Designing A Kosher Kitchen

Having grown up in a traditional Jewish household that followed strict kosher guidelines, there is no one more capable to design a kosher kitchen than Harrell Remodeling designer, Debra Winston. So when Harrell was approached by a couple to update their circa-1960s kitchen while incorporating solutions that would allow them to adhere to their kosher meal preparation, Debra was exceptionally qualified for the task.

The 50-year-old kitchen was dark and dated. Counter space was limited as was storage. Though the kitchen had an eat-in area, it wasn’t used as the couple ate meals in their Dining Room. The husband is kosher and his wife, a gourmet cook with Italian roots, converted to Judaism and also observes kosher practices. They enjoy entertaining and preparing large meals for friends and family, especially during Passover.

There are three categories of kosher foods: meat, dairy, and pareve, which includes fruits, vegetables, grains, eggs, and other foods. To simplify the kosher concept, there must be dedicated pots, pans, knifes, bowls, dishware, and utensils for preparing, cooking, serving, and eating meat and dairy dishes. This means there are two sets of everything in addition to special dishes and serving platters for Passover. With extensive sets of duplicate cookware to function properly and follow kosher requirements, the kitchen needed considerable storage. Debra’s clients also wanted high-performance appliances as well as more counter space.

After speaking in depth with her clients, visiting their home, and armed with her personal knowledge of the kosher standards, Debra embarked on transforming their kitchen. The end result may not look any different from a classic kitchen redesign but the changes Debra incorporated made a huge difference in the couple’s ability to easily and enjoyably prepare kosher meals for themselves and guests.

“I enjoy taking a poorly designed space, and reconfiguring it with an improved layout, enhanced lighting, increased accessibility, and heightened functionality,” states Debra of one of the many things she enjoys about her job as a Harrell’s designer.

Some of the key elements of this kosher kitchen include:

Storage, Storage, Storage

In this kosher kitchen, storage – and lots of it – was a crucial component of the redesign.

Separate Storage for Meat & Dairy

Base cabinet drawers on either side of the range were designed for pots, pans, and other cooking utensils. One side was dedicated for tools and cookware for meat, the other for dairy. There were also independent drawers for each full set of silverware and utensils. The upper cabinets had enough space to separate meat and dairy plates as well as serving dishes.

Double Height Pullout Pantry

A tall narrow pantry next to the refrigerator houses spices, condiments, and a variety of ingredients. The two Kessebohmer hardware inserts hold 330 pounds each, and are open from both sides making for easy visibility and accessibility.

Secondary Cabinets

Upon gutting the kitchen a false ceiling was discovered, which enabled the ceiling height to be raised from 95 inches to 103 inches. This allowed for secondary upper cabinets ideal for storing Passover china that is only used once a year. A cabinet above the wall oven houses vertical baking tray dividers measured to fit the owner’s baking sheets and adjustable shelves offer additional flexible storage.

Drawers

One of the drawers is composed of a two-tiered wood cutlery drawer with dividers, creating additional space for separate meat and dairy flatware and utensils. Another drawer has a knife block insert on the left side, and dividers to organize utensils on the right.

Blind Cabinets

Although there was not enough space in the kitchen for Magic Corners or swing-out half round shelves, we were able to make the blind cabinets useful. These cabinets are installed with lighting that automatically turns on, allowing easily visibility to all areas. These are used to hold trash bins, tall vases, and other items not needed on a regular basis.

Display Cabinets

Glass cabinets and niches offered multiple ways for the homeowners to display special dishes, tchotchkes, and other objets d’art.

Double Basin Sink

In a kosher kitchen, a double basin sink is required so that meat and dairy items can be washed separately. The divide in the new sink is 6” in height, allowing pots with long handles to extend over the divider. They can soak without encroaching on or dumping water into the other side. A Blanco Silgranite sink was chosen because of its durability to resist scratches, stains, and heat. This was accented by a Brizo single handle pull-out faucet and a filtered instant hot water tap.

High-End Appliances

A love of cooking and Italian heritage coupled with kosher standards necessitated desire for modern, high-performance appliances. A Sub-Zero refrigerator with wood paneling to match the cabinetry enabled them to have enough space to isolate meat and dairy. A gas 4-burner Wolf Range Top provides efficient and consistent cooking while a warming drawer takes the chill off plates and keeps prepared foods at the perfect temperature until the meal is served. In lieu of a microwave, the homeowners opted for a Miele Speed wall oven. Its compact size allows it to heat quickly, and the use of steam ensures healthy, fast food preparation. A traditional Miele convection oven is right below, allowing plenty of options when preparing meals for large gatherings.

