Kitchen and Baths with Kerry Ann Rodriguez of Case Architects & Remodelers - Home Front

Kerry Ann Rodriguez
Jan 25, 2018

Kerry Ann Rodriguez is the director of project development at Case Architects & Remodelers. She has been designing baths and kitchens for eight years. She attends industry trade shows and keeps in touch with trends and new products. She will be here to answer your questions about improving these two crucial areas of your home.

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. She and weekly guests, whether Martha Stewart, the Property Brothers or Nate Berkus, answer your decorating and design questions. Jura is always happy to whip out her paint chips, track down a hard-to-find piece of furniture or offer her seasoned advice on practical living and decluttering. For more than 10 years, Home Front has been an online conversation about the best way to make your home comfortable, stylish and fun. We invite you to submit questions and share you own great tips, ideas and gripes. No problem is too big or too small, send them over.

Today we are talking kitchens and baths, areas of the house that constantly seem to be in need of help. Kerry Ann Rodriguez of Case Architects & Remodelers is here to help us. Kerry Ann is the director of project development at Case. She has been designing baths and kitchens for eight years and is up to date on all the trends and new products. Let's chat.

Good Morning Everyone, Happy to be here! Please let me know any design issues or questions you may have.  Hope to give you a helpful response and a fresh take! 

I need to replace my appliances, so while I'm at it I will replace the counter tops as well. But we plan to sell the house in about six years, and I assume, or hope, the appliances will outlast that. Do I need to worry that I'll have to replace the counter tops again to align myself with whatever is "in" at that time? I know you can't see into the future, but how often does it seem that it changes?

In my experience there are several things I recommend; First and foremost go neutral, no colors or strong, bold veining. Secondly, I would go with a quartz product that will be low maintence and will still look like new 6 years down the road. 

Any suggestions on what to replace fluorescent tubes with in a galley kitchen? I only have 8' ceilings, so can't have anything hanging too low. The only good thing about the tubes is they provide a great amount of light.

There are so many great lighting options available now, especially with LED bulbs that give a lot of light and have a much longer life span. For 8 foot ceilings you can find many surface mount chandeliers specifically made for this height. There is a variation in the amount of bulbs and some that are adjustable so that you can acheive the amount of light you are looking for and customize the lights direction.   

I love the look of cement tiles in kitchens and baths. Do you think it’s a trend or do you think cement tiles are here to stay? Are they more expensive than porcelain?

Cement Tiles certainly are a huge trend at the moment but they really have been around for over a Century. So, I think while they are very popular and popping up all over the place it is something that has been around for a long time and I believe will trend again in years to come.


Porcelain imitations are a great option because not only are they more affordable but they are much easier to maintain. While cement tiles requiring sealing and sometimes buffing, porcelain tiles do not and can be cleaned with regular household products. My one recommendation would be make sure to get a sample or visit a local showroom to see the tiles in person. As with anything some products are better than others and it is important to see what you’re getting before pulling the trigger. 

When I remodeled my kitchen five years ago, I opted for a microwave over the stove, having been assured the fan /vent would be sufficient. Huge mistake. Every time I use the oven, the smoke detector goes off when I open the door. Microwave fan is not sufficient. If I had it to do over again I would definitely put in a vent hood. Wondering where you stand on this?

I am sorry to hear of your micro-hood troubles. Unfortunately. this is common especially with a unit that is self circulating. If your unit does vent outside it may just not be strong enough with the range you currently have. 

Ranges and cooktops now(especially of the Gas variety) require a certain amount of CFMs to clear out the amount of heat and smoke they can put out.  I suggest looking at a undercabinet mounted hood, Vent-A-Hood is a great and affordable brand with lots of style options. 

I'm hopefully remodeling my kitchen this spring. Replacing all of the cabinets and appliances. What do I do while I have no fridge?

When remodeling a Kitchen of a home we create an area in the home where we can create a temporary kitchen. Some where you can have some basic appliances; a microwave, coffee maker, and a small refridgerator. That way you can still prepare everyday food items and not break the bank eating out for every meal.  

Looking to paint my small kitchen. I have oak cabinets. The room is currently a pale yellow. What paint colors are trending for this year?

White, White, White! Almost everyone I meet and every kitchen I see white is the "It" color. It is fresh and bright which is helpful in spaces that don't get a lot of natural light. 

If you fear it being too Sterile another popular color trend is mixing Black and white or Gray and white. We often are using black or gray on the lower cabinets and white on the uppers. To warm up this look just add brass finishes!

