The top 3 Materials to choose for your Countertop

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Let’s talk Countertop Materials!

In last months blog we talked about one of my favourite subjects, cabinetry.  So this month’s topic is the natural (or not) next step…  The Countertop!

Like cabinets, they are a lot of options of materials to choose from.  If you have ever looked up the differences between materials, there is a lot of opposing opinions on the subject. In fact, it can be a heated debate.  Let me help you slog through the choices.


Quarries all over the world mine the 100% Natural stone in large pieces.  From there, the quarries cut down the material for shipping.  Fabricators then polish and fabricate the stone to the shape of your choosing.

Granite comes in a variety of colours and stunning movement, as a result no two countertops are the same.  It’s strength, durability and beauty can be the appeal for some clients. Who doesn’t want every person who comes into their kitchen to say “WOW! look at THAT countertop!!”  This is the guaranteed result when you chose Granite.

Beauty aside, let’s look at the pros and cons of this material.


Granite is very hard, therefore, making it scratch and fade resistant. This material can hold up in the most active spaces.  Due to it’s fade resistant properties, it is the most recommended material for the growing trend of outdoor kitchens. Not many materials can stand the test of weather and time like granite can.


Like rocks that surround a lake or body of water, Granite can absorb liquids if left unattended.  One way to minimize this situation is to clean up any spills immediately.  In Addition, using mild cleaning products and resealing your granite regularly will minimize this situation as well.

Although, Granite is a hard stone, it can be delicate in comparison to other countertop materials.  Chipping may occur in active kitchens or spaces.

When it comes to Granite, there seems to be two sides of the line.

Team 1: Feels staining and chipping add to the character and beauty to their “one of a kind” countertop.

Team 2: Feel, the regular maintenance, possible “imperfections”  and inconsistent colouring are too much to handle.  I’ll let you decide which team your on.



A man made product, made with natural stone.   The Manufacturer will mix 95% ground natural quartz with 5% polymer resin, the result, large coloured slabs.  Fabricators then polish and fabricate the slabs to the shape of your choosing.

Quartz has come along way in the last decade. Even in the last 5 years the options in colours with movement are outstanding. Truthfully, it had to, to compete with the originality of each piece of granite.  Because of these advancements, quartz also offers strength, durability and beauty. It can also get you the “WOW! Look at that countertop!” reaction you are going for, but in a more subtle way.


Quartz a harder material than granite, makes it less likely to scratch and chip in an active space.  Due to the man made origins of quartz, unlike granite, it is a non porus material.  This makes quartz stain and bacteria resistant and eliminates the need for regular sealing.

As a result of the control had during the manufacturing process, Quartz comes in consistent colours and patterns.  Little variation happens between dye lots, therefore, giving the client the reassurance that”What you see, is what you get.”


Excessive heat can damage a quartz countertop.  “Scorch” marks have appeared by an unintentional hot pot. Definitely something to consider when choosing the best material that suits your households needs.

As we see a rise in using countertop materials in many different applications, we have to consider which one is best for each situation.  Again with that trend of outdoor kitchens, quartz would not be the material that we recommend. It’s properties don’t stand well against excessive sunlight, wind and rain, making it prone to fading.


When it comes to quartz, so many people love the quality, consistency and subtle beauty of this material.  Again, you decide which team you are on:

Team 1: Feels staining and chipping add to the character and beauty to their “one of a kind” countertop.

Team 2: Feel, consistent colouring and subtle beauty with no maintenance makes a better fit for them.



A man made product, created from Heavy clay called Kaolinite. Then coated with a pigmented glaze and fired at a high temperature, creating a beautiful material. Porcelain has movement similar to granite ad comes in an endless variety of colours and styles.  Porcelain has been part of the growing trend in countertops in recent months.   This material gives the look of granite in large slabs at a 3/4″ thickness. It too can get the “WOW, look at that countertop!” that every client is going for.


Porcelain is the most durable, versatile and low maintenance of all the products, due to it’s man made properties.  This exciting material, allows all materials in a space or throughout a home to match!  For example: the vanity countertop can match the bathroom tile or wall surrounds of the shower!  Fabricators with improved ink jet technologies,are able to create porcelain with metallic and wood textures as well.

Unlike the other materials, porcelain is non porous fade and heat resistant.  Making it a perfect option for active spaces including outdoor use!


Limitations on edge profiles are due to the 3/4″ thickness. Squared polish, or mitered square polish will be the options for this material.  For this reason as well, sharp inside corners are not available either, as the material may crack in production.  The best suited space for this material has long linear, modern lines.

Porcelain may be susceptible to sudden blunt impact.  The result is cracking or splitting, similar to cracks we’ve all seen happen to floor tiles.


Choosing your countertop material can be hard, if you don’t have all of the information.  Your investment into this decision takes time and research.  Meeting your household and family’s need while recieving the “WOW!  Look at that Countertop!”  will be worth it’s weight in… some sort of stone…  lol.


