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325-C Arlington Avenue

Charlotte, NC 28203
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Charlotte, NC 28217

(704) 759-3920


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Category: Kitchens

What’s the Best Kitchen Design for a Growing Family?

A great kitchen design isn’t just about the traditional work triangle. Particularly for a growing family, kitchen design should also be inclusive of the myriad ways your kitchen will be used –for which activities, when and by whom. The traffic flow in, out and through a family-friendly kitchen should be a critical factor in space planning, not just during meal times, but throughout the entire day. This young family tasked us with the challenge of opening up the previously remodeled kitchen of their 1950’s Myers Park home, after hearing from other contractors that what they wanted to accomplish couldn’t be done.

Kitchen Design Goals

While not the original kitchen to the home, the remodel by the previous owners had addressed aesthetic concerns, but not the space planning. With two young children at home, our clients’ most important goal for the remodel was an open kitchen design for increased visibility and traffic flow. Their secondary goals included maintaining a formal dining room and foyer to stay in keeping with the age and style of the home; transitional style with modern amenities such as professional-grade appliances; more functional storage and additional pantry space; a large island with seating for four and to repair the faulty hardwood floors from the previous renovation.

Cream kitchen with brass pendants over the island and a large window over the sink

The angled walls with bar height pass through helped the kitchen to feel somewhat connected to the den, but it was still impossible for our clients to keep an eye on their kids while preparing meals. The tiny vestibule at the back door was tight and included two-floor transitions since the tile and den floor was higher than the kitchen and foyer, creating a tripping hazard. The light from the kitchen window couldn’t filter into the hallway or living space, creating a dark atmosphere. The plan was to remove the walls between the den and kitchen to open the space, but the challenge was ensuring enough wall space for cabinetry and appliances without sacrificing valuable storage.

A Family-Friendly Kitchen Design that Works

Ultimately, after reviewing three different kitchen designs, our clients elected to close the doorway between the formal dining room and the kitchen. This allowed the kitchen to take on a functional L-shape and kept all the major appliances out of the island, increasing usable counter space. Because the formal dining room was right next to the kitchen, losing the extra doorway didn’t impede traffic. Opening the backdoor to the kitchen made it easier to haul toddlers and groceries to and from the car.

The new kitchen design features an open plan from the den and kitchen, making it easier to drift between the two spaces seamlessly. Reframing a portion of the existing floor system to bring the whole area down to the same level eliminated tripping hazards and made floor clean-up a breeze. We left the original window in the same location, but with the removal of the walls, light pours deeper into space, making it feel more spacious. Ultimately, there was extra space to fit an even larger island than what was in the original kitchen design, providing ample seating for the whole family.


BEFORE – The awkward, angled counter with dropped soffit kept the kitchen and den separate, preventing an easy flow for daily childcare or entertaining. The barstools blocked traffic to and from the back door—the main point of entry for this family.


AFTER – Working extra storage into this kitchen design was simple thanks to the large island. Hidden base cabinets under the seating area provide adjustable shelving for less frequently used items.

Maximizing Space

Simplifying the bar design made it visually recede and increased functionality. Removing the bar sink in favor of a dry bar allowed versatile counter space to act as an everyday drop zone or a serving space for entertaining. To delineate the bar from the kitchen while keeping some visual continuity, we repeated the same cream cabinets and used the quartzite slab material as a solid backsplash. Now guests (and kids) can easily mingle between the formal living room, the den, the bar, and the kitchen during gatherings.

The cased opening and original glass transom that were formerly separating the kitchen and foyer hallway were relocated approximately 6′ to incorporate some of the former halls into the new family-friendly kitchen design. As requested, a proper foyer was maintained in keeping with the formal architecture of the home.

An HVAC return and a tiny coat closet were relocated to create space for a custom pantry cabinet under the stairs. Increasing dry goods storage was an important goal for this growing family. Tall pantry cabinets with easily adjustable roll-out shelves are a great solution for maximizing the space available within a small footprint.


BEFORE – The stepped design of the bar cabinetry made it feel heavy and intrusive and the sink and ice-maker were never used.


AFTER –  A built-in beverage center provides space for wine, beer, and mixers outside of the main refrigerator.


DETAILS – The built-in maple spice rack keeps herbs and spices organized and accessible. The fully integrated refrigerator with custom panel blends into the surrounding inset cabinetry for a traditional look.

Finishing Touches

A critical part of making the kitchen design feasible was incorporating two large steel beams —welded on-site—to support the second story floor above. Our engineering team created a structural design to ensure the integrity of the proposed kitchen design, resulting in the family-friendly entertaining space they desired.

In the den (now visible from the foyer) the colonial fireplace surround was replaced with a transitional cast stone design. Using the same material for the hearth, surround and mantel created a soothing contrast in textures as opposed to color, allowing the artwork to be the true focal point.

Custom cabinets, hidden storage accessories, matching appliance panels, and one-of-a-kind quartzite counters elevate this family-friendly kitchen design while maintaining a classic, transitional style.


BEFORE – The hood overpowered the range top and the soffit and pass-through to the den dated space. Angled walls are an inefficient use of space.


AFTER – Open site lines and clear traffic patterns are all part of this redesigned kitchen. Shades of cream, taupe, and sage green offer a soothing, timeless look.


DETAILS – Wide island drawers with built-in drawer organizers keep knives and flatware neatly sorted, right where they’re needed most.

If your current kitchen design has you frustrated and disorganized, we’d be happy to talk through the possibilities with you. Schedule a call and our team will reach out shortly.

Tour Our South End Home Design Studio

Whether a simple powder room facelift or a whole home redesign, remodeling your home is an investment in both your time and resources. While curating and presenting material samples with your functional, budgetary and aesthetic needs in mind has always been part of our design process, we wanted to elevate our client experience. With the completion of our South End design studio, we’re now able to provide our clients a more hands-on approach so you can experience the features of your home well before installation day.

Experience Before Deciding

After the initial consultation, your project developer will present a proposal at the home design studio outlining your remodeling project with appropriate budget ranges for each area. This first visit will give you an opportunity to see examples of the level of finish we’re assuming in our budget ranges, so you don’t have to worry about the quality of what you’ll be getting. You may even see something you’d love to incorporate into your redesign!

