Break the Boundaries of a Small Kitchen With These 12 Tips

By Yanic Simard, Houzz

A kitchen of any size can feel roomy if you know a few tricks. Sticking to white cabinets and walls is a good start, but there are many other ways to create extra room in your kitchen, or create the illusion of a bigger space than you have, all without sacrificing a sense of personality. Here are 12 of my favorite ways to balance storage, style and long sightlines to get a functional layout with a spacious vibe.

deVOL Kitchens, original photo on Houzz

deVOL Kitchens, original photo on Houzz









1. Consider shallow cabinets. Here’s some outside-the-box thinking: Not all of your lower cabinets must be the standard 24-inch depth. Most cabinet lines (even stock cabinets from big box stores) also come in a 12- or 15-inch depth usually used for upper cabinets.


Using slimmer lower cabinets for one area has its advantages. It opens a bit more floor space, which can make a big difference in a tight kitchen. It also reduces your storage slightly, but often the backs of deep cabinets are hard to reach anyway, so the shallower cabinets can be just right for everyday items.


2. Reduce your hardware. It’s a no-brainer that eliminating counter clutter is important for keeping a kitchen looking open and breezy, but you can take this a step further by removing the hardware.


Using cabinet doors with touch-activated latches or integrated reach-in pulls reinforces the clean lines of your new kitchen, which subtly helps it appear bigger. It also gives you fewer little items to bump into or get caught on your clothing, so the space will feel easier to move in too.

Camilia Banks Interior Design, original photo on Houzz

Camilia Banks Interior Design, original photo on Houzz









3. Rethink the double sink. Clients often request a double sink — sometimes before anything else. Large double sinks have their uses, but if you’re willing to compromise and choose a single sink (or even a one-and-a-half sink with a slim second bowl), it can open up better storage options and more unbroken counter space.


This applies especially to stock cabinet lines, which include a limited number of size options.


If your sink is centered on the window, without a ton of room on either side, this can create a “dead zone” next to it that can’t accommodate anything. Using a smaller cabinet for the sink frees up room on either side, which can open up new options for adjacent cabinets.


For example, switching from a 36-inch sink cabinet (for a double sink) to a 24-inch cabinet (for a single sink) frees up 6 inches on both sides. This can turn 6 inches of adjacent space into 12 inches, which is enough for a usable cabinet.


If you don’t think you’ll use that second sink bowl frequently, it’s worth exploring what else that space could be used for.


Toronto Interior Design Group | Yanic Simard, original photo on Houzz

Toronto Interior Design Group | Yanic Simard, original photo on Houzz









5. Put your fridge on a diet. Speaking of saving inches, choosing a slimmer refrigerator can really open up your kitchen as well. Clients usually want the largest fridge they can fit, but these large 36-inches-and-up models often end up full of clutter or simply remain half empty.


If you don’t cook often, or frequently shop for fresh produce, try slimming down your fridge to 30 inches or even 28 inches and leaving more room open for other essentials.


6. Use panel appliances. Not prepared to choose compact appliances? You can still get a much lighter look.


Panel-ready appliances (usually fridges and dishwashers) are designed to be able to receive a door front of your choosing so they can blend into the look of your kitchen cabinets. The resulting look is more fluid, which creates an overall larger, airier appearance. It’s usually not an inexpensive upgrade, but it definitely creates a look of sophisticated luxury.

Toronto Interior Design Group | Yanic Simard, original photo on Houzz

Toronto Interior Design Group | Yanic Simard, original photo on Houzz









7. Mirror your backsplash. When you’re tucked into the kitchen working away on dinner, that’s when the space usually feels the smallest.


Using a mirror for the backsplash opens up the sightlines, making the room seem much bigger, especially from close up. For a smart, moodier effect, use a tinted glass so the reflection is more subtle.


8. Use shelf uppers. In a small kitchen, removing all the upper cabinets may not be a practical option, but you can always use as much or as little as you like to house just your most attractive everyday items.


A few open shelves on one wall will perfectly hold daily-use tableware, storage jars and bins, and cookbooks, and give the room a much more open feel. It can also give a beautiful window a little more space to breathe so the whole room feels less stuffed.


