dishwasher Drawer
Fisher Paykel

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.

Allie Smith

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”!

American Standard

Mr. H says: Safety isn’t expensive, it’s priceless-Enjoy!

Open floor plan design

Must have valuable home upgrades

Are you thinking of making some changes to your home to elevate it’s livability and value? Modern amenities that focus on functional luxury are key to making a home more user friendly. How much you spend on these upgrades a determined by the options and choices you make so having a plan and a budget in place before you step into the first showroom is a must.

An Open Floorplan

Even though this lifestyle movement has been around for decades, there is still immense value in an open floor plan. By connecting kitchen and living spaces, open plans create spacious and informal interiors for homeowners of all ages. Taking down a wall or reconfiguring some rooms should be done by a pro since beams or supports may need to be incorporated into your design so that the second floor does not come crashing down.

Open floor plan design

An Updated Kitchen

Every realtor will tell you that this is a home investment worth every penny. The kitchen is the heart of every home and the spot where you will spend a lot time. Give special attention to cabinets and appliances since no kitchen can be overly well equipped. A well designed, organized kitchen is the key to creating a home you love and will interest future buyers. Open layouts, center islands, and pull out pantry storage are must haves in every kitchen.


Spa Baths

With today’s busy lifestyles, we all want a space to relax and unwind in our homes. Large showers, good lighting, storage, and smart toilets are features that homeowners have on their wish list. Adding accessibility features to your bathroom can add a lot of value to your home and can make life easier should you choose to age in place. Upgrades to consider, curbless showers, grab bars and wheelchair height light switches and outlets.


Easy Tech

Technology dominates every aspect lives. Smart equipment has become more accessible and affordable.  User friendly, tech conveniences such as security systems, temperature settings and lighting controls can make your home more attractive to potential buyers in the future.


Outdoor Spaces

Finished outdoor spaces that feel like an interior room with comfortable seating, thoughtful landscaping and lighting, fire pits and outdoor cooking areas are a worthy home investment. Finished outdoor areas expand the living area of your home and depending on your approach can be utilized year round.


Mr. H says: Home should be your happy place-Enjoy!

How to select a kitchen counter top

“What is the best kitchen counter top selection?” is a question I’m frequently asked.  Unfortunately there is no correct answer as every choice has it’s pros and cons.   With my guidance, I leave it up to the home owner to evaluate those attributes and choose the option that best fits their lifestyle.

In no particular order are five types of the most counter top materials readily available.

Natural Stone

Over the last few decades, the market leader for counter top selections has been granite.  This natural stone is mined from quarries all around the world, producing very plain, solid color slabs to the wildly exotic.  Polished to a fine finish it is still a porous material that requires diligent maintenance to keep it looking fine.  Acids, like citrus juice, can eat away at the stone, while beets and red wine can leave behind a stain.    It can withstand direct cutting (although it dulls knives) and a hot pot generally will not harm or scorch the surface.  An annual application of sealant will keep stains at bay while a thorough daily wipe down will reward by remaining beautiful.

Marble, granite’s softer cousin, is even more porous and prone to scratching and absorbing stains.   It’s a classic though and can be worth the effort to keep it looking fabulous.

Photo: Classic Marble Granite and Tile

Photo: Universal Marble & Granite


Quartz is an engineered material composed of 95 percent ground natural quartz and 5 percent polymer resins.  It has the look and feel of natural stone without being porous and is both heat and water resistant.  Quartz has exploded in popularity due to it’s nearly maintenance free appearance and anti-microbial properties.  With thousands of colors, patterns and price points to choose from, local fabricators predict that within a few years, Quartz will be the counter top of choice.

Photo: Cambria

Photo: Silestone


Nothing compares to the warmth of wood.  Whether in the ubiquitous butcher block form, the trendy reclaimed mode or long lengths of a rare hard wood,  this material is tactile and can remain lovely with a little care.  Naturally anti-bacterial and easy on dishware, wood counter tops have acoustical properties as well, absorbing sound in a busy room.  They are not heat or water resistant so care should be taken with trivets and around sink areas.   Keeping the counter tops oiled is a must and most counter tops can be sanded and repaired if scratched, gouged or scorched.

Photo: J. Rhodes Interior Design

Photo: DeVos Custom Woodworking

Stainless Steel

The first choice in restaurant kitchens and for good reason since stainless steel can take a beating and still look fabulous.  Heat, water and acid resistant, it can scratch and ding though, and like natural stone and quartz is cold to the touch.  The stainless material can come in a number of finishes and textures, including brushed or hammered finishes.  Sink bowls can be integrated creating a seamless, hygienic surface.   Since the metal is flexible it can be contorted into a myriad of shapes and designs and is at home in both traditional and modern kitchens.

Photo: HGTV

Solid Surface

Pioneered by DuPont under the brand name, Corian in the 1960s, this counter top material is enjoying a resurgence.  Composed from minerals and acrylic polymer, it can be formed into any shape without affecting it’s uniform color allowing for integral sinks and drainboards.  Other companies, such a Wilsonart, LG and Formica all have their own solid surface offerings with thousands of patterns and colors to choose from.  While not entirely heat resistant, it is non porous and anti-microbial.  It can scratch and scorch though there are onsite repairs that can done depending on the extent of the damage.



Mr. H says: The best way to get rid of kitchen odors is to eat out-Enjoy!

