Keep the wall colors neutral to help with resale.

Eight Great Ways to Boost Your Home’s Value

Today’s unsettled real estate market has prompted homeowners on the selling end to reevaluate the appeal of their property by tweaking some of the downsides and increase their home’s value. Here is a snapshot of what professionals say are the best ways to boost the value of your house and get the most return on your money:

1. Open up the Space
New buyers are looking for open floor plans with large spaces that are family-friendly. Knocking down a non-structural wall between the kitchen and den, for example, is one of the most popular ways to appeal to new homebuyers. For an investment of a few hundred dollars, you can transform the feel of your house and appeal to a wider range of buyers.

2. Spruce up the Yard
Pruning overgrown bushes and trimming trees can be the first step in eliminating obscured views of your home and increasing curb appeal. A well-landscaped yard presents the impression that you take pride and care in your home, and creates a positive mindset of what’s to come on the inside of the house. Experts say that landscaping is one of the top three investments that bring the highest return on your money. An initial investment of $400-$500 in landscaping can bring a return of up to four times that amount. For more tips about sprucing up your yard, check out our blog post, titled “Money-Saving DIY Landscaping Tips”

3. Let the Sunshine In
It’s no secret that light enhances moods and creates a positive environment. Installing sun tubes (also known as light pipes, sunscoops and tubular skylights), is a modern way to welcome natural light into your home without the hefty price tag of installing skylights. For interior lighting, dimmer switches are an easy and inexpensive way that allows you to set the mood in any room.

Tubular skylights are the modern way for welcoming natural light.

4. Go Green with Solar Panels
Installing solar panels to power your water heater could save you as much as 80% on your water heating bills. Today’s homeowners are more environmentally-sensitive and budget-conscious, which makes the creation of a home with solar panels more appealing. As a major incentive to homeowners, The Solar Federal Tax Credit, first enacted in 2009, allows homeowners to claim up to 30% of solar power costs for a new solar electric system from their Federal Taxes. Existing homes and new construction qualify, although rental properties do not. The Tax Rebate is scheduled to expire December 31, 2016.

5. Front Door Appeal
Experts say buyers make up their minds within the first seven seconds of entering a house. Welcoming your guests with a beautiful front door is key to making a stellar first impression. Make sure the doorbell has a pleasant tone and is in working order and that the entrance has some form of overhang (like an awning or portico) above the front door to shield you and your guests from the elements.

A beautiful, elegant front door makes a great first impression.

6. Don’t Forget the Floors
An estimated 94% of real estate professionals suggest that investing even a small amount of money in flooring can bring big returns when it comes to increasing the value of your home. Make sure to take care of small repairs first (such as eliminating squeaks, repairing broken tiles, patching damaged floor boards and ripping out wall-to-wall carpeting).

7. Quick Bathroom Makeover
Real estate professionals unanimously agree that upgrading kitchens and baths are a sure fire way to increase the value to your home. But renovations can be expensive. To spend as little as possible (while making the best impression), quick and easy upgrades in the bathroom can have a lasting impact. Try replacing frosted glass for clear glass, cleaning grout and removing any rust stains, replacing the toilet seat, applying fresh caulk, updating doorknobs and cabinet pulls, and replacing the faucet to a modern one. For an investment of about $500, you can have a more modern, tuned-up bathroom.

A quick bathroom makeover can make a world of difference in your home.

8. Keep the Walls Neutral
A fresh coat of paint can go a long way, but remember: keep your personal taste out of it and keep the color neutral if you’re trying to sell your house. You want to create a clean palette for the buyer to see their own taste and furniture in the house without confusing it with too much color. Avoid painting accent walls and remove all wall paper borders, because these are decorating trends that have seen their time come and are long gone.

 

Vibrant colors will be the newest home improvement trends.

2014 Top Home Improvement Trends by Industry Experts

Today’s homeowners are feeling confident about home remodeling after bouncing back from the recent recession by diving into a fresh set of design ideas that are trending in 2014. Industry experts weigh in on their predictions for the latest interior design and home remodeling trends.

