Choosing Countertops


by C. Rosenberg

Kitchens were once all about functionality. Today’s homemakers want efficiency, durability, and aesthetics. Whether you’re rolling out cookies, dicing veggies, or otherwise prepping meals, chances are that you’re working on a countertop. Since countertops make for a large percentage of working surface in most kitchens, it’s important to choose them well.

Here’s a breakdown of the different types of countertops, and what you can expect from each one.



There’s a reason why granite countertops are high in-demand. Once a pricey option, granite prices have declined in recent years, making it an affordable option with a luxury look. Available in hundreds of colors and patterns, you’re sure to find a granite pattern that matches your personal style and your kitchen. Unlike other stone countertops, granite is hardy, scratch resistant, and tolerates heat well. However, granite is a porous material and should be sealed before installation so that it won’t absorb liquids and food remnants.


Renowned for its beautiful veining and elegant appeal, marble countertops are your top choice if it’s the luxury look you’re after. No two slabs of marble are the same, so your kitchen will always be ‘one of a kind’. Due to its formidable price tag, some homeowners utilize marble for an island, or select countertops, and use granite or quartz for other countertop surfaces. Additionally, marble is high maintenance, with stains and scratches showing easily. Being that it’s porous as well,marble countertops must be sealed annually to maintain beauty and longevity. The upside is that marble is heat-resistant and will never show your guests evidence of hot pots that were placed on countertops.





Quartz countertops are relatively new, but it is increasing in popularity. An engineered stone which is available in a vast range of colors,

quartz is hardier than natural stone and naturally scratch resistant. Since quartz is non-porous it doesn’t absorb liquid and food remnants, and therefore doesn’t breed bacteria. Some liken the design to marble, yet it doesn’t need the high-maintenance care that marble does.


Butcher Block


Butcher block countertops are a great eco-friendly option for those who like natural and earthy. The countertop is made of wooden boards and provides a warm, inviting feel. There are plenty of wood types to choose from, like maple, oak, and walnut.

However, butcher block countertops are high-maintenance. Ideally, they should be sealed and cleaned with gentle cleaning supplies. The good part is, that in case of damage, butcher block countertops can be easily restored.




Stainless Steel

Once primarily found in commercial kitchens, stainless steel countertops are gaining popularity with residential homeowners. A bit more on the pricey end, they are available in a variety of finishes such as satin, mirror polish, brushed metal, and antique matte.

Durable, stain resistant, heat tolerant, and easy to clean, stainless steel countertops take a nice amount of abuse. However, they aren’t perfect. They show scratches more easily than other surfaces, and can get dented with heavy use.




Laminate countertops are the most economical choice of all countertops, and are available in many colors, patterns, and textures. While they aren’t delicate, laminate countertops do have a shorter life span than other materials, and are susceptible to burns. You may also find that stains from deeply colored food sets in and can’t be cleaned. Water seeping through the seams can cause deterioration over time as

well. So, while laminate countertops are a popular choice for homeowners on a budget, most people with some cash to spare will go for one of the other options mentioned above.







Quarantines and Kitchens




by C. Rosenberg

With most of us quarantined at home, chances are that we’re spending more time than ever prepping, cooking, and eating snacks and meals. That much time spent in a kitchen deserves some serious thought about how to kick things up a bit – with your own personal touch.

Here are 5 DIY ideas you can implement in your kitchen, and most of the supplies can be ordered online.

Light it Up

Bring more light into your workspace. Adding lumens to your kitchen does wonderful things. While you may not be up to

cutting holes in your ceiling to accommodate more light fixtures, you can pinpoint dark spots in your kitchen. Try an adhesive strip of small, LED lights beneath your cabinets to bring extra light to your countertop workspace.

More light above sinks are generally welcome as well. You can paste small, stand-alone LED lights on the ceiling above the sink for great results. You can also take your open shelving and display cabinets up a notch with soft lighting that puts your display pieces in the limelight.

Home Depot, Lowe’s, Bed Bath and Beyond, and similar brick and mortar and online stores have a great selection of moderately priced lighting wonders.

