Robin Rogers Interior Design

Interior Design To Reflect Your Lifestyle

One last thing before you install that countertop...

Do you have your mind set on a certain surface?  There is one more thing you should consider: Will the surface make your family sick? Though it is unlikely that any surface remains completely sanitary, there are certain materials that are more likely to harbor dangerous germs than others.  E Coli is one of the most common kitchen germs brought in by uncooked food and improper food preparation.  Unfortunately, E Coli can lead to serious illness.  Consider the surfaces ability to be thoroughly cleaned and defend against germs.

The following materials have been ranked from worst to best in germ control.

  • ·Laminate (worst)
  • ·Wood
  • ·Tile
  • ·Concrete
  • ·Stainless steel
  • ·Granite (best)

Considering new countertops. A lesson in surfaces.

Granite, concrete, butcher block, tile, stainless steel--- just a few of the surface options for today's kitchens.  There are many things to consider when choosing surfaces for your kitchen.  Appearance, expense, repairability, and vulnerability to temperature and impact are all common considerations. The following article explores the pros and cons of popular surfaces.  Read and educate yourself before choosing the material for your kitchen remodel.

1. Granite Counters

Granite is the countertop material of choice when there are no other things to think about - like money. It defines elegance in a kitchen. As the use of granite becomes more widespread, the price comes down. The beauty of the stone contributes to the beauty of even the most modest kitchen.  The price runs anywhere between $50 and $100 per square foot.  Granite is sleek and extremely handsome, and gives a very high-end look to your kitchen. Pros: holds up to heat; comes in a range of almost 3000 colors; looks permanent and substantial; will last a lifetime; new sealers are almost maintenance-free; 2nd highest hardness rating after diamonds; has a high value to home buyers. Cons: expensive, but becoming more affordable; requires some maintenance; some stones absorbs stains if not sealed; knives can become dull if you cut on it; can crack if stressed or improperly installed.

2. Engineered Stone

Engineered stone is composed of 93% quartz particles. It is available in a larger range of colors than granite and has a nonporous surface that resists scratches. It's easy to maintain, without the annual sealing required by natural stone. Some brands on the market include DuPont Zodiaq®, LG Viatera®, Cambria Quartz, and Silestone®. Pros: Resistant to stain and acid; easy care. Cons: Expensive.

3. Solid Surface

Because solid surface counters are just what they're called, solid, any scratches can be sanded out. The countertops are custom-made to your specifications by companies such as Avonite, Corian, and Swanstone. Pros: comes in a rainbow of colors and patterns; seamless; stain resistant. Cons vulnerable to hot pans and stains which can damage the surface; can be moderately expensive.

4. Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is durable and easy to clean. Add to that inexpensive and you've got a really good choice for countertops for the average home. Because it's installed a section at a time, it can be done by most resourceful homeowners. Pros: takes hot pans; easy to clean; wide range of price, color, texture and design.   Cost. Even cheaper than laminate, ceramic tile is about as cheap as you want to make it. You're looking at a countertop that could be as cheap as $10 per square foot. Cons: counter surface is uneven; tiles can easily chip or crack; grout lines become stained; custom-designed tiles are very expensive.

5. Laminates

Laminate counters bear trademarks such as Formica, Nevamar, and Wilsonart. They're made of plastic-coated synthetics with a smooth surface that's easy to clean. The pieces are cut to size and finished on the ends.  Cost. Laminate is one of the cheapest countertop options, with installed laminate countertops as low-priced as $35-$45 per square foot. Pros: you can buy laminates in lots of colors; easy to maintain; durable; inexpensive. Cons: scratches and chips are almost impossible to repair; seams show; end finishing and front edge choices can be pricey.

6. Wood or Butcher Block

Wood countertops offer a beautiful warm look and are available in a wide range of colors and finishes. Hardwoods such as maple and oak are most often used as countertop woods. Pros: easy to clean; smooth; can be sanded and resealed as needed. Cons: can be damaged by water and stains over time; scratches must be oiled or sealed according to manufacturer's instructions.

7. Stainless Steel Counters

For a really contemporary and industrial look for your kitchen, stainless steel is a good choice. They are heat resistant and durable. Because they're constructed to your specifications, you can have a seamless countertop. Pros: takes hot pans; easy to clean. Cons: Expensive; noisy; may dent; fabrication is expensive; you can't cut on it.