Thinking about renovating a space in your home?

Not sure which way you should go with your cabinetry?

Then, simply start with – A PLAN! Ask us those lingering questions about the design, planning and execution of your renovation.   We look forward to hearing about your exciting project and to answer those questions!


We’ll talk to you soon



Stock Cabinetry vs Custom? What you need to know!

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This month’s blog post is about one of my favorite topics… CABINETRY!

Do you feel overwhelmed by the choices between Stock cabinetry or Custom cabinetry for your project? Read on and find out the basic differences between the top 3 categories.

As a wood worker’s daughter and a kitchen and bath designer, I can talk about cabinets ALL. DAY.  There are so many differences in the materials, finishes, hardware, accessories, and the list goes on and on. This is why the topic can be overwhelming.

The choice between stock cabinets and custom cabinets can have the greatest effect on cost and the finished look.  Which type do I chose? How long will they last in my house? Should I invest in the cabinets or put my investment into something else?


Have no fear… here is a breakdown of the 3 major categories of cabinets. The pros and cons between the options will help you consider the advantages and disadvantages of each.


Stock Cabinets

The name lends itself to encourage the buyer to walk in, load up the product and purchase. Done. Next day…  Project begins!  This scenario can happen, but not often.


This line of cabinetry comes in very limited sizes, materials and door style selections. Even more so with size availability in store. Stock cabinet lines typically can give you more options if you pre-order. This will require more time for planning than originally thought, however the lead time is still less than the other categories.

Stock cabinets are made to the manufacturer’s specifications using a 3” nomenclature system between sizes. These cabinets are “Customized” to your space rather than made “custom.”  For example: If you have 37 ½” of wall space, you buy a 36” stock cabinet and cut down a 1 ½” spacer to fill in the rest. The use of fillers or spacers is necessary in every kitchen.  However, using more to accommodate Stock cabinet sizes may result in less usable cabinet space.


The type of material used for stock cabinets is comprised of particle board with a veneer.  This product will meet with industry guidelines and standards. The manufacturer will ensure these cabinets can maintain the weight of stone counter tops.  They will also meet the requirements for the cabinets to withstand the wear and tear a kitchen takes.   Average life span of these cabinets…5- 10 years.


The pricing of these cabinets are generally much lower than the next two categories.  Economical pricing can be very appealing to a smaller budget.  The look and feel of these cabinets coupled with the much lower price point, can create a beautiful looking space. Is that not the ultimate goal of any renovation?!

My recommendation:

Is to use these cabinets in a project that has a straight forward layout, in need of a quick update or secondary storage.  A Handy do-it-yourself-er can install these cabinets.

Semi- Custom Cabinets

This category of cabinets is similar to stock cabinets.  However they have more options in sizing, materials finishes and accessories.  Because of these features, the order time on these cabinets is longer. Typically 6-8 weeks.


Like stock cabinets, Semi- custom cabinets come in a 3” increment nomenclature specified by the manufacturer. Unlike stock cabinets, Semi- custom can give the option of creating some custom cabinets to best fit a space. Back to my original example:  If you have a 37 ½” wall space, you can order a cabinet made to a 37” dimension. Again, cut down a now ½” spacer or filler to finish the difference. This will allow more usable cabinet space and use less fillers or spacers.


The materials, finishes and hardware used for semi-custom cabinets is generally higher quality with more options to choose from.  Door styles and colours choices are also greater. Average life span of these cabinets…10- 15 years.


The pricing of Semi-custom cabinets is higher than stock cabinets for obvious reasons.  With higher quality and the ability to custom order a particular size, may increase the price. Be aware of how many cabinets’ sizes you change in your order.  Some manufacturers can charge a high premium for each change. Potentially, pricing you out of the benefits of using a semi-custom line.

Semi-custom cabinetry prices do not always include to have it professionally installed.  So, be aware of what that additional cost could be.

The look and feel of these cabinets will be more than pleasing and will give you enjoyment for years and years to come.

My recommendation:

Use these cabinets in a project that has an increased budget with a client looking for higher quality.  Projects that have a difficult layout or require more detail are best suited for this type of cabinetry. A very handy do-it-yourself-er or a professional would be the best choice to install these cabinets.


Custom Cabinets

The name implies exactly how it sounds… Custom.  The options for materials, finishes, hardware and sizes are endless.  For these reasons, the order time is longer and typically takes 8-10 weeks.

For the most popular whites from Benjamin Moore


A team of professional cabinet makers or Master carpenters create each cabinet.  What this means for your space is that your cabinets will fit exactly to 1/4” of your wall space or less. This will almost eliminate the use of fillers and spacers, creating more usable cabinet space and storage.

In the previous two categories, cabinets are traditionally ordered based on a size chart, with little to no knowledge of the layout or configuration the cabinets will be put into.

Custom cabinets are traditionally drawn, then assembled by the makers in the shop before install.  This is to ensure that every piece can be installed quickly spending less time on the install site.


