Four Outdoor Lighting Styles Perfect for Dining and Entertaining

As we spend more time at home, whether it’s working remotely, raising a family, or simply enjoying the simple pleasures of life, our backyards are becoming a haven of activity. 

In fact, many homeowners now see their backyards as an extension of the home--three season rooms, screened-in porches, and solariums are being used to create exciting indoor-outdoor spaces. 

And these days, it’s not uncommon to see a full kitchen or entertainment area housed outdoors, complete with cooktops, televisions, and wet bars.

To keep the fun going long into night, you need great lighting! Luckily, innovative lighting companies have created a variety of stunning fixtures to perfectly illuminate your outdoor space. 

Outdoor Chandeliers 

Who says chandeliers are strictly for indoors? In fact, chandeliers are an excellent lighting choice for outdoor spaces. Not only do they make an unforgettable visual impression, but they also generate lots of light. One chandelier can easily illuminate a small or medium sized patio. 

Placement tip: one trick with outdoor chandeliers is that you have to have fairly high ceilings to make them work. As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to hang them at least seven feet off the ground--that should protect even your tallest guests from accidental collisions! 

Outdoor Pendant Lights

Pendant lights are another stylish option for outdoor lighting. Smaller than a chandelier, pendant lights are often hung above dining tables or sitting areas in rows of two or more. The ability to choose the number of pendant lights and placement of the lights means you can easily shape them into your “vision” for the space. Since pendant lights are also popular indoors, they can make your porch feel like another cozy room of your house. 

Placement tip: If you plan to mount your pendant lights above a table, the bottoms shouldn’t be any closer than 32 inches from the table. That gives you ample room to move around and dine comfortably without being blinded by bright lights. 

Outdoor Ceiling Lights

Also known as flush mount lights, this style of lighting doesn’t dangle like pendant lights or chandeliers. Depending on the style, they may lay flat against the ceiling or extend by just a few inches, maintaining a low-profile. 

Their compact form makes them perfect for low ceilings, over entryways, and under eaves. In other words,  anywhere you might bump your head against a long pendant light! They’re also popular for covered outdoor spaces, since flush mount lights won’t be blown around by the wind like dangling lights.

Outdoor Sconces

Sconces are a great pairing with chandeliers or flush mounted lighting. Since sconces are smaller and less vibrant than larger fixtures, they’re excellent for mood lighting or path lighting. That’s why you’ll often find sconces mounted near doorways and windows. They’re also perfect for drawing attention to certain focal points like end tables and wet bars. And since they’re mounted flush with the wall, they integrate easily with small spaces and windy areas. 

Placement tip: Sconces come with either upward-facing or downward-facing bulbs. Downward bulb sconces are best for being at eye level or lower (like a garden path) so you’re not blinded. Upward facing sconces should be mounted higher on the wall to create ambient lighting. 

Countertops 101: Butcher Block

Known for their warm, rustic appearance and rugged practicality, butcher block counters are a popular choice for remodeled kitchens. And since wood is relatively affordable, you can look forward to years of life from a butcher block countertop--as long as you can keep up with its unique maintenance requirements. 

Here are some insightful tidbits about butcher block to help you decide if these countertops are right for your kitchen.

What Is Butcher Block?

The first thing you’ll notice about butcher block counters is that they’re made of wood. That already makes them unique among popular countertop materials, which tend to heavily favor natural stone and imitation stone. 

Butcher block counters are built with toughness in mind. To achieve that, they’re assembled from many straight cuts of wood that are then adhered to make sturdy slabs. The finished slab gives you a sturdy surface to cut and prep your food on. It’s a big built-in cutting board! 

Keep in mind that not all butcher block countertops are made alike. There are three varieties you should know about, since they all have different traits:

Butcher block island featuring the distinct "end grain" pattern.
  • Edge grain is used most often for counters due to its strength, stability, and lower price point. Edge grain butcher block counters are made by placing the wood boards on their sides and connecting them so that the edges create an even, uniform surface. 
  • Face grain boards are laid flat to give the counters a streamlined appearance. This material is not used as often for kitchen counters since it can easily be marked or scratched when used to chop and cut food.
  • End grain is the most expensive material of the tree but is also the strongest. End grain countertops are made from small blocks that are arranged in an almost checkerboard pattern. It’s ideal for cutting food because it hides knife marks and does not run knife blades.

