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!
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!
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!
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.
With more Coronavirus cases showing up in the US, fears are mounting that the virus will become more widespread. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has many recommendations for avoiding the illness and keeping it in check. Hand washing tops the list, along with hand sanitizing and avoiding crowds. A robust immune system may also help and your home can play an important role in keeping you healthy.
The links between the built environment and health have been studied for decades though applying it to your home is gaining momentum. Wellness oriented interior design influences both our physical health and our mental state of mind. Here are some fundamental tips on how to achieve an environment that creates a healthy lifestyle.
Commune with Nature Bringing the outside in with abundant natural light, vegetation, good air quality, natural materials and nature views will have a positive impact on your immune system.
Lighting Natural light is always best and studies have shown that it improves productivity, alertness, and mood. It enhances our vitamin D balance, which is critical in absorbing calcium keeping bones strong. Artificial lighting systems should mimic daylight as much as possible with controls in place to allow our circadian rhythm to work normally. Utilize bright light for active pursuits and progressively dimmer light as bedtime nears.
Color I’ve written about the effects of color before. While color is always a personal decision there are certain hues that either under or over stimulate your spaces. Educate yourself on specific colors and choose wisely.
Scents You don’t need to be an aromatherapist to understand the emotional and wellness benefits of scents. When we inhale aroma molecules they connect to the brain and incite strong emotional responses. Be careful with chemically derived scents though as they can cause headaches, respiratory issues and irritated sinus passages.
Clutter Studies have repeatedly shown that clutter = stress. We all know that stress impacts our physical health and that subconsciously, clutter effects your mood, relationships and sleep. Check out our declutter tips on a recent blog. Your body will thank you.
WELL For additional information on healthy spaces check out the The International WELL Building Institute™ website whose mission is to improve human health and well-being in buildings and communities across the world through its WELL Building Standard™ (WELL™).
Mr. H says: Those who have their health have everything-Enjoy!
As a designer, I know first hand that everyone’s taste is different. When I’m hired to professionally assess a space though, I do notice a number of specifics, both good and bad, about your home. How organized you are, how your children and pets behave, and which space your family uses the most are just a few. Don’t worry though-I’m not judging, but making observations that will help me design the best solutions for your lifestyle. Here’s a list of the top things I notice the moment I walk through the front door.
Does the furniture placement in a room promote good traffic flow through the space? When there is too much or awkwardly arranged furniture, a room may not be optimally used. Rearranging pieces to create a natural path in and out of the space may be one of the first things we do.
I’ve talked about this before, how a room is lit is critical to it’s function and ambiance. Applying a layered approach with general illumination, task and accent lighting sources is key to a well lit room.
The Little Items
Most interior designers dream of an uncluttered space, where one can appreciated the stunning architecture or thoughtfully arranged furniture. Many times, I enter a room and am besieged by all tchotchke that cover every surface. Just because you own it doesn’t mean it needs to be on display.
How your windows are treated tells me a lot about how you use a room. Windows that are tightly covered tells me you value your privacy while untreated windows say bring in the sunshine. It’s a topic we will need to address when designing the space.
High quality door casing, crown molding, and cabinetry make up the bones of a space. Well proportioned trim creates a layer of interest and the opportunity to accent with color or incorporate lighting.
Pets, cooking odor and strong scented candles can often overwhelm the casual visitor. Most of us have become inured to our homes odors, but an outsider can pick up the scent right away and it can be most unwelcome. Open the windows, use the kitchen and bath exhaust fans religiously or run the HVAC fan clear out stale spaces.
Two, sad lumpy throw pillows on the sofa does not constitute a welcoming vibe. Adding throws and fresh plump pillows will go a long way to making a space cozy.
The condition of your bathroom tells me a lot about your lifestyle and the possible solutions I can offer. Unorganized, cluttered countertops and towels on the floor are mostly a symptom of the bath’s design or lack there of.
We all make accommodations for our pets in our homes. After all they are more than just four legs and a tail, our furry friends play a huge role in our families. Since almost all our clients have pets we are often asked to design around them as well as other members of the household. You don’t have to sacrifice style in order to accommodate your four legged friends.