Countertops, Flooring, Lighting, Flow

Cambria Brittanicca countertops mimic a classic white veined marble without the worry of stains, etching, or upkeep. The old engineered wood floors were replaced with authentic oak hardwood. LED lighting was used in a variety of manners to provide ambient, task, and accent illumination, all of which brightened the previously gloomy space. And, the once narrow entry into the Dining Room was widened to 45 inches, allowing a better flow between the two rooms.

Thanks to Debra Winston, this gorgeous kosher kitchen has everything the homeowners desired. The new floor plan doubled the usable space, storage abounds, and the 1965 GE stove has been replaced by top-of-the-line Sub-Zero, Wolf and Miele appliances. With its copious storage, large double sink, and improved lighting this kitchen would also work well for those people with unique dietary requirements or food allergies who must segregate food and/or cooking tools.

“I have dreamed of working with Harrell Remodeling for more than 20 years, such is their reputation for smart, impeccably designed and crafted spaces. The danger of such dreams is creating unreasonable expectations, but Harrell exceeded all of them in the rebuild of my kitchen. There are few people who can boast of having fun during a kitchen remodel; I am one of them. Unbelievable attention to detail, quick problem solving, spectacular communication (including on the job site, where I learned so much that has made me a better homeowner)… we simply could not have done this with anyone else and emerged with our day jobs and marriage intact!”

Debra has been with Harrell Remodeling Design + Build for four years. She has a Bachelor degree in Fine Arts, is a painter and quilt artist, and spent 13 years as a fashion designer for Ralph Lauren in New York City before moving to California. She studied Interior Design at Cañada College, where she specialized in Kitchen and Bath Design and worked as an Interior designer prior to joining the Harrell Team in April 2014. She has received numerous awards for her designs. Debra specializes in Kitchen and Bath redesign, is a Universal Design Certified Professional (UDCP), and also works on whole-house remodels and room additions.

Harrell Remodeling has been designing and remodeling distinctive homes in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley since 1985. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our incredible designers in Palo Alto or Los Gatos and discover how we can transform your home, kitchen, or bath.

Add Some Fun To Your Next Remodeling Project

Remodeling a kitchen or bathroom can be a serious undertaking, but it can also be a great opportunity to add a touch of playfulness to your home. Whether you are remodeling a powder room, a master bath, or a kitchen, the Harrell Remodeling design team excels at creating modern residential designs while also developing special spaces that reflect the personality and spirit of the homeowners.

Americans are staying in their homes longer than ever before, opting to renovate or remodel rather than move to a larger residence. Families in the 1950’s typically moved approximately every five years. Since 2013, most people tend to stay in their homes an average of nine years compared the year 2000 when they moved every seven years. Many Bay Area and Silicon Valley residents are following this trend and as a result, personalized remodeling designs that are unique and individual are becoming more popular.

Gloria Carlson, a senior designer at Harrell-Remodeling, loves to create fun and creative designs that reveal her clients’ unique personalities and passions.

“The number one thing I do when I have a specialized design project is to listen. I want to understand what they are looking to achieve, both functionally and aesthetically, so that I can help to realize their dreams,” said Gloria.

Here are three examples of Harrell Remodeling clients who wanted to express their individuality in their kitchens and bathrooms, and how Gloria’s exceptional talent for creating enjoyable and useful designs were incorporated in these projects.

Creating Enjoyment Through Better Organization

Recently, a couple with whom Gloria had known previously came to Harrell Remodeling wanting to create a larger kitchen. Having been entertained by this family in the past, Gloria already understood the owner’s kitchen “rhythm” and family flow. She recognized that the client cooked in designated areas throughout the kitchen, from baking to making coffee. Gloria listened to their specific requests to create a new, streamlined, and contemporary layout that emphasized special zones and the following details:

Accentuated Special Kitchen Zones

  • A baking area that included an appliance garage for small appliances, offered efficient storage for flours, mixing bowls, utensils, etc. in adjacent cabinetry. This zone was situated directly next to the oven.
  • The coffee zone was designed to hide coffee containers, filters, and boxes of teas, and Gloria made sure the espresso maker aligned perfectly with a potfiller faucet to fill the machine’s water tank.

Carbonated, Filtered, and Chilled Beverage Zone

  • In the center of the kitchen, Gloria designed a large island to function as a buffet serving area, prep zone, and gathering spot. To help contribute to the central gathering purpose of the island, Gloria specified a faucet that included a built-in filter, water chiller and carbonation system at the sink. An under-the-counter refrigerator and built-in liquor cabinet made the island a refreshing kitchen hangout.