Sleek and Sophisticated

Are your old appliances functioning just fine, but you’re praying for their demise just because they’re a royal eyesore?  I bet you didn’t know that you can paint them with stainless steel finish.

You can use spray on paint for small appliances that don’t generate heat, but for larger appliances you’ll need to be more careful about which product you use.

Three coats of liquid stainless steel paint should work well for most appliances, though you’ll have to prime plastic appliances first.

Before beginning your project, it’s important that you read the product information to make sure that it has indeed been produced for the appliance of your choice.

You should also be aware that there are different finishes within the ‘color’ stainless steel. Whether you choose a high sheen or brushed satin, make sure that you get a uniform look for all of your appliances. Keeping your appliances at a distance of at least 5 feet also helps avoid clashes in color.



Splash it Up

 At eye-level, your backsplash not only attracts attention, but also plays a role in setting the tone for your kitchen. While there are some brave homeowners who painstakingly paste ceramic tiles for a wower backsplash, you can achieve similar effects without the risk of wrecking your kitchen.

The trick? Laminate flooring.

Laminate flooring is inexpensive, durable, water resistant, and gives you the look of either hardwood, tile, or stone. Just make sure to caulk it well at the bottom so that it doesn’t begin to peel away from the wall. Similarly, you can apply self-stick vinyl tiles for easier application.


Class in a Glass

There’s nothing quite wrong with plastic dishwashing soap bottles, but there’s nothing quite right about them either. A glass bottle, with

some frosted etchings, is a functional kitchen item you’ll be proud to have on display.

Here’s how to do it: Choose a glass bottle with a narrow neck that widens at the bottom. You might even be able to re-purpose a bottle you have at home (such as an olive oil bottle). Rub the surface with sandpaper to get an even surface. Then, either download or prepare a

stencil of your own with the design of your choice.

Secure the stencil to the bottle and brush the open spaces with glass etching cream. Once dry, remove the stencil, and ta-da! You’ll be looking at a classy dishwashing soap dispenser.

Fabric Cheer

Most of us like an open, airy kitchen – but that doesn’t mean we want our windows bare. What it does mean is that you have a lot more leeway when it comes to choosing fabric and design, than you do in other rooms of your home.

To keep things super-simple and eliminate the need to sew, get some decorative hooks and eyelets (see more about that later) and hang them right above your window. Make sure to space them evenly. Next, measure your window frame from right to left, and from top to


bottom. Add 1 inch to the length of your measured dimensions, and 2 inches to the length.

Then, choose a fun fabric that fits in with the rest of your kitchen décor – or, allow it to set the tone. Cut it in half, fold over ½ inch of fabric on all ends, and use fabric fusion tape to secure the raw edges.  Next, mark small dots with a pen along the area you’ll want to hook into your designer hooks. Using your eyelets for direction as to the size of the hole, use a sharp scissors to cut small, neat holes. Snap the eyelets in place and you’re all done! Your curtains are ready to dance in the breeze!








Airing Out Your Kitchen




by C. Rosenberg

Enticing smells coming out of your kitchen are sure to award you with a homemakers’ awards, but what you may not realize is that culinary efforts also result in less-desirable elements. Moisture, grease, odors, and heat from stove-top food preparation are not things you want stagnating in your kitchen. The good news is that you can prevent it with a good ventilation system.

How to Vent

There are two types of vent systems: Ducted and Ductless. Ducted systems move air out of the kitchen, whereas ductless systems suck up the air to filter it.

The benefits of a ducted system are pretty obvious: Your air gets really nice and clear. However, in order to make use of that benefit, you’ll be somewhat limited in where you can place the vents. You’ll need to have pipes leading to an exterior passage. Ductless vents are generally found in commercial kitchens.

Ductless vents don’t need pipes with access to the outdoors, and are therefore easier to place in the kitchen. (You will need to replace the filter on a ductless vent, but that is a pretty simple task.)