Save Time During the Design Phase

Your time is valuable. Our easily accessible and conveniently located home design studio means no more running all over town to various showrooms with your designer. From space planning to material selections, all of our design meetings will take place in one location. When you arrive, we’ll have curated materials selections pulled just for you, saving you time and the headache of decision overwhelm. You’ll be able to see dozens of examples of various cabinetry, tile and installation features without ever having to leave the building. While we will still make occasional field trips to choose natural stone slabs for your countertops, or kitchen appliances, overall, the design process will be more efficient, so you can come home to your new space that much sooner.

Miniature kitchen cabinet display with various door styles and finishes.

Our wall of “mini’s” packs a lot of options in a small space. With seven stations, we were able to show many different door styles, finishes, moldings, tile backsplashes, cabinet hardware and countertops.

Contemporary bathroom with quarter sawn white oak floating vanity, rose gold pendants and smokey green wallpaper

For our contemporary bathroom we opted for visual texture and unusual finishes: Quarter sawn white oak for the vanity paired with the smokey green wallpaper accent give it some drama, while the rose gold faucet and pendants provide an unexpected feminine touch.

Imagine the Possibilities for Your Home

With eight kitchen vignettes, five bathroom vignettes, dozens of material combinations and a large and ever-evolving materials library, our 2700 square foot studio was designed for versatility. While it’s impossible to show every option available, we combined some of the most popular and on-trend elements across traditional, transitional and contemporary displays so there’s something for everyone. We are never limited to what’s shown on the floor, so if there’s something specific you want to include in your project, let your designer know and they’ll order samples.

Traditional, transitional and contemporary kitchen vignettes provide options

Traditional, transitional, and contemporary kitchen vignettes combine various finishes, patterns and storage features so you can get an idea of what’s possible for your kitchen remodel.

A porcelain slab shower enclosure on the left and a contemporary alcove shower on the right.

Our shower displays include some of the most popular features our clients consistently expect (read about them here). On the left we used porcelain slabs on the walls and included a mitred bench, recessed niche and separate handheld shower. On the right we went for a more modern look with textured wall tiles, a curbless shower pan with linear drain and a chrome shower column.


Because we aren’t a traditional remodeling showroom, we are not open to the public, but we invite you to take a virtual tour here! If you’re interested in discussing your remodeling project with one of our project developers and touring the space in-person, give us a call at 704-759-3920 or schedule a call online and we’ll be in touch shortly. As soon as it’s safe to host in-person events, we’ll be resuming our Kitchen and Bath Remodeling Seminars and will host them at the design studio.

Home Bars: Why They’re on Charlotte Wish Lists

In evaluating the ebb and flow of ongoing trends the other day, we were discussing the evolution of today’s home bar. Home bars are still incredibly popular, usually as part of a greater kitchen remodel, but they are far from what they once were. From simple, compact dry bars to complete entertaining spaces in their own right, home bars still feature prominently on our clients’ wish lists.

Say Goodbye to the Tiny Wet Bar

Home bars of the late 90’s and early 2000’s almost always featured a tiny, impractical sink, smack in the middle of the countertop, rendering what was left of the counters unusable for much of anything. They were usually hidden in an alcove near the kitchen, or off the living room in an awkward hallway. The bowl sized sinks were deal breakers for most of our clients, and they wanted them gone in favor of more flexible counter space.

BEFORE: This wet bar was added during a previous remodel, but the tiny sink only served as a dust collector.

Dry bar with inset cabinetry, full slab backsplash and beverage center

AFTER: Electing for a dry bar with a beverage center gave this couple more flexibility, extra counter space and improved cabinet storage with the addition of a wide drawer for bar accessories.

Multi-Functional Dry Bar

Fast forward to today, and home bars are still requested in at least half of the kitchen remodels we design. Nowadays, we take a multi-functional approach to the design to best utilize the space available. Most home bars err on the simpler side, and most do not feature sinks unless they have a significant amount of extra space.

Dry bar with kegerator and beverage center

This multifunctional space in the hallway between the kitchen and formal dining room acts as a dry bar and drop zone for the kids’ activity schedules. The left side features a built-in kegerator, a beverage center, and extra wine and stemware storage. The right side features open shelving for books and family photos, a pin board for schedules and Panthers tickets, and wide drawers for the kids’ craft supplies.

Dry bars often include an appliance for wine, beer or other beverages and act as a landing zone for entertaining. Whether you’re having friends over for a casual dinner or you’re celebrating your child’s birthday, a dry bar gives you space separate from the kitchen to stage beverages, appetizers or dessert.

Where to Place Your Home Bar

Whether wet or dry, ideally your home bar would be located in close proximity to the kitchen, between it and another space like a formal dining room or living room. Locating the bar in the transition space between two rooms creates a natural flow for traffic and conversation, and allows guests to help themselves easily without entering the kitchen while you’re cooking.

Dry bar in hallway between kitchen and dining room

Located in a nook off the hallway between the kitchen and the formal dining room, this dry bar serves as a morning station for coffee most days, but quickly converts to the beverage station for holiday gatherings.

Home Bars Aren’t Just for Cocktails

While most home bars do feature stemware and bottle storage of some sort, they aren’t limited to alcohol. Many of the families we work with prefer beverage centers—small built-in refrigerators with multiple zones that can properly store a few bottles of wine and a case or two of La Croix or Kombucha. Beverages tend to take over the main refrigerator if left unchecked, so having a smaller space just for your daily drink of choice leaves room for more fresh produce and leftovers. Having a flexible space to store the special occasion china that also acts as a snack station for the kids is still a worthy feature of any modern kitchen design.

Home bar with open shelves, wine storage and white cabinets

This dry bar features a beverage center and drawer for snacks. The towers on the left and right are perfect for housing small appliances, vases and stemware.

