Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Best Kitchen Countertops by Bobby Berk

Bobby Berk: When it comes to selecting kitchen countertops for your home, there is a daunting amount of choices. We’d like to go through a few of the most popular materials to make the task of picking a countertop material a little easier based on your design preferences, application and of course budget. Here are the best kitchen countertops and why:

Granite ($$-$$$):
The most popular countertop material, is available in a wide array of colors. It’s cut into long thick slabs that require few (if any) seams. Most manufacturers make single-piece countertops that can be made up to 10 ft. long. The slabs are sealed with an impregnating sealer, which makes the stone resistant to stains from everyday wear. An annual seal is required, as well as require regular care. This includes selecting and using a stone cleaner as opposed to a more abrasive chemical cleaner when caring for your countertops. Stains should be wiped up quickly. You can expect to pay anywhere from $60 to $250 a sq. ft., depending on color, brand, and fabrication.
The Tom Kat Studio - Granite Kitchen Countertop Sink
The Tom Kat Studio

Marble ($$$):
Marble is considered one of the most elegant and sophisticated countertop materials, and the veining intrinsic to the material is praised for its natural beauty. It is very durable, but porous, so it’s susceptible to stains. It can be polished or honed, but should be regularly sealed in order to prevent staining. Many homeowners will acquiesce to the required maintenance despite because of its beauty. $125-$250 a sq.Mim Design Marble Counter Kitchen Island Sink
Mim Design

