Home Front: Jura Koncius and Terri Sapienza chat about kitchen design.

Mar 15, 2012

Home Front: Jura Koncius and Terri Sapienza chat about kitchen design.

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Hi, folks. Welcome to this morning's chat where we are focusing on: kitchens. Today's Local Living is our annual kitchens issue where we peek inside the home cooking spaces of some local "Top Chefs," we have a kitchen House Calls and a great story about a Post staffer who has a fireplace in her kitchen, but hates it. Can you imagine?? Check them all out when you have a moment, but in the meantime, let's get this chat started and talk kitchens.    

I am a designer and would like to submit a design for House Calls. Can you tell me who I should contact and their email please? Thank you!

Sure! We would love to hear from you. Contact Megan Buerger at buergerm(AT)washpost.com.

My husband and I are in the plannin stage of doing a kitchen remodel - this is our next (and hopefully last major) project. Currently we have white cabinets, white appliances and the counter is a black/white/tan granite. We are going to replace the floor which is currently laminete and redo the cabintes. I was hoping to keep the counters since they are only about 2 years old. What color do you suggest for cabinets and flooring? I am going to go to stainles steel appliances. The kitchen is pretty good size (it's not an open floor plan) and gets good light.

This is such a difficult design question to answer without actually seeing your kitchen space and adjacent rooms. Not to mention that what you are asking about really comes down to personal preference. My suggestion would be to comb though as many design magazines as you can and start ripping out pages of kitchens you like, even if you like only one small detail of the kitchen, rip the whole page out. Browse design blogs and Pinterest (you can see my kitchen board here) and make nots of what appeals to you. After searching for a bit, you should start to recognize patterns - looks, colors, styles, etc., that keep reoccurring. Use this as a guide to the choices you make in your own kitchen.   

In advance of our paint issue which is March 22 next Thursday, please send any paint questions you might have. I know you guys usually include them in the chats. But if you have something you've wanted to ask, we have our fandecks ready.

My 1960s era cabinets are not only a bit dated, the finish has come off in places. It's not in my budget to replace them, so what can I do to spruce them up? I've already replaced the knobs and pulls. Has anyone tried the cabinet refreshing kit that they sell at Home Depot? I'm really not up for a full stripping and painting project.

Unfortunately, I think a painting project is going to be your best bet on a good sprucing-up in this case. Hiring someone to do it for you is a lot less expensive than replacing them altogether. If it's in your budget, you should really consider it.

We are remodeling our small kitchen in a traditional home with oak floors and white off cabinets. What color granite works best - and what about backsplashes?

See my answer above about making color choices in your kitchen.

I am looking for a reasonably priced sectional sofa for my patio (willing to pay up to $1500, a bit more if it is wonderful). I've checked the usual suspects - C&B (has one I love, but overpriced), Ikea (has one on its website, but it is never in stock), PB, Overstock, Home Depot (they have one that is OK, but 1 inch too big for my deck), Lowes, CB2, West Elm, Home Decorators, etc. Any ideas where else to look? I was really hoping the Ikea one would come back in stock this year, but it seems unlikely at this point. Thanks!

Yikes! You have looked so many places. Clearly there needs to be more of this kind of outdoor sofa out there.  Try www.laneventure.com. Anyone else have ideas out there? What about Bo Concept or Design Within Reach? 

Good morning. I'm looking for an apple green paint color for my condo's living and dining room spaces. Back in 2005 I painted my then-living room in a cheerful apple green shade, but we moved a year later and I didn't keep a sample or the color name. I recently went to collect paint samples and all of the greens seem to trend towards gray or beige shades, which I'm trying to avoid. Can you help me with a few suggestions? Thanks!

Well, there is the fabulous Cooking Apple Green by Farrow & Ball. Benjamin Moore's Potpourri Green is also nice.

I don't have a lot of money to spend. But I would love to paint and add a backsplash. I've seen the backsplashes that are stick on. Do they really work? Also I have painted cabinets that have chipped paint and need touchup. Do I need to sand them or can I just repaint? Thanks so much.

Stick-on backsplashes? I'm not familiar with them, but they don't sound like a great idea. What about peelable wallpaper? You can hang it and easy peel it off when you want to take it down - it's a great way to add temporary color and pattern in any room. Check out this Apartment Therapy post for some options. Oh, and for your cabinets, I would sand the chipped areas down before you repaint.

Do you recommend "throw " rugs in a kitchen to protect hardwood floors? Thank you. 

Sure. They also are a good way to add color and pattern.

