Inexpensive Ways to Transform Your Countertops

If you hate your countertops — kitchen, bath, bar, or garage — but you’re not ready to pony up the money required to get granite, take heart. There are other alternatives, probably cheaper than the tax you would pay for granite, to transform countertops.

And the news gets even better. You don’t have to be a professional to transform your countertops yourself. We found several products that can make your countertops look a whole lot better with just a minimum amount of effort.

Daich Countertop Finishing Kit

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The Daich Countertop Finishing Kit can makeover your kitchen counters. Image courtesy of Daich Coatings.

You’ll need a paint brush or paint roller to use Daich’s products, but don’t let that fool you. “The SpreadStone Mineral Select Countertop Finishing Kit is actually not paint at all. But it is applied with a roller or brush for an easy, paint-like experience,” explains Peter Daich, President of Daich Coatings in Hamilton, ON. “It is actually a real blended stone resurfacing material that can be easily rolled onto existing kitchen countertops, bathroom vanities, bar tops, tables, etc.,” he says. Daich explains that this allows consumers to add the decorative elegance of a real estate upgrade while only paying a fraction of the cost.

He says the Daich Countertop Finishing Kit contains everything you’ll need, including the tools, coatings and accessories. Each kit covers 30 to 40 square feet.

You can use the refinishing kit on laminate, wood, concrete, stone and other solid surfaces. Daich says that it is a water-based, natural stone material that is odorless, dries fast, resists staining and resists damage from hot pans and daily use.

The kit comes in 10 popular countertop colors: Oyster, Natural White, Onyx Fog, Canyon Gold, Volcanic Black, Mantle Stone, Lodestar, Sundance, Ironstone and Yosemite.

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Another example of the Daich Countertop Finishing Kit. Image courtesy of Daich Coatings.

Applying the Daich Countertop Finishing Kit

So, what level of expertise do you need? “Anyone can use this product,” Daich says. “It is a stone mixture that is simply rolled on like paint,” he explains. “No special tools or artistic skills are required to achieve an attractive result.”

In fact, he says you don’t really need to worry about messing up. “If a spot gets missed, just brush or roll some into the surface to fix it or just dab some on with your finger.”

The three phases of refinishing your countertops are as follows:

  1. 1) Roll on a bonding primer
  2. 2) Roll on two coats of stone
  3. 3) Apply clear coat the following day

So, how long does the process take? Daich says it’s a good weekend project (two days). “The coatings in the kit roll on quickly and dry in as little as 30 minutes,” he explains. “Primer and Stone coating steps are usually completed on day one, followed by application of the clear coat the following day.”

Giani Countertop Paint Kit

Giani marble countertop paint. Image courtesy of Giani

Giani Marble Countertop Paint provides an elegant look. Image courtesy of Giani Granite

Giani Countertop Paint Kits are another solution to your lackluster countertops. “You can paint right over your existing countertops and transform them into the look of natural stone,” says Ami Gruenenfelder at Giani Granite. She explains that it’s a simple three-step process. First, roll on the black primer. Then sponge on the three corresponding mineral colors. Finally, roll on the topcoat.

Giani Bombay Black Countertop Paint instantly updates this kitchen. Image: Giani Granite

The kit includes all of the paint and applications, and one kit covers 35 square feet. Since Giani Granite is water-based, it’s low odor and safe to use. Because you paint over your existing countertops, Giani’s kit hides any of your previous stains, burns or scratches. And  the high-gloss, durable, automotive-grade acrylic topcoat protects your new countertops.

The countertop kit is available in several colors, including Marble, Chocolate Brown, Sicilian Sand, Bombay Black, White Diamond, and Slate.

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These countertops got a makeover with Giani Sicilian Sand Countertop Paint. Image courtesy of Giani Granite.

Applying Giani Countertop Paint

So, what’s the level of expertise required? “We’ve designed our kits to be a simple ‘paint-by-numbers’ DIY project that anyone of any painting skill set can complete,” Gruenenfelder explains. In addition to written instructions, there are also specific how-to videos. And since the paint is layered, you can change the finish until you reach the look that you want. That means you can actually change the color as you go along, or even add veins. Gruenenfelder says the customer service department can respond via phone, live chat or email if you have any questions or want someone to walk you through the process.

How long does this process take? You should be able to complete it in a weekend. “Your actual painting time will be approximately four hours and drying time is around 16 hours,” Gruenenfelder says. “Typically, you would prep and prime on Friday, sponge on the mineral paints and apply the first layer of topcoat on Saturday, then apply the final layer of topcoat and clean up on Sunday.”

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Giani Countertop Paint can deliver remarkable transformations. Image courtesy of Giani Granite.

In June, Gianni will also release a DIY Butcher Block that’s made with wood tone burnt umber pigments and acrylic resin. It is impervious to moisture, and scratch and stain resistant.

The post Inexpensive Ways to Transform Your Countertops appeared first on Freshome.com.

Home Chef Review: Home Cooking Made Simple (No, Really)

home chef

Does Home Chef make it easier to get dinner on the table? Let’s find out. Image courtesy of Home Chef.

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Ah, the joy of cooking. If Julia Child taught us anything, it’s that there is pleasure in putting together a well-crafted, delectable meal. At least, in theory. But anyone who’s ever run out of an ingredient, nicked a finger while dicing or overcooked the shrimp knows that not every meal preparation experience is a delightful one. And with the busyness of daily life, grocery shopping for the necessary ingredients and getting dinner on the table can feel overwhelming. That’s where Home Chef comes in.

Home Chef, like many of the other meal subscription services cropping up today, purports to deliver “home cooking made simple.” Does it? I got a week of meals delivered to my door to put it to the test.

home chef 4

The ingredients for each Home Chef meal come conveniently packed in their own bag. Image provided by Kacie Goff.

The Home Chef delivery: neatly packaged, nicely done

Remember what we were saying about how life gets busy? That was underscored for me as I boarded a plane to Colorado the day I had scheduled my Home Chef delivery. Not ideal. I was only going to be gone for a few days, but that meant it fell to my husband to make sure everything was put away so that it would keep. And I had to wonder, after already being exposed to who-knows-what during the shipping process, would the produce still be fresh upon my return? What about the shrimp-based meal I so boldly ordered?

