All posts by admin

Organize With Purpose: 30 days to a More Organized Home

 

organize home

Typically when we organize our homes  it’s to clear out the things that don’t matter and to make room for the things that do. Sit down for a few minutes and think of what your family needs to make your home work for you.  Do you need more storage space and practical storage solutions? Do you have a ton of clutter & odd toys? Piles of papers that need to be filed and sorted?  Starting small makes the likelihood of success much more possible. Instead of investing a week or an entire day to getting your home more organized, set out to do one small task a day. If you’ve already fallen off of the “New Year, New You train” use this list to get back on track. In just 30 days, you’ll have a noticeably less cluttered house, and maybe you’ll even find a few things you thought you’d lost forever.


 

There is no better way to kill your motivation than by overwhelming yourself. Just like me you probably want your entire house to be organized and spotless today but start with one drawer or one cupboard and commit to keeping it clean. If you have organized it well, it should be quite easy to maintain. Put it into perspective:  how many tasks or projects have you dove head first in and ended up overwhelmed and throwing in the towel? Breaking down a massive job into smaller more manageable steps can make a task like de-cluttering your entire home much more manageable.

Gather up all of those coupons and store credits you’ve been meaning to use. Keep them in a clear pouch in your car because you’re more likely to use them if they are easily accessible and not forgotten at home.

Utilize ALL of your kitchen cabinet space. Use the doors of your cabinets to store some of the items that tend to jam up kitchen space. Pot holders, rags, whisks and measuring cups tend to take up odd space but can easily be hung to free up some drawer space. Hang up some command hooks & get to it!

Clear up all of the junk mail, take out menus, catalogs and scattered papers. Hang up a storage rack in one area of your home where you can store all of these items so they aren’t cluttering counter space. Make it a habit to go thru and sort them once or twice a month (if you’re really brave, try once a week).

Start with one closet or drawer at a time. Organize to your liking and create labels so you are more likely to stick to the system. Test the tools and get rid of duplicates, toss old makeup & lotions, holey towels,  expired prescriptions and so on. Move rarely used items (turkey baster anyone?) to a higher shelf. Having a designated place for items that are used often makes it much easier to just put them away as opposed to waiting to sort later.

133
Game Closet

Puzzles and board games are bulky and the boxes aren’t exactly appeasing to the eye. After assuring all needed pieces are there (and discarding the rest) store puzzles and board games in clear plastic baggies or plastic tote boxes. Plastic containers are easier to stack and store then awkward boxes in different shapes and sizes. Assure that you keep instructions and an image of the puzzle for reference.

Make your furniture work harder! What issues are there in your home? A ton of books? Hang shelves on the side of a dresser to store them. Hooks on the side of an island are perfect to hang dish towels and pot holders. Think outside of typical storage solutions to help fit your families needs.

Container Store
Under Sink Storage

Organize the space under your sink. This space is almost always a jumbled mess because of the awkward pipes . Want an easy fix? Have an under the sink sliding organizer installed. Most can be found for under 40 dollars and are easy to install. Check out this one from the container store.

Create an “inbox” in your home office. Seems simple enough right? But going thru papers, junk mail, bills and everything else that comeOriginal-Melissa-George_organized-home-office-inbox.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.1280.960s thru your hands on a daily basis can seem almost too much. Instead put all incoming mail, bills, school papers etc. in this inbox and set a designated time to organize each week. On this day file, toss, pay or shred until all is clear!

Get your fridge in check! It’s pretty common to store condiments in the door space in your fridge. However, moving these onto a lazy susan allows them to be easily accessed and found. You can then create a quick service station in the door space filled with snacks and drinks that are easy to grab!  While your at it go thru your fridge staples & toss any that aren’t liked or have expired.

Create a bin by the front door where book bags, shoes, and hats can be placed. Get in the habit of putting items in there that need to be returned as well: library books, purchases that need to be returned, and borrowed items. This will stand as a visual reminder to take care of those things as opposed to forgetting or putting it off.