Materials, hardware and finishes can vary, with many options available in this category.  Traditionally, Custom Cabinets manufacturers do not work with Materials that are less than a medium to high grade. The availability of solid wood cabinets can be the bonus for some clients.  The previous categories of cabinets do not normally offer this high of a quality. Average life span of these cabinets…15-25 years.


Pricing for custom cabinetry can be a similar price or higher than the semi-custom cabinets. Understandably,with higher quality materials comes higher prices.  That being said… Custom cabinetry can also be economical in comparison.   The install price is included and there is no premium upcharge to change the cabinets sizes.

The look and feel of these cabinets will definitely give the “Custom” look you maybe trying to acheive!  They will also give you years and years of functionality and quality.

My recommendation:

Custom Cabinets are a perfect fit for a project that has an increased budget and is looking for a lifetime’s worth of quality from their cabinets.  These cabinets are best used in any space. They can be built and configured in whatever way we can dream up!

Thinking about renovating a space in your home?

Not sure which way you should go with your cabinetry?

Then, simply start with – A PLAN! Ask us those lingering questions about the design, planning and execution of your renovation.   We look forward to hearing about your exciting project and to answer those questions!


We’ll talk to you soon


The Top 5 Reasons to Hire a Designer

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I know, I know… This blog is written by a designer, of course I am going to tell you why to hire someone like me.  You’re right.  I am.  My goal for this website, specifically this blog, is to make your renovations less stressful.  I want to share with you my experience and knowledge so that you can have your design dreams come true right before your eyes!

Read on to make your renovation (and life) a little bit easier!

1/ Save MONEY


Actually, not impossible.  We need to throw out the idea that Designers are for the rich and famous.  Although Designers do charge for their services, there are so many ways that we can save money for you.  Designers help with the all important PLAN, saving you (and your budget) from making costly mistakes throughout the renovation.

Designers have been there, done that.  When it comes to unforseen problems that arise in every renovation, Designers are great at giving you options that are cost effective and timely, keeping both budget and timeline in check.

Discounts? Who doesn’t want discounts?

Designers have spent years searching for the best quality products and trades for the best price.  Wherever possible, we have cultivated relationships with other businesses, to negotiate a lower percentage on the suggested retail price on furnishings, fixtures and materials.

Ultimately, these savings can offset the cost of the design fee when a designer shares their trade discounts with you!

2/ Plan

The renovation business is an unpredictable one.  It’s why I LOVE it! you never know what is going to happen next.  Except, you do know what is going to happen next, with a little adventure thrown into the mix…

Designers are what I like to call “artistic planners.” We help create beautiful spaces and outline a solid direction for the project.  From the beginning we can see the finished look of the space, while directing the project to that vision.  Throughout the length of the project, we know where to order product from and when.  We know which trade is coming next and when to contact the next one.  We are there to do the best job possible to free up your valuable time.

With a Designer’s guiding hand, you can rest assured that your hard earned dollars (and time) are being spent efficiently.


As I mentioned above, Designers have spent years interviewing, vetting and researching their list of vendors and trades.  This time spent, means you don’t have to.

A Designer can provide you with their “A TEAM” which is exactly what you want, for your dream renovation!

Reliable and qualified trades, contractors and suppliers that work frequently together will be able to decrease the length of time it takes to complete a project.  Your “A TEAM” has done it a hundred times before, we know each other’s expectations and needs to complete the project on time.  This is a win-win scenario!

4/ Trained eye or WOW Factor

Designers each have experience in our chosen fields.  Like any career, with experience comes an ability to identify and solve problems quickly.

Designers are trained to think differently.  We can see a space and know exactly how it should look, both spatially and esthetically.  By chance, if we can’t see it immediately, we know how to focus on the challenges at hand to transform it.

Designers have a high level of attention to detail.  Rarely is something missed or looked over.  Something you may not notice, will keep a designer awake at night.  It’s our way, we are perfectionist. That’s why we love what we do, it’s the best of both worlds, creative and detailed.

5/ Enjoy the Journey

Renovations are admittedly hard.  There is a lot going on and mess.  For a short time, your day to day life is turned upside down.  In the end the result will be completely worth it!  Designers can relieve the burden of a renovation by taking care of the details, so you can live your life as normally as possible.

A Designer can give you a sense of security, that someone reliable and experienced is overseeing what seems like organized chaos.  We can answer any questions to reassure or direct you into making the best decisions for your home and family.

We want your space to be beautiful… Yes.  We also want you to feel empowered and confident in the process.  That is our mission: To create beautiful spaces while taking on the burden of the renovation, so you don’t have to!


Are you interested in renovating a space in your home?

Not sure where to start?


Then simply start with a PLAN!  Ask us those lingering questions about the design, planning and execution of your renovation.  We look forward to hearing bout your exciting project and answering those questions.


We’ll talk soon