Dec
22

Smart Storage for Small Spaces

Smart Storage for Small SpacesSmall spaces require clever solutions.  In some homes, there just isn’t any more room to add extra cabinets or shelves, yet you still find yourself with piles of books, electronics, dishes and more beginning to pile up.  You may need to think outside the box to keep yourself from being swarmed with too much mess to handle!  Here are some creative ideas you can tackle to help find some more storage in an already full home.

Stagger Shelves

Most shelves are uniform – that is, they’re the same depth from top to bottom.  That can create a sort of oppressive, towering feel, and will make your already small room feel more cramped.  However, if you use shelves that get narrower towards the top – think stair steps or wedges – then you’ll get almost the same amount of storage without the towering omnipresence of a full set of shelves.  It will make the room feel lighter and airier, which will help with the feeling of cramp and clutter.

Use variety

Cabinets and drawers offer two very different types of storage – the difference between vertical and horizontal storage can be staggering at times.  Yet, far too often, we see people locked into segregating them – using only cabinets in this room, or only drawers in that hallway.  A narrow drawer under a cabinet can offer a few precious inches of storage, and make things fit more naturally.

Out-in-the-Open Storage

Not everything has to be stored away in closed cabinets or drawers.  It’s OK to use spots in view for storage, especially of small things.  Try mounting a rack or a bin on the side of your cabinets, and using them to store similar-sized items; kitchen papers and wraps, for example.  As long as you keep them tidy, it can serve as a decorative accent to the kitchen rather than feeling like your stuff is spilling out of your cabinets, and it will free up a drawer for less visually appealing items.

Vertical space!

We can’t stress enough the benefits of vertical space.  So often, walls and doors become wasted space, not helping at all with clutter and organization.  Thin wire baskets can be attatched to doors – great for a spice rack in pantries, or for stationary in a closet.  Pot and pan lids can be hung on the interior of cabinet doors, freeing up more cabinet space for bulkier items.  Cabinets can be stretched to the ceiling, and small, under-cabinet wire racks can be used to store larger utensils.  These are precious square feet; use them!

Pare Down

Finally, if you’re having trouble storing all your stuff, you may have too much stuff.   We all end up accumulating things over the course of our lives; I have a drawer full of cookie cutters I have never used.  Audit what you have – if you never use an item, do you really need to have it?  By paring down to the essentials, you’ll have less stuff to have to manage and store.  For example, it’s worth replacing towels more frequently as they get worn out rather than having a closet full of towels you never use.  Simplify, and your home storage issues will become that much easier.

Dec
9

Kitchen Countertop Materials

Kitchen Countertop MaterialsWhen it comes to kitchen countertops, there’s a myriad amount of materials to choose from, each with their own pluses and minuses.  It’s not a decision to make lightly; countertops play a major role in both the look and functionality of your kitchen.  It’s important to make the proper choice of material for your lifestyle and aesthetic choices.  Fortunately, with such a wide range of possibilities, you should be able to find something that matches your usage needs, your design choices and your budget constraints.  Here’s a quick look at the pros and cons of several common kitchen countertop materials.

Granite still reigns supreme as one of the most popular and elegant choices for your kitchen countertop.  It’s a beautiful, strong, natural surface.  The unique grain in each block of granite ensures that your countertop will be unique, as opposed to man-made surfaces which will look identical from home to home.  However, it’s important to remember that granite is a porous surface.  That means you’ll have to seal it regularly to avoid bacteria and mildew from permeating its surface – you have to factor in regular upkeep for a granite counter.

Wood is a surprisingly durable surface, with most scratches and nicks able to be buffed out.  Wood gives you a warm, natural feel in your kitchen, and can come in a wide range of styles and price points, depending on thickness and finish.  However, wood can be easily damaged by direct heat, say, from hot pans or pots.  It also has a tendency to warp if not given room to breathe; you don’t want to install wood in a very tight space or on top of a substrate.

