Category Archives: remodeling

Countertops: What’s In and What’s Out in Oxford MS

 

Counter tops can really define your kitchen.

The surface can make an elegant statement. It can be simple. It can be warm. It can be casual.

The surfaces to choose from include wood, stone, concrete, laminate and much more. Many kitchen designers even mix counter surface types within one room.

Wood Surfaces

Wood surfaces are not your regular butcher block from the 1980s. I had a eucalyptus counter in a house I rented several years ago. It was lovely and warm. The wood needed annual upkeep with a specific oil treatment but it was one of my favorite counter tops. Just be sure not to use that space as a cutting board.

Many local homes I’ve viewed had a single counter space in wood and the rest in another surface type. Other wood choices include bamboo, walnut, cherry, mesquite.

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Stone Surfaces

Stone surfaces vary widely and include popular choices like granite, quartz, soapstone, travertine, Jerusalem stone and slate.  Most require particular cleaners as some may damage easily from improper care.  Stone surfaces also come in a variety of color choices to add personality to your kitchen.  The downside to stone is that the busier the design of the stone the easier crumbs and dirt can hide on the surface. However, solid surface colors can only accent the fact you need to clean it.  My favorite counters were black quartz in another house I lived in.  I loved the look when they were clean but I was constantly wiping them down (there were children in the house which accounted for the dirt and crumbs).

New Trends

New trends in counter tops are concrete, copper-wrapped and recycled-glass counters. Copper-wrapping seems to be popular on counters that are separate from the main countertop in the kitchen but not necessarily on the island. Recycled-glass counters are higher-end because of the process to make them. A mix of colorful glass chips from various broken glass items are blended with concrete and sealed for a smooth finish. Terazzo is making a comeback in both flooring and countertops for homeowners making that mid-century modern statement.

Other trends include eco-friendly counters like composite countertops. These can be made of recycled paper or fly ash and are sealed to resist bacteria. They are heat resistant, too. Engineered stone, stainless steel, solid surface and “upscale” laminate are also popular choices.

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Tile Counters

Tile counters are still popular although most people I had shown houses to do not like them. Tile can be a less expensive way to have an expensive looking counter. And while it is pretty, there is the grout to consider when cleaning. Scrubbing stains out of an unsealed grout can be tedious, so be sure to seal it. Grout can also crack, leaving the homeowner to maintain it more often than they would need to with solid surfaces. With these factors in mind solid stone is an unoffical winner of my countertop experience.

But you decide. When choosing your counters go to a store that specializes in stone for their expertise, and visit some other kitchen design centers for their expertise. Be sure to investigate wood as well.

Although I suggested mixing surfaces in your kitchen, do consider matching your other counters throughout the house to the dominant kitchen counter surface. These would include bathrooms and laundry.  If you ever have to sell your house, this is a design issue that comes up often with buyers. Buyers like to see continuity of design and most of my buyers, who have passed on a house, stated that it was because of the expense to match counters.

And my last piece of advice is this: a desk built into the kitchen is a great space to have but consider not using stone on the desk surface; it gets cold. I speak from experience on this matter.

For more info on picking your countertops read this great article on countertops and your personality.

All photos courtesy of Creative Commons.
Eileen Saunders, SRES REALTOR with Tommy Morgan Realtors  2092 Old Taylor Road, Oxford, MS 38655  eileen@tmhomes.com  662-404-0816 or 662-234-5344 Equal Housing

 

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Plank a Popcorn Ceiling

Popcorn ceilings are a thing of the past.  At one time spraying a white textured goop onto the ceiling in a new house was cool; it was different and added that modern touch.  It was also an easier and less costly way for builders to finish a ceiling.  You may think it would cost less to have a plan ceiling but it’s actually the opposite. Spraying on popcorn texture meant the drywall contractor and painters could finish the job quicker, affordably and move on to another job sooner.  I was home shopping in the late 1990s and wanted the ceiling flat throughout the 20160701_080631house. The builder said it was not an option because it would cost too much to mud the drywall at the tape and apply paint evenly on the ceiling. So for that house we had no choice.

Now days the sight of those textured ceilings makes a home buyer cringe. But, alas, that texture is easy to remove; well, relatively.  Wet it and scrape and it comes off.

But I noticed a disturbing trend in some homes that were remodeled maybe 10 or so years ago.  Rather than removing the popcorn, they painted over it.  Maybe there was a stain from a roof leak or the owner just felt like the ceiling needed some freshening up. Oh my, that causes a big problem.

You see…scraping the popcorn off leaves a surface that can easily be sanded smooth and painted over.  Leaving the popcorn seals it to the ceiling.  It won’t come off because it is now under a layer or two of paint.  The only way now to remove the texture is to take down the drywall and start over. This can also cause potential damage to the top of the walls. 16714470544_5fe01c5dff_b

There is one other way to fix this and update your house. Add wood planks to your ceiling.