Customized Planning Zone

  • A planning zone with organizer shelves, key hooks, and a cork board and white board was designed to add a functional focal point to the room.
  • Color was integrated into the kitchen to highlight the modern upgrades and to make the space visually appealing and inviting.

“My clients still tell me how much they love what I did in their kitchen,” said Gloria.

Entertaining with Serve-Yourself Soda

Gloria worked with another family who entertained frequently. These homeowners wanted an area for guests to gather away from where they were doing their last-minute cooking, and they requested a built-in soda fountain, for their own love of sodas and for fun entertaining.

Fountain Soda Bar With Fully Equipped Bar Gun

  • A separate beverage zone was created on the opposite side of the prep zone and kitchen sink. The beverage area was designed in an “L” shape that allowed for plenty of storage space both above and below the wet bar area.
  • At the beverage center, Gloria specified plumbing for a carbonator, refrigeration line, filter system, and a fully loaded bar gun with a multitude of syrup flavors required for making fresh sodas.

Customized Backsplash Made From Vintage Bottle Caps

  • To punctuate the theme with a really fun and unique design, Gloria designed a backsplash that was made up of vintage bottle caps. Hundreds of bottle caps were individually placed in the backsplash to resemble tile, resulting in a customized conversation piece that echoed the homeowners’ affection for soda.

This clever kitchen redesign melded the clients’ passions to create a nearby entertainment space for guests while also allowing the homeowners to simultaneously work in the kitchen and interact with their guests.

Creating A Kitchen and Bathroom Design To Reflect A Family’s “Joie de Vivre”

Sometimes a client just wants to forego all traditional design concepts, and allow Harrell Remodeling and its amazing designers to create something truly fresh and new. This was the case with a Bay Area family who wanted their home to reflect their passion for travel and desire to welcome nature into their children’s bathroom.

Once again, Gloria stepped into the picture, transforming the family’s kitchen and bathroom. Highlights of these design projects include:

Customized Kitchen Magnetic World Map For Displaying Travel Tokens

This family traveled the world, collecting magnets from each place they’d visited as tokens of their adventures. Gloria noticed they mounted their collection of magnets on a large whiteboard attached to a kitchen wall. She replaced this bland whiteboard with customized world map wallpaper, with colors to match the kitchen palette, which was adhered to a steel plate to make the map magnetic. The new design allowed the family to place their magnets on the specific countries and cities, while creating a showcase piece that sparked conversation during dinner parties.

The family also wanted a bathroom with a jungle theme for their elementary school aged daughters. For this part of the project, Gloria invited the children to participate in the design and material selections, and they created:

Colorful Children’s Bathroom With Tropical Jungle Theme

A unique combination of tiles was applied to the bathroom walls to give the space a jungle vibe. A niche in the shower showcased a tile mural with a family of monkeys hiding in a rainforest. Beneath the showerhead, Gloria designed a glass mosaic blue tile waterfall that flowed down the wall, across the shower pan, and onto the bathroom floor to create meandering river. The blue tile river stops in front of the vanity in the shape of a small puddle of water.

Gloria used porcelain tiles with a wood grain to create a large tree trunk design on the shower wall and a leafy mosaic tile and green grout to create the foliage.

The results for this home were spectacular, playful, and completely customized for the client’s lifestyle and personalities.

When it comes to your residence, infusing a remodel with a touch of individuality can be a wonderful way to make your mark on a space. Whatever your passions, hobbies, or visions for your Bay Area and Silicon Valley home, the award-winning designers at Harrell Remodeling Design+Build can help you “take a walk on the wild side.”

We invite you to contact us for a complimentary consultation to discover how Harrell Remodeling can design your next distinctive space.

The Future of Kitchen and Bathroom Remodeling Trends

Most homeowners are intrigued to know the hottest kitchen and bathroom design trends and what materials are currently being used in ultra-modern homes. And when they are ready to remodel their own residence, homeowners want to ensure the firm they choose for their remodel project is intimately aware of the latest trends, materials, and design.

That’s why Harrell Remodeling makes it a point to send at least one of their designers to the annual Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) to observe and track emerging trends. KBIS is the world’s largest kitchen and bathroom tradeshow where cutting edge designs and trending themes can be experienced firsthand. This year, the company sent two of its designers to perform reconnaissance on behalf of Bay Area homeowners. The two returned with an amazing list of noteworthy styles that will be evolving in the next year or two.