Which Wood Is Best for Butcher Block Counters?

Nearly any species of wood can be transformed into butcher block counters. Maple is used often because it is strong, and the grain is clear. Red oak and cherry are also appealing choices since they offer a stunning, rich color. Butcher block countertops can also be created from bamboo, particularly for end grain counters.

Tips for Maintaining Butcher Block 

Butcher block counters need some regular TLC to keep them in good condition. If you skip maintenance, your counters will turn dull and crack, and you’ll have to replace them sooner than planned. 

Butcher block needs to be oiled or lacquered 

Without a proper finish, butcher block counters will begin to crack, warp, and lose their natural luster. Luckily, keeping them intact is as easy as applying the right finish. 

The “right” finish depends on how you plan to use your new counter. 

If you plan to do a lot of cooking and food prep, we recommend using an oil finish like mineral oil. For homeowners who plan to use the space as a dining surface, you can opt for a lacquer finish instead. That’s because oil finishes can rub off on clothing or paper, which makes it more practical than aesthetic. 

What kind of oil is best for butcher block? 

Any oil you apply to your counter should be food grade for safety. But when it comes to your oii of choice, you have lots of great options to choose from. 

Popular oils for butcher block include:Mineral oil

  • Vegetable oil
  • Linseed 
  • Beeswax
  • Paraffin 
  • Diluted varnish 

Mineral oil is a fan favorite because it’s colorless, flavorless, and odorless. One applied, it keeps out water and protects the wood from bacteria and mold.  

You can find mineral oil at a drugstore or health food store. If you buy mineral oil at your local hardware store, be sure the oil is safe to use on the surface if you prepare food on the counters. 

How do you oil a butcher block counter? 

Remove all items from the countertops and wipe the surface with a damp cloth. If there is anything on the wood, use a dough scraper to remove it. You can also use fine sandpaper to buff away burns and scratches before oiling the counters. 

Pour the oil on the counters and rub it into the surface with a dry cloth. Let the mineral oil absorb into the wood. This step can take as little as one hour, or you can opt to leave the oil on overnight. Once you’re done waiting, simply wipe the counters with another dry cloth to remove any excess oil.

How Much Do Butcher Block Countertops Cost?

The price of butcher block will vary depending on the grain construction, type of wood, and thickness of the wood. Generally speaking, you can expect to pay between $75 and $150 per square foot of wood. 

Here is a list of butcher block types and their average cost per square foot:

  • Flat grain - $60 per sq. ft. 
  • Edge grain - $85 per sq. ft. 
  • End grain - $150 per sq. ft. 

Another affordable option is to contact the manufacturer of your choice and select a butcher block worktop available in standard counter sizes and lengths. If you’re a DIY savvy homeowner, you can cut the top to fit around corners and appliances and install it yourself. For those less confident in their DIY skills, a local handyman service can assist you without breaking the bank. 

Is butcher block for you?

Butcher block is a great option for homeowners who want a practical surface for cooking and food prep. And if you don’t mind doing a little maintenance here and there, your butcher block counters will last a lifetime. 

Although wooden countertops aren’t right for everyone, they can make an excellent addition to homeowners who don’t mind a little upkeep every now and then. 

If you think butcher block countertops are the ideal addition to your kitchen, you can check out slabs at a local showroom or speak with a trusted contractor about installation options.

Inspiration Gallery:

Butcher block counters with apron sink by Clayton Homes
Farmhouse style butcher block island by Cabinets by Graber
Tiered butcher block island with built-in bar seating by Water's Edge Woods
Waterfall style butcher block counter with live edge by Water's Edge Woods

Countertops 101: Marble

Marble countertops are a hot trend for kitchens and bathrooms.