Wood planks come in all widths and finishes. You can plank the length of the room or the width of the room. If the ceilings are tall enough add a few decorative beams. Paint the whole thing white or a neutral color or stain it to match your floors. Try a pattern: herringbone or alternating pattern of squares. There are no limits to what you can do with the plank ceiling and you can find dozens of ideas here on Pinterest.

Eileen Saunders, SRES REALTOR with Tommy Morgan Realtors  2092 Old Taylor Road, Oxford, MS 38655 | 662-404-0816 | 662-234-5344 | eileen@tmhomes.com Equal Housing

Updating Your Kitchen: Doors vs. Drawers

I have had the pleasure of assisting my mom with the renovation of her 50+ year old kitchen.  She lives in Maryland, I’m in Mississippi so any help I provide is strictly over the phone. Her research and ideas are coming from the remodeling company she has hired and a couple visits to the store to look at flooring, counters, paint, tile and appliances. She’ll tell me what she saw and I’ll look it up on line with some comments, questions and advice.  Most company websites have a virtual-room program so you can pick your colors to see how it works out. My mom is not wired in on the internet which presents a challenge: I can see the finished room, she cannot, but she now knows that her stores can log into the websites to help her out.

It’s going well so far with only one problem: the refrigerator compressor is not working properly.  She’ll get it fixed using the home warranty company I advised her on.

Mom is not doing a total renovation. She had the floors pulled up and the walls painted. She is using her old cabinets with new counter tops and having the cabinets refinished with new doors and fresh paint.  While it fits her budget much better than creating completely new cabinets I did have to question her about her choice of drawers versus cabinets for the lower cabinets.  You see, lower cabinets require bending over, stooping down or kneeling on the floor to find that pot, pan or tray that is stored down there. And for most Seniors, that can be a challenge.  It wouldn’t have been an issue except that I have drawers in my kitchen in the lower cabinets and, having a challenging back problem, the drawers are most convenient for me for storing and retrieving items. I wanted to offer her that option, at least to think about, before her cabinets were completed.20170914_112808

The drawers are a little more costly and she opted to keep the cabinet doors instead but we got the conversation going about what types of things she needed to store in those lower cabinets to make her life physically easier. What does she have that she doesn’t used often?  What types of larger items can she store down there that would be out of the way? Does she have to use up the entire cabinet space or just the front area which would keep her from having to kneel down on the floor to rummage through her things?

For many Seniors, the kitchen they have now is most likely the kitchen they have had for years. It has gone from a room functioning for a family to one functioning for just one or two people.  Usually, the same pots, pans, cookie sheets, storage containers, glass- and dinnerware are still making that kitchen their home. So in most cases Mom and Dad haven’t thrown or given away anything. Considering a lifestyle change involving kitchen cabinets is not on their bucket list.20170914_112924

This is where the kids come in, or a consultant who specializes in Senior lifestyle and living space.  For my mom, when she renovated everything she owned was removed from the kitchen. It won’t all go back and it will now be placed differently by her consultant.

Are your parents still using their same kitchen with items in the same place as you remember them? Hire a cleaning person to remove everything and wash out the cabinets.  Go through the items with your parents and decide what hasn’t been used in a long while and what won’t be used in the future. Arrange the cabinets now buy placing the most used in the most convenient spaces. What is left, that your parents refuse to get rid of, can now go into the harder-to-get-to cabinets like the very-high shelves or the back of the lower cabinets.

Consider some drawers in the lower space; at least one cabinet of drawers large enough for the heavy items, like pots and pans.  Leave the top shelves empty or put seasonal items there.

If your Senior parent has a separate pantry, consider leaving the top shelf empty and putting in some drawers for the lower shelves. That will keep your loved ones from climbing a step ladder or chair and risk falling. I realize there are grabbers on the market for higher shelved items but I feel these can add an element of danger to your Senior parent. What if they lose their balance grabbing that 5 pound bag of flour from the top shelf?  See what I mean?  So your goal is to make your Senior parent’s access to items in their kitchen as easy as possible and with their safety in mind.

Having drawers in my current kitchen, I have come to appreciate the ease they offer to my life.  The heavier pots and pans go in the middle drawer to make lifting them in and out easier on my back since I don’t have to bend down very much.  Lids go in the bottom drawer since they aren’t used as often and are lighter in weight.

For my mom, there is an optional cabinet she is considering, as of this writing, next to her wall oven where she currently has a stand-alone pantry. There she may put two middle-to-lower drawers for pots and pans that she uses often.

If you insist on leaving the cabinet drawers, there are drawer inserts you can use for your pots and pans and other items. These will help keep down the cost of totally new cabinets and can be installed at any time during or after the renovation.

Mom did pick out new stainless steel appliances…much prettier I’m sure than the old brown enamel appliances. She’ll enjoy it.

Eileen Saunders, SRES REALTOR with Tommy Morgan Realtors  2092 Old Taylor Road, Oxford MS 38655  662-404-0816 / 662-234-5344 Equal Housing