Stainless steel makes for a durable countertop that is very easy to clean.  It’s a non-porous surface, so it’s water-, heat- and stain-resistant.  It can make for a chic and contemporary look for your kitchen, and can be shaped and formed to any layout or size you desire.  Its reflective properties also help your kitchen look brighter as it reflects your lights.  However, stainless steel is very easy to scratch, and can be dented and dinged up under regular use.  They can be very noisy, and in the winter, very cold.

Engineered stone comes in many brands – Caesarstone, Cambria and Silestone are just three of the most popular.  Engineered stone is a mixture of quartz and binding elements, giving you many of the aesthetic bonuses of natural marble countertops, with the benefits of being a solid surface; no sealing required!  Its biggest con is it’s price; engineered stone is one of the more expensive manufactured surfaces out there.

Solid surface countertops, including Corian and Wilsonart, are an acrylic and polyester blend that makes a great countertop.  It’s a non-porous surface, meaning there’s almost no regular maintenance required.  Any scratches and burns can easily be sanded out, keeping your surface looking good even under heavy use.  There’s a wide variety of color and pattern options, including options you simply won’t find in nature.  Unlike engineered stone, solid surface countertops look artificial and man-made; they’re not a good replacement for granite or marble if you’re looking for a natural look.  It also is more vulnerable to heat damage than other surfaces.

This only scratches the surface of your countertop possibilities.  Concrete, laminate, bamboo, soapstone, marble, granite, tile – there’s almost no end to your choices.  An experienced kitchen designer can help walk you through all of these choices and more, helping you select the best surface for your unique situation.

Dec
9

Great Ideas to Add to Your Kitchen Remodel

Great Ideas to Add to Your Kitchen RemodelA kitchen renovation is a wonderful chance to put your own unique stamp on one of the busiest rooms in your home.  Kitchen renovations are an opportunity to put some of your own unique style and quirks into your home, as well as show off to friends and neighbors.

There are, of course, some standard features any kitchen renovation is going to include.  You’ll install new countertops, upgrade your cabinets and appliances, and perhaps work in some new flooring and plumbing.  These are all fairly standard, and if you have any friends who have recently remodeled, you’ll probably have a good idea of the sort of positive changes these standard improvements can make.

But why limit yourself to the basics?  Your kitchen renovation is a chance to work in some ideas that are a little more off the beaten track.  If you’re looking for a more unique reaction to your kitchen, why not incorporate some of these great ideas?

  • Can’t decide whether you want the benefits of a kitchen island or more open space in your kitchen? Why not get the best of both worlds with a kitchen island on wheels?  A moveable island allows you to customize your kitchen for different situations.  If you’re preparing a big meal, you can use the island for extra prep space.  You can then neatly move it out of the way to leave the kitchen more open when you’re done.  If your kitchen footprint is limited, a movable island is a great way to get extra surfaces without sacrificing space.
  • Low on counter space? Don’t like seeing your counters cluttered with toasters, coffee makers, and other every day appliances?  An appliance garage is a great way to organize all your regularly used appliances, and keep them out of the way when they’re not being used.
  • Love the idea of a stone countertop, but afraid they’ll be too cold in the morning? A radiant-heat mat can be installed under your countertop, which can take that extra chilly edge off of granite, marble, quartz and other stone surfaces.  They can raise the temperature of your countertop by 20 degrees; perfect on those cold, winter mornings.

When you’re planning your kitchen renovation, don’t be afraid to think outside the box!  Consider it your opportunity to add a special signature addition to your kitchen; one that will benefit you and your family for years to come.

Nov
23

Maximize the Natural Lighting in the Bathroom

Maximize the Natural Lighting in the BathroomIf you’re planning on renovating your bathroom, it’s a good idea to try to maximize the amount of natural light present.  Not only will this save a significant amount of money on your energy bill, but natural light benefits homeowners by helping combat seasonal dips in mood.  It creates a more positive environment.

Of course, this can sometimes be a difficult task to accomplish in the bathroom because of the need for privacy.  Too many windows might make your bathroom feel more like a public place than a private one!  A balancing act is needed, to give you all the positive benefits of natural lighting without ruining the sanctity of your private space.