This year, Harrell Remodeling senior designers Sara Jorgensen and Debra Winston attended the KBIS show, returning with valuable insights into current and leading trends for their clients.

“The KBIS is such a huge show. We walked 21 miles and took 21,000 photos. The experience inspired us and we were able to identify design trends and techniques that will absolutely translate to more amazing Harrell Remodeling results for our clients. These trends are happening now, but will also be emerging in the future,” said Sara.

In general, Sara explained that there was a clear distinction between East Coast design trends and West Coast design trends.

“East Coast styles are still very traditional. They are using lots of detailing, and decorative cabinets. But when you see the West Coast styles, they are all frameless cabinets with clean lines and very contemporary,” said Sara.

EMERGING RESIDENTIAL TRENDS

Here are some trend highlights from the show that are relevant to Silicon Valley homeowners:

  • Walnut cabinets
    Everywhere Sara and Debra went, they saw walnut finishes dominating kitchen and bathroom cabinets. This rich walnut finish is replacing the white-on-white look that’s been popular for traditional kitchens and baths. Walnut is not relegated to just the exterior of the cabinetry but is also being used on the inside of cabinets. Sara and Debra observed that many modern designers are skillfully combining the color white with walnut in a variety of ways to showcase the trend.
  • LED lighting modules
    The use of sleek, under-cabinet, energy-efficient LED lighting was clearly an emerging trend. Manufacturers are developing thin lighting tape that can be used throughout both the bathroom and kitchen. The use of lighting was everywhere, but most prevalent in the skillful illumination of the undersides of counters and cabinets. In many cases, this sleek under-counter lighting highlighted the walnut and white finish on upper cabinets.
  • Incorporating textures
    There’s no getting around it, textured surfaces will be a major influence for residential designers in the near future. Texture is a fantastic option for homeowners wanting to add something different to their kitchens and baths. The use of texture was found in multiple materials including tile, plastic, and even metal. For example, the two took note of engraved textured metal wall panels, walls that looked like rustic wood, and surfaced tile used for highlighting kitchen backsplashes. Sara and Debra discovered that, “texture is here to stay!”
  • Gold accents dominated
    Both designers discovered that gold is being extensively throughout many of the kitchen and bathroom designs they toured. Gold is used sparingly to accent beautiful walnut or other wood finishes. It is also elegantly paired with navy blue. This trend of navy blue and gold was used frequently in kitchen islands or perimeter cabinets, where small gold lighting or cabinet fixtures accentuated the rich blue.
  • Bold, playful colors
    The use of bright reds, blues, and yellows were prevalent throughout the show. For example, many appliances are now sporting bold colors to add some spark to the kitchen. Daring colors are being combined with textured metal in apron-front sinks. Another unique manner in which color was incorporated was by painting the insides of cabinet drawers with bubble gum pink or other playful hues.
  • Televisions and fireplaces
    One of the most visible themes Sara and Debra noted was a focus on televisions above fireplaces. As the designers explored this theme further, they realized that fireplaces are now being manufactured in such a way that they can be paired closely with a large, suspended television. Many high-tech fireplaces incorporated LED lighting trim around their perimeter with the lights changing color to coordinate with a favorite sporting team or to set a mood. Also, there were clever ways of concealing the television behind a large piece of art when not in use. The TV was secured to hardware allowing it to swing down, under the artwork and in front of the fire for easy viewing.

While not every homeowner will use all of these ideas and concepts in their remodeling project, they do provide a great framework for future design ideas. In addition, the concepts have been instilled into the deep arsenal of talented designers at Harrell Remodeling, who are always looking for the next great design solution!

“Design Trends” as Part of Harrell Remodeling Workshop Series

Because the KBIS show was so immense, Harrell Remodeling has incorporated some of Sara’s and Debra’s notes into a “Hot Trends in Products, Design and Remodeling” seminar that are part of the firm’s regular informational series of workshops and presentations for the Bay Area homeowners.

With locations in Palo Alto and Los Gatos Harrell Remodeling has been designing and remodeling distinctive homes since 1985. We invite you to stop by our “Jewel Box” Showroom, attend one of our workshops, or schedule a complementary appointment to learn how we can make your remodeling vision come true.

How To Choose The Best Firm For Your Next Remodeling Project

The saying “Home is where the heart is” strikes a deep cord with homeowners everywhere including those residing in the Bay Area. Home is where our lives are centered. Home is where we relax and unwind, spend time with family and entertain friends, where we enjoy the holidays and special occasions. Because of this, more and more people are investing money in remodeling or redesigning their residences to create beautiful gathering spaces, safer living environments, and versatile homes.