I’m happy to report that Home Chef makes every step of the process, including storing food until you’re ready to prepare it, a no-brainer. One of my least favorite things in the world is putting away groceries. Home Chef takes the legwork out of it for you. Each meal comes packed in a convenient zip-top bag. All my trusty partner had to do was load our three bags into the fridge and — bam! — he was done.

And the simplicity of the system is brilliant on both ends. It means it takes seconds to put your Home Chef meals away, and it also means that when you’re ready to cook, you literally just need to grab a bag and go. That is, in my opinion, genius.

Home Chef Pricing

Unlike other meal delivery services (e.g. HelloFresh, Blue Apron), Home Chef doesn’t have set meal plan pricing. Instead, you pay per meal based on the recipe you choose. Their standard meals are priced at $20 for two servings or $40 for four. For premium meals, you’ll pay market price.

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Here’s a look at all the ingredients one of my meal bags contained. Image provided by Kacie Goff.

The Home Chef meals: delicious and delightfully simple to prepare

Okay, moment of honesty here: I don’t love cooking. I don’t hate it, necessarily, but after a full day of work, I’d rather be in the bath with a big glass of wine than standing over the stove. Some people truly find joy in preparing a meal, but I’m not one of those people. I cook out of necessity. And, occasionally, I like the end result enough that I retroactively decide I had a nice time preparing a specific meal.

We received three meals in our Home Chef shipment and I went three for three on actually enjoying the creation of them. Not bad!

It’s also worth noting that I’m a pescatarian so all of my meals will be mostly plant and fish-based. Now, let’s talk details.

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From bag to table in under 30 minutes! Image provided by Kacie Goff.

Meal #1: Avocado & Beet Poke Bowl

First up, I made the Avocado & Beet Poke Bowl. I figured that after a few days of sitting around in my fridge, this mostly produce-based meal might leave a little something to desire. But everything was so cleverly packaged that the whole meal shone. The carrots were crisp, the avocado was perfectly ripe and the edamame and beets were delicious. Home Chef nailed it with the sauce, which was easy to customize for my picky husband. After a stint of quick-but-exhausting travel, this meal felt as nourishing as it was flavorful.

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The recipes are easy to follow and have pictures to guide you. Image courtesy of Kacie Goff.

Meal #2: Baja Shrimp Bowl

I love eating shrimp, but I hate cooking them. The cook time is just so short that I feel like I’m always tiptoeing the line between raw and overdone. But, with the help of my Home Chef recipe, I nailed it in their Baja Shrimp Bowl.

This is a perfect time to talk about these recipes because, while I prepared the shrimp, my husband did the rest of the meal. And he really hates to cook, so I tip my cap to both him and Home Chef. Their recipes have pictures to guide you at every turn (very helpful for amateur cooks) and the steps are broken down so you never feel rushed. Plus, Home Chef makes it super easy by doing a lot of the legwork — like tailing the shrimp or making the sauce — for you.

Oh, and as for the meal itself? It was so good we forgot to take a picture. Oops!

Meal #3: Umami Miso-Mushroom-Cream Gemelli Pasta

Ever since we gave up meat, mushrooms have become a staple in our house. Their earthy, meaty texture can really take a meal to the next level — when they’re used properly. Or they can just be weird brown-grey masses in your dish. I’m very happy to report that the Umami Miso-Mushroom-Cream Gemelli Pasta definitely landed in the realm of the former. This meal felt decadent without leaving us weighed down. And as a lover of umami, earthy flavors, this one definitely hit home with me. Plus, how cute is that little round pat of butter?

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Here’s what you should know about Home Chef before you order your first box. Image courtesy of Home Chef.

Home Chef pros and cons

All in all, I was really thrilled with every meal I got from Home Chef. Here are my key takeaways.

Home Chef pros:

  • Easy and quick to prepare (everything took us 30 minutes or fewer)
  • Good portion size
  • Convenient packaging
  • Creative meals
  • Free shipping on orders over $45
  • Competitively priced (everything I tried was about $10 per serving)

Home Chef cons:

  • Lots of plastic packaging (some is recyclable)
  • Pre-made items (e.g. sauces) could feel limiting to someone who wants to learn to cook from scratch

Would I order another week of Home Chef meals? Absolutely. While $10 a serving might feel comparable to delivery, you’re getting a fresh, flavorful meal and you control the ingredients. Plus, the time it saves in menu planning and grocery shopping offsets some of the cost in my mind because I dislike both of those activities.

Want to try Home Chef for yourself?

If you’re interested in checking out Home Chef, we’ve got you covered. Get 3 plates for free with our code “3platesoff” — just head here and get started.

You don’t have to be a gourmet chef to live a gourmand life. I’d definitely recommend taking Home Chef for a spin.

The post Home Chef Review: Home Cooking Made Simple (No, Really) appeared first on Freshome.com.

What’s Clogging Your Drains and How Can You Unclog Them?

Water is the most plentiful natural resource on the planet. And since it’s so abundant, you rarely think about it. That is, until you have a clogged drain and you can’t get rid of it. “Just about every plumbing fixture in your home can become clogged, from that fabulous farmhouse kitchen sink and bathroom sinks to the tub and shower,” says Doyle James, President at Mr. Rooter Plumbing. Here’s a look at what’s causing those clogged drains, and how you can unclog them.

Clogged Drain Causes

Clogged drain Fat oil and grease

Fat, oil and grease can clog your drains and pipes. Image: Pradit_Ph/Getty Images

“Food and substances that do not break down, such as fibrous food, egg shells and non-food items, along with grease and oil, will build up in your pipes and create a clog in your drain over time,” James explains.

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Hair is a major culprit in clogged drains. Image: sasimoto/Getty Images

Also, hair can wash down the drain during showers or while washing your hair in the sink. In addition to washing your hair, combing and cutting it over the sink will also create a clog eventually.

Soap is another culprit. “Sometimes, soap itself is not a problem,  but when it is combined with hair and other substances, it can form into solid clumps, clogging your drain,” James says. “But on the other hand, many traditional bars of soap also include grease or fat, and neither should be washed down the drain.”