Kitchen Cabinet Colors

Most kitchen cabinet colors tend to be subdued,  with white cabinetry being the most specified hue in the country.  Many site resale value and the ability to change design scheme should one ever grow tired of their look.   However, there’s no rule that says playing it safe pays off since most people respond positively to color.

Southeast Kitchens

Think the opposite of white-graphite black cabinetry equals drama and as a neutral would integrate into most any color scheme.

Mevers Kitchen and Baths black kitchen cabinets
Mevers Kitchens

Gray is another under utilized cabinetry color and would easily allow for a decor revamp

Hostetler Custom Cabinetry

A soft seafoam green feels cool and inviting

Classic Kitchens of Charleston

Ruby red cabinets are anything but boring in this tract home

Lennar Utah

Sleek cobalt blue cabinetry creates a dynamic focal point in this rustic loft

HWC Cabinets

Sunny yellow cabinetry creates a lively kitchen to cook and entertain in

Signature Kitchens and Bath yellow kitchen cabinets
Signature Kitchens and Baths

Traditional cabinetry lacquered a luscious orange is far from mundane

bd home design orange kitchen cabinets
BD Home Interiors

If applying color to all your cabinetry feels too daunting, try a contrast color on the island as we did in this Kiawah Island home.

Blue island kitchen cabinet J. Rhodes Interior Design

Mr. H says: Know your food, know your farmers, and know your kitchen-Enjoy!

Charleston’s Signature Appliance Center

Since 1977, Jim McLain, CKD and Linda McLain, CKD, of Signature Kitchens and Baths have been designing and installing custom cabinetry for the home and office in the Charleston area and beyond.  Most everyone knows their beautiful cabinet showroom fronting Savannah Highway, however tucked around the corner on Belgrade is their equally impressive Signature Appliance Center showroom.

Jim and Linda McLain, Signature Kitchens

On a recent evening we enjoyed exquisite cuisine and delicious cocktails in this inspiring showroom

Signature Appliance Center

Sponsored by Garden & Gun magazine and French appliance company, La Cornue, we noshed on beef tenderloin and mini chicken and waffle cones.

Chicken and waffles at Signature Appliance Center

Cooking at Signature Appliance Center

While the food and drinks flowed we enjoyed seeing all those appliances lined up in all their shiny glory and dreamed of kitchens to come.

Signature Appliance Center Charleston, SC

Cooktops at Signature Appliance Center

Outdoor grills at Signature Appliance Center

Mr. H says: Cooking is love made visible-Enjoy!

Kitchen Design Trends

The Kitchen and Bath Business web site recently highlighted a Zillow Digs study of the top kitchen remodeling trends expected for 2014.  The Zillow Digs Home Design Trend Report is based on the most popular kitchen photos on Zillow Digs.

Top trends include:

Black countertops: Back granite, Soapstone, and Quartz countertop material add sophistication to any kitchen design.  Create contrast with lighter color cabinetry.

Open shelves or glass front cabinets: Displaying everything from crystal glasses to soup cans has become fashionable in all types of kitchen styles.  Be sure you can to keep things neat before embracing this trend.

Darker Wall Colors: Black, brown, red and copper walls are appearing more frequently.  Lighter cabinetry is striking against these darker tones.

Red kitchen walls

Mr. H says: The best way to get rid of kitchen odors is to eat out-Enjoy!

Practical Pantries

According to a recent “Home of the Future” study by the National Association of  Home Builders, 94% of designers, builders and other industry experts surveyed rated a walk-in pantry as an important amenity in high-end homes.

This darling pantry that my Kiawah clients just carved out of a closet during a renovation houses a wine refrigerator and adjustable shelves of differing depths.  Replete with bead board walls and a stone counter top it is in keeping with the design style of their home.

Kiawah home pantry

Expensive built-ins are a luxury but aren’t the only way to get organized.  Reach-in, freestanding,  portable, swing-out, wall-mount, pull-out, the list goes on… pantries come in all shapes, sizes and styles.

The Container Store

Knape & Vogt Kitchen

Repurpose a piece of furniture into a freestanding pantry…think old TV armoire

Some design tips to consider when planning for a pantry:

Shallow shelves work best, but installing sliding shelves for deeper areas or a corner lazy susan allows for accessibility.

Corner pantry lazy susan

Use every square inch of space by installing Install adjustable wire racks underneath shelves, or hang an organizer on the back of the door.

Baskets with tags keeps everything in its place.

Mr. H says:  Apartments are so small in the city that New Yorkers use their ovens for storage-Enjoy!

Design School: Color Green

It’s time to analyze another wildly popular color: Green.   A cool color, found in abundance in the natural world, it symbolizes fertility, abundance and good luck.  Green is shown to improve reading ability, reduce stress and produce an overall calming effect.  Family rooms and bedrooms are well suited in the color green.  However, I do not recommend intense green walls in a bath since the green reflection on one’s skin is not attractive.

The White House Green Room, with its intimate scale and distinctive color, serves as a state parlor and has been a favorite of Presidents and their families.

Green walls and paneling creates an ethereal feeling

Green combines well with many colors.  We used blue and green together in this master bedroom on Folly beach.  Take note of the pale green ceiling

J. Rhodes Interior Design Folly Beach
Green feels fresh and modern in a bath

Some must have greens

 Benjamin Moore Paints AF-450 Seedling

Thibaut Filigree Wallpaper Thibaut Filigree wallpaper

Duralee 20849 Duralee Fabric 20849-554 Kiwi

Mr. H says: Green is the prime color of our world which makes it so easy to use-Enjoy!