Take Your Home Bar Up a Notch

If regular movie nights and football parties are your jam, you may want to consider a more elaborate casual entertaining space. With enough room and the right design, a dry bar can easily become a full-fledged kitchenette, preventing repeated trips to the actual kitchen. A beverage center and a small (but usable) sink are must-haves in this case. Ice makers and refrigerator drawers for mixers and snacks are also a nice touch. An 18” dishwasher wouldn’t be a bad idea either, especially if your hang out zone is in the basement or a detached garage.

Modern wet bar with black cabinets and ice maker

Located right inside the back door and conveniently separating the kitchen and the living room, this wet bar features a wine chiller, an ice-maker and a prep sink. It’s right off the back door, making it easy to run inside and grab a cold beverage before heading back to the lake.

Whether you’d like to incorporate a multi-functional dry bar as part of your kitchen remodel, or you’re interested in creating a completely separate entertaining space, we’d be happy to help you design the space that’s perfect for your needs. Schedule a consultation with us today!

February 29, 2020 by lazarus

3 Ways to Create a Custom Kitchen Design

Whenever we begin working with a new client to redesign their kitchen, they almost always fall into one of three categories: A) They know exactly what they want and rely on us to translate their vision; B) They have strong opinions about a couple of key areas, but mostly they’re open to any solutions we suggest for their new design; C) They don’t know what they want, but they know what they have isn’t working. Regardless of where you fall, here are three ways to create a custom kitchen design that feels personal to you and your family.

1. Utilize Custom Cabinet Modifications to Serve Your Needs

Higher quality, made-to-order cabinet lines are going to allow customization to some degree. This can be a game-changer for making the final kitchen design feel truly custom since it means we can make the cabinet as specific to your functional, aesthetic, or architectural needs as possible. There are few kitchens that don’t require at least one cabinet to be modified to maintain the best-finished look.

Backless wall cabinets over windows to allow natural light into kitchen

More often than not, we’re modifying most cabinets to give our clients the best possible design. Modifications can include custom sizes, combining boxes to avoid seams in inset designs, adding special storage accessories, or finishing the ends in a specific manner just to name a few. The options are endless.

Bar height white kitchen island

2. Incorporate A Design Element with A Story

One of the easiest and most satisfying ways to set your kitchen apart from your friends’ kitchens (even if you have the exact same taste) is to incorporate something personal that tells part of your story. On more than one occasion, our clients have approached us with special pieces to include in their custom kitchen design – from hundred-year-old barn beams, they found in an outbuilding on their property, to a favorite light fixture that came with them each time they moved, to a custom colored range to match the label of their favorite bottle of champagne – incorporating these personal touches into our clients’ kitchen designs set them apart from their neighbors.

Custom farmhouse kitchen design with reclaimed beam

The vertical beam next to the staircase was salvaged from an old barn on this couple’s property. Having a piece with a story gives extra life to this farmhouse kitchen.

Don’t already have something you’d like to include in the new design? No problem! Choose one item that has yet to be selected and pick something you absolutely love that can act as a statement piece. It can be something semi-permanent like a light fixture, unique cabinet hardware, or backsplash tile, or it could be something you find on your own like vintage stools for the island or a beautiful painting to hang in the breakfast area.

orange range in a modern kitchen with mosaic tile backsplash

3. Plan Storage to Support Your Daily Habits

Just because you make coffee and take supplements every morning as part of a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean they have to be out on the counter in full view 24/7. From everyday dishes to serving pieces, pantry items to charging stations, our kitchens are responsible for storing a LOT. When everything has a place where it’s easily accessible and hidden from view, you’re able to move more efficiently and feel better in your space without visual clutter. Planning ahead of time, which tasks take place in which zones of your kitchen will help your kitchen designer suggest the best storage solutions to help your day run more smoothly from the get-go.

Built-in coffee station

One of the best ways to make a kitchen more functional is to store items where they are used and not necessarily with like items. For example: Instead of keeping all glasses and mugs together in one cabinet, store drinking glasses near the refrigerator for access to filtered water, and store mugs near the coffee station. Customizing the design for the way you move in and around your kitchen saves time as you won’t be crisscrossing as often while you’re preparing meals, snacks, and everything in between.

Custom-designed spice and tray pull outs in peacock green kitchen island

Narrow, pull-out storage cabinets for cutting boards and spices were placed close to the cooktop for convenient access during prep.

Want to speak with someone about your custom kitchen design? Schedule a call to speak with one of our project developers. 

December 30, 2019 by lazarus

How to Choose Cabinet Hardware for Your Home Remodel

When it comes to kitchen cabinet hardware, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the seemingly endless options available. Do you want knobs or pulls, all pulls, a combination of both, or something else entirely? What about finishes and materials? What size and how many? Just like jewelry can make or break an outfit, the look of your cabinetry can enhance your whole kitchen and give your home a more custom look.

kitchen cabinet ideas for your next remodel

A combination of knobs and drawer pulls keeps this traditional Myers Park kitchen from appearing weighed down by cabinet hardware.

So, where do we start? Since no one wants to spend hours obsessing over knobs and pulls only to realize they made the wrong choice, it’s best to lean on an experienced designer who will help you make the right choice for your kitchen. After 15 years of designing and specifying hardware for each of our kitchen and bath remodeling projects, we’ve developed an effective system for narrowing down the options quickly. Let’s explore what this could look like in your home.

Things to Consider When Choosing Kitchen Cabinet Hardware


Function always comes first. By asking yourself three important questions, you can narrow the pool of options quickly:  What kind of cabinets are these going on, how much use do they get, and who is using these cabinets the most?

Kitchen and bath cabinets get heavy usage, so delicate materials like leather or woven tab pulls, or semi-precious stones aren’t going to hold up over time. Those built-in cabinets flanking the fireplace on the other hand, are probably opened and closed less frequently, so a more decorative selection would be appropriate there.

If you or a member of your family have large hands, some pulls are going to be much more difficult to grasp than others (like cup pulls, or short pulls). People with arthritis in their hands should avoid knobs as they are almost impossible to grasp. Instead, opt for pulls since they can be opened by hooking something through them if necessary.

