5/20/13

Sarah Babbitt Interview - Kitchen and Bath Design Expert

Thank you Sarah Babbitt for your wonderful insight and your time for this interview! Visit Sarah's company website at www.communityhomesupply.com.

1. How can I maximize space and storage in a small kitchen?

I think the first thing to do is really think about the items you have in the kitchen (small appliances, how many cutlery items, dishes, etc....) and think about how you use the kitchen. A lot of times we get so busy trying to create a beautiful space and come up with a stunning design, but we forget about the practical details, so I find that taking an inventory of what you have is a great starting place.

In terms of maximizing storage, I've found a couple of tricks that really help to eek out a little more space:

* Don't skimp on the upper cabinets: instead of 30" or 36" try to go as tall as you can (42"). If it's possible, have the upper cabinets at 13" depths instead of 12" deep. A lot of plates nowadays can be a bit oversize, and sometimes it's difficult fitting them in standard 12" deep cabinets

* Go for big drawers instead of doors where possible. For pots and pans (or even dishes), I find that the deep drawers are more useful than a cabinet with doors and adjustable shelves (or even if they have rollouts). Deep drawers allow you to stack more pots and pans and give you more room

* In terms of construction of the cabinet, go frameless as opposed to framed construction. The frameless construction means there are less gaps between cabinets and gives you more interior space inside the cabinets as well as bigger drawer boxes.

* Have a trash can integrated into a cabinet can be an awesome thing, but sometimes it isn't possible if the kitchen is too small. So instead of taking up an entire base cabinet for a trash can, use it as a more functional cabinet in terms of storage and put a (albeit smaller) trash can under the sink (Hafele is one that makes trash can add-on's). That way, the trash can is hidden, but it hasn't taken up a cabinet that otherwise could be used to store more kitchen stuff.

* Think about the size of sink you need and the configuration: for some people, a single bowl sink is fine and if so, maybe it's a smaller single bowl sink (say 21" wide inside), then you can go with a smaller sink base cabinet and carve out a little more room in the kitchen so you can do a bigger cabinet that has more function than a sink base.

2. How can I ensure my kitchen is timeless?

Go with colors that are more neutral and classic. Tile/flooring/backsplash in the whites, beiges, light grays color tones (or dark for the floor, too I've seen a lot). Cabinets can pretty much be anything (white paint and alternatively dark chocolate cabinets seem to be very much in style and I think will continue to be) but no bright colors. If you're looking to throw in color, do that with paint colors or art. That can always be changed, but the cabinetry, countertops and flooring/hard surfaces, are hard to change. I would also stay away from paneled appliances (dishwashers are probably okay, but refrigerators can be tricky) more for practicality reasons. if the frig breaks and you have to get a new one, odds are those panels won't fit the new refrigerator and even if you get new ones, the color of the new panels may not be the same as the rest of the kitchen because cabinets tend to age/change color over time.

3. How can I accommodate occasional guests in a small dining area?

It really depends on the space, but peninsulas or islands with seating on the other end can be a great place to have a bit of countertop overhang where guests can sit. Or, if you have space for a desk area, then you can keep a stool underneath that desk area and people can pull it out to sit down.

4. How can I create a luxurious bathroom with just the basics?

I think it's important to ask yourself what are the things that are most important when you're getting ready in the morning in the bathroom? For some people they want to have two sinks, but think of how often you and your partner use the bathroom at the same time. I think for a lot of people that doesn't happen and if it doesn't then do one sink and increase your storage/countertop space. If you and your partner do use the bathroom at the same time, then double sinks are a great idea.

There are some areas that I think are very important not to skimp:

* Get a good toilet. I know it's just a toilet, but it's probably the biggest item that you don't want to break. Get a taller height toilet: for most adults it's more comfortable. Maybe you splurge and get a one piece toilet as opposed to a two piece toilet, which makes cleaning the toilet easier. Or even a skirted toilet (where the trapway is concealed) as opposed to a non skirted toilet (where you can see the snake of the drain) because skirted toilets are easier to clean than non skirted toilets. And make sure that it's a good flushing toilet and is backed by a company that stands behind their product.

* The showerhead/controls. I often ask customers when we first start, "what is your dream shower?" It seems to be the majority of people at least want 2 outlets (showerhead and handshower, or rainshower and handshower) which requires a different (and more expensive) valve setup. Sometimes, after seeing all the numbers, they want to go for a single outlet (showerhead only) because you'll go with a less expensive valve and less overall price. But I would say that get want you want: the shower is the place where you will spend more money (especially on tile and labor cost), so better to get what you want now than wanting to break the tile in a few years and add that second outlet. Besides, there are less expensive valve options we can do to get you that dream shower without sacrificing too much.

* Think about your finishes: polished chrome faucets will be less expensive (35% less in most cases) than brushed nickel, oil rubbed bronze, polished nickel or any other specialty finishes. And white toilets and sinks will always be less expensive than biscuit or other specialty finishes.

* Instead of natural stone, maybe you choose ceramic tile/flooring which tends to be less expensive (and easier to maintain).

About Sarah: With extensive product knowledge and a BFA in Interior Design, Sarah is an extremely talented and valuable designer at Community Home Supply. Sarah’s clients have been so impressed that they have written rave reviews about her excellent suggestions, budget saaviness and overall pleasant nature during kitchen and bath remodeling projects. Sarah’s favorite designs gravitate toward contemporary lines but she also loves the warmth that more traditional elements can bring to a space. Sarah encourages her clients to allow her to include a favorite souvenir, photograph or family heirloom in each project. Her desire to connect her work to the client allows each design to be unique and personal. Sarah’s focus is always on customer service, which keeps her clients coming back year after year. In her spare time, Sarah finds true joy in the kitchen. In fact, she is an avid collector of cooking literature and exotic spices. Her love of food includes canning fresh fruits and vegetables for future dishes. Her many dinner guests would agree that Sarah truly enjoys every aspect of cooking.
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3 comments:

  1. I would love to be able to re-do my kitchen. I would love to maximize the space I have. These are great tips that I will keep for future reference. I love the idea of drawers verses cupboards.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What great tips! I could never figure out how to make any space in my house look nice with just the basics.

    ReplyDelete
  3. awesome tips! we just bought a new home but i would like to tweak a few things to add my own personality and present the home in a nice way :)

    ReplyDelete

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