How do you find the right remodeling professional that will make your remodeling vision a reality? Harrell Remodeling recommends the following guidelines to help you choose a professional design and remodeling firm:

  1. Ask for Recommendations
    There is no doubt about it… word of mouth is one of the best strategies to follow when selecting a remodeling professional.
    Residential remodeling can be tricky, thus the potential for lengthy and unexpected delays, budget overages, or costly mistakes. To avoid this, check with your local Chamber of Commerce, get recommendations from friends, and check online for references and reviews. See if certain businesses continue to be mentioned. When investigating remodeling firms, it is also a good idea to establish the level of complexity these companies are able to handle, and their experience with remodeling projects similar to yours.
  2. Credentials and Certifications Matter
    With a solid list of recommendations in hand, it’s time for some basic research on each firm.
    Really look through the firm’s website to see the qualifications of its designers, project managers, and carpenters. Like any vocation, recognized credentials and certifications from professional associations like the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) along with certifications including Certified Interior Designer (CID), Universal Design Certified Professional (UDCP), and Certified Green Building Professional (CGBP) are important. Any seasoned and skilled remodeling professional will have invested time and money in course work and passed rigorous tests to earn these credentials and certifications.
  3. Get To Know Your Remodeling Professionals
    One of the best strategies for finding the best remodeling firms is to visit their offices. 
    Do they have a showroom with the latest materials and design concepts? When discussing design and remodeling ideas, do they include a professional designer in the conversation who can offer suggestions and apply these concepts to your project and lifestyle? Who would you be working with? How are projects like yours handled? How and when are payments made? Is there an open line of communication should you have questions or concerns? It is important to ask a lot of questions, but also make sure to listen closely to answers. The way remodeling professionals answer questions can be extremely important and revealing.
  4. Check References
    When conducting your due diligence on remodeling firms, ask to see some of the firm’s past projects.
    Get a good idea of the firm’s style and ability to solve challenging problems. When looking through the company’s portfolio of work, make sure to ask if you can call former clients to get a firsthand account of their project: Was the worksite clean and the workers respectful? Did the job get completed on time and on budget? What was the communication and planning process? All of these will give great insight into the overall professionalism and quality of the remodeling firm from someone who has employed their services.
  5. Check The Status of Their License
    After checking references and speaking with past clients, visit the Contractors State License Board and make sure the company is in good standing.
    Is their license active? When does it expire? Do the have any claims filed against them? Are they bonded and insured?
  6. Price Is Not The Most Important Criteria
    While every homeowner has a budget for their remodeling project, choosing a firm purely on the basis of cost can backfire.
    There is a lot of truth behind the saying, “You get what you pay for”, and when it comes to hiring a remodeling company these words are even more crucial. There are firms that will provide a very attractive quote on the project but when the rubber meets the road, they end up costing much more in lost time, poor workmanship, and inaccurate pricing. It is important to weigh all of the criteria including price in your decision. Everyone wants to get the most bang for our buck but when it comes to our home, the quality of work and inter-personal communication far outweigh saving a few dollars. The results will be worth it in the end.
    Recommendations, certifications, and being licensed, bonded and insured are all important aspects of finding the top remodeling firms. Finding a company with high quality workmanship, who understands your lifestyle and distinct requirements, can solve challenging problems, is on the cutting edge of design, will stay on time and on budget, and with whom you have a solid professional rapport are also very key components to finding the right firm for your home remodel.

Since 1985, Harrell Remodeling has been designing and remodeling distinctive home all around the Bay Area. A design-build firm with locations in Palo Alto and Los Gatos , we invite you to contact us to find out more about how we work, talk to members of our team, and discover how we can make your remodeling dreams a reality!

Pet-Friendly Design for Your Four Legged Furry Family Members

According to a 2017- 2018 National Pet Owners Survey, 68% or 85 millions families in the United States own a pet. 60% of households own a dog while 47% have a cat as a pet although the number of felines (94.2 million) outnumbers canines (89.7 million).

Yet another recent study has shown that a whopping 95% of people consider their furry friends to be a part of the family. Pets provide companionship, comfort, and entertainment, boost our wellbeing and provide unconditional love.

With more and more people in tune to their pet’s needs, making these furry family members comfortable and happy is important. In working with clients, another of Harrell’s award-winning Senior Designers, Sara Jorgensen, frequently incorporates pet-friendly spaces and solutions into her design.