A 2013 Hanley Wood survey revealed that remodeling sales are up 10 percent (when compared to 2012), and this number is expected to increase another 10 percent in 2014, according to 45 percent of remodelers who were surveyed. Among all rooms in a home, kitchen remodels scored highest and bathroom renovations came in a close second. Here are their top five remodeling trends for 2014:

More Modern Kitchens – Sleek and simple is the new look to today’s modern kitchen renovation. Where the warmer, rustic feel of the past was once the most popular décor, it is now all about white and grey cabinetry, simple countertops, glossy finishes and simplistic designs. Even appliances are being hidden away or blended into the design to create a more refined appearance.

This kitchen utilizes a simplistic design with a modern flare. Done by Granite Transformations.

Brass is Back – Brass is back (but not like you think). The highly polished, bright brass fixtures and lighting that we’ve all come to know have been replaced by a more elegant and rustic finish. Designers are incorporating this new look of dull and hammered brass into kitchen and bathroom hardware, as well as lighting and door hardware.

Resort-style Bathrooms – Vintage-style bathrooms are giving way to resort-style designs with amenities such as large walk-in showers with multiple showerheads, heated floors and towel racks and jetted bathtubs. Soothing neutral and cool colors (like Ash Gray, Light Blue and Off-White) are becoming more popular, as are glass tiles.

Resort Style Bathroom Design utilizes neutral colors, free standing tub and glass tiles. Done by Granite Transformations.

Turn up the Color – According to Pantone, the international authority on color, vibrant colors that include Green Flash, Lemon Zest, Nectarine and Rouge Red will be interior designers’ new color palette for accent walls, main paint colors and flooring in bedrooms and main living spaces throughout the house.

Vibrant colors will be the newest home improvement trends.

Staying Green – Energy-efficiency and the use of renewable and sustainable materials is expected in today’s home renovations. Experts agree that homeowners will see more renewable materials such as recycled glass counters and backsplashes, energy-efficient appliances and more creative designs incorporating local climate.

Here are some additional predictions for interior design and home remodeling trends for 2014 and beyond:

Free Standing Tubs – Are becoming more popular than tiled-in tubs, and they take up less space in the bathroom.

Floating Shelves – Open up spaces in the kitchen by eliminating long runs of cabinets by creating different sections.

Express Yourself – Homeowners will put it all out there when it comes to bold use of color or ornamentation. Some examples are the use of jeweled colors, gilded frames and layered textiles.

Multigenerational Living – Households that accommodate aging parents and boomerang kids are becoming more prevalent today, as homeowners are finding themselves designing bathrooms with features ranging from wall mounted sinks for wheelchairs, to walk-in bathtubs, to motion-sensing faucets that may make life easier for everyone in the family.

Urban Downsizing – As downsizing continues to be a trend among homeowners, moving closer to urban downtown areas in smaller spaces is becoming more popular than living in larger homes in the suburbs.

Whether you want a modern kitchen, resort-style bathroom or environmentally-friendly and sustainable materials to remodel your kitchen and bath, Granite Transformations has what you need to help your remodel go smoothly. Contact us for a free in-home design consultation, and get started on your home improvement project.

Tuscan homes offer energy efficiency design

Choosing the Perfect Style Home for Your Lifestyle

Vote for your favorite home style among the most popular home styles in America!

Whether you’re a first-time home buyer and are looking for a larger home for your expanding family or you are downsizing from your empty nest, knowing which home style is best for your lifestyle is half the battle. Here’s a snapshot of the most popular home styles and why one of them may be your “home sweet home”:

 

Craftsman Bungalow – This is a triangular-shaped designed home with a low-pitched roof. This popular home style is made of mixed materials of brick, wood and stone. Typically, Craftsman Bungalows homes have recessed covered porches with tapered square columns, overhanging eaves, decorative brackets and exposed rafters.

Craftsman Bungalow Home Style

 

Spanish – Often found in Western states, Spanish style homes are architecturally appealing and made of pale stucco, tile roofs and are defined by arched entries and windows. They often have terra-cotta tile flooring and courtyards donned with lush gardening. Since most Spanish style homes are made of stucco, they are more energy-efficient as they keep the house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Stucco can also help reduce sound transmission by buffering outside street noise. Finally, stucco is fire-retardant and resists rot, mildew and mold.