Why? Because the unique patterns and colors bring a natural yet upscale feel to any space. The marble stone is also beneficial if you enjoy cooking or baking as the "always cool" surface is ideal for rolling out dough or other prep work.

To help you learn more, we put together this marble countertop guide that explains marble colors, finishes, how much marble countertop maintenance you should expect, and the average installation cost.

With choices for every budget and style, you can quickly transform your home with stunning marble countertops!

What colors do marble countertops come in?

Most marble is white, grey, tan, brown, green, black, or pink. Veins or flecks within the stone tend to feature these same colors along with unusual bits of golds, purples, blues, or silvers.

As marble is a natural product, each slab will have unique characteristics and veining. This "one-of-a-kind" feature is appealing to homeowners who want an exclusive look.

Image of various marble colors via TINO

What finishes are available for marble countertops?

Marble countertops are available in three unique finishes:

Polished: A polished countertop is buffed to a gorgeous sheen. The finish showcases the stone's natural beauty by highlighting all the colors and veins. It also reduces the chance of staining, but the glass-like surface is easier to scratch.

Honed: A honed finish creates a matte texture. The soft finish hides imperfections but also mutes the color and veining. Sanding leaves the marble pores open and more susceptible to stains, so sealing is a must for long-lasting wear.

Leather look: A "leather" finish is a texture on top of a honed marble surface. This finish creates a bit of gloss, yet helps hide imperfections and fingerprints.

Do marble countertops need maintenance?

All countertops need maintenance, and marble is no exception. The real question is, "Do marble countertops stain easily?"

The answer is yes, it can, as marble is a porous stone. Depending on the finish you select, marble can scratch or show annoying fingerprints.

Luckily, there are some simple ways to keep your marble countertops looking elegant for years to come:

Sealing

You should seal marble countertops to prevent staining.

Topical sealers form a waterproof barrier on the marble surface, but the finish wears off with sliding dishes or cleaning. Hot items set on a topical coating can also cause scorching.

Penetrating sealers seep into the marble to fill gaps, so liquid spills can't soak in and form stains. Penetrating sealers are not fully waterproof, but do allow time to wipe up messes.

Regardless of the sealing method you choose, both require yearly reapplication to keep the marble surface looking its best.

Cleaning

Clean up any spills immediately to prevent the chance of staining, especially wine or coffee.

Watch out for acidic cleaners, as it can cause surface marring. Avoid abrasive powdered cleansers or scouring pads to keep scratches to a minimum.

A spritz of warm water and liquid dish soap wiped off with a soft cloth is the best method to clean marble countertops. For tough messes, use a cleaner made specifically for marble or stone surfaces.

Protection

Use cutting boards when prepping food. When setting hot items on the countertop, use trivets to stop burns or discoloration.

We also recommend using placemats on marble eating areas, and adding felt pads on the underside of canisters or decor that sits on your countertops.

How much do marble countertops cost?

The average price for installed kitchen countertops in a mid-range marble is about $3,000, but costs can be as low as $1,200 or upwards of $15,000.

Here is a list of popular marble types and their average cost per square foot:

Calacatta - $180 per sq. ft. (due to its rarity)

Statuario - $150 per sq. ft. (another rare marble)

Bianco Venatino - $100 per sq. ft.

Danby - $80 per sq. ft. (quarried in Vermont)

Black marble/travertine - $75 per sq. ft.

Bardiglio - $60 per sq. ft.

Yule - $50 per sq. ft. (quarried in Colorado)

Carrerra - $40 per sq. ft. (most common marble type)

Pink - $30 per sq. ft. (quarried in India)

Is Marble For You?

Marble countertops can be a serious investment in terms of time and money. The benefit is that no matter which type or price point you choose, it can last a lifetime with proper sealing and maintenance.

Searching for the "perfect" marble countertop can be a fun experience that allows you to bring the astonishing artwork of mother nature into your home. Nothing makes a statement and improves resale value like beautiful marble in your kitchen or bath.