In some cases, it may be preferable to order all of your cabinetry with hidden, built-in touch latches, so you can bump the doors with your knee or elbow, allowing them to pop open effortlessly. Contemporary designs tend to work best with this application, but it’s not a requirement. If you’re interested in this solution, make sure to discuss it with your kitchen designer during the design phase as it’s best to order the cabinets like this from the manufacturer instead of trying to retrofit them later.

Material and Finish

Cabinet hardware, whether it’s in the kitchen, bathroom, or elsewhere throughout the home, can vary wildly in cost depending on the manufacturer, material and finish. A chrome knob made out of a metal alloy from the local hardware store could be $2, while a solid brass appliance pull for a panel-ready refrigerator could be well over $350. Most people want good quality pieces that aren’t going to tarnish or discolor, but don’t find it necessary to splurge on solid brass or bronze. They may feel richer in your hand, but most of our clients don’t find it’s worth the extra investment.

kitchen cabinet remodeling ideas

In this master suite remodel we mixed chrome faucets with brushed brass cabinet hardware, lighting and mirrors for a less predictable look.

When it comes to finishes, don’t fall into the “every single metallic element in the house must match” trap. Production builders use this strategy because it’s easy and it saves them time (great for them, not so great for you). Mixing metals creates a much more custom look and really sets your home apart from your neighbors. Nowhere in the house is this more evident than in a space with a lot of metallic elements such as the kitchen. It’s ok to have stainless appliances, oil rubbed bronze hardware on your interior doors, brushed brass light fixtures, and a polished nickel faucet with polished nickel cabinet hardware. As long as each finish makes sense with the rest of your design, don’t be afraid to mix it up!

Should your cabinet hardware have knobs, pulls, or a combination?

Now that you know how much usage your cabinets are going to get and who is using them the most, consider the breakdown of knobs and pulls. While it’s easy to decide to use all knobs or all pulls, the finished kitchen cabinet or bathroom hardware will look much more custom and function better when you take each individual cabinet into consideration.

kitchen cabinet hardware tips

In this farmhouse-inspired kitchen cabinet remodel we used a combination of knobs on the doors, cup pulls on the drawers and longer pulls on the paneled appliances.

Drawers and pull-outs tend to operate best with pulls, while doors can easily be opened and closed with knobs or pulls. We prefer a combination of knobs and pulls of various sizes to keep them proportional with the cabinets. This is where things can start to get confusing. Our designers calculate the size and quantity for our clients, but in case you’re trying to do it on your own, we’ve broken down our system below.

Here’s an example of the same kitchen elevation, three different ways:

Knobs with Short Pulls

home_ design_studio_in_charlotte_nc

Most higher quality hardware lines offer their pulls in several different sizes, but if you fall in love with one that doesn’t you may want to double up like we did here. On drawers over 24” wide, two pulls look more proportional than one small pull in the center. This look is most often seen in farmhouse style kitchens where cup pulls have been selected. Unfortunately, most cup pulls don’t come in various sizes.

All Pulls

The best way to determine the right size pulls for a set of drawers is to take the width of the cabinet box and divide it by 3. It’s unlikely the pull you’ve selected will ever be that exact measurement, so on wider drawers, choose the next size up. For smaller drawers it usually looks best to size down. If the cabinets are inset, first subtract the size of the frame (typically each side is 1 ¼” or 1 ½” wide, so 2 ½”-3” total). If your chosen cabinet hardware has wider stiles, you may need to size down.

If you’re still worried you’ll make the wrong choice, just remember to ask yourself three questions: How often are these cabinets getting used? Who are the primary users? What sizes do I need? 

If you’d like this attention to detail on every aspect of your kitchen or bathroom remodeling project, schedule a call with us today to speak to one of our project developers about your goals.

Tile Design Ideas for Your Kitchen or Bathroom Remodel

Tile design patterns are a great way to add personality to a remodeling project whether via temporary materials (think fabric and wall coverings) or permanent ones such as tile or even hardwood flooring. Patterns have the ability to elevate simple materials. Take subway tile for example. You can’t get much more basic than white 3 x 6″ ceramic tile. Set in a running bond pattern, a subway tile backsplash will look traditional and understated, but take that same tile and set it in a herringbone pattern and suddenly it has more visual weight and movement.

mixing tile patterns in the master bathroom; Tile Design Ideas in Charlotte, NC

Mix patterns! In this master bathroom remodel we paired a traditional 3″ x 6″ subway tile running bond, over larger 12″ x 24″ tiles set at ⅓ offset. The longer, linear floor tile was also set at ⅓ offset.

When it comes to tile design, straight or grid patterns are often the default for home builders. They’re the easiest to install because there are fewer cuts. Fewer cuts mean less material waste and a quicker installation. Quite simply – it’s cheaper. But if you’re preparing to remodel your home, chances are you want something other than what the original home builder installed. Your kitchen or bathroom designer will make pattern recommendations appropriate for the materials chosen, the location and your desired aesthetic.

Popular Tile Patterns and Where to Use Them

Running Bond or Brick Bond

This tile works best for field tiles and mosaics smaller than 12″ x 24″. You can use this tile design with rectangular or square tiles, but traditionally it’s done with rectangular bricks, hence the name. Running this pattern horizontally will emphasize the width of a space, while vertical installations emphasize height.

Square running bond tile shower with mosaic accent band; Tile Design Ideas in Charlotte, NC

Square tiles set in a running bond, paired with a mini-brick glass mosaic accent band, keep this hall bath simple and traditional.

The running bond pattern is popular for kitchen backsplashes, flooring, shower walls, and bathroom wainscoting. It offers a classic look when using traditional tile materials such as subway tile or marble, but it looks just as good with more contemporary porcelain or glass tile as well.

A variation on the running bond is the flemish bond, which also derives from masonry. A flemish bond usually consists of alternating square and rectangular tiles in the same course. While uncommon, it can make for a pretty and unexpected backsplash or shower enclosure. When mixing tiles it is absolutely critical they are the same height and thickness, so you would only do this if the particular tile you chose was offered in two sizes. Otherwise, the grout lines would have to be much larger to make up for the difference and the installation wouldn’t look as clean.