A California state Certified Interior Designer (CID) with a BA in Fine Arts in Interior Design, Sara has the unique ability to discover and artfully execute her clients’ design desires along with their functional needs. “I love to ask a lot of questions,” Sara says of her meetings with new clients. “These days with so many people having pets, I always ask about their animals. Often, people undergoing a home remodel have frustrations about things like pet food storage or placement of food bowls or litter boxes. They often don’t realize a solution could be quite simple and easily incorporated.”

Whatever the pet-related challenge, Sara will create the nook or niche, storage or space that will solve it. Working from a holistic viewpoint to the smallest of details that create the design’s ‘wow’ factor, she looks for creative ways to situate food dishes, tuck away unsightly litter boxes, or to incorporate much-needed storage.

“I help clients truly consider how they live and the roles their pets play in the family. Through this process, I can design an environment that works for both people and pets in mind without sacrificing individuality and personal style.” Sara explains.

Sara finds that homeowners with canine companions often want her help with creating attractive or hidden storage systems for their pet’s food and supplies as well as elevated and/or out-of-the-way food and water bowls. Since feline family members are more likely to remain indoors, Sara designs special spaces for litter boxes, food and water bowls, and even perches for cats to climb or vertical “highways” that enable them to move from room to room.

“Catios”, or patios for cats, are becoming a popular home design element. They can be simple or elaborate but the goal is to create a safe, enclosed outdoor spaces for cats to lie in the sun and fresh air. Sara has designed “catios” from previously open balconies and decks by installing mechanized rolling pet screens that drop down to fully enclose the space.

An example of a more elaborate pet space is a “catio” project Sara did for a client in which she transformed an unused second floor balcony into an artistic safe space for the homeowner’s cats. “The owners were huge San Jose Sharks fans so we designed a custom metal panel with the Sharks logo that added a unique architectural element to the rear of the home that both homeowners and cats could enjoy. We even selected a bird-nest pattern for the background pattern that creative a playful reflection with the light.” says Sara.

 

Ideas for incorporating pet-friendly design in your home

  • Choose durable, pet-friendly materials and fabrics: From flooring to furniture, there are materials that lend themselves to homes with pets. Choose colors and fabrics that hide dirt, are durable and scratch-resistant as well as easy to clean.
  • Stop dirt at the door: Create a station in your home where you most frequently take your pet in and out. This area should have resilient, easy maintenance flooring plus storage for leashes, toys and supplies.
  • A room with a view: Both dogs and cats enjoy being able to look outside so having a large picture window that provides your pet with a view will be appreciated.
  • Special spaces: Dogs have an innate desire to go underneath beds, tables, and other areas where they can rest in peace while you should think vertically for your feline friends. Designate a doggie den beneath cabinets in the kitchen or Family Room and set up perches or stair-step walls shelving to create areas for your cat to sit or sleep.
  • Pet doors: Technology is a wonderful thing even in the pet product realm. There are electronic pet doors that open only when triggered by a chip in your pet’s collar, keeping your home secure and other unwanted critters out. Even cameras that can allow you to see what your pets are up to while you are away.

Harrell’s Remodeling is very sensitive to how the remodeling process affects your furry family members. We always make areas safe for your pets by removing debris as well as posting signs to alert workers of animals in a home. Sometimes we even post a photo of your pet on doors with a sign to alert our people and subcontractors that special circumstances need to be taken for safety of an animal.

Whether you have a very specific pet project in mind or wish to integrate pet-friendly design as part of a home remodel project, Sara and the entire team at Harrell’s Remodeling can make it happen!

Designing Your Kitchen for Entertaining and Fun

We’ve all heard that the kitchen is the heart of the home, and Harrell Remodeling’s award-winning Senior Designer, Gloria Carlson, agrees. The kitchen being her favorite room to remodel, Gloria has helped many of her clients reimagine their kitchens, making the spaces not only beautiful and functional, but also creating a place for entertaining friends and family.

Understanding a client’s entertainment style is paramount to producing a finished product that fits their unique lifestyle and preferences. “Everyone entertains in different ways,” explains Gloria, who is a Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD).

There are a few key questions Gloria asks when meeting with clients who want to redesign their kitchens. Gloria delves into the following areas that guide her toward an end result that best fits the way they live and entertain.

  1. “How do you cook?”
    This includes how the homeowners interact in the kitchen. Does one person cook everything and then clean? Does one person prep while the other cleans? Will two or more people be cooking together?
  2. “How do you want to live?”
    When the homeowners entertain, how many people typically come to a gathering? How do they want to interact with their guests? Do they need flexible seating space for both intimate and large groups?