Clogged Drains - toys

These toys look so innocent — until they get stuck in your drain. Image: Robert Reader/Getty Images

And according to Audrey Monell, President of Forrest Anderson Plumbing and AC, a clog can also be caused by kids wanting to see their toys float on top of the water. In addition, your drain could be clogged from flushing excessive amounts of toilet paper or flushing paper towels, tampons and other objects down the commode.

Clogged Drain Solutions

Clogged drain - clothes hanger

A clothes hanger is an inexpensive solution. Image: Jorg Greuel/Getty Images

If you have a clogged drain, a bent wire hanger is one option. “Use a regular wire coat hanger and straighten it out as much as possible,” James says. “Bend one end to create a hook, push it through the drain and start fishing.” After you pull out the hair and/or other substances, he recommends running hot water to help clear the drain.

A plunger is another option, but many people don’t know how to use it properly. The initial plunge should not be forceful. You’re trying to force the air out of the plunger’s bell, but you don’t want it to splatter — especially if you have hardwood floors in the kitchen and bathroom. After the water is out, you can start plunging more forcefully, but make sure the plunger is firmly in place. Don’t give up if you don’t see any progress after four or five plunges. It may take over a dozen plunges to see any results. Also, make sure that there’s enough water in the toilet to cover the plunger.

Clogged drains - vinegar and baking soda

Vinegar and baking soda are an alternative to poisonous chemicals. Image: Eskay Lim/Eye Em/Getty Images

Yet another solution is baking soda and vinegar. “Concoct a mixture of 1/3 of a cup of baking soda and 1/3 of a cup of vinegar, which will fizz when combined,” James says. “Pour it immediately down the drain and the fizzing action will help break down the gunk, hair and grime.” He recommends letting it sit for an hour — although he says leaving it overnight is even better — and then flushing with hot water. “You can also pour the dry baking soda down the drain first and chase it with the vinegar,” James explains.

However, he says boiling water is probably the easier tip. “Boil as much water as your kettle will hold and slowly pour it down the drain in two or three stages, allowing the hot water to work for several seconds between each pour,” James says. “Make sure your sink is empty before trying this and be extremely careful when handling hot water.”

Chemical-based drain cleaners are a risky option since these chemicals don’t work as fast and can be corrosive.

“If you aren’t sure what to do or the solutions above haven’t worked, contact a professional to help you clear your drain quickly and more effectively,” James advises.

Preventing Clogged Drains

Clogged drains - trap hair

Trap hair or debris before it goes down the drain. Image: deepblue4you/Getty Images

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure (or trying to clear a pound of hair and grease). For example, if your hair tends to shed badly when you wash it, take a proactive approach. “Make sure you have a guard over your drain to catch the hair more frequently,” James recommends. This advice works whether you wash your hair in the shower, sink or while soaking in your favorite bathtub.

Whether you use your dishwasher or wash your dishes by hand, scrape the dishes over a trashcan first to ensure there’s no food left on them.

Clogged Drain - hot water

Use care when transporting hot water to the drain. Image: RyersonClark/Getty Images

You can also regularly maintain your drains by pouring hot water down them on a weekly basis, or by pouring a cup of vinegar down the drain, letting it sit for half an hour and then pouring two quarts of hot water down the drain.

“It’s also a good idea to have your home’s plumbing checked regularly for leaks and clogs to avoid a plumbing emergency that could cost more in repairs,” Monell says.

The post What’s Clogging Your Drains and How Can You Unclog Them? appeared first on Freshome.com.

How to Create an Indoor Compost Bin that Doesn’t Smell

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Finding fresh, enriched soil for your garden can get surprisingly pricey. A 12-quart bag of pre-made compost can run around $25. It’s simply $25 you don’t need to spend if you start composting. You can even do it right in the comfort of your own home by starting an indoor compost bin.

Starting your own indoor compost bin ranks on the easier side of home projects. All you’ll need is a suitable compost bin and all those food scraps from the kitchen that would normally go to waste. Time and nature take care of the rest. You can learn how to make your own compost bin in several minutes or find an indoor compost bin to purchase online or in a store. Read on to learn how to start that compost bin inside. It’s a great way to make a more sustainable home.

Indoor Compost Bin Overhead Picture

You can put scraps like bread and eggshells into a compost bin. Image: photographyfirm/Shutterstock

Indoor Compost Bin Materials

If you want an indoor compost bin, the first aspect of the bin you’ll need to understand is what to put in it, of course. Knowing how to keep a well-balanced compost bin will be your first line of defense in creating a bin that has little to no smell. Adding items to the compost bin that certainly shouldn’t be there, or adding the wrong balance of organic materials, will create an unpleasant odor that could make indoor composting impossible.

Your compost bin needs five major components:

  • Greens: This is a misleading label. It actually covers anything that is nitrogen-rich, not necessarily only green waste. That means you could use veggie leftovers, fruit waste like apple cores and banana peels, eggshells and even old bread. Anything is game, as long as it’s somehow plant-based. Animal products like meat and dairy should be kept out of the bin, as those will immediately lead to a smell.
  • Browns: This label is a little more literal. It covers anything carbon-rich, like coffee grounds, tea leaves, dry grass/leaves and untreated paper (like coffee filters). A general rule is a 2:1 green to brown ratio, but ratio estimates vary dramatically. If your pile is slimy, add more browns. If your pile is dry and slow to compost, add more greens. After a while, you’ll learn the correct balance.
  • Air: Your indoor compost bin should have some type of mechanism that allows for airflow, like holes or filters. That will allow aerobic breakdown of the scraps in a way that doesn’t lead to a foul odor. Estimates vary for when you should turn your compost pile, but a general estimate is that you should turn it once or twice per week for decent aeration.
  • Water: The compost pile should be slightly damp, but not soaking, to the touch. Usually, kitchen scraps can keep this level of moisture, but you should check to make sure the compost pile isn’t drying out. Spray with water if the pile is dry.
  • Soil: The soil has microorganisms that will help with the breakdown of waste. You’ll only need one scoop from the great outdoors.