Vertical running bond shower wall tile; Tile Design Ideas in Charlotte, NC

This steam shower features a 10″ x 14″ ceramic wall tile installed in a vertical running bond to the ceiling to emphasize height. This tile is the same collection as the photo above, but the size and pattern choice give it a different look.

⅓ Offset

As wood-look porcelain and large format tile has increased in popularity in recent years, we’ve started seeing a lot more of this pattern and for a very practical reason. When porcelain tiles are longer than 18″, they tend to bow ever so slightly in the middle, it’s just due to the properties of the material and the manufacturing process. When staggered in a traditional running bond (above) the center of the tile may stick up slightly higher than the edges, causing what is referred to as “lippage”. Because of that, it’s industry standard to install anything greater than 18″ long in a ⅓ offset if it’s not set straight.

Beware – When using three courses of this pattern on a wall, it can look like stair steps, but on the floor, it’s less noticeable (and more desirable for a wood-look). If stair steps aren’t your thing, but you’re dead set on that longer tile, try setting it in two courses instead. It’ll look like a tighter running bond and there won’t be any lippage. We also use this pattern with smaller tiles on backsplash applications.

Straight or Grid

This straight pattern — which is typically made up of square tiles — ends up looking like graph paper. Much like its design, this pattern is simple to install and uses very little waste. When installing rectangular tiles in a grid, that’s often referred to as a soldier stack (standing vertically) or a horizontal soldier stack. Soldier stacking rectangular tiles can add a contemporary touch to your backsplash, or shower wall tile design. We’ve also used this pattern for tile flooring that was a larger format.

horizontal soldier stack tile with chevron accent wall in powder room; Tile Design Ideas in Charlotte, NC

Horizontal soldier stack sidewalls transform into a chevron accent tile wall, giving this powder room some extra pizzazz.

“On-point” is just a fancy way of saying we want the grid to look like a diamond, at an exact 45-degree angle. While less popular now, it was all the rage in the earlier 2000s. Anytime a tile is set on point it makes the space feel larger, so it’s great for small powder rooms. You can even dress it up with a running bond or mosaic border around the baseboard.

Basket Weave

While the basketweave pattern is typically used in masonry for patios, it also makes a great mudroom floor or backsplash. To get more of a woven look, consider a basketweave using two materials of varying sizes. Basketweave stone mosaics are a popular choice for traditional shower floors and bathroom accents, but they don’t tend to look as appropriate in kitchens.

running bond backsplash with basketweave herringbone accent panel; Tile Design Ideas in Charlotte, NC

Here we used a 2″ x 6″ ceramic field tile set in a running bond. The center panel over the range is a 2″ x 9″ tile set in a basketweave herringbone (which is a term we made up for this tile design that combines each of those patterns).


This is a classic pattern that works well as both an accent and as the primary, uninterrupted tile pattern in a living space. It does require lots of cuts, making it more wasteful, and expensive to supply/install. Herringbone can add flair in a small mosaic format of your kitchen backsplash or as part of a larger tile design across an entire floor. Keep in mind that the longer the tile is, the more exaggerated the pattern will be. While you can install herringbone tiles straight — which would result in that same stair-step pattern — it’s most commonly installed “on point”, which resembles a W.


The term “tile mosaic” refers to a collection of pieces smaller than 4″ x 4″ that are joined together using a fiberglass mesh backing or paper. Attaching these smaller pieces in pre-made sheets makes installation quicker and easier than installing thousands of smaller tiles. That being said, installing mosaic tile takes a great deal of experience and skill. If an expert remodeler creates the tile design, you shouldn’t be able to pick out the seems between sheets after the tile has been grouted.

leaf mosaic tile backsplash; Tile Design Ideas in Charlotte, NC

Leaf-shaped mosaic tile has a wallpaper effect on this kitchen backsplash in Charlotte’s Stonehaven neighborhood.

Mosaics can be designed from glass, stone, ceramic, porcelain, metal (see below) or even wood. Generally speaking, the smaller the individual pieces making up the mosaic, the more expensive it will be. Because of this, mosaics make great accents. If you really want to make an impact, take a mosaic and use it as the field tile. When used in large quantities, mosaics take on a wallpaper effect creating that “wow” factor. Mosaics are also used on shower floors due to the sheets’ ability to curve with the shower pan to allow proper drainage.

Stainless steel linear mosaic backsplash with walnut floating shelves; Tile Design Ideas in Charlotte, NC

This linear, stainless steel mosaic backsplash places a strong emphasis on horizontal lines to counterbalance the vaulted ceiling.

July 10, 2019 by lazarus

Must-Have Kitchen Appliances for Your Remodel

One of the most common questions our kitchen remodeling clients ask us during the design phase is, “which appliances should I buy and what do I need to look for?” While lifestyle factors influence the needs of every household differently, there are a few basic rules that apply to everyone.

Which Kitchen Appliances Do I Need?

At the very least, every kitchen must have a cooking surface with burners, an oven, and a refrigerator. While it’s true that not every home has a microwave or a dishwasher, we’ve never done a kitchen remodel without them and wouldn’t advise choosing to forgo either. Whether you need a single oven or two, four burners or eight, a separate refrigerator and freezer, a wine chiller, an ice maker, or a warming drawer are all going to be specific to the needs of your family and how you live. A couple with two young children will have very different needs than an empty-nester couple who hosts large family gatherings, or a bachelor who travels for work three weeks out of the month. For a helpful guide on how to take stock of the kitchen appliances you currently have and the ways they are or are not serving you, download our complimentary appliance shopping guide here.

must have kitchen appliances

Choose Your Kitchen Appliances Early

One of the most important features in your kitchen remodel will be the appliances. While there are standardized sizes for every appliance, specific cabinetry clearances, electrical, plumbing, and mechanical requirements will vary by manufacturer and installation method.

Thermador range with custom cabinet hood

Knowing which appliances you intend to purchase will be critical for finalizing your cabinetry layout and getting accurate quotes for the electrical, plumbing and mechanical changes that may be required to accommodate them. Older homes tend to have smaller electrical panels than newer homes, so there may not be enough space in the panel to add a second oven and a microwave drawer without an electrical service upgrade. Knowing limitations ahead of time will prevent surprises during construction that could increase the cost or delay the project.