With so many colors, patterns, and finish options, you are sure to find the perfect marble countertop to enhance your space!

Inspiration gallery:

This Statuary marble countertop by West Chin Architects extends over the island to accommodate built-seating.
This kitchen design extends the marble countertop to the backsplash to create balance and uniformity. Image via Architectural Digest.
Waterfall countertops extend the beautiful marble top all the way to the floor in this kitchen design by Silver Marble & Granite.
Honed Statuary marble countertops and backsplashes bring elegance to this kitchen designed by Workshop/APD.

Trend spotlight: Wall mounted vanities

The aptly named floating vanity gained new heights in 2020 as a popular bathroom design feature. Aside from having an intriguing name, floating vanities have a unique, memorable appearance: they look like they're hovering above the bathroom floor.

But instead of using magic, floating vanities are very practically grounded to the back wall or side walls of the bathroom. Not only do they look cool, but the space below the vanity makes storage and cleaning easier than ever.

Let's take a look at the top styles of floating vanities:

Single Sink Floating Vanities

Like the name suggests, a single sink floating vanity features just one sink. With the sink perched dead center, this style of floating vanity is well-balanced and pleasantly symmetrical. Available in both small and mid-range sizes, it's perfect for bathrooms of all sizes and layouts.

Wall to Wall Floating Vanities

If you have extra real estate in your bathroom, you can upgrade your single sink vanity to a wall-to-wall model. This style of vanity is anchored by three points: the back wall and both side walls. This puts an interesting twist on traditional single sink floating vanities, which are only anchored by the far wall. Thanks to their larger profile, wall to wall vanities provide extra space for storage and decoration.

Double Sink Floating Vanities

Also known as "his and her" vanities, double sink vanities feature two sinks. This style of vanity is perfect for couples and shared bathrooms. Double sink vanities are roomy, providing ample storage space both above and below the vanity, especially if you opt for a model with built-in cabinets or shelves.

Custom Wall Mounted Vanities

With a little DIY ingenuity. you can craft a floating vanity that perfectly complements your bathroom's style and layout. And if you're not particularly craftsy, that's okay too--there are plenty of talented interior design firms out there that would love to help you realize your "vision" for your new floating vanity. The upshot of a custom vanity is that they come in almost every style, color, material, and design you can dream up!

Which is your favorite style of floating vanity? Let us know in the comments!

Top Bathroom Design Trends in 2020

Floating vanities, backlit mirrors, and dark, mysterious wallpaper. Take a step into the dramatic landscape of a 2020 bathroom, and those are just of the features that will pop out at you. Overall, 2020 bathroom design is trending towards dark and contemporary. Hardware and vanities should be kept minimalistic, but when it comes to wallpaper and decor, let your wild side run free. 

Let’s take a look at 2020’s most popular bathroom design trends: 

Dark floral wallpaper

Wallpaper has made a big comeback in the last year, from jaunty animal prints to lush florals. Bathrooms are no exception to the wallpaper trend. Dark prints featuring flowers, ferns, and jungle plants are creeping into modern bathrooms faster than kudzu across a forest floor.  

via Ellie Cashman Design

Floating vanity 

Abracadabra! Watch with delight and fascination as your bathroom vanity hovers seamlessly over your bathroom floor. Just kidding--it’s mounted to the wall. But the effect is still really cool. Floating vanities are quickly overtaking traditional free-standing vanities in 2020. Not only do they make a dramatic visual statement, but they’re also much easier to clean under than floor-sitting vanities. 

Photo by Sanibell BV on Unsplash

Wall-mounted faucets

Most bathroom faucets are integrated with the bathroom vanity, but that’s changing in 2020. Wall-mounted faucets emerge directly from the wall above the sink basin instead of from the vanity behind the basin. The overall look is reminiscent of an old-fashioned wash basin from the days when water came in a cold jug from a nearby well, not modern plumbing. In addition to looking cool and minimalistic, wall-mounted faucets free up space on your vanity and eliminate the tricky task of scrubbing around the faucet and knobs.