From there, you’ll want to decide if you want your bin inside full-time or you want a bin that you can take out to a larger compost bin outside. If you have a lot of kitchen scraps, you might want a bin you can keep inside and carry to a larger compost bin out back when the inside container gets full. Otherwise, if you don’t like the idea of schlepping out back in the middle of winter, there are systems that allow for a full-time indoor compost bin.

Indoor Compost Bin Black Style

Many attractive compost bin styles can fit right on the counter, like this Breeze 0.85 Gal. Kitchen Composter. Image courtesy of Wayfair.

Types of Bins

There are several different types of bins you can choose for your indoor compost bin:

  • Basic countertop scrap bins: These are literally just tubs that sit on your countertop. They’re meant for filling with scraps in the kitchen and taking to a larger compost pile. Many come in distinct shapes and colors to work with any decorating style. Some also have bags inside to cut down on odor and mess.
  • Under-counter bins: These attach to the inside of cabinet doors. They’re larger but are still typically meant for emptying into a main compost pile. They’re a convenient way to keep the composting bin out of the way.
  • Bokashi system: This is a type of bin and microorganism mixture kit. It allows you to fill the bin with waste and then cover the waste with a mixture to neutralize the smell and ferment the material. It’s a system you can use as a full-time indoor compost bin.
  • Aerobic bins: These bins have some sort of vent and filter system, usually with charcoal filters. These allow for the aerobic breakdown of waste, which can also cut the smell. These are also suitable for full-time indoor use.
  • Worm bins: Some kits allow you to grow worms, which can aerate the material and keep it more nutrient dense. These systems are also odor-free, making them good for indoor use. Plus, it’s a good science project to do with kids.

And remember, your indoor compost bin should be able to fit your family and your environment. For instance, people in harsher climates may want a full-time indoor bin. Or families with a high volume of kitchen scraps could opt for a system of collecting scraps indoors and carrying them to a larger pile outdoors. The compost bin should work for your lifestyle first and foremost.

The post How to Create an Indoor Compost Bin that Doesn’t Smell appeared first on Freshome.com.

4 Considerations To Keep In Mind When Planning A Kitchen Remodel

Planning a kitchen remodel can be stressful right from the get-go. After all, this undertaking is fairly expensive and there are an innumerable amount of decisions to be made. However, with a little forethought and planning, the process can begin to feel a lot more straightforward. To that end, we’ve brought you four considerations for your kitchen remodel. Keep them in mind to help keep your project as organized as possible.

kitchen remodel

Start by envisioning your end product. Image: 2M media/Shutterstock

Have a vision in mind

Though it may seem a little counterintuitive, one of the best ways to get great results from your remodel is to start with the end in mind. That way, you’ll have an end vision that can serve as a framework as you work your way through the remodeling process. It can help make decision-making much easier as choices crop up.

To create your vision, your first step should be to search for some design inspiration. Make full use of websites like Freshome in your search. No matter what your personal style may be, you should be able to find some kitchen designs that speak to you and can serve as the inspiration behind your remodel.

But don’t just stop there. Be sure to put your own spin on the designs, as well. Use them as a jumping off point from which you can make changes in order to make your new kitchen as functional and aesthetically pleasing as possible for yourself.

budget

Plan out your budget first and foremost. Image: LEKSTOCK 3D/Shutterstock

Set the budget

Once you have your ideal kitchen in mind, the next step is to figure out how you can get as close as possible to that end product without breaking the bank. To do that, you must set a budget and do your best to stick to it throughout the entire remodeling process.

First, start by taking a long, hard look at how much you can realistically spend on this home improvement project. If you have money saved up, how much can you spend without leaving yourself hanging financially? If you’re planning on financing your kitchen remodel, look into what size monthly payment you can reasonably afford and how much money that will give you, in total.

Then, do your research. Look into which products seem to most closely match both your aesthetic and your budget. Conventional wisdom states that the more extensively you research the components of your remodel, the less likely you are to make spur-of-the-moment decisions that will drive up the cost.

contractors

Always research contractors before you hire them. Image: Breadmaker/Shutterstock

Hire the right people

Once you have your ideal products in place, it’s time to take care of the other piece of the remodeling puzzle: labor. While it may be tempting to go fully DIY on this part of the job in order to save money, now is the time to be honest with yourself about your skills and abilities. Think carefully about what you’re able to do versus where it might be better to bring in the professionals.

Whenever you decide to hire labor, that means it’s time to do more research. Start by asking friends and family if they’ve worked with anyone in the past who they’d be willing to refer to you. Then, go online. Thoroughly vet any potential contractors by reading reviews and checking for complaints with the Better Business Bureau.

Once you have a few potential contractors in mind, it’s time to get estimates. As a rule of thumb, you want to get at least three estimates for each big home improvement project that you undertake. Be sure to talk honestly with each contractor about your plans for the remodel, as well as how much you have to spend.

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Make sure to include contingencies. Image: Ilija Erceg/Shutterstock

Expect the unexpected

Our last tip is a bit different from the rest, but it’s no less important. Unfortunately, no matter how much planning you do beforehand, kitchen remodeling projects have a way of taking on a direction of their own, usually when you least expect it. The only thing you can do is put contingencies in place to prepare for unexpected roadblocks and go with the flow.

When we say “contingencies,” for the most part, we mean monetary ones. In general, it’s a good idea to increase your budget by at least 10 to 15 percent to account for any unexpected costs that may crop up. It’s also a good idea to pad your project schedule in the same manner. That way, you’re prepared if the timeline gets off track.

The post 4 Considerations To Keep In Mind When Planning A Kitchen Remodel appeared first on Freshome.com.

Take a Look at the Latest Faucet Trends from Industry Leaders

Perhaps nowhere is the marriage between form and function more apparent than in faucets. In your kitchen and bathrooms, and even in your laundry room or at your bar, faucets are not only practical, but can also be pieces of art. You may still be in the valley of decision regarding hardwood floors in kitchens and bathrooms, and whether farmhouse sinks are still trendy or if the kitchen work triangle is an outdated design rule. However, after you read what the industry experts at several of the top companies told Freshome about the latest faucet trends and designs, your only faucet decision will be which one to choose.