Some of our clients have very specific needs when it comes to appliances and in those cases, we design the kitchen to fit what they require. Other clients care less about the appliances and prefer the best layout to address other concerns. Their main goal may involve the removal of a wall between the kitchen and the formal dining room to improve traffic flow, or perhaps they need to increase functional storage space. In those cases, we design the kitchen based on their priority and show them which appliances will fit the best in a particular layout.

Stainless Steel Appliances

Ten years ago another common appliance question was whether or not we thought stainless steel would go out of style. While newer finishes have popped up over the last couple of years, stainless steel is still the most popular finish and that probably won’t change anytime soon. That being said, if you find that so much stainless feels cold, or maybe you’re just sick of wiping fingerprints off the dishwasher every day, consider adding a few panel ready appliances to your suite.

What Are Panel Ready Appliances?

Panel ready appliances are designed to accept a custom cabinet panel to hide it from view. Not all appliances come panel ready — dishwashers, refrigerators and freezers are the most common, followed by wine chillers, beverage centers and warming drawers. While the inner guts of the appliance are exactly the same as the same model with a stainless steel front, panel ready appliances have to be ordered that way from the manufacturer. It’s not as simple as picking up any old dishwasher and sticking a cabinet panel over the door.

Panel ready appliances are great when you want to hide something to create a cleaner look. While a range and hood are often the focal point of a kitchen, the dishwasher is not, so why not hide it from view? The downside of panel ready appliances is that generally speaking they are only offered from higher-end brands. While many dishwashers come panel ready, only built-in or integrated refrigerators will have that option, making them more expensive than an entry-level model. When discussing pricing with an appliance professional, keep in mind the cost does not include the custom cabinet panel itself. That will have to be ordered with the rest of your cabinetry.

For additional guidance on deciding which appliances would serve your family best, the pros and cons of each type, and worksheets to help you narrow down your options without leaving the comfort of your living room, download our complimentary Kitchen Appliance Shopping Guide!

June 17, 2019 by lazarus

How to Choose Kitchen Cabinets

When it comes to budgeting your kitchen remodel, labor will always be the largest expense. But when it comes to material selections: cabinetry, countertops, appliances, and flooring are also big-ticket items that will have a significant influence on the level of investment. Depending on your end goals, you may choose to save or splurge on any of these material items, but generally speaking, expect cabinetry to make up anywhere from 30-50% of your overall kitchen budget. Since cabinets are such an investment, it’s important to know what you’re getting.

Your kitchen designer will walk you through various cabinet lines and features to help you decide which is right for you, but from a high level, here are some things to look for when choosing your kitchen cabinets.

Cabinet Box Construction

Whether your cabinets are completely custom, stock, made on-site or pre-built, they will always be built in one of three ways. Frameless cabinets are the standard for everywhere in the world except the United States. While they are increasingly popular here as well due to the accessibility, they’re not the only option.

#1: Frameless Cabinets

Frameless cabinets consist of a box without a face frame that sits on the front of the cabinet. The doors attach directly to the cabinet box instead of the frame, so the openings are typically 1 ½” wider. Because there isn’t a frame, reveals between adjacent doors and drawer fronts are tighter, creating a cleaner look.


Frameless cabinets offer slightly more storage space as the doors attach directly to the cabinet box. Image from Crystal Cabinets, whom we represent.

Frameless cabinets are the standard for contemporary styled cabinets (think high-gloss or textured laminates) but it’s a common misconception that all frameless cabinets are contemporary. It’s just as simple to use this construction method and pair it with a traditional door style so you can enjoy the benefits of accessibility without sacrificing the traditional look.

The main benefit to frameless cabinets is the additional storage space. As we mentioned above, because there isn’t a frame, the amount of usable drawer space inside each drawer will be about 1″ wider than a framed cabinet of the same size. 1” of extra drawer space may not sound like a lot, but when you consider you may have a dozen drawers in your kitchen, that adds up to extra cubic footage that otherwise would have gone to waste.


Frameless cabinets with a 3″ thick gray quartz counter create a transitional look on this Eastover kitchen island.

Pros of Frameless Cabinets:

  • More storage space, particularly in drawers
  • Contemporary and traditional or transitional styling available
  • Tight reveals for a clean look
  • Can be used with metal drawer boxes

Cons of Frameless Cabinets:

  • When using veneers like textured melamine, cabinet heights may be limited due to size restrictions of the veneer (creative kitchen designers can often design a workaround)

#2 Face Frame Cabinets (or simply “framed”)

Framed cabinets are slowly shrinking in popularity due to the availability and accessibility of frameless cabinets, as discussed above. A framed cabinet is built with a ¾” thick piece of wood (typically 1 ¼” – 1 ½” wide) that attaches to the front of the cabinet box and covers the opening. This is what the door hinges will attach to. The sides of the box are not flush like they are in frameless cabinets, so the inside storage is slightly narrower, as is the interior space of drawers.

Framed cabinets come in various overlays, meaning the reveal between doors and drawers will vary. Half or semi-overlay cabinets will have much larger gaps so they tend to be less expensive and often look dated. Full overlay cabinets have much tighter gaps and don’t always have center stiles between doors, creating a more accessible cabinet and a cleaner look.

Pros of framed:

  • Readily available
  • Larger reveals make it easier to cheat fillers when walls aren’t perfectly plumb or square

Cons of framed:

  • Slightly less accessible storage
  • Can look dated if using semi or half-overlay reveals
  • Contemporary veneers typically not available

#3 Inset Cabinets

While inset cabinets are technically framed, the difference is that instead of the door and drawer fronts resting on top of the face frame, they sit inside it, resulting in a flush look. Inset cabinets are the most popular style of framed cabinets since they offer a very distinct look that mimics handmade, site-built furniture. If you’ve searched for kitchen inspiration on Pinterest, you’ve seen inset cabinets.