Choose Your Vent

Choosing hoods for your venting system can be fun. Although the purpose of a hood is functional, manufacturers don’t forget about aesthetics when it comes to hoods. Here are some popular options:

Under-Cabinet Hood

Under-cabinet hood is pretty popular and compact. This can be mounted directly beneath the cabinet which sits above your stove top, and

blends into the design quite seamlessly. It’s important to have exact measurements of the cabinet before purchasing this type of vent, as

you’ll need it to fit perfectly.

These hoods can provide both ducted and ductless systems. In the case of a ducted system, the hood will be on an exterior wall, and either have a direct line to duct pipes leading outdoors, or there will be duct pipes leading out through the cabinet above the hood.

Over-The-Range Microwave with Vent

If you keep your microwave above your stove top, you might want to look into a hood-microwave combination. These styles feature a built-in vent fan on the underside of the microwave that serves as a vent. The combination of microwave and vent allows one appliance to perform dual functions, saving you space.



Wall-Mount Hood


Wall-mounted hoods are directly attached to the wall above the range, and will most likely be higher than a cabinet-mounted hood. Although they may be more expensive than under-cabinet ranges, wall mounted ranges are available in a large variety of styles and will add oomph to your kitchen.




Ceiling-Mounted Hood

What if you have a stovetop on an island, or another area doesn’t lean against a wall? Ceiling mounted hoods are the answer. You can find them in many different styles and materials (think copper, glass, ceramic, etc.) and can easily turn into the focal point of your kitchen.

Most models require an exterior duct system. The good news is that since the hood is attached to the ceiling, you can find a direct line outdoors, and don’t need to install pipes in cabinets.





Downdraft Vent Hood

A less common – yet very effective – ventilation system is called a downdraft hood. This product is hidden in your stovetop, and can be

pulled out as necessary. It pulls air to back of the cooktop through built-in vents to filter your kitchen air. Since this is hidden much of the time, (and pretty small even when not), it won’t alter the look of your kitchen much.







Smarts of Small Kitchens




by C. Rosenberg

Tiny is the new grandiose. Cool people around the country are embracing minimalism by building tiny houses, and even tinier kitchens. They own just one wooden spoon and bowl for eating, and a pull-down table — or no table at all. So, if you’ve got a small kitchen, consider yourself trendy.

Here’s how to get the most out of your limited space.


Looking Up

The ceiling is your new friend.


Hang your pots and pans from a rack on the ceiling, and you’ve just saved yourself a whole bunch of drawers.

Worried it’ll look odd? Snazz it up by buying a matching set of pots so it looks tidy—red, blue, copper, cast iron, or whatever you prefer. Think of it this way: It’s another way to accessorize your kitchen and enjoy your beautiful cookware.

Walls are your friends too. Put up pegboards, hooks and nails, or small shelves, and make use of these empty spaces.

And if you want to get really clever, put wheels on your island so you can roll it to the side when your family is crowding you in the kitchen.


Yes, this part will be tough.

But no, we will not settle for having a toaster, mixer, fruit bowl, coffee maker and microwave cluttering your precious counter space. An appliance garage will solve this problem, but what about all the food?

We do need to eat – even in small kitchens.

Here’s the plan: Clever pantry storage.

There’s a ton of dead space in our food cabinets, because of bulky packaging, poor organization, and a bunch of half-full boxes of the same foods. Condense everything by using stackable storage containers that fit neatly into each other. Buy some pretty storage containers that you can display or hang on wall racks. Now’s when your food becomes an accessory too! Spices, with all their rich colors, also make for fun decor.

As for cleaning supplies, garbage bags and towels, turn the space under your sink into a treasure trove by buying an expandable organizer with levels and pullouts. This is a cheap way to create a set space for each item.




Clean Lines

To make the space look larger, keep decor straight and simple. Now is when you want to say no to elaborate engraving and heavy colors. Go with light shades, knock down as much wall as you can, and turn a jutting countertop into a table so you don’t need to fit another piece of furniture into your space. See if you can buy translucent bar stools to go with it. This won’t clutter your kitchen with deep colors as it’ll more likely fade into the background. 