GRAFF

Graff

The Vintage collection. Image: GRAFF

“From coast to coast, we are seeing a rapid shift in faucet style preferences, with the market moving away from traditional styles and toward contemporary silhouettes and finishes,” according to Celine Marcotte, business development manager at GRAFF.  “What we call living finishes, which age over time, are immensely popular, with Brushed Brass being particularly popular, along with Gunmetal and Rose Gold,” she adds.

Vintage Collection

The Vintage Collection, photo 2. Image: GRAFF

GRAFF’s Vintage collection pays homage to the historic Chicago Fire Department Illinois Fire Safety Alliance. It draws inspiration from the design of fire hose nozzles, with a modern spout and bold handles.

Incanto Collection

Incanto collection. Image: GRAFF

GRAFF’s Incanto collection also fits into its maximalist design style. “Maximalism is an evolving term and in today’s context, it has become a product that evokes glamour and opulence. It can be minimal in shape, but made maximalist by its hue or finish. A product can be minimal in one respect, such as its shape, but made maximalist by its finish or hue,” she says. “For example,” she continues, “GRAFF’s Incanto faucet in Rose Gold is maximalist in style and minimalist in form.”

Kohler

Ombre

Ombré Faucet collection. Image: Kohler

Eric Moore, interior designer at the Kohler Design Center, describes some of their recent faucet trends. “At Kohler, we pride ourselves on developing products at the forefront of design and technology to create highly durable, unique products that marry form and function,” says Moore.  “Our latest finish innovation—and the first of its kind in the industry—is a new Ombré faucet finish for the bath, which is available in two sets of color pairings: rose gold to polished nickel, and titanium to rose gold,” he says. “The new finish uses an innovative technique that melds two vibrant metal finishes together to render a subtle but striking transition from light to dark.” Moore adds that Ombré also uses Kohler’s proprietary physical vapor deposition process (PVD) to create a scratch- and tarnish-resistant surface.

Components

The Components collection. Image: Kohler

Moore says another major trend is mixing and matching finishes and products. “Sometimes it can be tricky to achieve the perfect complement of products, so we’ve made it easy with our new KOHLER Components faucet collection,” he says. “Homeowners can mix and match spouts, handles and finishes for a tailor-made environment, marrying modern designs with timeless shapes.”

Delta

Delta

Voice activated pull-down faucet. Image: Delta

Other faucet trends include technological innovations. “Some of the latest trends are in increased technology and new relevant finishes,” says Peggy Gallagher, senior product manager at Delta. She says there’s a trend for increased functionality and innovative ways to incorporate technology. “We are always exploring better ways to live with water, and we also understand that consumers are looking for a faucet to be part kitchen faucet, part ‘kitchen assistant.’” She also explains that “In addition to innovations in finishes, consumers want advanced functionality, unique spray patterns and either touch or hands-free activation.”

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ShieldSpray Technology faucet. Image: Delta

“One of our newest innovations for the kitchen that I am excited about is our new spray technology, Delta® ShieldSpray™ Technology,” Gallagher says. “A concentrated jet powers away stubborn messes while an innovative shield of water contains splatter and clears off the mess, so you can spend less time soaking, scrubbing and shirt swapping.” The new spray technology is currently available across several popular Delta kitchen collections.

Franke

Franke

Pescara faucet. Image: Franke

One of the most common faucet trends is increased functionality. “Today’s consumer also thrives on products with multi-functionality,” says Heather Jach, retail marketing manager of Franke Kitchen Systems. “Faucets with the ability to swivel 360 degrees, toggle between full and needle spray and dock easily with magnetic docking, like the Franke Pescara faucet, have become increasingly popular,” she says.

Franke2

3-in-1 faucet. Image: Franke

Another trend is point of use faucets. “Consumers continue to show interest in eco-friendly design and technology – like the Franke StillPure system, which tracks water usage and filter lifespan through an app that pairs with consumers’ phones,” says Jach. The Franke 3-in-1 faucet delivers hot water, cold water and distilled water to ensure that you have pure water when you need it for cooking, prepping or rinsing.

ROHL

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Perrin and Rowe Holborn bar prep faucet in unlacquered finish. Image: ROHL

Offering a wide selection of finishes continues to be one of the significant faucet trends.”One of the biggest trends we are seeing for both kitchen and bath faucets is the variety of finishes now available,” says Greg Rohl, vice president and design leader, House of ROHL. “Over this last year, we’ve seen an increased interest in matte metallic, as well as living finishes, which are untreated and therefore will patina over time as it’s exposed to various elements.”

Another new finish is the Satin English matte gold finish from Perrin & Rowe. “Because of this popularity in both of these finish styles, we introduced a new Satin Unlacquered Brass,” he says. “Similar to unlacquered brass, this new finish will patina, but has a matte finish, instead of a polished shine.”

Rohl

Italian Campo Bridge Kitchen Sink. Image: ROHL

Rohl says another trend is darker sink and faucet finishes. He explains that consumers aren’t afraid to introduce color anymore. “Having witnessed the growing popularity of black stainless steel appliances in the kitchen, you are now seeing this same trend in both sinks and faucets throughout the home.”

ROHL now offers a Black Matte finish in a variety of faucet styles. “These join our Black Matte Fireclay Sinks which have been a popular finish for our Allia Sink Collection for years, as well as our new black stainless steel sinks.”

Elkay

Elkay

Explore Three Hole Bridge Faucet with Pull Down Spray and Level Handles. Image: Elkay

Other industry professionals are also seeing faucet trends that introduce darker colors into the kitchen.”We’re seeing a fashion forward blend of dark and metallic colors,” says Dan Worst, product manager at Elkay. “This faucet [in the photo above] brings a more classic style to the kitchen while providing beautiful function with convenient features like the pull-down spray head.” Worst says this design is one of the most popular in the Elkay line. It’s currently available in Antique Steel, Chrome and Lustrous Steel, but he says more option are scheduled to launch this year.