Because of the extra reveal required for drawer and door operation, inset cabinets offer the least amount of storage space when comparing to full overlay face frame or frameless cabinets. Obtaining perfect reveals is trickier from a manufacturing perspective, so expect inset cabinets to cost up to 15-20% more than full overlay face framed cabinets. Since the frames – and therefore seams – between pre-built cabinets are visible, we recommend combining cabinet boxes using custom cabinet capabilities to eliminate as many seams as possible. Not all cabinet lines will allow this, so keep that in mind if that’s the look you’re after.

how to choose kitchen cabinets

Cream painted inset cabinets with a beaded face frame create a traditional, classic look in this south Charlotte kitchen remodel

Pros of inset cabinets:

  • Transitional to traditional, high-end look

Cons of inset cabinets:

  • More expensive
  • Slightly less storage space (only select if wall cabinets can be made 13” deep or else larger dinner plates may not fit in them)
  • Will need constant adjusting to maintain reveals

General Box Construction

As dealers for several American-made cabinet lines, we prefer North American plywood boxes with no added formaldehyde – simply put, they’re safer and less toxic than Chinese plywood. Plywood boxes are more stable and of higher quality than particleboard boxes.

Framed cabinets are typically built with plywood boxes, while frameless cabinets are often available in particleboard or plywood. While there are industry standards as far as construction materials and details, each cabinet company will have subtle differences that your kitchen designer will be able to explain. Personally, we’re huge proponents of plywood boxes and don’t recommend particle board unless you’re trying to go super cost-effective in a secondary space like a laundry room.

Cabinet Drawers

Of the lines that we represent and supply, most of the drawer boxes are either 5/8” or ¾” solid hardwood or ¾” plywood. While plywood drawer boxes can be more stable than hardwood, people often prefer the more polished look of hardwood drawers. In either case, they feature dovetail joints and soft closing guides as standard features. Your designer can talk you through how to choose kitchen cabinets from a particular cabinet line, if you’d prefer one specific look over the other.


⅝” hardwood drawers with dovetail joinery and soft-closing guides are standard options for this cabinet line. Matching drawer organizers keep flatware and knives neat and tidy.

Cabinet Pricing

Just like countertops, every cabinet line is priced differently and will vary significantly depending on quality and manufacturer. Quality construction, availability of customizations, and the number of finishes and styles available will all affect the pricing. Because there are literally millions of combinations available when choosing kitchen cabinets, the general pricing formula for made-to-order cabinets is as follows:

Standard cabinet box price

% Upcharge for box material

% Upcharge for overlay selection

Price of door & drawer style selected

Upcharge for drawer box and guide selection (as applicable)

% Upcharge for finish and wood species

Upcharge for any custom modifications (as applicable)

+                  freight and tax

= cabinet price

Not all lines charge for all of these items and they certainly don’t charge the same amounts, so it can be difficult to compare apples to apples when considering how to choose kitchen cabinets from two different lines. We’ve found that depending on the aesthetic and functional goals of the client, and the complexity of the design, certain lines are more appropriate than others. We’re happy to discuss the differences so you can be sure you’re selecting the line that’s best for your needs.

Ready to discuss your dream kitchen? Schedule a call with one of our Project Developers!

March 27, 2019 by lazarus

6 Bright Ideas for Using Bold Colors at Home

No matter how confident you are, if you’ve ever considered remodeling or redesigning your home it’s inevitable that you’ve asked yourself, will I still like what I choose today, ten years from now? The truth is, trends will continue to change as product lines and designers continue to innovate. Sure, the classics will continue to repeat themselves as they are reinvented in some shape or form indefinitely (think white kitchens and black and white bathrooms), but overall, styles evolve, and yours likely will too.

Paradox of Choice

We live in a society of instant gratification and constant comparison. The paradox of choice is a very real phenomenon – we sometimes see it with our clients as they’re going through the design phase after months of Pinterest addiction. Quite simply there are too many options, and the fear of finding something better paralyzes them into indecision. But here’s the thing – there will ALWAYS be something better. When we make a suggestion for a material or product it’s because we know it will get you the result you’re looking for, even if you can’t see how it relates to the big picture. If you’re one of those people that’s drawn to a bold color palette or designs — as designers, we can totally relate —choose one thing and truly make it your own. Everything else will fall into place.

Consider Your Long-Term Plans

If you’re still worried about committing to a bold design, it’s important to consider which phase of life you’re in and how much longer your family intends to stay in your current home. If you know you’ll be moving in the next 3-5 years, erring on the more conservative side would be wise. You don’t want to deter a potential buyer by choosing something highly trendy that’s difficult or incredibly costly to replace. Nothing is truly permanent, but purple kitchen cabinets are going to be much more difficult to change than kitchen faucets or decorative lighting.

Sticking around for ten years or more? Do what makes you happy. Ten years is a long time to live with something you don’t absolutely love. You can tone it down when it’s time to put your house on the market after years of enjoyment.

Bring On All the Colors

As a design-build remodeling company, our design team loves any opportunity to flex our creative muscles to create something you’ll love. At the annual Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS), colors were huge for 2019. We’ve been seeing a resurgence of bold color slowly creeping back into the market for a couple of years now. As consumers get exposed to new trends, and let go of the fear of avocado green trauma from the 1970’s, we’ll be seeing more and more color introduced into the home.

Whether you’re a classicist, or a trend-setter, we thought you’d like to see some of our favorite new products from KBIS and how you could work them into your kitchen or bathroom remodel.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Your Kitchen Faucet

You know we love mixing metals, so it may come as no surprise that we are absolutely smitten with the new ombré finish on Kohler’s Sensate Touchless kitchen faucet. Your kitchen faucet is the most used fixture in your house, so choosing one that’s made of high-quality materials is always worth the cost. In addition to the innovative two-tone finish that transitions from rose gold to polished nickel (or titanium to rose gold) we also love the touchless technology. The last thing you want to do when you have raw chicken juice all over your hands is touch anything. Touchless technologies ensure you can wash your hands without spreading grease or bacteria, saving you clean-up time and creating peace of mind for you and your family.