8. Soapstone Counters

Soapstone is generally dark gray in color and has a smooth feel. It is often seen in historic homes but is also used in modern homes as both a countertop and sink material. Pros: rich, deep color; smooth feel; somewhat stain resistant. Cons: requires regular maintenance with applications of mineral oil; may crack and darken over time.

9. Marble

Because of it's extremely high price tag, marble is not often seen on the countertops of whole kitchens. To get the luxurious look, use it on an island or inset at a baking center. Marble requires constant maintenance, as it easily stains. Some new sealers retard staining. Pros: waterproof; heatproof; beautiful. Cons: expensive; porous; stains easily unless professionally sealed; can scratch; may need resealing periodically as per manufacturer.

10. Concrete Counters

If you have countertops in unusual shapes, concrete may be a good choice, as they're often cast right in your kitchen. The high price tag may be beyond most people's budget. Pros: heat and scratch resistant; can be color-tinted; looks exotic and unusual; new treatments eliminate cracking; additives reduce porosity; new finishes are more decorative. Cons: mid to high range on cost due to custom work; cracking is possible; can look somewhat industrial; porous but can be sealed.

Focused Illumination

Layered lighting provides more than visual appeal, it produces undeniable function. A layer of lighting that cannot be over looked is task lighting.  Task lighting, often seen as under cabinet illumination, focuses on surfaces that command attention and increased illumination.  Pendant lighting is a great fixture option because it provides stylish function. Track and recessed lighting can be used, but care should be taken to ensure that the light is directed out of the fixture so it shines on the surface needing illumination.

Accent lighting is like jewelery that adds the perfect finishing touch to your favorite outfit.  It sets the mood that fits your style.  Creating shadows with spotlights and drawing attention to artwork and architecture are both functions of accent lighting.  Accent lighting can actually be decorative in and of itself.  Pendant lighting and chandeliers are often used as art elements to draw attention in a room.

Through a multilayered lighting approach that combines stylish fixtures and energy efficient lamps, homeowners can maximize ambiance and savings, while breathing new life into their kitchens.

Modern Ambient Lighting. More than a 60 watt overhead.

Ambient lighting is the foundation for light in our home.  Ambient lighting provides general illumination throughout the whole room.  Though ambient lighting as traditionally been achieved through overhead ceiling fixtures with incandescent bulbs, there are more energy efficient ways to achieve the warm full light that is needed for a functional kitchen. The current trends in ambient lighting range from simple methods of harnessing natural light via windows and sky lights to the installation of more styled fixtures and reflection plans.  Overhead recessed lighting is a great way to set the stage because it provides light free of obstruction.  Recessed down lights can be added to illuminate cabinets and brighten the perimeter.  Reflected light, achieved by the installation of reflector lamps 6 to 8 feet apart, can be effective in boosting light in combination with light cabinets, ceilings, and floors.

When remodeling your kitchen, be sure to ask about energy efficient lighting.  The lamps you choose for your fixtures have an impact on the mood of your kitchen as well as your pocketbook.

Layered Lighting

Multilayered lighting plays a positive role in the update of any kitchen.  Whether you are going for modern an bright or warm and cozy, the layering lights will enhance the mood and save you money in energy costs.  You can quickly spice up your kitchen by integrating a mix of ambient, task and accent lighting. By adding layers of light you can enhance the mood of the kitchen while adding functionality. Gone are the days of the single harsh overhead light.  Come back tomorrow to learn about modern day ambient lighting and how you can make it work for you.

Lighting Makeover

With kitchen remodels averaging just below $20,000 it is important to consider what makes a kitchen beautiful.  Is it cabinetry, appliances, or color that first draw your eye?  Likely, it is lighting or the lack thereof that stands out.  Lighting can make or break kitchen design. To bring life to your space, a kitchen lighting redesign can be achieved at a fraction of a total remodel and will pay for itself in energy savings in the years to come. Join me tomorrow for a quick lesson in layered lighting and its undeniable appeal.

Robin in the Wondrous Land of Kitchen Design

Robin in the Wondrous Land of Kitchen Redesign is an eight week series exploring the magical process of creating your fantasy kitchen. Follow me as I delve into the elements of kitchen design, including: lighting, surfaces, cabinets, ceilings, walls, hardware, and appliances/plumbing fixtures, shedding light on the the many exciting trends and choices that 2010 delivers.

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Robin Rogers Interior Design - Interior Design To Reflect Your LIfestyle

Phone:(918) 691-8914 1831 E 71st Street, Suite 311 Tulsa, OK 74136

Oklahoma Registered Interior Designer I.D. # 5754