The beautiful weather has encouraged me to think about spring cleaning. I'm wondering if it will be worth the investment to hire a company to wash our windows. If so, does anyone have recommendations? Thanks!

Oh, yes, I highly recommend having this done. I have it done once a year around this time and it makes such a difference in the house - thanks for the reminder to make an appointment! I don't have the name of the company i use on-hand, but anyone else want to chime in here?

My house was built in1965 and has celery green aluminum siding on the upper half and cream colored bricks on the lower. The shutters and double front doors are currently a dark red. They need repainting and I want a new look. (The roof is very dark grey.) I was thinking of a darker cream color similar to the brick but I thought that might be boring. What do you suggest?

How about a blue door for some pop? How about Moody Blue by C2 or Clearest Ocean Blue by Benjamin Moore.

Our kitchen is currently closed off and has ugly linoleum flooring. The rest of the floor in our house is hardwood. We would like to knock down a wall when we remodel to open the space up, but what should we do for flooring? Is there a way to install hardwood in the kitchen to match the existing floor? The hardwood on the rest of the level is in good condition and we don't have the budget to replace the flooring on the entire level. Thanks!

When the wood is installed in the kitchen, just have it stained to match your existing wood floors.

I redid my kitchen 3 years ago and used a well-known Bethesda kitchen design company. The designer used Christiana cabinetry in a birch veneer finish. Unfortunately, after about a year, the most-used cabinets were showing dryness and cracking in the finish, and they also picked up dirt since the hard finish was wearing. The company replaced the cabinet fronts (although I had to pay a carpenter to install them.) Now I see that many of the other drawer and door faces are losing their finish and getting rough. I do not wash them with anything other than a damp sponge and they do not get wet. There is a 10-year warranty. Any advice?

eek...that's unfortunately. I would advise you to go back to the design company with pictures and a copy of your warranty and have them honor it. Good luck.

I need paint color advice for my master bath of our recently purchased home. Our master bath has light taupe with black flecks ceramic tiles and light terra cotta accent tiles with the vanity counter made of the same tile. The cabinets are a creamy ivory color. The current paint color is peach, which I hate. I'm thinking of an aqua color in there, but I'm wondering if it would clash with the terra cotta colored tile. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Peach is actually not a bad choice in there! Maybe you have the wrong shade. A pale peach would be nice with the terracotta. Maybe Behr's Naive Peach? Or you could go with something more neutral such as Creamy Beige by Behr.

Would you ever consider doing a deck/yard house call? We are waiting to buy outside furniture until we finish the railing, but once that happens I've got a blank slate and few ideas for our 13' x 35' yard.

Sure. Send in your proposal to Megan Buerger at buergerm@washpost.com.

Throw rugs in a kitchen sounds like a recipe for disaster! Yikes. You are dealing with hot pots and pans and plates full of food, and you want to put down a tripping hazard?? Sounds like a very bad idea to me.

Me too.

For the poster who was asking about keeping white cabinets, I'd say yes. I remodeled my kitchen five years ago and still love it. Definitely get a glossy finish rather than matte. So much easier to keep clean. I spent a lot on my kitchen but it was worth every penny - Poggenpohl cabinets (not the very modern ones), stainless appliances, and a lovely black, salmon, gold, and white flecked granite. The floor I kept - Mexican saltillo tile. I chose the granite to coordinate with the floor.

Thanks a lot. Sounds like you made some great choices.

I was the person who wrote in two weeks ago about my scary basement and slithery and buggy friends. Unfortunately my husband didn't go for the cat suggestion, but I did start on painting the wood paneling and I love it! I used 1 coat of oil-based primer to start, then switched over to regular primer for the second coat (It took me around 14 hours just to prime). I went with a light grey color (Alaskan Husky) for the main walls and will have white trim throughout, with a dark blue accent wall at one end and possibly another accent wall around the corner. I am also going to go crazy and paint the 7 wood doors throughout the basement in bicycle yellow. Thanks for all the suggestions and hopefully this nice weather will keep the outdoor enemies outside and away from my less-scary basement!

There are few things I like better than a decorating success story, so thanks for the happy update! And, if I may, I'd like to make a suggestion: forget about the accent walls. Continue painting the whole room gray and the doors yellow. That's such a pretty and cheerful combination, you don't need the accent walls (and I think you'll ultimately like the look of the space without them). If you want to bring blue into the room, use pillows and other accessories. 

Sorry Terri, but don't knock it until you've tried them. I have stick on stainless steel tiles as a backsplash and I get constant compliments on it. The whole thing cost me under $75. It cleans easy, and no tile cutting needed, just a good pair of scissors, and it took a few hours and it still looks great a year later. I did buy extra foam tape and I've had no problem with them falling off.