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Elkay Avado Single Hole Bar Faucet with Pull-out Spray in Lustrous Steel. Image: Elkay

Worst describes this faucet as a “long-standing favorite for kitchens and bars” that “combines clean modern lines with commercial designs that look as great as they function.” He adds that this “popular faucet currently comes in Chrome and Lustrous Steel, with plans of releasing a matte black and brushed gold this year as well.”

What are your favorite faucet trends? Let us know in the comments!

The post Take a Look at the Latest Faucet Trends from Industry Leaders appeared first on Freshome.com.

18 Wow-Worthy Waterfall Countertops to Inspire Your Next Kitchen Remodel

The kitchen is the heart of the home, and the kitchen island is the heart of the kitchen. It’s no surprise, then, that so many of us are looking for a way to make a splash with our islands. Yes, we want them to have key benefits like additional cabinetry and seating, but we also want them to leave a lasting impression. You can use bright colors or trending materials to make your island pop, but those might go out of style. That’s where waterfall countertops come in. As a high-end architectural feature, a waterfall countertop has staying power while still being very on-trend.

So, without further ado, let’s look at 18 wow-worthy waterfall countertops. Whether you need inspiration for an upcoming kitchen remodel or just want to look at something pretty, these will deliver.

Stone waterfall countertops

Stone countertops have long been a fixture in high-end homes. A waterfall coutnertop continues that stone over the edge and only adds to the drama.

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The clean edge of the waterfall island helps your kitchen look interesting and tidy at the same time. Image: Hikesterson/Getty Images

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Your kitchen’s stone waterfall countertop can mirror other elements in the room, tying it all together. Image: ImageFlow/Shutterstock

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An open marble countertop invites guests to gather around, sample the food and join the conversation. Image: Jodie Johnson/Shutterstock

White waterfall countertops

Love a clean aesthetic in the kitchen? These clean, bright waterfall countertops are for you.

white waterfall countertops

A mostly white kitchen is anchored by the dark island inset that mirrors the flooring and accent wall. Image: Sarah Murray/Getty Images

white waterfall countertop

If you want to expand your kitchen without blocking the visual flow, white is a natural choice. Image: Astronaut Images/Getty Images

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In an open kitchen, a bright waterfall countertop adds structure. Image: ImageFlow/Shutterstock

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A thin waterfall edge further cements this kitchen’s chic look. Image: Marko Subotin/Shutterstock

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In a warm-toned kitchen, the waterfall island adds visual interest without breaking up the aesthetic. Image: Malysheva Liudmyla/Shutterstock

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A glossy white waterfall countertop mirrors the lacquered wood, giving this kitchen a pristine feel. Image: Alexandre Zveiger/Shutterstock

Wood waterfall countertops

Wood counters are rare, but a kitchen island or bar gives you some space to play. And because the wood mirrors most dining surfaces, it’s an open invitation to friends and family to pull up a chair and join the kitchen’s action.

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A beautiful wood waterfall countertop and a wine rack? It’s a two-for-one kitchen dream. Image: Cinematographer/Shutterstock

wood waterfall countertop

Light-colored wood can add texture to your waterfall countertop without overwhelming the space. Image: Hoxton/Martin Barraud/Getty Images

wood waterfall countertop

A wood waterfall countertop warms up a sleek kitchen, especially when it ties into the surrounding design. Image: Sturti/Getty Images

Concrete waterfall countertops

Concrete is trending, so why not work it into your kitchen through a waterfall countertop?

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A sleek waterfall edge on the lower of these two floating kitchen components keeps this space feeling spacious and open. Image: Westend61/Getty Images

concrete waterfall counterops

With a thick waterfall edge on one side and an open ledge on the other, this kitchen island is a statement piece. Image: Robert Daly/Getty Images

stone waterfall countertops

A super-thin concrete countertop works the trending material into the space without feeling heavy. Image: Django/Getty Images

More waterfall countertops

Looking to add a pop of color or architectural detail to your kitchen? Because it’s already a statement maker, a waterful island is the ideal canvas.

colorful waterfall countertops

If you’ve been wanting to add an accent color but don’t want it to overwhelm your kitchen’s clean aesthetic, try a colored waterfall island inset. Image: Hoxton/Chris Ryan/Getty Images

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Flowing one waterfall countertop into another adds to the effect. Image: Camilo Morales/Getty Images

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Mixing materials can make your waterfall countertop feel extra luxurious. Image: Denny Lako/Shutterstock

Which style if your favorite? Tell us about it in the comments!

The post 18 Wow-Worthy Waterfall Countertops to Inspire Your Next Kitchen Remodel appeared first on Freshome.com.

Is the Kitchen Work Triangle an Outdated Design Rule?

The kitchen work triangle has been the standard by which we measure good design and functionality. Whether you paid attention in your trigonometry class or not, you probably knew the basics of the kitchen triangle. It connects the cooktop, refrigerator, and sink. According to guidelines from the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), no leg of the triangle should be less than 4 feet or more than 9 feet. The sum of the three triangle sides should not exceed 26 feet. In addition, no major traffic patterns should flow through the triangle.

But do those rules still apply?

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Kitchen triangles make prep work easier. Image: Sisoje/Getty Images

“Back in the 1940’s, kitchens tended to be small and appliances tended to be large,” explains Erin Davis, lead designer at Mosaik Design & Remodeling. “The concept evolved as a general guideline for creating a certain proximity and distance between the three main kitchen work sites: sink, refrigerator and range – and it is still relevant today.”

According to Davis, the work triangle theory was designed to produce comfort and efficiency. It’s all based on how easily you can move between these three main work areas.

Kitchen Dimensions

Kitchen triangle dimensions are flexible. Image: cr8tivguy/Getty Images

“Within the basic ‘triangle’ structure – which can look very different in each individual space – there are a lot of design options that work well for overall kitchen appeal and practicality,” Davis says. “In fact, there’s no limit to the workable designs that keep the kitchen triangle intact while reflecting your own style and taste.”

Davis says it’s also important to consider the location of your workspaces, islands and other kitchen features. This helps to ensure good flow and functionality.

Relevant or outdated?

