The only two granite choices for your kitchen that are not dated

Before I get to the two granite choices that won’t date your kitchen I want to thank everyone for all the supportive comments that were left on last weeks blog regarding our mission to downsize. It has been more work and more stress than I could have imagined but we are slowly inching our way to getting our house purged of stuff and ready to put on the market. I’ll be sure to update within the next couple of weeks.

Those of us in the design world have seen dark granite falling out of favor for the past several years. I would even go so far as to say most granite counter tops are now perceived as dated. In my part of the country (New England) many homeowners have grown tired of being bossed around by the busy, dark, speckled stone and are incurring the expense of ripping it out and replacing it.

dark speckled granites

dark speckled granites

So what’s trending now? When I attended KBIS (kitchen and bath industry show) a couple weeks ago it is clear that quartz is the new top choice for counter tops. Quartz is an engineered stone that is a composite of natural quartz and a man made resin.The advantage of quartz is that it can mimic natural stone such as marble or soapstone but doesn’t have the same issues with staining and maintenance as those softer stones. Quartz wears like iron and never needs to be sealed. It’s also quieter than granite and the chosen pattern is consistent throughout the slab.

Quartz counter tops

Popular Quartz counter tops

Vendors I spoke with at KBIS told me their most popular sellers today are white, cream, soft gray and charcoal colored quartz.

Silestone suede finish

Silestone suede finish

Silestone introduced a new finish at KBIS called Suede which was so soft and luxurious. Much more natural feeling than the high gloss and shiny granite counter tops of the past.

There is one big drawback to quartz and that is the price. It is a luxury product and although I have several clients desire it, they had to change plans once they received a price quote. Unfortunately, quartz can be double or even triple the price of granite. So what should you choose if you want stone but your budget only allows for granite? There are only two choices I recommend and that is white or black/charcoal granites.

White and black granite is as timeless as you will find and unlike the bossy speckled granite, you won’t be limited in picking a wall color that works with your pink, peach, gold or brown granite. Just as with quartz, you can also choose a leather or honed finish for a softer look and feel.

black and white granite

Arctic white and absolute black granite

Jet mist is a dark charcoal colored granite that I think is a beautiful choice. In fact, it looks very similar to the Silestone quartz that I showed above.

Jet Mist honed granite

Jet Mist honed granite

Different vendors have their own names for their white and black granites but these are the only colors I recommend if you are choosing granite.

So, whether you are renovating or building new, take my advise and steer clear of the speckled dark granite. I guarantee you will tire of it and if you decide to sell, buyers don’t want it.

 

The seven top trends at KBIS 2017 in photos

It’s funny how everyone comes away from a big design show like KBIS (the annual Kitchen and Bath Industry Show) with a different perspective and different thoughts on what is new or trending. I am a color lover so I obviously am going to be drawn to all the color I see. Also, as someone who is beginning the process of downsizing I was also on alert for space saving products. I guess I’m not alone because small and compact seemed to be one of the overall themes of the show. I spoke to many vendors and most shared the same point of view that Millennials don’t want the big houses and the Boomers are dumping theirs (Like my husband and I).

So in no particular order, here are the seven top trends I spotted at KBIS 2017 in photos..

1.COLOR: Color was a big story this year. Skittle colored faucets, ranges and furniture were crowd pleasers and Instagram darlings.

color at KBIS

KBIS 2017:Linda Holt Photo

Here’s the thing though about these brightly colored appliance. I asked reps from multiple booths displaying colorful appliances if they were they selling many of these colorful appliances? The answer was overwhelmingly “not many”. What color are they selling? Stainless steal. Sorry to burst your bubble folks but although everyone says they LOVE color and the fun colors draw show goers into the booth for Instagram photos, very few homeowners are putting these colorful appliances into their homes. Is it fear that they will tire of it? Is it the expense? Probably both but I think after attending KBIS now for the past three years I have come to the conclusion that these colorful appliances are little more than expensive marketing pieces. So for the time being it looks like stainless is still king.

2. Say goodbye to all white kitchens: I didn’t spot a single all white kitchen while at the show. I heard someone say they attended a “how to get published” seminar and the editor of one of the top shelter magazines told the audience their magazine is no longer going to publish all white kitchens. Wow…harsh but I guess since that is all we have seen for the past five years it takes some tough love to get folks to move on. So what was on trend for cabinets at KBIS? Lightly stained wood with visible grain.