You don’t even have to fully commit to shelf uppers. Try simply removing the doors from a cabinet to simulate this breezy look. You can always put the doors back on later if you want to.


Contemporary Kitchen, original photo on Houzz

Contemporary Kitchen, original photo on Houzz








9. Add glass door cabinets. Here’s another way to lighten your uppers, but without actually changing your storage. Switch out typical solid cabinet fronts to doors with glass inserts to make the look much airier.


Use this cabinet to display attractive drinkware, or use frosted glass so you only get a faint peek at the mishmash of items stored within.


10. Install cabinet lighting. The importance of good lighting cannot be stressed enough, and in kitchens especially the lighting is often insufficient, coming just from ceiling fixtures in the center of the room. Add lighting under, above and even inside the cabinets to make the room feel much brighter and bigger, as the dark shadows around the cabinets would otherwise visually shrink the space.


Related: Find Your Perfect Under Cabinet Lighting Fix Here


For a quick fix, add plug-in LED strip fixtures or battery-powered tap lights under the cabinets for extra brightness.


Paul Craig Photography, original photo on Houzz

Paul Craig Photography, original photo on Houzz









11. Use a short backsplash. So you’ve carefully configured your storage, and now you’ve got some beautiful open wall space. To make that wall look 10 feet tall (even if it’s only 8), try using a short, minimal backsplash in a color that blends with the wall. The lack of an obvious dividing line between where the tile stops and the plain wall starts keeps the planes of the wall looking taller, so your open space looks positively vast.


Alternatively, if you have the budget, you can take tile all the way to the ceiling or use a chic slab backsplash for a truly unbroken appearance.


Try a stainless steel backsplash to present a subtle sheen that almost acts like a mirror (as discussed above), giving the room a sense of depth and echoing the finishes of steel appliances or fixtures.


12. Unwrap your hood. You may not want to eliminate any true upper cabinets, but the partial cabinets that wrap around a hood fan usually have little function other than hiding ductwork. Choose a beautiful range hood that is meant to be seen, and let it create a little visual break from the upper cabinets. Even this small bit of depth can make a kitchen feel less claustrophobic.

How to Glam Up Your Bathroom


By Neila Deen, Houzz

What makes high-end bathrooms feel so luxurious? Is it the large slabs of expensive marble and the deep soaking tub? Partially, yes. But often, deluxe bathrooms also benefit from thoughtful details that can make the space feel glamorous, even spa-like.

So if you’re not in the market to rip out and replace costly items like your tub, vanity or floors, take a cue from high-end bathrooms and look to your fixtures and accessories as opportunities to add a bit of luxury. Try one or more of these nine strategies to give your bathroom a luxe makeover without breaking the bank.

INS CONTRACTORS, original photo on Houzz

INS CONTRACTORS, original photo on Houzz










1. Choose statement lighting. Whether it’s a glittering chandelier or wall-mounted sconces, try swapping ordinary lighting for a fixture that makes a stylish statement. Hanging a chandelier in the middle of the room or over a soaking tub can make a stunning and luxurious impact, as shown here in this all-white bathroom. The crystal chandelier with a dark iron base gives the room an expensive glow without detracting from the clean white palette.

Blackband Design, original photo on Houzz

Blackband Design, original photo on Houzz








You don’t have to use a chandelier to make a statement with lighting. Dazzling pendant lights or wall sconces above a sink can give your ordinary bathroom a jewel box atmosphere, and they can be found for $200 and up. Look for something with a distinct and artful look that complements the rest of your bathroom hardware. Here, the reflective glass sconces coordinate with the chrome hardware and bring a more sophisticated atmosphere to this fairly simple bathroom.

Jute Interior Design, original photo on Houzz

Jute Interior Design, original photo on Houzz










2. Glam up your mirror. If you have a plain bathroom mirror in the standard rectangle or square shape, look for an alternative with more stylish details. This one is a great example: Its elegant flower shape gives the room a more designed look.

Selecting a mirror with a glitzy finish, such as gold, or a jewel-like multifaceted rim can really transform your vanity wall. Decorative wall mirrors can cost as little as $150, depending on their size. For a highly styled look, pair your glam mirror with fashionable sconces.