Your floors can also be part of a magic solution. Use oversized diamond designs, chevron patterns, or dark and light thick stripes to enlarge the space. And go crazy on lighting. Put in pot lights, under-cabinet lights, or enlarge windows. Any kind of extra light you add can transform the feel of the tight space.

Now its time to invite your family and friends to show them your hip, minimalist design. Just make sure to invite them in shifts so that they can all fit inside your kitchen at once.





5 Most Popular Kitchen Layouts



by C. Rosenberg

While aesthetics in a kitchen are what keep us turning the Better Home and Gardens pages, at the end of the day layout is way more important for kitchen efficiency. After all, that’s what enables us to prepare those delicacies that make our family and guests wipe their plates clean.

Here are 5 of the most popular kitchen layouts for you to consider.

U-Shape Kitchen

With counters and work-spaces hugging three walls, the U-shape kitchen gives you plenty of cabinets and counter space without using a ton of floor space. Not only does this mean that you can organize all of your kitchen possessions well, but also that you can have multiple people in the kitchen. You’ll also find that everything you need while cooking and baking is pretty close to where you are.

The U-shape kitchen works extremely well with the now-popular open floor plans, as one wall can be left open to a dining room, living room, or family room.

L-Shape Kitchen

The L-shaped kitchen consists of countertops on two adjoining walls that are perpendicular, forming an L. This layout is similar to the U-shape in its ability to optimize countertop space, and in the fact that it leaves at least one side open to other living spaces. This is a great option if you can only have a small or medium sized kitchen, as it allows for an airy feel without dominating lots of space. You can also add a raised bar to one side of the L to provide extra seating or standing room.



Galley Kitchen

Two parallel walls and sets of countertops with a walkway in between them are what define a galley kitchen. While this layout is losing the

popularity contest to open floor plan, it still has its fans.  If you don’t want to dedicate too much space to your kitchen, this may be your answer. Ideal for ‘one cook’ households, the galley kitchen makes great use of every square inch.  The galley layout also keeps the kitchen mess contained to the kitchen. Additionally, galleys mean no troublesome corner cabinets to configure (and thus no hidden cabinetry costs).

Island Kitchen

Islands are work stations in the center of a kitchen, and often include appliances or a sink, and cabinetry for storage. Most kitchens with enough space to accommodate an island, have one, because they are so wonderful.

In addition to increased work surface for the kitchen which hosts multiple cooks, islands provide space for ‘specialty areas’ such as a baking area, or as a dining area. Often the island is also a great focal point in the middle of a large kitchen, and the island is designed with extra moldings or some other aesthetics.

Peninsula Kitchen

As its name suggests, a peninsula is a connected island.  This works well in an L kitchen, and sometimes in a large galley kitchen. While it offers most of the benefits an island offers, it can work in smaller spaces, whereas an island needs more space.

Before deciding on your kitchen layout, think about what you use your kitchen for, and how large the space you’re working with is. These answers will help you make a decision on which kitchen layout will work best for you.





What’s New In Kitchens



by C. Rosenberg

Summer’s heat likely has you wanting out of the kitchen, but these trends are just too good to put off sharing. And after you’ve had your share of flipping burgers at the grill, you’ll appreciate knowing what indoor kitchen trends offer.


Tech in Time

Samsung’s Family Hub refrigerator is a tech lover’s favorite. If you’re a kitchen lover as well, this is pay dirt. With a touch screen, interior camera, and WiFi connectivity that allows you to search recipes based on the fridge’s content, you can see your refrigerators contents while you’re shopping. You can also leave notes and reminders to family members on the refrigerator’s board, making this one smart addition to your household.           

How’s that for tech that seamlessly integrates trends, functionality and real needs into one major appliance? Available in a variety of styles, this sleek, stainless steel fridge is sure to be your family’s best friend beyond forever.

Nature in A Rug

Are you like most of us modern human species who don’t spend enough time outdoors? We know you’ve read enough compelling blogs about the benefits of spending more time outside. We also know it hasn’t quite happened yet.