Spanish homes are made of stucco with arched entries.

Tuscan – The Tuscan home style is similar to Spanish style as it is often made of stucco, but typically has more exterior stone. Tuscan style homes are often designed in vibrant warm colors like terra-cotta, gold and varying shades of brown. Since Tuscan homes are made of stucco, Tuscan homes offer the same energy efficient benefits as Spanish style homes.

Tuscan homes offer energy efficiency design

Colonial – This is the most common home style with both the widest appeal and the best value, as it maximizes square footage and minimizes cost. The traditional floor plan is a two-story layout with three or four rooms on the first floor (including a kitchen, dining room, living and/or family room) with the bedrooms and baths on the second floor. Colonials often have shutters flanking the windows and they may be trimmed in keystone.

Colonials are the most common home style.

Victorian – Characterized by charm and elegance, Victorian style homes typically have spacious rooms, bay windows, fireplaces and grand covered wrap-around porches. They are typically older homes, so renovations may be necessary. (But the gingerbread charm may be well worth it!)

Older homes characterized by charm and elegance.

Tudor – Varying in size (from smaller cottage style to a larger estate), classic Tudors are characterized by iconic traits like multiple gables and steeply pitched roofs, and they may include arched entries, brick chimneys and common half timbering design on the second story.

Tudors can be small cottages to large estates.

Farmhouse – Typically found in the country and suburban communities, Farmhouse style houses have clapboard siding and are known for their charming wrap-around covered porches, supported by square or round columns.

Farmhouse homes are typically in the country and suburbs

Ranch – This is a one-level style of home with a low roof line, simple floor plan, small porch and attached garage. They are often made of materials that reflect their region (like brick or wood siding). Ranch homes are ideal for those who have difficulty climbing steps and prefer an open floor plan.

Made with a low roof line and open floor plan

Contemporary – Almost always a reflection of the builder’s vision and style, contemporary style homes are famous for their stark geometric lines and rectangular elements. Common elements of this modern style include exposed concrete, singular glass panes and horizontal wood siding.

Contemporary style homes have stark geometric lines

Outdoor Privacy Solutions for the Homeowner

Privacy Solutions for Outdoor Spaces

Creating a Private Retreat When Your Neighbors are Too Close

Spending time in your backyard is one of the perks of enjoying the warmer weather. Relaxing on a hammock, reading a book, or spending time with family and friends are great ways to enjoy your outside space in the privacy of your own home – except when that privacy is invaded by peeping neighbors or open spaces. Today, larger homes are being built on smaller lots, leaving homeowners feeling as if they are living in a fishbowl. Homeowners searching for backyard solitude have discovered some unique privacy solutions (as well as some old standbys) to create a peaceful and private retreat.

Backyard privacy solution

Here are some ideas to beautify your backyard while keeping your space under wraps:
Privacy Planting – Property-line planting is a beautiful way to create a natural year-round fence or screening around your side yard or where space is at a premium. Privet hedges and fast-growing columnar evergreens like Italian cypress and arborvitae are perfect solutions for separating adjoining yards. For larger yards, mixing and staggering deciduous or evergreen trees, shrubs and perennials is a creative way to conceal a neighbor’s view from a second-story or terrace.
Container Gardens – These are perfect for creating a natural screen around a raised deck seating area. Pots should be lightweight or raised on casters so they can be easily moved for parties or deck repairs. Mixing colors, textures and foliage types is a fun way to add flair and character to your seating area.
Fences – The quick fix when you need privacy in a hurry (like after installing a new pool, patio or playground), but this may require pulling a permit. Fences (such as the common 6-foot wooden board fence) may be the best solution in a side yard or where space is tight, since they require less space to install than planting trees or shrubs. Although board fences may not be the most aesthetically pleasing, they are available in different styles and can be stained to match or complement the color of your house. Planting flowering shrubs in front of the fence or adding an open lattice top can distract from the solid appearance of the fence and add more character to your outdoor space.
Stone Wall Topped with Fencing – This is a perfect combination of masonry and charm. A 2-3 foot stone wall is a great way to distract from sight lines, while the mounting of a shorter 3-4 lattice or picket fence on top adds extra privacy with a lighter feel.
Masonry Walls with Ornamental Ironwork – The placing of 5-6 foot masonry walls of stone or stucco can feel less oppressive by the inclusion of cutouts decorated with ornamental ironwork.
Panels and Pergolas – Small defined areas like patios, outdoor kitchens and decks are typically easier to screen than an entire yard. Enclosing them can recreate an intimate feeling of dining or entertaining indoors while still enjoying your outdoor space.
Lattice Wood Panels – Cozy corners can be transformed into a secluded haven by installing lattice screens or sections of ornamental iron.
Using Fountains to Buffer Noise – Even if you’re not in earshot of your neighbors, you may still be close enough to hear intrusive noises that range from traffic to loud AC compressors. Adding a fountain can mask unpleasant sounds with the soothing sounds of trickling water.