Pet Friendly Fabrics
Carefully consider the cleanability and durability of your upholstery fabrics for the areas your family and pets will gather most. Denim, canvas, ulstrasuede and synthetics such as Crypton are all good choices. Outdoor fabrics come in numerous colors and textures while resisting most stains, moisture and odors. Leather is a durable choice though it can be punctured and scratched by big claws. Look for top grain, semi-aniline leathers whose hides are dyed through and treated for additional protection.
Smart Window Treatments
Avoid long drapes that puddle on the floor that will collect pet debris. Consider Roman or roller shades and wood blinds that can be easily raised up so as to not spoil your pets view of the outside world. Keep dangling cords in check with cleats or opt for the cordless models.
Their Own Space
Cats love to perch and climb and dogs like to retreat to their own “room”. Treat your pets by incorporating those features into the design of your home. Dog beds can fit into a cabinet or under a window seat and cat perches can become an architectural element.
Dog Bed Decor
Be sure to choose a dog bed that’s large enough to accommodate the size of your pet. There are many stylish options available on sites like Etsy, so find one that complements your décor and is easy to keep clean.
Create a pet friendly entrance that keeps dirt from being tracked through your entire home. Place an easy clean mat or rug at your pet’s main entry point to catch mud or debris as soon as they enter. Wall hooks reign in leashes and some type of cabinet can hold pet supplies such as collars, bags and treats.
Easy Clean Floors
Top choices for easy clean, durable flooring include porcelain or stone tiles. Some laminate and vinyl flooring come in second. While beautiful, hardwood floors, are a design statement, they can scratch easily and require diligent cleaning should an accident occur. Harder woods such as oak or mahogany are the best species bets, however avoid highly polished flooring that can pose a slipping hazard. Trim your pet’s claws regularly to keep scratches at bay.
Slip Proof Rugs
While rugs can enhance the look of a room, they can also protect your floors from claws and stains. There are many easy care options to choose from with a multi color pattern being best for hiding dirt and pet hair. Wool rugs are naturally stain resistant and many synthetic rugs can be taken outside and easily hosed clean. Whichever rug style you choose, use a good quality non skid pad beneath to prevent slipping especially in open areas such as hallways.
Admit it, we sometimes snuggle with our pets in bed. Inevitably hair and dirt come with your furry friend. Opt for duvets and shams with removable covers over coverlets and quilts. The covers can be removed and laundered regularly with the rest of your sheets keeping your bed somewhat fur free.
Display Breakables with Care
Keep glassware, porcelains or anything else that can be easily broken out of reach of your pets or better yet behind doors if you have cats. Shards of grandma’s tea set on the floor will not only break your heart but can cause serious damage to your pet’s paws.
Mr. H says: Animals share with us the privilege of having a soul-Enjoy!
Are you sleep walking through your day without knowing why? Your lifestyle and design choices you’ve made at home may be the culprit. Here’s a checklist of all the things that may be negatively affecting your sleep and making you unproductive.
I’ve talked about this before: poorly designed lighting affects the mood of the occupants and can create either a restless or restful feel to a space. Access to natural light is critical as researchers have found that exposure to more natural light actually resulted in a more restful sleep at night. Sunlight first thing is morning has been linked to sounder sleep so be sure to open your shades as soon as you rise.
Study after study have found that those blue wavelengths from your cell phone, tablet and TV suppress your brain’s production of a critical sleep hormone-melatonin. Without sufficient amounts of melatonin, not only are you more likely to have a restless night, but melatonin suppression has also been shown to increase the risk of cancer, impair the immune system, and possibly lead to diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Using filters on your screens at night or amber glasses should help with your sleep without having to toss your devices.
The color blue has been shown to slow down your heart rate, reduce your blood pressure, and make you feel sleepy. While a great in the bedroom, it’s not an ideal color in the active spaces in your home. Colors with yellow undertones, think green and peach, give rooms a mental boost by promoting conversation and social interaction.
Sitting Too Long
We’re all guilty of being a couch potato while binging on Netflix. Sitting for long periods of time though can deplete your energy and can actually make your body equate that inactivity with going to sleep. Frequent breaks are important so stretch often, get up and walk way from your sofa. Better yet, get outside and enjoy some natural light
Inefficient Overall Design
Dysfunctional kitchens and baths, lots of clutter, and an unorganized environment causes your brain to be overwhelmed and unable to focus increasing your fatigue. Set a goal to clear out and organize at least one area of your home to see how it changes your mood and energy level. Once you see the effects challenge yourself and your family to tackle the rest.