According to Gloria, some people are what she calls “participatory entertainers,” meaning they love having gatherings where friends and family are involved in the preparation of the meal. This entails designing the kitchen to provide plenty of workspace for meal prep and clean up, as well as ensuring there is adequate room for people to move freely throughout the kitchen. Often a spacious island is part of this type of entertaining kitchen remodel.

Other people prefer to cook alone but want to have an inclusionary yet distinct gathering area that allows guests and host to interact while the food is being prepared. Sometimes they simply want seating nearby for easy conversations with guests, and sometimes they are looking for something more specific. “We had a client who loved soda fountain drinks,” Gloria said. “Using this theme, we created a separate bar area and serve-yourself beverage center with a soda bar gun, ice maker, and vintage bottle cap backsplash that was a big conversation piece.” This custom entertainment space connected to the kitchen, creating the ideal blend of separation and interaction, enabling the host to cook in peace yet entertain and converse with their guests.

Still others want their kitchen to be a showpiece, a beautiful place to gather and entertain, yet they don’t plan to use it for cooking. These spaces take ambiance, flow of people, and ample seating into consideration. Of course, they are also functional and well thought out, even if they are only used to entertain.

Gloria also finds many clients hold gatherings that revolve around sports. Having a television in the kitchen area or nearby with an area for guests to eat and watch the game is key. Other homeowners want flexible spaces where they can add or remove tables and seating based on the size of the group they are hosting.

No two kitchens are ever alike. Each kitchen Gloria creates is custom, unique to the people for whom she is creating it. “Designing a kitchen for entertaining and fun is very much an individual endeavor,” she says. Each kitchen is distinct, centering on the homeowner’s personalities, lifestyle, hobbies, personal design aesthetic, and cooking/entertaining style. She believes that any combination of homeowner and designer will create a completely different design within the same space, yet the end result can be beautiful, functional and solve the problems of their previous kitchen.

Gloria says that there are a few things that clients do want in a kitchen designed for entertainment. These include:

  1. Efficient storage to house kitchen tools
  2. Considerable counter space to set out food, especially since buffet-style meals are very popular
  3. The durability and low maintenance of Quartz makes it a sought-after material for countertops
  4. Ample, flexible seating areas (bars, peninsulas, or islands, etc.)
  5. Many clients would love an island in their kitchens, but she cautions that an island must fit the space. Squeezing in an island can result in a cramped, less functional. and desirable layout.

“Remodeling one’s home can be stressful, so I try to make the process as fun as possible,” says Gloria. “I listen carefully to the homeowner’s desires, whether functional, aesthetic, or budgetary, and come up with a plan that will work for them. Then, throughout the project, they know they can count on me to respond quickly to questions and help with decisions.”

Whatever socializing style fits you, there is a kitchen that will fulfill how you live, cook, and entertain. Harrell Remodeling Design+Build and premier designer, Gloria Carlson, can help your kitchen entertaining dreams become a reality.

Employee Ownership: Keeping Us Proudly Client-Focused

As a 100% employee-owned company, we feel a sense of accountability and responsibility for our individual roles, our company’s future, and as importantly, our client focused mission ensuring our clients, their desire to have their homes reimagined and redesigned, and our care of their homes always comes first!

Tony Mathews of the Beyster Institute wrote an interesting and compelling article about employee ownership and our 100% employee-owned company, and we thought it was a great read!

Read the article here.

Kitchen tile backsplash

Make A Splash With Backsplash Beauty

It’s impossible to know when or where the first backsplash was included in kitchen design, however the why behind the beauty of backsplashes isn’t hard to decipher. Backsplashes are generally found between the sink and the wall, preventing water, grease, and spaghetti sauce from being splashed against the walls. Pretty soon, simple tile backsplashes were used as the best solution for wall protection. During the 1970’s, white and yellow Formica countertops included a sort of built-in backsplash to avoid mixing materials and designs.

Today, interior designers like Harrell Remodeling’s Gloria Carlson, take the backsplash into an entirely different level, maximizing the utilitarian tool as a great opportunity to create a distinctive focal point for kitchens with multiple materials and patterns.

“You need to have some sort of backsplash purely for protection. Historically, people used a basic four-inch backsplash to provide minimum protection and to just catch spills. But over time, backsplashes have been used provide protection and add aesthetic interest,” explained Gloria.

According to Gloria, knowing how to highlight the backsplash can be tricky.

“The backsplash needs to become part of the whole story and the whole palette. For example, if you have a busy countertop material, you want to use a simple backsplash design so the two don’t compete. The backsplash in that case highlights the countertop. On the other had, you may want your backsplash to be the focal point, in which case you want your countertop to be simple and not compete with it,” said Gloria.