Install a magnetic strip on the inside of your bathroom cabinet door or medicine cabinet where all those little things that we always lose can be placed. These strips are cheap and can also clear up drawer space!file-scissors-tweezers_gal

 

 

Streamline your wallet and purse: Download the card star app (cardstar.com) and take a picture of your store rewards cards. When at the store the bar code can be scanned so that you don’t need the physical copy. This can clear up a huge space in your wallet. In addition to this stash a plastic baggy in your purse. When you have some extra time (at the dentist, long phone call, stuck in line) use the bag as a means to go thru your purse. Stow items that need to be removed and put away and all trash that needs to be thrown out.

It may sound  silly but file your 51jK0nhZFVLcookware! Picking up and installing a pan organizer can be life changing! Use this to store cutting boards, pan lids and cookie sheets instead of shoving them in cabinets or wherever they will fit. There are many options from permanent solutions to temporary ones that can just sit inside of your cabinet.

Invest in a shower caddy to keep everything organized and in one spot. Go thru and get rid of empty bottles as well.

Clear off your nightstand. The spot next to beds are notorious for collecting books, water bottles and electronics along with gobs of dust. Clear it off, wipe it down and leave only the bare minimum.

Dressers can hide a lot in their drawers. Open every drawer, refold messy clothes and match every sock. Start a donate pile of any clothes you no longer need and a toss pile of holey shirts and socks you can part with.

Give your pantry an organizational once-over. Organize canned goods by type, check expiration dates and get rid of foods you’ll never eat. Unexpired and shelf stable foods that you no longer need can be donated to your local food pantry.

Give your bookshelves a glance to see if there’s anything that doesn’t belong. Then rearrange the items so it looks deliberate, not haphazard.centsational-girl-bookcases-after

Clear out your filing cabinets. Go through yours to see what you can shred or recycle. You probably don’t need that phone bill from 2003.

Have your kids help you go through toys and sports equipment to figure out what is still being used and what can be discarded, donated or handed down to a friend’s little ones.

Get your porch in check as they can get cluttered quickly with gardening equipment that never got put away and muddy shoes that got left outside. Take stock of the porch and put items in their proper spots.

Whenever you leave a room, take something with you. I try to never leave a room empty handed especially when traveling from floor to floor.  But remember to only take what you can put away; it is better to just take a couple of things  & put them away as opposed to taking an armload and dumping it in another place.  Just moving your clutter from space to space isn’t helpful!

Have a designated donation box where items can be put when you realize they are no longer needed or in use. This helps because as opposed to going thru a few times a year to pick out items you no longer need, you can get them out of the way as soon as you realize they aren’t needed anymore.  Keep it in an area where it wont be in the way and when it is full, take it away. 

If it can be done in less than one minute, just do it!  Seriously, it is amazing how much this helps out.  File that piece of paper or put the dish directly in the dishwasher.

Set up a realistic cleaning schedule that you can follow and one that works for YOUR family. I have looked at many of the cleaning schedules out there on the Internet and many of them are just impossible for me to keep up with. Personally I have a rotating cleaning list that I just check off as I go.  When I get to the end, I start over again. 

Sometimes you need to think outside the box for your storage ideas.  Do your kids put their pajamas on as soon as they come out of the bath?  Why not store them right in the bathroom.  Do you have a craft room in the basement but often scrapbook on the kitchen table upstairs?  Create a small craft area with some basic supplies to store there as well.

Now that you’ve gone through your house and properly stored things in their rightful places or gotten rid of them, check out your actual storage spots. If you’ve had boxes of books packed away for years, chances are that you don’t need them & won’t miss them. Making a plan that will work for your family and your needs makes it much more likely to follow. 

Our Holiday Checklist

 

holiday checklist header

Getting your home ready for the holidays only weeks after Thanksgiving can be a bit overwhelming. Focusing on one area at a time and creating a plan of what can be prepared in advance can make things much more manageable. Check out our list below for some things you can do to make the next few weeks go by a little more smoothly.

