Welcome Back Blue – and the Brady Bunch!
January 8, 2012: Color and pattern, it’s around us everywhere – and it’s constantly changing. Whether it is the visual feast we find in nature or the eye candy that the world of fashion tries to sell us, there is always something new to coax a quick glance into a turn of the head, and maybe even a moment of reflection and visual enjoyment.
The lost color is back, in many different recipes. We’re talking about blue, of course. First it began to appear a bit subdued, toned with hints of grey and green, and lusciously paired with chocolate browns. Then we saw navy and a resurrection of beautiful seaside shades of blue. And now we see it flaunting itself like a peacock, bursting with hues we thought only those extravagant birds could boldly wear. This blue is ready to strut right into your home. A great variation we have found is a Behr color – “Almost Famous.” A deep blue, almost tropical, it has a hint of green in it, but it is still blue. So please don’t call it teal! It pairs nicely with burnt terra cotta tones as well as muted lime greens. Even gold accents and those tradition wood tones of furnishings look both fresh and elegant against this great color.
As for pattern, it seems as though everyone is channeling the 70s a little bit. And if you prefer a more traditional or eclectic approach to your decorating, don’t worry about being un-hip. A little bit of pattern can go a long way, and, in the right dosage, can work with a multitude of décor settings.
So plan to feather your nest with some new hues and patterns for 2012!
Current Kitchen Trends - Central NJ and Bucks, PA, 2011
March, 2011: The year is well underway and homeowners are investing in their properties. However, “caution” is the key word in kitchen remodeling and home design. We saw this in action during 2010 and it is carrying into 2011. Here in the Delaware Valley areas of Hunterdon, NJ and Bucks, PA, homeowners are taking a conservative, yet upscale approach in their kitchen remodels. The homeowners we speak with are looking for cabinetry which has some of the amenities found in high-end kitchens, but with classic styling. The 2011 Kitchen Trends Report, just released by the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) validates our observations.
Personalized Refacing, Tewksbury, NJ: Custom Stained Cherry, Rich Cappucino
According to the NKBA, clean-lined traditional looks – sometimes referred to as “Transitional” – are reigning supreme. Sleek modern styling is third and losing ground. Homeowners today want design which is comfortable, safe, and with universal appeal. The cabinets in these kitchens set the stage for a variety of design options. They are equally appropriate backdrops for patterned backsplashes of stone, light fixtures with elegant details, and warm neutral walls, or contrastingly, glass mosaics, softly modern light fixtures, and pops of crisp, 1970s inspired color. The main elements of the kitchen in terms of expanse and expense – cabinetry and flooring – are being chosen for their ability to remain neutral for the next owner of that space. Personalization is playing a part in those elements which are most easily and economically changed, such as wall color, lighting fixtures, and backsplash.
Flemington, NJ: Pale Celery Seed finish, with crown and soffit treatment
Cabinet Styles and Finishes: Whether its new cabinets or refaced, traditional raised panel profiles and Shaker style are the top two choices for cabinet door design. Our clients are choosing woods and finishes which are rich, yet visually calm. Oak has been and continues to be at the top of most home owners’ “do not want” list. When refacing cabinets the number one choice for new doors is cherry, custom stained to the “perfect” shade. Right behind that are shades of off-white, most glazed, but ever so lightly. Glazing over the entire cabinet surface is requested to add depth to door color, and detail glazing is for bringing out the architecture of the doors and millwork. In both cases, the desired end result is a rich look, full of depth, but without visible brush strokes or drag marks through glaze. Other popular choices include maples, custom stained in warm, coppery tones, and painted finishes in our “Celery Seed” family of colors, a rich beige with complex undertones of sage and taupe. Contrasting islands in darker tones, including deep stained woods and painted finishes in cappuccino shades, are our most popular finishes for kitchen islands. Requests for heavy distressing and antiquing have dropped off; NKBA reports that now only 5% of kitchen designers are specifying those finishes, down from 16% a year earlier.