3. Choose a regal paint color. A dark wall color can instantly add a posh look to a bathroom. Dramatic paint choices like charcoal or navy create a welcoming contrast to common bathroom finishes such as white, helping the space seem brighter and newer.

A dark color can also bring a modern look to older wood finishes on cabinets, window frames or baseboards. And darker hues mix well with mirrors and metallic hardware, allowing them to shine brightly and be the star of the room. This translates to a more styled and luxurious look.

4. Upgrade your cabinet hardware. Instead of blowing your budget on a new vanity, splurge for upgraded cabinet hardware for your existing one. For a more luxurious look, seek out designs that have some bling in the form of a bit more polish or sparkle or dramatic shape. High-style hardware can be found in polished chrome, brushed brass and even crystal and agate. Such knobs and pulls can be found for $10 and up per piece.

Structures Building Company, original photo on Houzz

Structures Building Company, original photo on Houzz








For a cohesive look, coordinate your handle or pull with at least one other element in the bathroom, such as your fabulous new sconces or mirrors. Here, the brass cabinet handles and wall sconces pair well, adding elegance to an otherwise ordinary vanity.

5. Splurge on scents and soaps. Have you ever swooned over the yummy-smelling soaps in a fancy hotel or restaurant restroom? Making the small investment in a lavish hand soap is probably one of the easiest ways to add some luxury to your bathroom. This spa-like touch can cost as little as $15 for a bottle of dreamy essential-oil hand soap. Look to your big-box, discount and online vendors for cost-saving options.

To really bring on the aromatherapy comfort, splurge on a high-end reed diffuser, a candle and — if you’re up for changing it out each week — a vase of flowers for your vanity. Fresh, inviting smells can make a bathroom feel like a spa.

6. Double up on towels. Luxurious spas and high-end bathrooms offer an extravagant amount of soft, comfy towels. With an investment of $12 to $20 per plush towel, you can create this amenity in your own abode.

Place neat piles of towels on shelves, roll them in baskets or set them on benches. Keep everything looking sophisticated by selecting towels of the same color and style. You’ll want enough so there’s still a decadent number left even after you pull one from the stack.

5: Chcrews, original photo on Houzz

Chcrews, original photo on Houzz








7. Organize with apothecary jars. Bathrooms are practical rooms with a functional purpose, and most of us have a myriad of personal items stashed throughout ours. Organize these everyday items in a more elegant way by storing essentials such as cotton balls, swabs and bath salts in classic glass apothecary jars.

Jars filled with multiples of the same item can be decorative and, similar to piles of fluffy towels, add a spa-like feel to a bathroom.

Glass apothecary jars can be found in the home decor section of most retail and online vendors for as little as $15 each.

8. Showcase art. You might not think of the bathroom as an obvious space to feature artwork, but doing so can elevate the feel of the room. In fact, multimillion-dollar homes often showcase large-scale artworks and collections in their bathrooms. Just be aware that moisture (and sunlight) can damage some pieces, so you should display art in non-steamy areas of the room or choose more durable or less valuable works.

You’re probably not dealing with a lot of square footage or wall space in a typical bathroom, and that’s OK — it can even be an advantage since a diminutive room allows art to be the star. Creating a gallery-like feel can also help detract from worn or older aspects of your space.

Michaela Dodd, original photo on Houzz

Michaela Dodd, original photo on Houzz








9. Keep it clean. This sounds like a no-brainer, but a luxurious bathroom should be clean and clutter-free. So deep-clean your tub and shower and, if necessary, replace any chipped or discolored grout. You may even want to reglaze a worn tub to give it a newer look. Also, there’s no underestimating how much new life a fresh coat of paint can add to a room. Finally, edit out any unnecessary possessions. If you have open shelving, corral your necessities in a neutral container like the baskets seen here.

To maintain a high-end, luxurious look, keep your counters and ledges as clear as possible. Place your toothbrushes and toothpaste in a medicine cabinet if you can. If certain items must remain on the counter, contain them in a luxe tumbler — perhaps a mirrored one or one made of faux marble. These little changes to your everyday items will go a long way toward creating a stylish and luxurious bathroom.