Well, that's great that you had a success with them and are happy with the outcome - that's all that matters. Thanks for sharing.

Remember wood flors dent, scratch and dont do well in damp environments. I have a commercial grade restauran floor in my kitchen with a drain in the center. My coutertops and shelving down below are stainless steel. I have two deep restaurant sinks with one of those big commercial ktichen faucets. I spray down my floors and hit them with soap and squegee the water down the drain. I had nice oak flooring in my previous home in the kitchen and tomato sauce, lemon juice, and water caused serious issues. Not to mention the normal drops of cans etc. Wood looks pretty but after two years of rela world use what will it look like?

Wow. Good for you.

What are great gender neutral colors for a nursery? Blue is not off limits, because it can definitely be feminine, and I don't want to limit myself to yellow or green. I'll find out the gender, but I'm not going to do princess or sports themes, either!

I think pale green is the perfect gender neutral color for a nursery. In feng shui, it's the color of growth and nature. A good thing for all babies and toddlers.

I've done 3 kitchen jobs since 1992 and I endorse the clipping file concept. In fact, I had 8 years of clippings before we finally we able to do the first job. Constantly analyze your needs and movements around your existing kitchen to produce the best layout and appliances that truly do meet your needs (including cleaning...with stainless appliances know what you're getting) and cabinets and pantry that accomodate everything that needs storage. I'm a double kitchen window over double sink person so that's what I did in all 3 kitchens. I have a warming drawer which makes hectic family life much easier and is dogproof! No more counter thieves.

Three kitchen renovations in 10 years? I'm impressed!  Thanks for giving some additional weight to my tearsheet recommendation - it works.

I have two in my kitchen, one in front of the sink and one in front of the cooktop. They come in different colors and sizes and are easy on the feet.


Have you tried (or know anything about) the Rustoleum kitchen cabinet paint kit? I saw it at Home Depot last weekend and it claims (!) that you don't need to sand or prime, just clean with their solution and slap on the paint (with an optional decorative glaze) and overcoat. Thoughts? We're going from a dark brown wood to a light yellow (or something like that), if it matters...

Any Rustoleum users out there?

I found a great set at a great price at JC Penney last year. Check the website.

Oh yes. I forgot about JCPenney. Good idea.

If you're a Costco member, they have a pretty wide selection online and prices include shipping. JC Penney is another option.

Another vote for JCPenney. You never know what you'll find at Costco.

I had luck at Kmart of all places. Spent less than $500 and now, 3 years later, the set looks great. My fancy shmancy neighbors have no idea :)

Soooo cool.

What about painting the door a green that is a shade or two deeper than the celery green siding on the upper half of the house? Would look great with pots of lavender or pink flowers. . . . think spring

Another idea.

If the chatter is local, have they gone to Offenbacher's? No affiliation, but I've been seeing the sales ads every two seconds this week on TV!!

Yes you are so right!

Also check out Chilewich rugs. Better in a kitchen then a regular throw because they don't move around and can be easily cleaned (hosed off, actually).

Love Chilewich.

maybe try hayneedle.com-- I think they are a sort of consolidator or something, they seem to show products sold from a bunch of different retailers at a lot of different price points.

Thank you. Glad to know about it.

I recently replaced three whie hollow core doors in our finished basement with solid, paneled doors. . . painted them BM Bermuda Turquoise is semi-gloss, added new satin nickel hardware from Home Depot. They look gorgeous and have completely changed the look of the basement at a very reasonable price (Walls are SW Rice Grain)

Sounds very stylish. Good for you.

I think the secret here is to use rugs with backing on them so they don't slip and slide. Less of a danger to all involved, and when you're carrying something your feet will already know where to expect those rugs!

So true.

A friend of mine has some brightly-colored rubber floor tiles (about 2' x 2') in her kitchen, on top of the vinyl flooring. It is a cushioned surface when you're standing and working, and it doesn't slip. Do a google search for "SoftFloor" or "SoftTile".

Terrific. Thanks.

Although this is not a kitchen question, it does deal with food and the proximity to a 1/2 bathroom. Long story short, we tore down the wall between the old dining room and kitchen to make one large kitchen. We moved the dining room into the old office (10x13 room) which has an adjoining 3/4 bathroom. My hope is to make the doorway into this office about 6" wider to open up the space (unfortunately that is as big as we can go as we will hit a load-bearing wall). We already have 1 other full bath on this floor, a half bath in the basement, and another full bath upstairs in the master suite. Should we keep this 3/4 bathroom or should we tear it out to make the dining room larger? We will not be moving anytime soon so I'm not too concerned about resale.