I got frustrated with my jetted tub/shower combo a few month ago and had the whole thing torn out. Now I can't seem to settle on a tile. Practical me says to go with some combination of carrara marble (leaning towards 4" x 10" in a running bond pattern with an interesting mosaic marble on the floor. I'll only be in the house for another 5 years max. This is what I'm seeing in all the remodeled houses in my area. Fun me would rather go with a deep teal tile on floor and gray crackle finish on the walls...what do you suggest? For what it's worth, my house would probably sell for $1.2, it's in Del Ray - lots of people say that folks who buy houses will tear it out and put in what they want anyway, but I think at the price point my house is at they really are expecting the house to be move-in ready.

To clients looking at resale in the near future I generally say go neutral. In your case however I think being in the Delray area where home owners are usually young and fun why not be a little risky! I think at this point remodel for you and enjoy your space to the fullest, because you never know what the next home owner's tastes are going to be. 

I often see quite a mix of metals and finishes, in kitchens especially, featured in magazines - what's your take on this trend?

This is a trend that I am currently loving! I have done quite a few projects where we have done a variety of finishes and they have all turned out beautifully. This can allow a home owner to experiment with a finish that may not be in the rest of the home. Specifically I love the look of chrome and matte brass, this is a great combo in a more contemporary or eclectic space.  However less is more, so don't over do it on fixtures; limit how many different items you have in a space or it can be overwhelming. 

I’m recovering from a burst pipe and taking advantage of the upheaval to organize my books. Current debate: put classics and humor in the guest room, for guests? Or in the living room, to show off how clever I am? It’s a two bedroom apartment.

Good for you for taking the time to organize - and hopefully declutter - your book stash. Clearly the books you display in your living room are those that show your interests to the world. One tip - leave room on each shelf for one or two more books so you can add to them in the future without having to shove them on top.


It seems that kitchen design in particular goes through certain trends--all stainless steel appliances, certain kinds of granite, glass-front cabinets, then white cabinets, etc., to the point that you can almost walk into a kitchen and guess the date of the remodel. Do you have any suggestions to avoid this? Similarly, are there any current design ideas that you see aging well? Thanks for taking questions today.

Since there are many components to a kitchen it is hard to avoid every item standing the test of time.  When it comes to appliances if you are looking to avoid this consider going fully-integrated. A shaker style door is a timeless look that is transitional and can be slightly modified to your tastes by adding a molding bead or two.  For countertops I would say go with natural materials in nuetral tones, since new products are constantly coming on the market its hard to avoid items not becoming dated. Slab materials such as Calacatta and Carrara really are timeless so that would be the direction I would suggest for longevity. 

Thanks for taking questions today. We are considering a master bath remodel and trying to decide whether to include a tub, either with the shower or separately, or have just a shower. I don't think we would miss a tub and it would be nice to have that space for other things. But I wonder whether omitting a tub would have much effect on resale value down the road. What are you seeing your clients do on this question? To tub or not to tub?

If you have another tub in the home you do not need to keep a tub in the master bath. However many buyers do see it as a selling point to have both a tub and a seperate shower.  Rather then limiting your shower space to a tub/shower combo, consider a wet room approach. This option allows you to have a larger shower space with a free standing tub with it. 

What are the latest trends and materials for a barrier free shower, especially for minimally tiled showers. I didn't like tiled kitchen countertops in the 70's due to the hassles of keeping them clean, and I am finding a tiled shower even more difficult to keep clean. I am hoping that there are some solid surface options available for showers (other than fiberglass) that would minimize cleaning grout lines.

You are in luck, there are some amazing large format tiles on the market, some of which replicate natural stone to a T. There is a porcelain line that is sold in 60" x 120" slabs so depending on the size of your shower it could be completely seamless.  This is something you can find at Renaissance Tile and Bath or Architectural Ceramics. 

Good morning! I'm currently house hunting in DC and have seen the full gamut of truly baffling floor plans. I'm open to some amount of renovation, but it's hard to tell if some of these prior mistakes can be fixed without huge sums of money. I'm talking about homes where you walk into the kitchen and say to yourself, why did they think it was ok to put the refrigerator in a totally different room? Essentially, what broad advice do you have for someone who is contemplating buying a home that will need a serious kitchen revamp? Any resources for that I should be consulting to get an idea of what is feasible?