KBIS 2017 Linda Holt Photo

KBIS 2017 Linda Holt Photo

3. Mixed color cabinets: Besides stained wood cabinets, mixed color cabinets also had a very strong presence at the show. White with blue, white with black or gray and even white with stained wood.

two toned cabinets

KBIS 2017: Linda Holt Photo

4.The return of the statement back splash: Oh PLEASE say it ain’t true! This is one trend I am not a fan of. I always say to my clients, “nothing dates a kitchen faster than a statement back splash”. The vendors at KBIS though embraced the statement back splash it in all it’s busy glory! Similar to the mind set of no more all white kitchens, I think this is a revolt against the ubiquitous subway tiles. In looking at my examples below there is not one back splash I would want to live with for more than a few months (okay weeks).

backsplashKBIS

KBIS 2017:Linda Holt Photo

5.Black finishes: Black was very on trend last year at the show and I saw even more of it this year. Matt black faucets, hardware and even sinks.

Black finishes at KBIS: Linda Holt Photo

Black finishes at KBIS: Linda Holt Photo

6. Organized kitchens and baths: It seems all of North America is on the decluttering and get organized band wagon…I mean EVERYONE! We are stressed and pressed for time and having a well organized kitchen and bath with a place for everything is a luxury we are willing to spend on.

oraganization

KBIS 2017:Linda Holt Photo

Drawer insides that resemble jewelry boxes and pull out shelves that eliminate the need to fumble around inside the cabinet for pots and pans. Clutter has become a dirty word and the trend in kitchens and baths is to have a place for everything and clear clutter free counter tops.

7. Wall mounted vanities and toilets.This trend was impossible to miss. I have never seen so many wall mounted vanities and toilets.

KBIS 2017: Linda Holt Photo

KBIS 2017: Linda Holt Photo

Getting the vanity and toilet off the floor allows for a more open feeling and with the trend toward living in smaller homes, more visible floor space gives the illusion of a bigger space. (Note too the black toilet, sink and fixtures in the bottom right photo)

KBIS 2017: Linda Holt Photo

KBIS 2017: Linda Holt Photo

So there you have it my friends. A summary of seven trends I spotted in the day and a half I was at the show.

What’s your favorite or least favorite trend?

 

What is HDR and when to use it

A couple weeks ago I received this question from a reader.

“Hi Linda, 

Can you please write a post about HDR is and when to use it? I thought it was suppose to make my photos look better but I often don’t see any difference at all and sometimes they even look blurry.” Kate D.

Hi Kate,  here is the scoop about HDR and when to use it.

HDR stands for HIGH DYNAMIC RANGE which in simple terms is the ratio of light to dark in a photo. HDR works to balance the highlights and shadows in the photo so that neither is dominant. Before I get into when to use it, let me first explain how to turn the HDR on. The photo below shows the iphone camera screen. At the top of the screen just to the right of the Flash symbol is the HDR symbol. The slash through it means it is turned off (photo on left).

hdr-for-blog

iphone camera screen

To turn on the HDR just tap the HDR symbol. You will then see three options; ON, OFF or AUTO. The auto setting lets the camera decide when it should be put into use. I prefer to control it myself because I have found the camera is not always accurate as to when it should be used.

To activate the HDR, simply touch the ON button and a yellow HDR box will appear. It is now activated (photo on right).  When HDR is activated the camera takes three images instead of one and then combines all three to make one photo. When using the HDR it is very important the camera is held in a very steady hand or on a tripod because the longer exposure time to take three separate images can often result in a blurry image.

So when should HDR be used?  HDR is best used when you want to balance high contrast lighting situations.

1.Landscapes are usually a good candidate for HDR because there is often a wide range between the highlights  and the shadows. This is a test out my back window very early morning to show you the difference.

Non HDR and HDR comparison

Non HDR and HDR comparison

The photo on the left is the native camera app with no editing and without the HDR activated. The photo on the right is also with no editing but with the HDR turned on. The difference is slight but you can see in the photo on the LEFT that the sky and trees are a little washed out as the camera light sensor was doing it’s best to expose for the snow and bright sky as well as the darker woods. The image on the RIGHT with the HDR turned on has more detail in the shadow areas and the sky appears more saturated and bluer which is more true to how it actually looked when I took the photo.