Update Your Emergency Kit

We’re not just talking band aids, gauze and antiseptic (although it’s important to restock these as well!). But assure that you have these items in stock and ready to go in case of any little accidents:

  • Hydrogen Peroxide: Good for wine stains. (Blot the spill with a paper towel, then combine one teaspoon of dish soap with 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide in a bowl. Soak a clean sponge in the mixture, squeeze it halfway dry, then gently blot the stain. Continue until the stain lifts. After that, sponge the stained area with warm water)
  • CLR toilet and sink de-clogger
  • An Extra Place Setting: It’s always a good idea to plan for an extra seat.

In the Kitchen

traditional-kitchen

  • Take the time now to organize your pantry to save you the headache of pulling out all of the cans searching for something you’re sure you bought
  • If you’ll be serving the holiday meal make sure you know what you’ll be cooking and what family members will be bringing. Start a master shopping list. Try to do your shopping before the 20th when the stores get even more hectic
  •  Go ahead and set the table a week or so before. Make it even easier by putting a sticky note on each platter that states what dish you plan to serve on it
  • Clean the fridge out as much as possible several days before Christmas.
  • Make a few meals ahead of time and put them in the freezer. The week before Christmas is always hectic. No matter how much you plan ahead, things come up. and you still need to have dinner.  Save yourself a lot of stress and cleanup by having meals all ready to pop in the oven.

Bed & Bath

  • To make any overnight guests feel welcome put together a basket of towels, wash clothes and extra toothbrushes before your guests arrive. This will also save you the stress of scrambling around last minute
  • Keep sets of clean sheets all together by slipping them inside the pillowcase
  • Track down extra blankets and have them handy.

An Inviting Entry

031_thumb1

  • Make an inviting entry while also helping keep mud at bay with a cheery mat outside the front door. Be sure to check the lights along the front walkway.
  • Establish a place to collect all warm weather apparel, including boots. Add extra hangers to your coat closet or designate a room to collect these.
  • You should also consider adding an extra doormat for wet boots. If you plan for this ahead of time your entrance won’t become a cluttered mess upon everyone’s arrival.

Extra Extra

  • Consider putting together some fun things for the younger visitors that you will have. A box of assorted Legos, a stack of colored paper and a box of colored pencils are all simple but can help to keep them busy.
  • Don’t forget to buy batteries for any toys or electronic gifts.
  • Recharge the batteries on your camera or video recorder.

It may not seem like you’re accomplishing 314-holidaya lot in the grand scheme of this holiday season when there is always so much to do.  By checking off some of these smaller tasks in the weeks before  it can allow you more relaxation and less stress on the big day, We hope you & your families have a wonderful holiday!

Get your bathroom & kitchen ready for Fall

As the summer comes to an end, your attention should be turning to getting your home ready for the cooler fall and winter weather. When it comes to preparing your kitchen & bathrooms for these upcoming seasons you may find yourself scratching your head trying to figure out where to begin. By  utilizing these simple and practical weatherization strategies you can help keep your home warm & toasty while also keeping your energy bills low.

Assure your pipes are wrapped

Even if freezing weather is weeks away, you should still wrap your pipes to ward off leaks when the colder weather finally arrives. . When your pipes freeze, you have to turn up the heat in your home and often use a floor heater or blow dryer to thaw them (& this is if you’re lucky & they haven’t burst!). Avoid this drama and take this step before a problem arises.

Lay rugs or carpeting

This simple step can go a long way in making your room warmer without having to turn up the heat in the house. If you normally avoid using carpeting in your bathroom because of the risk of mold growth or moisture, you can lay down area rugs or runners instead of installing wall-to-wall carpeting. You should choose rugs that have rubber non-slip backing to prevent falls.

Weatherstrip your windows & doors

Out of all of the areas in your kitchen, the doors and windows are primary areas where wind and weather can enter and cause this room to become cold and uncomfortable. You can stop drafts from entering your kitchen by weatherstripping the doors and windows well before the fall weather begins. Weatherstrip is easy to apply and readily available at your local hardware or home improvement store.