Stainless Steel Kitchen Sink Complements Granite Countertops.

Choosing the Perfect Sink for your Remodel

Now that you’ve selected the perfect solid surface or granite countertop for your newly renovated kitchen or bathroom, your next decision is choosing the perfect sink. With so many options on the market today, Granite Transformations is here to put it all in perspective for you with an easy guide to making the perfect choice.
Stainless Steel Sinks – Experts agree. Stainless steel sinks are the best choice to complement your granite or solid surface countertops because of their undermount capability and durability. Look for lower-gauge stainless steel when selecting your sink to ensure the highest quality and longevity.

 

Enamel-Coated Cast Iron Sinks – Consumers today still prefer enamel-coated sinks for their beauty and aesthetic qualities. Experts warn, however, that if you are tough on it, an enamel coated cast iron sink may scratch and wear over time.
Enamel Coated Cast Iron Sinks may Scratch & Wear.

Composite Sinks – New to the market and more budget-friendly than other sinks, composite sinks are another option for homeowners. Several types of composite sinks are available, polyester/acrylic being one of them. They are available in an array of colors which are appealing to consumers. Keep in mind, however, that they aren’t as durable as other sink options and tend to be more difficult to clean since they are installed as a ‘drop-in sink’ rather than as an undermount.
Budget-Friendly Composite Sinks with Many Color Options.

One Bowl or Two? – Depending on your space, experts suggest choosing a sink that has at least one oversized sink bowl and one small bowl for kitchens or bathrooms with limited space. If space isn’t an issue, one oversized bowl and one standard sized bowl is best.
Double sinks can vary, based upon the kitchen or bathroom counter space available.

Sizing Your Sink to Your Kitchen – Most homeowners will install their sinks under a window with a view. Be sure to measure the width of the window and select a sink that will complement the size, so that it isn’t too big for a small window or too small for a larger one.
Choose a kitchen sink size that will complement your kitchen window.

Sizing Your Sink to Your Cooking Needs – For avid cooks who might prefer hand-washing their dishes rather than using the dishwasher, experts suggest choosing a large divided bowl sink with an integrated drain board. This wider-style sink allows for more than one cook in the kitchen (dare we say it…?) to avoid getting in each other’s way. Be aware, however, that this size sink is generally more expensive, will require an extra-wide sink cabinet, and also take up much more space. It is recommended for larger kitchens or bathrooms.

Large divided sinks are recommended for larger kitchens or bathrooms.

Multiple Sinks/Fun-Sized Sinks – Homeowners today are opting for islands in their kitchens that are equipped with a smaller sink for quick clean-ups. Having more than one sink in the kitchen saves time and allows for a more stress-free cooking and entertaining environment. Linear sinks (or ‘fun-sized sinks’ as they are affectionately being referred to these days) are the perfect choice for quick water breaks and can be used as a mini-cooler to store ice and chilled drinks for parties and game days. (This ends the need of an unsightly cooler and unending, energy-draining trips to the refrigerator.)
Linear or fun-sized sinks provide the ability for stress-free cooking and entertaining.

Granite Transformations is ready to assist you with a free in-home consultation. One of our professional design consultants is only a call or click away.

A view before the nine columns are placed.