Photo by Sanibell BV on Unsplash

Round mirrors

Bathrooms tend to feature lots of hard lines and right angles: square vanities, rectangular tubs, sharp-cornered mirrors. Adding smooth, organic shapes like circles and ovals can help break up the bathroom’s naturally harsh geometry. A large, round mirror mounted above the vanity will do just that. Bonus points if it's backlit by LED strips!

Photo by julie aagaard from Pexels

Welcome to the jungle…

...our perhaps just a trendy bathroom in 2020. What do you think of this year's popular bathroom design trends: are you rushing out for backlit mirrors and wilderness-inspired wallpaper, or are you waiting for today’s dramatic trends to slink back into the forest from whence they came? Let us know in the comments!

7 Popular Types of Kitchen Lighting

Before you start remodelling your kitchen, you need to know what type of kitchen lighting options are available to you. This is because lighting often times requires certain fittings, which need to be taken into consideration before the building process takes place.

Generally speaking, there are two types of lighting: general lighting and task lighting.

General lighting is the light that fills the room. It helps us to see what is around us so that we can walk a clear path from point A to point B. This type of lighting typically comes from an overhead electrical fixture, which can take three different forms: recessed fixtures, surface fixtures, and pendant fixtures. General lighting can also come from the natural light that pours in through the windows.

Task lighting is lighting that helps us complete tasks like reading, writing, and cooking. The kitchen is one of the few places in the home that requires both general and task lighting in order for the room to be practical. Task lighting can come from reading and desk lamps, or as is the case in the kitchen, track lights, pendant lights, and spotlights.

Keep reading for a description on the different types of light fixtures you can put in your kitchen in order to have the optimal lighting for all your kitchen needs.

Recessed Lights

Just as the name implies, recessed lighting are lights that disappear into the ceiling. They are easier to keep clean as the recession helps hide the dust, and they help maintain a sense of openness in the room. They are used for both general lighting and task lighting areas. For general lighting, they are spaced about 5-6 feet apart; about 2 feet apart for task lighting.

If you are considering recessed lights, you need to plan in advance because they require space above the ceiling in order to be properly installed. Ceiling joists, plumbing, and wiring can all limit the location of the recessed lights. Once you decide on the location, you also want to pick out the trim. A baffle trim is a good choice because it helps reduce any glare.

Recessed lights are not capable of lighting up broad areas, therefore, you must install several of them throughout the ceiling.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Pendant Lights

Pendant lights are an architectural work of art. They should bring the room together by their color, shape, and style, and serve as a focal point in the room.

These lights are an excellent choice for task lighting. Most times, you see pendant lights hanging in twos or threes above a peninsula or an island near the center of the kitchen. Since they hang much lower than regular lights, they bring the light closer to the work area for increased visibility.

While pendant lights are also a great option for providing general light, you must work with the fact that they hang from the ceiling. They work wonderfully in homes with tall ceilings. However, they must be regularly cleaned.

Photo by Im3rd Media on Unsplash

Multiple Lamp Fixture

The multiple lamp fixture is a set of lights that are all connected to a single rod. The rod attaches to either the wall or the ceiling. Just like the pendant lights, they are a great choice for lighting up a peninsula or island. To help with the glare on the countertop, you can have them operating on a dimmer switch.

You can sometimes find adjustable multiple lamp features to install on your wall.

Most multiple lamp fixtures cast light over a two feet area for each lamp on the fixture. Therefore, they are a great choice for task lighting. Because they contribute to the aesthetics of the room, you should pick them out with style, shape, and design in mind.

Surface Lights

Surface lights were popular before recessed lights became a thing. They are installed on the surface of the ceiling and are a source for general lighting. Because they are installed on the ceiling, they have a tendency to break up the space in the room, for better or for worse. In addition, they must be cleaned on a regular basis, as they can quickly accumulate dust. The dust on surface lights will be more apparent than the dust on recessed lights.

Because they go on the surface, there is little advanced planning that needs to take place, like in the case of recessed lights. Surface lights are much more efficient than recessed lights, and are therefore making a comeback, especially as are more attractive “mushroom” units come on the market.