Go With the Flow: Making the Upstairs-Downstairs Connection With Stair Treatments


By Laura Gaskill, Houzz

If your home has multiple levels, chances are, you have a few different floor treatments as well. If you have the same flooring on both levels, or if your stairs were already covered when you moved in, you may not have given the matter much thought — but what goes on those stairs can impact how your home flows from one space to the next, and deciding what that treatment should be is not always straightforward. For instance: If you want to have something soft on the stairs, but both levels of your home have hard flooring, can you still carpet the stairs? And what if the upstairs is carpeted, but you don’t want a carpeted stairway? Read on for solutions to these and other common scenarios.


Traditional Staircase Salt Lake City, original photo on Houzz








Hard Flooring Upstairs and Downstairs

Solution: Use a runner. With hard flooring throughout the home, fully carpeted stairs can look a bit out of place. To add softness and reduce wear on your stairs, try a runner instead. A runner leaves some of the hard flooring exposed, which helps create a visual connection between upstairs and down.

Adrienne DeRosa, original photo on Houzz

Adrienne DeRosa, original photo on Houzz








Solution: Paint a runner. If you like the look of a runner but want to keep all of the flooring consistent, a painted-on runner might be just the thing. Make it as simple or as bold as you want — you can always change your mind and repaint it

Solution: Leave the stairs bare. 

A simple option when you have wood floors both upstairs and down is to leave the stairs bare, with a finish that matches the flooring in the rest of your space. However, if your stairs are not in the best shape (and sometimes you may not find that out until you’ve ripped out the old carpeting), it can be more economical to re-cover them — or paint them.


Sally Wheat Interiors, original photo on Houzz

Sally Wheat Interiors, original photo on Houzz








If your heart is set on fully carpeted stairs … This look can work, but know that it’s trickier to pull off. With hard flooring upstairs and downstairs, what you want to avoid is that forgotten-carpeting look, as if a work crew just forgot to rip out the stairway carpet. Carpeting in a bold color or pattern for the stairs looks more intentional than bland beige. And carpeting tends to look more natural in a narrow stairwell, like the one shown here, rather than on wide stairs in an open foyer. If you can, choose a pattern with at least one color that matches the tone of the flooring in the rest of the house, for consistency.

Related: Match Mats to the Stairs to Make a Statement in the Foyer

Carpeting Upstairs, Hard Flooring Downstairs

Solution: Carpet the stairs to match. This is the most common stair treatment when the upstairs floor is carpeted — the cushy carpeted stairway is a visual link to the next floor and gives a hint that the upstairs space is for bedrooms.

Alexander James Interiors, original photo on Houzz

Alexander James Interiors, original photo on Houzz








Solution: Choose a runner with contrasting trim. For a classic look that lets some of the wood beneath show through, pick out a runner that matches your upstairs carpet, but with contrasting trim. The trim makes the runner look crisp and neat, sweeping the eye upward.

Traditional Staircase DC Metro, original photo on Houzz

Traditional Staircase DC Metro, original photo on Houzz








Solution: Choose a fun runner. If you want to do a different carpet on the stairs from the one you’re using on the upper floor, use a runner rather than wall-to-wall. Even though it’s just a bit of hard flooring showing around the edges, when you’re using a really bold pattern (like the one shown here), it makes all the difference.

Solution: Leave the stairs bare. Just because the upstairs floor has carpeting does not mean you must carpet the stairs, too. Hard flooring that matches the floors on the lower level looks just as appropriate as carpeting — and requires less upkeep.


Solution: Make a change at the landing. If your stairs have a switchback, this can be a good place to make a change in floor covering. If you have a carpeted upstairs, you could have the upper portion of the stairs carpeted as well and then switch to hard flooring at the landing and below.

No Matter What: Consider the View From Below 

Often the clearest view of a staircase is from the base of the stairs, not from the top — so keep that in mind when choosing a treatment for your stairs. Whether you decide to go with carpeting, a runner or hard flooring, make sure it complements the flooring on the lower level.