2. Backlite or high contrast lighting situations are also a good time to use HDR.

Here is an example of an interior shot in a high contrast situation. The photo below was taken without the HDR activated.

interior with HDR not activated

interior with HDR not activated

This is one of the toughest lighting situations for any camera. The bright highlights, in this case the window, causes the rest of the photo to be too dark. This photo is unedited and appears exactly as the camera took the photo without the HDR activated. The photo below is the exact same image also unedited with the HDR activated.

photo taken with HDR activated

photo taken with HDR activated

See the difference? Although this photo would certainly benefit from editing it is overall a better image with the HDR activated. The window now shows some outside detail and the chest which was in deep shadow and underexposed in the top photo has more detail and better color.

So when should you NOT use HDR?

1.You should never use HDR with any kind of photos involving movement. Even if the camera is on a tripod there will be blur due to the longer exposure time when HDR is activated.

2. When there is low contrast in the lighting you will see little to no difference using the HDR.

3. In situations with very vivid colors. Sometimes the HDR function causes highly saturated colors to appear washed out such as in a sunset or sunrise. It really depends though on the specific situation so when in doubt, take your photo both with and without the HDR activated.

Most phone cameras allow you the option of taking both the HDR image as well as an origional without HDR even when the HDR is activated. Simply go into Settings and tap on “Photos & Camera”. Scroll all the way down to the bottom and turn on the “Keep Normal Photo” feature.

Camera and Photo screen in Settings

Photos and Camera screen in Settings

This option does eat up more storage but it allows you to see which image you prefer and then you can delete the other.

I’m in Orlando this week at the 2017 Kitchen and Bath Show so be sure to follow me on Instagram to see live updates of the best products I spot at the show.

 

 

 

 

 

Friday’s Photo: Is it wall art or wallpaper?

While visiting the London design shows in September, I discovered so many inspiring and innovative products. One product that caught my attention was this 3D art form from King Kong Design based in Barcelona Spain.

King Kong Design merges traditional manual paper folding techniques with the latest in digital technology to produce objects in a variety of design fields, mainly architecture, furniture and lighting.

moduuli

King Kong Design: Linda Holt Photo

The design above is called MODUULI and can be used as 3D wallpaper or wall art. It was created from individual modules folded in to shape from Canson paper.

Depending on the designer’s vision and the budget, MODUULI can be used as a single piece of decorative art or used to cover an entire wall. Everything is custom to size, color combinations and applications.

I thought it was fabulous. What do you think?

Four fabric trends from the London design shows

As a decorator one of the things I like most about design is choosing fabric. I think most designers do because it’s one of the fun parts of design. Fabrics can be the inspiration and starting point for the whole project.

While I was in London with DesignHounds we attended four different design shows and invariably it was the fabrics that caught my eye. Some of it was really unique, some of it was traditional but with fresh colors and some of it was just plain “out there”.

Here is a sampling of four trends I saw at the London design shows.

  1. COLOR: Rich saturated color was on display at many of the booths and I noted Orange is still going strong.
Backhausen: Linda Holt Photo

Backhausen: Linda Holt Photo

Bluebellgray (show below) displayed brightly colored water color fabric and you can purchase their bedding through Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s.

Bluebell Gray

Bluebellgray

2. Graffiti inspired fabric has been trending for awhile now as I wrote about here  and I saw plenty of it at the London shows. One of the largest displays was Blackpop.

black-pop-2-red-decorex

Blackpop is a UK company that creates “fabric and furniture that punk up the rich tapestry of the past to create opulent richly figured patterns”.

Blackpop: Linda Holt Photo

Blackpop: Linda Holt Photo

Although the designs are contemporary the fabrics are traditional opulent velvet.

This settee from Dare studio reminded me of an artist’s drop cloth.

Dare studio: Linda Holt Photo

Dare studio: Linda Holt Photo

Below is one more example from Arley House of digitally printed graffiti inspired  fabrics.

Arley House: Linda Holt Photo

Arley House: Linda Holt Photo

3. Kaleidoscope inspired. Besides graffiti inspired fabrics I saw a several booths with kaleidoscope inspired fabrics. Printed on soft velvet the colorful fabric below is from up and coming textile designer Ewelina Mlynarek for Designers Atelier.