Well, we’re reversing the trend and telling you to bring nature indoors. How? Choose a durable rug in bright, fresh colors. Yup, we’re still in the kitchen. And no, we won’t tell anyone that you were thinking living room for just one confused moment. In 2019, rugs are wherever they can do something huge for your space.  And today, it means kitchens.

Fill that Space

Would you guess that the couple of inches between the refrigerator and wall, or between the oven and counter can be put to better use than a catch-all for tiny Lego pieces, random pens, and runaway coins?

Pull out cabinets are a much better use of the space. Lined with shelves from top to bottom, pull out cabinets are a great way to keep shelf stable products easily accessible and organized. Depending on the size of your roll out, you can keep spices, cans, oils, cooking utensils – or any kitchen collection, really – in this little hideout.

Capture the Color

Color in the kitchen is here to stay – until the next big thing comes around. Studies have shown that bright hues do a world of good for your mood – so why not be trendy and well-dispositioned at the same time? Here’s an economical way to achieve just that. Upholstering chairs, bar stools, or padded benches allow you to bring a pop of color into your dinette or kitchen work space without breaking the bank.

You can either choose to bring out a color that’s already present in the kitchen, or introduce a new one that complements your kitchen style. Either way, you’ll find newly minted cheer in the heart of the home we call a kitchen.

Clutter-Free Counters

Appliance garages fell out of fashion quite some time ago. But that was really a disservice to both the humble garage and to homeowners who crave clutter free countertops.  Well, its making its comeback in 2019 fashion.

If you use the coffee maker, toaster, or blender on daily basis, you’ll love knowing that you no longer have to lift them into and out of cabinets to achieve a clutter free countertop.

 New options for door hinges have led to an appliance garage renaissance. Today, appliance cabinets are made in pop-up, tilt-up, and sliding door style so that your kitchen can remain clutter-free and very much in vogue. You can also incorporate outlets and lighting within the cabinet so that you don’t have to move a single appliance in the slightest.








Top Kitchen Trends


by C. Rosenberg

Most homemakers find that their thoughts are never far away from their kitchens – and what they can do to enhance it. Here are our top picks in kitchen trends to inspire your dreams.

Raw on the Rise

Nature-inspired is indeed…well, inspirational. That’s probably why the trend in countertops is now driven by natural quartz and stone. The polished, glossy look is moving out, and the raw, rough look is taking its place. It’s not just the ‘look’, though; it’s the texture that is unfinished as well.

With outdoor kitchens on the rise, homeowners are turning toward hardy textures for both indoor and outdoor countertops. This trend is visually appealing and has extra-strength durability – a sure win for the practical kitchen lover.

Color choices continue to be a lot of mix and match, with the marble look – often with heavy veining – trending. Warm whites bring in a hint of freshness without being too cool, and gold, metallic accents add a touch of elegance.

Storage Space Solutions

One of the most valuable commodities in the kitchen is storage space, and at the core of that is easy access. If you need to remove every last pan, tray and dish from your cabinet each time you’re looking for a specific piece, something isn’t right.

Pull outs are just the solution: They bring contents out of the cabinet and into the room. This tray divider does just that, and stores trays in a super neat way.  This means that your trays don’t float around the dark depths of your kitchen cabinets, allow you to see what you have, and are super simple to retrieve.

Open Shelving

If you’re like many of us mediocre housewives, chaos hides behind your closed doors. But that shouldn’t be reason enough to stop you from trying open shelving.  All the rage, this sophisticated alternative to the classic cabinets bring modern, sleek, and spacious to your kitchen. A row of shelves atop your sink or gas range in favor of a wall of upper cabinets leaves you space to just…breathe. Simply line up your dishes and utensils on the shelves, and all excuses for chaos are gone. With utensils easily in sight, functionality definitely rates high.

Glass is a great choice here. You get a glossy, elegant and expansive look regardless of how small your kitchen space may be.

If you’re on a tight budget and still want chic, try this: Remove your cabinet doors and paint over the screw and hinge holes. If you’d like to dare, paint the interior of your cabinets a different color than the exterior. This gives you the wow of open shelving without the cost and hassle of remodeling.

