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4 Ways to Give Your Kitchen Personality

Kitchens are showing more personality these days. As they’ve become a hub, they’re not just for cooking and eating. We’ve been using them for all kinds of activities. We want our kitchens to reveal our interests and taste but still blend with the rest of our home. Here are four ways — little and big — to do that by designing a creative kitchen. 

#1 Aim for a Creative Kitchen

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You love looking at posts on Pinterest or Instagram for inspiration and saving them for mood boards or focused aesthetic. But because of your urge for individuality, you want to incorporate choices in ways nobody else does. As long as you don’t make drastic changes that would take big bucks to reverse if you sold in the next few years, you can get creative. Feel free to fix up your kitchen just the way you love. 

“Do what feels good for you and nobody else,” urges designer Sharon McCormick of Sharon McCormick Design in Hartford, Conn. This may involve a quick, affordable fix. So, you could move a rug from another room to add a spark of color or pattern. Or hang favorite artwork, or display collectibles on floating shelves or in glass-fronted cabinets. 

If you need to focus on investment-grade changes with lasting value, you still have options. Think about hand-scraped floors, wire-brushed and high-gloss lacquered cabinets, or hardware in new elegant shapes and finishes, says Chicago kitchen expert Mick de Giulio of de Giulio Kitchen Design.  

#2 Express Yourself With Kitchen Color

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Image: FollowTheFlow/Getty

Kitchen color is the great game changer for a creative kitchen. It’s a quick and easy way to update your kitchen’s look and feel. White, gray, and beige are still popular palettes for kitchens, but livelier hues are showing up, according to a 2021 Houzz survey. If you’re timid about the new shades — lots of blues and greens — consider small doses in a few perimeter cabinets. Or for an island, you could add some backsplash tiles on one wall; one color appliance, like a turquoise range (yep, it’s available!); or a smaller standing mixer or countertop oven. They’re now available in almost any color of the rainbow. 

Paint manufacturer Sherwin-Williams says green kitchens are gaining ground. People want to bring the feeling of plants and trees inside, whether in dark, jewel tones or more muted, soothing hues. Green also pairs well with wood in floors, furniture, or butcher block countertops. 

If you’re not ready to commit to color, consider sophisticated black accents. They’ve become popular for architectural features like window frames, doors, cabinets, faucets, and appliance fronts. “Black is the Sharpie that outlines the kitchen,” says JT Norman, design specialist at Kitchen Magic in Nazareth, Pa.

#3 Blend Your Spaces for Seamlessness

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Image: Andrea Rugg/Getty

The kitchen has become more of a room to live in. Even if you already have an open floor plan with adjoining spaces, you may want your furnishings, color palette, and accessories to blend more seamlessly. That way, there’s no jarring change from one room to another. McCormick says this is a shift from years past, when each room was a different color and sometimes a slightly different style. “With this new way, you can bring chairs from one room to another if you need more seating,” she says. “They look right, and it’s also easier on the eye.”

If your kitchen has separate dining and comfy hangout areas, you can still get a cohesive look by coordinating colors and styles. One way to blend spaces is to use the same style of cabinetry. Simple shaker cabinets are still a classic choice. Some homeowners also want panel fronts similar to their cabinets to camouflage kitchen appliances. And even if the color scheme isn’t exactly the same throughout, you might introduce one common denominator of a few similarly colored accessories in each room. 

#4 Go for Convenience With Smart Appliances

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Your tech-savvy side wants to find ways to use the latest developments in kitchen equipment to save time and effort. Why not get a jump on preheating the oven for the chicken you plan to roast after a hard day at work — or reheating the one you bought at the supermarket? Most major manufacturers offer models with Wi-Fi capability. You download an app onto your phone or tablet and program the unit. Voila! The range is warm when you arrive home, so you get to eat sooner. 

Faucets like Delta’s Touch2O Technology let you touch anywhere on the spout or faucet handle with your wrist or forearm to activate water flow if your hands are covered. So, no worries if you’re kneading pizzas for your gang.

You may or may not be ready for a fridge that knows if you’re low on butter or eggs and need to order. “Some buy this technology if they can afford it, even though they may not use it often,” says Chicago designer Susan Brunstrum of Studio Brunstrum.

But here’s something you can easily add and will want — more outlets and USB ports. You’ll be ready to charge everyone’s phone and other tech devices at one convenient charging station.