I often have people contact me during their search for a new home for advice on costs of renovations.  It is hard to get exact costs without full access to a home but we can certainly give you a good idea for items such as removing a load bearing wall or relocating appliances. Chances are it's a floor plan or an issue we have dealt with before. 

We're looking to redo our kitchen later this year, and our square footage is "expanded galley" size. We won't be able to "bump out" the kitchen in any direction. Can you share some tips for maximizing counter space and storage?

One thing that is hugely popular now is to do a storage wall with floor to ceiling cabinets. We put outlets and roll outs in these cabinets so that they can be used to house small appliances such as; coffee makers, toaster ovens, etc. This frees up a ton of counter space and omits clutter. 

We're thinking of freshening our aging master bath and I want to know about tubs/showers etc. What's involved in just replacing a tub vs making it into a walk-in shower?

When creating a new shower there are certain water proofing measures that come into play. There is a waterproof membrane that is set at the shower based and then the tile pan is created with a slope to receive tile. It is a bit more costly and labor intensive to create a shower versus replace an existing tub. The shower option also requires more tile so that will add cost as well. 

There are so many options for counters these days - granite, quartz, marble... What do you recommend?

This really depends on ones tastes and life style. Most people are looking for something low maintenance that will stand the test of time.  While granite is very durable, the aesthetics are most often busy and dark. Marble is a soft material that requires constant care but is available in the lighter palette that most home owners are looking for. If someone is looking for both the soft light look and low maintenance Quartz is the way to go. It offers tons of color and texture options but can take a beating. 

Daughter & son-in-law just bought a house with a tiny kitchen. They are considering removing the fridge and using the space for much-needed cabinets with countertop, with a minifridge under the counter. There would be a larger fridge in the basement as well. What are your thoughts on this fro the functional perspective? (Resale value is not a concern.)

Refrigeration now has many different size options and configurations. It may sound crazy but it can be much more functional to have under counter refrigeration. There are drawer units that can be split into fridge/ freezer and door units as well.  People with small children find these very helpful so they can make items like juice boxes and yogurts within reach for little hands. 

Good morning, I just purchased a condo and the lower kitchen cabinets have a half upper shelf, limiting storage. Space for storage is so limited, a friend suggested pull out shelves to improve accessibility and increase storage. I have not unpacked boxes since I do not have the space to place baking items and pots and pans. What should I look for in pullout shelves and how much might each 24" cabinet cost with two pullout shelves? Is this the sort of small project Case might do? Thank you for your reply.

There are so many options available its hard to say how much they cost based on model and function. Rev-A-shelf makes some great storage solutions that you can usually install yourself. If you are looking for a more custom option this is definitely something Case/Fred can help with.

Hi there. I'm in a 1950s brick home. The heating vents are in the ceiling. Needless to say, it's freezing down there in the winter. Although we haven't tried, I'm afraid that even blasting the upstairs to 80 degrees wouldn't move the temps down there. Any tips on keeping a basement warm? Thanks!

Have you considered electric baseboard heaters? They are inexpensive and easy to install. Another option is heated floors, if you are considering new flooring down there this would be the best option for maintaining a constant temperature in that area. 

What is the best way to put radiant heating in the floor of a bathroom in an apartment building with concrete floors? Or would it be better to include some other type of heating (I know Runtal makes many wall fixtures)?

Since you have concrete floors doing a floating floor with a netted radiant heat unit below would be a great option. They are inexpensive and energy efficient. 

Thanks Kerry Ann. We had tons of questions today and I'm not surprised. Next week we will be chatting about how to save money around your house - with Elisabeth Leamy, a consumer writer, author and TV reporter. See you then.

We are installing a white subway tile backsplash and painting upper cabinets white. All of the other walls in our open layout home will be light gray with white crown molding. Should we paint the upper half of the backsplash walls white as well, or gray like everything else?

I would paint them gray as well to keep consistency. It will make the rooms feel more fluid and the spaces seem larger. 

We are getting ready to gut our current bathrooms in the next year and, in the interest of 'aging in place' would likes shower and flooring materials that are extremely low maintenance (ie: as little grout as possible!) and also stylish. We tend to like either traditional or urban cottage type design. Suggestions? Thank you!

Porcelain all the way, it is durable and can be cleaned with everyday cleaners. You can use large format on the walls to minimize grout and smaller format on the floors to create friction and prevent slipping. 

Thank you All for your great questions! I am sorry if I was unable to get to yours!  


Kerry Ann Rodriguez

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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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