Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Price Advice - A Fellow Home Professional's Take

 Our friend, HandANDY, made such a great statement about selecting contractors based on price - we just had to share it! We have many threads on Hometalk, one of them being about a Marietta kitchen remodel currently underway. We're lucky to have some great professional contacts on Hometalk and enjoy their feedback. But sometimes, someone says or posts something so "right on" we just have to share it with our blog friends. Here's one of those comments:
 In most cases, price is a big part of remodeling. Can you imagine what we could all do if price wasn't an issue? What HandyANDY is saying above is that you should never select a contractor based solely on price; even though that factor may carry weight in your overall decision. 
 Digging into the differences in quotes from multiple companies can often change price game. Some contractors may give you the lowest possible price and, once chosen, add to to final bill as you make selections. Some contractors may give you a fixed price contract, some may give you itemized statements, others may just shoot you a number; some may detail out the selections in the estimate, others many not account for the granite or the fixtures you already told them you were set on.
  It's a tough job to sort through these differences and by contacting references and checking out your contractors online activity, you can gain additional (important) information, beyond just a number, that will help you make your decision. Trust, honesty, integrity, pride in their work...these are traits that most people will tell you are essential for their contractor to possess. But when it's time to make the decision, it's hard not to get nervous about the numbers!
   Remember contractors are people too. Talk to them! An open line of communication is the first step to ensuring you get the best work done for the best price.
    AK has other resources on this topic, please use them to help you or your clients:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Atlanta "Classic" Kitchen Remodel

AK recently posted this kitchen on Hometalk and we wanted to bring our blog followers in on the discussion too. This AK kitchen renovation is what we might call a "classic" kitchen remodel. Would you agree? The selections are rich, neutral, luxurious and great compliments to almost any style of accessories or fabrics a homeowner would want to bring in.
The island boasts wine storage along with decorative corbels that really set it apart from the crowd! The wall cabinets extend to the ceiling as does stone backsplash around the vent hood. The kitchen is not enormous but, with the remodel, gained so much customized cabinet storage and countertop prep space that it is perfect for even aspiring chefs. 
 Note the built-in niche built behind the cooktop. What do you think of this addition?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Kim Lewis: EXTREMEly Talented

  You know her work, but you might not know her name. Kim Lewis is the talent behind many of ABC Extreme Home Makeovers' remarkable architectural transformations. Over 75 of them to be exact. Each one of her concepts are unique to the home and, most importantly, the family. One of the most notable among them is a home in Pine Mountain Valley, Georgia. "This was one of my VERY favorite house designs in all my career thus far," Kim said. "On this project, I designed the architecture and exteriors of this Contemporary Ranch. The house plan, shaped like an 'L', featured an open courtyard, where two interior garage doors revealed the living room and therapy room, creating one phenomenal indoor/outdoor living space. While the parents were in the kitchen/living space, they could see and hear their son in the therapy/play room. Words do not do it justice..."So she gave us pictures which we're sharing with you!

For more photos of Kim's work, please go to
   AK was provided with the opportunity to talk to Kim in regards to color trends - in particular Pantone's 2012 color of the year: Tangerine Tango. Silestone, a familiar solid surface product, offers several color choices to coordinate with this years honorary orange hue. Kim has been promoting the selections and offering advice about using these bold choices in your home:
    "For consumers who like the color Tangerine, but are concerned with the timelessness of the color...I suggest using the color in your accessories. Accessories are easy to change out. For your kitchen, try punching some color in this space with tangerine graphic print linen napkins, or a tangerine vase on your island to give the room a focal point of color. In the bathroom, pop this cheerful color in the room with a piece of art or even orange storage boxes for your favorite bath products. To really transform a space easily, paint a focal wall with the 2012 color. Paint is also simple and more affordable to change. When using this color, just be sure the color palette around it is neutral, so the orange doesn't have any competition on the eye. "
Silestone's Orange Cool
    Kim would love to see "consumers start having more fun with color in their own home. Ideally, I would like to see the new Silestone countertop colors on a kitchen island. These colors demand attention, so let them be center stage in your kitchen! Ideally, the cabinetry and perimeter countertops would be white or steel gray, to compliment the tangerine tones. "    Kim shared a great example of how she and the other designers on EMHE applied this accent color concept to a kitchen in Baltimore. "...Last year in Baltimore our team on ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, designed this kitchen for an all girls home. Note how we used the "Pink Love" as the focal point for the countertop on the island. The rest of the space is more neutral in tone."