Princeton, NJ: Custom refacing, Copper Mountain finish on maple
Cabinet Millwork: When moldings and other architectural accents are used they are not ornate or gaudy, rather they are used to add substance and proper scale to the cabinetry and the space. The demand for intricately carved millwork sporting grapes, cherubs, scrollwork, and other overly ornate elements appears to be on the decline. Millwork is still desired, but with the intent of having the cabinetry look high end and with furniture quality design. Also, many of the homes in the Central NJ and Bucks, PA areas are traditional, center hall colonials, or country styled, so upscale detailing in cabinetry is not only expected, but very design appropriate.
Morris County, NJ: Custom refaced island, Mocha Walnut finish on cherry
Appliances: In the Delaware Valley region of NJ and PA, commercial grade gas cook tops are the number one choice for clients upgrading their kitchens. However, induction cook tops are rapidly gaining ground as the preferred choice, due to their superior efficiency of energy transfer, energy and cost savings, and ease of use. Although stainless is still king in appliance finishes, some homeowners are looking for warmer options and are even opting to mix and match appliance finishes. Color-loving homeowners are considering free-standing ranges by Fratelli or Betrazzoni, for a pop of drama in their kitchens. We see about a 50/50 breakdown of home owners who want their dishwashers and refrigeration disguised by matching cabinet panels, versus those who go with the appliance finish. High end dishwashers such as Bosch and Mieles remain the big favorites, primarily because they are quiet and reliable. In refrigeration NKBA reports that the French door model of refrigerator was requested by 78% of the designers responding to their survey. We agree and see two additional trends in refrigeration: A majority of our clients, even if they are two person households, are upgrading to larger refrigerators. We think this is a function of a new age of “cocooning”: people are cooking at home more and eating out less. The other trend we have noticed is a shift to the sleek look of the high end, 24” wide refrigerators. This is the choice primarily of singles, although couples who are frequent shoppers, typically purchasing fresh foods from their local farmers’ market or produce stand, are also embracing smaller refrigerators. In a market formerly dominated by high-end brands such as Liebherr and Sub-Zero, now LG, GE, and German player Blomberg have models available for homeowners on a more moderate budget. And finally, the microwave has been evicted from its spot above the cook top. This dated look has given way to either wood hoods or sleek concealed vents, such as the ones offered by Zephyr. The microwave is typically being replaced by combination microwave – convection units, and is installed as a wall oven or an under-counter unit.
One final thought: If you decide to buy a higher end, name-brand appliance, go to a reputable appliance dealer. The deals offered by the big box stores may not be real deals should there be a problem with the unit down the road. You may think you are buying the same brand you might buy elsewhere, but in reality the appliance has been made by a company in China, for the home improvement store, and the store paid to use the brand’s name. If the product fails you will have little or no recourse with the brand’s company – it isn’t really their product. And finding competent technicians to repair these units can be a challenge. Save yourself some potential aggravation and buy your appliances through a dealer who will stand by their products.
Updated Fireplaces Take Center Stage
November 2009: Does your fireplace say "1975" or "Builders' Special"? If so, it's time for a fabulous focal point.
It’s that time of the year, where fireplaces have a starring role in your family gathering. If your fireplace says “1975” or “builder’s special”, it might be time to upgrade it.
Many of today’s homes have grand family rooms with high ceilings, but the fireplace doesn’t live up to the space in the proper proportion. Surrounds of painted moldings with undersized mantels are usually dwarfed by the rest of the room’s architecture. What should be a focal point is now an element which throws off the balance of the space.
Older homes often have fireplaces with brick surrounds and oak mantels. Because the brick color and pattern of the grout lines and oak grain can be a distraction in the room, the fireplace may also become an eyesore, to be ignored or disguised.
Before you decide to hide your fireplace behind your sofa, here are a few ideas.
A larger mantel can be the first step to a grander fireplace. Paneling or a shadowbox added above the mantel can provide much needed scale to the wall and make a statement. Painted mantels can receive custom finish treatments to simulate wood, stone, or other materials.
A brick fireplace can have its brick glazed and colored for greater richness. Or, sheetrock over the brick, install a new mantel, paint or put a decorative plaster on the wall, and you will have an amazing transformation.