Heinz Mack’s ‘The Sky Over Nine Columns’

The waters off the island of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, Italy will be enchantingly illuminated beginning June 3 through November 23, 2014, as the installation of Heinz Mack’s ‘The Sky Over Nine Columns’ is unveiled to the public at the Church of San Giorgio. The structural ensemble consists of nine symmetrical columns, each standing 24.5 feet tall and covered with a golden mosaic of 800,000 tesserae bearing the sky. The tesserae, or small pieces of 24k gold-leaf Trend mosaic tiles, are used as instruments to reflect the light of the sun and moon onto the water. German artist Heinz Mack designed the golden mosaic as a tribute to the city of Venice, exemplifying the long tradition of local craftsmanship and early cultural relations between Orient and Occident. It is estimated over 15 million visitors will experience this amazing installation in Venice over the next five months.

The Sky Over Nine Columns’ made with Trend Mosaics

24k Gold Leaf Trend Mosaic Tiles

The Sky Over Nine Columns’

Trend Group, the parent company of Granite Transformations, is proud to be an integral part of this monumental artistic installation. For homeowners who are thinking about a kitchen or bath renovation ¬– you too, can have a piece of history in your own homes. Granite Transformations uses the same exclusive product in their backsplashes (although the golden tesserae were especially designed for this project). Let our team of experienced design specialists help you design the perfect kitchen or bathroom for your home. Contact Granite Transformations today for a free in-home design consultation.

For more information on ‘The Sky Over Nine Columns,’ please visit: mackinvenice.com.

Todd Michael, mosaic designer & artist.

Todd Michael Creates Modern-Day Mosaic Designs Using Old World Artistry

Blending the artistry of an ancient world with a modern twist has defined mosaic artist Todd Michael as one of the most sought after mosaic designers in South Florida. As a self-trained ‘mosaicist’ (a designer of mosaics), Todd has been transforming spaces into permanent works of art with mastery and beauty for the past 15 years.

“The process begins with my imagination as it comes to life after studying the space,” Todd explained. “It has to be a perfect fit, since mosaic installations become absolute and permanent.”

His latest work of art, ‘The View from Delilah,’ began in January when he was commissioned to design a space in the grand foyer of one of South Florida’s magnificent homes on the Intracoastal Waterway in Ft. Lauderdale. Todd first began translating his idea into an artistic composite, which was drawn to scale and then transferred and used as a full-size template. He then hand-placed 82,000 hand-cut pieces of Trend Mosaic Tile onto a flexible piece of mesh, ensuring that all of the glass tiles were in place, secured and ready for transport to the location. “The installation phase is just as important as the design phase,” Todd said. “This is where the craftsmanship comes into play.” Todd explains how precision, placement and the use of quality materials will ensure a flawless installation and guarantee a lifetime of beauty set in glass. “There are no shortcuts in mosaic,” Todd said.
Trend Mosaic Tile work done by mosaicist Todd Michael Trend Mosaic Tile Design

Mosaic Tiles from Trend Group for Todd Michael  Hand Cut Trend Mosaic Tiles

This large-scale project took two months to complete, with over 200 hours dedicated to the meticulous preparation and execution of the design. The end result is a magnificent 10′ x 15′ mountainous backdrop of a Mediterranean scene with a spacious terrace surrounded by native fauna. “I especially enjoyed creating ‘The View from Delilah,’” Todd explained. “I tapped several artistic factors to design the perfect balance of textures, color and flow.”

The View from Delilah by Todd Michael using Trend Mosaic Tiles

Todd says the use of Trend Mosaic Tiles in his designs is the cornerstone of his creations. “Trend mosaics offer me an artist’s palette of beautifully cut tiles in a variety of colors and textures that capture the beauty of gemstones.” In a time where being ‘green and clean’ is at the forefront of an environmentally-friendly world, Todd is proud to tell his customers that Trend Mosaics are made from up to 80% recycled materials. “I’m an artist who paints in glass,” Todd explained. “It’s a great feeling to know I’m creating timeless art with the best products on the market today.”
For more information on Todd Michael and his work, please visit http://www.mosaicsbytodd.com. You can also find exciting updates and posts on his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mosaicsbytodd.

Create your own craft space with cabinets and countertops from Granite Transformations.

