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Your Guide to the most Popular Kitchen Countertop Materials

Get details and costs on top counter materials to help you narrow down the choices for your kitchen

Choosing  a kitchen counter is no easy task with so many available choices. Since this surface area takes up a large amount of the kitchen, it ends up having an impact on many of the other choices you have to make when remodeling or designing a kitchen.

Below are some of the most popular counter top materials, and the pros and cons of each.

Clark-18Soapstone Kitchen Counters
This material is resistant to stains, chemicals and bacteria, and is a durable and natural choice for a kitchen. Although it is considered to be on the expensive side at $80 to $100 per square foot, it is considered to be a lifetime investment.

Granite Kitchen Counters
Granite has always been one of the most popular choices for kitchen counters. With plenty of character, including unique grains, colors and customizable finishes, it is also considered to be extremely durable. It  can cost as low as $50 per square foot but prices can go up quickly with more exotic slabs and difficult installations.

Copper Kitchen Counters
Although it is not a common choice it is surprisingly easy to clean and maintain. This is considered  a “living” surface, as it reacts to different substances, creating a blend of matte reds, browns and greens. It costs at a minimum $100-per-square-foot.

Engineered Quartz Kitchen CountersDSC00338
Engineered quartz comes in just about every shade possible, so it is perfect for anyone who wants a unique or custom look. This product combines ground quartz, resin and pigments for a very durable result. It is pricey at $95 to $105 per square foot.

Tile Kitchen Counters
This is one of the more affordable choices starting at $30 per square foot. Available in stone or ceramic, it is extremely durable and is one of the few choices that is completely DIY.  Maintenance can be difficult, but choosing a darker grout can ease this burden.

Zinc Kitchen Counters
Although not a popular choice in modern times, this metal has a warmth that has made it stick around for many years. The tone of this metal darkens with time, adding patina. Its antimicrobial properties make it a smart choice for a cooking space. This material starts at $100 per square foot.

Houzz.com
Houzz.com

Recycled Paper-Based Counters
This ecofriendly choice has surprising durability considering it is made entirely of paper.  It is typically mixed with resins and pigments and looks very similar to soapstone, and averages between $40-80 per square foot.

Plastic Laminate Kitchen Counters
This option can work with most designs because it has so many customizable edges and finishes. One of the cheaper options it ranges from $8-20 per square foot. It’s one downfall is that it is not very durable and may need to be touched up or replaced more often then some of the other choices.

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houzz.com

Recycled Glass and Cement Kitchen Counters
One of the more pricey options starts at $100 per square foot, but is growing in popularity because of the unique combination of glass and cement.  This option is ecofriendly, durable and customizable.

Stainless Steel Kitchen Counters
This choice is nonstaining, heat resistant and easy to clean, and is a top choice for chefs. Starting at $80 to $90 per square foot installed means it’s more affordable than most stone counters, too.

Solid-Surface Kitchen Counters
Although not very popular, this miracle material has the ability to imitate just about any look without the same maintenance or price tag. Prices range from $50 to $100 per square foot, depending on the manufacturer.

Wood Kitchen Counters
A personal favorite, this option offers a unique, warm and long lasting countertop. The cost varies depending on the type of wood you choose, but one of the most popular choices, a butcher block, tend to range from $30 to $85 per square foot.

NEW HOUSE
314designstudio.com

Marble Kitchen Counters
Marble counters are always in style offering a classic look however it tends to scratch and stain easily. Marble is known more for the patina it develops, than for its durability. The cost typically ranges from $70 to $100 per square foot.

Concrete Kitchen Counters
Pigments, stains and dyes can create concrete counters with color and visual texture, making them fairly easy to customize . With the right sealer, a concrete counter can be well worth its cost — averaging between $100 to $150.

Source Houzz.com

Curbless Showers: All you need to know

With the cost of living continuing to rise, it is not uncommon to find multiple generations living under the same roof. With this new reality it is important to have a bathroom that is functional for all members of your clan. A standard 4.5” shower curb may be simple for a younger person to step over but may be impossible for a grandparent or older adult to tackle.