Slate ($$$):
Comes in red, gray, green, black and purple. Some types of variegated purple slate has veining and shades of contrasting colors. It is very heavy due to its high density, although it is soft, so scratches can occur. These can be buffed out with steel wool. Slat can be fabricated into sinks to match the countertop, if desired. Slate is a great option for a low maintenance lifestyle or application, as it is a non-porous material and very easy to care for. It has a naturally matte appearance, but it can be made shiny with an application of lemon oil. Slate countertops cost from $100-$200 a sq. ft., depending on color, brand and fabrication.
Molitli Interieurmakers - Slate Kitchen Countertop Sink Industrial Rustic
Molitli Interieurmakers
Soapstone ($$):Typically dark, greenish-black or lighter green-grey. Can be fabricated into sinks to match the countertop. Soapstone is very porous, so it has to be sealed with mineral oil in order to reduce staining. Cracks can be expensive to fix, so the maintenance is important. It typically costs from $70-$100 a sq. ft.
Lauren Liess - Helen Norman - Soapstone
Lauren Liess Interiors | Helen Norman Photography
Concrete ($$): 
Pre-cast concrete is preferable to poured-in-place countertops, because they are honed, cured and sealed off site. They are typically 1.5” thick and available in slabs up to 10’ in length. The concrete mixture can be stained to a variety of colors by adding dye in the manufacturing process. This can make for some interesting finish options. Cracking is typically an issue with any concrete product, so the structure of the countertop is often fortified with mesh, rebar, or fiberglass product. Custom concrete countertops range in price from $85-100 a sq. ft.
HGTV Chip and Joanna Gaines - Rachel Whyte Concrete Kitchen Island Countertop Sink
HGTV Fixer Upper with Chip & Joanna Gaines | Rachel Whyte Photography
Plastic Laminate ($):
Plastic Laminate, also known as Formica, is an enduring and strong material that is made from layers of paper that are suffused with resin to form the hard surface layer. It’s available in endless colors and designs, but the matte finishes are the only ones you should specify for a countertop. Note that there are two thicknesses. The 1/16” thickness is for general purpose applications including countertops. The 1/32” is for vertical grade applications and backsplashes. It comes in sheets that range from smaller pieces at 2’x4’ up to 4’x8’. Larger wider sheets can be custom ordered from certain manufacturers. This is by far the most affordable material. You can buy pre-fabricated counters that are ready for installation and these can cost about $100 for an 8 ft. counter. Custom applications will range from $15-$25 a sq. ft.
Tri-State Countertops - Plastic Laminate Kitchen Island
Tri-State Stone & Tile, Inc.
Wood ($$-$$$):
Wood is a traditional countertop material that can really add warmth to a space. Many people have been concerned in the past with the viability of wood as a countertop material, because of its porous nature, however wood has been found to have more anti-bacterial effectiveness than plastic as a cutting surface. It does require maintenance to keep a good seal. Polyurethane can offer good protection for a few years, but it’s aesthetically preferable for many people who prefer to accentuate the natural beauty of the wood by using less chemically synthetic mineral oil. This treatment requires more maintenance and reapplication every 4-6 weeks is a deterrent to more low-maintenance lifestyles.
Despite woods higher degree of care, it is a great option for certain surfaces such as food prep areas, dining counters, and food chopping blocks. It is the only countertop material suggested for cutting and chopping. The most popular species of wood for countertop applications are rock maple, walnut, oak, cherry and teak. It should be protected from extra hot cookware, as it is prone to burn stains at very hot temperatures, but scratches can be sanded out.
Carl Mayfield Photography - Wood Kitchen Countertop
Carl Mayfield Photography
The three forms of wood counter production include edge grain, end grain and wide plank. Edge grain are made from pieces of wood that are thin and long and glued together with the edge grain facing upwards. End grain countertops, or butcher blocks, are assembled from short, square pieces of wood with the end grain facing upwards. These are typically from 4-12” thick. Wide plank counters, the most traditional style, are made by gluing planks of wood together at the edges of the planks. These can be susceptible to warping or cracking if not properly and regularly maintained. Pre-fabricated countertops can be ordered at most lumber yards and wood dealers. 1.5” x 25” wide counters come in 8’ to 12’ lengths typically. Wood countertops vary in price depending on the species of wood, but can be comparable to natural stone and man made solid surface. Expect to pay anywhere form $35-$250 a sq. ft.
Stainless Steel ($$):
Stainless steel is beautiful, and extremely durable. It is resistant to rust and corrosion, and can withstand extreme heat (up to 800 degrees). Stainless steel countertops can be prone to scratches, so some people prefer to only use it on vertical surfaces as a backsplash. Either way, it can create a very clean, modern, industrial look, or go with something more traditional like a farm house kitchen. It can be prone to fingerprints and water stains, so it needs to be cleaned to maintain a nice appearance. You can’t use any caustic chemicals on it, including bleach cleaners, but it can be disinfected with a mixture of water and vinegar. Pre-fabricated stainless steel countertops are typically fabricated with a wood core, and can even be installed DIY, as you would with laminate. Prices range form $70-$150 a sq. ft.
Palmerston Design Consultants Inc - Stainless Steel Kitchen Countertop
Palmerston Design Consultants, Inc.
Ceramic Tile ($-$$):
Because of the grout lines in a ceramic tile application, many designers and builders have shifted away from tile for countertops. Tile is probably best used on backsplashes or auxiliary work surfaces such as an island, eat-at countertop, peninsulas, wet bars and butler pantries. Don’t use tile intended for wall applications, as it can easily leave cracks in your finished surface. Tile that is intended for counters or floors is best. Ceramic tile can be applied right to plywood or over laminate countertops. The best installation method is using a ¾” plywood with a ½” cement backer board. The cost will of course depend on the type of tile you select, but basic tile can be very affordable. The cost for installation will run between $30 and $50 a sq. ft. plus the cost of your tile.
Martha Hammond Houston Pride Realty - White Ceramic Tile Kitchen Countertop
Martha Hammond Houston Pride Realty
Man-Made Solid Surface Countertops ($$-$$$):
These materials, such as DuPont’s Corian, Wilsonart’s Gibraltar, and Aristech’s Avonite, are made of 100% acrylic, 100% polyester, or a combination of acrylic and polyester. These engineered countertops have properties that make them very durable and ideal for a lot of different applications. They come in almost any color imaginable, and can be customized to almost any design, including intricate inlay patterns. They are also made to look many types of other stone, and can be fabricated into sinks to match the countertop material.
Part of this category is quartz-composite materials such as DuPont’s Zodiaq, Silestone, Cambria and CaesarStone, which are just a few of the composite products on the market. Engineered stones like these are much harder and have a depth, clarity and luminance not found in other solid surfaces. Quartz composites cost slightly more than conventional man-made solid surface counters. The whole category is priced at $150-$200 a sq. ft. for solid-surface materials.
DuPont Corian Kitchen Countertop

Monday, March 28, 2016

4 Ways to Perk Up Your Outdoor Spaces With Color - Houzz article by Jennifer Ott

Go beyond plantings with these ideas for bringing bold hues to the exterior of your home.
Spring has arrived, which means summer isn’t too far behind. If your outdoor hangout needs sprucing up, now’s the time to hatch a plan for improvements. Plants and flowers are one of the best ways to add color, but you can also perk up the space with paint, furniture and accessories. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The millennial starter home: it's here!