Need a Plan for Changing Your Kitchen Cabinets?
February, 2009: Upgrading your kitchen can be a big project. Here are tips on where to start, and suggestions on how to put the pieces together.
The scope and design of every project may be slightly different. However, we have general recommendations for a sound plan with which to manage your kitchen upgrade:
Decide if you are going to replace your cabinets or, if there is really nothing wrong with them other than the look, restyle them to improve the function and décor of your space. These tips can apply to a full replacement job, but, because you’re on our website, we’re going to assume that you would prefer to conserve as much of your cabinetry as possible instead tossing it all aside. So, based on that . . .
Choose your cabinet finish. The face of your cabinets account for the largest area, by square foot, as seen by the eye when looking straight ahead. This should be the primary design element which sets the tone and coloration of the rest of your space.
Are you going to make changes in the footprint of your cabinets or placement of appliances? Figure that out now. This decision will affect flooring as well as modifications to the cabinet frames, so this step is critical for a stress-free project.
Address the soffit, if you need to. Do you want to remove it or incorporate it into the final design? Is electrical or venting housed in it, which may limit your design options?
Decide on your appliances, have the measurements ready. If modifications need to be made to the cabinet frames in order to allow for clearance of new appliances, this carpentry needs to take place before the finish goes on.
Is your cook top properly vented? If not, that needs to be addressed.
Choose and install the flooring.
Determine your electrical needs.
Say goodbye to your doors an drawer fronts. For a little while, at least, if you are one of our clients.
Pick out your countertop, sink, and fixtures.Remove wallpaper; Prime walls
Have on-site carpentry and finishing done.
Install any new appliances.
Template for the granite or other countertop material. Make sure you have chosen your sink and have its template, as well as info on your cooktop available.
Install lighting and electric. Install pendants, high hats, over cabinet lighting, under cabinets lighting, and whatever else wasn’t finished before.
Choose your handles and other hardware.
Re-Install doors and drawer fronts.
Have your plumber install your sink hookups. If you have new granite and there is a seam in your countertop near the sink, have him wait at least two days. This will give time for this area to set and cure.
Install backsplash. Think of the backsplash as jewelry or an accessory which pulls together the cabinetry, granite, and other elements.
Paint walls. Do you want a paint color to blend with the cabinets, for a monochromatic look, or one that contrasts, so your cabinets and other design elements come alive (usually our favorite choice . . .)?
Have pictures taken for magazines, and to make your neighbors jealous!
Sit back and enjoy your new kitchen!
Finishes Do More Than Just Look Pretty
Faux finishing. Decorative painting. Mention this wall and surface treatment and you'll hear everything from "Oh, that's new," to "Faux is so out." So, how far has faux really come - or faded - in the central New Jersey area?
Finishes aren't just pretty, they should have a function in a room. After all, the walls of a room comprise 60% of its surface area and play an integral part in setting the tone for that space. They can set a mood, define or alter architecture, and introduce or balance pattern. If you're considering a faux finish, Artisan Interiors suggests you consider these few tips for getting the most out of your decorating effort:
-A 3x6' powder room is a small space and no amount of white paint will make it large. Instead of trying to make it grand, choose finishes which will make it feel opulent and enveloping.
-Large, voluminous rooms can be made to feel more cozy. A richer color on a ceiling can visually lower it, as can a graded - darker towards the top and lighter towards the bottom - finish on the walls.
-Work with the architecture of a large, high room to make it grand instead of cavernous. Treat crown molding and other architectural elements in order to visually enhance them and give them greater elegance , try deep or rich color on the walls to add drama, or large scale finishes to add movement and bring the eye upward.
-Authentic Venetian plasters contain specified percentages of lime and marble dust. Walls with this treatment will be slightly cool to the touch. To achieve a sense of warmth in a space where the walls will be touched or brushed against, this is not the finish of choice.
-A simple glaze texture may look great in a small space, but will get lost on a wall with 20' ceilings.
Every finish will translate into a pattern on a wall. Pick the right one for the size and setting of your particular surface.