There are several advantages and disadvantages to think about when considering this change for an existing bathroom or choosing this type of shower in a new home. Read below for a few things to consider.


Curbless showers are easier to clean than a standard shower. Eliminating the curb in a shower space opens up the entire bathroom making it one seamless space and much easier to clean.

Maximize your space. By eliminating the obstacle of the shower enclosure you will be able to more effectively use

A curbless shower designed by 314 Design Studio; installed by Lundberg Builders
A curbless shower designed by 314 Design Studio; installed by Lundberg Builders

every inch of your space, especially in smaller bathrooms.

Creates a streamlined look. The curbs on showers tend to stand out and can be an eye sore. By removing the curb you create a sleek, spa like look.

Functionality for everyone. This change will make your bathroom an “equal opportunity” space. This makes it easier and safer for older generations to utilize the shower.


With every decision there are typically advantages, we well as disadvantages. Read below for a few unfavorable things to consider before making this change. 

Too little privacy. Since the shower will  be open it does not offer as much privacy as a shower enclosure would. This can be reduced by using obscure glass, glass blocks, a half wall or curtains.

The shower will be colder as the heat will escape without an enclosure to keep it in. You can reduce this by having a heated floor installed.

With this to think about what is your take on having a curbless shower in your home?

The benefits of upgrading appliances to Energy Star qualified machines

If you’re searching for ways to save money in your home, consider taking a hard look at your appliances and how you use them—home appliances like dishwashers, refrigerators, and laundry machines account for about 13% of a household’s energy costs.

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ENERGY STAR-qualified clothes washers and refrigerators are about 20% more energy efficient than typical models, and ENERGY STAR-qualified dishwashers only use about 5.8 gallons of water per cycle or less—older dishwashers purchased before 1994 use more than 10 gallons of water.

You can also take smaller steps like only running your dishwasher with a full load, scraping food off of your dishes, and letting your dishes air dry. All of these can help cut the energy use of your dishwasher.  You can also consider using cold water when possible and drying towels and heavier cottons in a separate load or air drying when doing laundry.

The benefits of upgrading appliances to Energy Star qualified machines

Save money.

The average U.S. household spends $5,550/year on energy. But buying energy-efficient appliances, making energy-efficient home improvements, and taking energy-efficient actions every day can save hundreds of dollars. Buying ENERGY STAR appliances can save up to 30% on electricity bills.

Bonus tip: replace  incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient halogens, CFLs or LEDs and save 30-80% on energy bills.

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Get better cleaning.

Many features in an ENERGY STAR qualified dishwasher result in better cleaning. ENERGY STAR qualified dishwashers boost water temperatures to 140 degrees, which allows for improved disinfection compared to hand washing.

Save energy and water.

A new ENERGY STAR qualified dishwasher uses less than half as much energy as washing dishes by hand and saves nearly 5,000 gallons of water a year.

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Save the environment.

Because they use less energy, ENERGY STAR qualified products reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases caused by burning fossil fuels. By reducing water consumption, they also help protect our lakes, streams and oceans.

13 steps to deep clean your kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of the home in most households. It’s the place where we meet up for conversations, whip up sweet treats or a yummy breakfast or share wine with friends. Unfortunately, because of this it is also notorious for being the messiest.

Women prepare to clean house on wood table

Most of us spot-clean our kitchens on a regular basis, but we very rarely take the time to give them a good deep clean. Our kitchen may end up looking nice at the end of our mini cleaning spree, but this quick method of cleaning can still leave residue and germs lingering in places we least expect.  If you’re looking for some clever ways to spruce up your kitchen, consider these things you can do to give it a deep clean.

Quick run thru before you begin

The kitchen can easily become the place where everyone dumps their stuff. Take a few minutes to clear away items that do not belong. Put any items from the counters into their proper place. Wash, dry and put any dishes away.

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Wipe down all of your kitchen surfaces.  For granite and other countertops without grout, start with a squeegee to quickly and easily sweep any crumbs away. Spray all surfaces and the stove top with a multi-surface cleaner and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping it down with a scrubber sponge. Letting it sit will help break down grease and grime, and soften any food or spills. Don’t forget the backsplash, walls, range hood, stove and exteriors of the cupboards.