Kitchen multiple sink

Multiple sinks make prep work easier. Image: hikesterson/Getty Images

Are the kitchen features that Davis refers to actually crowding out the need for a kitchen triangle? According to Elle H-Millard at the NKBA, one of the emerging key design trends is open-concept kitchens in contemporary kitchen designs. These incorporate island prep stations with island bars and prep sinks. Galley kitchens are also making a comeback.

“The kitchen triangle layout has lost popularity over recent years because it doesn’t always work with every kitchen,” says Eric Gustafson, president of Pure Modern. “Many times, there isn’t enough space to set up a triangle kitchen – especially in a galley style kitchen.”

Gustafson says the triangle isn’t necessary in an open concept because kitchen zones are a better solution. “Although the kitchen triangle can still be relevant in some cases, many kitchen designs are moving away from that layout,” he says.

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Older homes tend to have a triangle design. Image: Sisoje/Getty Images

Where the kitchen work triangle still applies

Not everyone agrees that the kitchen triangle is obsolete. Eric Sztanyo, a realtor at Keller Williams and founder of We Buy NKY Houses – a Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky cash home buyer, still sees their value.“As a rehabber who buys many older homes with older kitchens, I find the principles of the kitchen work triangle to still apply amazingly well today,” he says. “Yes, we may buy a house and do a complete demo of the kitchen, but more often than not, we end up putting the pieces back together in a way that still fits this time honored tradition.”

Sztanyo says the triangle design works well when incorporating stainless steel appliances and a subway tile backsplash. “It looks good. The lines are crisp. And maybe more importantly, it’s efficient in a way that will keep the next owner of the home happy for years to come,” he says.

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The kitchen work triangle works for some, but not all cooks. Image: dit26978/Getty Images

Finding the right kitchen layout for you

Lauren Smyth, interior designer at Alturas Homes in Eagle, ID, agrees. “The kitchen working triangle will always be popular since it is a standard in the design industry and is set up this way to make meal prep and cooking easy,” she says. “There are other variances to this working triangle – for instance, in the situation of a linear kitchen layout where everything is on one wall.” In this situation, she says, a different configuration would work better.  “It would be ideal to have the sink in the center of the wall with some countertop space on either side and the stove and refrigerator on the ends of the ‘line’ so to speak.”

Ultimately, the kitchen triangle should be used as a guideline. That’s according to Susan Serra, certified kitchen designer at Susan Serra Associates. “Many designers now feel that the most important criteria for the kitchen design is the client’s lifestyle,” she explains. “The best scenario is when the designer points out both pros and cons of appliance locations, regardless of rules to meet the specific aesthetic and functional needs of the client.”

What are your thoughts on the kitchen work triangle? Is your kitchen set up in this way? Let us know in the comments.

The post Is the Kitchen Work Triangle an Outdated Design Rule? appeared first on Freshome.com.

How To: Use an Accent Kitchen Island to Make Your Kitchen Pop

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If you’re looking for a way to freshen up your cooking space, think about adding an accent kitchen island. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Ah, the kitchen. It can be the center of the home, a beloved place to share meals and make plenty of memories. It can also start to feel a little blah. Every kitchen has elements it needs – storage and appliances, for example – that leave little space for design. Or it might feel that way – until you start thinking about an accent kitchen island.

You may have already considered an island for its utility. Who doesn’t want more storage, prep space and seating in the kitchen? But even if you already have all of those in spades (lucky you!), don’t overlook this potentially powerful design element. Here are four ways you can use an accent kitchen island to transform your cooking space.

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Your accent kitchen island can help you shape your cooking space. Image:  PinkyWinky/Shutterstock

Define the space

You need your kitchen to be as functional as possible. It’s one room where form truly does need to follow function, lest you be left with a critical kitchen layout mistake that could make cooking a pain for years to come. You can use your kitchen island to your advantage in creating a versatile, functional and stylish cooking area. Because it will be a big block in the middle of your space, it can help you create the most efficient pathways. Plus, as we’ve already mentioned, it offers additional storage and prep space.

On top of all of that, it can help you give your kitchen a cohesive feel. The underlighting of the island above mirrors the backlighting of the floating shelves and highlights the warm tones in the various woods. Use your kitchen island to pull various elements of your kitchen together and add a design splash of its own.

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Your island can be a gathering place for eye lines and loved ones. Image: David Papazian/Shutterstock

Draw the eye, draw the people

One of the main reasons people add an island is to create seating in the kitchen. That additional seating is clutch when entertaining guests, but it also comes in handy when you’re cooking as a family or just want to chat in a casual setting. Creating an eye-catching accent kitchen island ensures that this space gets used. When you choose to do something visually interesting with your island, like wrapping it in marble or painting it a saturated hue, you draw eyes to it. And when people notice your kitchen island, they’ll also notice the readily available seating. The right accent island can beckon, “Pull up a chair!”

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Don’t be afraid to play with color. Image: Bulgac/Getty Images

Add an accent color

The kitchen can be a risky place to add bold colors. If you paint all of your cabinets in an intense shade or opt for a colorful countertop, you’re stuck with it. And, because your kitchen is a key factor in your home’s resale value, you could be hurting yourself down the road. But does that mean you have to exclusively choose boring neutrals? Absolutely not! Your kitchen island is an excellent, lower-stakes place to play with color.

Hanging accent lighting above your island further helps define it as a key part of the room’s design and helps anchor it, no matter how bold of a color you choose. Bright orange? Why not!

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Don’t miss your opportunity to add visual interest with an architectural detail. Image: Sisoje/Getty Images

Add an architectural element

The components that make up a kitchen are usually pretty cut and dry. You’ve got the sink, cabinets, countertops and appliances. There’s not room for much else – or is there? When you add an accent island, you can have some fun with the space. It’s the perfect opportunity to add an architectural element that doesn’t take up any of the precious square footage in your kitchen. Maximize your functional cooking space while adding a wow factor by choosing an interesting kitchen island.

You can go big – like in the island pictured above – or scale back, depending on what you want to add to your kitchen. Even a little molding around your island can help it feel structured and lend your cooking space a little something extra.

More accent kitchen island ideas

This is just the start. Your accent kitchen island is a blank canvas waiting for your creativity. If you want an extra dose of inspiration, we’ve rounded up 60 ideas to get you started.