Bobby Berk, Designer, CEO of Bobby Berk Home, recently designed homes in Las Vegas with a very targeted audience in mind: Millennials. Yep! Everyone’s favorite generation to hate on is ready to buy home #1, and Berk is ready for them. As creative director for the Responsive Homes project, Berk designed adaptable floorpans with smart tech capabilities (of course) and eco-friendly elements. The homes aren’t just designed for millennials, they were designed by one, too!

west elm
Reeve Mid-Century Coffee Table, Marble/Walnut
west elm

park studio
park studio
How did this project come about?
Hanley Wood of Builder Magazine contacted me through Ketchum PR, and was looking for a designer whom they felt represented the millennial demographic. They wanted to tap into this demographic and produce homes that showcased features that appealed to millennial buyers. The project was to be featured at the International Builder Show. For the construction team, they partnered with Pardee’s Vegas division. They called me up, we had a meeting, and a partnership was born!
Blu Dot
Splash Coat Rack
Blu Dot
Modway Furniture
Sauna 4' Bench
Modway Furniture
What is the key difference in building homes specifically for millennials vs. homes built for the public at large?
Millennials are a very savvy and choosey bunch. With all of the information they have at their fingertips, they are able to research and educate themselves more than any generation before. They are looking for customization, high end finishes (or high design on a budget), flexible layouts with income potential, and adjacency to alternate forms of transportation and community parks and recreation.
What do millennials look for in their first home purchase that stands out from other generational groups?
One, they’re looking for something that doesn’t look cookie cutter and mass-produced. This raises the question, how can builders inject details and customizable options into their homes that not only allow them to turn a profit, but not look like what everyone else out there is doing? There are some simple ways to inject good design without breaking the bank. An example that comes to mind is the simple subway tile that we used in the farmhouse. We took the most basic, inexpensive white subway tile, added a dark grout, and it gives it a graphic punch. The dark grout is the same price as white grout, and it really makes the kitchen. This isn’t a new idea, but you don’t see it much in production builds.
Two, Millennials want something affordable. There are so many TV shows out there about renovating to provide income potential, but what about new builds that offer an income suite already built-in? This income opportunity can potentially take the sting out of taking on a new mortgage, and builders need to get on board this idea. Think Airbnb, think roommates, think mother-in-law suite. Not only do they want this flexible space, but they want more entertaining space in general. This includes space to entertain outdoors. You can see in both homes that we extended the entertaining space to the outdoors and there is a sense of continuation between indoors and out. This is why we carried the same tile flooring outside in both plans.
What, other than the millennial lifestyle, inspired these designs?
I was inspired by what I DIDN’T see in the Las Vegas area. There is so much of the (what I like to call) “Faux-Tuscan” aesthetic in Vegas. The codes out here only allow for a specific type of architecture, with a lean lexicon of allowable architectural elements and even paint colors. So much of what has been done in the building industry in this area has been like a machine that keeps turning out the same stuff year after year. We wanted to still think regionally, considering the local climate and context, but really push the envelope with the style of these homes. What we came up with is two distinct experiments with the same millennial marketing theme. The first home references a bit more of the traditional, but with a modern twist on a farmhouse. The second is more of a backdrop for a collection of modern art. I think they both make maximum use of space, while providing a lot of options for occupants where the layouts are concerned.

Control Brand
The Vardo Arm Chair
Control Brand

What component of these designs are you most proud of?
I love that the homes feel even larger than they are. Our use of a consistent material palette and cohesive schemes that carry throughout both homes make them feel so expansive. My favorite features from each home are unique. I love the warmth and coziness of the farmhouse, which despite its homey charm still feels quite grand. In the large house, I have to say I love the master suite. The black hex tile really made that space feel so graphic and modern, and yet so sexy!
What was the greatest challenge in coming up with these concepts?
We wanted to specify materials, furniture and art that was actually at an affordable price point that millennials could potentially purchase at this stage of their lives. Everything we chose spoke to that demographic, so it was a challenge not wanting to go over the top, but still keeping it cool, stylish, and yet feasible.
What is the best reaction you've had to these homes so far? 
Someone coming through said, “You know, I think these homes are just perfect! When can I move in?” That made me smile.

Threshold Metal Round Side Table
Large House


Small House