Hang curtains

Hanging lined curtains can go miles in helping to keep your home warm. This final layer of protection can additionally keep drafts out of your home and also help retain the heat from inside the home. Bonus: You may also see a lower electric bill!

bathroom curtains for small windows- that's a cool idea but I would want it white w either teal, tan or brown:

Change your filters

Before you switch on your heater for the winter, remember to replace the filters in your homes heating unit! It’s even better to schedule a yearly checkup with a professional to assure everything is in running order.

Clean & inspect your chimney

If you are fortunate to have a wood burning  stove in your kitchen, you may be eager to light up that first fire of the cold weather season. Before you put in the firewood and strike the match, you should clean out the chimney in the stove. A blocked or dirty chimney will prevent the smoke and ash from escaping. You can get a cleaner and safer fire each time when you clean out the chimney before fall begins.

 

As you’re enjoying the beginning of this lovely fall weather, make sure your home is prepared for the much coming colder days. Preventative maintenance now will save money on expensive emergency repairs and wasted energy costs.  Taking some of these steps above can help keep your home warmer and keep your energy bills low!

How to properly clean your washing machine

 

If your washing machine is smelling worse than your gym clothes, it may be time to give it a thorough cleaning. Believe it or not even washing machines get dirty and need to be cleaned. The easiest test to determine if your washer needs to be washed is to, well….stick your head in and smell the inside.

Soils from laundry, detergents and hard water minerals can build up in areas that are hard to see which can develop an odor over time. Mold, grime and mildew in the washer lid and the door are another problem area.  It’s recommended that you try these steps below every six months to keep your washer in tip-top shape.

Top loading washers

Set your washer on the highest level, as well as the hottest setting. Add 4 cups of white vinegar to the wash cycle. After the cycle starts, pause the machine and allow it to sit for an hour. During this time, wipe down the top of the washer with a cloth dipped in the hot vinegar water. Use an old toothbrush to clean the fabric softener and bleach dispensers as well. After an hour, continue the wash cycle.

Next, run another wash cycle using one cup of baking soda. At the end of the cycle, wipe the top inside of the washer tub to remove any scum.

Front loading washers

The rubber gasket at the front of the washer accumulates water, dirt, mildew and other grime. Before cleaning the washer drum, clean the gasket by spraying it with white vinegar and wiping with a damp cloth.

Set the washer to the highest level and the hottest water temperature. Add two cups of white cleaning vinegar to detergent dispenser. Run it through a complete cycle.

Run another cycle on the highest level and at the hottest water temperature, this time adding one-half cup of baking soda to the drum. When cycle is done, wipe inside drum of washer with a damp cloth.

Bonus Tip: Help to subdue mildew and mold by leaving the lid or door open when not in use.

Monday Blues: The Good Kind

The color blue offers a stunning versatility that makes it an ideal complement when paired with different colors, textures and styles. Universally some shade of the color blue is a favorite among men & woman. This versatile color has the ability to be friendly, demanding, powerful, peaceful and even trustworthy. Check out these images below to see how homeowners incorporated it’s many different shades into their kitchen & baths.

This traditional kitchen pairs pastel blue & white for a fresh & clean look

Blue, yellow, and red define this formal kitchen giving it a rustic but fun look.

One of my personal favorites, southwestern with a touch of rustic charm.

French blue-painted cabinets paired with stainless steel appliances give this kitchen a traditional but modern feel. Coming together for something that is extremely charming and beautiful.

Azure blue walls provide a stunning backdrop for this neutral cabinetry in shades of white and charcoal gray.

                           How gorgeous is this Cobalt Blue Mosaic tile?!

                                              The  indigo wall pairs beautifully with this iridescent tile.

Aqua paired with natural oak gave this custom built pool house (Lundbergbuilders.com) a beachy vibe.

 

Are you ready for the kitchen of the future?

Of all the rooms in our homes the kitchen is the center of all that we do. In the coming decade as our environments and habits change, the kitchen as we know it today will evolve drastically. Can you imagine a world where you don’t need a refrigerator and  your kitchen table has the ability to charge your cell phone and reheat your leftovers? IKEA’S concept Kitchen 2025 is a student project based upon a list of assumptions about the world ten years from now, and they envisioned all of this: a kitchen that worked smarter, but appeared effortless.