Color Popping Appliances

Thinking of color in the kitchen? You’re probably thinking about cabinets, counters, and backsplashes. But in 2019, we’re daring to take it to appliances. Reds, bright yellow, sky blue, and similar bold colors sure make a statement on appliances – and you can choose to go as busy or as tame as you like within a color frame of reference.

Many manufacturers cater to the retro look and offer appliances in hundreds of choices on the color wheel. Ovens, refrigerators, hoods, microwaves, dishwashers, and other large appliances in all types of cool and zany colors are yours for the taking. To ease into this very drastic switch of colors, you may decide to start with just one appliance to splash color onto your kitchen palette, but once you see those eyeballs pop you’ll want to go for more.

Mix n’ Match Hardware

Nostalgic hardware has made its comeback – with a twist. Chrome, steel, brass and wood combinations are once again seeing the inside of classy kitchens. Hooks, latches, and knobs are all the rage here, with functionality and chic coming together for an “I love it” effect.

A latch is a neat accent on under-sink cabinets or large pantry cabinets which aren’t pulled open that often. Handles and knobs can be used on drawers and central cabinets where ease of access is more important.   

Hardware finish is another area you can have fun mixing and matching.  The ever-expanding variety of available finishes in hardware gives you plenty to think about. Match matte, shiny, or other finish types in different colors for a cool, modern effect.


Cheers to a facelift that’s fun, simple and inexpensive.







Kitchen Palette Knockout


by C. Rosenberg

An exploration of kitchen cabinet color trends


You know how classics have always been well, classic, and by definition, lacking the bling that makes jaws drop? And you know how the colors that have been in yesterday only serve to date our kitchen to an era we may have fond memories of but don’t want to remain stuck in? It’s finally time to roll out the red carpet for a boldness we haven’t seen in decades. After all, shedding winter doldrums and welcoming spring is a lot about out with the old and in with the new.

Exploding Color Box

Do you absolutely love shaking up a box of 164 Crayola crayons and watching color explode? Well, then, 2019 kitchens were designed for you.  Surrounded by bold, dramatic style, meal prep  – and the fun aftermath called cleanup –  turns into a fun experience.

So, what are the actual choices? Light tones are mostly neutral, and project a timeless style, perfectly complementing other elements in the kitchen. Medium hues include standard shades of blue, grey and yellow. Dark shades are bold, and with colors such as emerald green, black, navy, deep plum, etc. they sure make a strong statement.

Manufacturers are meeting demand, and providing cabinet finish colors in nearly every shade of the rainbow, providing homemakers with a delightful candy shopping experience in the gingerbread house of paint colors. This is perfect for consumers who are no longer satisfied with cookie-cutter vanilla and want to express personal style with all the bells and whistles that say: “This is me”.

Are you of the belief that the more color choices the merrier? Here’s some more good news. You don’t have to choose between two color besties: The two-toned kitchen style is peaking.

How to implement the color delight for a winning 2019 statement?

  • A bank of eye-popping colored cabinets flanked by neutrals
  • Classic neutrals surrounded by power hue
  • Contrasting colors for upper and lower cabinets


Beyond the Icebox

Not everyone likes living in a crayon box – but that doesn’t mean they like being confined to the dull ice box of whites and grays we’ve seen the last couple of years. The trick for conservative trendsters is to hold onto classics while easing into the new.

Chances are neutral colors are favorites here. Pairing them with tones of yellow, green, black, navy, or bright ruby as accents allows homemakers to express their individuality without completely letting go of classic conventions.

Another conservative approach is to ramp up color on an island. Since islands are generally  breakaway pieces, this gives a kitchen popping character without destroying its fixed identity.


Bold Blue – This Toms River kitchen perfectly pairs white and blue shaker cabinets.


Pro Tips

  • A budget friendly solution for joining the 2019 up-and-comings is to paint one bank of cabinets super bold.
  • The danger in dark colors is that too much of it can be depressing and create the perception of a much smaller room. In order for the style and drama to break through lighter hues in a dark kitchen are important for a nice balance. This can be achieved with light colored countertops, under-cabinet lighting, and an abundance of natural light.