Casement windows – sometimes known as crank-out windows – are a great first step.  Rather than having a handle and lifting up, they’re hinged at the side and crank outwards.  It’s a great way to quickly get rid of steam, and adds a much-needed source of ventilation.  They’re quick to open and shut, giving you a quick and easy way to adjust how open your bathroom is.

A picture window is another possibility.  Placed high enough on the wall, it preserves most of your privacy while still letting in wonderful amounts of light.  Because picture windows do not open, they do not need to be placed in a convenient location to reach them – placing them up high allows light to flow in without any significant issues.

No matter what windows you choose, however, frosted or privacy glass is a must.  It allows a significant amount of sunlight to come through, but is opaque enough to hide from unwanted views.  They provide privacy without blocking light.

A tube skylight guarantees privacy while providing tons of diffuse natural light.  Unlike traditional skylights – which require a direct line of sight from the roof to the room below – tube skylights can transfer light from your rooftop to nearly anywhere in your home, including closets, hallways and, yes, bathrooms.

Finally, a very simple solution is just adding more mirrors.  A well placed mirror helps enhance and redirect most of a room’s natural light, and makes the entire room feel more open and airy.

If this sounds good to you, you might be in the market for a bathroom remodeling.  Parada Kitchens is your premier bathroom renovation company in the Greater Toronto Area.  Call us today for a free, no obligation consultation to discuss your bathroom renovation.

Nov
23

How to Choose the Best Cooktop for Your New Kitchen

How to Choose the Best Cooktop for Your New KitchenOne of the most important aspects of any kitchen is the cooking surface or range – that is, after all, the essential function of a kitchen.  In most kitchen remodels, however, it seems to be relatively low on the priority list, behind countertops, cabinets and islands.  While all of those aspects can add great aesthetic beauty to a kitchen, form without function isn’t particularly useful.

Benefits of a Cooktop

Most people simply use a range for cooking – a combination stovetop and oven – but a kitchen remodel is the perfect opportunity to consider splitting these two items up, which has several benefits over a traditional combination unit.

  • Freed of the need for burners, a wall oven can be placed at a more convenient height, eliminating the need to bend over to load and unload it.
  • Your cooktop can be placed anywhere in the kitchen, rather than needing all the room for a bulky oven underneath.
  • A smooth-surface cooktop can blend seamlessly into your countertop, creating a sleek, elegant look.
  • A separate cooktop can allow for more room for wheelchair access for handicapped cooks, or for extra cabinet space.
  • Having separate cooktops and ovens means you can pick the features of the two independently, allowing more customization to fit your needs.

These benefits can easily outweigh the costs of purchasing and installing two separate appliances.

Picking a Cooktop

There are three primary different types of cooktop available: gas burners, radiant electric tops and induction cookers.  All three have their own distinct advantages and disadvantages, and the one you choose will depend on your specific situation.

  • Gas burners provide instant heat and are quick to respond to changes in temperature, but require a supply of gas and are harder to clean.
  • Radiant electric cooktops look sleek and smooth, and their flat surface is the easiest to clean by far. They’re more expensive, however, and can be more complicated to repair.
  • Induction cookers are safe to the touch, which is important if you have small children, and are highly energy efficient. They can be expensive, however, and require ferromagnetic (i.e., stainless steel or iron) cookware to work.

Pick Your Features

There are dozens of different models of cooktop to choose from, and each have their own special features and layouts.  For instance, there are the controls: some cooktops have controls vertically on the front, which frees space on your cooktop surface but also places knobs where they can be easily bumped while you work.  Others have controls horizontally along the side of the burners, taking up space but much harder to accidently hit.

Some cooktops use classic twist knobs, but more expensive electric models have electronic touch controls – perfect if you’re looking for that smooth, flat look across your entire countertop.  Electric models can include timers, emergency shutoff safety features – even pre-programmed heat profiles, like hitting the popcorn button on your microwave.

There are dozens of options to choose from, at all different price points.  Your final decision will be based on what you specifically do in your kitchen, but regardless, choosing to have a separate cooktop installed gives you much more flexibility and freedom in your decision making process.