Clean & Organize  the Cupboards

OrganizedSpiceCabinetCreate a fresh start by removing all items from the cabinets. Wipe down shelves with soapy water or kitchen cleaner. Use clean, labeled, airtight containers to store baking & cooking staples such as flour and sugar. Put items back in the cabinet, making sure the most frequently used containers and pans are easily accessible towards the front.

 

Clean & Organize Refrigerator & Freezer

Check labels & toss items that are expired, moldy or empty. Wipe down shelves with soapy water or cleaner. Remove produce drawers & wash well. Wipe down the exterior.

Under and Behind Refrigerator

To clean this area, begin by pulling the refrigerator away from the wall to give yourself space to work. Unplug the refrigerator and turn off the water supply. Clean the coils of dust. Vacuum away any leftover dust and wipe down the wall behind the refrigerator.

Clean Floors

Boy (5-7) polishing floor with paper towel under hands and feet

Sweep entire floor well and be sure to remove any movable furniture. Spot clean any sticky or dirty areas. Mop floor with heavy duty floor cleaner and be sure to wash any throw rugs

Clean Garbage Disposal

Gather baking soda, vinegar and a few pieces of fruit peel (lemon, orange or lime). Pour ½ cup baking soda down the drain, followed by ½ cup of vinegar. This will fizz up like crazy so it’s very exciting to have the little ones help! After five minutes, flush out the mixture with hot water. Drop the fruit peels down the drain and run the garbage disposal for a few seconds to further deodorize. 

Under the Sink

First pull everything out and dispose of any leaking or burst containers. Clean out the area thoroughly and replace items in an organized fashion.

Oven Cleaning in Kitchen

Clean Your Oven With Baking Soda

Make a paste using a 1/2 cup of baking soda with a few tablespoons of water, and spread it all over the oven. Let it sit for an hour, and then wipe down. You can use this on your range hood as well to remove built up gunk.

Wipe Down Your Microwave

Put some lemon or lime slices in a bowl of water and microwave them for five minutes. Let the bowl sit for an additional five minutes so the steam can soften up anything stuck on the walls. Carefully remove the bowl of lemons, and wipe up the sides with a cloth.

clean-room-light-fixtures-chandelier_53a47b2f22cd02aed400f6c59503203eWipe down all light fixtures

Dust and clean the exteriors and interiors. Replace any bulbs that need changing.

 

Tops of Cabinets

If your cabinets do not go all the way up to the ceiling, the tops are probably in need of a good cleaning. Using  a hand held vacuum or duster,  dust the tops of the cabinets to remove all dust and other loose particles.  Spray with an all-purpose cleaner and wipe down.

Windows

Wash any window treatments and dust the blinds. Clean your windows with a window cleaner. Don’t forget about opening the window as well and cleaning the window tracks.

 

Closet Organization 101

“A place for everything and everything in its place.”This saying sums up what we all wish for in our lives; but achieving this takes a bit more than wishful thinking. Making a few simple changes and using items you already have around your home can help you save time, wasted energy and money.

Check out our top six tips to help you get the closets in tip-top shape.


 

Reuse old shoe boxes to organize drawers. Cut the boxes to fit more odd shaped objects. and the particular drawer you want to use them in.

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Hang a pegboard for added storage. You can use this to hang hooks which can organize a variety of items: jewelry, hats, belts, and more. The possibilities are endless!

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Use large canvas boxes to store out of season items. This keeps these items out of the way when they are not in use, while also keeping them organized.

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Remove items that don’t belong in that particular closet. One of the most common causes of clutter are when items that belong in the kitchen or bedroom are stowed in various closets throughout the house. This is the time to return out-of-place items to their rightful home.


 

Use shelf dividers to help keep folded clothes and accessories organized and stacked without falling over.

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By making a few small changes at a time and focusing on one area, you can really make an impact in the overall organization of your home.

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.