Home is Where the Hearth Is
By Susie Tommaney
The paths we took to get here — planning a new kitchen — are as unique and varied as our personal design styles. For some, flooding, fire or another type of disaster made the decision for us. Others ran the numbers between the “love it or list it” options and decided it was more economical to upgrade than move. For those embarking on new construction, the choices for customizing are enough to make the head spin, but what a wonderful problem to have.
We checked in with local experts to find out what’s new in the industry, ways to personalize and maximize space, and tips and tricks for adding functionality without sacrificing design.
A FAMILY TRADITION
Maria Frank, president of Cabinets & Designs Incorporated, helped more than 50 families recover from flood damage after Tropical Storm Harvey, and she counsels all new customers that cabinets are really the foundation of the kitchen. “The one thing that affects everything else is the cabinets,” says Frank, who has seen people with one-of-a-kind granite countertops realize that granite breaks if it later needs to be removed. Frank suggests that high-end appliances can always be added later on, as budget permits.
Cabinetry is in her blood. Her father, Dave Steffan, sold his first kitchen in 1949 and began selling the Wood-Mode Fine Custom Cabinetry line in Houston in 1966. “Over the years my dad sold many different kitchen products, and always repped more than one line, but he always repped Wood-Mode,” says Frank. The cabinets do seem to last forever. “We get people who come in, we did a new kitchen 30 years ago, and they [only] need a new hinge or a new drawer glide.”
“Wood-Mode is a fully custom product,” adds Frank. “With Wood-Mode if somebody draws it they can make it.” Frank also is excited about new finishes just coming on the market, including back-painted glass doors and high pressure laminate with textured super matte or concrete looks, plus aluminum frame profiles and magnetic or resin finishes.
CUSTOMIZATION IS KING
Randy Kashdan of Ace Kustoms Cabinets & Trim likes that each project is different from the last. With an emphasis on custom, this is the place to go for one-of-a-kind cabinetry. Recently he did a floor-to-ceiling, all white kitchen with white subway tile backsplash that featured glass front, illuminated display cabinets along the top level.
For another homeowner Kashdan and his team installed a center island with ornately carved, heavy wooden legs that look more like European fine furniture than kitchen functionality. Modern leather chairs pull up to the island (it doubles as a table) and the cabinetry is finished out with a dark stain.
Kashdan isn’t afraid to take chances, either. He recently executed a curved edge island counter that jutted out just far enough to nestle a pair of rustic backless stools underneath. That client went for a deep chocolate finish on the cabinetry, a nice foil to the large ivory tile flooring.
Ace Kustoms’ top carpenter has more than 24 years in the industry, so whether you’re going for classic or traditional, Shaker or ranch, modern or industrial, if you want it to be unique then there is a built-in solution that can make those dreams come true.
THE FINAL TOUCH
We consider sinks, faucets, drains and accessories the finishing touch to any kitchen design. Make the right selection and it can instantly become the focal point of any room. Sulema Alanis of Brasswerks Specialty Sink Store carries a large selection of glass vessel sinks, but don’t for a minute think the choices end there.
Farmhouse (apron) sinks aren’t for everybody, but those who select this style enjoy a large and functional workspace. In addition to the more traditional porcelain, these products also come in nickel-plated and copper finishes that are known to carry antibacterial properties.
For a sophisticated, modern look, consider a granite composite sink that blends pure quartz with a high-grade acrylic binder, or stainless steel, which is both durable and stylish.
Faucets come in a variety of styles and finishes, including brushed nickel or oil-rubbed bronze with convenient pull-down spouts. For the ultimate in modern design, though, check out Brasswerks’ LED multi-color faucet that seems to spray colored water from its spout. It’s truly magical and, best of all, no battery is required.
THE PROFESSIONAL’S CHOICE
Direct wholesale distributor ASIA Cabinetry Inc. won’t sell to homeowners, but you’ll find their products in new construction and remodeling projects all over the Houston area, as well as at local cabinet retailers.
General Manager Jian Ho recently held an open house for their newly expanded showroom, making it even easier for contractors and builders to view the options in person.
Builders will find more than a dozen traditional wood styles (including shaker, cherry, pecan and antique white), and a wide variety of modern European (frameless) styles as well. They’ve also just added the new GoldenHome line, a modern European style of frameless cabinetry. From scratch-resistant lacquer to water and fire resistant laminate, it’s easy to see why this product has become the industry standard in China and is committed to becoming a presence here by creating central warehouses in North America.
Local contractors on deadline love ASIA Cabinetry, too, because they know they can pick up cabinets from the warehouse on the same day they’re ordered.
HOME ON THE RANGE
By Barbara Canetti
One way to achieve a new look in an old kitchen is to change the range hood, which is the vent over the stove that helps eliminate grease, odor, heat, gas, steam and smoke while cooking. Bob Mathes, owner of The Lonestar Range Hood Company, notes that an updated, decorative vent can also become a focal point.
“Design trends concerning color, material and outer accents are constantly changing and are almost always going to vary with the client’s individual style,” says Mathes. “Recently, we have been seeing lots of brass, zinc and powder coats — which is always a winner because of the ability to match the color to another feature in your kitchen, such as cabinets, tile or hardware.”
The range hood can be constructed of nearly any material — copper, brass, zinc, wood, stone or plaster — but the liner or insert will most always be of stainless steel for performance integrity. Although many over-the-stove microwave ovens also have a vent, unless they are vented out they will just recirculate air back into the kitchen.
Mathes suggests considering the overall design of the room and the feel of the space to determine the shape of the hood, which can be fabricated in various shapes: slant, sloped, curved, waterfall, bell or boxes. “No range hood will be a one size fits all situation, even stock or prefabricated models will be sold according to dimensions and specs required for the job,” he says. “Many times customers will purchase a stock range hood suitable for their job but will need to have a custom duct cover fabricated to conceal the additional ducting up to the ceiling,” he says.
The folks at Lonestar don’t just do range hoods. They also can handle custom countertops and backsplashes, install copper or butcher block countertops, apply decorative metal applications, and carry custom sinks.
But they do know their range hoods, and have a few pro care tips. A range hood and motor can last for decades, if properly cleaned and cared for. The removable filters are dishwasher safe and should be kept clean to preserve the performance and lifespan of the blower motor. Light bulbs will need to be changed as they burn out but, with periodic care and cleaning, the materials and finishes should last until you decide to update or upgrade again.
LET THE ADVENTURE BEGIN
Perhaps one of the best remodels a homeowner can do is to tackle the kitchen — either with minor upgrades or a major overhaul. Realtors agree that the return on the investment for a new kitchen is between 60 and 80 percent of the cost. And, as the homeowner, you get to enjoy an updated, modernized or expanded kitchen while still living in the home.
Keep in mind a few things, however. Don’t over improve the room to the point that it outshines the rest of the house and no longer reflects the character or value of the home. Even simple changes — lighting, hardware, paint or perhaps countertops — will always add value to the bottom line.
Ace Kustoms Cabinets & Trim
Asia Cabinetry Inc.
7875 Northcourt Road, Suite 100
Brasswerks Specialty Sink Store
9820 Tanner Road, Suite 270
Cabinets & Designs Incorporated
1022 Wirt Road, Suite 308
The Lonestar Range Hood Company
1226 Jackson Boulevard