Is Cabinet Hardware Worth the Cost?

Tis the season for the trimming your tree and deciding on all that decorations that that accent its branches. What’s your look? Gold or silver? Glass or metal? Understated or bold? For one month of living with this design moment in our home many of us give it a lot of consideration. Do we do the same when picking hardware for our newly finished space that will typically be with us for a decade or more?

We have all heard the phrase, “the devil is in the details” and when it comes to home improvement many of the details are the parts that you don’t even see, but make the space function for years to come. This is somewhere homeowners typically will spend their money because they want their investment to last. But questions arise when choosing details like hardware and the inevitable question of “is it worth the money?” 

Hardware will generally do what it is intended to do- allow you to open and close things and turn things on and off, but have you ever considered that experience and how many times in your life you will repeat these actions? But more importantly the visceral response you encounter while doing it. Or how the detail of a knob can further enhance the design of your cabinets by punctuating it with a pop of shine and a distinct architectural look. It is the ultimate in form and function.

With so many options to choose from it can be overwhelming and feel that stepping out of your comfort zone will lead to regret, but we encourage you to have a little fun. First, there are no rules. Gone are the days that the metals in your space must all match. It will give your space warmth and a personalized feel when you pair polished nickel with some oiled bronze accents or understated satin nickel with modern black. (Maybe this is where some historical references to finishes could come in or come up with some design point of view from one of the designers on how metals can pair nicely).   

Functionally, you want it to look handsome, but also feel great in your hand and believe me there is a difference when you have felt the weight of a beautifully cast knob or handle and your garden variety. We can also add to the formula who will be using the hardware because something that fits in a woman’s hand nicely may feel too diminutive when used by a man. On a recent Newton remodel the client opted for a minimalist faucet selection that works well for everyone in the family including the kids!

 

Do we have favorite lines? Of course, because a little bit of our personality can come to life in the details that surround us. Hardware has become such a hot design trend that many traditional furniture retailers like Anthropologie and CB2 are getting in the on action adding a little more fashion to the industry. Below are some of our staff’s favorites.

Alexandra’s pick: This pull, in look and feel, with very feminine and smooth lines reminds me of the infamous Elsa Peretti Teardrop pendant designed for Tiffany over a quarter of a century ago. A polished nickel finish accentuates the rounded corners. It would make a beautiful addition to someone wanting a timeless and more feminine bath.  


Alexis’ pick: Growing up in the Caribbean, this latch feels nautical in nature and reminds me of the latches found on sailboats and yachts. It’s a nice reminder on cold winter’s days that summers on the water will come again. I like when a design feature has the ability to evoke a feeling of time and place. In polished chrome it feels like just the right crisp detail on bright white cabinets in a kitchen.

Annie’s pick: Modern accents can sometimes fall short on functionality. The streamlined look of this pull face on does not disappoint. With wet hands, often found in the kitchen, such a slender pull can be challenging causing you to lose your grip. The subtle smooth lip (which this side view captures) allows you the grip you need without sacrificing usability. The warmth of the oiled bronze finish can warm any modern space.

Ray’s pick: What could feel more luxurious in hand than a crystal knob. This material became popular in America over a century ago and this knob takes the traditional material and gives it a modern twist with its rectangular shape. Fastened to a satin nickel rosette it offers an understated finish. I admire this knob’s ability to be both feminine and masculine and could see it working well in a master suite.

Noteworthy surprise: CB2 may not be considered high-end, but it is high in fashion delivering new looks to the ever-expanding hardware industry by adding non-traditional materials, texture and more organic silhouettes.

May your holidays be bright! Ray

Developer Vs. Custom Kitchen

Wellesley Kitchen Remodel

Wellesley Kitchen Remodel

It seems that the West coast method of determining home value (by the square foot) is reaching the East coast. I hear it referred to more and more lately without regard to location or land, and even more important; quality. I am often asked what I would charge for new home construction and typically get immediate feedback…..”that it seems high”. Below we will show you kitchen examples, but I would like to note that I have re-sided, retrofitted and replaced windows on many homes only a decade old because of poor material selections.

Featured below is a fine home in Wellesley that had the original kitchen as provided by the developer. The home was about a decade old and the cabinets were not in bad shape, but the design forced appliances that were oversized for the space. That translated to too many appliances and not enough room to cook, gather or move around the house. The original builder did what they thought was required to be competitively priced in the higher end market, and many buyers won’t know whether the design will work until they move in and start using the space. Call me silly, but when you are building homes in the $1m-$3m market, discount cabinets and marginal design shouldn’t be part of the value proposition.

Our first challenge was figuring out how to make the kitchen work well with the rest of the house. After a few discussions with the owners, one of the concepts we provided (and went with!) meant moving the kitchen to the family room, the family room to the dining room and the dining room to the kitchen. Yes, really.

A few custom touches meant actually lowering the vaulted ceiling to have a more purposeful and beautiful oak coffer (suggested by the client). We eliminated the gas fireplace to create an anchor and focal point with the range. And more important than giving this family the quality their home deserved, we made the space work better for their everyday life!

Kitchen Remodel

Before

Wellesley Kitchen Remodel

After

Pros and Cons of Waterfall Edges

Waterfall edges on counter tops can be a great way to push a modern vibe. As long as you know what to expect, you won’t be disappointed.