As they are a source of general lighting, surface lights should be spaced at regular intervals around the room, and complemented with task lighting fixtures.

Photo by Saviesa Home from Pexels

Cabinet Lighting

Cabinet lighting can bring your kitchen to an entirely new level. They have incredible display potential, but they are also an excellent option for task lighting.

Cabinet lighting can take the shape of puck lights, which are installed in cabinets that have glass doors. Alternatively, you can install LED light strips underneath the cabinets. Both puck lights and LED strips can be on a dimmer switch, which helps set the ambiance and also reduce the amount of heat.

While puck lights are not really general or task light fixtures, they do wonders to brighten up the room, especially if you have glass doors on your cabinets.

Modern kitchen with black furniture and wooden floor

Spotlights

If you are planning a larger kitchen, you may want to consider spotlights. Just like the name implies, spotlights are designed to project a bright light over a particular spot. Spotlights are task lights, and should therefore be installed in areas where more light is needed in order to complete a task. You might place them over an island or a peninsula. They can hang down, just like pendant lights.

Spotlights are really effective at lighting up a room that has minimal wall space. More often than not, however, spotlights are used in conjuction with general light fixtures, like recessed lights.

Track Lights

Track lights are now made with smaller lamps, which make them another great option for improving the design and lighting elements of your kitchen. Over the years, track lights have really evolved to keep up with the times. You can now find them with LED bulbs, which are an excellent choice because of their longevity and durability.

Track lights are very simple to install, and you can even add pendant lights to the track to help balance the architectural look. They are best suited over islands and peninsulas, and they are not the best choice for a general lighting fixture.

Track lights are a great option for both task lighting and decorating. You can decide how many lamps you want on the track, and you can make the track curve, which adds a refreshing look to your new kitchen.

What’s the best type of lighting for your kitchen?

Lighting can really make or break the ambiance of your kitchen. That is why it is so important to plan ahead and start thinking about what purpose your lights will serve, what types of lights you want, and where you want to install the lights. The kitchen lighting should not be an afterthought, as light is an essential part of being able to effectively work in the kitchen.

Most homeowners will have a combination of general lighting and task lighting in their kitchen, brought about by a mixture of any of the light fixtures mentioned above. This makes the kitchen both a practical and beautiful place to be.

6 Popular Kitchen Flooring Options

When it comes to the style and comfort of your kitchen, the kitchen floor is just as important as the cabinets, appliances, and countertops. Kitchen floors come in a variety of different materials and styles, each with their own unique characteristics. Price, durability, appearance, and maintenance are just some of the many traits that vary from floor to floor. 

Here are some of the most popular kitchen flooring styles on the market: 

Hardwood

Hardwood floors are a true kitchen classic. They're also incredibly long lasting (with the right maintenance!), so if you want to replace your kitchen floors just once in your lifetime and never have to worry about it again, hardwood is your best friend.

The most common type of wood floor is oak, but hardwood floors also come in ash, maple, walnut, and hickory. Whichever type of wood you choose, you can look forward to a floor that matches every style of kitchen, from traditional to contemporary, and rustic to Craftsman style.

Keep in mind that wood floors are one of the most high-maintenance kitchen floor options on this list. They’ll need to be sanded and stained every 5-10 years to keep them looking their best. Plus, they can be damaged by water and heat, which means they’re not always the best option for a utilitarian room like the kitchen.

Tile

All you have to do is think back to the black-and-white checkerboard floors of the 1950’s to know that tile has been a popular flooring option for decades. Tough, easy to clean, and available in many different colors and patterns, it’s easy to see why tile is one of the most popular kitchen floor options. 

Despite its greatness, there are a few downsides to tile. Tile flooring can be uncomfortable to stand on for prolonged periods of time, and if you frequently cook meals at home, that can be a big problem. Tiles are also incredibly tough to remove, so if you like to update your floors every couple of years, you may want to opt for something easier to swap.

