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Countertops at a glance – Which one is right for you?

If you are planning on a new kitchen or simply just updating your existing kitchen, the decision on a countertop can be overwhelming.  There are so many different materials and manufacturers out there and you want to make sure you are getting the most functional, economical and attractive surface for your heart of the home, your kitchen.

Here is a list of the most popular countertop choices on the market today and the pros and cons of each:

Granite:

granite

A timeless classic natural stone.  Granite is and has been for a very long time one of the top choices for a countertop in your kitchen.  One that is sought after in any home.  It comes in a variety of colours from light-dark tones and each slab is unique with its own colours, shades and patterns.  It can be done in a polished finish appearing shiny and wet, or in a honed finish for a more natural look.

Scratch Resistant Yes
Stain Resistant Yes (if properly sealed)
Heat Resistant Yes
Easy to Maintain Yes
Sealing Required Yes (once/year)
Cost ($-$$$) $$-$$$ (varies by colour and availability)

There is now a new product on the market that is applied to granite to make it more stain resistant.  Ask your supplier/installer for more information.

Quartz:

quartz

Quartz is an engineered stone material made in a huge variety of patterns and colours.  This material is becoming more and more popular and a favourite choice among buyers as it can look exactly like granite or any other solid surface with zero maintenance and limitless design capabilities.  There are many different manufacturers that provide quartz so some research is required to determine which is right for you re: warranties, colours and patterns etc.

Scratch Resistant Yes
Stain Resistant Yes
Heat Resistant Yes
Easy to Maintain Yes
Sealing Required No
Cost ($-$$$) $$$ (varies by manufacturer and colour)

Solid Surface: (Corian)

corian

Solid Surfaces is another man made material that comes in a variety of colours and patterns.  Since it is factory manufactured, the colours area endless and designs can get very creative with solid colours or fun patterns.  If you are going for a natural looking countertop this is not the material for you.

Scratch Resistant No (can be buffed out)
Stain Resistant Yes
Heat Resistant No
Easy to Maintain Yes
Sealing Required No
Cost ($-$$$) $$-$$$ (varies by colour and pattern)

Laminate:

laminate

The most affordable of all the countertop choices, laminate is available in so many colours and designs.  It is available to mimic any of the other types of countertops by using a photographic image and stretching it out over a hard surface.  It is also the hardest to maintain as it can be scratched, burnt and stained if not careful.

Scratch Resistant No
Stain Resistant No
Heat Resistant No
Easy to Maintain Yes
Sealing Required No
Cost ($-$$$) $ (varies by colour and pattern)

Concrete:

concrete

A more modern choice is poured concrete.  Concrete can be mixed with pigments to provide some colour, and finished using different techniques to provide a smooth or textured finish.

Scratch Resistant Yes
Stain Resistant Yes
Heat Resistant Yes
Easy to Maintain Somewhat
Sealing Required Yes (several times a year)
Cost ($-$$$) $$$ (labour intensive and must be made on site)

Stainless Steel:

Stainless-Steel

Also a more modern choice but the most hygienic choice of them all.  This is why stainless steel is used in most commercial applications such as restaurants and health care.  It is however becoming more popular in residential settings as well.  Stainless is easily scratched however so cutting cannot be done on the surface itself.

Scratch Resistant No
Stain Resistant Yes
Heat Resistant Yes
Easy to Maintain Yes
Sealing Required No
Cost ($-$$$) $$$

Butcher Block:

butcherblock

Wood countertops area a nice option as an accent surface or for a kitchen that is trying to achieve a rustic/warm design.  Wood does come with a lot of maintenance however since it is easily scratched and stained.  The good news is that any damage can easily be sanded out.  Frequent sealing is necessary for this type of countertop.

Scratch Resistant No
Stain Resistant No
Heat Resistant No
Easy to Maintain Somewhat
Sealing Required Yes (frequently)
Cost ($-$$$) $$

 

I hope this makes your choice of countertop more informed and in the end a much easier decision.


Colour Theory 101

It is evident to me the difficulty some of my clients have when it comes to choosing colour for their homes.  I thought I would offer some helpful tips on colour selection and how to be confident in adding one of the most important design features in any space:  COLOUR.

The colour wheel:

The colour wheel

Primary Colors: Red, yellow and blue
All other colors are derived from these 3 hues.  Primary colours are the only 3 colours that cannot be made by any combination of other colours.

Secondary Colors: Green, orange and purple
Colours formed by mixing the primary colours.

Tertiary Colors: Yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green & yellow-green
Colours formed by mixing a primary and a secondary color.

Hue:  The dominant colour:  red, purple, blue, etc.

Value: (lightness)  The overall intensity of how light or dark the colour is.  The amount of white or black added to the hue.

Chroma: (saturation)  The strength or dominance of the hue.

Colour Psychology

emotional-and-psychological-meaning-of-colour

Colours can make us feel certain moods and behaviours.  This is why people have preferences towards certain colours.  It is the way that the colour makes you feel.  This is important to keep in mind when choosing colours for your space.  Ask yourself what feelings and emotions you are trying to achieve in the space?