    The Baltimore kitchen is a fabulous example of taking something that you love (pink or tangerine) and using it in a classic and upscale way. This kitchen is unique and truly a modern day classic with a personal touch. The AK design team believes that our homes should be beautiful reflections of ourselves and that Kim's work, and advice, does a great job of applying this concept. There are ways to incorporate current trends, and even "unusual" tastes or styles, in ways that will not negatively effect resale value.
    AK's thanks go to Kim Lewis, Silestone and Sharp Communications!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

It's A Cliche, But... there any more universal memory maker than the smell of mom cooking in the kitchen? This week Let's Blog Off asks: What smell takes you back? Well it's no coincidence our minds first go to food! Though not official foodies, the AK Team does appreciate a good meal. Gatherings with friends for us means getting together to cook, drink and eat; it's a full participation event!
    This present day interest in cooking - and kitchens - has roots in the smell that takes us back. Remember your favorite meal as a kid? Remember your mom (or dad, or grandma) preparing it? Even when it was just a run of the mill Monday or Thursday night - the comfort of the surroundings, the radio playing softly in the background with the familiar clangs and pings of the spoons on the pots - and the smell that would waft over to where you sat working on your homework, or practicing piano. Those are the smells that take us back.
    What better place to go then back to the comforts of childhood? When, if you were lucky like many of us, your biggest worry was your math homework, next weeks book report or the Lima beans you were about to be served! When a family dinner was as reliable as the sun rising and meals were cooked with love - and only minimal microwaving.
    Is it any wonder that we ended up doing what we do for a living? With such happy memory triggers surrounding the kitchen it's no surprise we love creating them for others on a daily basis. It's a cliche, but the kitchen really truly is the heart of the home! Before we design a kitchen we always talk with the homeowner about how they use their kitchen: how they grocery shop, where the kids do their homework or use the computer, how they entertain, how many they host. Think of the lifetime of happy memories that need to be incorporated into each design!
    So, you may be wondering, all these happy memories surrounding kitchens and cooking - what are our favorite cooking smells that take us back? Top three, in no particular order, would have to be: 1. homemade spaghetti sauce 2. a turkey in the oven 3. homemade Italian dressing

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How To Hang A Picture

 Doesn't it seem like sometimes the easiest of tasks can elude even the smartest among us? Take hanging a picture for example; doesn't seem like there's much to it: Picture in frame, nail, hammer. Right? Wrong! This task is deceptively easy as there are right and wrong ways to hang a picture. A well executed plan for wall design can make or break a room, and a crooked frame can drive a guest simply mad! 

Alright, so it might not be rocket science, but using a few expert tricks might really change the look of a few rooms in your home without much work.
 First, we love this wall inspiration gallery we found on Pinterest:

  Ideally you'll have one of these templates in mind before you order the prints or shop for the frames. If you have a bunch of framed pictures at home, bring them all to a central location and fit them into one of these designs like pieces of a puzzle! When you lay them all out on a table you might be pleasantly surprised how some of the different frames work together. Remember that the frames don't have to match (but they can) it's just nice when they compliment each other and don't compete for attention. (does that make you think of the little munchkins that are likely in the frames?)

  Here are some good and bad examples:

Simple. Doable. Nice. (
Not a fan of this one...The brown frames seem to compete with each other and bring no feeling of symmetry to the layout.

Too much - Too much! And the spacing is off... (
Ok, not pictures but you get the idea. Painting different frames the same color is neat! (
Nicely done despite have a ton of pictures. Great way to work in the family initials and multiple colors, sizes, styles, etc. (
 And, while we may not be big proponents of getting your kitchen from Lowes, we have no problem taking some picture hanging tips from them. Check out this helpful YouTube video!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Thinking Outside The Rectangle

  Who said granite countertops had to always be rectangular? There are many places that varied shapes are completely possible and appropriate for your countertops. Eat-in kitchen counters and caps are just a few places to do this. We recently "experimented" with shapes using beautiful granite in a beautiful powder room. What do you think?

 The curved backsplash mirrors the curve on the countertops.

 Did you notice the custom granite ledges on both corners?
What kind of mirror would you envision for this space?

Thanks to our friends at PDP Countertops for working with us on this shapely experiment!