8 Ways With Colored Floors


By Kimberly Collins Jermain, Houzz


Walls and trim are most often finished and maintained using paint, so they are the place where homeowners first see potential for personalizing their house with a new palette. But people often overlook their floors, the color of which can greatly influence your decor scheme. If you’re looking for a seismic shift in your interior design, or are just looking for smart ways to add height or create energy or calm, try one of these grounding color concepts.

MANDARINA STUDIO interior design, original photo on Houzz

MANDARINA STUDIO interior design, original photo on Houzz

1. Go deep for more height. Successful architectural design always takes human scale into consideration. We want to fit the proportions of our home.


Color can help adjust the visual perception of the height of a space, especially in areas of the house not part of the original floor plan, like this sleeping loft under the eaves. Want to drop the floor? Take a cue from your favorite swimming hole and saturate the surface with dark blues or blue greens.


Related:Why You Should Give Teal a Chance

 Davignon Martin Architecture, original photo on Houzz

Davignon Martin Architecture, original photo on Houzz


2. Use white to quiet a room. Visual distraction and clutter can take away from the calm you want in a room that will host music study, quiet contemplation or conversation. By selecting a white-finished floorboard, close in color to the walls, the perimeter of the room is diminished and the space opens up to present a feeling of stillness.


3. Let unusual colors become neutrals. In a small house, the floor is a good place to put saturated color. A hefty hue taken in from overhead is less dramatic than surrounding your peripheral vision with it. Strong color on walls will appear to come forward and diminish the space.


When flooring is stained or painted an unusual color and used throughout the home, it becomes a neutral. It may seem counterintuitive, but the more you use an unexpected color, the less out of the ordinary it becomes.

Moroso Construction, original photo on Houzz

Moroso Construction, original photo on Houzz


4. Add energy with warm colors. A warm color, like this citron floor, can raise the temperature and energy in a room where you want a positive vibe. Because of its bold flooring installation, this ostensibly classic white kitchen radiates heat rather than cold.


5. Anchor vibrant artwork with bold colors. Like a landscape to be taken in and enjoyed, a well-thought-out interior of color and form can enhance the enjoyment of life at home. And the perfect rug can add interest and easily pull a room together.


Zinc Art + Interiors, original photo on Houzz

Zinc Art + Interiors, original photo on Houzz


6. Play with patterns to visually expand a room. Superimposing a large, organic pattern in white over the clear-coated hardwood makes this kitchen floor appear expansive. Sticking to a simple white and orange color palette keeps the design from overpowering the space and drawing all of the attention.

Vanillawood, original photo on Houzz

Vanillawood, original photo on Houzz

7. Introduce wallpaper and paint to highlight architecture. Stair treads and risers are often overlooked as design elements. These wallpapered risers add interest to a steep set of stairs.


Or try painting treads to set them apart and define the steps for easy transit.

Texas Construction Company, original photo on Houzz

Texas Construction Company, original photo on Houzz


8. Use soft, bright colors to bounce light around. The soft yellow deck of this side entrance welcomes with a sunny glow. The happy porch floor, which complements the purple gray of the home’s exterior wall color, provides a place to linger and sends light in through the interior windows all year long.


Related: How to Add Color to a Porch


How to Remodel Your Kitchen in 9 Steps

By Rebekah Zaveloff, Houzz

You’ve decided to remodel your kitchen. Now what? Not knowing where to start, many homeowners fall into two camps. Some start by looking at appliances. Others start by collecting inspiring kitchen photos. Some decide they need more room. Others simply want to upgrade their current kitchen. Homeowners may find themselves in this exploration stage for a year or longer before they start interviewing kitchen designers or general contractors.

Once you’ve pondered long enough and you’re ready to greenlight a kitchen remodeling project, then what? We’ll start with the first 9 steps and we’ll get into the nitty-gritty details under specific steps as we move through the complete workbook.

Kitchen Remodel 1: Mary Evelyn Interiors, original photo on Houzz

Kitchen Remodel 1: Mary Evelyn Interiors, original photo on Houzz

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Sustainable Interiors with a Modern Edge

by Erin Vaughan

You want your home’s interiors to be as sustainable as possible. But eco-friendly home decor doesn’t have to mean a crunchy-granola aesthetic. In fact, with a wide range of stylish, environmental materials available, you can get home design that’s polished and visually stunning, while improving the health of your home—and the Earth.