Empty-Nesters Find Creative Ways to Transform Their New Found Space

Let’s face it. If you’re a parent of a graduating high school senior, your emotions may be running high. Anticipation of “Graduation Day,” impending college expenses and knowing your family life will be forever changed can leave you on an emotional rollercoaster. With empty-nesters discovering their new-found freedom, they are also realizing their homes have just increased by one room (or sometimes more). Although some parents may rope off their son’s or daughter’s room as a shrine to their childhood, others are embracing the realization that although the kids are away at school, they will be back (and most likely bring friends).

Some of the more popular room transformations range from the designing of a man-cave for dad with a cool home theatre or media room (complete with full remote control access), to a sewing and crafting room for mom, or even a gym for both deserving parents to enjoy. With a free in-home design consultation from Granite Transformations®, your dreams for a new space are only a call or click away.

A home gym is the perfect way to transform your new found space.

Here are a few fun ideas to turn your new found space into an exciting and functional retreat:

Media Room/Home Theatre: Today’s homeowners are discovering media rooms as a multi-purpose space designed around a large, flat-screen television and outfitted with surround sound and cozy seating. Whether you’re converting a spare bedroom or transforming a larger space (like a garage or basement), your new media room will be the hot spot for entertaining friends and family, streaming music, or it may be your private sanctuary for escaping to watch a favorite movie or even getting lost in your favorite book.

Sewing & Crafting Room: With the kids off to college or moved out of the house, today’s moms are embracing their lighter schedules by finding the time to tap into their creative sides. With the expert advice of the design consultants from Granite Transformations, your new sewing and crafting room could be only days away. Beautiful cabinetry, granite or quartz countertops and even an island for those larger crafting projects make the perfect backdrop for your dream space.

Home Gym: Keeping fit and healthy can be challenging these days because of our demanding schedules. Having the convenience of a home gym leaves the excuses at the door, and opens up the possibilities of balancing the demands of work with staying healthy.

Embrace your new found space and consider a quick and easy remodel by contacting the experts at Granite Transformations for a free in-home design consultation.

Modern Swimming Pool Tile Design Advice

Modernize Your Pool with a Stunning Retile

Unveiling your pool can be an exciting family event, marking the beginning of summer and bringing with it the anticipation of countless hours of family fun and a splashing good time. One thing you might notice is that the pool’s tile may be looking a bit outdated. Retiling your pool with today’s modern designs is a chic and fashionable way to accessorize your backyard. Selecting the perfect tile combinations can create a stunning and welcoming oasis, while also adding a resort-style feel to your home.

 

Most pool tiles are ceramic or porcelain and are available in a variety of textures, ranging from smooth to coarse. Here are some important tips to consider when retiling your pool – keeping in mind safety, style and functionality:

Safety First – Choose tile for around the pool that is slip-resistant. This area will often be wet, so be sure to select a tile surface that can be treated to avoid slipping.

Budget – Establishing an affordable budget is a key factor when planning any renovation or improvement. The cost of most pool tiles generally starts at $1.50 per one square yard. You can use your budget as a guide to help keep you on track when selecting tiles or planning an intricate design.

Lifetime Guarantee – To protect your investment, select tiles that offer a Lifetime Guarantee against color fading and damage. You should also make sure the guarantee protects you against any manufacturing defects. (The last thing you want is to tap out your wallet by chipping the tile every few years.)

Choosing a Design – Just like choosing the décor of your home, choosing the right design for your pool should be a reflection of your personal style and backyard theme. For a leafy landscape, we suggest selecting glass mosaic tile and opt for rounded edges to prevent scraping against your skin. For a traditional yard, classic blue tiles or earth tones are the best choice. For a more eccentric look, some homeowners are going all out by using brightly colored tiles and designing creative patterns on the bottom of their pools for a more fun and fashionable look.

Floor Surface – The surface of your pool will be different than the tiles you choose for your wall and pool area. Most floor surfaces are made of slate, pebble or stone. But if you want a more beautiful pool, then selecting trend glass mosaic is the best option. Trend mosaic has color throughout the glass, so it will never lose its color. It is manufactured for wet environments (such as swimming pools), so with a proper installation system (like one from Laticrete International, Inc.) your pool will look like new for over 25 years. We recommend white or blue tiles for the pool, as they are calming colors and they reflect the light perfectly.