Some of the key concepts worthy of noting are:

  • A composting system will be built into this kitchen that will conserve water and waste. For instance, it will use leftover water for the dishwasher or to feed indoor plants. As we become more conscious of the environmental impact of household waste, we’ll recycle and reuse far more. Cities will encourage that too, charging residents for non-recyclable rubbish by the kilogram.This waste and composting system helps us live more sustainably by making us more aware of what we’re throwing away, and helping our municipalities dispose of that waste more efficiently. Organic waste washed from the sink into the composting system is blended, the water extracted, and it’s then compressed into a dry, odourless puck. The waste water doesn’t flush away: it contains nutrients that can be safely used to feed our indoor plants.
  • The lack of a refrigerator, which is an essential in all kitchens today, was left out of the design and replaced with technology that would conserve energy and reduce food waste. Concept Kitchen envisioned a world where it is not a necessary appliance due to products being available on demand and delivery drones becoming the norm. This means less food in our homes, but also means that our food is fresher. Using naturally insular materials like ceramics will keep foods cool and will also combat the energy inefficiency of standalone refrigerators and the problem of having our food hidden. The pantry features wooden shelves that contain hidden sensors and smart induction cooling technology. Meanwhile terracotta storage boxes are naturally cool, perfect for foods such as garlic, potatoes and carrots. Insets made of porcelain, wood or slate keep food fresher for longer, and can be detached to use as tableware.The magnetic, stainless steel  alloy base is inductively cooled by the shelves. But if the container is placed on the kitchen table surface, the induction system switches to heating.
  • Water’s set to become more precious in the next ten years, so we’ll need to use it more responsibly. A ‘Mindful design’ solution makes us conscious of our everyday decisions, and helps us make better-informed choices about how we use water. Here’s how we may treat water in ten years…Our sink has two plug holes: pivot one way for ‘grey’ water that be reused for washing up and watering plants, tipping to the right……  sends badly contaminated water (black water) through to the sewerage pipes for treatment.
  • The kitchen table that was featured in the concept kitchen had the ability to perform a multitude of different activities. It has the ability to reheat food, measure baking ingredients and suggest recipes by “reading” the ingredients placed on its top. It also will be able to charge your cell phone and interact with children’s artwork.

 

 

 

Aging in Place: Make your home a home for a lifetime!

The phrase “Aging In Place” means living in your home safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of your age or ability level.To age in place it is necessary to modify your house as you mature to increase access and maneuverability. By planning ahead during construction or renovation you give yourself the opportunity to  plan accordingly so that your home has the ability to grow with and remain as functional as possible. A lot of these modifications can be incorporated into a new construction plan or during renovations. These adaptions are functional for normal everyday use so incorporating them early will not reduce your current quality of life. The changes can be as major as adding a bedroom or bathroom to the main level of your home to as modest as adding grab bars in the bathroom. 78% of those aged 50-64 have said they want to live in their own residence as long as possible. Staying in your own home as you age takes planning and help, but the rewards are many. Whether you live alone or with a spouse, aging in place keeps you closer to family, maintains your independence and connects you to your community. And, it costs less in the long run. Read on to find out some ways to help you improve your quality in life as you age.