The first thing you should be prepared for is the cost, because in some cases this look can more than double the price. The things that have an effect on price start with the seam. Where the vertical and horizontal edges meet, the material should be grain matched to keep the movement in the top contiguous. You can see in the photos that this is true for both pictures. The picture with the double thick top is in our showroom and the waterfall edge is on both sides of the counter. On the other end (not shown) the grain does not line up because the material was not long enough. In the “during construction” photo for this high-rise kitchen remodel in Boston, we were able to procure a “jumbo” slab for seamless top and matching grains. Also, there is a price difference on the thickness of the counter and if you have it doubled up, you can achieve a finished side on both ends of the counter. Make sure you ask about the edge and get a look at the lay-out before you make a final decision.

 

 

Because this look is popular, driven both by the push for modern design and the desire to have a statement piece- don’t just put this look into a kitchen because you want one. When we are asked about incorporating a waterfall edge in a design, we try to also show 2-3 other concepts with other monolithic ideas to resolve what really works in the space. A great looking kitchen is the sum of the parts and if this is forced into a space it really doesn’t fit, it can actually detract from the end result.

It isn’t just for stone or quartz, we used a great piece of walnut in one kitchen that gave an additional stool space around the corner and made for a nice warm transition to the family room!

Happy counters! Ray

A Very Thankful Kitchen Renovation

November is here and Thanksgiving is upon us. The Wiese Company would like to send a big Thank You to all the Veterans and their families. I know Veterans Day and Thanksgiving are two very different holidays, but this is a good time of year to be thankful to those neighbors and friends who volunteered and have made sacrifices to serve our country.

We get to know our delivery folks well because we see them almost daily at the showroom with a constant stream of kitchen and bath fixtures coming through. Our former Fed Ex driver, and Army Veteran, Matt Lizotte is a great hard working person who served 2 deployments in Afghanistan. One day Matt asked about cabinets and told me about his condo with the tired kitchen. I told Matt about the average cost of a kitchen renovation and saw the look of disbelief in his eyes. Matt said, well- Maybe next year.

Since the initial kitchen conversation, Matt and I have had dinner out together about once a month. I learned that Matt didn’t want a free kitchen, or a parade, or anything but a decent job and a friend who gets it. So The Wiese Team went to work! After receiving permission from our veteran, we measured up and our designers came up with a look (all of which was a surprise) and we went to work on delivering a special and complimentary new space. Many folks don’t know that leaving your military friends and family you were deployed with can leave such a void that many Veterans long to go back to those not so nice environments just to be with their people. It doesn’t take a free kitchen to help someone assimilate back to apple pie and ball game- just a “how is your day going” from time to time so they can feel like they are where they belong will help.

             

One more thing I am just as thankful for this November: the people I work with every day. They gave their time for free with enthusiasm. Our Painter Kevin Carlson, Plumber Dan Lannon, Electrician Steve Pacewicz also provided services at no cost and we received free materials from Taylor Forest Products and Showplace Wood. The Sherborn Elementary School “Pine Hill” 4th and 5th Grade Chorus donated $250 they raised for a Veteran Cause to build the flag. What a fantastic demonstration of a community showing their gratitude and support. Thank you ALL!

One last note: I know I have many Veteran clients we have done amazing renovations for over the years, congratulations on your success and your help with our firm’s success. Unfortunately I will not be able to make those projects pro bono :) . Happy Thanksgiving- Ray

Kitchen Organization

Want an Organized Kitchen?

Here are some tips and insight into kitchen organization that will hopefully be helpful. To go along with this handy set of tips are some photos to use as a guide to find your inner organizer. As a caveat to this blog, these photos belong to a kitchen we just remodeled in Newton for our bookkeeper, and as you may know, bookkeepers are supposed to be methodical and organized… or somewhat anal retentive, (sorry Lauri, but we share that trait)- so if you’re an artist, just wing it and throw some spices in the same drawer you put the Tupperware :)

1. Don’t fall for every cool thing you see. In our showroom, we actually have many of the “add on” items throughout our displays- however, unlike some showrooms, we display many of them to talk the pros… and cons of each item. The first photo is for the kitchen aid mixer. This kitchen belongs to a master cook- and she uses the mixer all the time, and OBVIOUSLY doesn’t want to see things like mixers on the counter top. This mixer lift keeps it out of the way and easy to access. Remember, I know most of you own a mixer- so be honest about how often that thing makes an appearance before you dedicate a space. If it’s less than twice a month- throw it in the pantry.


2. We all have spices, and some folks collect spices (remember to look at the expiration dates… they are on almost every one and they do expire). I am old school and love to cook, so the salt and pepper grinder never get put away. I find that almost anyone (even the best chefs) does not need more than one cabinet door near the cook and prep area for all the main spices. So before you think you have to have room for 300 bottles- take a mental inventory of everything you cooked in the last season and make room for it. If you have a friend that likes all the labels facing front- turn a couple of them around, shoot a photo and then write a blog post… Monday should be interesting!


3. Appliance garages are terrific and we have a lot of clients who are of the neat and tidy crowd, so before you just add one, find out how the doors open, if they can stay open without interfering with anything and if you really need one. I loved finding the food processor in this photo because I use mine about once a week and wish I had it in a more convenient location like this.


4. Drawer organizers are great. We recommend holding off on this item initially and using an inexpensive organizer until you are all moved in and satisfied you like where you have put the silverware and utensils… these can migrate a bit until you get in the groove of your new space. Once you have them though… I challenge you to open the drawer at random… as we did, and find everything looking so tidy… I mean really!!! Look at the knives, Lauri.

When you are designing your next kitchen… the most important thing is to work with a professional who thinks in advance about all the items you have and where it will work to have them.
Happy cooking!
RAY