Ex:  A spa will likely have greens and blues to create a feel of balance, purity and health in the space. A play room or daycare may have pinks and yellows to encourage creativity and excitement.

Colour Schemes

Certain colour combinations are pleasing to the eye and create comfort and stability as you enjoy the space.

Try to stick to one of these colour schemes.

Analogous colour scheme:  Made up of three colors which are side by side on the colour wheel. (yellow-green, yellow, and yellow-orange)

Complementary colour scheme:  Made up of two colors which are directly opposite each other.  (red and green and red-purple and yellow-green)  The opposing colours create contrast and maximum stability.

With todays open concept homes I try to stay with analogous colour schemes throughout the home.  A neutral colour in the hallways and open concept room seems to work the best.  Changes in value and chroma from room to room works well to achieve visual interest but still works together throughout the entire space.  To add colour and contrast I like to add feature walls throughout.  This can be achieved by a complimentary colour, wallpaper or architectural features.  Closed rooms such as bedrooms and bathrooms provide you with the opportunity to change the colour as the separation of space is significant enough that it doesn’t have to flow with the open areas (as much).

To choose the colours in any given space, pick an accessory or fabric that you love in the room.  Colours can be pulled from those accessories to bring the room together.

Lastly and one of the most important tips I can offer is;

Don’t be scared of colour!  It is one of the most powerful things in any space that can set our moods and behaviours for the time we spend in our homes.


Why and When to hire an Interior Designer

There seems to be a lot of confusion when it comes to the term “Interior Design/er”.  I want to dedicate this blog to explaining what services Interior Designers can offer to their clients and when it is appropriate to hire an Interior Designer vs. an Interior Decorator.

Interior Designer

Interior Designers are trained to design safe, functional and aesthetically pleasing solutions to interior spaces.  They are able to see a design through the initial floor plan right through to the decorative accents.  Designers not only design spaces, they analyze your requirements, budget and schedule.  They can conceptualize the design and manage the implementation of the entire project.  Interior Designers also ensure that the space complies with all relevant regulations and codes such as Ontario Building Codes and Fire Codes.  This is especially important with commercial design as occupancy, egress and accessibility play a major role in the layout of the space.

Often designers will work hand in hand with Engineers to renovate an existing building or with Engineers and Architects to complete a new build.

Please visit for more information on Interior Design

Interior Decorator

Interior Decorators focus on selection of colour, finishes/materials and furnishings.  They can also help with furniture layouts and space plans.  Decorators are able to come into a room and make it look great by helping the client decide on style, colour scheme, furniture and accessories.

Decorators are typically used in residential settings and are great at updating spaces.

Please visit for more information on Interior Decorating

I usually explain to potential clients that Designers can do the same for you as an architect within the existing exterior walls of the building.  If your project requires moving walls, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, windows and doors, an Interior Designer is the right choice for you.  If you are doing an addition onto an existing building or a new building from the ground up, you will likely need to hire an architect.  If you are looking to improve layout and update your style and décor either a designer or a decorator would be a good choice.

Interior Designers are here to protect the client and ensure that the renovation runs smoothly and the results are not only what they expected but exceeded!  We can also educate our clients on how the design can function better by choosing the right layouts, finishes and furniture for the space.

Clients should also know that anyone can afford to hire a designer.  Hiring an Interior Designer will save you time and money!  We can help in choosing appropriate economical finishes.  We have tricks that can make any space look great on any budget.  A huge expense to any renovation is permits and construction drawings.  Designers can do these drawings usually at a lower cost than WE an architect.

So, whether you are planning on completely renovating your home, or just updating your décor, an Interior Designer is the right choice for you.  I hope that helps to clear things up a bit!


Introduction

Just wanted to start off by introducing myself and talk about my goals and where I see my new interior design business Interior Creations going.  I am very excited for the launch of Interior Creations and can’t wait to meet new clients and help them achieve their vision for their space whether it be their home or office.

I am a Registered Interior Designer and a member of the Association of Registered Interior Designers (ARIDO) WE and Interior Designers of Canada (IDC).  I have been active in the Interior Design Industry in the Ottawa area for 8 years focusing on commercial and government office interior design consulting.  In the past 8 years I have gained experience in many areas including project and facility management, move coordination, accessibility/barrier-free design, way-finding and security.  I have learned to design any space I am faced with to be a safe, functional and stylish while meeting all relevant codes and standards.   While working as a consultant I also enjoyed designing homes for myself, friends and family.  Here I got to pull out my more creative side and focus more on creating beautiful home interiors.  My residential experience ranges from kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms, to fully finishing basements and complete home makeovers.

My vision for Interior Creations is to focus on private commercial office interiors and home renovations.  I want to provide my services to people just like my family and friends in the most economical way possible.  I believe that any space can look great with the expensive, finer things in life, but this isn’t always an option.  Especially in this day and age.  I want Interior Creations to be a go to business for everyone.  I will offer advice for DIY ideas and giving old spaces new life on any budget.  I will be offering interior design services to Kanata/Stittsville, Ottawa and the surrounding areas; Carp, Manotick, Carleton Place etc.

I invite you to check out my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/lauren.interiorcreations?ref=hl, please like and share.

Watch for my next blog “Why hire an Interior Designer.”