  • Accessibility – Ramps and stairlifts make homes easier to stay in as mobility declines. Also, add grab bars to stairs, tubs and showers.
  • Bathroom Upgrade – Getting in and out of a bathtub and shower combination can be dangerous as seniors’ agility declines. Tub Cut is an affordable option for converting a tub to a shower. Curbless showers for wheelchair access are also an option. Both of these options are designed to help you maintain your independence.
  • Energy Efficiency – Many seniors rely completely on a fixed income and every dollar counts. Save money on electricity and gas, and stay comfortable, when you upgrade to energy-efficient heating and cooling systems as well as appliances. Check attic insulation and upgrade windows with energy efficient replacement windows. The energy cost savings will continue to add up, and if the upgrades/replacements are done before December 31, 2013, you’ll also qualify for a substantial tax credit.
  • Floors – Prevent falls (the leading cause of disability in older people) by removing throw rugs, relocating furniture, securing loose wires, using non-skid spray on tile and linoleum floors and maintaining a wide area for movement in hallways and pathways in other rooms. Also, consider whether your hallways and rooms are clear enough for a wheelchair to get through easily.
  • Lighting – Dimly lit areas present another fall hazard. As eyesight declines, it’s important to address lighting issues throughout the house, taking extra care that light fixtures have at least two bulbs in vital areas such as the entryway, bathrooms and kitchen. This way, when one bulb burns out, you still have light in that area. Make sure light switches are low enough to easily reach from a wheelchair.
  • Alarm System – Elderly people are often targeted by burglars and a security system can not only help thwart criminals, but provide peace of mind and often make it easier to get emergency services.
  • Door knobs and Cabinets – Arthritis and other conditions make it harder to open doors and cabinets. Replace door knobs and cabinet hardware with levers, which are much easier to grasp.
  • Risers – Getting out of bed or standing up from a sitting position gets harder as we age. The lower the furniture, the harder it is. Installing bed risers, using power seat uplift assists and rising recliners make it easier to get up and down.
  • Door Entry Intercoms – Answering the door can be difficult for those who can’t get up from a sitting position easily, but an intercom allows you to communicate with the person outside the door, and even press a button to let them in, all from where you are sitting.
  • Personal Response System – A lifesaver for seniors who live alone, a personal emergency response system is a lightweight, battery-powered “help” button that is carried by the user. It transmits to a console connected to the user’s telephone. When emergency help is needed, such as medical, fire, or police, the user can press the transmitter’s “help” button, sending a radio signal to the console which then automatically dials one or more emergency telephone numbers.

aging-in-place-selling-baby-boomers-remodeling-bathroom-aginginplaceremods
Aging in place is a choice. Making these choices gives you control over your independence, quality of life and dignity.Currently, the majority of seniors aged 65 and older are living either with a spouse or alone in their own home. Many of these elderly people already struggle with fulfilling everyday tasks. As Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS), Lundberg Builders has the answers to your questions. We have been taught the strategies and techniques for designing and building aesthetically enriching, barrier-free environments. For more information, please call us at (410) 643-3334.

 

 

Marsala: Simple ways to use Pantone’s 2015 Color of the Year in Your Home

123445Each year the color experts at Pantone join forces to decide which color will be dominant in the new year. This year they settled on the color Marsala which name derives from yes…you guessed it the fortified wine. Holding true to the roots of it’s name, this color is not only striking and bold, but also mild and earthy thanks to it’s red-brown roots. Witdfgh many differing and unique qualities it is appealing to both men and woman of all ages. This color is accented well by matte finishes which allows it to stand by it’s earthy and natural qualities. But on the other hand, adding a bit of sheen allows Marsala to be luxurious, glamorous and appear high end. This color can stand on it’s own or serve as an accent to a variety of other colors and textures. The best quality about this color is it’s versatility.If your not ready to dive in and paint an entire room this rich color, try one of these simple accents to jump on the bandwagon!

1. Rugs have the ability to transform a room and are a fairly modest change. Try adding a smaller accent rug for a more subtle change or a full size rug for a bolder statement. Many options can be found at capelrugs.com

2. Try adding a vase or a candle to incorporate Marsala in a noticeable but small way.

Try this planter from Amazon or this candle holder from H&M

3. Have you ever heard the saying go big or go home? Well go bold or go home with this couch from Urban Outfitters. Its sure to make a statement. 31841885_061_b

4. One of the simplest and most inexpensive ways to jump on board is to add flowers.Screen-Shot-2014-12-04-at-6_09_47-AM

5. Try a throw or a bedspread for an easy and warm touch Marsala-throw6. You can add this color to your home in very functional ways by snatching these dishes in this rich color. Many appliances can also be found.120915-pantonemarsala