That's a tough call, but if you're not concerned about resale, then make the choice based on how you live/want to live in your house. I've seen houses with bathrooms off the dining room, though, and it is so weird and, well, unappealing. But something to consider: will you always use the space as a dining room or will you decide to put the office (or other family space) back later? If so, you might kick yourself for taking the bathroom out. How about this: could you just paint the bathroom door and framing the same color as the wall so it will blend in and be a little less noticeable? Then, just dont use it. But if you really don't need the bathroom and want to get rid of it and open up the space, go for it.

We couldn't match the hardwood in the adjoining DR & hallway/foyer when we did our kitchen, it has a very prominent grain to it. so we chose a very dark bamboo (no grain) that matched the dark grain in the existing hardwood. It looks absolutely fine. The woods only touch each other in the doorways though.

Thanks for sharing this. I know this is a situation many people face when upgrading their homes.

My 15-year old Pergo in the kitchen is finally in need of a redo. I would really love to just replace it with identical product, but I can't find the same washed-pine white, which works well with my cabinets (birch) and counters (ubatuba). Any suggestions? This is a high-traffic area with entrances from the family room, garage, and deck. Thanks!

What about installing real hardwood stained to the color of your Pergo?

I actually have a small rug in my kitchen. It's not really a throw rug, but more like an actual carpet, just small. I bought it in Darjeeling, and it is actually very nice and colorful, and looks perfect in the kitchen. I don't have a problem with it moving around, but the other issue is that it does get dirty, since things spill on the ground. I was prepared for that, so it's OK, but something else to keep in mind.

Yes, this is the kind of rug I had in mind when I answered the original question. I'm sure it not only adds color, but reflects your style and personality, too. Sounds like a great choice.

I'd love to buy some but am afraid our humid climate will kill it! Is it meant to be outside at all times? Or am I expected to bring it in ever? What won't mold or rust? Thanks!

You know they have really improved outdoor furniture and the pieces really do last outside for many seasons. The special mold and mildew resistant fabrics do very well despite our humid and rainy summer days. You should take them in for the winter and make sure you give them a good cleaning before you store them.

Hello! I'm on the hunt for a lower-price alternative to the Nanette chair at Mitchell Gold. Do you or the chatters have any suggestions? Thanks!

I don't know what the price of the Nanette is, but have you checked out the options at West Elm? Follow this link and take a look at the first row.

Our fridge/freezer sounds like it's trying to take off for a transatlantic flight -- I think we need to buy a new one this weekend. I think stainless would look great in our kitchen, but really want the kids to be able to use their magnet letters, etc. What do you think about the stainless-look stuff? Does it look as nice as stainless? Are there any stainless fridges that are reliably magnetic?

Why don't you get a bulletin board and chalk board, or even a magnetic board? You can then still work with magnetic letters and use your magnets to hold up the kids' artwork. Stainless is really the best investment and best look in refrigerators. 

Do you have suggestions for paint color for a new construction rather bland powder room? I was considering a silvery grey or a shade of eggplant? (crazy, I know). I've read that this room can be a small 'jewel" and colors can be more bold?Thanks. jackdonna46@comcast.net

Yes. Definitely go bold in this small room. Eggplant? What about Portuguese Dawn by C2 or Calypso by Ralph Lauren. As for silvery grey, Cumulus Cloud or Heavy Goose by Martha Stewart for Home Depot.

I saw on a Martha Stewart email, there was a gray and white bathroom. Would the gray be too trendy or would it work?

Not trendy at all, classic.

We did ours a creamsicle-like orange. It looks great with blues and greens and browns, which are pretty gender-neutral.


i have a 25 year old kitchen that I wanted to redo. this is a biggie for me. i have looked through magazines/newspapers but never see my kitchen or understand what I am looking for. current kitchen space is large but has 6 opening to various rooms. keep kosher & want to add built in second dishwasher/extra sink. also want to keep kitchen table for grandchildren. what is the best way to start?

When looking through magazines, you don't have to search for your exact kitchen configuration, just pictures of kitchens that appeal to you as well as any detail in a kitchen that appeals to you.

Can you turn it into a Butler's Pantry with a wetbar and hide the remaining plumbing? This way, it could be easily turned back one day if you change your mind!

Yes, yes, yes.  great idea.

We're out of time. Thanks for the lively discussion. Enjoy the weather and chat with you next week.

In This Chat
Terri Sapienza
Terri Sapienza is a staff writer for The Washington Post's Local Living section.
Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily twitter feed @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering, organizing and DC retail.

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