Add Some Personality to Your Kids’ Bath

It’s not uncommon to want to choose more cost-effective materials for your kids’ bathroom in order to splurge on your master suite. But cost-effective doesn’t have to be boring. Why not introduce a colorful stripe pattern in the shower using the new Color Wheel Collection from Daltile?

Classic stripes are synonymous with laughter-filled summer afternoons by the pool – who doesn’t want that feeling year-round? If navy is the new black, then emerald is the new navy. We’d love to see an emerald and white stripe paired with a black painted vanity, white quartz counter for easy maintenance, and brushed brass plumbing fixtures. Anyone ready to remodel their kids’ bathroom?

Add Some Flair to Your Front Entry

Not ready to commit to bringing a bold color palette indoors? How about setting your house apart from the neighbors with some colorful exterior door hardware. While we are huge proponents of a colorful front door, this is an either-or situation. Turquoise hardware on a red door is probably not going to give you the look you were after, but turquoise hardware on a black, mid-century, modern style door may be just the thing to make you say, Welcome home, at the end of a long day. While we don’t expect anyone to rush right out and buy this hardware, we thought it was a clever way to introduce a bold color in an unexpected place. This could easily be repeated around the front door by adding matching, colorful planters.

Marble fireplace with reclaimed beam mantel

Whether you’re on board with the bold color trend or you think that neutral is always the way to go, don’t be afraid to stretch your limits — especially if you’re planning on staying in your home for a long time. Unsure of where to start? Our design team would love to help guide you through the home remodel of your dreams. Give us a call today to start a conversation.

5 Modern Kitchen Design Must Haves

You’ve probably heard the old adage, “the kitchen is the heart of the home.” As cliché as it sounds, we couldn’t agree more. We’d argue it’s the most important room in the house, so we’ve compiled a list of five kitchen design must haves for a successful remodel. As a residential design-build remodeling firm, we see more requests for kitchen remodeling projects than any other room of the house. It’s where you spend time with your family, it’s where you nourish your body, it’s where you live. 

Develop a Vision for Your Kitchen

When we meet with a new client for the first time, we like to get a feel for how they use their current kitchen, what – if anything – is working well, and what’s making their lives harder or causing frustration. We listen to their vision to get a better understanding of their ideal kitchen, and how we can make it a reality. Some clients know exactly what they want the end result to look like and what needs to be rearranged to make the space work best for them, while others rely more heavily on our expertise to make suggestions and guide them through the best options. They know they don’t want what they have because it’s not working, but they may not know how best to solve those problems and that’s completely normal.


Pull & Replace 

Sometimes the overall layout functions well, but the appliances are failing, and the cabinets are showing their age, but there’s no need to redesign half of the house to make improvements — we refer to these projects as “Pull and Replace” kitchens. We pull everything out down to the studs, make a few adjustments in the design and replace everything with new, higher quality materials so you’re no longer embarrassed when your mother-in-law shows up unannounced. The locations of major appliances and plumbing fixtures don’t move much, if at all, but we’re able to breathe new life into the kitchen by rethinking the storage or the counter space to make it a more functional, modern kitchen design.


A Modern Kitchen Design that Fits Your Needs

Often we know we aren’t going to meet the clients’ goals without completely redesigning the space and opening the kitchen up to other areas of the house. It may be that we’re improving traffic flow, or we may be creating additional gathering areas to connect with friends and family. Eliminating unnecessary walls, installing cohesive flooring throughout, relocating windows, doors, and major electrical, mechanical and plumbing lines is more involved, but isn’t usually difficult so long as there’s room in the budget and the timeline.


5 Must Haves in Your New Kitchen Design

Regardless of the approach, each kitchen we design is a unique interpretation of a dream that comes together through the hands of our designers and craftsmen alike. Your designer will take your input to develop the best layout, and then curate materials schemes that best suit your aesthetic and budget. Kitchens have become a fashion industry, so the choices are endless (and completely customize-able) ensuring your kitchen doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s unless you want it to. While you get the last word when it comes to the redesign of your kitchen, and incorporating what’s most important to you, we have a list of modern kitchen design must-haves we’d urge you to consider:

  • Think of Storage as a Verb – You’ll be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t fantasize about more storage space, but when we constantly think of storage as a thing we always need more of, that’s when our houses become overrun with junk and clutter. Instead, think of storage as an action plan. Establish a designated place for everything, and then stick to it. You’ll be more organized and less stressed, not to mention the envy of your neighbors. We’re particularly fond of roll-out shelves, deep drawers and utensil and spice organizers to keep your new custom kitchen organized and accessible.
  • Lighting is Everything – Poor lighting will render even the prettiest kitchen dysfunctional. Advancements in modern LED fixtures have made them accessible to every purpose and every budget. We recommend utilizing three levels of lighting whenever possible: Ambient (recessed cans), task (under-cabinet lights) and decorative (pendants, sconces, etc.). Dimmers are a great way to customize your lighting even further, and they can be used in conjunction with LEDs, so long as the lamp is compatible.
  • Pick One Thing – Every kitchen needs a focal point. It could be a custom floating hood, or a unique backsplash tile that goes all the way up to the ceiling like wallpaper; maybe it’s an unexpected paint color on the island, a really fabulous light fixture or floating walnut shelves to display your Le Creuset collection. Whatever it is, make it yours and use it as inspiration for the rest of the design.


  • Don’t Air Your Dirty… Trash – If you have a dog or a toddler (and even if you don’t) you probably understand the appeal behind a hidden spot for the trash and recycling. Waste is going to happen, but it doesn’t need to be front and center. In fact, it should be right next to your sink, opposite the dishwasher and it should pull out in one easy motion.
  • Scale Your Appliances to Your Home – Your appliance package should absolutely fit your needs, but don’t discount the expectations of potential future buyers either. The appliances appropriate for a two-bedroom bungalow are going to vary greatly to that of a five-bedroom custom home. Do you need a little help narrowing down which kitchen appliances to shop for before heading to a busy showroom? Download our free Kitchen Appliance Shopping Guide and save yourself a ton of time and frustration! 

Are you ready to take the next step toward creating your dream kitchen? Let’s discuss how we can help; fill out the form down below to get started!