Using The Backsplash As A Central Theme For Kitchen Design

For example, one Bay Area family came to Harrell-Remodeling to redesign their kitchen to accommodate a steady docket of formal dinners and lively entertaining events. But more importantly, the family also wanted a gourmet, multi-use kitchen where entertaining and serious culinary skills could be employed without the interference of casual but valued guests. Gloria created a beautiful cooking area and a more social gathering area where people could mingle without bothering the cook. To accomplish this, she created a fun, socially focused fountain soda bar that also included a fully equipped bar gun with lots of soda flavors. Using the backsplash as a way to highlight the design, Gloria successfully punctuated the soda theme by using the backsplash as a conversation piece and created from vintage bottle caps. The hundreds of bottle caps were individually placed in the backsplash to resemble tile, and create a fun place for people to gather away from the prep and cooking area.

“The family entertained a lot, but they didn’t like when people could just walk into the middle of preparing a meal. So I used the backsplash as a focal point of my design. In this case, I a neutral, solid color for the counter top in order to make the backsplash a focal point to draw the attention of the eye,” said Gloria.

Consider Different Materials For Your Backsplash Beauty

Long gone are the days the four-inch Formica backsplash. Today, designers are taking the backsplash as a way to make a real design splash in kitchens. The boundaries for backsplash designs are being pushed to include modern materials and visionary shapes and sizes.

Today, Gloria includes materials that range from colored glass or tile to stone slabs. In addition, many homes now include backsplashes that run all the way up the wall to the bottom of the top cabinetry to provide maximum impact.

“Depending on what else is happening. You have other when you’ve got a whole kitchen with multiple materials: you’ve got a floor, you’ve got cabinets, you’ve got countertops, you’ve got all those things that you need to have cohesive. You want to make sure that you don’t have too much going on or too much competition and you don’t know where to look. The backsplash can be one of the opportunities within that palette to make a statement. Personally I love it when people aren’t too safe with the backsplash, because it can be so effective when you want to add something striking,” said Gloria.

Design Details: Bathroom Spa Trends

Do you envision slipping into a deep tub, or even stepping into a relaxing hot shower after a long and perhaps stressful day at work? Designing your bathroom to fit your lifestyle will give you the oasis you seek.

In a fairly short amount of time, the bathroom has gone from “utilitarian” to a space that is a relaxing respite. Bathrooms have evolved into a place to unwind or decompress after a long day, and/or a place to invigorate your morning routine, as you set off for the day ahead.

For some of us “oasis” might mean a walk-in curbless shower, a deep soaking tub or perhaps an infrared sauna. Many infrared saunas also come with Bluetooth capability, allowing you to stream your favorite Pandora station or iTunes. With proper planning and design, each of these can add a touch of luxury to your bathroom remodel and soon, to your morning or evening routine.

We all have a similar desire for the bathroom – a purely functional place at times; and a place to relax, decompress and simply get away from life’s hectic pace. All you need now is a fluffy robe and a candle or two.

Seasonal Tips for Your Home

With all this rain we thought this tip from our Production Team might be of help. Rain, and what it can tell you about your home’s performance.

The California rainy season creates an opportunity for you to see how your home performs in rainy conditions. Take advantage of this very telling opportunity, the heavier the rain the better! Put on a raincoat, grab an umbrella and walk around the outside of the house. No ladders required!

Stand at the sidewalk, looking toward your home. Start by looking at the top of the roof and work your way around and down as you walk closer.

  • What you do want to see:
  • Clear view of roof surface. (for a flat roof, this won’t be possible, but still take a look from the street)
  • Water running freely down the roof slope and into the gutters.
  • Water flowing out from the downspout/rain-chain and away from the foundation.

What you don’t want to see:

  • Tree branches touching or resting against the roof.
  • Debris on the roof, slowing the flow of water to the gutters.
  • Dripping water from the corners or underside of the gutters.
  • Rusty gutters or open seams.
  • Very slow or no water flow from your downspouts.
  • Rusty downspouts or open seams.
  • Water flowing out from the downspouts and back toward the foundation.
  • Water from the dripping gutters or downspouts splashing up onto the sides of the house.

If you find that the rain water is flowing off your roof, down your downspouts and away from your home, that’s great news.

If you don’t see this, then it’s time to call for an inspection of your roof and roof drainage system. Having a roof in working order should be at the top of every homeowners maintenance list.

Second, would be exterior paint, but let’s leave that for another day.