Cleaning and Maintenance – At some point, swimming pool tiles can develop build-up that may require the use of an abrasive cleaner. It’s a good idea to research which type of chemicals are required to clean the tiles you choose.

Getting a Sneak-Peek – Ask for samples of the tile before placing your order. Lay them around your pool so that you can get an idea of how they will look and if you need to make any adjustments.

Installation – As with any home project, you want to hire a reputable tile installer who will get the job done professionally, efficiently and within your budget.

 

Granite Transformations Beige Kitchen

Essential Elements of a Useful Granite Kitchen Island

A kitchen island is not only functional but decorative as well. The island makes preparing meals more convenient because you have additional surface space. It also helps direct traffic around the kitchen in an efficient manner, much like a round-about in a roadway. Islands also offer additional storage space, which is useful when the cabinets are not sufficient to hold everything you need. Most modern kitchens open up into other rooms and the island assists in this transition.

Size and Function

Kitchen islands can be set up to suit your personal tastes. There are multiple ways of doing this.

Hollow out one side of the island and place chairs there to create additional seating space if you often have large meal gatherings.

Add extra stove tops. This gives you more options when preparing your meals and speeds up the cooking and preparing process at the same time.

Use multiple levels. An island doesn’t have be the same height throughout. Have a lower area for people to sit at and a higher section for cleaning or food preparation. This helps families interact with each other more conveniently when meals are being made.

Size-wise, an island should be four feet long and two feet deep at a minimum but still provide ample space on all sides for people to walk by. The kitchen should therefore be at least eight feet deep and 12 feet long to consider island installation.

Decorative Design

Islands are often a mixture of wood and granite. Granite is durable, easy to clean and aesthetically pleasing, making it ideal for both island and countertop surfaces. It is also heat-resistant, which is important in any cooking environment to make sure your pots and pans won’t damage it. Granite can also be colored in various ways to fit the design of your specific kitchen.

The shape of the island is important to the kitchen design also. Shaping the island so it curves outward from the stove helps to create a defined cooking area while the curves help prevent people from hurting themselves on the edges. This also opens the kitchen up more that a traditional rectangle.

An island is the focal point of the kitchen because of its size and positioning so you can also place photos, fruit baskets, crafts and other decorations on the top of it to further personalize the room and help it blend in with the rest of the house. The woodwork on the island should usually match that of the kitchen cabinets so the island doesn’t call attention to itself unnecessarily.

Island Planning

Make sure the dishwasher and oven have plenty of room to open fully before installing an island to prevent annoying and costly renovations later. You should have enough room between the edge of the doors and the island to walk by safely to prevent tripping. The island should also have outlets for you to plug in small appliances. Small grills or sandwich makers generally are not permanent kitchen fixtures and only come out when needed so you need convenient places to set and use them.

If you have cooking surfaces on your island, you’ll also need proper venting, making a vent hood or a downdraft fan a must. If you use a downdraft fan, you’ll also need a second exhaust fan installed in the ceiling. It’s also important to see what you’re doing and ambient lighting isn’t adequate to light a workspace. Install lights directly above the island to both improve the working area and to also improve the island’s appearance.

Granite reflects light nicely and this helps make the island look more attractive from a distance. Special lighting is needed if the ceiling is more than six feet above the island surface because otherwise the light diffuses out instead of down and the island won’t be illuminated effectively.

Other Considerations

Always check local building codes prior to having an island installed to make sure all regulations are being safely met.

The stove, sink and refrigerator traditionally form the points of a triangle in the kitchen to maximum efficiency of movement for those working in it. An island can either disrupt or enhance this, depending on its placement and what you use it for.

Avoid using harsh cleaning detergents on a granite island because the stone may stain permanently. Mild soap or liquid dish detergent is usually enough to remove any dirt or grease that accumulates and this keeps your island in peak condition.

For more kitchen island design and construction tips, check out this great post on This Old House.

Author Bio: Donna M. is an interior designer and freelance writer for Insurance Providers. She enjoys offering her expertise to homeowners looking to go beyond the average designs below the average budget.