I have memories of owning a kaleidoscope as a kid and this fabric drew me right in.

kaleidoscope-summer-design

The designer told me the fabric was indeed based on a Victorian kaleidoscope.  Here it is below shown on a chair.

kaleidoscope-chair

Linda Holt Photo

More kaleidoscope inspired fabric was spotted at Ana Romero. This one almost has a kaleidoscope meets snake skin vibe.

Ana Romero: Linda Holt Photo

Ana Romero

4. Traditional fabrics in updated colorways. After seeing all the wild statement fabrics it was refreshing to come upon the fabric company Moon. Established in 1837, their traditional Scottish wool plaids and tartans were displayed in updated and fresh colorways.

Moon: Linda Holt Photo

Moon: Linda Holt Photo

Moon: Linda Holt Photo

Moon: Linda Holt Photo

4. Technology. At the London shows I spoke with several designers who use the computer to aid in the creation their fabric designs. One designer has taken computer aid a step farther and has the computer determine the design!

BeatWoven is a fabric company that creates fabric based on a computer program that translates and then weaves musical notes directly into the fabric.

BeatWoven fabrics :Linda Holt Photo

BeatWoven fabrics :Linda Holt Photo

Each of the fabrics is woven from a different symphony or song. The fabric below is Tchaikovsky’s composed works from The Royal Ballet’s  “Sleeping Beauty”.

1-pasdedeuxthesleepingbeautytchaikovsky

and this one below was created by translating Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No.2

8-rachcushions-2b

Pretty cool…right? Imagine how perfect this fabric would be for a musician or music lover.

No matter what your taste in fabrics, there really was something for everyone at the shows. Which one is your favorite?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This new range from Tecnogas is the solution for small kitchens

One of the many perks of being a design blogger is that I get to learn about and then share with my readers new products for the home that have either just been released or are about to be released. While in London with Designhounds I had the opportunity to meet and find out about a brand that has only recently entered the US and Canadian market. Tecnogas Superiore is a family owned Italian company, founded in 1952, that specializes is ranges, hoods and wall ovens.

While they are currently the “new kid on the block”, they are positioning themselves to be some serious competition with other US and European luxury brands.

There are actually many things that excite me about this brand but first and foremost is that they addressed the issue of small (or tiny) kitchen spaces. With the current trend of downsizing and the move to small urban spaces, Tecnogas Superiore has introduced a new 24″ gas range. Can you imagine? You still have the functionality and look of a professional gas range but it is only 24″ wide!

24" gas range from Tecnogas Superiore

24″ gas range from Tecnogas Superiore

Not only is the size perfect for small spaces but the range is as beautiful as you would expect from an Italian company. One feature to note is that oven door has a “panorama” window so you can easily see what is going on inside (good for baking those temperamental desserts when you don’t want to be opening the door during cooking). When desired the glass easily pops out for cleaning. There are also  24″ matching ventilation hoods. Looks like a win win to me!

Of course if space is not an issue Tecnogas Superiore has 36″-48″ ranges in a beautiful selection of finishes and styles. This chocolate brown and gold one just about knocked my socks off!

Tecnogas Superiore 36 range

Tecnogas Superiore 36 range

I also love this white and gold one.

Tecnogas Superore 36" range in White

Tecnogas Superore 36″ range in White

Possibly my favorite range in the group is this 48″ red model. I would LOVE to design a kitchen around this beauty.

48" range from Tecnogas Superiore

48″ range from Tecnogas Superiore

Of course I am drawn to the look and color but this stove has features any serious cook would flip over. According to the company’s website:

“It is the first range that combines the precision of gas burners with the convenience and efficiency of induction, and the luxury of an easy clean electric griddle, combined with large capacity main and auxiliary gas ovens in one 48″ free standing unit.” 

It seems like a cooking trifecta to me, gas, electric and induction all in one unit! Although I didn’t get to see any of the ranges in person you can be sure I will be checking them out next January while at KBIS.

Tecnogas also has equally beautiful hoods like this white one which matches the white range above.

Tecnogas Superiore 36" hood

Tecnogas Superiore 36″ hood

Or this alternate style in red.

Tecnogas Superiore 36" hood

Tecnogas Superiore 36″ hood

Aren’t they beautiful?

I want to say a huge thank you to Tecnogas Superiore for not only introducing me to their products but for hosting our DesignHounds London five star dinner. It was such a treat!

