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 (Maybe this is where some historical references to finishes could come in or come up with some design point of view from one of the designers on how metals can pair nicely).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

2017 Kitchen and Bath Trends

Every year the National Kitchen and Bath Association holds our annual trade show. I have been attending most years for the past quarter century to keep up on new building science, trends and innovation. The conference has become product centric in many ways and many reasons. First, the great recession led to publishers and show managers turning their focus to the deeper pockets of manufacturers, over designers’ education. Then, the publishers of home design content were lured (rightfully so) by the craving for design photos shown in places like Pinterest and Houzz. Because we don’t want to bore you with what we think is more important to our clients, design and business acumen, we gathered a few photos of some interesting insights.

First of note, we saw the growing choices in hardware finishes. Holy Cow, Rose gold plumbing fixtures? I personally wouldn’t buy that on an iPhone so I probably won’t be recommending it. And before you decide that black plumbing fixtures, think about how much soap spots will bother you in between cleaning.

Another strong theme throughout was natural wood. Rustic may be in for a while, but in a different and more modern way. Think about this walnut wood with rustic knots, in more tailored higher end woodwork.  It could work for traditional and contemporary styles. This is from our trade partner, Plato Woodwork

Making your cabinetry exactly what you want. Fully custom cabinetry offers interesting opportunities. We are often asked about ways to add and hide drying racks- we loved this! 

And what if you just want to smile every time you open the vanity drawer. Ok, maybe “interior painted pink” isn’t for you, but we thought it was a great way for the cabinet maker to show off their willingness to do whatever it takes. 

Another strong movement in design is patterned tile. We saw a lot of geometrics. Almost every tile manufacturer was showing off unique patterns and textures. 

Our design team will be having great fun with upcoming projects and all these new cool ideas. I hope you enjoyed the pics! Don’t worry; we attended many educational seminars on management and design. As well as presented two educational seminars to the industry to help them help their clients with more than product. Alexandra and Lisa presented a class on helping people improve their design to benefit the clients daily lifestyle (while making it beautiful), and I presented a class on how to provide clients with an accurate budget, without relying on change orders. 

If you would like to speak to our design team about incorporating these trends into your upcoming renovations, contact us here

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

How Long Does a Kitchen Remodel Take?

There are a few different types of kitchen renovations and they all take different amounts of time. Because television shows are quick (pun intended) to make people feel it can happen while you are at dinner, the reality has actually resulted in more than one person getting upset with me on the phone when I told them I couldn’t do a kitchen in less than 4 weeks.

On the “quick” end of things, if you were changing your cabinets and appliances without moving anything that would probably take less than 4 weeks. Most kitchens we do typically involve opening an adjacent wall or adding on space to enlarge the kitchen. The time factor variables are: 

  1. the age of the home
  2.  the size of the kitchen
  3. the other spaces renovated/added and
  4.  the intricacy (how high end) of the finishes selected

 Below is a production schedule for a project we recently completed in 10 weeks. This project involved tying 2 rooms together by removing a nonbearing wall and modifying the relationship to the family room. Enjoy the time lapse video that makes it look like it happened while the client was at dinner! :)

If you live locally, and are embarking on a kitchen remodel, contact us to learn more about the process!

Victorian Kitchen Renovation Provides Structural Surprise

Our firm always has a few hurdles to jump when we meet perspective clients. First, we have to perform the process of due diligence where we prepare detailed specifications based on what the client wants. Then, we get the budget drafted with painstaking detail and closely look at the existing conditions to understand what sort of trauma we will find when we open up those walls, or truly close in on the level of finishes desired for the project. Before we get the honor of working with our future fans, we have to present the budget, which requires showing people what it will cost in reality- and not some estimate full of errors or omissions. Since most of our clients are laypersons to the remodeling industry, education is the key component when you are looking to renovate your home, and that should come in the form of a number.

Poor quality carpentry is usually evident on the outside; however, we just opened a renovation project in Newton to find that walls in the rear of the home were removed that were actually structural. On the inside, the kitchen cabinets were dated, but pretty good quality… and the home was loved by the former occupant who was elderly and wanted to stay, so a bath was added in the 90’s with the kitchen renovation. What we found when we did the demo was appalling. In one room where an undersized beam was located we had already planned “surgery” because we could see the dipping floor. The area where the new kitchen is being moved to, the previous workers had actually just arbitrarily removed a bearing wall to make way for a shower and the only thing holding up the bedroom floor above was a nonstructural wall below. While arguably this wasn’t an imminent danger issue, the floor and ceiling had settled 2 ½” because someone wanted to save $500 on a major renovation (probably not the owner).

If you look at the picture you can see that all the lightly colored floor joists are brand new and all we have to do is connect the old and new. This was at no additional cost to the owner because we had anticipated this when we opened up the ceiling in a few spots to see what we would have to deal with before they signed the agreement. While having a permit won’t guarantee a quality job (building officials are zoning enforcement agents and public safety officials), it would have saved this structure and potential disaster because building inspectors wouldn’t have allowed this to pass muster.

Coming soon….… we are going to jack up this ceiling in Sherborn and see what happened to cause a 3 inch dip in the ceiling- look at the crown molding.