A creative kitchen can be a more livable space that displays your family’s interests and blends with your other rooms. And best of all, changes don’t have to be big, pricey, or time consuming. They can still make a major difference in ramping up your happiness quotient.

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Are Quartz Countertops Right for Your Kitchen?

The kitchen tends to be the home’s gathering place, so it’s only natural you want it to look and feel welcoming. But as the hub of your home, your kitchen needs durable countertops, especially if you have little ones helping with the cooking. Quartz countertops are a trendy choice for kitchens, but before you get in touch with your contractor, it’s important to assess the pros and cons and review some alternatives. 

What Are the Pros and Cons of Quartz Countertops?

Pros of Quartz Kitchen Countertops

  • Durable: Quartz countertops are highly durable, made from a mix of stones and stone-like materials bound together with resins. Makers of quartz countertops press the materials and resin into slabs that are solid and nonporous. That means the counters won’t chip or crack with everyday use (like when your little ones are helping you cook). 
  • Stain-resistant: Quartz is highly stain-resistant, thanks to its nonporous surface. But it can be stained by certain substances — like red wine, coffee, tea, tomato sauce, and juice — if the spill isn’t cleaned up immediately. The staining happens when the liquid interacts with the resin. You’ll also want to use gentle cleaners instead of harsh chemicals. Another positive: Quartz is relatively low maintenance and doesn’t require sealing. 
  • Highly customizable: Thanks to advances in engineered quartz, you can choose from a variety of patterns that can be custom-made or mirror the look of granite or marble. 

Cons of Quartz Countertops

  • Pricey: The price of quartz is high compared to the price of materials like marble and limestone. On average, quartz kitchen countertops cost $40 to $100 per square foot installed. 
  • Prone to heat damage: While quartz is heat-resistant, the binders used in about 10% of a quartz countertop slab are not. So, leaving hot cookware directly on a quartz counter could cause unsightly stains.  
  • Requires professional installation: Installing quartz countertops is probably not a DIY task. The material is incredibly heavy and needs professional attention to ensure the kitchen can support the counters.   

What Should You Look for in a Quartz Countertop?

Look for these quality markers when buying a quartz countertop:  

  • Cohesive coloring: Compare separate slabs from the quartz you plan to buy. Are they the same color? 
  • Coloring through the surface: Make sure the veins and colorations you see on the surface of the quartz continue throughout the slab. 
  • Consistent aggregates: Aggregates are the pebbles  you find along the edges of your countertops. No matter the size of these pebbles, they should be consistent throughout the countertop. 

Alternatives to Quartz Countertops

Your kitchen countertops should fit your lifestyle and the look of your space. So, before you choose them, explore several options to see what works best. Some alternatives to quartz kitchen countertops include:  

Marble

Marble is often comparable in price to quartz, but it has a unique and elegant look that may make the price worth it for some. While neither quartz nor marble requires resealing, marble has a porous surface, so it may be susceptible to stains, especially from acidic liquids, like tomato sauce or lemon juice. Quartz isn’t porous like marble but can still stain too. 

Slate

Slate is just as durable as quartz, but its designs and aggregates are more uniform. Slate costs more than quartz on average and requires a decent amount of maintenance, including regular sealing.  

Granite

Granite countertops are naturally made versus the man-made designs of quartz. While prices may be similar, granite requires more maintenance because of the need for regular resealing.  

How Much Do Quartz Counters Cost?

Several factors affect the cost of quartz countertops, including the brand, design, thickness, size of the project, and installation cost. On average, quartz countertops cost $40 to $100 per square foot installed. So, in an average kitchen with 30 square feet of countertop space, you’ll need to budget between $1,750 and $3,000 for quartz counters, with $2,300 being an average price. 

Compare that to other popular countertop options like granite, which costs between $2,500 and $5,000 for 30 square feet installed, or marble which may run you between $2,000 and $7,000. 

What Should You Ask Your Contractor About Installing Quartz Countertops?

Before you hire a pro to install new counters, be sure to ask a few questions, including:  

  • Is your team experienced with installing quartz countertops?  
  • Will replacing my kitchen countertops require a permit?  
  • How much do you charge for countertop installation, including removing my old countertops?  
  • Will you move my appliances and fixtures during installation, or am I responsible for that?  
  • Do you have insurance that covers any damage to my home or countertops during installation?  
  • Do you offer a warranty if something happens to the counters after installation? 

The answers to these questions and the information above can guide you as you decide whether quartz countertops are the best option for your kitchen.