The post How To: Use an Accent Kitchen Island to Make Your Kitchen Pop appeared first on Freshome.com.

Are Farmhouse Sinks Still Trendy?

Farmhouse sinks have been all the rage for several years now.  The old-world charm of farmhouse sinks, also known as apron sinks, is due to the character and functionality that they provide. Farmhouse sinks also work well in a variety of kitchen styles, ranging from rustic to modern. But are they still trendy? We asked several experts, including designers, realtors and manufacturers, to weigh in.

Survey results

Elkay

Elkay Crosstown Stainless Steel Single Bowl Farmhouse Sink

Elle H-Millard, certified kitchen designer and industry relations manager at the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), offers some findings on the subject. 92% of respondents in the 2018 Design Trends Study chose under-mount as the trendiest kitchen sink style. “However, farmhouse and single-bowl styles tied for second place, with 81% of respondents selecting these styles,” she explains, proving it’s still a trendy kitchen design accessory.

Affordability

Kohler

Kohler Hawthorne Undermount Farmhouse Apron Front Cast Iron Double Sink

The popularity and appeal of farmhouse sinks are obvious to Jonathan Faccone, a real estate developer and investor at Halo Homebuyers L.L.C.  Besides the variety of materials to choose from, he says they’re becoming reasonably affordable. “And due to their increasing affordability, it’s much easier for developers like me to add this style of sink to our projects to create the design pop that will help sell the home faster.” In fact, Faccone says the farmhouse sink will continue to be a favorite choice. He says this is especially true among millennials, who are often first time home buyers.

Materials and finishes

Farmhouse sinks come in a variety of materials. According to Monica Weddle, realtor/broker at ERA Dream Living Realty in Raleigh, NC, this adds to their popularity. That’s because they work well with other décor styles. “Like subway tile and schoolhouse lights, farmhouse sinks are classics that just happened to make their way back into mainstream use,” Weddle says. “Some farmhouse trends – like mason jar lighting and shiplap – have seen their popularity wane, but I believe the sinks are going to hang around for quite a while.”

Franke sink

Franke Fireclay Farmhouse Sink.

Heather Jach of the Swiss-based Franke Kitchen Systems, which manufactures luxury sinks and faucets, agrees. “Our market research,” she says, “shows that the sink selection process begins with aesthetics: consumers want to anchor their kitchen with a sink that aligns with their design vision.” Jach says they have seen an upswing in color sinks.  “White and black are the most popular choices, and farmhouse sinks in all materials are rising in popularity – with a particularly strong spike in fireclay.”

Elkay sink

Elkay Stainless Steel Farmhouse Sink with Interchangeable Apron.

A variety of styles

Dan Worst, product manager of stainless steel sinks at Elkay, also believes that farmhouse sinks are still a demanding trend in the industry. “Elkay recently launched a groundbreaking Crosstown Stainless-Steel Farmhouse Sink with Interchangeable Apron, which is a true industry first,” he says.  In just minutes, homeowners can now change the color and material of the sink face. “This sink allows consumers to change the appearance of the kitchen without the time investment, expense or stress involved with a full renovation.” If you’re a home décor enthusiast, being able to change the apron whenever you want definitely contributes to the farmhouse sink’s popularity.

Elkay sink

Kohler Cast Iron Farmstead Sink.

Another popular style is Kohler’s Enameled Cast Iron Farmstead Sink. “The farmhouse sink has been a staple in kitchen design for decades, and we wanted to create a version of this classic sink with a modern twist for both traditional and contemporary homes,” Betsy Froelich of Kohler tells Freshome.

At 45 inches wide, Froelich says the sink is generously proportioned to accommodate large pots and pans. “There are three different installation options — wall-mount with either traditional or contemporary legs, or top-mount with custom cabinetry — and there are seven different sink accessories.”

Form and function

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Elkay Stainless Steel Farmhouse Quartz Luxe Sink.

Although style is important to consumers, it’s not the only factor they consider. “Once they’ve identified their preferred style, consumers turn to function to identify the product that best fits their needs — and the kitchen sink is no longer just for washing dishes,” Jach says.

And that’s why kitchen designer Susan Serra believes that farmhouse sinks are evolving. She sees them adding more functionality to remain relevant. “First popular about 10-15 years ago, today’s farmhouse sinks are also changing shape in an effort to keep relevant — their style is crisper and more geometric,” Serra says. “Built-in drainboards and chopping blocks add superb function.”

Alabn/Getty farmhouse sinks

Farmhouse sink with marble countertops. Image: Alabn/Getty Images

Another designer, Sara Cannon at House Heroes, doesn’t see the farmhouse sink trend going away anytime soon — maybe not ever. “Some ideas are just too good to retire, and I think the farmhouse sink owes its longevity to the function itself,” she says. “Because farmhouse sinks are set into the counter, it makes for easy and seamless cleanup.”

However, she says they can be expensive to install if you already have cabinetry. “They are usually heavy and deep, and always protrude from the cabinetry, so they require a cutout.” As a result, Cannon says she doesn’t get to use them as much as she’d like to in rehabs since the goal is usually to preserve the existing kitchen cabinets. “But, if we do a total rehab or if I am lucky enough to start with a completely bare kitchen and the budget allows it, I almost always try to work in a farmhouse sink.”

A word of caution

Elkay farmhouse sink

Elkay Crosstown Stainless Steel Double Bowl Farmhouse Sink -Aqua Divide

However, not everyone is head-over-heels for farmhouse sinks.  “Farmhouse sinks are popular – especially if they are part of a holistic design scheme, but it would not be to the seller’s advantage to install a farmhouse sink — or any trendy sink for that matter — in a classic Craftsman or Victorian home, looking like a random afterthought,” according to John Manning, Manager Broker RE/MAX On Market in Seattle. “We counsel our clients that a tasteful, integrated design is a smarter approach to installing a standalone ‘trendy’ feature.”

What are your thoughts on farmhouse sinks? Let us know in the comments!

The post Are Farmhouse Sinks Still Trendy? appeared first on Freshome.com.