Linoleum

Linoleum is a practical choice for kitchen floors. Durable and antibacterial, it’s a great flooring option for kitchens where food-borne bacteria is always a risk. Plus, some varieties of linoleum include a bit of cushioning to make standing in front of the stove a bit more comfortable. Environmentally-conscious homeowners will be pleased to hear that linoleum is made using natural materials, unlike their close relative, vinyl. 

Photo by Chastity Cortijo on Unsplash

Laminate

Like linoleum, laminate kitchen flooring is practical and budget-friendly. Best of all, it’s stain-resistant, so dropping a pot full of pasta sauce or a glass of red wine is no longer the traumatic event it used to be. The achilles heel of laminate flooring is water, since water will cause the planks to swell and distort. Unfortunately, there’s no way to repair a water damaged laminate floor. Replacement time it is! 

Vinyl

Vinyl might just be the king (or queen!) of modern kitchen flooring. It’s easy to take care of, straightforward to install, and available in a wide range of price points. Basic vinyl flooring is one of the most affordable kitchen flooring options, but you can splurge for high-end “luxury” vinyl if it suits your tastes. Vinyl is also incredibly versatile in terms of appearance. It comes in a variety of colors and styles, and can even mimic other high-end flooring materials like hardwood and ceramic tile. 

Photo by Random Sky on Unsplash

Bamboo 

Bamboo kitchen flooring is a popular alternative to hardwood flooring since it shares the same durability and price tag. Unlike hardwood, bamboo has a lighter, sleeker look that makes it perfect for contemporary kitchens. Keep in mind that bamboo is “thirsty,” which means it will eagerly suck up any water or moisture that makes its way onto your kitchen floor.

Photo by Mark McCammon from Pexels

Favorite Kitchen Flooring Trends

Whether you’re planning to remodel your kitchen or simply perusing possibilities for your future dream kitchen, there are many excellent options to choose from. From practical to high-end, high-maintenance to nearly maintenance free, there’s a kitchen flooring option for every style, budget, and lifestyle. 

What’s your favorite option for kitchen flooring? Let us know in the comments! 

What is Minimalism?

There's something undeniably intriguing about a near-empty room. All of the viewer's attention zeroes in on the handful of objects the room has been allowed to contain. Why were those objects chosen? What purpose do they fulfill? Minimalism forces us to focus on what's essential while leaving behind the clutter of life.

In minimalist interior design, the negative space--blank walls, empty corners, and vacant shelves--are just as important as the objects in the room. The empty spaces signal potential. What could fill those spaces? What activities could take place here? Your imagination and sense of curiosity are the only limits.

What does minimalist interior design look like?

If minimalism had an official motto, it would be "less is more." Rooms are usually sparsely furnished and uncluttered. They also have an open, airy atmosphere thanks to open floor plans filled with natural light. The overall "mood" minimalism tries to accomplish is soothing and welcoming. You know that feeling when you look around your freshly cleaned house and sigh because it's so clean? Just like that, but minus the sweat and exhaustion that comes after cleaning all day long!

Photo by Maksim Goncharenok from Pexels

What colors are used for minimalist interior design?

Minimalist designs usually draw from a palette of light, monochromatic colors. It's common to see shades of white, beige, and gray placed side-by-side to create a soft, mellow look.

Primary colors are used sparingly. They serve as fleeting accents and aren't a dominant force in the minimalist landscape. Think of a sliver of blood-orange sun shining over the horizon instead of a full noon-time sun. That's how primary colors should be used.

However, it's also pretty common for minimalists to use no bright colors at all. Instead, you might see a darker shade of a pre-existing color in the room. Rather than bold dashes of green, blue, or orange, you might see a streak of stormy charcoal gray or dark brown.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

What does minimalist decor look like?

Decorations, artwork, and even furniture are few and far between. The objects you do select for your minimalist room should have a clear purpose. That's why it's common to see minimalist rooms dominated by functional objects like tables, chairs, sofas, and light fixtures. You can spice up the utilitarian vibe by including a few small accent pieces. Plants are a popular fixture in minimalist design because they add a pop of natural color and complement the soothing atmosphere. Plus, who doesn't love plants?!