Tecnogas Superiore London dinner

Tecnogas Superiore London dinner

So designers and kitchen remodelers, be sure to keep Tecnogas Superiore on your radar because I predict they will be causing quite a stir in the luxury range market and giving the other “big guys” some serious competition.

 

 

 

 

Fromental: High end couture for the walls

While in London with DesignHounds, I had the pleasure of getting up close and personal with Fromental wallpaper. In case you haven’t heard of it, Fromental is pretty much the gold standard for exquisite, luxury wall paper.It is high end couture for the walls.  Hand printed, painted and the top of the line is hand embroidered as well. Obviously it’s not for everyone due to the expense but for those with the budget and the right space it is truly jaw dropping.

While the DesignHounds toured the showroom, everyone was “oohing” and “ahhing” over the large sample panels. It really was a treat to see the artistry that goes into creating such exquisite paper. Here are a few of my iPhone photos from the show room.

Fromental embroidered wallpaper: Linda Holt Photo

Fromental embroidered wallpaper: Linda Holt Photo

Can you imagine the skill and patience it requires to hand embroider wallpaper? It was mind boggling to me. Here is a close up of one of the birds.

Fromental detail:Linda Holt Photo

Fromental detail:Linda Holt Photo

Look at the detail in those tiny embroidered flowers.

Frometal :Linda Holt Photo

Frometal :Linda Holt Photo

The orange branches and flowers on a charcoal background was so striking. It almost seemed to be glowing from within.

Fromental embroider wallpaper:Linda Holt Photo

Fromental embroider wallpaper:Linda Holt Photo

A slightly more “affordable” option is to skip the embroidery and choose the hand painted only papers.

Fromental hand painted wallpaper: Linda Holt Photo

Fromental hand painted wallpaper: Linda Holt Photo

Fromental wallpaper: Linda Holt Photo

Fromental wallpaper: Linda Holt Photo

Still as beautiful and because it is all custom the designer can specify any colors and pretty much any pattern they can dream up.

Fromental hand painted paper: Linda Holt Photo

Fromental hand painted paper: Linda Holt Photo

Fromental is known for their exquisite chinoiserie wallpapers but they have many other designs and options as well.

Fromental wallpaper: Linda Holt Photo

Fromental wallpaper: Linda Holt Photo

A similar wallpaper to the one shown above was applied to a door in the showroom. I thought that was such a great application. It had a big impact and since you would not need very much it would be something us “normal folks” could do. Here is a close up.

Fromental applied to a door:Linda Holt Photo

Fromental applied to a door:Linda Holt Photo

Below is a new design I saw last week while at the Boston Design Center. The iconic chinoiserie pattern but in a fresh blue colorway.

Fromental panel:linda Holt Photo

Fromental panel: Linda Holt Photo

After visiting the Fromental showroom the DesignHounds visited the Goring Hotel in London where Fromental was commissioned to create a very special wallpaper for the lobby. It was not what I had expected and was thoroughly charmed!

Goring lobby: Photo from Fromental website

Goring lobby: Photo from Fromental website

The owners of Fromental treated us to champagne while explaining the design concept behind the mural paper. The website sums it up better than my memory.

“Classical, idiosyncratic and quintessentially British, Fromental’s scenic portrays an Arcadian landscape enlivened with an anthropomorphised menagerie of wild and exotic beasts, some of which represent members of the Goring family past and present. Entertaining portrayals include Goring founder OR with second in line OG as walruses in bejewelled splendour; the family’s favourite pet pigs engaged in the Battle of Trafalgar, as well as legally trained Goring MD David Morgan-Hewitt as a gorilla in a judge’s wig.”

Within the wallpaper are allegorical animals that all have special meaning which the staff will gladly explain to curious visitors. It was such fun to walk around trying to find as many hidden animals as possible.

Details from Goring Hotel Fromental wallpaper: Linda Holt Photo

Details from Goring Hotel Fromental wallpaper: Linda Holt Photo

Then if all this fabulousness was not enough, the DesignHounds headed over to The Dorchester Hotel to the China Tang restaurant. Besides being treated to an amazing five star meal, the restaurant is covered in…you guessed it, Fromental wallpaper.

China Tang at the Dorchester: Photo from Fromental website

China Tang at the Dorchester: Photo from Fromental website

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of these beautiful papers as much as I did.

 

 

 

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