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“When we first saw this flat, it was pretty dark and in bad condition, but we felt it had so much potential,” says architect Pereen d’Avoine of Russian For Fish. It was part of a former bakery that had undergone a cobbled-together conversion in the 1980s, and what it lacked in windows and natural light, it made up for in ample floor space.

Her partner, Matt, is also an architect, “and luckily we have similar taste when it comes to interiors,” says d’Avoine. “But we were on a really tight budget, so we decided to live in the flat for a while before starting work on it, so we could understand what we needed from the space.”

One year later the pair applied for planning permission to put in a new window, transforming a dark corner and helping them to make the most of their living area. Completed in 2012, the crisp, well-designed space now enjoys lots of natural light and is filled with restrained, midcentury-style furniture that complements the bold checkered floor.

13 Choices for Checkered Floors

Houzz at a Glance

Location: Bethnal Green district of London

Designer: Russian For Fish

Size: 2 bedrooms; 1 bathroom

“We had a really tight budget, so we didn’t want to rip out the solid wood floor, but it was stained a dark red color that totally sapped all the light in the room,” says d’Avoine. The solution: “Matt and I both love checks, and the bold pattern gives the flat a sense of width, which is helpful, as it’s quite long,” she says. “It also leads your eye naturally into the other spaces.” The statement floor is d’Avoine’s favorite part of the flat, although her contractors were not such big fans. “I think they hated it,” she says. “It’s all hand painted, and it took a whole week to finish.”


Russian For Fish, original photo on Houzz

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Your Guide to Luxury Vinyl Tile


Tarkett LVT Rock Maple in Natural

Tarkett LVT Rock Maple in Natural

This article was written by Bryan Sebring of Sebring Services, he owns a home remodeling company located in Naperville, Illinois.  Bryan is very passionate about educating homeowners, from design ideas to hiring contractors.

As one of the least expensive forms of flooring, vinyl seems like the last thing you would attach the word ‘luxury’ to. But luxury vinyl tile is real and has become one of the most popular flooring options among homeowners and even businesses.

Luxury vinyl tile is essentially a type of vinyl-based flooring that is designed to resemble a wide range of materials including wood, ceramic and natural stone. Luxury vinyl tile or simply LVT, offers a number of advantages and improvements over traditional vinyl. It is more durable, better looking and provides a wider variety of style. For all these advantages however, you can expect to pay several times more per square foot for LVT as compared to traditional vinyl.



LVT is such a great option that it is no longer considered a low budget flooring option. In fact, you will find it used in high-end apartments and condos. Here is a more detailed look at the main benefits of luxury vinyl tile.  Continue reading

Spotlight On: FiberFloor

Tarkett FiberFloor Hex in Copper Mine and American Chestnut in Saddle

Tarkett FiberFloor Hex in Copper Mine and American Chestnut in Saddle. Combining the two patterns is a fun, unexpected way to soften transitions and create separation in open concept spaces.

Recently, we added several new designs to our FiberFloor collection. These designs represent taking risks and embracing trends that you can still live on. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how some of these designs came to be and fun ways to use them.

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Top Six Tips for Tracking Trends Like a Pro

Pickled finishes from the ‘90s are now called a more sophisticated cerused. Tarkett Laminate Heritage Oak Light 42139385

Pickled finishes from the ‘90s are now called a more sophisticated cerused. Tarkett Laminate Heritage Oak Light 42139385

Recently, our senior design manager, Traci Kloos, presented at Voices from the Industry at KBIS 2016 about becoming a trend tracker. The National Kitchen & Bath Association’s Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS)  is part of Design and Construction Week, which brings together more than 110,000 design and construction professionals in the largest annual gathering of the residential design and construction industry. In Traci’s presentation, she discussed how to be a trend tracker to a wonderful audience of kitchen and bath designers. Trend tracking is a requirement for designers, but you don’t have to be a professional to be an authority on trends. You can trend track yourself to get the most out of your love of design, tap into your creativity and perhaps most importantly, decide if you should skip the rose gold or embrace it wholeheartedly.

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