Photo by Kam Idris on Unsplash

It's not all about the furniture or decor

It might sound counter-intuitive at first, but the goal of minimalist design is to get you to not pay attention to it. Think of it this way: without a focal point for your attention to land on, like a bright chandelier or bold piece of artwork, your attention wanders...elsewhere. Perhaps to the people you're sharing the room with. Maybe a beautiful view outside the window. Or perhaps you're meant to turn inward, reflecting on your own thoughts, slowing down and appreciating the moment. If you catch yourself doing any of those things, then the minimalist design was a success!

Photo by Vecislavas Popa from Pexels

With its mellow color palette and orderly arrangement, it's easy to see why minimalism became so popular in an era of information overload. When the time comes to unplug and unwind, a neatly organized room with minimal distractions is the perfect backdrop.

Do you have a minimalist sanctuary in your home? Tell us all about it in the comments!

Classic home styles: All about craftsman style houses

Once upon a time during the Industrial Revolution, machines began replacing skilled artisans with quicker and cheaper materials for building houses. While some of these advances were really neat (just check out the elaborate woodwork on Victorian painted ladies), not everyone liked the fact that factories were dominating the construction world. Hence, the craftsman movement was born! 

Craftsman style homes showcase the best of artisan handiwork. That’s why some of their most-loved features are their exposed wooden beams, stone fireplaces, and beautiful multi-paned windows.

What do craftsman homes look like?

Covered porch with wide beams and multi-panel glass door

Craftsman architecture has a very distinct look. Clean horizontal lines, low-sloping roofs, and wide porches are just a few key features of craftsman home design.

Here are some clues that you’re standing in front of a craftsman home:

  • Roofs that are low-pitched or completely flat
  • Covered porches with wide pillars that taper at the top
  • Roof eaves that jut out way beyond the walls of the house
  • Exposed rafter tails along the roof eaves
  • Earth-tone colors like green, brown, and blue
  • Wide trim around windows and doors
  • Multi-pane windows and partially paned doors

Sadly, many older craftsman homes have been renovated and may have lost of some of the features on the list. However, if you look close enough, you should still be able to make out some hints of its original style!

Classic craftsman door by Pella

Styles of craftsman house

Not all craftsman homes look exactly alike. There are four distinct styles: 

  • Bungalow: This is the “classic” style of craftsman home. The majority of craftsman style houses are built in the bungalow style. 
  • Prairie style: Popularized by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the prairie style craftsman homes feature strong horizontal rooflines that run parallel to the ground. 
  • Mission revival: Imagine a prairie style craftsman covered in stucco! 
  • Four square: The stripped-down, no-frills version of the bungalow craftsman. Fun fact: they all have the same internal floor plan! 

Below is a classic prairie style home designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright. You can still see some of the core craftsman design features, like the covered porch, pillars, and low-slope roof, but Wright also put his own twist on the design!

Prairie style house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

What’s a craftsman house like on the inside?

The distinct style of craftsman homes isn’t just skin-deep. The interior of craftsman homes also feature the same level of care and artisanship. 

Craftsman interiors typically have:

  • Built-in shelves, cabinets, and window seats
  • Large, stonework fireplaces
  • Simple, practical floor plans 
  • Natural materials like wood, brick, and stone
  • Exposed wooden beams on the ceiling
  • Mission-style light fixtures

Here are some pictures showcasing the beautiful handiwork you can find inside traditional craftsman style homes.

Craftsman style sitting room with grand fireplace and exposed wooden beams
Craftsman style dining area with exposed wooden pillars and built-in bench seating
Craftsman style bathroom
Craftsman style entryway

The classic simplicity and warmth of the craftsman style home has made it one of the most enduring home styles over the last century. From the mission revival style of the West Coast to the Midwest’s prairie style, you can find craftsman homes across the country. Wherever you go, the perfect craftsman style home is waiting for you!