7. We at 314designstudio love these marsala colored cabinets. By using this color as an accent piece the designer chose not to overdo it by keeping the rest of the cabinetry simple and uniformed. High_res-_DSC4870-Edit_940_626_c1-490x326

8. A Marsala colored bathtub anyone? ideas-to-use-marsala-for-bathroom-decor-4

9. Throw pillows are always an excellent way to add color, texture and personality to your home. How quirky is this Marsala colored wine themed pillow? slide_387074_4654130_free

10. But finally…..if you really want to make the commitment paint a wall as an accent, or an entire room in this color for a beautiful and bold result. To spice it up even more try a textured wallpaper.

Untitled
Overall, like this color a lot of the ideas that are presented make bold statements and requires a large commitmentScreen-Shot-2015-01-01-at-2_06_22-PM. Keep in mind that you have the ability to incorporate this color in simple ways to keep your home trendy and fresh if your not ready to commit fully. By pairing this color with other accent colors you allow it to steal the show without overdoing it. Check out the rest of Pantones Spring color list for more inspiration.

THE PROS AND CONS OF KITCHEN & BATHROOM COUNTERTOP SURFACES

ACRYLIC

Acrylic is a man-made, solid surface (non-porous) product. It comes in either pure acrylic or modified acrylic forms. First introduced by Dupont in the 1970s, Corian® is a leading brand in this market.

Pros: Easy to fabricate into custom shapes and sizes, repairable if cracked or chipped, colors options are virtually limitless (unlike stone which is limited to naturally occurring colors).

Cons: Sensitivity to heat and may burn. It can scratch, but scratches can be polished out.

Verdict: Relatively inexpensive, durable and versatile. Good choice for ultra-modern kitchen designs.

acrylicQUARTZ

Quartz is an engineered stone made primarily from natural quartz and blended with resins.

Pros: Completely maintenance free and impermeable to heat, stains, and scratching.

Cons: Quartz is expensive (comparable to a tier 4 granite level) and it doesn’t have the natural veining and color variations that natural stones have.

Verdict: Fairly expensive alternative for those who want the beauty of marble without the maintenance or veining.

quartzGRANITE

Granite is a natural stone. As such, no two slabs are completely alike. Granite is graded based on source, quality, and appearance ranging from tier 1 to tier 5. A tier 1 granite color is more readily available (and can be found at most distributors), whereas a tier 5 slab is the most rare and expensive, and will have huge variances in colors and veining. Granite can also come in either semi-exotic or exotic.

Pros: Granite holds up to heat and does not scratch or stain. Occasional maintenance is required for sealing, but most modern sealants require little or no maintenance.

Cons: Granite is pricey and as a porous surface can harbor bacteria, if poorly sealed.

Verdict: Expensive, as this is still the most sought-after countertop for its beauty and durability.

Need itSOAPSTONE

Soapstone is one of the oldest and most dense stones. It was used primarily for utility sinks for its durability. In its natural state, soapstone is dull and ranges from very light gray to almost black with off white veining. When oiled, it appears dark green.

Pros: Very dense; impervious to liquids and chemicals, one-of-a-kind beauty and veining similar to marble, virtually no maintenance required, and environmentally friendly as it requires no finishes (you can use mineral oil for a darker finish if desired). Scratches can be left as a natural patina. Soapstone ages well. Scratches can be repaired more easily than other types of natural stones if desired.

Cons: Expensive, and color options are limited to those naturally occurring gray and green tones.

Verdict: Although it is expensive, soapstone is a highly prized stone and is most common in classic, coastal, and cottage style kitchens.

soapstone*Soapstone featured in back countertops

MARBLE

Valued for its rarity and its history as a prized stone for use in buildings and sculptures, there is no other stone that compares to the natural beauty and elegance of marble.

Pros: A refined and distinctive look with creamy smooth texture and veining.

Cons: Marble is very susceptible to stains so is not typically used in the entire kitchen. It will also scratch, chip.

Verdict: Very expensive. Marble is top choice for pastry chefs because it remains cool to the touch, but care is required.

314 Design Studio